We are making our way through Hebrews and now looking at chapter 11. Here our author looks to history to encourage his readers to stick in there with active faith despite the difficulties they face.
The author and his contemporaries, the apostles, actually believed in the truth of all these heroes of the Old Testament story—they were not just made-up stories to them. They happened in space and in time. None of these examples are drawn from sources other than the Tanakh, the Hebrew scriptures. Some of these stories go back thousands of years, but they held that the stories were true history. Stories are not more true because they are recent! Ancient stories like these have survived millennia.
To be able to pray according to the will of God our askings must be based on truth. Without truth we can have no legitimate faith, no real hope and no authentic love. Those ancient scriptures are important, holy to Christians also. So we read at Heb 10:4
By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
Why was Abel’s a ‘better offering’? Why was he commended as righteous?
God had shown man that a better offering involved the death of an innocent. Recall the animal skins God provided to cover the ‘nakedness’ of Adam and Eve in the Garden story. Abel had obeyed God and brought an offering which involved the death of an innocent animal. His faith and obedience determined his righteous standing with God. The Letter to the Hebrews in every chapter has exploded with the truth that Jesus’ offering for us is the only offering that is acceptable to God and by which we may be counted ‘righteous’. Enoch was such a person …
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Heb 11:5-6
What an extraordinary statement! Enoch ‘pleased God’—he had faith, he believed. His reward? No experience of death! Instant Paradise.
He pleased God before his departure!
The only way to ‘please God’, to be on friendly terms with God, is to believe God. God is the speaking God. And when he speaks he must be heard and heard with all seriousness, not taken for granted, not ignored. So he makes promises to his beloved people and it is incumbent on them to believe and to order their lives accordingly. It is both as simple as that and as profound as that.
We too must please God before our departure!
Certainly we must believe that he exists! But more is required—we must earnestly seek him. Are you seriously seeking your Creator? It is self-evident that such generosity, such amazing design, such love, such provision, be met with appropriate responses from God’s beneficiaries. Who, (with Louis Armstrong and David Attenborough) does not sing or think “I say to myself, what a wonderful world”? But saying it is not enough. The LORD God Almighty must be sought after, and seriously, with determination and persistence.
Let’s do it! Seek Him, seriously, determinedly, patiently, persistently.
Today. before it is too late.