Read Hebrews 11
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance,admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
When we were kids, the ultimate goal of life was making the “All-Star Team.” Maybe you wanted to be the All-Star first baseman. Or you wanted to make the All-State choir or dance team. Or you desired to be the Homecoming King or Queen. We all aspire(d) to be an “All-Star.”
In Hebrews 11, we see the All-Stars of the faith: Noah built an ark, Moses led God’s people out of Israel, and Rahab risked her safety by welcoming the spies (Joshua 2). Enoch didn’t even die—God just whisked him away into His presence. Thousands of years after their faithful, heroic acts we read about them in Hebrews 11.
Certainly these “heroes of the faith” must have been stellar citizens and near-perfect followers of God, right? Wrong. Noah got drunk (Genesis 9:20-21). Abraham slept with his servant (Genesis 16) and pimped out his wife for his own protection and self-preservation—twice!! (Genesis 12 and 20). Rahab was a prostitute. Moses killed a man (Exodus 2) and then later in life, as the leader of God’s people, sinned so blatantly that God would not allow him into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 32:51-52). The stories of these men and women in the “Hall of Faith” should encourage us to be faithful. God doesn’t demand we live a perfect life. That’s why He sent Jesus—to do what we can’t do. In return, our job is to be faithful in the way we live.
So, what does faithfulness look like for you today? Maybe it’s in your marriage in choosing to love your spouse in those less loveable moments. Or maybe it’s in your job when you have the opportunity to take some minor shortcuts that may or may not be legal to reach a goal. Or, when you have the opportunity to look over someone else’s test or homework. Will you choose to be faithful?
The men and women in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith weren’t perfect. And neither are we. But every day we get the opportunity to follow their example and choose to be faithful, for we know that without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Ultimately every follower of Christ has a hope infinitely greater than any All-Star team, purchase, achievement, or accomplished goal can provide (Hebrews 11:39-40).
- What story/individual most stands out to you as described in Hebrews 11?
- Why do you think it’s impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6)?
- What does faithfulness look like for you today?
Did You Know?
We know repetition in scripture means the author is trying to get a particular idea across. The word “faith” shows up 24 times in the original Greek text in Hebrews 11!