The Meaning of Faith

Hebrews 11:1-3; 23-29


The Meaning of Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

The Faith of Moses

23 By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

The Faith of Other Israelite Heroes

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.
Moses didn’t want to do the job. When God called Moses from the burning bush to go back to Egypt and face Pharaoh head on, and to tell Pharaoh that God wanted Pharaoh to give the people of Israel a “get out of town free” pass, Moses tried to get out of it. Not once or twice, but four times, Moses came up with excuses as to why God should pick someone else.
In the end, God won, and Moses went to Pharaoh and told Pharaoh God’s message – “Let my people go!” Ten plagues later, Pharaoh let the people go, but not without a final chase. Once again, God won, and the people who were in bondage were set free. Eventually, they made it to the Promised Land.
The author of the book of Hebrews says this can be attributed to faith. The author gives several examples from the Old Testament of those who, by faith, follow where God leads. These are words of encouragement for all of us.
I know that when you are in the thick of some kind of crisis, it’s hard to make any sense of it all. Sometimes even the encouragement to trust God doesn’t help all that much. Moses had the same problem, as did Abraham and Sarah and many others we read of in the Old Testament. They knew how good and great God is, but there were times when God didn’t seem to be so good and great to them. But, look what God was able to do in spite of their moments of doubt.
Faith simply takes God at God’s word. Faith believes the promise that we are God’s dear children and that God will always be watching over us as we travel the ups and downs of life’s journey.
During the days of the bombing of London during World War II, a father, holding his small son by the hand, ran through really thick smoke from their burning house.
In the front yard was a deep crater made by a bomb. Seeking shelter as quickly as possible, the father jumped into the dark hole and held up his arms for his son to follow. The smoke was so thick he couldn’t see his father. The little boy was terrified, and when his father called out, “Jump,” the boy replied, “But I can’t see you!”
Looking up through the smoke, the father saw his son silhouetted against the glow of the burning buildings and called out, “But I can see you! Jump!” The boy jumped because he trusted his father.
Faith trusts God to help, not because we can see, but because we are seen; not because we know all the answers, but because we are known.
The Message translation of the first three verses of Hebrews 11:

11 1-2 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.
The examples of those who have gone before us, who have been faithful and faith-filled, can offer us the strength to carry on. Their trust in God, their devotion, and even their doubts can inspire us to follow and to trust.
Think of the legacy we will leave for those who come after us when we share with them how faith carried us through a pandemic in 2020. Oh, the stories we will share.

Let us pray:

Almighty God, creator of all, open our eyes to see your handiwork all around us, so that we my continue to trust in You, invisible to the eye, but close to the heart. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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