Even those who’ve only dabbled in Bible studies are likely familiar with the often-cited “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. It’s a list of ordinary people whose lives demonstrated the extraordinary power of faith.
I believe its higher goal, more than portraying other humans to emulate, is to welcome us into the will of God, by choosing faith daily.
The Book of Hebrews is the only New Testament writing that addresses Jesus as the Great High Priest and final sacrifice, replacing the need for laws to be written on stone, but rather calling us to embrace them in our hearts. It reminds us that we are made holy by Christ’s sacrifice:
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:10).
Hebrews, although nestled amidst the Epistles, doesn’t open with an author introduction or greeting, so the author of Hebrews remains a mystery.
Some assume Pauline authorship, although others feel it may have been someone closely associated with Paul.
What is clear is that the author is a highly educated Jew who had become a Christian. And as this video purports, “in truth, only God knows.”
Hebrews 10 establishes that priests no longer make burnt offerings and sacrifices because Christ has made a way into the Most Holy Place by his blood.
It then calls believers to persevere in the face of persecution and to hold lightly the things of this world.
And just before we enter into Hebrews 11, we’re encouraged that we do not shrink back, but instead have faith.
Hebrews 11 cultivates our walk with God. It encourages us to seek His direction, when we do not yet see the future; knowing that only He does. It assured the Early Church then, and all humanity now, that God’s plans are best.
The maker of heaven and earth is pleased when we live in ways that show we’re sure of what we hope for, and certain of what he promises — even if it remains invisible.
From the very beginning, Hebrews 11 recalls, “by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command” (Hebrews 11:3), so we choose to believe that the earth we see and live in, was created by an inexplicably powerful unseen who holds our every step in his view.
It’s a chapter about having confidence that God “…exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
The Significance of Examples of Faith in Hebrews 11
One of the clearest claims to the importance of the faithful believers chronicled in Hebrews 11 is that their faith still speaks today, even though their earthly lives are silent.
We are still learning from their choices. They are still showing us the way.
And the faith they demonstrate, that is so pleasing to God, is comprised of continually choosing to follow His lead. Moses chose mistreatment over sinful pleasures and looked ahead to his reward.
The stories in Hebrews 11 range from the singular decision of a prostitute to welcome spies to jaw-dropping displays of faith that parted the Red Sea and crushed the walls of Jericho. And they’re all significantly pleasing to God.
He preserves this diversity of examples so that we can be certain our own “by faith” choices belong here, too.
What Does a Hebrews 11 Faith Do?
Developing a Hebrews 11 kind of faith involves surrendering your will to God’s. Even when the way you feel he is leading you is frightening, illogical — and in the case of some of the Hebrews 11 legends listed by name — sometimes even deadly.
Here are three ways Hebrews 11 offers to walk by faith:
1. Offer your whole heart. When Abel offered God a “better sacrifice,” he was giving God his whole heart. He offered God first-borns, the very best of what he had. But Cain didn’t offer God the first fruits of his harvest.
2. Stay in relationship with God. When Enoch loved God in open, joyful relationship, it pleased God. God expresses this kind of pleasure over Jesus, in Matthew 3:17, simply because of their relationship.
There’s a difference between knowing about God, and being in relationship with him, talking with him, praising him, exchanging your fears for faith in his provision.
3. Walk in obedience. Noah faced fear and ridicule as he followed God’s warning by faith. He was countercultural in his action-packed clinging to God.
Abraham teaches us that obedience to God’s leading, even when being asked to leave his comfort zone and go somewhere he knew nothing about, other than God’s guiding him there.
Not only does God reward Abraham’s faithful obedience through Sarah’s conception after barrenness, but He also delivered on His promise to create descendants beyond Abraham’s life “as numerous as the stars in the sky and countless as the sand on the seashore” (Hebrews 11:12).
Please explore the list and look further into their lives. It leads us through the faith of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses; and includes Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets.
And while a portion takes a sobering turn into the trials many of Hebrew 11’s faithful examples withstood (torture, jeers, stoning, death by sword) including wandering in and out of caves destitute, Hebrews 11 wraps with this truth:
God has planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect (Hebrews 11:40).
God is the goal. He is the giver and the gift. He is your guide through all uncertainty. By faith, walk with your whole heart in obedient relationship with God.
If you falter, you can check in with this history of ordinary people in Hebrews 11, who by faith are enjoying an eternity of God’s blessing.
For further reading:
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Benjamin Davies
Lia Martin loves to inspire others to lean into the Lord daily. She’s a writer, editor, marketer, former Crosswalk.com Faith Editor, and author of Wisdom at Wit’s End: Abandoning Supermom Myths in Search of Supernatural Peace. When she’s not cultivating words, she loves walking in nature, reading, exploring the latest health trends, and laughing with her two wonderful kids. She blogs at liamartinwriting.com.