Going back to our daily lives after the Feast of Tabernacles can be challenging. How can we maintain the vision that the Feast pictures after it is over?
[Roy Holladay] What motivated the pilgrims when they first came to the new world back in 1620? Many of you have studied history, and you've studied the early beginnings in this country. Sad to say today that there are many, even in college, who have no idea about the history of this country. I don't know how many of you ever watched Bill O'Reilly and Walters, I forget his first name on that program they go around interviewing college students and people. They did one out in California asking questions about the beginning of this country and about some of our leaders. They might as well have been talking to a brick wall. They had no idea what he was talking about and you know, that's sad commentary on our country.
Any who have studied the history of the earlier settlers know that they were motivated by religious freedom. They wanted to come here to have freedom. They envisioned a new world where they'd able to have religious freedom without being subjected to a state religion where there was one religion stated and posted upon the people.
The early leaders in the United States who helped especially to draft our governing documents, many of them were very religious individuals. Their vision of America was quite different than a godless approach that we see around us today that's being practiced. An example of this would be James Madison, the fourth president. He was known as the father of the constitution. Notice this following quote from James Madison, quote, "We have staked the whole of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves and to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." So he recognized that you were going to sustain yourself and have self-control that it had to be based upon a foundation, that foundation was the 10 Commandments.
Patrick Henry, the patriot founding father of country said this quote, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that” great nation or “this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” On biblical principles, not just on "the church."
Every session of congress begins with a prayer by faith preacher, and this has been a practice that was established and has been paid for by tax payers since 1777, and it's something that has been carried on as a tradition. Fifty-two of the 54 founders of the constitution were members of an established Orthodox church in the colonies. These men were willing to risk their lives, their possessions, their families for what they believed in. And they realized that the success of it would not last unless it was based upon spiritual values and principles. They could see a future. They could see a better world, and this is what they were looking for. They had a vision, and they were willing to die for that vision. They were motivated by it. You had men like George Washington, John Adams and all. You go back and you begin to read some of the writings of these individuals, and it's remarkable what they said, what they believed, what they did.
Now as we return from the Feast of Tabernacles, we're going to be challenged to maintain the vision that was articulated to us at the Feast. And the vision that we see outlined in the Scriptures of why God has called us now: to have the motivation, to have the spiritual enthusiasm that we receive while we were at the Feast. I don't know about you but in Panama City Beach, to me, there were twin themes that emerged from that Feast site. One had to do with servant leadership or as Dr. Ward had articulated it, “sacrificial servant leadership,” which I thought was a very fine way of expressing it.
And secondarily, the urgency of times that we live in, that we do live in the end times. And if you don't understand that, you don't have eyes to see and ears to hear. You're not watching what's going on around you and see what's transpiring. Our loving Father has given us another year. I mean we went to the Feast a year ago, 2012. We went to the Feast in 2013. Here we are. We've had another year. We're alive another day, and every day that God gives to us is a day to grow, a day to learn, a day to develop, a day to mature. We know what we just need to do. There is a difference in knowing what you need to do and doing what you know that you should be doing. We know that we should be doing certain things and you know, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we play games with it or we become weary in well-doing and the Bible exhorts us in all of these areas not to do so.
The earlier settlers of this nation had a vision, had a vision of what government should based upon. It's impossible to govern without understanding as far as this nation, some of the things were said... Let me give you three quotes from George Washington about his vision when he looked out and looked into the future. He says, "It's impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” You're not able to do it without God and the Bible. And how many nations, how many empires have risen over the years where people have thought that we can rule just by force, by might, by army and whatever, whatever they're going to rule. And basically after awhile, it doesn't matter how many hundreds of years it might go on, it collapses because it's not found on the right the foundation. Now as we learned at the Feast and as the Bible clearly tells you, that the word of God or the future of the government of God I should say, there will be no end to it. It will go on forever and ever and the peace of that government will proceed through eternity.
Another quote, "Let us with caution indulge the supposition and [that] morality can be maintained without religion… reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles." And what do we see transpiring in our country today where we're wanting to get rid of anything linked to the Bible? You can talk about in school any religion you want to, be it Hinduism, Shintoism, Taoism, it can be Islam you know, whatever. And you don't dare to bring up the name of Jesus Christ or Christianity. You know, that's a no, no. And yet as Washington said, "Our nation will not last."
And finally, he says, "We are persuaded that good Christians will always be good citizens, and that where righteousness prevails among individuals the nation will be great and happy. Thus, while just government protects all in the religious rights, true religion affords to the government its surest support.” True religion and how far away have people gotten from "true religion" today?
