“ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”
Cain and Abel both brought something to offer to God. Cain’s offering was rejected but Abel’s was accepted. What gives?
These were not just any offerings; they were to be offered as a covering for sin. It must have been known to them the admonition that “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” I mean, right in the beginning, God Himself killed animals and made blood coverings for Adam and Eve when they fell. Abel obviously understood this, which is why he offered a lamb to God.
So, if it were known and understood that a blood sacrifice was necessary, why did Cain come up with his own idea and offered produce to God? Because man always wants to do his own thing. He always wants do something to make up for his own sinfulness. It’s the age old problem of self righteousness. What Cain was saying, in effect, was that he didn’t need the blood of the lamb to cover his sins; and that is why his offering was rejected.
We need to be like Abel and understand that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. Fortunately for us, Jesus was the final sacrifice that does not cover our sins: IT CLEANSES THEM FOR ALL ETERNITY!
“ By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Why was Enoch so righteous and faithful before God that he was translated, or raptured, directly into heaven some time before the Great Flood of Noah’s day? Let’s take a look at the genealogy of Genesis 5 and look for some little clues the Holy Spirit has left for us to find.
Below is a list of all the “Begets” in the chapter:
Adam begot Seth
Seth begot Enosh
Enosh bego Cainan
Cainan begot Mahalalel
Mehalalel begot Jared
Jared begot Enoch
Enoch begot Methuselah
Lamech had a son and he called his name “Noah.”
All names in Hebrew have meaning. These not only have meanings; they tell a story.
Let’s align each name with it’s meaning as translated from the Hebrew and see what the Holy Spirit has hidden for us. It’s a message of encouragement to us!
Methuselah……HIS DEATH WILL BRING
“Man is appointed mortal sorrow. But the blessed God will come down teaching (with his mouth). His death will bring powerful rest.”
You’ll notice that Methuselah’s name means, “His death will bring.” It shows the reader that Enoch must have known some kind of terrible judgment was coming and named his son accordingly. What a reminder to follow and obey God, knowing that his son’s death would be the signal for the God’s great judgment to rain down on man, quite literally I might add. With every little ailment, cough, or sneeze, can you just imagine people wondering, “Is this it?”
He was so motivated and so faithful that, one day, God just walked him right into heaven. That’s right: He raptured Enoch. He was spared from going through the judgment the rest of the world would face, except for Noah and his family.
“ By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”
Noah sure had a lot of faith! It took him 100 years to build that ark, during which time he tried to preach to his generation and warn them what was coming. Of course, no one believed him since it had never rained on the earth before. They thought he was a kook. Obviously, no one is laughing any more.
Noah and his family were not alone in the ark, however. You may follow the link below to discover who else was in the ark with him and his family. No wonder they were not afraid!
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Abram, later renamed, “Abraham,” gets a bigger write-up for his story because of his faithfulness to and trust in The Most High. Because he believed God, he became the father of the Jewish nation.
While it’s true that he had faith where it mattered, you can see in the Old Testament account that his faith wasn’t perfect. Twice he instructed his wife, Sarah, to lie about and say she was his sister and not his wife. He pulled the same stunt 20 years later. Why? Because both times he was afraid for himself. He thought that he might be killed because others would want her for themselves as she was very beautiful. Pretty selfish!
For more on that topic, you may follow the link below:
“ Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.”
The picture of Sarah above shows the one thing that was omitted in her story. You remember that when the angel told her husband that Sarah would bear him a son? She laughed because she was way past her expiration date, being close to 90. She also had been barren her whole life. The Holy Spirit omits that little detail in the Hebrews account, once again not counting her trespass against her.
Sara is unique among the women of the Bible as being the only one whose youth was renewed, like the eagle. She was so transformed that a heathen king, who looks on the outside and is not spiritual at all, wanted her for his harem! I’m sure she didn’t look like a shriveled up old lady. She must have looked young and beautiful. Amazing!
“ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
Even though all of these people may have had imperfect faith, God sees them as unwavering. He never mentions any of the off behaviors we read in the Old Testament accounts. Rather, He remembers that they believed Him and held on to the promises He gave to them. Most amazing of all was that the fulfillment of those promises would not materialize until the distant future, which makes their faith even more incredible!
