Hebrews ◦ Chapter 11
1 Now, trust comes from our understanding with God, because he has demonstrated that he is trustworthy to fulfill what he has promised. And by trusting in him–the one who made the promises–we are confident of what we hope for, and are sure of what we do not yet see.2 This is what the patriarchs were commended for.3 By trust, which has been established on the evidence of God's trustworthiness, we understand that the universe was created by God's command, and what is seen was not made out of pre-existing materials.4 By trust, Abel cooperated with God to offer a sacrifice designed to reveal the consequences of unrestrained selfishness; but Cain did not. By trust, Abel was set right in heart and mind with God and was commended when God spoke well of his cooperation in revealing the truth. And by trust, he still reveals the truth, even though he is dead.5 By trusting God, Enoch was completely healed and transformed, and was taken right into heaven without experiencing death; he could not be found on earth because God had taken him away. Before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.6 But without trust in God, it is impossible to please him. Those who come to God must do more than believe that he exists: they must recognize the truth of his absolute trustworthiness of character as revealed in Christ, and understand that he desires to heal and restore all those who trust him. Otherwise, fear will never be removed.7 It was trust in God that caused Noah to heed God's warning about rain and flooding that had never been seen before. So he did what God said–he built an ark to save his family. His trust condemned the untrusting world, and he became the recipient and conduit of the healing truth that comes by trust.8 Because he trusted God, Abraham, when called to go to a far land that would be his inheritance, listened and went, even though he didn't actually know anything about the land or where he was going.9 Based on his confidence in God, he made his home in the land promised to him, even though he was like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did his son Isaac and grandson Jacob, who were also heirs of God's promise.10 He wasn't concerned with earthly palaces, because he was looking forward to living in the city whose foundation, architect and builder is God.11 By trust, Abraham and Sarah — even though their bodies were old and well past childbearing — were enabled to generate a pregnancy and give birth to a son, because they knew that the one who had promised is absolutely trustworthy.12 And so, from these two people (old and nearly dead), came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky or the sand by the seashore.13 All of these people were living in trust, confident in God when they died. They did not receive all the things promised, but they understood them in their minds and rejoiced in their reality. And they openly acknowledged that they were strangers and aliens, and not part of this selfish earth.14 They were making it plainly known that they wanted a different land–a land of their own.15 And they didn't want the land they had left, for they could have easily returned from where they had come.16 No! They were longing for a better country — a land free from selfishness, disease, death, crime and exploitation, where guards, police and security are no longer needed — they were longing for heaven. Therefore God is honored to be known as their God (for they value his methods of love, truth, and freedom) and he has prepared an eternal home for them.17 By trust, Abraham — when God provided him with an opportunity for victory over fear and self-promotion — chose to trust God and offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son,18 even though he clearly knew that God had said, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be recognized and the promises fulfilled."19 But Abraham reasoned that if God could provide Isaac to two barren people, then he could also raise him from the dead (and symbolically, he did receive Isaac back from the dead).20 By trust in God, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, confident in their future and in the fulfillment of God's promises.21 By trust, Jacob — even though he was dying — didn't lose confidence for a moment, but blessed each of Joseph's sons, and praised God while leaning on his staff.22 By trust in God, Joseph, when his life was almost over, did not waver but spoke confidently about the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and gave instructions regarding the burial of his bones.23Because of their trust in God, Moses’ parents were not afraid of the king’s edict, and realizing that Moses was a special child, they hid him for three months after his birth.24 It was by trust that Moses, when he became an adult, refused to be known as Pharaoh's grandson.25 Instead, he chose to be mistreated as a slave with God's people rather than enjoy the transient pleasures of selfishness.26 He regarded personal disgrace for the glory of Christ of far greater importance and value than all the earthly treasures of Egypt, because he was looking beyond this selfish world–to the world of perfect health and happiness to come.27 By trust, he left Egypt, not afraid of the angry king; he endured because he saw the absolute goodness and perfection of him who is invisible.28 By understanding trust, he cooperated with God in initiating the symbolic teaching script: he kept the Passover and sprinkled blood on the doorposts so that the destroyer of the firstborn would pass by the firstborn of Israel.29 By trust, the people walked through the Red Sea on dry ground, but when the Egyptian army tried to follow–they were drowned.30 By trust in God, the people marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls fell.31 By trust in God, the prostitute Rahab forsook all she knew and aligned herself with God's people. She chose to hide the Israelite spies, and was not killed with those who opposed God.32 And how much more do I have to say? How many more lives do I have to recount? I don't need to remind you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets33 who through their trust in God conquered kingdoms, administered God's healing methods, received the promised blessings, shut the lions' mouths,34 cooled the heat of the flames, escaped being killed by the sword, and had their weakness turned into strength and became unstoppable in battle, annihilating God's enemies.35 Women had their dead loved ones resurrected and brought back to them; others were tortured but refused to compromise the truth to gain their freedom, so they will gain the resurrection of life.36 Some were mocked, others beaten, while still others were put in shackles or imprisoned.37 Some were stoned, others sawed in two, and still others put to death by the sword. They lived in poverty, wearing animal skins, and were constantly ridiculed and mistreated: 38 this selfish, sick world was not worthy of them. They lived in desolate places, wandering in deserts and mountains and hiding in caves.39 All these people were commended for their trust in God, yet none of them received the fulfillment of all that was promised.40 But don’t get discouraged, for God has planned something much better for us: They and we together will be perfectly healed, and will rejoice together in the earth made new.