“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)
Hebrews 11 has often been cited as the “Hall of Fame” of faith. The author presents a masterful exhortation designed to encourage those who are tempted to doubt and fall away because of the pressures of persecution to persevere just as did their spiritual ancestors. He begins with a condensed definition of what faith is and expounds upon it with the numerous examples of the Old Testaments saints who persevered. He defines faith as the confidence in God’s promises based upon what He has done and who He is. Faith enables us to confident that He will always fulfill His Word and His promises.
Such faith is exercised by ordinary believers, not super saints (as if there were such a thing), but weak and sinful people. This confidence is demonstrated by actions and deeds that always result in God’s reward and commendation. Some of these outcomes come in the form of earthly prosperity, victory, success or spectacular achievements as with Noah and Abraham. Some of the outcomes can seem to be negative, as when the person exercising faith dies before the promises of God are realized to their fullest extent. Such was the case with Abraham. Although he was the Father of the Hebrew race and viewed with a great deal of respect we must remember that he was far from perfect. Lest we think faith such as his is unattainable for us, we must recall that he doubted. He acted on those doubts. He sinned. He created problems for himself, his family and his neighbors. Yet through it all he believed God. His faith governed his lifestyle and choices. In his life he did not realize the promises of a nation, innumerable descendants and blessings. Yet he knew these would come. Thus we must persevere in the face of obstacles and persecution, pain and loss for we can be sure that our reward and commendation will come, if not in the temporal world, then surely in the Kingdom of God.