More About Abraham.
“ By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
The account goes on to talk about Abraham who, like the Father, was willing to give up his only son, Isaac, believing the God could and would raise him from the dead. No one else in Holy Writ was ever tested like Abraham who so believed God he was willing to sacrifice his own son.
Of course, the Father is telling the story of how He would sacrifice His only son, His beloved One, Who would not be spared but given up for us all. That’s some faith right there!! No wonder he became the father of the Jewish nation!
Isaac, Jacob And Joseph.
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
“By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. ”
From Abraham onward, we have an entire family of people and a line of those who believed the promises of God and passed that belief down to their children and children’s children. Through this one amazing family ultimately came The One, our Lord Jesus, Who saved us all. ♥️
“ By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
Moses has the biggest write up of all, he who lead the children of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years. Once again, we don’t read about any of his failings or shortcomings, only what he did right. Amazing! But that’s our God!
That’s how He deals with each one of us, though you may not hear that from the pulpit, not that we’re in favor of bad behavior, of course. Isn’t that the best way to raise children? Catch them doing good things or doing it right and they’ll want to do more.
The writer of Hebrews goes on to regale us about Moses:
“ By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”
Imagine how terrifying it must have been to many who were putting blood on the lintels and doorposts to deter the angel of death! After nine terrible, very tangible plagues, there was no doubt that the last one was certain to happen. By faith, they all put the blood on the doorposts of their houses and they were all spared!
By the time the last plague hit, many of their Egyptian neighbors were taking God seriously and had actually sought refuge with the Israelites. In fact, those very non Jews left Egypt with them. You can see it so clearly in the Hebrew. Read all about it in the article about if you like:
Even more amazing, the entire company crossed safely the other side of the Red Sea between two walls of water being held back by God. The Egyptians, who were chasing them, followed behind them but did not fare so well. Once the last of the Children of Israel were on the other side, the walls of water crashed together, killing everyone, including the evil Pharoah.
Joshua And Rahab.
Joshua And Rahab.
Hebrews 11:30-31 “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”
Then we have the fall of the walls of Jericho, spearheaded by Joshua. Only one woman and her family were spared because of her belief and faithfulness. You see, years ago, when Israel had approached the promised land, all the inhabitants of the land of Canaan had heard of the great deeds God had done. Everyone was terrified!
But this one woman, who had been a prostitute, had come to believe in this God. She became the great grandmother of King David and is mentioned in the lineage of our Lord Jesus!
Old Testament Heroes Of The Faith.
The rest of chapter 11 gives the reader a thumbnail sketch of a host of other Old Testament saints that were so numerous, the author could not to go into great detail. He leaves that for the reader to investigate. It’s quite the list of Who’s Who. Take a look:
“ And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”
Gideon was fearful and weak and needed a LOT of convincing to do the great things he did, yet that fact is omitted here. (See Judges 6)
You’ll notice that Barak was mentioned but not Deborah, a prophetess and judge who served together with him. He didn’t have the faith and courage to do what God asked him to do alone. Instead, he chickened out. But Deborah stepped in did what the Lord had asked of him. Again, notice that God doesn’t mention what he failed to do, only that he is one of the faithful. That’s our God. (See Judges 4.)
Samson is another character who did a lot of questionable things, yet he is mentioned in the hall of faith, (see Judges 13)
Jephthah was one of the judges of Israel about whom no negative was mentioned. Read his story in Judges 11.
what God promised? They may not have begun in great faith but ended up succeeding because God was faithful to them. The most amazing thing about each one of them is that the One Who was promised to them would would arrive in the distant future. AMAZING!!!
Though all these are great examples of courage and faith to bless and encourage us in our walk, our God is the greatest example.
When Jesus ascended back to His Father in Heaven, they and all the faithful of the Old Testament comprised the “Great cloud of witnesses” that accompanied Him, their promise fulfilled in the One for Whom they waited for so long: The Messiah!
Jesus is the preeminent One! He was their focus! He deserves all the praise and the glory!
You and I, Church, are now an integral part of that same group because we are in Christ, the One Who is ever Faithful to the Hall of the Faithful.