Friday, October 16, 2020

Looking Forward by Faith

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6)

The examples of faith in Hebrews 11 show us two great principles of faith. The first is trusting God for the future, and the second is living faithfully in the present. Faithfulness means obedience to God, and there can be no true faith apart from faithfulness.

Enoch, we are told, did not experience physical death. He pleased God, and so God took him as a sign to all of us that physical death is but our passage into glory. Enoch earnestly sought God, trusting Him for the future and obeying Him in the present (Hebrews 11:5–6).

Noah built an ark. God told him 120 years before the Flood that the Flood was coming (Genesis 6:3ff.; 1 Peter 3:20). For 120 years, Noah built the ark and endured the ridicule of the world. For 120 years the world witnessed an act of faith, but did not repent. Noah trusted God’s predictions about the future, and so obeyed Him in the present (Hebrews 11:7).

Abraham packed up and left a comfortable home in Ur and became a sheik, moving from place to place, taking up a wholly new life-style. He dwelt in tents, which were fairly elaborate structures, but he looked for a dwelling that had foundations, something no tent has. He dwelt in the fields but looked for a city. He trusted God’s promises for the future and so obeyed Him in the present (Hebrews 11:8–10).

Sarah had been alienated from Abraham because of Hagar and Ishmael, but God told her that she would have a son. She was past the change of life, but she trusted God for the future and so obeyed Him in the present. She received Abraham back by faith and was rewarded with Isaac (Hebrews 11:11–12).

Though each of these people received confirming signs and rewards during their lifetimes (Enoch did not die; Noah saw the Flood; Abraham had a son), they knew that these were only preliminary signs of the future. They looked forward to the coming of the kingdom of God, and they died in faith (Hebrews 11:13–16). We, says the author of Hebrews, have received that kingdom, but history is not over yet. We must still endure by faith and look forward to the final Sabbath-rest to come.

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way,” wrote the hymnist. If we focus our minds on our present problem, we may get bitter at God and disobey Him. We “cut off our nose to spite our face.” If you have lapsed into such an attitude, take some time this weekend to meditate on the future God has promised you.