Great Examples of Faith.
What is Faith?11:1, 2. This is the great chapter of faith. In the previous chapter the author concludes that, faith is the dynamic by which the just shall live (Heb: 10:38). But faith is a misunderstood word. Many people think it is believing in something we cannot prove. Others think if we believe in something long enough, it will come true. Faith is the assurance that what God has promised, He will fulfill. Also faith is the assurance upon which all Christian hopes are based. Faith is not a leap into unknown or a crutch for the weakling but the confident assurance that what God has promised is going to happen. As Christians s, we are not only saved by faith in Christ but also live by faith. It is the conviction of things not seen (11:1). It is not the quantity of our faith that saves us but the quality of the person in whom we place our faith. The writer explains in this chapter, what faith does than what it is. This confidence and conviction are based on the divine revelation. True faith is produced by God. It is taking God at His word. The Old Testament fathers received God's approval because of their faith.
By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God. 11:3. This visible world points to an invisible Creator. There are many views about creation account. Material science cannot explain the origin of the world. The theory of evolution has no satisfactory answer for the origin of the universe. The conclusions of all these theories are not final and in a state of flux. All these theories of origins have never been proven and still remain as only theories. But the Bible starts with the statement that "In the beginning God created the heavens and earth". No one witnessed the act of creation, yet by faith we know that the worlds were framed by the word of God. In fact those who deny the special creation theory must have more faith to believe their theories.
Worship of Faith.11:4. Now the writer illustrates lives of the Old Testament leader to show, what faith does and how it enabled them to have a right relationship to God. Abel, Enoch and Noah were heroes of faith lived before the days of Abraham. Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Abel is the picture of true worship. God revealed to Abel that there is a right way to approach God. He offered his sacrifice by faith and this he pleased God. Cain offered his sacrifice in his self will and with our faith. He was of the evil one (1 John 3:12). In Abel's sacrifice we see the worship of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God(11:6). Abel's offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man when God gave the approval of his offering. We cannot devise our own way to come to God or to worship God (John 14:6). We are exhorted to offer the sacrifices of praise to God continually through Jesus Christ (13:15).
The walk of faith. 11:5. By faith Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying. He walked with God in a time of wickedness. At the age of 65 Enoch started walking with God along with his family (Genesis 5:21-24). It was a Walk of Faith and fellowship with God. Before he was translated at the age 365, Enoch had received the testimony that he pleased God. It is impossible to please God without faith. He that comes to God must believe in the existence of sovereign God and live accordingly. God rewards those who seek Him in faith. They will enter His presence either by the way of death or by rapture. When Christ returns, those who are in Christ will be caught up in the clouds to meet Him in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Theses 4:16, 17). Do you have this blessed hope?
The work of faith.11:7. By faith Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood. With no sign of a flood or knowledge of rain, Noah built the ark, taking God at His word. It shows his conviction of things not seen. Faith enabled Noah to become a witness for God. He was a preacher of righteousness. By his act of faith he condemned the unbelieving world. Through faith Noah became heir of the righteousness. Faith is our response to God's revelation. Without faith it is impossible to please God. May God help us to follow the example of Abel, Enoch and Noah.
The obedience of faith.11:8-12. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out, not knowing where he was going (11:8). Faith is the response to the promises of God. Among the heroes of faith, Abraham has a prominent place. He is known as the "Father of the faithful”. Abraham’s faith had three stages. First His faith was awakened by God. Secondly Abraham's faith was disciplined. Thirdly his faith was perfected. Abraham's faith was also associated with those of Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Abraham was an idol worshiper before God appeared to him (Joshua 24:2). By faith Abraham obeyed when God called him . He went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he lived in the Promised Land as a foreigner (11:9). He looked for the city which has the foundation whose builder and maker is God (11:10). He hoped for God's kingdom. God's kingdom is “God’s people, living in God's place, under God's rule, enjoying God's blessings". He lived in tents with Isaac and Jacob as a stranger and pilgrim. Abraham's heart was set upon the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem. Christ said Abraham rejoiced to see my day (John 8:56). So God was not ashamed to be called Himself "I am the God of the God of Abraham"(Exodus 3:6). Christ is preparing a city of us. One day we will enjoy the fullness of it's glory together with Him (Rev 22:1-4).
The test of faith.11:13- 19. When Abraham and Sarah were united in faith, they receive the promised son Isaac. How Abraham's faith was tested is explained in chapter 22. God promised Abraham that all nations will be blessed through his son Isaac. Later God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham believed that God is faithful to raise Isaac from the dead. Figuratively, Abraham did receive back his son from the dead (11:19). Abraham loved God more than his son Isaac (Gen 22:12, 16-18). His faith was made complete by his obedience (James 2:22). Abraham learned that God loves those who trust Him and that He is a God of providence (Genesis 22:14). He recognized, God as the righteous judge of all earth (Genesis 18:25). Abraham is called a prophet and the friend of God (Genesis 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Salvation is by faith, but faith finds its channel of expression through works. Someone said "Faith alone will save but the faith that saves will not be alone". Abraham's experience teaches that God may allow trials in life to prove the reality of our faith in God.
The hope of faith.11:20-22. Abraham's faith was also associated with those of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. All of them died without receiving what God had promised them, but saw it afar off. Isaac, old and blind, saw the future of his children. It was by faith that Isaac has blessed his two sons, Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph, believing that God will fulfill His promise to them. Jacob worshiped God for His faithfulness, by leaning on his staff. By faith Joseph spoke about Israel’s departure from Egypt and commanded them to carry his bones with them when they depart. So faith looks from a distance and rejoices in the future blessings.
The choice of faith.11:23-31. Moses' faith is mentioned with the faith of his parents. Great heroes of faith usually come from godly home. By faith Moses' parents hid the child believing that God's promise would be fulfilled through him (Gen 15:13, 14). By faith Moses when grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter but chose to suffer with the people of God. He rejected the Egyptian way of life and refused to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. By faith Moses saw that the riches of Christ are far greater than the riches of Egypt. By faith Moses kept the Passover, in obedience to the command of God and Israel was delivered from Egyptian slavery. By faith Israel went right through the red sea to safety. By Faith the wall of Jericho fell. By faith Rehab the harlot was saved from destruction. They set their hope on the promised riches of heaven and resisted the temptations.
The deliverance of Faith.11:32-38. Now the writer summarizes the faith of many who deserve recognition. By faith Daniel stopped the mouth of the lion and his three friends were delivered from the flaming fire. David escaped the javelin of Soul and Elijah was delivered from Jezebel. By faith, women received their dead by resurrection (1 King 17:17-24; 2 King 4:32-37).Many of them were treated as though, they don't deserve to live in this world. Some were slain with the sword (Jeremiah 26:23). Many were tempted to forsake their faith in God. They preferred to die than to become apostates. Isaiah was sawed in half. Zechariah was stoned (2 Chronicles 24:20, 21).They had no idea of the prosperity theology preached today. To the contrary "They were stoned, they were killed with sword, they became destitute, afflicted and mistreated" (11:37-38).
They were all examples of faith.11:39-40. Though they received not the promises, they have received God's approval (11:39). For God had planned something better for us so that only together with us, they would be made perfect. It does not mean that their blessing is dependent upon our blessing. It simply means that without us, the heroes of the Old Testament could not enter into the blessing of the new covenant which Christ has fulfilled. The writer encourages the readers to endure the trials and remain faithful to Christ. May God help us to follow the example of the heroes of Faith!