Chapter 11: 8-12
8 “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”
We often hear about faith in Christian circles, and there are many who do not know what faith really means or is, for that matter. I came across this definition on gotquestions.org, and I decided to put it for us to look at:
This definition of faith contains two aspects: intellectual assent and trust. Intellectual assent is believing something to be true. Trust is actually relying on the fact that something is true. A chair is often used to help illustrate this. Intellectual assent is recognizing that a chair is a chair and agreeing that it is designed to support a person who sits on it. Trust is actually sitting in the chair.
Notice the two aspects of faith. Faith is not some ethereal idea that is not founded in facts. Rather, our faith is grounded in documented and provable Biblical facts. Many of the books, like Luke, give detailed accounts of who ruled where and when. We have the names of Roman rulers, we have the names of Caesars, and we know when they lived. We have specific geographical locations that we can use to find things, finds where events happened and even when they happened. There are scientific facts in the Bible that cannot be disputed, things that God spoke about before He allowed men to discover them.
If you take the time to examine some of the information in this link, you will find some eye-opening science in the Bible that was there before we knew what it was.
The second part of the definition is then to act based on faith. Abraham believed God and moved his whole family to a place that God promised to give to his descendants. Noah built an Ark, having never seen rain but believing that God was able. Abraham offered Isaac, knowing that God had kept his promise once and that he had received a son in his old age and Sarah long after the times of child-bearing. In verse 11, we are told that Sarah judged that God was faithful to do all He had promised.
At times, these wonderful patriarchs and matriarchs of Christianity did struggle with the doubts that come to all finite saved persons. But in the totality of their lives, we see the faith that God was able to do all He had said He would do and more. Today, we see the fulfillment of verse 12, the Jewish population, even with the thousands of years of hatred, hunting, and running, measure almost 10,000,000 in Israel in 2021, the last number that we have. These all from this one old couple, he 100 years and she 90 at the time of Isaac’s birth. They never saw Jews as much as the ‘sand of the seashore,’ but we do. Thus, we are challenged by immutable facts to put our faith in the same God that these persons did. We are challenged to serve and love Him with the same fervor that they did and to look for His appearing as they did as well.
We, like these heroes of the faith, can be just as confident in the promises that God made to us. In fact, here we are with thousands of years of evidence, a completed Bible, the ability to see the hand of God in every corner of the planet in almost real-time, and the plethora of scientific evidence for God that we can research and see; these all create a foundation of ROCK to carve out our faith in. Yet, like our spiritual ancestors, we, at least I, struggle with doubts. I struggle with sin, and I struggle with wondering if God is truly on my side. Yes, the same struggle these folks in Hebrews 11 had.
Yet, in this chapter, God exclusively highlights their faith, their faithfulness, and the wonders that He brought about because they had faith. God is bigger than our failures, bigger than our lacking at times, and certainly bigger than our doubts. What was it that kept these people going? In verse 10, we see that these folks kept their eyes on the promises of God. He promised Abraham a new home on earth. But He also promised him a new home beyond death. This hope, this focus, kept Abraham hoping and moving through all the delays, all the hiccups, all the failures, and all the stumbles.
Jesus called us to live the same way – focus on our new home, our new place, our permanent dwelling. We see this in Matthew 6:33,
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (KJV).
Hebrews 11:16, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
Colossians 3:1-4, “Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
As we approach the end of all things, it will become more and more important for us to focus on Heaven, as our earthly home crumbles and the people begin to hate the ‘truth’ tellers more and more. If we are not focused, as these that went before us, on the city whose builder is God, we will faint and fail and maybe even go backward in our service to the Lord. God is faithful, and He is able to keep and strengthen us all the way through to the end and give us endurance just like He gave endurance to these great men and women of our faith. Most Christians I speak to are looking forward to meeting Moses, Abraham, and other ‘giants’ of our faith. Let me ask you, how would you feel to know that maybe they are waiting to meet you?
Hold on; Jesus is coming, and His promises are assured.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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