Verse 1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Eternal life depends on the existence and exercise of faith. Faith gives reality or substance of things hoped for. Faith is substantial enough to generate confidence. This is on inner conviction, not based on visible matters and beyond this world is a better resurrection.
Verse 2 – For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
Verse 3 – By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
The “faith” here is confidence in the truth of the divine declarations in regard to creation. Our knowledge on the subject is a matter of faith in the divine testimony – God said so.
Verse 4 – By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
People have speculated for years why God accepted Able’s offering and not Cain’s. The one was offered in faith and the other was not. Cain offered fruit from the land, which in itself is proper. Both the brothers selected what they had reared with their own hands – sheep and fruit.
The apostle, writing, knew by divine will, that Able offered his offering by faith and that God would accept it. By offering a blood sacrifice, Able showed a more attachment to God and faith in the great Redeemer, promised immediately after the fall (Genesis 3:15).
Verse 5 – By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, “and was not found because God had translated him”; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Verse 6 – But 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 diligently seek Him.
God will not settle for mere acknowledgment of His existence, even the demons believe that much. He wants a personal dynamic relationship with us, one that will transform us. God cannot be pleased with the person who has no confidence in Him; who doubts the truth of His declarations and promises; who does not believer that His ways are right; or that He has all authority. We cannot come to Him if we don’t believe in His very existence. We do not see Him, but must believe He is. We believe, then draw near and then realize we are in the presence of the all-seeing Jehovah!
Verse 7 – By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Because God had told Noah of the flood that was coming, Noah prepared and built an ark as instructed by God, for a hundred and twenty years , believing what God had said. And Noah became heir of righteousness – he became possessed of that righteousness.
Noah was faithful to work and wait for the flood, because God said it was going to happen. So, why can’t we as Christians wait? However long it takes, for our prayers to be answered, we wait. We all give up too soon!
Verse 8 – By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
This required extraordinary strength to leave his own country and go to a distant land of strangers. Would we do the same? Some do.
Verse 9 – By faith he sojourned 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;
This was the land of Canaan that had been promised to him. In all respects he lived there as if he had no special right in the soil; as if he never expected to own it; as if he was in a country wholly owned by others. To all intent, he was a stranger.
Yet, he seems to have lived in the confidence and quiet expectation that he land would at some period come into his possession of his posterity.
Verse 10 – for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Verse 11 – By faith Sarah, herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.
If ever in serious doubt that our God can do the impossible, go back and read the story of Abraham, being 100 and Sarah 90 years old and conceiving a child. That story alone should boost our confidence in the God that loves us!
Verse 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.
The entire Jewish people sprang from one man, and that, as the reward of his strong faith he was made the father and founder of the Jewish nation.
Verse 13 – These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Verse 14 – For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
Verse 15 – And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
The same is true today, there is nothing stopping Christians to returning back into the world and their old life-style. There are plenty of opportunities to do so, but truly born-again believers strive to move in another direction – following Jesus Christ. It’s our choice. Abraham could have went back to familiar land, but he believed God and chose not to go back.
Verse 16 – But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
This earth is not our permanent home. There is a city being prepared for those who love and trust in the Savior and one day we will be in that new city – The New Jerusalem!
Verse 17 – By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promise offered up his only begotten son,
Verse 18 – of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,”
Verse 19 – accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
Not only did it take a strong amount of faith to believe God when He promised Abraham and Sarah a son in their ripe old age, but Abraham’s faith was tested again when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son. Abraham knew that God was able to raise Isaac fro the dead.
Abraham remembered the covenant and the promise that God made: from this one son, Isaac, an entire nation would come, so how was this going to happen if Isaac was dead? We are to base our faith on the promise from God no matter what it looks like now! Our faith in something will not line up with what we “See!” If you can see it, then it’s not faith.
Verse 20 – By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
A blessing was pronounced on each, of a very different nature, but Isaac had no doubt that both would be fulfilled.
Verse 21 – By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of his sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
By faith he blessed Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and by faith he reverently bowed before God in the belief that when he died his remains would be conveyed to the promise land.
Verse 22 – By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.
Verse 23 – By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the kings’ command.
Even Moses’ parents trusted God to protect their son’s life. They believed their child was destined for some important work for the Lord, so they disregarded the king’s command.
Verse 24 – By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
Verse 25 – choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
Verse 26 – esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
Verse 27 – By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
Verse 28 – By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
Verse 29 – By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.
Moses was one of Israel’s greatest prophets and lawgivers. He gave up wealth, comfort, status, and achievement, to cling to the long-range benefits of God’s kingdom.
These things we enjoy now while on earth are only temporary. We, as Christians, have an eternity with the King of Kings – a much better life!
Verse 30 – By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.
Those walls did not fall by any natural causes. Those walls fell by confidence and faith in God.
Verse 31 – By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she received the spies with peace.
When Joshua sent spies to Jericho to see how fortified the city was, they met Rahab who was a prostitute and a Gentile. She showed her faith in God when she helped the spies escape, knowing when they came back to destroy the city, her and her family would be spared. And they were!
If you think God can’t use whom He chooses to accomplish His purpose, look no further than Rahab. After Jericho was captured, Rahab and her family were spared and she married Salmon of the tribe of Judah and was the mother of Boaz. She also is mentioned in the genealogy in Matthew as the ancestor of Jesus.
Verse 32 – And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthan, also of David and Samuel and the prophets;
Verse 33 – who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Verse 34 – quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Verse 35 – Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
We too can be victorious over our enemies, with faith in Christ, resting on the promise of a sure resurrection with Christ for all eternity.
Verse 36 – Still others had trials of mocking and scourging, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
Verse 37 – They were stoned, they were sawed in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented –
Verse 38 – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
Verse 39 – And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
Verse 40 – God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart form us.
As I’ve read the Old Testament stories of all that were mentioned here, I realize in my own life that if my God was able to do what He did for many of these, then He must be able to do the same for me! Why is it that we think our problems are so much bigger than these, and that God is not able? It’s because many don’t know the God of the Bible. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever! He will accomplish His will and use anyone He chooses, and always glorify His Son! Please believe that God does the impossible for those whose hearts and minds are turned towards Him! Amen.