Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
Following the definition of faith, we are presented with a host of Old Testament people who demonstrated faith in their lives. This passage focuses on a few persons who preceded Abraham, the father of faith: Abel, Enoch, and Noah.
Abel was Adam's son who was murdered by his jealous brother Cain. Abel kept flocks and Cain planted crops (Genesis 4:2). Both brought offerings for the Lord. The Lord ″looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour″ (Genesis 4:4-5). God looked at not just the offerings but also the men who brought them. Abel was acceptable but Cain, for some reason (perhaps his heart and attitude were wrong), was not. Tragically, Cain then murdered his brother in cold blood (Genesis 4:8). Abel is commended here because he was a ″righteous″ man who brought ″a better offering″ (v. 4). His life was marked by faith, and he continues to appeal to others to have faith.
It was by faith that Enoch ″walked faithfully with God″ (Genesis 5:22, 24). He did not die the usual way, but after living for 365 years, he ″was no more, because God took him away″ (Genesis 5:24) straight to heaven-like the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 2:1, 11). A change came about in Enoch after the birth of his son Methuselah (which means ″His death shall bring it″). It appears that God revealed to Enoch the coming flood that would put an end to the widespread wickedness in the world. It changed the man because after Methuselah's birth, he walked with God (suggesting a turning to God by faith and a growing intimacy maintained by faith; Genesis 5:22). According to the chronology in Genesis 5, the flood indeed came when Methuselah died.44 The author notes that Enoch had pleased God before being taken away, and since ″without faith it is impossible to please God″ (Hebrews 11:6), he emphasises that Enoch demonstrated faith.
Noah's story is also one of faith amid social ridicule and wickedness (Genesis 6:9-9:17). Like Enoch, Noah too ″walked faithfully with God″ (Genesis 6:9); he was a righteous man who ″did everything just as God commanded him″ (Genesis 6:22; 7:5). He built the ark as an act of faith (taking God's warning of a great flood seriously) and saved his family and the animals. He saw things not yet seen, and feared God (Hebrews 11:7). He was saved through his faith in God and thus ″became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith″ (v. 7).
44Stedman, Hebrews, 120.
God looked on Abel with favour. What do you think God feels when He looks at us? How does the condition and attitude of our heart towards God determine whether God accepts all that we do for Him (Matthew 7:22-23)?
What does it mean to ″walk faithfully with God″? Why and how does it build intimacy with the Lord? How is your walk with God?