Living by faith is really important for humanity, a foundation for the actions we take in life. Hebrews 11 gives an account of great people of God in the old testament, even including ordinary people, that through their faith, they and their future generations received a great reward from God Almighty. This chapter is indeed a lengthy one concerning the merits of living by faith. There are 40 verses, and 37 of them offer examples from the creation of the universe, Abel and Cain; Enoch, Noah, Abraham, to Moses; and a summary from the others like Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel and the prophets.
Verse 1 defines for us the meaning of faith: “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. To break it down, we have the following key parts: certain (sure), hope and not seen. Among these 3 items or elements, we can easily associate “certain” with present, and the others as future – base on the saying, future is uncertain. However, I want to urge you not to be fooled with such saying that future is uncertain, so I can’t do anything about it. Therefore, note that humanity certainly hope for something. Example, a better career, a better living, a better education, marriage, and so other fascinating things or desires.
Here comes in the connection, we hope to have those fascinating things in the future, which are not yet seen (from the moment we conceive that thought), but we strongly believe one day our hope will come true or come to pass. Well, how do we believe in our hope or dream? It’s through having faith in our dream – saying to yourself: I can live my dream! Through faith, we plan and take all the necessary actions towards what we hope for. For instance, if you hope for a better career, to own a company etc. then you will definitely invest in yourself now in order to fulfil that dream. And this is done by embracing your faith – not giving up when it’s getting tough or hard, learning from your mistakes, and above all deciding not to quit. The steps we take towards achieving our dream or hope give us the certainty of what is not yet seen (the future).
Surprisingly, I think faith is the combination of having a mission, objective, and vision. Within the corporate world, every company has those three things, and those who thrive to success despite some difficulties (be it a crisis or a revolutionary shift) are those who diligently pursue their mission, objectives, and vision. Mission deals with questions like why do we exist? why do we get up each day and do what we do? why are we here (now)? One of the mission of a Christian is living a life according to the Word of God. Vision is about how we want (or would like) things to be – a picture of the future we want to see in our lives. Example, what we want to be when we grow up. The ultimate vision of the Christian faith is to inherit the glorious everlasting Kingdom of God. And lastly, objectives deal with question like how can we fulfil our mission in order to achieve our vision? – which path must we take? One of the objectives of being a Christian is to study the Word of God.
From my previous post, the Way of Love, the Word of God teaches us that hope, faith, and love are the three things that remain among mankind. Therefore, verse 2 tells us that the above mentioned great people of God were commended by their faith. It is worth noting that God didn’t reward them based on their works or status within the community, but by their faith. So we ought to live by faith because I believe it is the foundation of our actions in life.
The rest of the chapter are simply the outline of how those great people of God lived and were commended as righteous due to their faith. It would have been great to provide my insight for all 40 verses, but I want to encourage you to read Hebrews 11, otherwise the writing will be overflowing to at least 5 pages. Fair deal, right? I think so! Therefore, I adhere to share with you some of the lessons I learned from Hebrews 11.
In verse 3, it is written by faith we understand that God created the universe and everything within it by the power of His Words, and so what is seen was not made out of what was visible. It is only through faith that we can understand the works and the ways of God. He is the creator of the universe. I know some people find it hard to believe this claim because in my opinion either they don’t know the truth or don’t want to be convinced (i.e. not allowing themselves to discover). Let’s take it in a simple way. We all believe that man invents items or things he needs to better or improve his lifestyle. Example, an aeroplane was invented to cut down hours of travelling. Absolutely great for such genius of mankind, Isn’t it? Aeroplanes now exist in our world because someone conceive such an idea to build it. Thus, before anything is created, there is an idea for it. Just an idea – nothing more, nothing less. Mmm-hmm! You may ask or wonder where does an idea come from? To simply lead you to my point, you and I don’t need to be philosophers. A predominant source of an idea is a situation we have at hand. Back to my analogy. So if aeroplanes only exist because man already existed, then who existed before man? I’ll leave it up to you to think and reflect about the question while keeping in mind that “existence precedes creation” and “idea precedes invention”.
