A few years ago, I went to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. It is an interesting and educational shrine to one of footballs most storied sports teams (I may be a bit biased). The most fascinating aspects of the Hall was learning about the teams early days and what the sport first looked like. A hundred years ago the sport was raw and tough. The founders and initial inductees to the Hall didn’t have much to look back on. They were creating the records that would be broken. They were paving the way for future players by creating the benchmarks and examples to follow.
The first three examples in the Faith Hall of Fame are the founding fathers of faith after the creation the world: Abel, Enoch and Noah. There isn’t a lot we know about these men between Chapters 4-9 of Genesis. These three men show us that human history is a history of living “by faith” and the kind of life God expects (vs.4,5,7).
By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. – Hebrews 11:4, ESV
Abel’s faith was not in the substance of his sacrifice, but in the heart behind his sacrifice. To Abel to give his first and best fruits was an act of faith and worship (Genesis 4). Abel was later martyred by his own brother, but Abel’s faith still speaks to us today.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. – Hebrews 11:5-6, ESV
Enoch’s faith takes hold of what God offers. In Genesis 5:24, there is a genealogy filled with men who live to be more than 900 years old, yet following each name reads the cold words, “and then he died.” Except for Enoch. Enoch walked with God and he was no more because God took him away. Death had no hold on Enoch.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith. – Hebrews 11:7, ESV
Noah’s faith obeyed. Obedience to God amidst of an unclear future and chaotic circumstances is key to faith. Noah built a boat despite never seeing rain, hundreds of years or ridicule, and limited information. Noah takes God at his word and gets to work. His actions show his faith as he stands obedient among a wicked generation (Genesis 6:9).
The common thread between these three ancients was their faith. They believed God existed, they feared him, and they believed God rewards those who seek him.
Questions for Reflection:
- How do these ancient examples of faith still speak to us today?
- How does faith involve aspects of sacrifice (Abel), hope (Enoch), and obedience (Noah)? Which person can you relate with the most and why? Which aspect of faith do you struggle with the most and why?
- What are the different things people mean when they talk about ‘faith’? How does real, biblical faith differ from the popular idea of ‘faith’?
- Have you experienced times when your faith in God has been tested? What have you learned from such experiences? How have these lessons helped you in times of difficulty?
- Why is it impossible to please God without faith? On the contrary, how does faith please God?
- What is the reward of faith? (cf. 1 Chr. 28:9; Jer. 29:12-14; John 4:24)