Lesson 39

The Epistle to the Hebrews

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

11:4 By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had testimony given to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness with respect to his gifts; and through it he, being dead, still speaks. 11:5 By faith, Enoch was taken away, so that he wouldn't see death, and he was not found, because God translated him. For he has had testimony given to him that before his translation he had been well pleasing to God. 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.

Today's Lesson    

Faith is our response when we believe the word of God. It is the evidence of all that we have heard and yet not seen. It is the assurance of everything for which we hope. Faith is the purpose for which we were created. We were fashioned by God in order we might believe.


In this great chapter on faith, the Epistle to the Hebrews chronicles the faith of "the elders." These are the men and women of faith that were honored and revered by the nation of Israel. In this chapter, God speaks to us through the author of this work to remind us of the response that God desires from us.


God created all that is visible from what is unseen: the heavens, the earth and even mankind. Cain and Able were the first brothers and from the beginning the sin of Adam and Eve brought tragedy into the world. God accepted the sacrifice of Abel while the sacrifice of Cain was rejected. Cain responded to this by killing his brother and attempting to hide his sin from God.


Why Abel's sacrifice was acceptable and Cain's was rejected is often debated. Abel offered the sacrifice of the best of his flock for he was a shepherd. Cain was a farmer and offered up some of the fruits of the soil. There are several reasons why one sacrifice might have been more acceptable than the other was. Perhaps God valued the nature of one sacrifice more than another. God often proscribed a sacrifice of animals. Or some would say that Abel offered up the best of his flock while Cain offered a sacrifice of lesser quality.


But the Epistle to the Hebrews places emphasis on the faith by which Abel offered his sacrifice to God. God looked at the heart of the two brothers. In the heart of Abel God saw a faith response. In the heart of Cain was jealousy and envy. God declared Abel to be righteous and even through death Abel is said to "speak" to us through his faith.


Likewise God responded to the faith of Enoch. Enoch was one who walked with God and he was "taken away, so that he wouldn’t see death." Enoch was translated to heaven in the same sense that the prophet Elijah was taken up into heaven without experiencing death. Enoch was taken up because he was found to be pleasing to God. Enoch was a man of faith.


Here the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews lays down a basic principle concerning faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. God seeks out and responds to faith. Nothing that is done in the absence of faith could possible please Him. It is not what we do that God finds pleasing. It is why we do what we do that God judges. If we believe that God exists and that God rewards those who seek Him, God will be pleased with our search.


Was God pleased with your life today? Is your life noted for your response of faith to God?


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