I was just wondering if you have a favorite book of the Bible, one that you keep going back to and reading over and over so often that you come to know parts of it by memory. I have a book like that, and it’s the Book of Hebrews. The first time I studied Hebrews it was like a light bulb went on in my head illuminating God’s purpose and plan and reason for giving us His precious Word. The Book of Hebrews revealed to me the connection between the Old and New Testaments. As my teacher, Pearl Hamilton, explained, quoting Augustine, “The New is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” Seeing how God’s Word is so interconnected and how all the different parts explain each other, opened a whole new world to me and filled me with a passion for reading, studying, and memorizing it. I saw how everything in the Old Testament looked forward to Jesus Christ and that much of it is a picture of Him, although a dim and imperfect picture. And I saw how Jesus Christ came as a perfect fulfillment of the Old, which although it was good, was flawed and incomplete until He came. Everything in the Old, under the law, was only a shadow of the good things to come (Hebrews 10:1).
The writer of Hebrews (and no one is sure who that was) goes to great lengths to explain the superiority of Jesus Christ and why, as the fulfillment of the law, He is superior. He is better than the prophets and the angels (Hebrews 1-2), better than Moses (Hebrews 3), and a better priest (Hebrews 5, 7). He brought a better rest (Hebrews 4), a better hope (Hebrews 7), a better ministry, a better covenant, and better promises (Hebrews 8). He offered a better sacrifice (Hebrews 10) and is our minister in a better sanctuary, the perfect mediator of a better covenant (Hebrews 9). Does all this boggle your mind and overwhelm your imagination?
What is your response? The writer calls us to respond with faith and gives us, in Hebrews 11, inspirational examples of faith from the Old Testament. Hebrews 11 has been called The Faith Hall of Fame, and I love that chapter. I read it when I am tired or down or discouraged and it always lifts my spirits and encourages me. Although I know I will probably never attain to the faith of those listed in that chapter, they encourage me to aspire, to set my sights high - to set my eyes on Jesus!
What I would like to do in the coming weeks is go through Hebrews 11 and get to know a bit about the faith of each of the heroes of faith listed there: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak and Deborah, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Each one of these has a story to encourage us in our faith. How important is faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the very substance (the foundation) of everything we hope for. Our faith is evidence that everything we do not now see as tangible and touchable is real. By faith we understand that the worlds (or “the ages”) were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible (Hebrews 11:3). We need to look at the world, at our lives and our present situation, through eyes of faith. That is how the heroes of Hebrews 11 lived. It was by faith these men and women gained approval (Hebrews 11:2). They knew that in living by faith, they pleased God, and they believed that faith was worth everything. They were looking to the reward - to what they desired more than anything else - God Himself. They knew, as the writer of Hebrews revealed, Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
I hope I’ve piqued your interest in Hebrews 11, the wonderful Chapter of Faith, and that you will want to come back every other week as we take a peek at the faith of the men and women who are named there. We will begin next time with Abel, whose actions showed what was in his heart. We will see how he put faith into action. Lets be encouraged to grow in our faith!
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.