Sermon #     64                                                  Hebrews Notes


     Title:            Let me die like this!

     Text:            Hebrews 11:21

     Reading:      Bobbie Estes & David Burge – Genesis 48:1-22

     Subject:       The faith of Jacob

     Date:            Tuesday Evening - September 18, 2001

     Tape #         W-62a



There is no gift in all the world to be compared with God’s gift of faith. Rich indeed is that immortal soul to whom God has graciously granted faith in Christ!


“Oh, gift of gifts! Oh, grace of faith! My God, how can it be

That Thou, Who hast discerning love, Shoulds’t give that gift to me!


Ah, Grace! Into unlikeliest hearts It is thy boast to come,

The glory of thy light to find In darkest spots a home.


Thy choice, O God of goodness, then I lovingly adore;

O, give me grace to keep Thy grace, And grace to long for more!”


Faith is a precious gift! We find it precious in life. In trials and temptations, in heartache and sorrow, in trouble and tribulation, in the fiery furnace and in the raging sea, faith proves itself blessed. But never is faith so precious as it shall be when the cold sweat of death is on our brow and we are about to leave this world.


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.


Three Examples of Faith


In Hebrews 11:20-22 the Holy Spirit furnishes us with three examples of faith in the final crisis and conflict of life (Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph). God hereby assures his trembling and doubting children, that he who has begun a good work in them will perform it unto their last day. He who has sovereignly and graciously given us this precious grace of faith will not allow it to languish when its support is most needed. 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.


Preparation for Death


Though we naturally shy away from thoughts about death and try to avoid talking about it, we must all prepare to meet God. As believers, we need instruction from the Book of God in preparation for death and the comforts that can be ours in those last hours. Satan is ever seeking to strike terror in the hearts of God’s children. I want you to know the groundlessness and hollowness of his lies.


     A God-given and a God-sustained faith is not only sufficient to enable the feeblest saints to overcome the weakness of the flesh, the attractions of the world, and the temptations of Satan, but it is also able to give us a triumphant passage through death. I love that passage in Moses’ song of triumph that speaks of God silencing our enemies and giving his people easy passage through death unto heavenly glory (Ex. 15:16-18).


(Exodus 15:16-18)  "Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. (17) Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (18) The LORD shall reign for ever and ever."


Precious Deaths


It is written, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” 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. The believer’s last experience in this world shall be his best. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Pro. 4:18).


This body may convulse with pain, and physical unconsciousness set-in, yet my soul, once it is freed from this body of flesh, shall be blest with a sight and sense of my precious Redeemer such as I have never yet enjoyed! You will get an idea of what I am talking about in Acts 7, as you read about Stephen’s very last experience in this world. -- “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” (Ps. 37:37). A peaceful death has concluded the troublesome life of many.


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 sojourn through this vale of tears was a stormy passage indeed; but the waters were all smooth as he entered his desired haven. Many hours of his life were cloudy and dark, but it was bathed with the radiant splendor of sunset at its close. As I prepared this message, my heart kept crying out to my God, “Let me die like this!” And that is the title of my message. – Let me die like this!


     Tonight we will watch Jacob when he was dying, and seek to learn from his example.


(Hebrews 11:21)  "By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff."


Proposition: Faith’s last act is its most blessed and delightful act, bringing us into heaven’s glory land with Christ.




1.     Jacob was a believer.

2.     Jacob left his sons a rich heritage.

3.     Jacob’s example of faith is a great source of comfort and encouragement to me.


I.                  Jacob was a believer, a man of true faith.


As we shall see in a few minutes, Jacob had great weaknesses, great faults, and great failures, as all believers do. Yet, he was a man who believed God. He was a prince with God, a man chosen in eternal love, washed in the blood of Christ, robed in his perfect righteousness, born of the Spirit. Jacob was one of us.


A.   Above all the other patriarchs Jacob’s life was marked with trials and temptations; and he therefore 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. His was an uphill struggle from beginning to end.


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.


·        We all are as full of error as Jacob.

·        We are all, like Jacob, if we are born of God, a people with two warring natures.

·        But that which is most prominent about this man, Jacob, is this fact: -- He believed God.


a.      He valued the birthright Esau despised. – Jacob esteemed Christ and his salvation of greater value than anything else.

b.     He coveted the promises of God’s free, covenant grace in Christ.

c.     He desired the Lord to be his God. – “The Lord shall be my 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, he prevailed as a prince with God (Gen. 32:28).

f.       Like his fathers 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). He rested his soul on his God.


