Many of us have in our past people of whom great stories have been told. These are our ancestors – people whom we have never met, living many generations ago. A Patriarch is similar to an ancestor, but he goes even further back in history to the time of the Old Testament. A Patriarch is defined as one of the scriptural fathers of the human race or of the Hebrew people.
The book of Hebrews in the Bible describes Patriarchs: “…who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” WOW! What a group of heroes! In this series of devotionals, we’ll be looking at some of these Patriarchs, of whom it was said, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.”
This series was written by Sam Broughton, Covenant Field Chaplain, with key contributions from David Cavitt.
“And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.”
-2 Samuel 5:9-10
David, the greatest king in Israel’s history, would certainly make the list of those who are honored in Hebrews 11 as living by faith. David’s first action as king was to establish a capitol city. The city of David is going to represent Israel’s strength and its very life. Look at these words to understand more about David and the City of David:
And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” -Judges 6:12
Gideon was a farm boy, sent by his dad to get food for his family, threshing the little wheat he could find on a wine press. One day he came to the wine press and was met by an angel who said, “Godis with you, O mighty warrior!” This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible! It’s just too funny that this beaten down, scared farm boy is called a Mighty Warrior! God really is the eternal, ultimate Optimist!
“By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” -Hebrews 11:31
It may be hard to believe, but right there in Hebrews 11, along with the great Heroes of Faith, is Rahab the prostitute. Throughout scripture, God uses common (sometimes the lowest) people to accomplish His purpose: fishermen, shepherds, tax collectors, farmers, and even harlots. This is one of the most interesting parts of reading the Bible. So, why did God choose Rahab?
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.” -Hebrews 11:30
After Moses leads the Israelites through the wilderness, it’s time for Joshua to lead them into the Promised Land. Joshua is told repeatedly by the Lord to “Be strong and courageous.” Joshua has a formidable task ahead of him – something that will be humanly impossible. He has no battle experience, no army, and no weapons. Joshua must lead by faith in God, his “Commanding Officer.”
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” -Hebrews 11:24-25
As a young man, he saw the horrible mistreatment of his people and stood up to the injustice. Just like his family, Moses refused to live by fear. By faith…he endured as seeing him (God) who is invisible.”
By faith Joseph said to his brothers, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” -Genesis 50:20
Joseph was the 11thof 12 sons of Jacob. He was Jacob’s favorite, and this would become a huge source of contention between Joseph and his brothers.
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise,as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” -Hebrews 11:8-10
The “traditional” Patriarchs are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and his 12 sons who would become the 12 tribes of Israel. If you’ve been reading the previous devotionals, you’ve noticed that I’ve been using the list of names from Hebrews 11. There are even some women mentioned in that chapter, but all these are “heroes of the faith,” and I think you’ll enjoy reading about them…
“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” -Hebrews 11:7
Your assigned task for today is to build a boat; not just any boat, but a boat the length of 1 ½ football fields! You’re not near any body of water that will hold this massive vessel, but you’ll need it, because you will fill it up with animals, and then you and your family will ride out the biggest flood ever! Who would have taken this assignment seriously? Well, Noah did and in the process taught us a whole lot about faith.
”By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” -Hebrews 11:5
Two men in the Old Testament were taken up into heaven while they were still alive: Enoch and Elijah.
”By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.” -Hebrews 11:4
The first 2 sons of Adam and Eve were Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer and Abel a herdsman. The time came for the young men to make an offering to the Lord. Cain brought an offering of the produce from his farm and Abel brought an offering from his herd. The Lord was pleased with Abel’s offering, but He rejected Cain’s offering. At first look, it seems the Lord was being unfair about the offerings of the two men. However, a closer look shows the rest of the story.