November 16: Hebrews 11

"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1)
We are of "those who have faith" (Heb. 10:39).  

Faith is the Christian's distinguishing mark. But what is faith? Hebrews 11 answers it: "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). This faith is demonstrated in a variety of individuals - indeed, Hebrews 11 is the National Portrait Gallery of the Old Testament in which a variety of individuals exemplify what faith is. Three exemplars stand out at the very beginning of the chapter.

First, Abel demonstrates faith in relation to his brother Cain. Abel brought a meat offering and Cain a vegetable one. Though we are not told the exact occasion when one offering was preferred to another (perhaps Gen. 3:21 when God slaughtered an animal to provide a covering for man's shame), one way or another the Lord had made it plain to them (or was doing so now on this occasion) which offering would prove acceptable and Abel believed God's word. Faith is precisely that: resting on the revealed word of God. Whatever God says, faith believes it to be true.

Second, Enoch was "moved on" (Hebrew) by God. He walked and walked until he found himself in another world. He walked with God for over 300 years and then, "Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him" (Gen. 5:24). Enoch "walked" in fellowship, keeping step with God for three hundred years. And the author of Hebrews cites the Greek translation of Geneses 5 in which it interpreted Enoch's walk in such a way that God was delighted with Enoch's walk: "he was commended as having pleased God" (Heb. 11:5). Faith is maintaining sweet fellowship with God.

Third, there's Noah. He built an ark, 450 feet long, 75 feet across, 45 feet high! He believed a judgment was coming. Noah's faith showed itself in obedience to the word of God: "warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household" (Heb. 11:7).

Faith takes God at his word and proves itself by obedience to whatever God says. Do you have this kind of faith?