Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion — God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written specifically to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.

                         

Monday
Sep122005

By Faith Moses' Parents

This is the eleventh post in a series from Hebrews 11. You’ll find all the posts done so far in this series listed here.

After he shows us the faith of the patriarchs, the author of Hebrews moves on to Moses, beginning with the faith of Moses’ parents.

By faith, when Moses was born, his parents hid him for three months, because they saw the child was beautiful and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. (Hebrews 11:23 NET)
Do you remember the circumstances surrounding the birth of Moses? The king of Egypt had become afraid of the potential power of the Israelite people and had ordered that all Israelite sons born be thrown into the river (Exodus 1:22). When Moses was born, instead of obeying the king’s command, his parents hid him for three months (Exodus 2:1-2). When you read the Exodus account, you’ll notice it’s his mother who is singled out—she saw that he was a fine child, so she hid him—but the writer of Hebrews attributes this to both parents. It may be that it was primarily his mother who kept little Moses hidden, but it would have required nothing less than consent from her husband. Moses could not have been concealed in the house without his father knowing and approving of it.

Why did Moses’ parents decide to disobey the king’s edict and hide him? Because they saw he was a beautiful child. Those are mysterious words and I’m not sure exactly all that they mean, but at the very least, they saw that this little one had value. Perhaps they had some inkling of God”s special purpose for him.

We can assume that there were severe consequences for anyone who defied the edict of the king, but because of their faith Moses’ parents were not afraid of them. They trusted God in the face of possible punishment and did what they believed was right, preserving the life of their young son. And for this they are included in the list of faithful people of old. They are two people we can look to as examples of faith that perseveres through difficulties.
Tuesday
Sep062005

By Faith Jacob

This is the tenth post in a series from Hebrews 11. You’ll find all the posts done so far in this series listed here.

Next up in our Hebrews 11 list of the Old Testament faithful is Jacob. Here’s what we read:

By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped as he leaned on his staff. (Hebrews 11:21 NET)

You’ll find the story of Jacob’s blessing of Joseph’s sons in Genesis 48. If you read through the chapter you’ll see a couple of odd things. First of all, Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons, who were really his grandsons, as if they were his own sons.

Now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they will be mine. Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine just as Reuben and Simeon are. Any children that you father after them will be yours; they will be listed under the names of their brothers in their inheritance. (Genesis 48:5,6 NET)

And then he purposefully gives the youngest son the firstborn blessing, crossing his hands as he put them on their heads, so that Ephriam, the youngest, has Jacob’s right hand, and Manasseh, the oldest, his left. When Joseph tries to correct things, Jacob insists on doing things this way because he knows that the “younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude of nations (Genesis 48: 19).”

This blessing by Jacob, with it’s unexpected features, shows Jacob’s acknowledgment that God fulfills his promises and works his purposes in his own way, and not necessarily according to what people think it ought to be done. And like Abraham and Isaac before him, here at the end of his life Jacob remains confident in the future fulfillment of the promises of God to him.

The writer gives us one more example of Jacob’s faith. At the end of his life, he “worshiped as he leaned on his staff.” If you go back to Genesis looking for the account of this act of worship, you might have trouble finding it. It’s there, right at the end of Genesis 47, but your translation probably says something like this: “…Israel bowed down at the head of his bed.” The quote found here in Hebrews follows the text of the Septuagint, which at this point is different than the Masoretic Hebrew text we use for our Old Testament. Remember that ancient Hebrew was written with no vowels, and those who translated it into the Greek of the Septuagint supplied a set of vowels to come up with the Hebrew word for “staff”, while the text our Old Testament is based on uses a different set of vowels to make the same set of letters read “bed”.  Either way, the point is the same: Jacob worshiped God at the end of his life, right after he asked Joseph to make sure that his body was buried back in Canaan with his fathers. And that act of worship was evidence of Jacob’s faith.

Monday
Sep052005

By Faith Isaac

This is the ninth post in a series from Hebrews 11. You’ll find all the posts on this series listed here.

Next on the list of faithful ancients in Hebrews 11 is Isaac.

By faith also Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning the future. (Hebrews 11:20 NET)

When Isaac was an old man, he blessed his two sons, Jacob and Esau. You’ll find Isaac’s blessing of Jacob in Genesis 27:27-29 and his blessing of Esau in Genesis 27:39-40. Both blessings contain predictions of things that God would do long after Isaac’s death. Isaac would not see these future events, but in faith, he understood  the certainty of them.

That Isaac was fooled into blessing Jacob when he thought he was blessing Esau is not important to the point the author is making about Isaac’s faith. What is important is that Isaac spoke in faith concerning a future he could not see.