Introduction: If you are looking for a new car repair place, a new
doctor, dentist or lawyer, what do you do? Right! You ask around to
see if someone had a good experience with one of these service
providers. How did things go? The word of a third party is much more
important than the advertising of the service provider, right? Our
lesson this week plunges us into the testimony of third parties about
faith and the Second Coming. So let’s enjoy the dive!
- Read Hebrews 12:1-3. “Cloud of witnesses.” Now that is a
remarkable description. What comes to mind when you read
“cloud of witnesses?” Why do you think the writer of
Hebrews would describe witnesses that way? (It shows us
there are a lot of witnesses and it creates a picture of
them being in heaven.)
- What is the purpose of this group of witnesses? (They
make our goal clear (fix our eyes on Jesus), they
help us get going (run the race) and they keep us
going (not grow weary and lose heart).)
- Sounds like motivational speakers, right?
- Who are these great motivational witnesses?
( Hebrews 12:1 starts out with “therefore.” The
first part of Hebrews 12 is the conclusion to
Hebrews 11 – the famous “faith chapter” of the
Bible. So let’s go there next to find the
witnesses that will get us focused and
- Read Hebrews 11:7. What is “holy fear?” This text does not
give us any details about the warning or what Noah did.
Let’s turn to Genesis 6:9-11 to get the details. Read.
- Compare what kind of man Noah was to the general
- When verse 9 says Noah was “blameless among the
people of his time,” is God saying, “by
comparison, he was real good?”
- Is this more a comment about Noah, or the
people of the time?
- Or is this a praise that Noah was
blameless even though he was living in a
- Let’s read on. Genesis 6:12-14. What reaction would you
have if God came to you with this message?
- What reaction do you think Noah had to this message?
- What if God warned you that a nuclear bomb was going
to destroy your neighborhood and your country, but
God would provide you and your family with a bomb
shelter. Would you like that? Is the shelter only
the “lesser of two evils?”
- How does the book of Revelation compare to Genesis
6:13? (Read Matthew 24:38-39. The book of Revelation
is a prophecy of events preceding the Second Coming
which parallels the warning given to Noah.)
- Is God’s word to Noah about the Flood, better or
worse than His word to us about the Second
Coming? Which word would you rather get: word of
the Flood or the Second Coming? (The Second
Coming is much better. If I were Noah, I would
be depressed at first. Sure, the wicked would
be gone, but life as I knew it would also be
gone. No plays, no restaurants, no bakeries, no
grocery stores, no libraries, no services, no
nothing but a return to a primitive nature and
an altered topography and climate! The Second
Coming promises a wonderful new civilization and
culture with God.)
- Today we face the philosophy that no opinion or set
of opinions is superior. All opinions are simply
different and equally acceptable. Does that square
with our Noah story so far? (No! God makes
distinctions with serious consequences that follow.)
- What do you think Noah was doing while he was
building the ark? Was he keeping the purpose of the
construction a mystery? ( 2 Peter 2:5 calls Noah a
“preacher of righteousness.” He must have been
warning the people.)
- Is that one way in which Noah is a “witness?”
- Some witness! What success attended Noah’s 120
years ( Genesis 6:3) of preaching? ( 1 Peter 3:20
tells us that a total of eight, including Noah,
were convinced to enter the ark. On average, he
converted one family member every 17 years!)
- How do you think the world reacted to Noah? (Hebrews
11:7 puts it succinctly, Noah “warned about things
not yet seen.” His warning was completely contrary
to the evidence. The end result shows that no one
(alive at the time of the Flood) believed him except
- Now, put yourself in Noah’s place. You are about to
enter a world where virtually everything you know
will be gone, no one believes your warning, all of
the “evidence” is against you, and your “conversion
rate” is one family member every 17 years. How is
- What one thing did Noah have to hold on to?
( Hebrews 11:7 – his faith in God’s word.)
- Does this “witness” to you? Does your world
sometimes look like this? The future is
depressing, the evidence is against you, and you
are beginning to wonder whether God’s word is
true? (That is why Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us that
Noah is one of the witnesses that will point us
to Jesus and encourage us to run and not grow
- Read Hebrews 11:8-10. How many of you had the verse 8
problem at some time in your life — you did not know
where you were going?
- How does that feel?
- Let’s read Genesis 12:1-3 to find the details. If you were
Abram, what factors would be against doing what God
directed? (Leaving everything he knew – his family, his
“people” and his country.)
- I think this instruction to Abram is very much like
the instruction to Noah. Which one would have been
more difficult to follow? Why? (Noah got to keep his
family. Abram, just his wife and a nephew (Genesis
12:5). Abram was going to a new “civilization,” while
Noah was going into a completely new world with no
existing social structure. Abram seems to have
avoided the ridicule that undoubtedly was heaped on
- Other than simple obedience to God, what reasons did
Abram have to do what God asked? (God was promising
to make him a “great nation” (v. 2)
- Look again at Hebrews 11:9-10. Was Abram looking forward
to heaven? Or, since he had been promised to be a “great
nation,” was he looking forward to a city and culture
composed of his family and based on worshiping God?
- Read Genesis 22:1-3. Let’s put the picture together here.
Abraham has relied on God’s promise to become a great
nation, he has done his part by giving up his family,
friends and culture, now God asks him to kill his (v.2)
“only son.” What would you be thinking if you were
Abraham? Would you argue with God?
- Child sacrifice (a common practice in our country
today)is directly contrary to God’s will. He says it
is “detestable” ( Jeremiah 32:35). How could Abraham
have obeyed God’s detestable order?
- Does this show that when we obey God we have to
turn off our brains?
- Read Hebrews 11:17-19. What solution did Abram see? Would
this solution have occurred to you?
- Why would God raise Isaac from the dead just after He
had ordered him killed?
- Can you give me a “rule” or a “principle” for knowing
what to do when God calls on us to do “wrong” things?
(Abraham’s brain was not turned off. It was working
in a remarkable way. Instead of thinking “What God
commands is nonsensical and impossible,” we should
say “Everything God says will be fulfilled if I
obey.” With that assumption, and without any
limitations, we need to consider how this (what God
promises and commands) can be done. Thinking “outside
the box,” Abraham decided that they only way all this
could work out would be for God to raise his son from
the dead. Remarkable faith!)
- If you were to summarize the lesson to be learned from the
stories of Noah and Abraham, what would you say? (Faith is
obedience to God when all of the “structure” of our life
is ripped away. It is a willingness to move ahead in
obedience when the only support is an absolute faith that
God will do as He promised.)
- Read Hebrews 11:13-16. Did either Noah or Abraham see
God’s promises fulfilled? (In part. Noah seemed to see
more fulfilled than Abraham.)
- Both Noah and Abraham were entering new country. Did
they have yet more new country to enter? (Yes! These
verses tell us that they looked forward to heaven,
the “new country” where all of the promises will be
- Is this true for you? Will you have to wait for
heaven for God’s promises to you to be fulfilled?
(Read again Hebrews 12:2. This tells us that Jesus
waited for “new country!” He endured the cross “for
the joy set before Him.” He was willing to suffer now
for the reward to follow.)
- Are Noah and Abraham “new country” witnesses? That
is, as you consider their experiences, does it help
you to trust God when He calls you to a new country?
- Friend, Jesus’ promise of the Second Coming is a promise
of a better land, a better country. If you, on faith,
accept His invitation, just as did Noah and Abraham, God
will reward your faith with a new home. Your faith in that
promise will keep you going when you face difficult times
- Next Week: The Witness of the Remnant and the Second Coming.