8 Abraham had faith and obeyed God. He was told to go to the land that God had said would be his, and he left for a country he had never seen. 9 Because Abraham had faith, he lived as a stranger in the promised land. He lived there in a tent, and so did Isaac and Jacob, who were later given the same promise. 10Abraham did this, because he was waiting for the eternal city God had planned and built.
11 Even when Sarah was too old to have children, she had faith that God would do what he had promised, and she had a son. 12 Her husband Abraham was almost dead, but he became the ancestor of many people. In fact, there are as many of them as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand along the seashore.
13 Every one of those people died. But they still had faith, even though they had not received what they had been promised. They were glad just to see these things from far away, and they agreed that they were only strangers and foreigners on this earth. 14When people talk this way, it is clear they are looking for a place to call their own. 15If they had been talking about the land where they had once lived, they could have gone back at any time. 16But they were looking forward to a better home in heaven. This is why God wasn't ashamed for them to call him their God. He even built a city for them.
17-18 Abraham had been promised that Isaac, his only son, would continue his family. But when Abraham was tested, he had faith and was willing to sacrifice Isaac, 19because he was sure that God could raise people to life. This was just like getting Isaac back from death.
20 Isaac had faith, and he promised blessings to Jacob and Esau. 21 Later, when Jacob was about to die, he leaned on his walking stick and worshiped. Then because of his faith he blessed each of Joseph's sons. 22 And right before Joseph died, he had faith that God would lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. So he told them to take his bones with them.
With yesterday’s reading we were introduced to the first inductees into the gallery of faith. Abel, Enoch and Noah come to us from the first few chapters of Genesis – the pre-flood world. Today’s reading introduces us to the faith of the patriarchs – the fathers of the Hebrew nation – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.
According to the writer of Hebrews, the focal point of the patriarchs’ journey of faith was to find their place – their home in the world. Abraham left his home in Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan (Genesis 11:31). But from Abraham through four generations to Joseph, they did not reach their ultimate goal and possess the Promised Land.
The patriarchs walked by faith believing that the land would be theirs but never saw success with their own eyes. With eyes of faith they looked beyond all this. “But they were looking forward to a better home in heaven. That’s why God wasn’t ashamed for them to call him their God. He even built a city for them” (v 16).
That’s what faith does. It looks beyond present circumstances and sees a different reality. From today’s reading Sarah demonstrates that unwavering, life-altering faith. “Even when Sarah was too old to have children, she had faith that God would do what he had promised, and she had a son” (v.11). Similarly, “Abraham was sure that God could raise people to life” (v.19), so he was willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
Is the Lord giving you faith to see beyond your present circumstances? He is willing to show you the way forward. Have you asked him?
Lord, I admit I need eyes of faith. Give me a vision for the better home you want built in my here and now, and also for eternity. Help me to see beyond my circumstances. Holy Spirit, give me faith and guide my thoughts. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.