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Hebrews 11:23-31 meaning

Faithful believers still do what is right even in the face of persecution.

The examples given in this section demonstrate incredible faith in the face of hardship and hostility. These believers realized that having faith in God and being obedient to Him result in greater blessings.

The first example given is Moses's family. The Pharaoh at the time had commanded that all of the Hebrew male babies born in Egypt were to be thrown into the Nile River (Exodus 1:22): By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict (v 23). But Moses's family had faith in God. They hid Moses in a basket and floated it on the Nile River. Pharaoh's daughter found the basket and adopted Moses as her own. 

Moses could have led an easy life in Pharaoh's palace, but when he grew up, he chose to associate with the Hebrews who were greatly persecuted by Pharaoh: By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin (vv 24-25). 

Moses was able to make this choice, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt (v 26). He knew that disgrace for the sake of Christ (God0 was far more valuable than what the world could offer and that a better heavenly reward was available to him if he obeyed God. Although he suffered shame and ill-treatment, he was looking to the reward awaiting him in heaven (v 26).

Moses had many interactions with Pharaoh before he left Egypt with the Israelites. As we learned in verse 1, faith is the conviction of things not seen. Although Moses could not see God, he trusted His instruction. When he finally led the Israelites out of Egypt, by faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen (v 27). He was unafraid of Pharaoh because he had encountered God who is unseen (Exodus 3). He kept his focus on God and so continued without fear, knowing that God is greater.

In Exodus 12, God delivered His final plague on Pharaoh so that the Israelites could go free. God killed the first-born sons in all of Egypt, except for those that sprinkled sacrificial blood on the top and sides of their doorposts. By faith Moses and the Israelites observed God's commands and kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them (v 28). Their firstborn sons were spared.

When the Israelites had left Egypt, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army out to bring them back. God parted the Red Sea, making dry land so that the Israelites could pass through, and when the Egyptians tried to pursue them, God released the sea and they were drowned (Exodus 14). By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned (v 29). Moses and the Israelites experienced doubt and great hardship that would cause many to be paralyzed in fear, but their faith in God allowed them to continue.

These last verses show the victory of Jericho: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days (v 30). God told the Israelites to circle the walls of Jericho for seven days. This might have seemed a tedious task. However, they had faith in God and did as he asked them and after seven days, the walls of Jericho fell down

Rahab, a prostitute, lived in Jericho at this time but her life was spared because she welcomed Hebrew spies in peace into her home: By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace (v 31). When she did so, she asked that her life be spared, trusting in God rather than the walls of her city. Rahab was not a Hebrew, but her faith in God saved her life. She is a picture of those who cast their hope on a God they can't see rather than the world they can see (See Joshua 2, 6).

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