Proper 14 (19) (August 7, 2016)
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
Hebrews 11:1-3 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
Hebrews 11:8-16 | New Living Translation (NLT)
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise.And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
This week we jump to Hebrews 11. We often think of Hebrews 11 as the Faith Hall of Fame. This letter was written to the Jewish people by an unnamed Jewish writer. Here the writer describes what faith is…it is the reality of what we hope for…it is the evidence of of things we cannot see.
The writer goes on to say that by faith we believe the universe was formed by God’s command. God simply spoke it into being and it happened. God created what we see…God created it out of nothing. Yes, it does take faith to believe that. You may have noticed that our blog has been quiet this week. That’s because on Sunday morning a man in our church died – and we have been busy ministering to the family. One of the things that we knew – even before he died was that he was a believer – he had a faith in God. It was refreshing to preach at a funeral where we knew the person was a believer in God. Each one of us who believe in God have a faith that this story is true…Over the next couple verses the writer recalls how each person in the hall of fame believed by faith and did great things for God because of faith.
In verse 8, we are introduced to Abraham, who left his homeland – who left his family to go to the land of God’s promise. Abraham followed God to receive God’s inheritance. It seems weird, but he left not knowing where he was going. Each one was looking for God’s promised inheritance. We are told that even though Abraham didn’t know where he was going, he was confident – looking forward to a city with eternal foundations…even Sarah – Abraham’s wife – believed God’s promise. The Hebrew people were born from this promise. And yet, not one – the writer says – lived to receive the promise – but they did see it from the distance and so they pursued it. They knew that they were aliens and strangers – just passing through. They knew God was promising them something better.
For us believers – the promise remains – we still live a life of faith – we know what is promised and we have faith in the promise of an eternal city. We look forward to that day when we enter into God’s promised rest.