Faith in Action
11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
The chapter about faith.
verse 1, let me share an explanation of faith to help us define it.
“This all-encompassing verse explains both what faith in Jesus Christ is and what that faith does. The heart of faith develops its own eyes, which see spiritual things coming that can’t yet be seen by the physical eye. When the author, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes, “faith is the confidence,” he uses a single Greek word hupostasis, meaning “to stay under, a foundation.” So faith is the foundation on which all our hopes for the future are built. Faith doesn’t make imaginary things come true, but rather it enables God’s people to live with certainty and confidence in the realities that are true, though not yet physically visible.”
On June 30, 1859, one of the greatest tight-rope walkers in history, Charles Blondin, became the first man in history to walk across Niagara Falls. Approximately 25,000 people watched him walk a 1,000-foot line suspended above the raging falls without any safety nets. When he safely reached the Canadian side, the crowd cheered with thunderous applause.
On another occasion, he attempted to cross The Falls once again. This time, however, he was walking with a wheelbarrow. The crowd gasped as he carefully loaded the front wheel of the wheelbarrow on the tight-rope. He turned to the crowd and asked if they believed he could do it using the wheelbarrow. Everyone cheered in approval. They all believed he could.
He turned to a reporter who was covering the event. He looked straight at him and asked the question, “Do you believe I can tight-rope across the Niagara Falls?”
Without blinking, the reporter yelled out, “Yes, I do! I know you can do it! I believe.”
Blondin paused and stared into the reporter. Then he said, “If you believe……….GET IN THE WHEELBARROW.”
He did not. In fact, legend has it that only his own mother would get in the wheelbarrow. Only she was willing to put her faith in son, not knowing the outcome.
Faith in God is putting that confidence in what we can’t see now or may never see in our lifetime. Many of those faith heroes in this chapter never actually got to see the fulfillment of God’s promises because it came in future generations, but it says they were “commended” for their faith. Another way of saying might be they gained a good reputation, as written in some translations. Many had to endure hard times, trials, ridicule, etc.., and yet their faith persevered. They put their hope in the Creator, not the created, the unseen, not the seen.
I don’t know about you, but I like to receive the blessings God has promised, and I like to receive them soon and often. But that isn’t how it works always. Abraham and Sarah never got to see the great nation which their children would create. Moses never got to see the promised land that God promised the Isrealites He would give them. No, they were content with believing in the future God promised, knowing that didn’t necessarily mean they would see the fulfillment of the promises. And this holds true for us too. Can we be content with having a good reputation for our faith? We may endure many trials in our life, we may endure sickness, death, financials burdens, persecution, and who know what else. But we do have a promise of a better day ahead. When Jesus died for our sins, the fulfillment of that promise for us will not be in this lifetime. We will see it only once we endure to the end. And that is the anchor we can secure to as we maneuver through the challenges and blessing of this life. What an adventure!
Lord we pray for our faith to increase and strengthen. Help us to understand your word and promises, let us see them with new eyes and an open heart today. Help us not to succumb to discouragement or bitterness in times of trial, but give us the clarity to secure even tighter to the anchor. In Jesus name, amen.