Summary of passage: Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see. The ancients were commended for this. We believe God formed the universe by command. Abel offered a better sacrifice than his brother Cain by faith, which God accepted and through this example Abel still speaks.
Enoch was taken by God without dying due to his faith (Genesis 5:24). It is impossible to please God without faith; you must believe in Him and how he rewards the faithful.
By faith Noah built the ark when warned the world would be destroyed. Abraham left his home of Haran by faith when God called him to the promised land even though he lived as a foreignor. Isaac and Jacob were heirs to this land.
Abraham and Sarah became parents due to faith in God’s promises and in turn fathered a nation.
All of these people lived by faith even though they did not receive the things promised. While living on the earth they lived as strangers, continually longing for a heavenly country, a city God has prepared for them.
3a) Faith is believing in and expecting to receive what we hope for even though we do not see it.
b) People put their faith in lots of things: God, other gods, their job, their spouses, their kids, or any other material item. They hold on to something and say, “If only I have faith in _____, it will be alright” when we all know the answer should be God.
Faith is belief and trust. Many people (even Christians) believe in God. But do they trust Him?
4) Abel–offered God the fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock while Cain only brought some of the fruits of the soil (Genesis 4)
Enoch–walked with God and was therefore taken by God without dying (Genesis 5:24)
Noah–built an ark on God’s command despite being mocked by the people. Gathered two of every animal and followed God’s directions to the letter–all on faith
Abraham–followed God out of Haran and left for the promised land despite the hardships
Isaac and Jacob–the beneficiaries of Abraham’s covenant with God. Both however did follow God on their own accord and obeyed his wishes for them.
Sarah–after laughing at God’s prophecy, she did have faith and did bear a son
5) The simple answer is by faith. The longer answer is have faith all the things God has said will happen even if it is not in our lifetime while at the same time living for God and longing for a better (heavenly) world.
The reality is this world is a transitory home. It’s not our final destination. It is a place we abide for a blink of an eye in God’s world. So if we live with Heaven as our goal and as our eventual homeland, then everything else palls in comparison. The dirty dishes, lost jobs, curt words, trailer homes, bad hair days, and even the death of loved ones (who are in the better place and whom we’ll see shortly) don’t quite matter so much when we realize it’s all temporary.
Conclusions: I like how the writer of Hebrews uses those who are the pillars of faith (Abraham, Sarah, Noah, Isaac, Enoch, and Jacob) as examples of faith. It’s a good reminder to those who are wondering what living a life of faith looks like. Those who obey God and walk with God even when you can’t see the path. And who amongst us can see the path?
Remembering this world is transitory is key for me. It doesn’t matter much what others think or how horrible a day I may have had or even how great of a day I had if God is not my center, my salvation, my rock, and who I do it all for.
Admittedly, I had to google Enoch. When you only have a grandiose 4 verses dedicated to you in the Bible, it’s hard to remember. Hence, the verse citation for those of you like me who couldn’t remember him.
End Note: I looked up faith in my Bible Dictionary (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney) and this was too good not to share:
“Unbelief, or lack of faith in the Christian gospel, appears everywhere in the NT as the supreme evil. Not to make a decisive response to God’s offer in Christ means that the individual remains in sin and is eternally lost. Faith alone can save him.”
Puts this Hebrews passage in a whole other light, doesn’t it? These people were on the cusp of pushing Jesus to the wayside. After reading this, this passage is VERY important.
Faith is the key to everlasting life. Nothing else matters.