Relevant Verses: Hebrews 10-12
Leading question: What can we learn from the way New Testament writers remodel Old Testament stories?
The official study guide declares: “Hebrews 11 and 12 are probably the most-loved chapters of the book.” So let’s ponder the “faithful” characters described in chapter 11. We can go through the characters and add names under each of the following headings. The results should stir up some lively class discussion:
1. Hebrews’ version is glossier that the Old Testament original.
Abraham *laughed (as did his wife Sarah *worshiped other gods (Josh. 24:2) *was prepared to sacrifice Isaac Moses *hidden by his parents – who were not afraid *left Egypt, but unafraid of the king’s anger (cf. Exod. 2:14, “Moses was afraid”)
2. Surprising omissions: faithful people in the Old Testament who don’t make
the grade in Hebrews 11.
3. Surprising additions: Old Testament characters who surprisingly are listed among the faithful:
*Rahab – prostitute, Canaanite *Gideon – idolater in his later years *Samson – womanizer *Jephthah – sacrificed his daughter because of an unwise oath
Question: How does one arrive at a view of inspiration that allows for these differences?
Comment: Is it possible simply to let God’s people tell their stories without dictating to them how to do it? Two statements from Ellen White are worth noting:
*“No man can improve the Bible by suggesting what the Lord meant to say or ought to have said” Selected Messages, Bk. 1, p. 16.
*“There is not always perfect order or apparent unity in the Scriptures” Selected Messages, Bk 1, p. 20.
Question: What advantage might there be in simply laying the inspired passages side by side without trying to “harmonize” them?
Question: What do you find most encouraging about this “faith” chapter?
Comment: One theme that runs through the stories of the faithful ones is summarized by the last two verses of Hebrews 11:
Hebrews 11:39-40: Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
Comment: God planned things in such a way that all the communion of the saints, past and present could receive their full reward in Christ at the same time. None of us will have an advantage.