Study # “Promises in Infant Form” Hebrews 11:30
by Bob Burridge ©2022
We’ve been studying Hebrews chapter 11, a chapter about the great examples of faith. Each one’s trust was based on a direct promise of God. Each one acted on that trust with confidence that God would do exactly what he said he would do.
People often talk about “faith” as if it was just a vague hope, not much different than an optimistic attitude. So biblical faith might be less confusing if we called it confidence. Not just confidence in some wishful thinking, but in the words and promises of God.
Today’s text takes us back to the conquest of Jerico. The faith of the people of Israel, as they stood before its walls, shows us the kind of faith we need to have, as we live with confidence in God’s promises.
Hebrews 11:30 takes us back to the conquest of Jerico.
Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.”
After the time of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness was over, Joshua led God’s people over the Jordan River, into Canaan. The first major city they faced was Jerico. It wasn’t a huge city, but it was the first they encountered, and it had well fortified walls. The Lord’s message came to Joshua that God had given Jerico into the hands of Israel.
God explained how the city was to be taken by the Jews. It wasn’t any kind of attack that would have made no sense to any military or political person. Here’s how the mission was to be accomplished: Once each day for 6 days they were to march around Jerico. The adult men, those over 20 years old, were to lead the group of priests. Seven priests were to follow them continually blowing their seven trumpets which were ram’s horns. The Ark of the Covenant was carried behind these leading priests. Behind them all was a rear guard to make sure they were not being attacked from behind. But aside from the sound of the trumpets, they were all to be silent, not speaking at all. On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times. When they completed the seventh circuit the trumpets would go silent, and the people will be told to shout.
The people obeyed. They trusted God’s promise to give them the city. Imagine what would have been in the minds of those in Jerico as they watched them march each day. Each day as they completed their circuit of Jerico, they came back to their camp to rest up for the next day’s march.
On that seventh day they went around the city seven times just as God had told them. When they had completed the last circuit of the city Joshua told them to shout. Joshua told them to “Shout, for the LORD has given you the city.” (Joshua 6:16)
There they stood after seven days circling the city, the seventh circuit on the seventh day was over. Nothing seemed to have changed! The walls were still there. Jerico’s guards and army was still there. Where were any signs of victory? Why were they shouting when nothing had changed? There were no cracks in the city’s walls, no flags of surrender. No! They had only one thing that gave them a sense of victory: the promise of God. That’s why they confidently marched around the walls, blew the trumpets, and shouted in victory: The LORD had said that he would give them the city when they did as he told them!
The people shouted in victory while the walls still stood before them! And the walls came tumbling down!
There have been many challenging times met by a confident faith. Rejoicing took place when God’s promises were fulfilled after looming dangers.
– At the crossing of the Red Sea the Jews walked between walls of water while the Egyptian army chased after them. but they trusted God’s promise to hold back the water and stop the threatening soldiers on chariots. Faith in God’s word brought them safely across, and drowned the Egyptian attackers!
– Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bravely faced burning in the fiery furnace – God delivered them!
– Daniel by faith bravely faced the hungry lions – God delivered him!
– The Apostle Paul accepted Roman imprisonment – God gave him a ministry there. He wrote letters to the churches which became books of the Bible, and he converted Roman guards.
There were also shouts of victory
when Jesus was just newly born.
At Christmas time every year we specially remember his birth. Most just think of the historic details of Christ’s birth with manger scenes with adoring shepherds and wise men. But his birth was just the beginning of God fulfilling his promise. When we think of his coming with a true faith, we reflect with confidence in God’s promises about his mission. He was just beginning to accomplish something amazing by his coming to earth. He was God’s long promised Messiah, though to those there in Bethlehem, they just saw a baby.
Luke 2:10-11 tells about the confidence of the angels, “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ” Luke 2:15-20 tells about the confidence of the shepherds. They came quickly and found the baby lying in a manger. They returned “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (:20). Luke 2:25-35 tells about the confidence of Simeon, a man “righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel” He recognized Jesus as Messiah when He was brought to the temple by his parents. He took Him in his arms and blessed God saying, “my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (:30-32). Luke 2:36-38 tells about the confidence of Anna, an 84-year-old woman of the family of Asher. She praised God when she saw the baby Jesus, and gave thanks to God. She told the good news to those who by faith in God’s promises “were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Matthew 2:1-12 Tells about the confidence of the Magi, wise men from the East. They saw a star on the night of Christ’s birth and came to Jerusalem to find the new King of the Jews. When they leaned that Micah predicted He would be born in Bethlehem they walked the few miles south to find the child (probably then a toddler a year old). They presented their gifts and bowed down to worship him.
But why? Wasn’t this just a baby? Who could know what he would accomplish? Yet they responded with great joyful praise! They didn’t see just a baby. With eyes of faith they saw the Savior.
These all saw the baby Jesus while trusting in the promises of God with great confidence. That’s how standing at the foot of the walls of Jerico, and standing at the cradle of Jesus, are similar. Both groups saw in what stood before them, a promise of God that was about to be fulfilled.
