Hebrews 11:1–7 (NKJV)
The author of Hebrews ended chapter ten with a quote from Habakkuk that said, “the just shall live by faith.” In this chapter, he explains and defines faith, and begins to offer chronological examples of faith. This is a very well-known chapter, often entitled the “hall of faith.”
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.Hebrews 11:1-3
3 By 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 are visible.
Faith is characterized here as the reality (substance) of things hoped for by those who exercise faith. While one may not be able to touch or feel the things hoped for, they can imagine or somehow intuit what that thing may be like when the hope is realized. The next phrase posits the image of evidence upon something not seen. Whereas evidence is most often something that can be visualized and identified, in the case of faith the evidence is the faith in God itself. While one may not be able to see the thing hoped for, they can believe in its existence because of their faith in God. This seems like a philosophical premise, but in reality this is an explanation that bears out the Biblical understanding of faith. By faith, we believe in God, Who we have not seen with our physical eyes, yet we know He is real. By faith, we believe we will receive provision and protection, which we do not yet feel or have in substance. By faith, we can also believe for deliverance and healing. To even be saved, one must believe in grace and forgiveness. Faith is essential to the spiritual life of a Christian. While God is truly sovereign and human beings are fallible, when a Christian asks in faith according to God’s will, the Lord will answer that petition gladly. The elders obtained a good report by faith, following the instructions and commands of God, Whom they had not seen. By faith we believe that the earth was created ex nihilo, or from nothing, the things seen created from no thing that was already visible. Faith brings dreams into reality.
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.Hebrews 11:4-6
5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.Hebrews 11:7
To demonstrate faith even further, the writer invokes the examples of many patriarchs of the faith. By faith, Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, and was accounted righteous by God. Enoch pleased God, and by faith was taken up with God as they walked together in the evening. Just after the account of Enoch, the writer offers this instruction, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” This straightforward sentence speaks of the importance of faith. To please God, as we see Enoch doing, one must have faith and believe that God exists, and that He can and will do what He promised without fail. One must believe that the promise of heaven is real and that the reward He promised will be delivered. The author of Hebrews then lifts up the example of Noah, being warned of God about the coming flood. No one had seen rain, for the earth had been watered by the dew of the morning up until that time. Yet Noah believed in something never yet seen and prepared the ark for the salvation of his household. His faith brought the unbelievers around him under condemnation, and he was left alone as the heir of righteousness by faith. He became a second progenitor of the earth by reason of the fact that he was the father of the only inhabitants of the earth once coming out of the ark after the flood.
What can this passage tell us today? Readers of this word can understand the importance–no, the essential nature–of faith. One cannot even be saved without faith. But, having faith, the believer can do great exploits for God. Feeling what cannot be held and seeing what is yet invisible gives the believer the power to see the things that he or she needs to come to fruition according to God’s will. There are many Scriptures that point to the need to submit oneself to the sovereign will of God before, during, and after faith in order to receive what one desires. Faith is not just a dispensary for one’s selfish desires. Faith is a tool to see God’s will come to pass, not just man’s will. Believe for what you have need of, but submit that desire before God prior to decreeing and declaring it so. By so doing, you will see the things you ask for appear, and you will possess the things you hope for. This is the will of God for the betterment of His people and His plan.
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