2.     Blessed is it to see the conduct of this man, this believing sinner, when he was brought before Pharaoh, ruler of the greatest empire of the world.


a.      Instead of groveling 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.               When he was dying, this old believer blessed his sons, leaving them a rich, rich heritage by faith.


Jacob’s benediction upon his sons, which we read together a few minutes ago, was a great act of faith (Gen. 48:8-20). We can learn much from its circumstances.


A.   His Realization


1.     Jacob exercised faith in his old age; and in the immediate prospect of death (Gen. 47:29; 48:21).


(Genesis 47:29)  "And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt:"


(Genesis 48:21)  "And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers."


NOTE: In spite of all his trials and conflicts, the weaknesses and discomfort 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.     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.” – This is the very core and essence of faith


a.      To Lay Hold Of God’s Covenant (2 Sam. 23:1-5).

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.


·        It is the foundation of all blessedness (Eph. 1:3).

·        It is the charter of our heavenly inheritance.

·        It is the guarantor of our eternal glory.


He who keeps God’s covenant in view will have a happy deathbed, a peaceful end, and a God-honoring exit from this world of suffering and sin (2 Sam. 23:1-5). Upon his deathbed 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.”


     Oh, yes, a clear, firm view of Christ and the covenant of God’s grace in him secures the hearts of dying saints!


3.     (Gen. 48:15) -- Here Jacob declared that 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.”


The Puritan, John Owen, wrote, “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.”


I pray that God will give me grace now and when I am leaving this world to honor him by bear testimony before all who are in any way influenced by me to his faithfulness in all things all the days of my life.


B. Jacob’s RemembranceHe never forgot God’s mercy to him in redemption, calling Christ “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil” (Gen. 48:16).


Jacob’s faith was in Christ, the Son of God, the Angel of the Covenant (Gen. 32:24-30). He redeemed him from all evil…


·        By Blood.

·        In Effectual, Saving Grace.

·        In Providence.

·        Very Soon by Death.

·        In Resurrection Glory!


C.   His Revelation -- In his old age Jacob’s hands were guided wittingly, understandingly, so that he blessed the sons of Joseph and pronounced their future according to purpose of God (Gen. 48:14, 16-18).


1.     He desired the blessings of God’s grace in Christ for his sons rather than the wealth of Egypt. -- The delights of this world are nothing compared to the blessings of Zion (Ps. 128:5; 134:3; 133:3).


(Psalms 128:5)  "The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life."


(Psalms 133:3)  "As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore."


(Psalms 134:3)  "The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion."


2.     Even in his dying hour, when the will of his most favored relative crossed the will of God, the old man wisely taught Joseph to yet submit to the will of God (Gen. 48:18-19).


Jacob understood, 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.           Jacob’s faith is a very great source of comfort and encouragement to me.


If I had been given the task of choosing an example of faith to hold before us, by which to comfort and encourage God’s saints in this world, I would never have chosen Jacob; but God did. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that he did.


You see, Jacob was a man very much like me. He was a believer, but often very unbelieving. He was a righteous man, but often did things totally contrary to his true character. He was a man who loved God, but often appeared to love himself more than anything. Jacob was a faithful, faithful man, but often appeared unfaithful. He was a strong pillar of God’s church, but often seemed to be as fickle as the wind. He was a saint, robed in the righteousness of Christ, but often did that which was horribly sinful.


Perhaps you are thinking, “Bro. Don, How do those facts comfort and encourage you?” I’m so glad you asked. – Jacob is with Christ in glory! as he left this world, the Holy Spirit tells us he left here worshipping God.


(Hebrews 11:21)  "By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff."


     Jacob is with Christ in glory because

·        God chose him.

·        Christ redeemed him.

·        The Holy Spirit called him.

·        The Lord God kept him by his grace, giving him faith to the end, enabling that poor sinner to trust Christ until he at last drew his last breath and obtained that salvation which his brother Esau despised.


Application: This is my prayer: -- O Lord, my God, let me die like Jacob. Give me grace to die like this, looking to Christ.


1.     Nothing will give us peace in the hour of death like a clear, firm view of Christ, the Angel of the Covenant, and God’s covenant grace in him.


2.     If we would leave a rich heritage for those who follow us, let us leave with them the gospel of God’s free grace in Christ.


3.     When we come to death let us rejoice in God our Savior and leave here worshipping God, leaning upon our Staff – Christ CRUCIFIED!


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 slow, 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