By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command …
By faith Abel … was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings …
By faith Enoch … 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.
By faith Noah … in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
Years back I asked the Lord to enroll me in a practicum of faith – I knew I needed much deeper learning and stretching. That request led to a year-long period in which our church prayed for evangelism, and then watched as the Lord answered those prayers, with person after person receiving salvation in Jesus. It was beyond the ordinary – a truly remarkable time.
But my stretching needs to continue. So, I come to this chapter now with renewed eagerness, ready to be enrolled in further practicum.
This time it comes in the context of the early chapters of Genesis, as the writer of Hebrews walks us from Creation through the Flood. Here’s what I see:
· Faith brings clarity. Listening to both the Scriptures and the insights of Science, it is so easy to get drawn into raging debates about the origins of humanity and our planet – indeed the universe. But faith lays a foundation. Whatever questions and discussions remain about Earth’s age and the processes of evolution, we can be grounded in the certainty that nothing was initiated apart from the will and word of Almighty God. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command.” Period.
· Faith is expressed in obedience. Both Abel and Noah were declared to be righteous because their faith in God’s word led them to acts of obedience. Although the details in Genesis are not entirely clear, Abel’s sacrifice was better than Cain’s – he offered what was pleasing to the Lord. Similarly, Noah obediently took action on the basis of the Lord’s warnings, even though he couldn’t yet see the rains and floods that were coming. Faith steps into action – determinedly, one foot after another.
· Faith is fully confident that God responds. The phrase that jumps off the page at me concerns Enoch – he believed that God “rewards those who earnestly seek him.” It catches me up short. How often do I pray, wishfully hoping God will answer, but not quite sure? Am I always certain he “rewards” my seeking? And could I truthfully say I carry out that seeking “earnestly”? These are words that stretch.
Oh, may my faith be shaped more like these sightings from Genesis. Lord, do your work in me – for my strengthening and your glory.
Lord, stretch and strengthen faith within me. Give me ears to hear, a will to respond with obedience, and a heart to confidently lay hold of the promise that you will reward those who seek you. To your glory. Amen.
Reflect: How does your faith need to be stretched? What lessons in these few short verses capture your attention? How will you step into them?