Earlier this year during the summer, we went to Worlds of Fun, and our boys decided to try the climbing wall. The wall was covered in “footholds” that would allow you to climb to the top. Without the footholds, it would have been impossible to climb that wall. So, they focused on the top without looking down and climbed victoriously to the top on those footholds. This is an excellent illustration of Heb 11:1.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen. (Heb 11:1)” Some Bibles will read, “faith is the substance of things hoped for…”
The word translated “substance” or “assurance” comes from the Greek word, hupostasis. It was a favorite word for philosophers in the 2nd-3rd centuries B.C.E, and therefore had a wide range of meaning depending on how it was used. Without getting bogged down into a long discussion here, we could sum up the idea behind this word is that of firmness, stability, basis, foundation, reality, or simply essence.
When used of human attitudes, this word is talking about a stable attitude, or confidence. When used of something physical, it is speaking of its stability or essence.
So, with the use of this word, we have a powerful word picture.
Faith gives a solid foothold for our hope. My kids “hoped” to get to the top of the climbing wall, but they needed a foothold to do it. With the help of the footholds, they had “conviction” they could make it.
The passage goes on to illustrate foothold faith in action. Our forefathers in the faith were hoping for “a better country, a heavenly one…(Heb 11:15)” and “looking to the reward (Heb 11:26).” According to Hebrews 11:1, their faith brought hypostasis, which was a firm, confident, assuring, foothold to their hope. It also brought a “conviction of things not seen.”
So how do we have the same kind of foothold hope? The same way they did. They focused on the hope in faith in such a way, that they gave everything up for it. It was their life’s focus. That is why the passage concludes with our life’s focus:
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith …(Heb 12:1-2).”
Our faith needs to focus all our energies on our hope in Jesus Christ. We need to lay aside everything that may be an “encumbrance” as we scale the wall toward the hope that God has given us.
So, the things to do now are make a list of encumbrances, pray about them and remove them.