Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) But without faith.—Better, and apart from faith it is impossible to bewell pleasing” (unto Him); for he that draweth near (Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 10:22) to God must believe . . . Thus the very statement that Enoch pleased God is an assertion that in him faith was found. No one can be the habitual worshipper of God (this is what the phrase implies) if his faith does not grasp these two truths. “Is a rewarder”—literally, becometh a recompenser (Hebrews 2:2; Hebrews 10:35); the future recompense is present to the eye of faith.

Hebrews



SEEKING GOD


Hebrews 11:6THE writer has been pointing to the patriarch Enoch as the second of these examples of the power of faith in the Old Covenant; and it occurs to him that there is nothing said in Genesis about Enoch’s faith, so he set about showing that he must have had faith, because he ‘walked with God,’ and pleased Him, and no man could thus walk with God, and please Him, unless he had come to Him, and no man could come to a God in whom he did not believe, and whom he did not believe to be waiting to help and bless him, when he did come. So the facts of Enoch’s life show that there must have been in him an underlying faith. That is all that I need to say about the context of the words before us. I am not going to speak of the writer’s argument, but only of this one aspect of the divine character which is brought out here. ‘He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.’

I. Now a word about the seeking.

Seek?’ Do we need to seek? Not in the way in which people go in quest of a thing that they have lost and do not know where to find. We do not need to search; we do not need to seek.

The beginning of all our seeking is that God has sought us in Jesus Christ, and so we have done for ever with: ‘Oh! that I knew where I might find Him.’ We have done for ever with ‘feeling after Him, if haply we might find Him.’ That is all past. We have to seek, but let us never forget that we must have been found of Him, before we seek Him. That is to say, He must have revealed Himself to us in the fulness and reality and solid certainty of His existence and character, before there can be kindled in any heart or mind the desire to possess Him. He must have flashed His light upon the eye before the eye beholds; and He must have stimulated the desire by the revelation of Himself which comes before all desires, ere any of us will stir ourselves up to lay hold upon God. Ours, then, is not to be a doubtful search, hut a certain seeking, that goes straight to the place whore it knows that its treasure is, just as a migratory bird will set out from the foggy and ice-bound shores of the north, and go straight through the mists and the night, over continents and oceans, to a place where it never was before, but to which it is led - God only knows how - by some deep instinct, too deep to be an error, and too persistent not to find its resting-place. That is how we are to seek. We are to seek as the flower turns its opening petals to the sunshine, making no mistake as to the quarter of the heaven in which the radiance is lodged. We have to seek, as the rootlet goes straight to the river, knowing where the water is, from which life and sap will come. Thus we have to seek where and what we know. Our quest is no doubtful and miserable hunting about for a possible good, but an earnest desire for a certain and a solid blessing. That is the seeking.

Let us put it into two or three plain words. The prime requisite of the Christian’s seeking after God is as the writer here says, faith, I need not dwell upon that. ‘Must believe that He is’ - yes; of course. We do not seek after negations or hypotheses; we seek after a living Being. ‘And that He is the Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him’ - yes; if we were not cure that we should find what we wanted, we should never go to look for it. But, beyond all that, let me put three things as included in, and necessary to, the Christian seeking - desire, effort, prayer. We seek what we desire. But too many of us do not wish God, and would not know what to do with Him if we had Him, and would be very much embarrassed if it were possible for the full blessings which come along with Him, to be entrusted to our slack hands and unloving .hearts. Brethren, we call ourselves Christians; let us be honest with ourselves, and rigid in the investigation of the thoughts of our own hearts. Is there a wish for God there? Is there an aching void in His absence, or do we shovel cartloads of earthly rubbish into our hearts, and thus dull desires that can be satisfied only with Him? These are not questions to which any one has a right to expect an answer from another; they are not questions that any Christian man can safely shirk answering to himself and to God. The measure of our seeking is actually settled by the measure of our desire.

