While we might grudgingly admit that Scripture calls us to live by faith (Hebrews 10:37-39), we secretly believe that it is an impossible task. We feel that it is only something that supersaints can achieve. But normal people have no chance at reaching to that lofty standard.
To challenge that assumption, the author of Hebrews 11 gives numerous examples of ordinary people who took God at his word. Abel went out of his way to please God and worship him extravagantly. Enoch walked with God in the midst of a corrupt society. Noah trusted God for the unknown. Abraham and Sarah left their comfort zone and followed God’s call. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph left a legacy of faith to their descendants. Moses left the comfort and pleasures of Egypt to endure hardship with God’s people.
In Hebrews 11:30-31, the author encourages his readers to learn from the example of Joshua and Rahab. Their faith demonstrates that when we face an impossible situation, we must believe that God will make us successful by trusting his plan and obeying his instructions.
God may give us an impossible task. From a human standpoint, Jericho was an impossible city to conquer. The city of Jericho covered about eight acres. It was strategically located in the center of Canaan and controlled the path into the hill country. It had a double set of walls and the gates were locked up tight. The first obstacle to overcome was not the Jordan River or the city of Jericho. The first obstacle to overcome was unbelief.
Believe that God will make you successful (Joshua 6:1-5). God had already prepared the way for Israel to be successful. The people of Jericho were scared (1). God promised the victory (2). God gave clear, direct instructions how to proceed (3-5). If God has called us to do something, then success is guaranteed. We need to understand that we fight from victory, not just for victory. While the battle plan was not physically taxing, it did require no small amount of courage and faith.
Recognize that success comes by trusting God’s plan (Joshua 6:6-16, 20). Scripture is very clear that faith precedes victory and belief precedes blessing. We must take God at his word and believe his promises if we want to achieve victory and enjoy his blessings. Because Israel stepped out in faith and trusted God’s plan, the walls of Jericho fell by faith (Hebrews 11:30).
Success comes by obeying God’s instructions (Joshua 6:17-19, 21-27). God gave four specific instructions. (1) Devote the entire city to God (17-18). (2) Rescue Rahab and her family (22-25). Joshua 2 explains that Rahab was an unlikely person to put faith in the true God, yet she did, and was saved by faith. She demonstrated her faith by her works of welcoming the spies (Hebrews 11:31). (3) Destroy every living thing (21). (4) Burn the city (24).
It is these last two commands that give us the most heartburn. The best explanation is to compare it to a surgeon removing a cancerous tumor from a person’s abdomen. God was removing evil from the land. Please understand that God had been patient from the time of Abraham (Genesis 15:16). He waited some 600 years before bringing judgment on the land.
Maybe God has not tasked you with conquering a city. Maybe your impossible task is living as a single parent. Perhaps your challenge is being a witness in the public schools. Maybe you are trying to live with integrity in a world that prizes deception. Perhaps your task is to conquer an addiction.
If God gives you a seemingly impossible task, trust his plan and obey his instructions. He will make your successful.
This is the synopsis of a message preached on October 13, 2019, at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. It is part of a series of expository sermons from the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.