This chapter is often called the "Hall of Fame of Faith" as the writer gives an example of Old Testament people "who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (6:12). It will be a fun review of what we read in the first year of the Bible Book Club!
In the description of what faith does and how it works (11:1-3), let's define three Greek words:
Assurance (hupostasis - hupo, under, histēmi, to stand) literally, "to stand under." Amplified says, "the confirmation, the title deed."
Conviction (elegchos) - "a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested" (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, 1650). Amplified says, "faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses."
Commended/Gained Approval (martureo) - literally, "obtained a good testimony," "to bear witness i.e. to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something or that he knows it because taught by divine revelation or inspiration" (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, 3140). This word also occurs twice in 11:4, once in 11:5 and 39.
The "ancients" who bore witness (11:3) are the "great cloud of witnesses" mentioned in Hebrews 12:1. They witness to us through their examples of faith. God spoke to them through His Word, and they obeyed despite not seeing with their eyes what God had promised.
God's Word even made something out of nothing in Creation. We do not see Him, but He is evidenced by what He has made. Though not a person, Creation is the first "witness" that God is real (Genesis 1:1-31)!
I will not go into each story about each of the "ancients" who bore witness, but I have created one link to all the Bible Book Club posts about all the people listed in this Hebrews 11:4-32. In addition, I included the people connected to the incidences in Hebrews 11:33-38 even though their names were not mentioned:
The Hall of Fame of Faith
These posts are just to refresh your memory in case you forgot about their stories. It will be fun to see if you can remember them on your own. What a great review! Most Bibles will also have a cross-reference to their stories in the margin. Have fun!
These people of faith died but did not necessarily see all that they had been promised. They looked beyond this world to heaven ("the better country") and better things to come (11:20). If they had received it, it would have been sight and not faith!
All of these men and women were so convinced of God's faithfulness that they radically changed their lives according to His will and word; some even to the point of torture and death (11:35; 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:18-37). May we follow their example!
Hebrews 11:6 is a good verse to remember and memorize about faith:
And 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 seek Him.
"Faith is putting all your eggs in God's basket,
then counting your blessings before they hatch."
"Seeing is believing" may be a good rule of thumb when buying a used car but it is a poor way to live the Christian life. For the one desiring to live in a God-honoring manner, the quote might better read: "Not seeing is believing," because "faith is being . . . certain of what we do not see" (11:1).
Receiving Jesus as your Savior was an act of faith in which you accepted the trustworthiness and credibility of God, banking your life and eternity on His promises. But the exercise of faith doesn't end at salvation. By faith, God's people were courageous in battle, patient in suffering, and joyful in difficulty. They acted in response to His commands and promises, even when they could not see the reason for what they were asked to do.
Is faith the operating principle in your life today? Or is your motto "seeing is believing"? To help boost your faith take a piece of paper and see if you can list at least 10 things you know are true about God but that you can't see with your eyes. For example, "God is loving. He works everything together for good." Now think through the decisions and responsibilities you will face in the next 24 hours and determine to put your faith to work.
(The Daily Walk, December 2008, p. 18)PRAYER
Praise to You for giving us the total reward, Jesus! Thank You that You have given us everything we need to walk by faith and not by sight. Thank You that we have the Scriptures that tell us about these wonderful Old Testament heroes of the faith. May we follow their example today! Amen.