Then effort, of course, follows desire as surely as the shadow comes after the substance, because the only purpose of our desires, in the constitution of our nature, is to supply the driving power for effort. They are the steam in the boiler intended to whirl round the wheels. And so for a man to desire a thing that he can do nothing whatever to bring about, is misery and folly. But for a man to desire, and not to. work towards fulfilling his desire, is greater misery and greater stupidity. One cannot believe in the genuineness of those devout aspirations that one hears in people’s prayers, who get up and wipe the dust off their knees, and go out into the world, and do nothing to bring about the fulfilment of their prayers. There is a great deal of that sort of desire amongst professing Christians in all churches, conventional utterances which are backed up and verified by no corresponding conduct. If we are seeking after God, we shall not let all the seeking effervesce in pious aspirations; it will get consolidated into corresponding action, and operate to keep thought and love directed towards Him, even amidst the trivialities, and legitimate duties, and great things of life. There will be effort to bring Him into connection with all our work; effort to keep by Him as we go about our daily tasks, if we are truly seeking after God.

And then, desire and effort being pre-supposed, there will come honest prayers, genuine prayers. ‘Seek ye the Lord while He may be found,’ says the prophet, and immediately goes on to exhort us to ‘call upon Him while He is near,’ as one and the chief way of seeking Him. He is always near, closer to us than friends and lovers, closer to us than our eyes and hands, near in His Son and the Spirit, near to hear and to bless, near and desiring to be nearer, yea to be blended with our being and to dwell in us and we in Him. We have not only to desire His gift, and to work towards it, but to ask for it. Then, if we exercise these three activities of desire, effort, petition, we may truly say: ‘When Thou saidst, "Seek ye My face," my heart said unto Thee, "Thy face, Lord! will I seek,"‘ and may go on, as the psalmist did, to offer the consequent prayer: ‘Hide not Thy face from me,’ in full assurance that He is found by every seeking soul So much for the seeking.

II. Now a word about the diligence in seeking.

The writer uses a very strong expression, one word in the original, which is here adequately rendered, ‘them that diligently seek Him.’ Half-hearted seeking finds nothing. You sometimes say to your children, when you have set them to look for anything, and they come back and say they have not been able to find it, ‘You do not know how to seek.’ And that is true about a great many of us. Half and half desire, so that one eye is turned on earth, and the other lifted up now and then to heaven, does not bring us much. It will bring a little, but not the fulness of blessing which follows on whole- hearted, continuous, persevering seeking. If you hold a cup below a tap, in an unsteady hand, sometimes it is under the whole rush of the water, and sometimes is on one side, and it will be a long time before you get it filled. There will be much of the water spilled. God pours Himself upon us, and we hold our vessels with unsteady hands, and twitch them away sometimes, and the bright blessing falls on the ground and cannot be gathered up, and our cup is empty, and our lips parched. Interrupted seeking will find little; perfunctory seeking will find less. Conventional religion brings very little blessing, very little consciousness of the presence of God; and that is why so many who call themselves Christians, and are so, in a measure and in a sense, know so little of the joy of being found of God. They have sought but not sought diligently.

Now let us take the rebuke to ourselves, if we need it, and we all need it more or less. It is a very threadbare piece of Christian counsel, to be earnest in our seeking after God, but it is none the less needed because it is threadbare, and it would not be threadbare if it had not been so much needed. ‘They that search diligently’ - which is the real meaning of the words in the Book of Proverbs rendered, ‘they that seek Me early’ -’shall find Me.’

III. So this brings me to the last thing here, the Rewarder and the reward.

‘He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.’ The best reward of seeking is to find the thing that you are looking for. So the best reward that God, the Rewarder, gives is when He gives Himself. There are a great many other good things that come to the diligently seeking Christian soul, but the best thing is that God draws near. Enoch sought God, came to God, and so he walked with God. The reward of his coming was continuous, calm communion, which gave him a companion in solitude, and one to walk at his side all through the darkness and the roughnesses, as well as the joys and the smoothnesses, of daily life.