What are we going to do with the additional time that God has given to us? Ties right in with what Jim was saying. Every day we wake up, and we say, "I'm alive," and you know sometimes we wake up and we wonder if we're alive with the aches and the pains and what might be going on. How will we use it this year individually and as a congregation? We are the true servants of God, how are we going to help one another? What are we going to do to serve one another to a greater degree and a greater capacity? Let's go over here to Luke 15, beginning in verse 4, Luke 15:4 Luke 15:4What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
American King James Version×.
Now, I want you to notice Luke 15:4 Luke 15:4What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
American King James Version×, "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost till he's found it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls to gather his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, I found my sheep which was lost!’ And I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety-nine just persons who needs no repentance."
I think what this section shows is the deep concern that God Almighty has for every one of us. If we begin to go astray, if we begin to wander off the path going to different direction, that He's going to come out and look for us. You know, the 99 who were there, who were doing what they should be doing, fine. He's going to go after the individual who's not. So God has deep concern for every one of us. He's handpicked us as members of His family. When you talk about the firstfruits, we're not firstfruits, we're not here because of our righteousness, goodness. Who we are? We're here because God has handpicked us. And every day is a new opportunity.
Now, in Matthew 13:44 Matthew 13:44Again, the kingdom of heaven is like to treasure hid in a field; the which when a man has found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.
American King James Version×. Let's go to Matthew 13:44 Matthew 13:44Again, the kingdom of heaven is like to treasure hid in a field; the which when a man has found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.
American King James Version×here, the parable that Christ talks about. In Verse 44, “The Parable of the Hidden Treasure” says, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and he buys that field." So he's talking about… here's somebody who you know, finds a field, there's a treasure in it. He doesn't say what the treasure in it but he found it, he goes sells everything he has because he knows that if he buys that field he will own that treasure. And for the joy of it, the excitement of it, he goes out and he does it.
Brethren, do you realize that vision, having the vision of what's coming gives us the energy, the drive, the enthusiasm, to the motivation to be able to look at the future, gives us the strength to go forward; to sell everything we have and to follow God. Did you not when you were baptized? Did you not say that I will give up everything that I have and follow you? We were willing to give up everything: our lives, our possessions, everything to be able to follow God.
So the Kingdom of God is like hidden treasure, we give up everything to be able to have it. Because we realize this life is so short, this life is physical. It will not go on forever. It's only eternal life in the family of God, the Kingdom of God is going to help us to stay the course. Notice Verse 45, repeat, says, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who when he found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had and he bought it."
See, that's the way we are to be. We're willing to give up everything. A clear vision will motivate us and give us everything that we need to inspire us to stay the course, to never give up and to help others. What can you do on a daily basis to maintain the proper motivation and vision? What is it that you can do daily? Well, one of the first sayings I'd like to encourage you to do, and this is something where I feel that we’ve slacked off over the years is that we must establish or contact with God very early in the day as soon as possible after getting up. Now you know, you might say, "Well, I always pray." But do we establish that contact with the greatest being in the universe right off the bat?
Who's more important? You know, there are people who take their iPhones to bed with them. I won't ask you how many of you take your iPhones to bed with you. They take their iPhones to bed, and they are texting or they may be tweeting. Or you know, there are people who will wake themselves up at night to see if they got any message, so they can respond to the message. How many texts do some young people send in a month? One of the highest numbers I've heard, 14,000. Where do you find time to text 14,000 times in a month? You know, you got to be on there all the time. You got to be able to do this with your eyes closed and in your sleep.
Well, let me ask you a question. If it's so important to text another human being first thing in the morning or to call them, is that more important? Use your iPhone, look at it and say, "Is this thing more important than God is?" Put it down and go pray. That's what we need to do. We need to use it perhaps as a reminder to remind us of what we need to be doing. And yet people can find time to text, you know. They can find time to call and talk on the phone. And they will do it dozens, maybe hundreds of times a day. You know it's a priority, isn't it? Your phone is a tool. I've got an iPhone there out in the car. It's a tool. If they depended upon me to make a living, forget it. Somebody calls me, I answer it. If I'm out, I want to call somebody, I'll call them. Otherwise, it's a phone. You know, that's what it is, it's a portable phone you carry along with you. A phone is a tool. It's not your life, it not your life. It's not about life is all about.
