Great Examples of Faith.
What is Faith? Hebrews 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 (Hebrews: 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. But the Bible says, "Faith is the confident assurance that what God has promised is going to happen". Also faith is the assurance upon which all Christian hopes are based. Faith is not a leap into the unknown or a crutch for the weakling but the confident assurance in God that He will do what He has promised. As Christians, 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 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 in God.
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God. Hebrews 11:3.
This visible world points to an invisible Creator. There are many views about creation accounts. 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 entire universe was formed at God's command. Faith sees the invisible as visible and treats the future as present. In fact those who deny the special creation theory must have more faith to believe their theories than the Bible account on creation.
Worship of Faith. Hebrews 11:4.
Now the writer wants his readers to become imitators of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises. Their life is an example of what faith is and how it enabled them to have a right relationship with 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 thus he pleased God. Cain offered his sacrifice in his self will and without 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 worship God. Cain was a self-righteous religious man. We are exhorted to offer the sacrifices of praise to God continually through Jesus Christ (13:15).
The walk of faith. Hebrews 11:5.
Enoch walked with God and he was taken up to heaven without dying. 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 that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek him (11:6). Many people want God to walk with them rather than they walk with God. Before Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying, he was known as a person who pleased God. Enoch is an example of 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 Thessalonians 4:16, 17). Enoch's walk with God teaches that despite wickedness in the world, we can live in fellowship with God. Also he teaches that there is life after death and heaven is the place where we live with Christ. Do you have this blessed hope?
The work of faith. Hebrews 11:7.
By faith Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood. His faith in God involved his whole person. His mind was warned by God's Word, his heart was moved with consequences of not obeying and his will activated by obeying God's Word. 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. His faith influenced his family and they were saved. By his act of faith he condemned the unbelieving world. Jesus warned that the world will be like the time of Noah when he returns (Matthew 23:36-42). People will live in sin, ignoring the warnings of God (2 Peter 2:5). Through faith Noah became heir of righteousness. Faith is our response to God's revelation. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith in God generates hope and it is the superior spiritual principle (Hebrews 2:4). May God help us to follow the example of Abel, Enoch and Noah.
The obedience of faith. Hebrews 11:8-12.
By faith Abraham obeyed God when he was called to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance (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 at age 75. Secondly Abraham's faith was disciplined for 25 years. Thirdly his faith was perfected (Genesis 22). 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 where he was going. 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 coming 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 call Himself "I am the God of Abraham"(Exodus 3:6). Christ is preparing a city for us. One day we will enjoy the fullness of its glory together with Him
(Rev 22:1-4). Do you have this blessed hope?
The test of faith. Hebrews 11:13- 19.
When Abraham and Sarah were united in faith, they received the promised son Isaac. How Abraham's faith was tested is explained in Genesis chapter 22. God promised Abraham that all nations will be blessed through his son Isaac (Genesis 12:3). 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 (Genesis 22:12, 16-18). His faith was made complete or perfect 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 the 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. Hebrews 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 was old and blind but saw the future of his children by faith. 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 what he has promised 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. Hebrews 11:23-31.
Moses' faith is mentioned with the faith of his parents. Great heroes of faith usually come from godly homes. By faith Moses' parents hid the child believing that God's promise would be fulfilled through him (Genesis 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. Hebrews 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 ones by resurrection (1 King 17:17-24; 2 King 4:32-37). Many of the heroes of faith 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 what the prosperity theology preaching today. To the contrary "They were stoned, they were killed with swords, they became destitute, afflicted and mistreated" (Hebrews 11:37-38).
They were all examples of faith. Hebrews 11:39-40.
This chapter ends with focusing on the future blessings of faith. Though they did not receive the promises, they have received God's approval (11:39). For God had planned something better for us that only with us, they would be made perfect. It does not mean that their blessing is dependent upon our blessing. These words draw attention to the final salvation accomplished by Christ’s ministry. 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. Old Testament saints looked forward to the blessing of the new covenant. Christians now enjoy the blessings of the new covenant by grace. The writer encourages the readers to endure the trials and remain faithful to Christ. Do you enjoy the blessings of Salvation in Christ?