Sermon #49 Miscellaneous Sermons:
Title: “Faith To Die By”
Text: Hebrews 11:21 (Genesis 48:5-22)
Subject: The faith of Jacob
Date: Tuesday Evening - September 18, 2001
Matthew Henry wisely observed, “Through the grace of faith is of universal use throughout our whole lives, yet it is especially so when we come to die. Faith has its greatest work to do at last, to help believers to finish well, to die to the Lord, so as to honor him, by patience, hope, and joy - so as to leave a witness behind them of the truth of God’s Word and the excellency of his ways, for the conviction and establishment of all who attend them in their dying moments.”
How greatly God is glorified when His people leave this world with their flag flying at full mast. His worthy name is marvelously honored when the Spirit triumphs over the flesh, when world is consciously and gladly left behind for heaven. For this faith must be in exercise.
We should observe that in Hebrews 11:20-22 the Holy Spirit has furnished us with three examples of faith in the final crisis and conflict of life. God would hereby assure his trembling and doubting children, that he who has begun a good work in them will perform it unto the last day. He who has sovereignly and graciously given the precious grace of faith to their hearts will not allow it to languish when its support is most needed. Beloved rest on this: God who has enabled his people to exercise faith in the vigor of life, will not withdraw his quickening power in the weakness of death.
Regretfully God’s children have been very little instructed, in our day, concerning preparation for death and the comforts that can be ours in those last hours. Satan is actively seeking to strike terror in the hearts of God’s children. Knowing this, it is the duty of Christ’s servants to expose the groundlessness and hollowness of Satan’s lies.
A God-given and a God-sustained faith is not only sufficient to enable the feeblest saint to overcome the solicitations of the flesh, the attractions of the world, and the temptations of Satan, but it is also able to give him a triumphant passage through death.
Balaam said, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his” (Num. 23:10). Well might he wish to do so. Every Christian, who, in the main current of his life, has walked with God, shall experience in his last hours the brightest and most blissful of all. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18). Though his body may convulse with pain, and physical unconsciousness set-in, yet the soul cutting adrift from its earthly moorings, is then blest with a sight and sense of his precious Redeemer such as he never had before. “He being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into Heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace” (Psa. 37:37). A peaceful death has concluded the troublesome life of many godly men. Mr. Spurgeon, in commenting on that verse, said: “With believers it may rain in the morning, thunder at midday, and pour torrents in the afternoon, but it must clear up ere the sun go down.” Most clearly do these words apply to the case of Jacob. His was a stormy passage indeed, but the waters were smooth as he entered the port. May hours of his life were cloudy and dark, but it was bathed with the radiant splendor of sunset at its close.
The believer’s faith enters upon its fruition in the hour of death. The faith of the dying saint is the most perfect faith.
1. The blessed man of faith.
2. The benediction message of faith.
3. The broken manner of faith.
I. The blessed man of faith.
A. Jacob, above all the other patriarchs, abounded in trials and temptations and therefore he furnishes us with many illustrious testimonies of faith.
NOTE: The life of faith is not like the shining of the sun on a calm and clear day, meeting with no resistance from the atmosphere; rather it is like the sun-rising on a foggy morning, its rays struggling to pierce through and dispel the opposing mists.
1. Jacob walked by faith, but in the exercise of faith he encountered many struggles, and he had to fight hard for each victory.
2. In spite of all his faults and failings, Jacob dearly prized his interest in the everlasting covenant. He trusted God and highly esteemed his promises.
NOTE: We all are as full of error as Jacob.
NOTE: The old nature was strong with him, but so was the new.
a. He valued the birthright which Esau despised.
b. His faith coveted the promises of God.
c. He desired for the Lord to be his God (Gen. 28:21).
d. Though he was terrified at Esau, nevertheless, he sought the Lord, pleaded his promises, and obtained the answer of peace (Gen. 32:12).
e. Though he cringed at the feet of his brother, in sequel we find him prevailing with God (Gen. 32:28).
f. Equally with Abraham and Isaac, “by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tents” (Heb. 11:9).
B. During the closing days of his life, Jacob’s faith shone most brightly.
1. When he gave permission for Benjamin to accompany his brothers on their second trip to Egypt, he said, “God almighty (or God the Sufficient One) give you mercy before the man” (Gen. 43:14). Thus he rested on the covenant promise.
2. Blessed is it to see the conduct of this Blessed Man of faith when he was presented before Pharaoh, ruler of the greatest empire of the world.
a. Instead of cringing before him, we are told, “Jacob blessed Pharaoh” (Gen. 47:7).
b. He acted as a child of the King of kings (Heb. 7:7). He carried himself with dignity as the ambassador of the Most High God.
II. The benediction message of faith.
This benediction of Jacob was a great act of faith (Gen. 48:8-20). We can learn much from the circumstances of this final benediction.
A. Jacob’s realization by faith.
1. His ages - Jacob exercised his faith in his old age; and not only so but when he had a certain prospect of the sudden approach of his death (Gen. 47:29; 48:21).
