“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 11:3, AV)
When we examine the New Testament, we come across a person named Thomas. We commonly refer to him as doubting Thomas, and for good reason. When I was growing up, this expression was used a lot. I guess there were many more people in tune with the Scriptures then as opposed to today. If someone told you something or asked you to believe something, and you did not, they would call you a “doubting Thomas.” This comes from the fact that after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to His disciples, with the exception that Thomas was missing. When the disciples told Thomas that they saw the Lord, he replied that unless he saw the nail marks in his hands and put his hand into Jesus’ side that he would never believe (John 20:25). For Thomas, seeing was believing.
We all tend to struggle with true faith. We live in a world where we only believe in what we see or can rationally understand. Yet, as we saw in yesterday’s post, the author of Hebrews is making a case for his audience that true faith is the foundation of our hope and it requires us to trust that which we cannot see. Here the author writes to illustrate what this means to the readers.
First, he states that the ancients who were commended, received this commendation because they had true faith. Later in the chapter, he works through some historical examples of these people from the Scriptures. These are figures of who would have been familiar to most every Jewish person.
Next, he gives a common biblical illustration to show what it means to have faith in that which one cannot see. This example would ring true with every Jewish person and with us today. He stated, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 11:3, AV)
The authors’ Jewish audience would have immediately connected with this thought from the book of Genesis. It is that God spoke all things into existence from a time when nothing existed. Men throughout the ages have pondered these questions of origin. How did the universe begin? How did life begin? How did matter begin? Every Jewish person would have readily accepted the fact that God created all by the spoken word. They believed it even though they did not see it happen. They, in this clear case, demonstrated what true saving faith was about. However, they now had to come to a place where they would trust in Jesus Christ alone and His finished work on the cross, which dealt with the problem of sin, even though they could not see into heaven, and see Jesus sitting at the right hand of Majesty.
They needed to believe in something they could not see. Thomas came to this place where he believed because he saw and was blessed. May we rather say that Jesus revealed Himself to Thomas so he could believe. Yet, Jesus told Thomas this, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29, AV). Those, throughout all history, who have believed without seeing should consider themselves blessed. The reason is that Jesus in some unseen way has revealed Himself to every believer. The Jews believed that God created all things, having never seen creation happen, as it was revealed in the Scriptures. Similarly, they needed to believe in Jesus as revealed in the Old Testament Scripture and clearly presented by the author. It is the same for every believer today.