(Vs. 7) Our example begins with Noah's faith; but the Scriptures begin with GOD'S GRACE, by which Noah believed (Gen. 6:5-8). Noah and his family were the exceptions to the general apostasy. God always reserves a remnant for Himself even in the worst times (Rom. 11:5). "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." This shows that he was not without sin, or he would have had no need for grace. "But Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet," such as rain, flood, destruction of all men, and the building of a ship (that is agreeable to the apostle's definition of faith in Verse 1), NOAH BELIEVED GOD! He believed the Word of God and prepared an ark as he was instructed. By his faith, his works, and his words of warning, he both passed judgment on their unbelief and wickedness, and he made their unbelief and rebellion more obvious. Unbelief is evil enough, but it appears more evil and deliberate in the presence of faith. This faith made him an heir of the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 4:3).
(Vs. 8) Again, our example of faith spotlights the faith of a man (which is our subject examples of faith). But God's grace and call came to Abram down in Ur of the Chaldees, a land of idolatry (Gen. 12:1-4; Joshua 24:2-3). Abram believed God and journeyed to a land HE HAD NOT SEEN. God changed his name to Abraham (Gen. 17:1-5) fifteen years after he left Ur. God leads His people in ways known to Him but NOT KNOWN to them. Faith follows the Lord when it knows not WHERE, HOW, or WHY! (Acts 27:21-25.)
(Vs. 9-10) It was by faith that Abraham lived in Canaan, the land of promise, for a little over 75 years. He believed that God would give this land to his seed though he never had an inheritance in it (Acts 7:4-5). When he died, Isaac was 75, Jacob was 15, and they dwelled in tents. Israel later possessed the land. Abraham looked for a permanent abode in heaven. His hopes and expectations were upon THE WORLD TO COME, and it was this faith which moved him to obey the Word of God and to do and to suffer what God required (Rom. 8:17, 18).
(Vs. 11) When God announced to Abraham that he would have a son by Sarah, who was nearly 90 years old, she seemed to he in a state of unbelief (Gen. 18:9-15). Abraham was guilty of the same doubts (Gen. 17:15-19). It is evident from our text that Sarah, like Abraham, was brought to a full belief in the promised son; for Paul said that BY FAITH she received physical power to conceive a child.
(Vs. 12) So from one man, Abraham (though he was physically as good as dead), there have sprung descendants whose number is as the stars of heaven and as countless as the innumerable sands on the seashore, as was promised to Abraham by our Lord (Gen. 15:5-6).
(Vs. 13) "These all died in faith," not all the seed of Abraham, but all of the believers such as those mentionedAbraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah. They died as other men die a corporeal death; but they died sustained and controlled by faith in their people possessing the land of Canaan, faith in the promised Messiah, and faith in an eternal inheritance in heaven.
"Not having received the tangible fulfillment of the promises," only HAVING SEEN THEM BY FAITH in His Word. This goes back to the definition of faith in Verse 1.
Looking forward to the fulfillment of God's promises, they were confident of them, embraced them, anticipated them as their chief source of happiness, and were not ashamed to confess that they were only pilgrims traveling through this world with no desire to settle or remain here.(Vs. 14-16)
1. People who talk this way (that their treasure, satisfaction, and affection are not of this world that they are strangers here that they seek a heavenly country and an eternal inheritance) show plainly that they have seen some things by faith that the natural man does not see and that they are sincerely seeking that inheritance (I Cor. 2:8-15).
2. It is true, also, that if they had been homesick for those countries and the gods they left, they had plenty of opportunity to return to them (John 6:66-68).
3. But the real truth is that they had their hearts set on the inheritance of Christ and would not be denied nor turned about. Because of that faith and confidence, God is not ashamed to be called "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." He has prepared an inheritance for them and for all believers, which proves He is not ashamed of the relation He stands in to them (Heb. 2:11).