Hebrews 11:2-3

“By their faith, our ancestors won God’s approval. Faith enables us to believe God created all things by His powerful Word, and that the things now visible were made from nothing.”  (paraphrased)
                                                                 
v. 2
Faith is best defined by examining those who govern their lives by it. The forefathers were affirmed by God and their faith became part of the Biblical record. Their legacy proves faith can appropriate the unseen. The “good report” regarding the saints did not come from the world. The author has just listed the atrocities sinners have heaped upon Believers (10:32-34). The commendation they received was God’s testimony concerning their faith.

“Elders” are “the men of old” (presbuteroi) from whence we derive the word “presbyter.” These people of faith are also called “the fathers” (1:1) and “a great cloud of witnesses” (12:1). Because they have God’s approval, their stories have blessed the Church throughout the ages. Abraham was God’s friend (Jas. 2:23), Enoch walked with God (Gen. 5:24), and David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). But men of faith are not perfect. Abraham lied (Gen. 12:13), Jacob deceived (Gen. 27:24), Moses murdered (Ex. 2:14), and David fornicated (II Sam. 11:4). As they repented of their various sins and shortcomings, their trust in God won His endorsement.

Amid adverse circumstances, their zeal enabled them to perform exploits. The promises of God were sufficient to sustain them and they found their struggles were not in vain. So firm was their faith in His word, it directed the course of their lives. They received God’s favorable testimony (martureo). This term is used when referring to Able and Enoch, who both received divine affirmation (11:4-5). The secret of their greatness was not great faith, but the great faithfulness of the God they served.

Spanning hundreds of years in a few verses, the writer begins an overview of these dynamic men and women. Their biographical sketches outline for us how faithful people have interacted with God throughout history. Faith is not an enigma known only to ancient saints, but is available to twenty-first century Believers as well. The essential attribute Christians share with their forefathers is faith. The saints of the past established for us a firm foundation for the present in order that we may anticipate a glorious future.

v. 3
By his reference to the origin of the universe, the writer affirms that people of faith accept the Genesis account of creation. This is why the Bible begins with the inception of the cosmos and the creation of all species on earth. Through faith we perceive what the wisest men cannot comprehend. The effort to explain the cosmos apart from God is a fool’s errand. Those who do not recognize God have a “darkened” understanding of the world they live in (Rom. 1:21). Truth is only revealed through God’s Spirit (I Cor. 2:9-10). Through faith we understand, perceive, and comprehend things beyond the realm of human reason. God is Creator. There is no other side to this argument.

Because a fundamental act of faith is accepting God as the Creator, the writer takes his readers to the origin of the universe. No human was present when it was framed. Adam was not yet formed. The Lord asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job. 38:4). But in order to interact with human beings, God first had to create a suitable environment for them. The cosmos did not self-originate. Just as a builder must first exist before he builds something, God existed before the universe. Ten times in the first chapter of Genesis we find the phrase “and God said.” With these simple words, He created everything. The universe is the expression of His thoughts (Ps. 102:25). It was as effortless for God to create a world as it is for a person to create a memory. Only through faith can we discover the relationship of the Creator to His creation. Faith is the means by which we understand the correlation between the tangible and the intangible.

Most people are reluctant to view creation from God’s perspective. But it is only “through faith we understand” that which cannot be discovered through science. Faith begins where science ends. While many things are beyond explanation, they are not beyond appreciation. Faith moves the intellect and heart to praise the Lord for his farsightedness.

“Worlds” is more accurately translated aiones, meaning ages or dispensations. It refers to more than the material creation. It includes all that exists in time and space. The eras of time were planned by God from the beginning and are moving toward a pre-ordained goal. The worlds were framed (kateertishai) by the word of God. The term means “fitted; perfectly joined together; adjusted; set in order; prepared with great exactness.” He is the God who brought order out of chaos. “Word” is hrema and refers to His divine utterance. People of faith realize time and eternity were arranged by God. Based on this fact, we believe He can do all things necessary to accomplish His purposes. 

The evolutionist looks at creation through a microscope and doubts. The Believer looks at creation through a telescope and believes. The origin and beauty of God’s universe cannot be fully appreciated by human intellect, but only through God’s revelation. By faith we understand more about creation than the best-educated agnostic. No atheistic astronomer can prove his theories; he can only guess. Faith does not assist science; it surpasses it altogether. According to this verse, Christians are not evolutionists, for faith is based on honoring God as Creator.

Whoever planned and made the universe with such wisdom and exactness must be God. The span between the stars is so extreme, space must be measured in light years - the distance light travels in a year. This is 186,282 miles per second or 11,176,860 miles per minute or over 670 million miles per hour. Telescopes help to map galaxies millions of light years apart. Man has seen billions of light years into space - yet there is still more space beyond.

Consider the sun. It is so large over a million earths could fit inside it. The earth rotates on its axis at about one thousand miles per hour, while orbiting at 66,000 mph around the sun as the sun itself speeds around the galaxy at millions of miles per hour. At the speed of light, it takes about eight minutes for light from the sun to reach earth, which is 93 million miles away. The average temperature of space is 455 degrees below zero. God’s celestial balance is so perfect, if the sun’s heat decreased 6%, it would freeze the oceans. If its heat increased 1%, the rocks would melt and our oceans would boil away.

Our own Milky Way Galaxy contains more than 100 billion stars. While the sun is the closest star to earth, the next closest star to earth (Alpha Centauri) is 25 trillion miles away. If you rode in a spaceship, such as Voyager II which traveled at 26 miles per second (or 81,000 mph or two million miles per day), it would take you 35,000 years to reach the Alpha Centauri star system. Traveling at the speed of light, you would arrive in about 4.3 years. Astronomers have also mapped other stars which are many millions of light years away. While such facts are astounding, simple faith is the only thing necessary to understand the origin of every celestial body.

The writer of Hebrews states faith begins by believing that God made everything from nothing. He had no need to form the universe from existing materials. The Creator called into being what did not exist before. He simply spoke and things materialized. He not only arranged the materials, but created the materials He arranged. The “big bang” theory proposes the world was formed from existing matter. If this were true, faith in God as Creator would be superfluous. Science claims all matter evolved from preexisting matter. This verse blows away all such absurd theories. The writer seeks to stress this is God’s universe and He alone controls it.

According to this verse, an understanding of the origin of the universe is only possible by faith. Since the Garden of Eden, the primary task of human beings has been to interact with God in faith. Because creation proves miracles are possible, it is reasonable to assume the rest of the Bible is true as well. Man inherently knows he is estranged from God because of sin. It is logical that those who are created will want to communicate with their Creator. It follows that a loving God will provide a path that leads back to Him. The Lord perfectly framed our universe to correspond with His plan of redemption. If we believe He spoke the worlds into existence by divine design, we can believe He sent His Son to die as the sacrifice for our sins.


QUESTIONS: FAITH’S WITNESSES

Hebrews 11:2-3

1. Which of the following statements are true?
A. Enoch walked with God.
B. David was a man after God’s own heart
C. Abraham was a friend of God
D. only A & B
E.  A, B & C

2. Colossians 2:8 can serve as a warning against believing in evolution. True or False?

3. What did Gods say was “not good”?  (Genesis 2:18)

4. According to Genesis 2:22, how was Eve formed?

5. Read John 1:1-3 and Genesis 1:1 and Hebrews 1:2.  Discuss their similarities with your spouse.

6. According to Genesis 1:16, what did God create?

7. According to Psalm 121:2, what did God create?

8. What did God ask Job in Job 38:4?

9. Read Colossians 1:16. Write a paragraph concerning the value of knowing God as Creator.


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