Faith is Our Foundation Hebrews 11

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Over the past months we have been looking at the first ten chapters of Hebrews.  In it we saw that Jesus is the very expression of The Father,  That as the creator of the universe He came to live a righteous life to provide a way for us to enter into His rest,  That on the cross He took our sinful lives on Himself, and that in His great mercy He gave us His righteousness.

After doing this He rose from the dead and now He stands at The Father’s right hand as our Great High Priest.

As the author of Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 7:17. “For it is attested of Him,

‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.’”[1]

After telling us about all the great things Jesus Has done for us he encourages to draw near to God in Hebrews 10:19-22.

19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.[2]

Now that he finished telling us all these great things about Jesus and giving this encouragement the preacher seems to abruptly change the subject.

The result is the great faith chapter of the Bible.

If you ask anyone who knows even just a little about the Bible where can I learn about faith, they will tell you Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11 is that, but it is so much more.

Remember the preacher’s main concern in writing this book it to encourage the believer to stand firm in difficult times.

Hebrews 11:1-3 Amplified Bible (AMP)

11 Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. 2 For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.

3 By faith [that is, with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.[3]

Anybody here remember the show Quincy M. E.?  This was the first show that took a deep dive into scientific investigation of crimes.  Now we have all sorts of shows that use this same theme.  There are 3 different CSI shows, and 3 different NCIS shows.  

What is the common thread to them?  They are all about the evidence.  The investigators are all out there gathering the evidence to figure out who done it.

Hebrews 11 is also all about the evidence.  It is not evidence to solve a crime, but to give us a sure foundation to stand on in difficult times.

Jesus said it this way in Matthew 7:24-25.

Matthew 7:24-25 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.[4]

What Jesus was getting at here was that hearing His words accompanied by faith will result in acting on them.  

Before we start looking at all the examples of faith in this chapter I want to make it clear that the book of Hebrews is in no way to be looked at as a basis for this so called prosperity doctrine.  

As a matter of fact when we get done with this chapter that what Hebrews teaches is far from saying If I only believe hard enough I will become prosperous.

The first Examples of faith can be found in Hebrews 11:4-12

Starting with verse 4 we read.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.[5] 

Notice there is a pattern used in this verse.  It starts “by faith”, followed by a person is named, it continues with the act of faith and concludes with what he or she obtained.

In this verse the pattern occurs twice.

By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice and received God’s testimony he was righteous.

By faith Abel’s sacrifice also resulted in the testimony that though he was dead yet he still speaks.

I hate to be captain obvious here but that means he received eternal life.

This pattern is repeated over and over and over again throughout the chapter.

In verses 5 we see Enoch.

5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. [6]

To me this seems like so much of what Enoch did by faith was pleasing to God that the testimony was Enoch’s whole life was pleasing to God.

And what did he obtain?  He went to be with God without seeing death.

For our edification the preacher includes this little nugget of gold in verse 6.

6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.[7]

If we want to please God First we must believe He exists and second we must trust that He will reward us for seeking Him.

One of my favorite passages on faith is Ephesians 2:8-10.

I know this seems more like a salvation verse than a faith verse, but I want to look at it just for a second.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.[8]

Faith is a gift given by God to us, and the good works we do?  Those works were prepared by God beforehand.  That is why Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”[9]

If there is one thing we should learn from the Bible it is this: God deserves all the glory.

In verse 7 we see Noah.

7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.[10]

The English Standard version says “in reverent fear”, and the King James says “Moved with fear”.  

So Noah was moved by reverent fear to build an ark and his family was saved while the rest of the world was condemned.

Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”[11]

In verses 8 through 10 we see Abraham’s call.

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. [12]

We are going to see a lot about Abraham in this chapter, the first of which is his calling.  Here Abraham’s faith led to obedience.  Even though he knew God promised the land to him he still lived as a stranger in it.  He even bought a burial cave for Sarah when she died.

In verses 11 and 12 we see Sarah also received a reward for her faith.

11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.[13]

The ultimate promise made to Abraham and Sarah was that their descendants would as numerous as uncountable as the stars in heaven, or the sand on the seashore.  Yet just one son Isaac.

In verses 13 to 16 we see that the faith they exercised was not rooted in the here and now, but they were looking to a far distant future to see their promises fulfilled.

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.[14]

They understood that this was not their home.  The ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise is in eternity.  After examining how the faith of these believers led them to understand they were strangers here and this earth was not their home the preacher returns to more examples of faith.

In verses 17 to 19 we see that Abraham offered up his son Isaac.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18 it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” 19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. [15]

I really love this passage because it teaches some very important truths.

First it teaches yes there really is a resurrection.

Second it teaches that this truth has always been understood by believers.

Third it teaches that this example of faith was also a type of the resurrection which was fulfilled when Jesus rose from the dead.

There is something else which is subtle but can be clearly understood by careful examination of the verses.  

Abraham understood that Isaac was the one who God told him in him your descendants shall be called.  So if Isaac was the child God promised and God called Abraham to offer Isaac then God intended to raise him from the dead.  After all if Isaac died and stayed dead how could he be the fulfillment of the promise.

Abraham arrived at this conclusion through a rational thought process.  He didn’t check his brain at the door marked faith.  

Today if you say I believe in God people look at you like you are some sort of gullible fool who believes in superstition.  This could not be further from the truth.

Next we see 3 people continuing in the blessing first given to Abraham.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.

These also did not see the blessing in their lifetime but trusted God to fulfill His promise in the future.

With Moses we see the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.

We all know what follows even though Israel saw miracle after miracle they did not trust in God and wandered in the desert.  Their lack of faith meant they did not receive the promise.

With Rahab we also see that God is willing to include those who believe even though they did not descend from Abraham.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.

Next the preacher quickly goes through a whole list of people who obtained God’s approval by faith.

32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

In this list we see those who literally walked through the fire and were delivered and also those who chose to see His blessing in heaven.

[1] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 7:17 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016. <>

[2] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 10:19-22 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016. <>

[3] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 11:1-3 (AMP)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <>

[4] Bible Gateway. "Matthew 7:24-25 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2016. <>

[5] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 11:4 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2016. <>

[6] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 11:5 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <>

[7] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 11:6 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <>

[8] Bible Gateway. "Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <>

[9] Bible Gateway. "1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <>

[10] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 11:7 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <>

[11] Bible Gateway. "Proverbs 1:7 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016. <>

[12] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 11:8-10 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <>

[13] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 11:11-12 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <>

[14] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 11:13-16 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <>

[15] Bible Gateway. "Hebrews 11:17-19 (NASB)." Bible Gateway. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <>