Summary: Abel and Enoch were unusual choices for the first representatives of God’s parade of faith. Why did God use them and what does this tell us about faith?
OPEN: In college, Ken Davis (a popular youth speaker) was asked to prepare a lesson to teach his speech class. They were to be graded on their creativity and ability to drive home a point in a memorable way. The title of his talk was, "The Law of the Pendulum." He spent 20 minutes carefully teaching the physical principle that governs a swinging pendulum. The law of the pendulum is: A pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns, it will fall short of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally it is at rest. This point of rest is called the state of equilibrium, where all forces acting on the pendulum are equal.
He attached a 3-foot string to a child’s toy top and secured it to the top of the blackboard with a thumbtack. He pulled the top to one side and made a mark on the blackboard where he let it go. Each time it swung back he made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the top to complete its swinging and come to rest. When he finished the demonstration, the markings on the blackboard proved his thesis. He then asked how many people in the room BELIEVED the law of the pendulum was true. All of my classmates raised their hands, so did the teacher. He started to walk to the front of the room thinking the class was over. In reality it had just begun. Hanging from the steel ceiling beams in the middle of the room was a large, crude but functional pendulum (250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500-pound test parachute cord).
Davis invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with the back of his head against a cement wall. Then he brought the 250 pounds of metal up to his nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from his face, Davis once again explained the law of the pendulum the teacher had applauded only moments before, "If the law of the pendulum is true, then when I release this mass of metal, it will swing across the room and return short of the release point. Your nose will be in no danger." After that final restatement of this law, Davis looked the teacher in the eye and asked, "Sir, do you believe this law is true?" There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then weakly he nodded and whispered, "Yes." Davis released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. Davis said: “I never saw a man move so fast in my life. He literally dived from the table.”
Deftly stepping around the still-swinging pendulum, Davis asked the class, "Does the teacher believe in the law of the pendulum?"
The students unanimously answered, "NO!"
APPLY: Faith is not a complicated doctrine. As the above illustration points out: It’s easy to understand… but sometimes its difficult to do. Even when we know we can trust something (intellectually) actually DOING our faith can be scary. I believe that’s why God dedicated an entire chapter of Hebrews to show what REAL faith looks like.
I. What I thought was interesting was WHO God chose for His 1st examples of faith. Who did He use? (Abel & Enoch).
Able and Enoch?
Now, I mean no disrespect here, but as you read thru Old Testament, these are not the type of men that would ordinarily catch your attention.
* Abel made one sacrifice and then was beaten to death by his brother.
* Enoch walked with God then he was no more, because God took him away. (Genesis 5:24)
In the book of Genesis these 2 men take up a grand total of less than 10 verses.
By contrast, Noah (the next person mentioned in Hebrews 11) gets 4 chapters, Abraham gets 14 chapters, and Moses gets 4 whole books.
So, why would God choose these 2 men to kick off His parade of the faith? Why not just jump to the better known heroes and forget about these obscure footnotes in Bible history?
WHY would God do that?
Because most of us think of ourselves as ordinary people, nowhere near as impressive as Noah and Abraham and Moses. Those were great men. They did great deeds that changed the course of human history. I’ll never be like them!!!
I believe God used Abel and Enoch as His 1st examples precisely because they were ordinary men who were not known for great deeds. Instead, what made them distinctive was that - in everything they did – they focused on pleasing God.