I see a huge tree – silhouetted against a brilliant, beautiful, golden light – the tree stands planted next to the water.
“You are like that tree – planted in the substance of your faith in the Lord Jesus – feeding on the water of life as you meditate on Me night and day, meditating on My word and being fed by My Eternal Spirit and the Living Water of Jesus. Look at the foliage of the tree – it was once lush and green and opulent – that was your younger life – now look how the Autumn season is causing the colours of the leaves to change – a brilliant variety – so, as you get older your life has the potential to glorify Me even more, giving more variety and colour – but only as long as you remain planted firmly with your roots reaching into the life-giving water that I am.”
Now on to Hebrews 11. Last time I asked how the definition of faith in vs 1 fell short of a full description of “saving faith”. I wonder if you all saw the answer when you meditated on that question. The definition in vs 1 introduces the subject which the writer has been emphasizing, the subject of perseverance, from the aspect of faith. Faith, he says is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This reminds us that there is something concrete which we believe in and that the reception or revelation of that lies somewhere in the future. It does not, however tell us 1. What that hope is, 2. How we can know what it is 3. What the means is through which this goal of our hope will be received.
But the passage does slowly reveal the answers to those questions as it goes on. 1. It is a city which God has been preparing for them/us v 16 b. Because of the value of the citizenship of that city, these people were prepared to live this life as aliens and strangers in the world, because the destination was so much more wonderful than what they had here. 2. They know what this is about because of God’s promises, especially those which arise from Gen 12:1-3. So their faith is based on a definite revelation from God. Furthermore as the writer describes how Abraham and his family experienced and appropriated those promises we have an example of how they understood what this faith is and ordered their lives accordingly .
That is still not the whole picture though, because the ultimate means to receive these promises is only really revealed in ch 12. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. 12:2, So saving faith which is driven by hope can only be fulfilled through Jesus, as He and His work are revealed in the Bible. This is all unseen but, nevertheless is not some dream, it is based on concrete promises of God with all these examples of how people understood and lived by them. The purpose being to encourage the readers to also accept and believe them in a way that would affect their lives.
The main point that the writer is drawing out with this is that those promises were so real, despite being unseen, to all these ancients that they were prepared to wait for them, continually believing in them over the years, despite opposition and challenges to the fulfilment of them. This is aimed at reminding the Jewish Christian recipients (and us) that saving faith, although received instantly will only be completed when we reach that city that God is preparing for us and that the proof of the veracity of that first step of belief will only be seen at the end of the road of the alien and stranger in this world if they are still holding on to their belief, which of course is a challenge to each one of us. The unifying factor is the length of time many had to wait and the many obstacles they had to face before getting there.
It is worth meditating on these various characters which are described in his chapter, for what they can teach us and how they encourage us in our walk through the tribulation. of the gospel life here on earth.