Ah, brethren! there is no reward comparable to the felt presence in our own quiet hearts of the God who has found us, and whom we have found. And if we have that, then He becomes, here and now, the reward of the diligent search, and the reward of it to, day carries in itself the assurance of the perfect reward of the coming time. ‘He walked with God, and... God took him.’ That will be true of all of us. There is only one seeking in life that is sure to result in the finding of what we seek. All other search - the quest after the chief good - if it runs in any other direction, is resultless and barren. But there is one course, and one only, in which the result is solid and certain. ‘I have never said to any of the seed of Jacob, seek ye My face in vain.’ If we seek He will be found of us, and so be our Rewarder and our reward.11:4-7 Here follow some illustrious examples of faith from the Old Testament. Abel brought a sacrifice of atonement from the firstlings of the flock, acknowledging himself a sinner who deserved to die, and only hoping for mercy through the great Sacrifice. Cain's proud rage and enmity against the accepted worshipper of God, led to the awful effects the same principles have produced in every age; the cruel persecution, and even murder of believers. By faith Abel, being dead, yet speaketh; he left an instructive and speaking example. Enoch was translated, or removed, that he should not see death; God took him into heaven, as Christ will do the saints who shall be alive at his second coming. We cannot come to God, unless we believe that he is what he has revealed himself to be in the Scripture. Those who would find God, must seek him with all their heart. Noah's faith influenced his practice; it moved him to prepare an ark. His faith condemned the unbelief of others; and his obedience condemned their contempt and rebellion. Good examples either convert sinners or condemn them. This shows how believers, being warned of God to flee from the wrath to come, are moved with fear, take refuge in Christ, and become heirs of the righteousness of faith.But without faith it is impossible to please him - Without "confidence" in God - in his fidelity, his truth, his wisdom, his promises. And this is as true in other things as in religion. It is impossible for a child to please his father unless he has confidence in him. It is impossible for a wife to please her husband, or a husband a wife, unless they have confidence in each other. If there is distrust and jealousy on either part, there is discord and misery. We cannot be pleased with a professed friend unless he has such confidence in us as to believe our declarations and promises. The same thing is true of God. He cannot be pleased with the man who has no confidence in him; who doubts the truth of his declarations and promises; who does not believe that his ways are right, or that he is qualified for universal empire. The requirement of faith or confidence in God is not arbitrary; it is just what we require of our children, and partners in life, and friends, as the indispensable condition of our being pleased with them.

For he that cometh to God - In any way - as a worshipper. This is alike required in public worship, in the family, and in secret devotion.

Must believe that he is - That God exists. This is the first thing required in worship. Evidently we cannot come to him in an acceptable manner if we doubt his existence. We do not see him, but we must believe that he is; we cannot form in our mind a correct image of God, but this should not prevent a conviction that there is such a Being. But the declaration here implies more than that there should be a general persuasion of the truth that there is a God. It is necessary that we have this belief in lively exercise in the act of drawing near to him, and that we should realize that we are actually in the presence of the all-seeing Jehovah.

And that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him - This is equally necessary as the belief that he exists. If we could not believe that God would hear and answer our prayers, there could be no encouragement to call upon him. It is not meant here that the desire of the reward is to be the motive for seeking God - for the apostle makes no affirmation on that point; but that it is impossible to make an acceptable approach to him unless we have this belief.

6. without—Greek, "apart from faith": if one be destitute of faith (compare Ro 14:23).

to please—Translate, as Alford does, the Greek aorist, "It is impossible to please God at all" (Ro 8:8). Natural amiabilities and "works done before the grace of Christ are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; yea, rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin" [Article XIII, Book of Common Prayer]. Works not rooted in God are splendid sins [Augustine].

he that cometh to God—as a worshipper (Heb 7:19).

must believe—once for all: Greek aorist tense.

that God is—is the true self-existing Jehovah (as contrasted with all so-called gods, not gods, Ga 4:8), the source of all being, though he sees Him not (Heb 11:1) as being "invisible" (Heb 11:27). So Enoch; this passage implies that he had not been favored with visible appearances of God, yet he believed in God's being, and in God's moral government, as the Rewarder of His diligent worshippers, in opposition to antediluvian skepticism. Also Moses was not so favored before he left Egypt the first time (Heb 11:27); still he believed.

