"One of God's remarkable words to us has been that faith is NOT a leap into the unknown. Faith, instead, is a shift of confidence and trust to One who has always proven faithful. ...Do you remember the heroes of the faith--the 'cloud of witnesses'- mentioned by the writer of Hebrews 11? They are witnesses in the technical sense of the word. They were recipients of God's testimony about future realities, and they have been summoned for the defense." (Ed Welch, Running Scared, p. 306)I think I've always read Hebrews 11 as a list of examples to emulate, a description of the faith I need to cultivate and exercise. Suddenly, I started to see that I have missed the point. This is a catalog of God's faithfulness. It's example after example of His Word proving true, His promises being kept. The stars of the show are not the humans who believed the promises, but the God who made the promises and fulfilled every single one!
Noah teaches us that God knows the future, that His prediction of events is certain and can be trusted. He also foreshadows Jesus, who believed God and established the way of salvation for a family.
Abraham teaches us that God promises an inheritance of true riches and blessing for His children, and that He keeps those promises--and that He is good and trustworthy even when the things He has promised us are threatened.
On and on the list goes--read through the catalog of witnesses and see them afresh, not as witnesses to their own awesomeness but as witnesses to the faithful and awesome character of God! As Welch says, "With these testimonies clearly in mind, we can enter into fearful places confident that nothing can nullify the promises..." (p. 308)