Hebrews defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV). Then it provides a list of faithful people from the history of Israel who exemplify what faith is, and it shows how they manifested that faith by their deeds.
Read Hebrews 11:1-19. What did these “heroes” of faith do that exemplified their faith? How are their actions related to hope of things not seen?
Abraham is probably the most important character in this chapter. Abraham’s last act of faith is especially instructive regarding the true nature of faith.
Hebrews notes that God’s instruction to Abraham that he offer Isaac as a sacrifice seemed to imply a contradiction on God’s part (Hebrews 11:17-18). Isaac was not the only son of Abraham. Ishmael was the firstborn of Abraham, but God had told Abraham that it was all right for him to accept Sarah’s request and cast Ishmael and his mother out because God would take care of them, and also because Abraham’s offspring would be named through Isaac (Genesis 21:12-13). In the next chapter, however, God asks Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God’s instruction in Genesis 22 seemed to flatly contradict God’s promises in Genesis chapters 12-21.
Hebrews concludes that Abraham amazingly solved the conundrum by arriving at the conclusion that God would resurrect Isaac after he had offered him. This is amazing because no one had yet been resurrected. It seems, however, that Abraham’s previous experience with God led him to that conclusion. Hebrews 11:12 notes that Isaac was conceived by the power of God from one who was “as good as dead.” Paul also noted that, despite Abraham’s being “as good as dead” and Sarah barren, Abraham believed “in hope … against hope, that he should become the father of many nations” because he believed that God “gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17-20, ESV). Thus, Abraham must have assumed that if God in some sense had already given life to Isaac out of the dead, He could do it again. In God’s leading in the past, Abraham saw an intimation of what He could do in the future.
|Why is meditating on how God has led our lives in the past so crucial in maintaining our faith and trust in Him now?|