Epistle: Hebrews 11:1-3; 13-16
1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. 3By 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. 8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” 13All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.
Moses didn’t want to do the job. When God calls Moses from the burning bush to go back to Egypt and face Pharaoh head on, and tell Pharaoh that God had told Moses tell Pharaoh to give the people of Israel a “get out of town free” pass, Moses tries to get out of it. Not once or twice, but four times, Moses comes up with excuses as to why God should pick someone else.
In the end, God wins, and Moses goes to Pharaoh and tells Pharaoh God’s message – “Let my people go!” 10 plagues later, Pharaoh lets the people go, but not without a final chase. Once again, God wins, and the people who were in bondage are set free. Eventually they make 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, followed 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, 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 cater 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!"
The father, looking up saw his son through the smoke silhouetted against the glow of the burning buildings, 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.
3 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 these two and a half years. 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.