NOTE: In spite of all his trials and conflicts, the weaknesses and disconsolations of old age, he abode firm in the faith, and vigorous in the exercise of it. His natural decay did not cause any abatement in his spiritual strength.
2. His assertion - In this blessing of Joseph and his sons Jacob solemnly recognized, pleaded, and asserted the covenant made with Abraham (Gen. 48:15). “And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk.”
Here is the very life of faith:
a. To lay hold of the divine covenant.
b. To draw strength from it (Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 3:21 & 23; 2 Cor. 4:15).
c. To walk in the light of the everlasting covenant.
(1). It is the foundation of all our blessings (Eph. 1:3).
(2). It is the charter of our inheritance.
(3). It is the guarantor of our eternal glory.
NOTE: he who keeps it in view will have a happy deathbed, a peaceful end, and a God-honoring exit from this world of suffering and sin.
Quote: Upon his deathbed the eminent Dr. John Gill made a heartfelt confession by which we may almost look into his very soul.
“I depend wholly and alone upon the free, sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love of God, the firm and everlasting covenant of grace, and my interest in the persons of the Trinity, for my whole salvation; and not upon any righteousness of my own; nor anything in me, or done by me, under the influence of the Holy Spirit; Not upon any services of mine, which I have been assisted to perform for the good of the church, but, upon my interest in the Persons of the Trinity, the free grace of God, and the blessings of grace streaming to me through the blood and righteousness of Christ, as the ground of my hope. These are no new things to me, but what I have long been acquainted with; what I can live and die by. I apprehend I shall not be here long, but this you may tell to any of my friends.”
I say that a firm view of Christ, in the covenant secures the heart of dying saints!
3. His acknowledgment (Gen. 48:15). Here Jacob made an acknowledgment of all temporal, as well as spiritual, mercies were his by virtue of the covenant. “The God which fed me all my life long unto this day.”
Quote: “It was a work of faith to retain a precious thankful remembrance of divine providence in a constant provision of all needful temporal supplies, from first to last, during the whole course of his life” (John Owen).
NOTE: God is honored, before those surrounding his perishing body, when a dying saint bears testimony to his faithfulness in having supplied all his need.
B. Jacob’s reflection upon faith - “Redeemed me from all evil.”
1. His afflictions in faith.
Now all the dangers are past, all his evils conquered, all his fears removed, and he retains a sense of the goodness and kindness of God in delivering him out of them all. His love was nearly perfected (1 John 4:18).
2. His actions by faith - He remembers now the strength which God gave him by faith (Hosea 12:3-4).
NOTE: He had faith in the Son of God, the Angel of the covenant (Gen. 32:24-30).
C. Jacob’s revelation of faith.
In his old age Jacob’s hands were guided wittingly, understandingly, so that he blessed the sons of Joseph and predicted their future according to purpose of God (Gen. 48:14, 16-18).
1. He desired for them the blessings of the covenant, rather than the wealth of Egypt.
NOTE: The delights of this world are nothing compared to the blessings of Zion (Psa. 128:5; 134:3; 133:3).
2. His faith acted contrary to the will of his favorite son (Gen. 48:18).
D. Jacob’s resolute faith (Gen. 48:19).
Jacob was determined, at this stage of life, that obedience to God was the great thing. He had heard from God (Rom. 10:17), he believed God, and he submitted to God.
III. The Broken Manner of Faith.
The life of Jacob could be summed up in these words.
A. His deception - He was deceiving and cunning.
B. His determination - He was determined to have the promised blessings of God.
C. His repentance - He was finally broken and became totally dependent upon God. “He worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.”
NOTE: There is no contradiction between Genesis 47:31 and Hebrews 11:21. The Hebrew word may have a different pronunciation, depending on the supply of vowels. Hebrew does not itself have the vowels. If we read “mittah” it signifies a bed; if we read “matter” it signifies a staff. Paul simply quotes the LXX. His design is not an exact translation, but to express the posture and act of Jacob in this adoration.
1. He showed great confidence in God’s promise (Gen. 47:29-30).
2. Even in his dying hour he was a pilgrim, such was the purpose of emphasizing his staff.
3. He was in complete dependence upon God. His final act was one of worship! May it be yours and mine. That is what God does for all his elect (Phil. 2:5).
1. It is great mercy when faith grows strong in the last conflict with death.
2. In the dying hour nothing quickens faith so much as clear views of the Angel of the Covenant.
3. We should live constantly by faith, thus preparing to die by faith.
4. Such faith comes from Christ alone. Plead with him for it.
5. When we come to death let us rather rejoice than mourn.
Why do we mourn departing friends,
Or shake at death’s alarms?
Tis but the voice that Jesus sends,
To call them to His arms.
Are not we tending upward too,
As fast as time can move?
Nor should we wish our hours more show,
To keep us from our love.
The graves of all the saints He blest,
And softened every bed;
Where should the dying members rest,
But with their dying Head?
Thence He arose, ascending high,
And showed our feet the way;
Up to the Lord our flesh shall fly,
At the great rising day.
----- Isaac Watts
Faith in Jesus is faith to live by, ah but faith in Jesus is faith to die by - Amen!