The coming of Messiah marked the completion of God’s plan. Though he was then just a new-born, the eyes of confidence in God’s promises saw a Savior. In him they recognized the promises of God. They trusted confidently that he would succeed and fulfill the plan. and they acted on that faith to worship, to live, or even to die, for the promise of God.
Today, walls loom over us
as they did at Jerico.
What’s happening in our world can seem dooming to those who don’t trust in God’s promises. There are walls of hatred, greed, prejudice, violence, crime, immorality, and a lust for power. To those without a confident Biblical faith it all seems discouraging, unbeatable, and discouraging. But when we see with eyes of faith, confidently trusting God’s promises, we get things in perspective.
There are tasks to be done for God’s glory today. There are still opportunities for growing spiritually, worshiping our Creator and Redeemer, and for helping others to trust in the work of Christ and the Lordship of the King of Kings.
As we look at our various Christian duties and we read the promises God attaches to them, our fears and excuses are foolish and cowardly. God tells us not to react to challenging situations with excuses, or with feelings of uncertainty. In whatever we face we are called to keep his promises in mind, and to trust in them confidently. He will be there to fulfill those promises, and he calls us to face them by doing what he tells us to do.
God’s promises are still there for his people today. Jesus promised to be with us always and everywhere. In Matthew 28:20 Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the end of the age”
He promises to forgive us, even though we don’t deserve it. He took the punishment we deserve to the cross. Galatians 2:16, “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
It’s helpful to understand the cause of our salvation here. Grace is the cause, (“grace” here is “chari-ti” (χάριτί), an instrumental dative form. This grace is directed “through” our faith. “Through” is the Greek word “dia” (διὰ) which means “by means of”.
He promises to change lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Hebrews 13:20-21, “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
The walls of Jerico were not a discouragement to God’s people. Walls may hinder us and frustrate our human efforts to get in, but they aren’t barriers to God. The walls stand as monuments to what God is about to accomplish!
When we remember Israel shouting outside the walls of Jerico, it reminds us of God’s promises about to be fulfilled just as he said they would be. When we remember the birth of Jesus Christ we should see a great ancient promise being fulfilled. When we see those walls trying to block our way today, with eyes of faith we should see God’s promise in infant form.
When we read God’s promises in his word, and hear them taught to us in church, when we sing those hymns based on passages in God’s word, when we humble ourselves before God in worship and prayer what should it stir in us? There should be shouts of victory in our hearts, and real joy in the unfailing promises of God. Don’t let the walls get you down. Let your confident faith bring the walls down!
Let God’s people claim victory and get on with our tasks as part of our King’s Kingdom. Too many times today people want to feel victory, and see results, before they commit themselves to something. If that was the case at Jerico, the walls would have remained the barrier they seemed to be. Israel would not have experienced God’s power.
Some sit around and try to figure everything out before they act. How does our obedience and God’s Sovereign promise merge? That’s a good question for Bible study, but don’t let it immobilize you from acting on God’s word. If Israel stood at Jerico and had a great debate about how God’s promise and their obedience fit together, they would still have been there philosophizing in the shadows of the looming city walls. Deuteronomy 29:29 warns us that the secret things of God will remain secret until He makes them known. There it says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Our job is to know the duties God gives us and to evidence the faith we claim to have by our confident actions.
Such things should stir us to act in confidence. We should expect to see exactly what God said he would do.
When we stand at the foot of the barriers that appear in our circumstances, we need to see beyond them. We need to see the victories they represent as we rely on the power brought to earth in that cradle. God tells us there are things to rest in, victories over adverse circumstances as God has promised. When we do: we demonstrate faith at work in us, we show that we trust God’s promises to never leave us or forsake us, we show our complete trust and confidence in God.
God promises us comfort and encouragement as we rest in God’s promises as Israel did at Jerico. For six days they marched around the city, carried that Ark of the Covenant as a reminder. On the seventh day they marched around those strong walls seven times. All the while they showed their confidence in God who comforted them as they obeyed. As we deal with the walls that stand against us, we have that same source of comfort when we keep those promises in mind. We’ll see the walls come tumbling down in God’s good time as promised.
Be sure you’ve come to the Savior in this kind of faith. It’s that trust that rests confidently in what God has done and spoken!
Recognize the promises that were in infant form in Bethlehem, but since they were God’s promises, there was joy among God’s people. With eyes of faith they saw in that infant Jesus the beginning of a great work! They knew that God’s promises, even those given long ago, can’t fail. It’s that expectation that led Israel to cross the Red Sea. It’s what caused Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to step into the burning furnace. It’s what gave Daniel confidence in the lion’s den. It’s what kept Israel marching obediently, expectantly, as they marched around Jerico. It’s what keeps us encouraged as we live as God teaches us as we stand before the walls of each days challenging circumstances.
Note: Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Hebrews 11 index: “Faith and What Flows From It“