The word "faith" appears 336 times in the King James Version. Other Bible versions have varying counts: Faith appears 458 times in the New International Version, 389 in the New King James Version, 378 in the New American Standard Bible and 521 times in the Good News Bible (GNB).
Hebrews 11 is known as "the faith chapter.” The idea of perseverance in the exercise of faith controls the emphasis of this chapter, coming as an explanation of what the writer states in 10:39, that we are "of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul." You must remember the struggles the first century audience faced, as they were in the midst of hostility and impending persecution. So our writer calls for the kind of faith that preserves the soul through the most demanding circumstances. Such faith enables the disciples of Christ in the midst of trials to "run with endurance the race that is set before" them (12:1). We know very well the opening words of chapter 12 and the climax that sets our attention upon our exalted Lord. Exercising faith fixes the eyes on Jesus and endures even hostility in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ. Faith aims for soul preservation-that's perseverance in concept; and it runs with endurance-that's perseverance in process. Exercising faith in Christ stands at the heart of persevering as Christians.
Hebrews 11:27 talks about the source of perseverance: “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it (Hebrews 11:1).
Keep this in mind as you read and study the various examples of faith found in Hebrews eleven. We're not talking about men who had some spiritual force called faith, but we're talking about men who trusted in the unseen, who trusted in God's promises, who based their lives on hope. Faith is more than just being sure about God's promises, but it is an awareness of the entire invisible realm all around us.
2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us: “For we walk by faith, not by sight”. We need to learn to not depend as much on what we see in our circumstances, but more and more on trusting in the unseen, in the great hand of God. Looks can be deceiving. Our problem is we don't like to go where we don't see where we're going.
The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3 foot wall. The animals will not jump it they cannot see where their feet will fall.
Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to ensnare us. Faith…with it you will see the impossible because you stand on God’s promises. Without it …you will never please God. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (11:6).
Maybe today you are wrestling with unbelief. Confess that to the Lord just like the man did in Mark 9:24. Tell the Lord: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” God will help you through your struggle. God doesn’t require a ton of faith…Just a mustard seed size, that’s all. “…For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20b)
- Elías R. Reyes Founder Oasis of Hope Ministries & C.O.R. Ruling Elder