As promised in the last post, we will wrap this series up by taking a look at characters from Hebrews 11 and seeing what we can learn from their faith.
Cain & Able – Hebrews 11:4
“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.”
Many people miss the point of Cain and Abel’s story. Among the many strange renderings of this story I’ve heard people over spiritualize it saying that Able sacrificed an animal while Cain merely gave God of his grain. But this has nothing to do with the story at all. As a matter of fact the respective offerings were what God had allotted to each to care for. God is not expecting from you something that He has not given you.
The problem with Cain’s offering was that he gave only what was left over. Abel, however, is said to have given God of his first fruits (Gen. 4:4). The importance of this is all about faith. Abel trusted God. Cain trusted his world and offered God whatever was left.
Abel, as we learn from Hebrews 11 believed that there was a greater promise. Remember verse 13? “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises” Abel was a part of “all these.” Able too was awaiting a country to come! In light of this, honoring God first was a small sacrifice.
This level of trust will affect every part of our lives not just what we offer to God. If Cain had believed this he surely wouldn’t have murdered his brother.
Enoch – Hebrews 11:5-6
“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
Enoch was pleasing to God but it wasn’t so that he could be taken up without facing death. Enoch was pleasing to God because of what we see in verse 6. He believed that God existed and that He rewarded those who sought Him. The reward Enoch seems to have desired, as per the writer of Hebrews, was a city whose builder is God—the one where God dwells with His people.
Noah – Hebrews 11:7
“By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
I said earlier that faith is not blind, but that there is a chance it may not see. Noah is a perfect example of this. Think about it—what does Noah place his faith in if he can’t see the waters rising? Answer: The word of God.
God warned Noah, and on that word Noah built a boat. According to Hebrews 11 based on God’s promise of better country Noah continued to walk by faith.
When the political waters rise in our world we ought to remember that we are looking forward to something way beyond this earth.
Abraham – Hebrews 11:8-10
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Abraham’s story is one that speaks most boldly to our current political climate. Abraham was promised a land and not just any. His was the promised land and yet look at what the Bible says, “By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Even in the earthly promised land Abraham is said to be looking for a city built by God. His hope was still on a future point and a greater dwelling place. If this was true of Abraham with an objective promised land why would we live different in America—a land that although established by God—is not the promise we’ve all been waiting for.
Sarah – Hebrews 11:11-12
“By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”
Conclusion – Hebrews 11:13-16
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”
How does knowing that this world is not your home affect your own political views? Your treatment of fellow Christians and those who don’t share your faith? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.