By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:4-16
What about all those people who came before Jesus? Millions of people lived and died before Jesus came and billions more have lived and died after he left us. I had a pastor tell us this way, those who came before Jesus looked forward to the Messiah and those who came after, us, look back to Him. We know this by what the writer of Hebrews writes in today’s verses. Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and all the other patriarchs walked in faith with God. Faith that what God told them and what God promised them would come true.
Today we look back in faith that the evidence we have for Jesus is enough and we have faith that God is still a God who keeps His promises. I have often wondered which group had it hardest and I believe it was those who came before. We today have an enormous amount of evidence supporting the Christian Bible and beliefs. Even though in the past God was speaking directly to the patriarchs and to the rest through the prophets they still had long periods of silence as well as a long wait.
A few weeks ago I started a series on my blog on the resurrection and how we can counter the arguments against it. My second post was on dealing with those few who still deny that Jesus was a real historical person. As with most posts of this sort I received a comment from an unbeliever who is adamant that there is no proof that Jesus existed. The issue isn’t that there is no proof, there is actually quite a bit for a first century itinerant Jewish rabbi from Palestine. The issue is that people refuse to admit that the evidence is real. In this case writing that Josephus who is regarded as a primary source of early to mid-first century Jewish history was in this one case not recording fact but myth. I know of no historian who takes this particular slant on Josephus. The other issue they had with Josephus was that he was born after Jesus died so he could not possible recount and historical event that happened before Josephus was born. I wonder how many modern historians are aware of this limitation.
What I have learned in my encounters with atheists is that they cloak themselves in the mantel of rationality but refuse to believe any evidence that conflicts with their worldview, even evidence that is supported by mainstream historians from across the political and religious spectrum. Of course this is what they claim religions people do all the time. Funny that they cannot recognize this in their selves.
Without faith, hearts are hardened. Sometimes to such an extent that they are unable to recognize what is right under their noses. Christianity requires faith that God will do what He has promised. Christianity does not require us to believe well-crafted myths only facts. Paul tells us that as well as so much more about Jesus and what we need to believe as Christians. Paul is another writer where the scholarly consensus is that he did indeed write the letters ascribed to him and he wrote those early within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses of which Paul was one. Each of us needs to be able to respond to the doubts that others have about Jesus. We also need to recognize those who no matter how we present the truth are unable or unwilling to accept it. There are just too many ready to learn the truth about God to let ourselves get bogged down in a battle of opinions.
Have a blessed day,