Now, there’s also another element that is greater and it makes the people that we read about in Hebrews 11 greater too. And that is the element of faith.
Jewish people like faith too. Faith is important.
The writer of Hebrews is speaking to fellow Jewish people before the destruction of the Temple, and he’s talking about faith. He says,
That’s verse 1. I don’t know what Bible you have but we all know that there are other, different Bible versions and that they use different words. These are English words, it’s The New American Standard Bible. Sometimes, the word ‘assurance’ is translated as ‘substance’, I like this Bible better, I like that translation better.
I pick and choose, so I like the word ‘substance’ better because it’s ‘meatier’.
Faith is not just ‘assurance’, faith is the ‘substance’, the ‘stuff’ of things hoped for. So, whatever you hope for, if it’s built on faith, it can be substantial even though you can’t touch it, feel it, smell it, or see it.
What is invisible can in fact be ‘substantial’.
Therefore, ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for’. Your faith is like a rock. It’s substantial, it’s just not substantial in the usual sense of the word for it is the conviction, persuasion, deep persuasion of things not seen.
You might think that, in the Old Testament, faith was not particularly important, and keeping the Law was important. So that the way to please God was through the keeping of the Law, the keeping of the Torah. Most Jewish people don’t really believe that they believe the keeping of the Torah is important, but faith IS important.
In fact, all the illustrations used in Hebrews chapter 11 are of our Old Testament spiritual parents.
I also like verse 6,
Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.
Anyone who thinks that you can please God through obedience to His Word is wrong. God is not delighted with your obedience though He wants it, and He does like it.
However, if your obedience is not salted with faith, then it’s not acceptable.
In Psalm 40 I like this verse:
God commanded it but He did not desire it.
So that there is that deeper element that comes before obedience, where we operate on the basis of faith and a transformed heart.
If you offer a sacrifice without having a broken heart, as David would say in other places, or without having faith, would that be acceptable to God? Not really.
Obeying God’s Commandments without having a heart of love towards God inside you and without having faith doesn’t amount to much.
I know you might be thinking ‘Jewishly’ just for a moment but let me tell you: this is a Christian problem. We have a lot of legalists, we have probably more legalists among Christians than we do among Jewish people.
A lot of times we make the mistake of pleasing God with our behaviour, our attitudes, the way we do things rather than with our faith and our broken heart towards God.
So, we need to please God with our heart.