Faith in God’s Promises
Over the past few days, we have reflected upon passages in the Old Testament that foretold of the coming of the Messiah. The faith of Old Testament saints relied upon these promises of God to send his Messiah who will end all their oppression and liberate them. That is what they had faith in. But, what is faith? How does faith in the promises of God look like in those days? Anticipating these questions in his sermon, the author of Hebrews gives us a great definition (though not exhaustive) of faith in Hebrews 11:1, and that is exactly “what the ancients were commended for.” (v2)
He goes chronologically through the Old Testament storyline and lists out all the different characters and shows how they lived out their life in faith. He particularly focuses on Abraham, Moses and a brief summary of all the amazing things done by the people of God. In the case of Abraham, he followed God’s call to go to a unknown foreign country. He didn’t know anyone or anything in that foreign country. You have to remember that these were the days before Google and Google Maps. He had no way of finding out how the journey will be like and how life will be like in that country.
Moses, on the other hand, by faith chose to identify with the people of God, instead of being part of the royal court. He “regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (v26) He acted upon God’s promises to him, despite the fact that he knew he is incapable of rescuing the Israelites by himself. However, by faith, he accomplished the impossible for God.
After that, the author summarises all the amazing things that the people of God had done throughout history by faith in God. He praises them highly with words that all of us should aspire for – these are people of whom the world was not worthy. All these great figures of the Old Testament were commended for their faith, yet we have to remember that none of them received what had been promised. They had faith (in other words, believed/trusted) in God’s promises. That is what faith looks like in practice.
It is only in Jesus Christ that all these promises of God (many of which we have reflected upon over the past few days) have begun to be fulfilled through the Christmas event. We are given this incredible privilege by God to be on this side of history of the coming of Christ where we can read of these promises of God being fulfilled. That is why Jesus can say that “the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than [John the Baptist]” (cf. Matt 11:11), because we know the full story of the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and no one in the Old Testament ever did. So, how does faith look like in our own lives today then?
Having faith in almighty God who has sent his Son to purify us from our sins through his sacrifices means to grasp hold and to have confidence in this hope we have in Christ. We have assurance about these things that we do not see – these promises of God that he has given to us in Christ. It means to live our lives in a way that we take hold of what is promised by God as something real and solid, even though we may not see it yet. We live today as if those promises are true in our lives – because they are true! So even though the promises will be fulfilled in the future, it affects our lives today.
- Pray that God will help you to grasp hold of the promises of God for us (cf. Rev 21-22, Rom 8)
- Pray that we will live such godly lives that people will say of us that “these are people of whom the world was not worthy”