SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- This chapter of Hebrews has been called the “hall of faith.” We get to see a highlight reel of God’s people from the Old Testament. Here are four things we can learn about faith in God from this chapter...
- The first verse is a definition of faith: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Because of our faith we have certainty about the existence of God, that Jesus came for us and died to take away our sins, that we have relationship with God and a future with him because of Jesus.
- Verse six says, “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.” Faith isn't just believing some facts about God, it also includes "earnestly" (passionately) seeking him. That's the kind of faith God rewards.
- Verse 16 says, “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.” Jesus’ followers are citizens of earthly countries, but long for and belong to a better one "country". When loyalties between these two collide, God’s kingdom always wins their favor. They may sometimes have to endure persecution because of that loyalty.
- Speaking of Moses, verse 25 says, “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” This is the mark of a true Jesus-follower: their life is focused on the great joy of knowing God. They would rather suffer as God’s child than enjoy the pleasures of sin. They also know the truth about sin, that its pleasure only lasts a short time. And when passing pleasures are compared to the eternal joy of knowing God, there is no contest!
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Did you notice that every person in this chapter did something because of their faith? Faith led to action. And the action was risky, perhaps even crazy, but they did it because they trusted God and felt he was leading them to it.
- Faith looks forward. We live out our faith now, but faith is always looking forward to our hope, our future home, and our reward. Speaking of Moses, verse 25 says, “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” Moses realized he could enjoy the pleasure of sin for a little while, or deny himself that pleasure and experience the eternal joy of knowing and being with God. He made that choice because his faith led him to look forward.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- How is your faith causing you to act? What risks are you taking, because of your faith, for God? Are you taking faith risks with your money? With sharing your faith? With serving? Is there something specific God is calling you to do? You can't play it safe and live by faith!
- Does your faith cause you to look forward? Are you willing to say no to the pleasures of sin? Are you willing to endure ridicule or persecution for what you believe? The heroes of the faith in this chapter maintained their faith at all costs, because they knew God was worth it, and because they looked forward to their hope, future home, and reward. Does that also describe you? And, if not, how might looking forward help you to truly live for God now? And what might help you to keep your gaze fixed on your future?