Our next reading is Hebrews 11:1-7
v1: This verse gives us a definition of faith.
- Substance: This can also be translated ‘assurance’. We do not see the promises yet, but we know, with certainty, that in the future we will. We believe these things because G-d has promised them to us. He is a G-d of integrity and cannot lie.
- Things: The word used for ‘things’ in Greek is the word pragma(tic). This means that faith is not blindly believing something that we have heard. Faith is practical, sensible, and realistic; based upon the truth of G-d, and always rooted in the promises of G-d.
v2: The elders: The patriarchs (as well as the other people mentioned in this chapter) lived lives that reflected their faith in G-d and in His promises. This caused them to receive a good report or testimony: that of being pleasing to G-d.
v3: Faith begins by believing that creation was brought into good and pleasing order by the Word of G-d. (Genesis 1). The spoken Word of G-d is emphasized to remind us that in the same way that the Word of G-d created this world so too will He bring about His Kingdom. G-d has said it, promised it, so we can believe it without any doubt.
- The things which are seen were not made of things which are visible: G-d created all things out of nothing. Things that were not seen became visible.
v4: G-d testifying of his gifts: Abel made an offering that was pleasing to G-d. G-d testified that it was acceptable to Him. G-d had revealed to Cain and Abel what His righteous requirements were. Abel, faithfully, made the choice to respond in obedience to the Word of G-d, but Cain did not.
- Through it: Meaning through Abel’s sacrifice.
- Being dead still speaks: Abel gave the right sacrifice yet he died. Even though he died, his faithful action still continues to speak to this day. G-d has not forgotten Abel. There is an inherent relationship between faithfulness and the Kingdom of G-d.
v5: Enoch: Genesis 5:24 tells us that the desire of this man was to walk with G-d, to be with G-d, and then he was not because G-d took him. The implication is that G-d took him to Himself. Enoch was a man who utilized faith to be pleasing to G-d, and that faithfulness brought him into intimacy with G-d.
- His translation: μετετέθη – we talked about this word in Heb 7:12 – it means a setting side by side. What this verse is telling us is that Enoch was set together with G-d and therefore he did not see death. The outcome of faith is to be with G-d. Enoch was a forerunner of this.
v6: He who comes to G-d must believe that He is: The one who walks with G-d, believes in G-d, and loves G-d will be pleasing to Him. The motivation for us living faithfully in this life is the fact that we can be assured (have perfect faith) that G-d is not unjust to forget any of the good works that we have done.
- He is a rewarder: By faith, we live in such a way that reflects that we believe, wholeheartedly, that G-d is an eternal rewarder of good deeds (Luke 6:38).
v7: Things not yet seen: G-d’s coming judgement.
- Moved with G-dly fear: This word does not mean the kind of fear that terrifies or paralyses. It means living a life that demonstrates or reflects a priority for G-d, above all things.
- According to faith: It was because of what Noah faithfully believed that he behaved in this obedient way.