Bible Baptist Church

" Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...... John 3:3

The Faith of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph

Hebrews 11:20-22


·         One thing links these three examples of faith together. In each case it was the faith of a man to whom death was very near.




·         The blessing of faith is that it not only carries us in life, but also in death


I.                    Isaac’s faith

a.      His name means laughter- he was direct proof that there is nothing too hard for God!

b.      Isaac was patient for a wife- Gen.  24

c.       He was a hard-worker and excelled at his trade for God’s glory- Gen. 26:12-22

d.      He was persistent, unrelenting , and faithful in doing God’s will- Gen. 26:17-22

                                                              i.      Too many times we give up when obstacles come our way. We have to overcome those obstacles and be faithful like Isaac was.

e.      However, Isaac made mistakes as a father. He played favorites, and preferred Esau over Jacob

f.        Genesis 25:23, “And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”

g.      Gen 27:1- Isaac was really in the flesh, not in faith, when he first intended to bless Esau instead of Jacob. He wanted to bless Esau with the birthright for carnal reasons. He liked Esau as a more “manly” man, and he liked the wild game he brought home. Instead he should have chosen Jacob, whom God chose.

h.      It may be asked, how Isaac can be said to have blessed Jacob by faith, when he was deceived by him?

i.        Yet this is what brought Isaac to the place of faith Genesis 27:33 says, Isaac trembled exceedingly. When Isaac trembled exceedingly, he was troubled because he knew that he had tried to defeat God’s plan, and that God beat him. He realized that he would always be defeated when he tried to resist God’s will

j.        Eventually, he said of Jacob, and indeed he shall be blessed (Genesis 27:33)

II.                  Jacob’s faith

a.      Jacob ‘s name means “supplanter”- he held his brother’s foot.

b.      He led a rather carnal life, and was known as a deceiver. He is an enigma in scripture but is a testimony of God’s grace. This shows us this is not a list of perfect men- but men who displayed faith in a perfect and awesome God.

c.       Jacob was a trickster, but soon Jacob the trickster would meet his match in Laban while looking for a wife (Gen 29:15-20).

d.      Jacob would have a very special encounter with God in Genesis 32:24-28. He wrestled until he received a blessing, and his name would be changed to Israel (He who struggles with God). God was teaching Jacob that he must be humbled, and come to the end of himself.

e.      Jacob had to lean on the top of his staff because he was given a limp many years before when God confronted him at Peniel (Genesis 32:24-32). As he leaned on his staff he remembered that God was great and held his future and the future of his descendants. Therefore he worshiped, demonstrating his faith and dependence on God.

f.        His faith could also look beyond death – and he blessed each of his sons.

g.      By faith Jacob, when he was a dying,.... Which was the usual time of blessing with the patriarchs; when there was no appearance of the fulfilment of these things, and it was not likely that he should see them come to pass; and this shows the truth of what the apostle says in Hebrews 11:1. In Gen. 48 he blesses his sons.

h.      He blessed both the sons of Joseph; whose names were Ephraim and Manasseh; the form of blessing them is recorded in Genesis 48:15 and which was done in faith, and under the direction and inspiration of the Spirit of God

i.        The blessing was: "in them let my name be perpetuated and let them grow into a multitude among the nations of the earth."

j.        He called for Joseph to attend to a matter of legality - Jacob had decided to adopt his two grandsons, as sons.

k.       Jacob elevated the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh (the two sons of Joseph) to the status of full tribes in their own right, replacing the tribes of Joseph and Levi (who received no inheritance of land but would be supported as priests by the other tribes).

III.                Joseph’s faith

a.      Joseph is much easier to preach about- we see his exemplary life and testimony in Genesis. But we must remember- it was also by God’s grace. He found “favor” in the sight of the Lord.

b.      Joseph made mention of the departure of the children of Israel in Genesis 50:24, when he said: “God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” He knew God’s promise was true!

c.       The riches and honours of Joseph, could not secure him from death, and they did not make him afraid of dying, or uneasy about it; nor did his prosperity make him proud, or above speaking to his brethren, nor revengeful to them, nor unthoughtful of their future afflictions; nor did his wealth of temporal things take off his concern for the divine promises.

d.      He gave instructions concerning his bones: When Joseph died he was never buried. His coffin laid above ground for the 400 or so years until it was taken back to Canaan. It was a silent witness all those years that Israel was going back to the Promised Land, just as God had said.

e.      This is an instance of his humility, in choosing to lie with his people, rather than with the kings, and great men in Egypt!

f.        He did not want to be numbered among the nation of idolaters!

g.      Joseph’s faith testified for years after his death. All during that time, when a child of Israel saw Joseph’s coffin and asked why it was there and not buried, they could be answered, “Because the great man Joseph did not want to be buried in Egypt, but in the Promised Land God will one day lead us to.”

h.      When Moses led the children of Israel through the wilderness, he carried the bones of Joseph with him.  Exodus 13:19 says, "And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you."

i.        The book of Joshua ends with the Israelites burying Joseph's bones in the Promised Land (Joshua 24:32). 



·         The point which the writer to the Hebrews wishes to make is that all three men died without having entered into the promise that God had made, the promise of the Promised Land and of greatness to the nation of Israel. Isaac was still a nomad, Jacob was an exile in Egypt. Joseph had attained to greatness but it was the greatness of a stranger in a strange land; and yet they never doubted that the promise would come true. They died not in despair but in hope. Their faith defeated death.

·         I may not live to see it, death may come to me before that promise becomes a fact; but I am at least a link in its fulfilment.

·         Tis the old time religion: It will do when I’m dying, it will take us all to heaven, tis the old time religion and it’s good enough for me.”