Now faith is the substance of [things] hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
This verse begins with Now which sometimes indicates time — e.g. now is the time — but can also indicate that we are going to elaborate on a subject more fully. In this case, the writer of Hebrews is going to elaborate on the topic of faith. Before the writer of Hebrews does this, he is going to define his term.
Faith, the writer tells me, is two things: (1) the substance of [things] hoped for and (2) the evidence of things not seen.
There are a couple things of which I am certain regarding things hoped for. First, I do not have them. If I had those things, then I would not be hoping for them any more. Second, the biblical concept of hope is far different from what we mean when use the term today. Abraham hoped and got a son. I often, in the modern mind, hope and receive nothing. The biblical idea of hope is a certain belief that something will happen, not a strong desire that it might. So faith is the substance of hope. To hope as The Bible describes individuals hoping requires faith. I cannot hope as the OT saints did, in promises which I am reasonably certain I will not live to see fulfilled in my lifetime without faith in the One Who made those promises.
On the top of my list of things not seen is God. When I think about things I cannot see, He is first on the list. What proof do I have of God’s existence? Faith. In a world that demands evidence, the only evidence I can give is my faith. I am certain that others would point to miracles and things of that nature, but miracles are not the One Who works miracles, just something He does. These blog entries are not me, merely something I do and these could easily be the work of another. It is an act of faith to believe that there is a person in front of a keyboard tapping out these entries, just as it is an act of faith to believe that God in Heaven spoke to men and dictated His message to me through them.
Father, please increase my faith that I might move from believing the things that all of Your children believe to things that You have for me, personally. Thank You for bearing with my weakness, especially as pertains to faith.