Hebrews Chapter 11

Are you ever reading along in the Bible and come across a familiar verse you’ve heard a million times, a snippet that’s been quoted over and over, and you think, thereit is! That’swhere that comes from! That was verse one for me. The definition of faith that most of us have heard many times comes from this chapter: “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”

This chapter is a great reminder of those things that we believe in faith and of the faithful believers who came before us. 

I’m particularly struck by verses 13-16:

 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

 I like this so much because it operates on multiple levels. It’s literal for Abraham, for Moses, and for many others who kept moving forward in faith toward the actual land they were promised. They genuinely chose between the known and the unknown, the less-than-perfect but tangible homes they had and the distant, as yet shapeless reality they were promised. And they struck out in faith.  

And of course the other level of meaning remains just as relevant to me in 21st century America. This world is not my home. I have not reached my destination. If I feel out of place, a little lost and unrooted in this life, it’s because I am all of those things. How firmly do I keep my sights on what’s been promised—a room in Jesus’s father’s house, a heavenly home? How tightly to I cling to the things of this world that seem so real and so desirous?

We haven’t been called to step off the ledge with no promise of rescue. We have been repeatedly told that there is another world, another reality that awaits us. A much better place, in the presence of our very God. It’s hard to live everyday life with that promise front and center in our mind’s eye. That’s why it’s called faith, and why we need the very concept of faith defined for us and laid before us in examples.