We shift now to looking at what God would like us to know from the ancestral stories passed down from the beginning of humanity, the very beginning of humanity. Remember, what the writer said in verse 2, “For by it [faith] our ancestors won God’s approval”. So he is about to list (as a great teacher does) all the ancestors specifically that “won God’s approval” and for what reason they had faith. So not only the person matters but the circumstance. It is interesting the order in which the writer of Hebrews chose to begin walking this out. He goes in order of the stories that would have been passed down through generations. Told over and over again in circles for those who learned them. Rules, regulations, laws, and rituals were built around these stories. For instance, a Seder is a meal they would share and retell the story of the Exodus. Many in the community that the writer of Exodus was speaking to would know these people and the lessons the Jewish culture had learned from them as they passed them down.
Think of nature vs. nurture. Like it or not, for better or for worse, we listen and repeat what is passed down to us from generations that came before us. I love all those cheesy memes that talk about shouting out to those who decided to be a pioneer in their family and break generational chains that hold them back. I believe that the writer wants to convey wisdom through unbelieving (the first part of Hebrews) and believing ancestors. Remember, it is not sinning vs. not sinning. Each one of these people on the list was not without sin. I truly believe that is why Paul is all but begging us in each of his epistles to identify with our believing ancestors, to identify with the resurrection and not death. When we focus on the law (I’m going to do better tomorrow…) we focus on death. Things that Paul said are already dead in us. Why would I focus on what I can see? I need to focus on what I cannot see (Hebrews 11:1).
Your roots matter, your family matters. What are you learning from your family line? I want the people in this photo to remember my faith. To remember I relied on the Lord in the hardest of times. And then do the same.