“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The Hebrews writer defined faith and explained that the things that one sees lead to faith that God does indeed exist even though no one has seen Him. Faith leads one to conclude that everything that is seen was created from things invisible—spoken into existence by the living God, our Creator. One is led by faith to obey commands that promise an unseen result or reward. Faith is a firm persuasion and expectation that God will deliver His promises.
The author cited examples of many individuals who lived by faith thousands of years ago in order to encourage his readers to persevere even in times of difficulty. The common denominator of all of these examples was obedience to God’s commands. These individuals pleased God. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him…”
Among those who were mentioned by the writer was Abraham. At God’s command, he had left his homeland and family to live in a land that God had promised. He and his wife, Sarah were promised a son even though they were many years beyond childbearing age. God promised that he would be the father of many nations; that his seed would be too numerous to count and that through his seed all of the nations of the earth would be blessed.
Abraham’s son, Isaac and grandson, Jacob received the same promise from God. He kept that promise through the development of the Israelite nation and the emergence of the Messiah, Christ, our Savior through that Jewish lineage.
As the Israelites grew in number, other persons of faith emerged. Moses was mentioned because of his refusal to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to suffer with the people of God and reap a spiritual reward instead of enjoying the riches of the king and the temporary pleasures of a life of sin. Because of his faith, God chose Moses to lead His children, the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery to the Promised Land.
Others less prominent were mentioned, who because of their faith endured tremendous hardships and tortuous persecutions.
Even though these people have been dead for many centuries, they still speak to us through their examples. God does not count time as man does. They died without seeing the fulfillment of their promises, but through faith, they could see them in the future.
The Hebrews were reminded that the promise was fulfilled in their time. They had received the promised Messiah and the forgiveness of their sins.