HEBREWS 11:39-40: “All these people were known for their faith, but none of them received what God had promised. God planned to give us something very special so that we would gain eternal life with them.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Will I be known by my faith? The writer of Hebrews gives a long list of the Old Testament saints who were known by their faith. This list includes Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and numerous others. The chapter ends with a very interesting statement – “All these people were known for their faith, but none of them received what God had promised…” The testimony of their faith was not in what they received as much as it was in how they lived.
When we think of faith we think of receiving. If we have faith – we will receive. Of course faith is a prerequisite to receiving, but true faith exists apart from receiving. True faith is the confidence in God and His Word that causes one to obey – even when they do not receive. It is not that we will never receive. Rather, it is that faith reaches beyond the immediate, into the eternal, through the promises of God. The Old Testament saints walked in faith looking for the promise of the Messiah. They continued in faith, even though they did not see this promise come to pass in their lifetimes. They did this because they looked beyond the immediate – into the eternal!
- “All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country. If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they could have found a way to go back. Instead, these men were longing for a better country—a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16 GW)
One of the reasons we struggle with faith is we forget the eternal nature of faith. Faith is always linked to our hope, and hope is always linked to that which is eternal.
- “Faith assures us of things we expect (hope for) and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.”. (Hebrews 11:1 GW)
- “However, not only creation groans. We, who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts, also groan inwardly. We groan as we eagerly wait for our adoption, the freeing of our bodies ⌊from sin⌋. We were saved with this hope in mind. If we hope for something we already see, it’s not really hope. Who hopes for what can be seen? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Romans 8:23-25 GW)
Herein lies the nature and question of faith. Faith is the call to believe God – even when we do not see what He has promised. And this faith, this trust in God, empowers us to walk obediently with Him with perseverance! Abraham was promised that he would be the father of many nations. He only saw one son – Isaac, yet he continued to live as if he saw the many nations that God had promised. And how could he do this? He did this through faith. He persevered in obedience and trust – because he believed! This is why Abraham is called the father of our faith. Will I do the same?
So I come back to my original question – Will I be known by my faith? Will my life show faith in God when I am receiving, as well as when I am waiting? Is my faith determined by what I see or by what God has promised? Is my faith limited to this temporal life, or does it reach into the eternal? This is the call of faith. This is the testimony of those who received a good report for their faith. They all believed, seeing through eyes of faith that which God had promised, whether they embraced it in this life or not!
- “No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him…Faith led Abraham to live as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who received the same promise from God. Abraham was waiting for the city that God had designed and built, the city with permanent foundations.”. (Hebrews 11:6, 9-10 GW)
Lord, open my eyes to that which is eternal and – increase my faith!
In Jesus Name!