Paul's Letter to The Hebrews: By Faith Part 1
In earlier blogs we talked about how the Writer of Hebrews is making a legal argument for the defense of something and someone. In chapter 11, the Writer makes it clear that our faith and our hope rest on something and someone.
In 11:1, the Writer provides us with a legal textbook definition for what faith is. He legally defines faith. This is a bit unusual in the sense that “by definition” faith and law cancel each other out. We discover that the very definition is a big play on words. It also contains several smaller plays on words; all of which get lost in translation.
For instance the word “faith” is a play on words. The first time he uses this word is in 4:2. He uses it subjectively. In other words, there is an aspect of our faith that can be impacted, informed and influenced by our perspective. We see that the Israelites faith was impacted by their circumstances; it was informed by their own inability; it was influenced by their fear.
They had lost sight of who God is what He had already done and was still doing for them. How we see things can affect our faith. Also notice that it becomes clear that faith will always require and even demand a response. Their response was one of fear and unbelief.
The Nature of our Fears:
The Bible tells us that fear has “torment” (1 John 4:18). We can become paralyzed by fear. We can desire something and yet fear can prevent us from pursuing it. In the case of the Israelites, they were promised the land by God. They testified that it was a good land flowing with milk and honey. Yet the fear of what the enemy might do to them and their children overcame them (Numb. 14:3). This was despite what they had already seen what God had done on their behalf.
Most of our fears are things that “potentially” could happen. That means they reside in “the Land of not yet and maybe never”. They are mainly driven by our psychoses and our self-absorption. In other words, the more we filter our fears solely through our emotions the bigger they become. As our fears become bigger the smaller we become in our own eyes (Num. 13:33). Our perspective becomes us focused instead of God focused.
Overcoming Our Fears:
Don’t be a complainer – Notice all of the complaining that the Israelites had done along the way. Complaining magnifies the obstacles and weakens our spirit. (see footnotes in comment section). Thanksgiving places us in a posture of surrender to God (1 Peter 5:6-7; Phil. 4:6-7).
Confess our fears to God – In the 23rd Psalm David begins by talking about the Lord. As his situation becomes more precarious, he stops talking about the Shepherd; he begins talking to the Shepherd.
When in doubt, worship – Just like complaining weakens our spirit, worship strengthens us (Psalm 56:3-4). As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us (James 4:8). The more we are in His presence, the more we are reminded of His love (1 John 4:18). To overcome our fears God is calling us to come up just a littler higher into His presence.