Life is about relationships and the greatest relationship that there is with God, with God the Father and with his son, Jesus Christ. You know, when you get married you enter into a covenant relationship and you say, "Yes, I do." She says, "Yes, I do." And whatever the dos are articulated, you do them. You know, you enter into the do list. "Honey, do this," or, "Honey, do that." But you enter into a covenant and that covenant says, "Until death do you part." You’ve entered into it.
Well, we've entered into a covenant relationship with God. Back up here to Chapter 10 of the book of Matthew, Verse 37. Chapter 10, Verse 37. And let's notice here says, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." So if we want real life, eternal life you know, in the Kingdom of God, the family of God then we've got to lose our own life. God must come first. We must love God above all.
Let's go back to the book of Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11, because I think this is an extremely important chapter for us to think about, focus on as we come back from the Feast of Tabernacles. I want you to take a look at what motivated the patriarchs. What motivated Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the women of the Bible? We know that they had faith in God, they trusted God, but let's see what it was that really got their attention.
In Hebrews 11:1 Hebrews 11:1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
American King James Version×says, "Now faith is the substance things hope for, the evidence of things not seen." So faith is the foundation on which we build. It is the evidence or the assurance or the confidence of things not seen. Now when you see something, that's evidence. I've got a Bible. How many of you believe I got a Bible? You know, I can hold it up and show it to you. This is a Bible or you can have faith and confidence. Here's the evidence that I have a Bible up here on this podium.
Well, faith operates in the same way. The only difference is you don't see it. You don't see any of the spiritual principles except perhaps love and you can't really see it. You know, I can sit here, and I can say, "I know my wife loves me." But I don't see you know, any waves coming this direction. It doesn't work that way. How do I know that she loves me? Well, she tells me. She does things for me. She you know, love in action, I know what love is like because 1 Corinthians 13 tells us. And it tells us what love is, love in action. So when you see somebody doing those things, you say, "Well, it appears that they really do love you. You can tell by what they're doing."
The same thing is true for those who have faith. How do we know that they have faith? We see by their actions. We see by what a person does. We are asked to obey without seeing the intervention yet. Or you pray and ask God to heal you, you haven't seen the intervention yet, but you're asking. You ask God to bless you. Maybe you don't have any food on the table, you ask God to help you in that area. And so you're asking before you see. Sometimes, we're warned of actions, things that we need to do, and we've got to be willing to do it.
So let's look. Well, let's turn over first of all to verse 27 here because I think verse 27 helps to explain what we're talking about. Talking about Moses, it says, "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king;” and why didn't he fear the wrath of the King? "For he endured, as seeing" notice, "as seeing Him who is invisible." He didn't see God, but has seen God. And we know later on God appeared to him. Now, somehow in some way, he knew that he had been chosen to carry out something important concerning the children of Israel. And yet he thought he would do it, and he had to learn that God was going to do it. He would use him but God was the one who was going to do it.
Backup to verse 5, let's look at some of these examples. First of all Enoch, verse 5. It says, "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and he was not found because God had taken him;’ for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God." And how can you and I please God? You know, isn't it something that when you as parents especially have little children and they're growing up, that if they please you, they're obeying, they do what you ask them. You say, "Please make your bed every morning." And you go down and you check and guess what? They've made their bed. Doesn't that please you? Doesn't it please you if you say, "Don't put your elbows on the table when you're eating. Don't slam the door. Eat with your mouth closed.” Whatever it is we as parents tell our children. And if they do it we're well pleased.
Now, this is true here when it comes to Enoch. He pleased God. The implication is he was doing what God had asked him to do. Notice verse 6 says, "Without faith, it's impossible to please Him,” you cannot please God without faith. You've got to have faith, “for he who comes to God” two things: one “must believe that He is,” so he believed He exists. “And that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” So that God will reward you if you diligently obey and seek Him. So God is the one who responds, and we've got to diligently seek Him, we've got to believe.
How many people were converted in Enoch's day? You know, can you count them on your hand? Enoch, that's one. How many others do you know? Well, I don't know of any others. There might have been others, but apparently, he was in a very perilous situation where they were out to get him. They wanted to kill him, and God had to come along and spare his life. He may have been the only one and if they were more, just a handful, who obeyed God. He lived in a time where society is going in the opposite direction of what God wanted, and yet he still walked the walk. He obeyed God.
Same thing happened here in Noah's day, verse 7. "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen,” I want you to notice this verse, this verse is just chock-full of goodies or you know, important principles. First of all, he had been “divinely warned of things not seen.” Have we been divinely warned of what is going to occur at the end time? Have we been told what would happen to our nation if we turned our back on God? As you read back in the book of Isaiah, God asked a question, "Has any nation ever forgotten their God?"
