Hebrews 11

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Observation

  • Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.
  • Faith is the conviction of thing not seen.
  • People in the Old Testament received commendation by faith.
  • We understand the word of God created the universe by faith.
  • What can be seen was not created by things that were visible.
  • Abel’s offering was accepted by God because Abel offered is by faith.
  • Abel’s offering was more acceptable than Cain.
  • God commended Abel.
  • God accepted Abel by accepting Abel’s gift.
  • Through faith Able speaks to us through his faith.
  • Enoch did not see death.
  • Enoch was taken so he would not see death.
  • God took Enoch.
  • Enoch was commended for pleasing God.
  • It is impossible to please God without faith.
  • Whoever draws near to God must believe that he exists and He rewards those who seek Him.
  • Noah constructed an ark in reverent fear.
  • God warned Noah about events for which there was no other warning.
  • Noah built an ark to save his household.
  • By obeying God Noah condemned the world and became the heir of righteousness.
  • Noah became an heir of righteousness that comes through faith.
  • Through faith Abraham obeyed when he was called.
  • Abraham was called to go out to a strange place to receive an inheritance.
  • Abraham did not know where he was going when he left.
  • Abraham lived in the land of promise as a foreigner.
  • Abraham, his son and grandson were heirs to the promise but lived in tents in the land or promise.
  • They looked forward to the time when they would live in a city with structures that had foundations.
  • God would both design and build the city Abraham, Isaac and Jacob looked forward to.
  • Sarah received the power to conceive through faith.
  • Sarah believed God was faithful to deliver on his promise.
  • Sarah was beyond the natural age of bearing children.
  • Even though Abraham was very old “as good as dead” he had descendants as numerous as the stars or sand on the beach.
  • They all died in faith though they had not received the promise.
  • They saw the promises from a distance.
  • They desired a better home, a heavenly home.
  • God was not ashamed to be called their God.
  • God had prepared a city for them.
  • When God tested Abraham, Abraham offered up Isaac.
  • Abraham offered up Isaac even though he was the one through whom the promise was to be fulfilled.
  • Abraham believed God could raise Isaac from the dead
  • God raised Isaac from the dear figuratively.
  • Isaac invoked future blessings in Jacob and Esau.
  • Through faith Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph.
  • Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph at the end of his life.
  • By faith Jacob mentioned the exodus from Egypt.
  • By faith Jacob gave instructions regarding his bones being taken out of Egypt.
  • By faith Moses parents hid him for 3 months after he was born.
  • They hid Moses because they saw Moses was beautiful and they were not afraid of the Kings edict.
  • After Moses grew up, by faith he refused to be called Pharaoh’s daughter’s son.
  • By faith Moses preferred to be mistreated with God’s people rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin.
  • Moses considered the shame of Christ to be greater than the treasures of Egypt.
  • Moses was looking beyond the temporal to the heavenly reward.
  • By faith Moses left Egypt.
  • Moses did not fear the king of Egypt’s anger.
  • By faith Moses kept the Passover
  • By faith Moses sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them.
  • By faith the people of God crossed the Red Sea on dry land.
  • When the Egyptians tried to cross the Red Sea they drown.
  • The walls of Jericho fell by faith.
  • By faith Rahab the prostitute did not die with the rest of Jericho.
  • Rahab did not die because she had been friendly to the spies.
  • The writer could go on and on about those in the Old Testament who had faith.
  • The writer could write about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets.
  • Through faith they conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, and were made strong when they were weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight and raised the dead.
  • Some of them were tortured.
  • They refused to be released from torture so they would rise to a better life.
  • Some were mocked and flogged.
  • Some were imprisoned and even in chains.
  • Some were stoned.
  • Some were sawed in half.
  • Some were killed with the sword.
  • They were destitute, and mistreated.
  • The world was not worthy of them.
  • They wander in the mountains and deserts and lived in dens and cave.
  • Even though they suffered and had great faith, they did not receive the promise.
  • God provided something better for us.
  • They were made perfect apart from us.

Interpretation

Chapter 10 concluded with the idea that we have a promise to receive a great reward. We will live with Christ, in His presence. This reward is received by faith. So here the author answers a very reasonable question. Since we receive the promises of God through faith, what is faith? The thematic verse is verse 1 where the author defines faith. He then goes on to demonstrated how receiving the promises of God through faith is nothing new by listing the old testaments saints. They too received the promises of God through faith.

The break for chapter 11 is really at a particular spot. The author has just quoted from Habakkuk, “my righteous one shall live by faith.” So now he needs to prove his point. So break is unfortunate and frequently causes us to take chapter 11 out of context. The writer first defines faith and then proves his statement that the righteous live by faith with numerous examples and finally ends with the statement that time does not allow him to continue on with all the examples in the scripture.

When trying to define faith many quote verse 1. But it would be a mistake to assume that verse 1 is a complete and comprehensive definition of faith. The writer is not speaking in a comprehensive manner about faith but rather those aspects of faith which are required to support his argument.

The writer calls faith the “assurance of things hoped for.” Of course we do not hope for what we already have. The writer is teaching the same thing found in Romans 8:24-25 “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” He then goes on and says faith is the “conviction of things not seen.”

We are promised eternal life. But yet as long as Christ tarries we know we will die. Our faith then is in the resurrection. We are pronounced just and clean. Yet we know we sin daily. Our faith is in the cleansing blood of Christ. God says He will come quickly but yet He seems deaf to our cries. What would become of us if we did not have hope? Faith then is indeed, the assurance of thing hoped for and the conviction of what we have not yet seen.

The writer then goes through a list of people who had received a promise yet did not realize the promise in their lifetime. Yet they maintained their faith.

The question is often asked how those in the Old Testament were justified. The writer answers that question very clearly. They were justified the same what we are, through faith. We have faith that God will keep His promise through Christ. Those who lived in the Old Testament times had faith that God would keep His promise He made to them.

By going through Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and the rest the writer shows that regardless how great the works were these saints of old did. It was faith that that gave them value. It is only through faith that these saints pleased God.

Application

I hear often the statement. “I want to do Gods will. I want to do what pleases Him.” The writer to the Hebrews set out very clearly how to please God, trust and believe that God will keep His promises. Trust what He says in His word. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (v6)

Whatever happens trust that God will keep His promise. Like Abraham, we may never actually live to see the fulfillment of the promise None-the-less we trust God will keep His promise of the resurrection.

Many people wear themselves out trying to worship God the “right way.” Only faith pleases God. But then there are those who pervert this by claiming a merit of work. For example, “We please God by faith. God rewards faith. Faith is demonstrated by what we do and how we are rewarded.” This perversion is a religion of works not faith. It only coops the word faith and trap it’s believe into a cycle of trying to perform greater and greater works calling it faith.

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