Summary: As people of faith, we are not throwing away or shrinking back. But persevering and believing. For now the people of God will live by faith - trusting, hoping in that which is unseen; relying upon the one who made the promises.

Faith of Our Forebears

Hebrews 11:1-40

Published in Pulpit Digest, Jan/Feb 1996.

Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the management I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Faith of Our Forebears Hall of Fame . We trust that you will enjoy your visit. If there is anything I can do to make your visit more enjoyable, please do not hesitate to approach me during the course of the tour. However, before we commence, I would like to point out a few simple instructions which will make your visit more meaningful.

First, I request that at all points of the journey you remain together as one group. This is not a journey to be undertaken alone. There are perils along the way, times when you will be tested. You will discover, possibly to your great surprise, that there is tremendous strength and encouragement in your common bond.

Second, I ask you as your guide to pay careful attention at all times to my instructions and to entrust yourself to my leadership. At times they will seem perplexing, even irritating. But I assure you, you are in good hands.

Bearing in mind those simple instructions, I trust that you will have a very enlightening experience. Now ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to place your hand on the shoulder of the person directly in front of you and to follow me as we head to our first destination.

We have arrived at our first vantage point. Is everybody comfortable? I know it is a little dark in here right now, but I assure you that is all part of the Faith of Our Forebears experience. You will appreciate it more fully as the tour proceeds.

On your left is the first display. Indeed it is one the finest in the entire tour. Here at Faith of Our Forebears we believe in starting with the very best. The opening sets the pattern, creates the tenor for everything which follows. Excuse me while I illuminate it for you.

There you are ladies and gentleman - the formation of the universe . . . You are right to gasp as you do, it is a marvellous scene. Order out of chaos, life ex nihilo . What is seen made from things that are unseen.

On your right, you will notice of course the celebrated figure of Abel. We are immediately struck by Abel’s physique, his tall well-developed body, necessary attributes of any shepherd. You will also notice his flock. Fat and succulent, they are extremely well cared for, having grazed in lush green pastures. They are the best from his flock. And they are his offerings to God. His finest sheep, offered to Him as an act of worship.

In one sense it is a tragic story, for you are aware that he was slain by his brother Cain in a fit of jealousy. He was barely a youth when he died. He never received what was promised. But he did I assure you. Tragedy was not the final word of this episode.

God Himself gave approval to his gifts and he received a great inheritance.

Now if you will take your neighbour’s shoulder once more we will proceed.

You will have realised by now the importance of our preliminary instructions.This journey is one which we can not undertake on our own. You can attempt to do so if you like, but I am afraid you will become hopelessly lost and stumble aimlessly in the darkness. This is one of those experiences which we must embark on together.

No, I am sorry madam. I am not able to turn on any lights. I would if I could, believe me. I know that your trip would be infinitely more pleasurable. But I am afraid there aren’t any lights. It is the nature of the journey. This trip must be negotiated in darkness.

Now, if you will turn to your right. You will notice Enoch. Enoch is the only member of the Hall of Fame who did not taste death.

There is a fable, I admit that it is fictitious, the story goes that one day Enoch and God went for a walk. An extra long walk, they walked on and on; until God said to Enoch, ’You are a long way from home; you had better just come in and stay.’ And he went. 1*

It is only a story, but it appeals to me and I can see that it appeals to you as well. God was pleased with Enoch and that is the reason he is such a prominent person in the Hall of Fame.

Now if you will follow me once more. Remember the instructions, it is vitally important that we stay together at all times. Keep your hand firmly placed on the person ahead of you.

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