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Hebrews 11:6 says,「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.」This verse teaches us that there is faith that pleases God. The first faith is to believe in the existence of God. Even in the midst of difficulties and trials, we are in the protection of God. And God is in the midst of our difficulties. The second faith is to believe that God gives rewards to those who seek Him. Let us learn these things from the faith of Abraham today. The author of Hebrews talks about Abraham’s faith four times using the expression “by faith.”
First, verse 8 says, 「By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.」(Hebrews 11:8 NIV) Please open Genesis 12:1-4. Genesis 12:1 says,「The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.」Abraham believed in this promise written in verse 2, 「“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.」and he departs for Canaan (Israel) from Ur (the main city of Sumer), about 240 kilometers southeast of Babylon. This was also a decision of his faith to live for the true God, leaving from the city of idolatry. “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”(Genesis 12:3), this promise will later be fulfilled by Christ. At this point, Abraham believed in God and started following what God said. He even started believing that God rewards the believers. However, famine hit them in Canaan, and Abraham’s family fled to Egypt. He was afraid of the Egyptians and asked his wife, Sarai, to tell them that she was his sister. In reality, she was actually a half-sister, so it was not a lie, but it seems immature for him to hide the whole truth. If you read the second half of Genesis Chapter 12, you will find the whole story. At this point, Abraham seems to be still in the process of growing as a believer. However, God cares and protects him. God judged Pharaoh’s house, and Abraham’s family was miraculously rescued. The meaning of the name, Abraham is the father of many nations, and at this point, he was referred to Abram (means noble father). His name changes as his faith grows.
Hebrews 11:9 says, 「By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.」It is explained that the reason is not that he was waiting for the city of the world, but for the city of heaven, that is, the eternal city that God gives. We also cannot bring property to heaven. We should not forget that this earthly time is only for temporary and we are preparing for heaven. Philippians 3:20 says,「But our citizenship is in heaven.」
Hebrews 11:11 says,「And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.」It seems that the faith of Abraham’s wife Sarah is written here, but it can also be understood as Abraham’s faith from the overall context. In fact, the 2017 (Japanese) Bible translates this as Abraham’s faith. It is recorded that both Sarah and Abraham laughed, who was nearly 100 years old, and Sarah, who was nearly 90 years old, when the Lord’s messenger told her that she would be given a child. Please read Genesis chapters 18 and 21. Abraham laughed because he couldn’t believe the word of God, yet God turns that laughter into a laughter of joy. Such heartwarming story is written here. The name of Isaac, who was born as a child of faith, means “he laughs.”
Hebrews 11:17 says,「By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,」This trial seems to be indescribably painful. God’s word comes to Abraham to sacrifice his own child, the child of the promise of faith. Please open Genesis chapter 22. He takes Isaac to the land of Moriah and he receives God’s word to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. The bottom line is that God stopped Abraham from trying to kill Isaac, and God prepared a sheep for them instead. As a result, Abraham called this place ADONAI Yir’eh. The meaning is that The LORD Will Provide. Through this trial of faith Abraham is called the Father of Faith. The land of Moriah at that time later became the land of Jerusalem, and it is a miracle work of God that the temple was going to be built there. And this is also God’s precious plan that Christ was on the cross in this land of Jerusalem and accomplished the work of redemption for the sins of mankind at this same place. In this way, the author of Hebrews quotes Abraham’s experience four times using the expression “by faith.” As in Hebrews 11:16, we also want to overcome the challenges of faith and live our lives toward our heavenly home.