Summary: By trusting in God’s walking with them, people live
But by Trust
Heb. 11:1-16 Gen 15:1-6 Luke 12:22-40
† In the name of the Messiah, Jesus †
20 …may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)
How far will you trust?
Getting in a car? Moving across the USA?
Universe Created or all ages ordered? (Phillips)
Each and everyday, you take a chance, and trust people. For example, you exhibit trust when you get in your car, and take it out for a drive. You trust that they made the car dependable, and safe. You trust your doctor’s, or at least you do, if the first and second opinion are the same. You have trusted friends and schools to care for you children, for the most part. But either actively, or passively, you place your trust in those around you. You also, within limits, trust your children to behave.
Often, there is a limit to how much you trust someone. For example – how many of you would trust your mechanic with babysitting your child? Another example is when I have to find a new doctor, I ask him about his knowledge of my genetic syndrome. If he has no knowledge, I am not likely to let him work with me.
I have said it before, and as we deal with a chapter describing the faith of those who have gone before us, it makes sense to repeat it – faith is a verb, an action of our will, that is best defined, in English, as trust. So our first verse could read, 11 Now Trusting God means we have the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
One pastor described faith in the following way,
Faith may not fully comprehend the mystery of God’s speaking to us. Faith cannot always explain everything about God’s attitude and action in our behalf. For faith is the assurance of things for which we hope; it is the conviction of that which we do not see (Heb. 11:1). Fundamentally, faith is the relationship with the God who cannot be fully comprehended by his creatures, particularly when their minds are still suffering the damage of the fall into sin.
Faith, trust in God, is that relationship where we accept his promises, even though we cannot fully understand them. This is what the author of the Hebrew Epistle means in verse 3, from the Phillip’s translation,
And it is after all only by “trusting God” that our minds accept as fact that the whole scheme of time and space was created by God’s command - that the world which we can see has come into being through principles which are invisible. Hebrews 11:1 (Phillips NT)
It is this lesson, that the saints of God found to be true in this chapter, that they had a relationship where the level of trust, their faith, that serves as a lesson to us.
God witnessed their faith!
Abel’s sacrifice, Enoch – taken away,Noah saved his family! Abe travelled,
Sarah conceived while stiff
In the new ESV translation we use, follows the NIV, when they use an interesting word, a number of times, “commendation”. It replaces words or phrases like good testimony, or good report, or acknowledgement, in discussing what the people of old received by their faith. I tend to think of commendation as one of those citations, or certificates a sherriff or firefighter receives, because of some noble and brave action. More than just a pat on the back from the boss, it is a statement made to the public, to the community, that you have done well.
In the case of Hebrews 11, it is God saying, yes, you are mine. We see it similarly in verse 16, where it says, God is not ashamed to be called their God. God is willing to, before all, acknowledge the relationship that these people of old had with Him, and because of that relationship, and their trust in Him – He is building them a city. This is not because they did such great things, but because they recognized they were in a relationship with God, where they could trust Him.
Because Abel trusted God, he presented a sacrifice that God received, not as a payment for Abel’s sin, but instead as a testimony to the fact that Abel was found righteous, because he trusted in God. Same thing for Enoch, who trusted God and therefore pleased God and was taken away, not having to suffer through a painful death.