And yet He says, "You have, Our people have." And yet here we are, God warned him what was going to happen. A 120 years from now, He said, "There's going to be a flood." We don't know how many years from now, but the end is near. And we've been warned, divinely warned of things not yet seen. Now, they are beginning to transpire, you can begin to see how things can come together. And notice, he was “moved with godly fear.” So he had fear, respect, he stood in all of God. So that means he had a relationship with God. He was moved with godly fear.
When we go to the Feast of Tabernacles every year, what is one of the reasons we go to the Feast? So it's that you may learn to fear of the Lord your God always, right? We go there to learn, to develop, to sharpen, to heighten the fear of God, the right type of awe and respect God. Now, how does going to the Feast helps us do that? Number one, you obey God. Every year, God says, "Take a week, go to the Feast." And you say, "Yes, Lord." And you go. In order to go, you’ve got to save your second tithe. So you know, that's part of obedience too. You’ve got to be willing to save your tithe, you’ve got to put God first. It doesn't matter when your family says, "When you go to that Feast, I'm leaving you." You go. If your boss says, "You're fired if you take a week off." You go. You do what God says — who's most important? You know, who did you make a covenant with?
So this is what Noah did, he was moved with godly fear. And what did godly fear do for him? He prepared an ark for the saving of his household. He prepared an ark by which all the animals were saved, his family was saved, and he did the job God gave him to do. We have a job that God has given us to do. And the Bible does say that at the end time, the bride has made herself ready. The fact that we're still here means we're not ready. I'm not ready yet. And you know, we're all here still in the process of growing in grace and in knowledge. And then it goes on to say here, "By which he condemned the world and became heir of all of the righteousness which is according to faith." So he became an heir of God of the promises that God had given to those who were faithful.
What kind of society did Noah live in? If you could describe it in one verse, how would you describe it? Well, let's go back. Hold your place here, but Genesis 6:5 Genesis 6:5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
American King James Version×. Genesis 6:5 Genesis 6:5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
American King James Version×, notice the summary statement here, "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." This is the strongest verse in the Bible. There is no stronger emphasis in the Bible on something where you read what this verse says.
So the wickedness of man was great and we live in a similar age and culture today. God tells us what will happen to our nation if they refused to repent. Are we motivated like Noah? We can get weary. We can say, "I've been in the Church all these years." You know, "I've worked hard and I've done this and I've done that." But hey, Noah built the ark 120 years. He was working at this project gathering supplies, gathering wood, gathering tar, gathering whatever, putting it all together, and God had warned him. So Noah was a man of righteousness, and God blessed him. None of us have been in the Church 120 years. We haven't served God that long, and I'm sure that Noah served God longer than 120 years, that was just preparing the ark. He was a righteous man before that, and he continued on afterward. What motivated him? What motivated Noah? Was it just to save his neck? Was that the only motivation he had? I don't think so.
Let's notice going onto verse 8, "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” He went to a country he didn't know anything about. See, he was a city dweller. Abraham was a mathematician, Abraham was a wealthy individual, and yet God said, "Go out and live in the desert." Or you know, "Go out and live in Palestine." And he wasn't sure where that was, but “he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” So Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, all of these, they obeyed God.
In Genesis 12, we find when Abraham did that God began to spell out to him the great promises he was going to make to him; the promise of race, the promise of grace. Why did he obey? Well, he had faith, we know that, and he believed the promise. What ultimately motivated him? What was he ultimately looking forward to? Notice verse 10, "For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." This is what he looked forward to, to a city whose foundation and maker, the one whose building it is God. He looked to the future. He looked to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the New Jerusalem. God is the designer, the planner, the builder of that city.
Now, go back and read in the book of Genesis, where do you find God sitting down and talking to Abraham, Isaac or Jacob about the New Jerusalem? You don't. But they knew about it, He evidently had revealed it to them. Many of the servants of old knew God's plan, His purpose. They understood the new heavens and new earth. Would it not be reasonable if they understood that because if they understood way off into the future that they would have also understood about the Millennium and White Throne Judgment in God's plan, what He was going to do, you know, everything in between. We know that Enoch did, he's listed here.
