11 Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen. 2 It was by faith that our forebears were approved. 3 Through faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God; everything we now see was fashioned from that which is invisible.
Faith begins as hope and indeed is unseen; so many doubt that it is real. What follows is the proof that faith is a reality that can be trusted.
4 By faith Abel presented to God a sacrifice more acceptable than his brother Cain’s. By faith Abel learned he was righteous, as God Himself testified by approving his offering. And by faith he still speaks, although his voice was silenced by death.
5 By faith Enoch was carried up into heaven so that he did not see death; no one could find him because God had taken him. Before he was taken up, it was said of him that he had pleased God. 6 Without faith no one can please God because the one coming to God must believe He exists, and He rewards those who come seeking.
7 By faith Noah respected God’s warning regarding the flood—the likes of which no one had ever seen—and built an ark that saved his family. In this he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes by faith.
8 By faith Abraham heard God’s call to travel to a place he would one day receive as an inheritance; and he obeyed, not knowing where God’s call would take him. 9 By faith he journeyed to the land of the promise as a foreigner; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, his fellow heirs to the promise 10 because Abraham looked ahead to a city with foundations, a city laid out and built by God.
11 By faith Abraham’s wife Sarah became fertile long after menopause because she believed God would be faithful to His promise. 12 So from this man, who was almost at death’s door, God brought forth descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as impossible to count as the sands of the shore.
13 All these I have mentioned died in faith without receiving the full promises, although they saw the fulfillment as though from a distance. These people accepted and confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on this earth 14 because people who speak like this make it plain that they are still seeking a homeland. 15 If this was only a bit of nostalgia for a time and place they left behind, then certainly they might have turned around and returned. 16 But such saints as these look forward to a far better place, a heavenly country. So God is not ashamed to be called their God because He has prepared a heavenly city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when he endured God’s testing, offered his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice. The one who had received God’s promise was willing to offer his only son; 18 God had told him, “It is through Isaac that your descendants will bear your name,”[a] 19 and he concluded that God was capable of raising him from the dead, which, figuratively, is indeed what happened.
20 By faith Isaac spoke blessings upon his sons, Jacob and Esau, concerning things yet to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed the sons of his son Joseph, bowing in worship as he leaned upon his staff.[b]
22 By faith Joseph, at his life’s end, predicted that the children of Israel would make an exodus from Egypt; and he gave instructions that his bones be buried in the land they would someday reach.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born because they saw that he was handsome; and they did not fear Pharaoh’s directive that all male Hebrew children were to be slain.
24 By faith Moses, when he was grown, refused to be identified solely as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter 25 and chose instead to share the sufferings of the people of God, not just living in sin and ease for a time. 26 He considered the abuse that he and the people of God had suffered in anticipation of the Anointed One more valuable than all the riches of Egypt because he looked ahead to the coming reward.
27 By faith Moses left Egypt, unafraid of Pharaoh’s wrath and moving forward as though he could see the invisible God. 28 Through faith, he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of blood on the doorposts among the Hebrews so that the destroyer of the firstborn would pass over their homes without harming them. 29 By faith the people crossed through the Red Sea as if they were walking on dry land, although the pursuing Egyptian soldiers were drowned when they tried to follow.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho toppled after the people had circled them for seven days. 31 By faith the prostitute Rahab welcomed the Hebrew spies into her home so that she did not perish with the unbelievers.
32 I could speak more of faith; I could talk until time itself ran out. If I continued, I could speak of the examples of Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, of David and Samuel and all the prophets. 33 I could give accounts of people alive with faith who conquered kingdoms, brought justice, obtained promises, and closed the mouths of hungry lions. 34 I could tell you how people of faith doused raging fires, escaped the edge of the sword, made the weak strong, and—stoking great valor among the champions of God—sent opposing armies into panicked flight.
35 I could speak of faith bringing women their loved ones back from death and how the faithful accepted torture instead of earthly deliverance because they believed they would obtain a better life in the resurrection. 36 Others suffered mockery and whippings; they were placed in chains and in prisons. 37 The faithful were stoned, sawn in two,[c] killed by the sword, clothed only in sheepskins and goatskins; they were penniless, afflicted, and tormented. 38 The world was not worthy of these saints. They wandered across deserts, crossed mountains, and lived in the caves, cracks, and crevasses of the earth.
Stories of faith and faithfulness are central to the First Testament. The writer of Hebrews recalls some of the most memorable examples of how people of faith lived their lives. But what is faith? Faith is more than belief; it is trust, assurance, and firm conviction. Ironically most of those who lived by faith never fully realized the promises God had made. Like us they journeyed as strangers and exiles, longing for another country. We should remember their patient faith when we face prolonged hardships and allow the trials we face to strengthen our faith rather than destroy it. If we are comfortable here and don’t face suffering for our faith, perhaps we aren’t fully living by faith and looking forward to a future hope.
39 These, though commended by God for their great faith, did not receive what was promised. 40 That promise has awaited us, who receive the better thing that God has provided in these last days, so that with us, our forebears might finally see the promise completed.