Hebrews 11:17–22 (NKJV)
The faith of the Patriarchs is further on display in this passage. While Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were grouped together as heirs of a heavenly promise in the previous passage, their living out of those promises and passing them on is the subject of this passage.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.Hebrews 11:17-22
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.
Abraham’s faith was evidenced by his belief in a son of promise in Sarah’s and his old age. However, in this instance, Abraham’s faith is lived out in his willingness to obey the command of God to offer up his son Isaac as a burnt sacrifice. At the time, Isaac was identified as the son of promise. Abraham was still willing to obey, believing that if he was compelled to complete the actual sacrifice of his son, in whom Abraham’s seed would be called, that God was able and would raise him up from the dead. It is known that God provided a ram for the burnt offering in place of Isaac, providing a type and shadow of the sacrifice of Christ for humanity. Figuratively, though, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead, as he was willing to offer him.
Isaac’s example of faith is recorded in a very brief statement saying, “by faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.” The story behind this blessing, though, is very complex. In his youth, Jacob shrewdly bartered Esau out of his birthright and tricked Isaac out of the firstborn blessing. In effect, Jacob supplanted Esau as the firstborn in every way. This was symbolic of his furthering the lineage of Abraham and Isaac to Jacob and producing the furtherance of the nation of Israel. Was this God’s will? Was the blessing legitimate? We can only assume so, for God did carry out the promise to Abraham through Jacob. Eventually, Esau’s line (the Edomites) would be at war with Israel, but Israel prevailed. Isaac did bless both of them, but Jacob became the firstborn in the lineage of Abraham.
Jacob further blessed all his children, who would become the twelve tribes of Israel. By faith, he gave them his patriarchal blessing, but especially blessed the two children of Joseph, his favored and precious son, giving them equal share of the inheritance with the other sons of Israel. They would fill the spots held by their father Joseph and their uncle Levi, whose tribe was tapped as the priestly line of Jacob, having no inheritance of their own because they lived off the temple. The faith of Joseph is seen in the prophetic faith exhibited by Joseph at his death as he mentioned the eventual leaving of Israel from Egypt back to the promised land of Canaan. He made this known as he gave instructions to carry his bones back to Canaan when they went back home. It was 400 years later, but did happen as he had prophesied in faith.
It is important for us to communicate and demonstrate faith to our children and our children’s children. Individuals cannot expect the next generation to carry on their faith if they do not pass that faith down to them. Just as the patriarchs passed down their faith, we must pass down our faith through example, teaching, and worship. Be sure that you follow the example of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Be a patriarch and pass down your most holy faith!