Hebrews 11.2 observes, for by it the people of old received God’s commendation.
The ‘it’ in this sentence is faith. There is a faith that God commends. What does that mean? To commend, is to recognize with reward, it is to esteem, it is to uphold as significant. We have all watched award ceremonies whether the Oscars, Hall of Fame or Olympics. All of us like to be positively recognized.
One day God is going to recognize and reward people for their great works done for His glory while they lived on earth. That will be one long ceremony.
I would guess we would all want to be recognized by God as having great faith and would want to receive from Him His great reward. God has tipped His hand as to what criteria He uses to determine great faith by listing some of the future reward recipients and what they did to earn their recognition.
First, is Abel who offered God a great sacrifice (11.4). Great faith comes at great cost. This is best exemplified in Jesus but is repeated in many of the saints from all history. The Lord Jesus recognized this principle again when He told us that the greatest demonstration of love a person makes is when they lay down their lives for another.
While Abel didn’t lay down his life neither did he hold back from his possessions. Abel gave generously of his best. He didn’t tithe probably because he wasn’t asking how little he could give; he just gave his best. God measures our giving by the cost to us and not by the amount from us. Great faith that sacrifices for God’s glory looks foolish to the world because it retains so little for our selves.
Second, is Enoch whose faith drew him into fellowship with his God (11.5). Young lovers all have one common characteristic, they become inseparable. Enoch loved God and so pursued walking with God so continuously that God just took him home rather than wait for Enoch to die so they could be together.
Great faith spends great quantities of time with God. This time is spent today in the Bible reading, studying, and meditating. It is time spent in prayer and the singing of songs, hymns and spiritual songs to God. God takes great delight in those who earnestly seek Him because they love Him and want to be with Him as much as possible.
Third, is Noah whose faith caused him to obey radically. Noah build a boat when the world had never seen rain! Noah predicted an end to the world when the world was still young and vibrant, producing record fruit and record length of life. Noah had to be considered the dumbest and strangest man of his day – until the rain started.
Radical obedience stuns people, causing everyone to take notice but usually drawing disdain. God rewards those who obey Him, particularly when people think they are crazy for doing so.
Part II tomorrow….