Today’s Reading: Hebrews 12:12-13
Enoch was known as a person who pleased God. Wow, that is a powerful statement! A person can be known for so many different things, good and bad, but Enoch was known as a person who pleased God and that came from his faith in God.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. – Hebrews 11:6
Genesis describes Enoch as living in close fellowship with God for more than 300 years. “Then one day he disappeared, because God took him” (Genesis 5:24). Something incredible…something extraordinary happened in Enoch’s life, simply because God chose to do it. That’s the kind of God we serve – the kind of God that just does because He can.
Enoch remained in close fellowship with God and God spared him death. I could just be done for today because that alone is more powerful than any of the caffeine in my morning coffee! But Enoch is not the only person in the crowd of witnesses we are surrounded by as we live this life of faith. There are more. Right by Enoch stands Noah, a man whose faith in God produced righteousness.
It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes from faith. – Hebrews 11:7
There had never been a flood; there had never been a boat so big. Yet Noah obeyed God, which required a great deal of faith. But Noah’s faith had grown over the years because he had remained in close fellowship with God, just like Enoch. He lived a life that was pleasing to God and so God considered Noah a righteous man – more righteous than anyone else.
Noah had the faith he needed when the moment of decision came. When faced with the choice to obey God and do something never done before, Noah had a faith strong enough to say “yes”. He did not have to produce this strong faith immediately because his faith had been growing over time as he walked with God. I’m so glad Noah is in my crowd of witnesses as I run the race set before me. His example encourages me.
Also standing out in this crowd of witnesses is Abraham:
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. – Hebrews 11:8-10
Abraham was looking forward, eyes fixed on God. Where do you want me to go? Okay, I’m on it. Leave home, leave everything I know? Yes, I’ll obey you, God. What do you want me to do? Okay, I’ll do it. Sacrifice my son through whom I expect your promises to be fulfilled? Yes Lord, I’ll do it if that’s what you ask.
Abraham could have looked back from where he came but he continued to look forward to the promise. When looking for a wife for Isaac, he insisted that his servant NOT go back to the land from which they had come to find her. When walking up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham did not continually look back and remind God that He had promised Abraham would be the father of many nations. No, he pressed forward, eyes fixed on God, believing that God could do anything – including raising Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19).
This is why the writer of Hebrews pointed out the crowd of witnesses. He knew we would need the reminder of Abraham’s faith when we heard these words:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by…
Enoch, Noah and Abraham,
…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith… – Hebrews 12:1-2a
Oh, how I needed this today. When I look ahead, I sometimes get overwhelmed. I remind myself of God’s promises and I remind myself of Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”
Daily I have to lay all God’s promises on the altar and trust Him to provide. Daily I have to remain in close fellowship with my God, from my morning coffee to my bedtime prayers – pressing forward, eyes fixed on God, believing that God can do anything; having the faith I need when a moment of decision comes, a faith strong enough to say “yes”. That’s what we can give God this Christmas – the gift of our “yes”.