13 These 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. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
Speaking of the elders, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham (Sarah), Isaac, Jacob and all who lived with them in agreement- "These (who) all died in faith" with no doubts, overcoming this old world. People of faith are always looking for more than what's here, for what's beyond- "a country," a homeland, their Fatherland. These people all wanted to get back to where they came from and this is what pleases God, to dwell with His people.
Our lives are to be focused on the promises of God. This makes us long for so much more. Though they hadn't "received the promises," they pleased God and lived fulfilling lives. They didn't even feel like they belonged here; they "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Here we go from the "country" back to the "city" again. This really makes us think. People of faith get so focused on the unseen realm they don't go back to living how they once did. When God's will gets ahold of you and His Spirit is in control, your old life becomes nothing more than a fading memory. Walking with God is far greater than anything you will leave behind. Take it from those who "died in faith." Then suddenly we go back to Abraham's faith which must've somehow defied death.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
Here we come to one of those monumental occurences in the Old Testament, reverting back to something beyond their deaths. Now we enter into another level of the unseen realm of faith. This dimension deals with the gravest of considerations- death and sacrifice. Abraham was tried by Yahweh to offer his long awaited and beloved son Isaac on the altar. Words cannot express the seriousness involved in this event.
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
God tempts no man where it has to do with sin, nor is He tempted to sin (James 1:13). Look beyond the archaic language and recognize this was Yahweh testing Abraham. Understand, God had Abraham go thru this in large part, for our instruction, like with Job and so many others in the Old Testament Scriptures who endured and overcame impossible circumstances.
Though we know it now, Abraham didn't know how long it would take them to get to where God wanted them to go. Can you imagine the heaviness Abraham felt for those three days. Possibly the only rival would be the weight our Blessed Saviour carried, and then was raised after three days and nights in the grave.
We have no mention of how God communicated it to him, but Abraham just "lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off." How his heart could have dropped as 'reality' set in. Then Abraham says the most extraordinary thing "unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." Though they had no idea, these young men heard utterances of the most profound, spiritual significance, from one who lived in the unseen realm of faith. 'What did he mean?! We shall soon know.
At this point ,of course, Isaac has no idea what's really going on, unlike Christ Who knew exactly why He was carrying the cross up the hill. Abraham had his hands full; one holding the flame and the other, the knife; this is as real as it gets. What 'dose of reality' has God placed in your hands? Is it an impossible situation that you can't seem to figure out? Reality was bound to sink in.
As they travelled, Abraham knew this moment was coming, but he was trusting God. Then Isaac asks him the hard question: "Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Once again, when confronted with the fullest reality of the situation, Abraham gives another statement from the unseen realm of faith: "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together." How could Abraham know this?! Because his "eye" was in focus: he believed the promises of God.
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
Abraham not only carried the flame and the knife, but built the altar as well. Notice how his words and his actions seem to be contrary to one another. He tells the young men, "We will return," then he tells Isaac, "God will provide a lamb," as he is carrying the flame and the knife, then constructs a place of sacrifice, why? Because he is walking with God in the unseen realm of faith; nothing is impossible with God.
We get caught up in Abraham's faith, but what about Isaac's? "Oh he was just a little boy"- really? Then how's he carrying the wood? If he was a little boy, Abraham would've be carrying him. Isaac was trusting in the promises of God as well- that's great faith! Abraham "laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood." We don't see Isaac putting up any resistance at all, just like Christ was willing to freely die for us. Isaac was thriving in the unseen realm of faith by laying down on that altar.
Abraham was going all the way with his faith. It says, "And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son." The moment had come and Abraham shows no signs of backing down. Though he'd waited until he was 100 years old to have this son, he was not only willing to give him up, but to sacrifice him, himself. From the worldy, carnal, 'reality' perspective, this screams of madness. Yet in the unseen realm of faith it is one of the most inspiring examples of dedication.
11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
Immediately enters "the angel of Yahweh" for the deliverance. ABRAHAM AND ISAAC DEFIED DEATH BY THEIR FAITH. How did they do it? They believed in the promises of God. But how deep was their faith? Exactly how do we hold our faith like Abraham and Isaac?
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him as a figure.
They believed in resurrection. They believed God would do whatever it takes to keep His promises- even if He had to raise Isaac from the dead. Despite what should have been a low point in their lives and relationship, in the unseen realm of faith, Abraham and Isaac saw RESURRECTION POWER in their God. If you believe God can raise the dead, then you know there's nothing our God can't accomplish. And above all, that God is faithful and will always keep His Word, no matter the circumstances- He controls the circumstances!
We can never go wrong trusting God. When we consider such an example, how can we continue to neglect our faith and quench the power of the indwelling Spirit? God has created and called us to this life of faith, and we will not be victorious until we surrender to Him.
Abraham "received" Issac "as a figure also" "from the dead." Abraham's faith was so strong that he had already sacrificed Isaac to God in his heart, believing God would resurrect Isaac. Just like sin is first conceived in the heart, so too is faith. Abraham had already done it in his heart, therefore he received the living Isaac as having been raised. Abraham projected it in the unseen realm of faith, and it was MORE THAN REAL to him, though it had not physically happened. In this we see how our faith in God transcends what we call 'reality.'
Dwelling in the unseen realm of faith reveals that you are an eternal spirit in a fleshly body. Your greatest desire is to return back to where you came from, your eternal Father of Lights. Abraham and Isaac understood that nothing could stop God's Word from coming true and that's what they based their lives on. Our Father has all power, including resurrection power. What is there to fear if you are walking with Him?
We've missed it, we've not been taught, when it comes to faith. Faith is not only the belief that something in the past has happened, but based on the promises of God, it is the belief that something is going to happen. They were trusting that God would raise Isaac from the dead, though it did not happen or end up needing to happen. Their belief was in the God that can make all things happen, no matter what.