In verse 6, we learn about the Christian faith. It says “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”. An understanding from this verse helps me to make sense of why it is necessary to live by faith, and why all the great people of God were commended by their faith. For instance, Abel offered God a better sacrifice than his brother, Cain (see verse 4); Noah built an ark when he was warned of a future disaster (see verse 7); Abraham became a father of nations, although his wife Sarah was barren (see verse 11); Moses chose to suffer among his people than to delight himself with treasuries among strangers (see verse 24-26); the prostitute Rahab and her family were saved when the city of Jericho was destroyed (see verse 31); and so on.
In a whole, my reflection for those examples is that faith drives us to do the right thing or act in the right way. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it”. As the definition of faith implies: sure of what it is hoped for and certain of what it’s not yet seen. Abel hoped for something great from God and was certain that if and only he offers a well deserving sacrifice then he will receive his reward from God. A reward he hasn’t seen but was certain about it. The lesson I learn is that, no matter who you are, if you diligently know or understand what you hope for in life, then you will put in an extra effort (i.e. offer the best of your best) in order to achieve your dream (great reward). Example, studies (education), career, marriage, etc.
Also from the case of Noah, who was warned of a future disaster, put in place a safety net to protect his family and the people who obeyed. Referring back to the saying, “future is uncertain”; due to that we assume that no one can accurately predict the future. Except God because He is the creator, the beginning (Alpha) and the end (Omega). Therefore, we have risk management due to our lack of perfectly predicting future circumstances. Insurance policies are typical example of risk management tools. God’s insurance policy for Noah was the ark. Imagine what would have happen if there wasn’t any ark when the disaster struck. The same reason is true of our world today. Without adhering to manage the risks we take in our lives, we stand to lose our reward miserably in the future. For instance, think of the consequences of the financial economic crisis that began in late 2007. Living a life without managing your risk is like leaving a forest in charge of a beaver. In the corporate world, companies that thrive in difficult times are those who have in place good risk management mechanisms for managing their risk portfolio of resources.
Ever heard of the saying, it is never too late to learn something new? I guess you do. By faith, Sarah who was barren and aged gave birth, and Abraham became the father of nations. So no matter your situation, by faith (being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you have not seen yet) you can realize your dreams in life, which are only yours – your own great reward. Some of the great successful people in life were once seen as incapable. Example Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Lionel Messi etc (motivational video).
And regarding the story of Moses, he chose to live and suffer with the Israelites rather than to live among the Egyptians and delight in their treasuries. He regarded disgrace for Christ sake as of greater value than treasures (see verse 26). What I understand from it is, as leaders of our society, organisation, country etc, our reward is greater if we choose to defend the interest of our people, protect them, and strongly together with our people build up our communities, organisations, countries etc than looting the resources for our own personal gains. I believe and think it is through faith that we can commend someone as a great leader. Going back to my analogy that faith is a combination of mission, objectives, and vision; you will agree with me that great leaders have clear vision, and they communicate to their followers. This is absolutely true because without vision (i.e. final destination point) and guidance (mission and objective), we stand still. Proverbs 29:18a (KJV) says “when there is no vision, the people perish”. Our vision in life is not yet seen, but we believe one day we will get there; therefore we set up objectives from an understanding of our mission. Moses had a mission to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, and their vision was to inherit a promise land.
Hence, I believe we all have missions, objectives, and visions because without them we will not take actions towards what we hope for in life. Living by faith is the foundation, which must be strong to withstand any storm that comes in our lives. Living by faith is absolutely essential for humanity if he/she wants to achieve great things in life, and for society. And equally important everyone has an essential role to play if we want to strongly build up our communities. In verse 39 and 40, although all the great people of God were commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised because God’s plan was something better for them, only together they will be made perfect. Imagine a community that through faith firmly unite its people to achieving a great vision for the community. That is the great plan God has for the Christian community to live by faith, firmly unite together by loving one another as Jesus Christ loves everyone, so that we can serve as a perfect example to other communities to come to Christ, and to inherit His glorious everlasting Kingdom.
Stay bless and I want to invite you to take up the 3030Challenge from Joyce Meyer to study God’s Word for 30 minutes a day for 30 days.