30 October 2017

Hebrews 11:1-7

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (v. 1)

Psalm: Psalm 112



No one knows for certain who wrote the letter to the Hebrews, but it is clear that those who received it had knowledge of the Old Testament patriarchs and their stories. They would also be second-generation Christians and, in contrast to those who had known Jesus, would need more reliance on faith because they had not witnessed any of the events surrounding his life. By the time this was written there had already been some persecution of Christians and it was becoming clear that it would continue and even grow.

So it was vital that this community of believers received encouragement for their faith. They were living in troubled times and they needed to be reminded that many others had faced danger, discouragement and persecution, but had trusted that God would be with them throughout their experiences. That repetition of the words, "by faith" is an affirming reminder that none of those people knew for certain what would happen to them. All they knew was that they believed God was urging them to take a particular course of action, and they would cope with whatever happened.

Because danger, discouragement and persecution are still present today, it may be difficult to accept the 'God is on our side - nothing can harm us' attitude that can be the carelessly easy approach that some Christians take. Those fleeing from persecution may have hope wiped out by fear. But there is still encouragement in these examples of people who had faith in God no matter what happened. They were diverse characters in different situations, but their common belief was that God would be with them and that faith was justified.

The writer to the Hebrews would be fully aware of Jesus talking about faith moving mountains (Mark 11:23) and this section of the letter is devoted to examples of this happening. What an encouragement!

There is no certainty in faith.
How can there be?
Faith is not knowing,
but hoping, and working with that hope
to make a better world for all.
Without faith, very little changes.
With faith?
Get those mountains moving!

To Ponder

  • Is there a particular person who has inspired you as an example of faith? Who are they and why are they an inspiration?
  • When your faith wavers, as it does for everyone at some time, where do you turn for encouragement?

Bible notes author

Marjorie Dobson

Marjorie Dobson is a local preacher and a writer of hymns, prayers, poetry and short dramatic pieces for use in worship. She particularly enjoys writing character pieces - 'getting under the skin of the real person that hides in the shadows of a good story'.