In our prior lesson we noted the living, obedient faith of Noah and Abraham. Let's now give some attention to:
"By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones" (Heb. 11:22).
This event is not a highlight in the Biblical record, though it surely shows the scope of Joseph's trust in God. He genuinely believed that the Israelites would one day leave Egypt for the Promised Land. During Joseph's life his faith is also seen in that he remained righteous to what God expected of him. It would have been easy to forsake the God of his fathers in a far away land as a slave or while he was in prison. He spent thirteen years of his life total in those situations, but he kept doing what was right and God blessed him richly. Joseph wasn't perfect but God accomplished great things through Joseph's faith.
"By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned" (Heb. 11:23-29).
Moses is a fascinating Bible character to study. He was eighty years old when he devoted himself fully to the work for which God had prepared him. He resisted at first but soon embraced the task at hand and was a faithful mediator between God and His people. He, with Aaron's help, delivered the messages God wanted delivered. He worked the works God desired. He shepherded the people and guided them faithfully for forty years. He suffered much in so doing, and he could have had a much easier life in Pharaoh's house due to his relationship to Pharaoh's daughter. However, he put his trust in God, not Pharaoh. Although Moses wasn't perfect, he delivered the nation of Israel from slavery and brought them to the edge of the Promised Land through his faithful obedience, leadership, and service. God accomplished great things through Moses' faith.
"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days" (Heb. 11:30).
Joshua was groomed to be great by Moses. He was courageous and faithful as a spy and if more had trusted God as he did the decades wandering in the wilderness would have been avoided! Joshua proved himself to be a great military leader, again because he trusted God and obeyed His instructions. No military leader today would advocate marching around city walls thirteen times to overthrow it and secure victory, but that is what God instructed and that is precisely what Joshua led the people to do! Although Joshua wasn't perfect, God accomplished great things through his faith.
We could say more about each of these great men of faith, or we could consider other Bible characters, but I'd rather draw an important conclusion at this point: In principle all of these men did the same thing to be blessed and accepted by God; that is, they listened, believed, and obeyed! Friends, that principle has never changed! Specifics change, but not this principle! All of these men were required to do different things in order to obey God, and we today are required to do different things than they were. What must our response be? Listen, believe, and obey, and God will accomplish great things through our faith, too!
At this point, I hesitate to create a list of what specifics God requires of us because of things that won't get mentioned. You need to study God's word for yourself to learn what God expects of you. However, without going into great detail, we know He expects us to trust in His Son Jesus (cf. John 8:24). He demands that we turn from sin (cf. Acts 17:30). He requires that we be immersed into Christ to be forgiven (cf. Acts 2:38; 22:16). He expects that we walk in the light where He is (cf. I John 1). We must show genuine love for Him and our fellow man (cf. Matt. 22:37,38). We could say much more, but the duty is yours to study, believe, and obey.
We know that most will not submit to His will (cf. Matt. 7:13,14,21-23). Most will be lost because they are unwilling to really follow God's path for their lives, as set forth in the New Testament. It was true in the Old Testament and it is true today: "the just shall live by faith" (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:16,17). It has always been the case that "Without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). May our lives not be characterized by a dead, useless faith but by a vibrant, submissive trust in the Almighty!