The writer of Hebrews begins with the difficulty that the Jews were going through, explaining the superiority of Jesus Christ, the only Jesus faith. And then he shows us the list of people of faith, a continuation of God’s redemptive history linked by these people who had faith. This is reflecting upon the fruits of righteousness and faith that God has given to us, cultivated by these people of faith from the beginning. As we look at Hebrews 11, let us think about the faith that became the foundation, and fuel energy for the History of Redemption to go on all the way until today.
In Hebrews 11:8, it is written that by faith Abraham obeyed by going out to a place he didn’t know to receive an inheritance of the land. Here we can see that faith is conviction of things hoped for, and things not seen. He obeyed for the purpose of seeing the fulfilment of God’s promise of the land. This is very important in the History of Redemption, God promised Abraham the land and the seed for the purpose of restoring the Garden of Eden and the kingdom of God. Abraham gave up everything he had in the Ur of Chaldean. By faith, he lived in the land of promised Canaan, dwelling with Isaac and Jacob in a tent. The tent has the connotation of a tabernacle where his faith was passed down to them. He lived the fulfilment of God’s word.
In Hebrews 11:11-12, it is written that by faith Sarah received the ability to conceive. We know Sarah was biologically unable to conceive due to old age. This is the fulfilment of God’s promise of the seed. Faith is conviction and assurance that God’s promise will be fulfilled through me and through my obedience (Hebrews 11:1). Let us be in prayer for our faith in the year 2024. May we rebuild the foundation of our faith so that we are not just mimicking faith, not just called Christian but being real Christians.
What is the secret behind such faith?
1. They can believe in the things of this earth because their faith is in the heavenly things
Abraham and Sarah were promised something impossible, the land of Canaan which was already occupied by the Canaanites. The descendants are as many as the stars in the sky when they are already barren. They didn’t limit themselves to the limitations of this earth, they believed in God who was heavenly. The One who promised is able to do this, may we go into the new year with this faith. May we not believe in things on this earth but things of heaven, that God will do amazing and miraculous things through you.
(1) God promised the son, but He told Abraham to give him an offering.
Abraham responded to this unexpected turning of God’s plan by faith (Hebrews 11:17-19). No matter what happens in the new year, may we respond to God’s plan by faith, on earth as it is in heaven. May God fulfil heaven on earth through you, by faith.
(2) God promised the land of Canaan, but later God asked him to move his entire people to Egypt.
Again Abraham received as is and he prepared his descendants to receive that land for that time (Genesis 15:15-16). Abraham was successful in passing down his faith to his children for the fulfilment of God’s promise (Heb 11:20-22). It might seem small in this world, but to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph it is the most important thing because that is what God wanted. Abraham was able to do this because he saw the reality of heaven.
2. They became men of whom the world was not worthy
Men of whom the world can’t handle their faith (Hebrews 11:33-38). The world to them was not worth it because they saw heaven. As years go by, you might have experienced, the world will not make it easier for us to believe. When we try to do God’s work, there are so many things coming in the way to block our spiritual vision and take our mind and time away. Satan will not leave us alone to just comfortably believe and obey. For these people, they were tempted and put to death with the sword, sawn in two, but they held on and didn’t let the world stop them. That is why the world was not worthy of them.
Why was the world not worthy?
(1) Because the world is a masquerade
Masquerade is a false show, pretending someone you are not and hiding one truthful side in speech and action. What God dislikes the most is deception and lies. The serpent has a pretence when he approaches Eve in the Garden of Eden as if he cares for her. Mankind that has been deceived by serpents continues to be used by serpents to deceive each other and even to deceive oneself. We sometimes think we have faith when we look at the reality of our relationship with God, it may not be. When we believe in Jesus and come to Jesus, He gives us the confidence to take off our masks. His blood will cleanse away our shame. Spiritual life with a mask on, rather than cleansing our sin away, is a life of suffocation and agony. May we live the life of truth.
(2) Because the world is full of darkness
These people were people of light, when the light came into darkness, the darkness couldn’t handle it (John 1:5,3:19-20, 8:43). Those who came into the light are those who receive the truth of God’s word. Because the darkness can’t bear the light, it will do everything it can do to kill it, that is what the darkness in us and the world will do. Darkness seeks for the mask to cover it rather than having the glory of God manifested in our lives. May we be able to take off our spiritual mask and have our sins be cleansed.
This genealogy of faith has not come to an end yet. God is saying the relay is not over and the last runner is still running (Hebrews 11:39-40). All these people of faith in the History of Redemption were waiting and watching the last runner, which is us, to finish the race. We have to run with this ‘by faith’ baton and cross the finishing line in order for this race to become perfect. Let us run by faith in the year 2024. Israelites knew they couldn’t defeat Jericho, by faith they walked around the city because God told them to do so. They knew they couldn’t do it on their own, so they obeyed the One that could. That is faith, realizing what I can’t do and obeying God, because He can do it. God will do amazing things in fulfilling His redemptive will through Zion Church and through each person in Zion Church.