Go over to the book of Jude 1:14 Jude 1:14And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints,
American King James Version×. The book of Jude 1:14 Jude 1:14And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints,
American King James Version×. It says, “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints.’” He's coming back with 10,000 of His saints “to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of their ungodly deeds which they have continued in an ungodly way, and of the harsh things which ungodly sinners has spoken against Him." So Enoch understood that Christ was going to come back to the earth with His saints that they would accompany Him back. So he prophesied about future events.
Let's go back to Hebrews 11:13 Hebrews 11:13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
American King James Version×again and notice here Hebrews 11:13 Hebrews 11:13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
American King James Version×that these all died in faith. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they “all died in faith.” And it says here, “not having received the promises,” they didn't get the promise at that time. But notice, “having seen them afar off” he saw them in the future, and they “were assured of them,” and they “embraced them, and they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” That was their conviction. They didn't receive the promises, but they still obeyed God. They knew the promises were sure. How do we know that what God has promised is sure? By faith, that's where faith comes in. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. Whatever God says, we haven't seen it yet, it's going to happen because there's no power in the universe that can keep God from doing what He says He will do.
Now, he embraced them. The word embrace is a, I wouldn't say a peculiar word, it's a word in the Greek that means to greet or to salute them. “Having seen them far off, they greeted them.” Notice what Wuest's Word Studies of the Bible writes about this, quoting from Vincent, “As seamen wave their greeting to a country seen them far off on the horizon…” You know, they're sailing by in a boat and they say, "Well, there's America," or, "There's Cuba” or “There's Bolivia," or whatever country they might be sailing by “on which they cannot land. In confessing that they are strangers and pilgrims they admit and they accepted the fact with the resignation of faith, with the assurance of future rest.” With the assurance that one day their boat was going to and they would be back on dry land. We don't the receive the reward right now. We haven't got it yet, but it is coming. We trust in God's promise of the coming Kingdom of God, of the new heavens and the new earth. And we realize that we are strangers and pilgrims now.
I was talking with Tom Petty before services, and he was talking about his Feast experience. And he was talking about he's a homebody. He likes his home. He likes his bed, and I think all of us do. And here, he's up at the Feast in a strange place and in a strange bed. And you know, at home you know where everything is, it's in its place, you can find it. There, you're in a suitcase, you're in a bag, you're looking at this and you're looking at that. You know, we again are sojourners, are we not?
Yet when we come back to our home after the Feast, guess what? That's our permanent residence at that point. So we're familiar with it, but there is a permanent residence that God is going to give us in the future which is in His family in His Kingdom. And we will have a permanent body, not this physical body. So we're just sojourners now. We don't receive the reward now, but we trust in God, in His promise.
In verse 14 of the same chapter, beginning in verse 14 says, “For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they'd come out, they would have had the opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,” why? Because “He has prepared a city for them.” Now when it says “heavenly country” you notice the word country in italics, it says He's provided something heavenly, and we find what that is. It is a city that will eventually come to this earth, a reward that will be brought to us from heaven. And a city that God has prepared.
So brethren, the Feast is over, sitting there as we had 900 plus in Panama City Beach, you could feel the energy. It was palpable. You could feel the excitement. You could feel the joy. You're among God's people and guess what? You come back out and here you are. You go back and you're only one in your neighborhood at all once, you’ve got to generate that enthusiasm and that spirit. That's why it's so vital for us to assemble on the Sabbath to be able to come together and rekindle that.
But whereas we were among a whole group, now we're out here individually. And we get up every morning we must see the future, we must look to the reward. We must think about the Kingdom or God, the family of God, eternal life, immortality, the future, the resurrection being born into God's family. I don't know how you do it, but maybe you stick a sticker note on your mirror in the morning, and you look at it, and it says, “K.O.G.” And remind you about the Kingdom of God. Or maybe it says, "Go pray," and, "Oh, I need to go pray." Something to get you going because it's so easy to get up in the morning and to think, "Oh, look at everything I've got to do today." And you begin to get involved in it. And we can become so involved that we forget.
What motivated Moses? Let's go over here to verse 24, Hebrews 11 and see what motivated him. "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 of Egypt; for he looked to the reward." Notice, he looked to the future, 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.” Brethren, he kept constantly in mind the reward. And we must likewise, we must keep our mind saturated, our thought processes glued to that.
You know, not everybody who were given the opportunity of entering the promised land were motivated enough to make it. Backup to chapter 3 here in the book of Hebrews. We have chapter 11, a wonderful chapter of the faithful; those who were willing to obey God, serve Him, put Him first, believe Him, do what He said. But let's notice Hebrews 3:16 Hebrews 3:16For some, when they had heard, did provoke: however, not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.