and … is—a different Greek verb from the former "is." Translate, "is eventually"; proves to be; literally, "becomes."

rewarder—renderer of reward [Alford]. So God proved to be to Enoch. The reward is God Himself diligently "sought" and "walked with" in partial communion here, and to be fully enjoyed hereafter. Compare Ge 15:1, "I am thy exceeding great reward."

of them—and them only.

diligently seek—Greek, "seek out" God. Compare "seek early," Pr 8:17. Not only "ask" and "seek," but "knock," Mt 7:7; compare Heb 11:12; Lu 13:24, "Strive" as in an agony of contest.

The Spirit here proveth that Enoch pleased God by faith, though it was not expressly written in his text by Moses, because of the impossibility of pleasing God without faith.

But without faith it is impossible to please him; but without faith upon God in Christ, whom Enoch pleased, it is absolutely impossible to do any thing acceptable to God, so as to be justified by him; for infidelity, or want of faith, makes God a liar, 1Jo 5:10, Christ a vanity, John 5:40, and God’s will a deceit, which peremptorily saith, there is no pleasing of him but by faith in Christ, John 14:6. The effect cannot exist without its cause, as is proved in the next words.

For he that cometh to God: for whoever he be, every particular soul, that cometh off from sin to God, so as to be under his conduct and influence; makes out by spiritual motions of his mind, will, affections, and members, in thoughts, desires, resolutions, and operations, to enjoy God, so as to be accepted with, justified by, and blessed of him; and at present makes his access to him with liberty and boldness in prayer, or any other duty, through Christ.

Must believe that he is; he must really, fully, and supernaturally receive all that which God revealeth in his word is pleasing to him, especially concerning himself; as, that he is the primitive, perfect Being, and the Cause of all; that he is three in relations and one in essence, most excellent in all his attributes, infinitely wise, powerful, just, good, and eternal, &c., the supreme Creator and Governor of, and Lawgiver to, all.

And that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and that he will recompense all men according to their works, but will eminently and freely give himself to be the reward of his, and whatever he can be to or do for them for their good, Genesis 15:1; but to those only, who with an intent heart and spirit pursue him by faith, love, and longing after him as their supremest good, Isaiah 45:22 Romans 2:6,12 Kings 22:12. But without faith it is impossible to please him,.... Or do things well pleasing in his sight; or any of the duties of religion, in an acceptable way; as prayer, praise, attendance on the word and ordinances, or any good works whatever; because such are without Christ, and without his Spirit; and have neither right principles, nor right ends: for this is not to be understood of the persons of God's elect, as considered in Christ; in whom they are well pleasing to him before faith; being loved by him with an everlasting love; and chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world; See Gill on Romans 8:8.

for he that cometh to God; to the throne of, his grace, to pray unto him, to implore his grace and mercy, help and assistance; to the house of God, to worship, and serve him, and in order to enjoy his presence, and have communion with him; which coming ought to be spiritual and with the heart; and supposes spiritual life; and must be through Christ, and by faith: wherefore such a comer to God,

must believe that he is; or exists, as the Arabic version; and he must not barely believe his existence, but that, as it is revealed in the word: he must believe in the three Persons in the Godhead; that the first Person is the Father of Christ; that the second Person is both the Son of God, and Mediator; and that the third Person is the Spirit of them both, and the applier of all grace; for God the Father is to be approached unto, through Christ the Mediator, by the guidance and assistance of the Spirit: and he must believe in the perfections of God; that he is omniscient, and knows his person and wants; is omnipotent, and can do for him, beyond his thoughts and petitions; is all sufficient, and that his grace is sufficient for him; that he is immutable, in his purposes and covenant; that he is true and faithful to his promises; and is the God of grace, love, and mercy: and he must believe in him, not only as the God of nature and providence, but as his covenant God and Father in Christ:

and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him; who are such, as are first sought out by him; and who seek him in Christ, where he is only to be found; and that with their whole hearts, and above all things else: and, of such, God is a rewarder, in a way of grace; with himself, who is their exceeding great reward; and with his Son, and all things with him; with more grace; and, at last, with eternal glory, the reward of the inheritance.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a {d} rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

