Summary: In the 11th chapter of Hebrews, we have the greatest description of faith to be found anywhere. Then we have a long list of men and women of Faith all through the Old Testament period. Time will not permit us to examine the entire chapter so we shall f
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is one of the great chapters in the Bible. It is called “the faith chapter,” the “roll call of faith,” and “God’s Great Hall of Fame.” Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Faith is absolutely essential to the Christian life. If faith is so vital, then we need to understand the meaning of faith. In the 11th chapter of Hebrews, we have the greatest description of faith to be found anywhere. Then we have a long list of men and women of Faith all through the Old Testament period. Time will not permit us to examine the entire chapter so we shall focus on verses 1-7.
I. A DESCRIPTION OF FAITH (11:1-3)
A. First, “faith is the substance of things hoped for.” Let’s examine the meaning of the word “substance.” This word means that faith gives substance or support to that which we hope for. It can also signify a “title-deed” that guarantees the promise will be fulfilled.
The word “substance” can also translated “confidence” or that which has a foundation. The Amplified Bible puts Hebrews 11:1 this way, “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things (we) hope for, being the proof of things (we) do not see and the conviction of their reality (faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses).”
B. Secondly, faith is the “evidence of things not seen.” The word “evidence” can be translated as “proof.” Faith is proof of the reality we cannot see with our physical eyes. Though we cannot see God, we believe that He is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
Some people believe that the world just happened, that what we see now merely evolved over eons of time. By faith we believe God created the heavens and the earth.
Our faith in God leads us to believe Genesis 1:1 which says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Though none of us were present at creation, our confidence lies in the eternal Word of God. The writer of Hebrews said, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” God’s Word provides all the proof we need.
II. EXAMPLES OF FAITH FROM THE BEGINNING OF HISTORY (11:4-7)
Having a right relation with God has always been by grace through faith. The Bible is a book of faith. Faith is absolutely essential to the Christian life. We enter into that life by faith. Moreover, we continue in that life by faith. There is no way we can be pleasing to God apart from faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the “roll Call of Faith” listing numerous examples of ordinary men and women who believed in an extraordinary God. In the first seven verses of chapter 11, we find examples of faith in believers who lived before the flood.
A. In righteous Abel, we see faith worshipping God (11:4). This is a reference to the story of Cain and Able in the forth chapter of Genesis. Both brothers sought to worship God by giving a sacrifice. Abel’s offering was acceptable to God but Cain’s was rejected. Hebrews 11:4 tells us, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” It was more excellent because it was blood as opposed to the fruit of the ground. It was by faith as opposed to mere ritual.
God gave Cain the opportunity to remedy the situation and offer a sacrifice in faith. Yet in a fit of jealous rage Cain murdered his brother. He committed the first murder in history. In fact, no one has been dead longer than Abel for he was the first to die. Yet his faith still speaks today.. By faith he offered acceptable worship to the eternal God. It is only by faith that we can enter into the worship of god.
B. In Enoch, we see faith walking with God (11:5-6). Enoch’s brief story is found in Genesis 5:21-27. Of all the names listed in Genesis 5, only Enoch merit’s a special mention. “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.“ About all we know of Enoch is that he was the father of Methuselah, that he walked with God, and that He was taken to heaven without ever dying.
H. Blackwell wrote, “God leads a person in a love relationship with Him through life and beyond.”
By faith, Enoch walked in intimate fellowship and harmony with God. It seems that he began his walk following the birth of his son Methuselah. He continued in that walk for the rest of his life until God took him on to heaven.