God’s Saving Word: Faith
Hebrews 11:1-22: Today’s reading provides us with a listing of people of great faith and the actions and risks they took in response to their faith. The account begins with Abel and continues to Joseph. We learn that faith is the way to please God.
11 To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see. 2 It was by their faith that people of ancient times won God’s approval.
3 It is by faith that we understand that the universe was created by God’s word, so that what can be seen was made out of what cannot be seen.
4 It was faith that made Abel offer to God a better sacrifice than Cain’s. Through his faith he won God’s approval as a righteous man, because God himself approved of his gifts. By means of his faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 It was faith that kept Enoch from dying. Instead, he was taken up to God, and nobody could find him, because God had taken him up. The scripture says that before Enoch was taken up, he had pleased God. 6 No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him.
7 It was faith that made Noah hear God’s warnings about things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a boat in which he and his family were saved. As a result, the world was condemned, and Noah received from God the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 It was faith that made Abraham obey when God called him to go out to a country which God had promised to give him. He left his own country without knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who received the same promise from God. 10 For Abraham was waiting for the city which God has designed and built, the city with permanent foundations.
11 It was faith that made Abraham able to become a father, even though he was too old and Sarah herself could not have children. He[a] trusted God to keep his promise. 12 Though Abraham was practically dead, from this one man came as many descendants as there are stars in the sky, as many as the numberless grains of sand on the seashore.
13 It was in faith that all these persons died. They did not receive the things God had promised, but from a long way off they saw them and welcomed them, and admitted openly that they were foreigners and refugees on earth. 14 Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 They did not keep thinking about the country they had left; if they had, they would have had the chance to return. 16 Instead, it was a better country they longed for, the heavenly country. And so God is not ashamed for them to call him their God, because he has prepared a city for them.
17 It was faith that made Abraham offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice when God put Abraham to the test. Abraham was the one to whom God had made the promise, yet he was ready to offer his only son as a sacrifice. 18 God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that you will have the descendants I promised.” 19 Abraham reckoned that God was able to raise Isaac from death—and, so to speak, Abraham did receive Isaac back from death.
20 It was faith that made Isaac promise blessings for the future to Jacob and Esau.
21 It was faith that made Jacob bless each of the sons of Joseph just before he died. He leaned on the top of his walking stick and worshiped God.
22 It was faith that made Joseph, when he was about to die, speak of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and leave instructions about what should be done with his body.
Today’s Key Verse: Hebrews 11:1
To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.
In what ways does faith provide you with a sure hope? Among all the people mentioned in today’s reading, are there any who are unfamiliar to you? Perhaps today’s reading will encourage you to find and read their stories in the Bible. (The stories of those mentioned in today’s reading can be found in the book of Genesis.) Are there any whose journey of faith reflects your own? In what ways?
Holy God, thank you for all your faithful servants. Thank you for mentors and teachers you have placed in my life. May I continue to grow in faith, trusting in your promises. Amen.
And now, join us in prayer for the work of the Bible Society in sharing God’s Word in China. Loving God, China has the largest population of any country on Earth, and its people have a tremendous need for your Word. We pray, Lord God, that the people of China will come to know you and your promise of life. Thank you, dear God, for the faithful supporters who are helping people in China to have access to Bibles. Amen.
Hebrews 11:23-40: The listing of people of faith continues.