(d) This reward is not referred to our merits, but to the free promise, as Paul teaches in Abraham the father of all the faithful, Ro 4:4.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. that he is …] The object of Faith is both the existence and the Divine government of God. “We trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).

and that he is a rewarder] Rather, “and that he becomes (i.e. shews or proves Himself to be) a rewarder.”Hebrews 11:6. Χωρὶς, without) He proves by the event the faith of Enoch.—εὐαρεστῆσαι) to please, to show one’s self pleasing to. The parallel presently occurs, προσέρχεσθαι τῷ Θεῷ, to come to GOD, to walk with God. Therefore the apostle, with skilful design, joins the Hebrew and Greek text.—πιστεῦσαι, believe) Enoch had been favoured with no divine appearance, as we may gather from this passage; so neither had Moses before he left Egypt, Hebrews 11:27. The position (thesis), that he is, etc., was strongly felt by Enoch, and is asserted from the faith of Enoch. The faith of Enoch, which is described in a manner so singular, seems to have had not very many perspicuous Data. Otherwise his faith would not be, as it is, reduced in Paul’s description exclusively to this point.—δεῖ, must) The inference which is found in this passage, is intended to be necessary and strong.—τῷ Θεῷ, to GOD) inasmuch as He is invisible, Hebrews 11:27.—ὅτι ἐστὶ) that He is. Hence ὁ ΩΝ is used absolutely, Wis 13:1; comp. πραγμάτων, of things, note, Hebrews 11:1. He who walks with God, acknowledges Him to be God. This is opposed to antediluvian atheism.—καὶ) This word also depends on ὅτι.—τοῖς) of them, not of others.—ἐκζητοῦσιν, who earnestly seek) without seeing Him. A grand compound [seek out].—μισθαποδότης, rewarder) for example, of Enoch, whom He translated.—γίνεται, that He will be) The future bestowing of the reward is intended. The reward is He himself, who is earnestly sought [sought out]. WITH GOD, says Moses, and signifies thereby communion (with God: “Enoch walked with God).”Verse 6. - But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. The purpose of this verse, in connection with the conclusion of the last, is to show that the Scripture record does imply faith in Enoch, though there is no mention of it there by name: it is of necessity involved in the phrase, εὐηρέστεσε τῷ Θεῷ. The expression in the Hebrew, "walked with God" (be it observed), involves it equally; so that the argument is not affected by the quotation being kern the LXX. To please (εὐαρεστῆσαι)

The aorist gives the sense of at all, stating the verbal idea without time, as a universal proposition. Comp. Romans 8:8.

Cometh (προσερχόμενον)

See on Hebrews 4:16. Must (δεῖ). An essential obligation. In the nature of the case. That he is (ὅτι ἔστιν). Faith in God involves belief in his existence although he is unseen.

Is a rewarder (μισθαποδότης)

Note the difference of the verb: not simply exists, but comes to pass as; proves to be, habitually, so that he who approaches God has, through faith, the assurance that his seeking God will result in good to himself. Μισθαποδότης rewarder, N.T.o. Comp. μισθαποδοσία recompense of reward, Hebrews 2:2 (note); Hebrews 10:35; Hebrews 11:26.

Of them that diligently seek him (τοῖς ἐκζητοῦσιν αὐτὸν)

Lit. unto them that seek him out. Comp. Acts 15:17; Hebrews 12:17; 1 Peter 1:10. The verb is used of seeking God, Romans 3:11. God's beneficent will and attitude toward the seeker are not always apparent at the first approach. In such cases there is occasion for faith, in the face of delay, that diligent seeking will find its reward. One is reminded of Jesus' lessons on importunity in seeking God, Luke 11:5-10; Luke 18:1-8.

He hides himself so wondrously

As though there were no God;

He is least seen when all the powers

Of ill are most abroad.

Or he deserts us at the hour

The fight is almost lost,

continued...

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