American King James Version×. talking about the Israelites “For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? And now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter into His rest, but to those who did not obey? And we see they could not enter in because of unbelief."
They did not believe. We must have faith. They were given a promise. They came out of Egypt, I should say. God parted the Red Sea, the Egyptian army was killed, they saw all the plagues on the Egyptians. They saw all the manna come down, their clothes didn't wear out, their shoes didn't wear out. God sent them quails. Hit rocks, water comes out. You'd think that they would so believe, that nothing could shake them. They didn't have one ingredient. That's faith. They saw, but they didn't believe.
You and I believe, “we walk by faith, not by sight” the Bible says. That's the difference and guess what? Walking by faith is much stronger than walking by sight. We have the examples written down for us, all the books back here. They saw God's great intervention and miracles, but they didn't believe. We believe even though we haven't seen yet what God is going to do. They lack trust in God. They cannot enter into the promised land because of unbelief. You and I must be firmly convicted.
Notice verse 1, chapter 4. "Therefore, since the promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to come short of it.” Fall short of it. “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." So they didn't have faith, it wasn't mixed with faith. Brethren, faith is built through various avenues. One, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
American King James Version×.
So if you want faith, you got to fill your mind with the word of God, study the word of God. You’ve got to pray. You won't understand that word without prayer. Faith is also developed through obedience. You obey God, you step out and do what He says, and you grow in faith because you know that God did it, and He'll do it again. Faith is also a gift from God. So God gives us faith, it's a gift. What we desire is to have the faith of Jesus Christ, and that's different from just our own faith. We can have faith, but we want the living faith that comes from Jesus Christ.
In chapter 12 here in the book of Hebrews, we'll finish here, chapter 12. We have an example of one who has entered into the glorious realm of God's Kingdom and family, the Son of God. And in verse 1 says, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” each one of us has a race to run. As I mentioned at the Feast, my race is not your race. Your race is not my race. Your experiences, your trials, your tests, what you go through are different from mine, but we all go through them, don't we? We're all tried, we're all tested, but our race is different.
In verse 2, it says, "looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of..." “Our” is in italics, a better translation is “finisher of the faith.” He's the finisher of the faith. “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." The word “author” is made up two words: one means to lead, the other means first. It is a compound word meaning “the chief leader, the first leader, the one that takes to lead in anything and thus furnishes the example.”
So in this passage, it describes Jesus as the one whereas preeminence of His faith because He's the one whose gone through the process, and He has completed it. He shows that it can be done. He is the finisher or the perfecter of our faith. And notice, why He did it, “for the joy that was set before Him,” He was willing to come to this earth. Give up the glorious body that He had, give up that power, and come as a human being — God in the flesh to this earth.
Now, let's drop down to verse 25 here, verse 25 of chapter 12. "See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth;” Talking about coming down on Mt. Sinai giving the Ten Commandments. It says, “but now He promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also heaven.'"
“Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken,” The Kingdom of God cannot be shaken, upset, done away, “let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”
Brethren, as we walk into the future over this next year, we don't know what our race will provide for us. You know, we're in an endurance race. We don't know if our race will end this year if our race will go off in a different direction than we thought it would go. But we do know something that is sure and that is the promises of God, the future that God has promised us. The servants of God as you read here in Hebrews 11, were willing to follow God, obey God and God blessed them. You go to the end of the chapter and they were those who obeyed God, had faith just as much faith as Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, Moses, and they died. They died in the faith. Isaiah was sawn asunder as an example. There were those who were driven into the desert, lived in caves and yet they still obeyed God. Why? Because they could see the future, and it didn't matter what direction their race went. They knew that they would be in God's Kingdom if they had the faith, if they trusted God, if they believed. And they caught the vision. They saw the vision. They were motivated by it.
We must be the same way. How's our faith demonstrated? Well, obeying without seeing the reward. That's what all chapter 11 is about. They obeyed. You go back to every one of these examples. They obeyed without seeing the reward. You and I must obey without seeing the reward. Obedience is faith translated into action, and the Bible talks about obedience. You and I must this year galvanize ourselves to attend services, to establish daily contact with God through prayer and Bible study. We must be willing to sacrifice to serve. Sacrificial servant leadership is not just serving when it's convenient for you to serve. You sacrifice and to sacrifice means you go without. You might have to give time, effort to be able to do so.
Brethren, we are reminded or should be reminded… every day, we should remind ourselves that God's heart desire for us is to be a permanent member of His family, a part of the Kingdom of God forever.