Hebrews 11:32-40: Commended for Faith
September 21, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The roll call of faith now reaches its culmination. First, the author of Hebrews lists many other heroes of faith but only now by name. And then, second, he concludes with what we can learn from this famous catalogue of faithful men and women.
The names that he now lists are not always as familiar. Some are equally famous – Gideon, for instance – but some are less well-known (like Barak or Jepthah). And then there are others who are merely described by what they did rather than who they are. This does not in any way suggest that their faith is any the less extraordinary. In fact, now we hear of some truly extraordinary deeds. They quenched the fury of the flames, routed foreign armies; women received back their dead, raised to life again. But the story does not always turn out comfortable and easy in this life, at least; some were put to death by stoning. Some were even sawn in two. The martyrs for the truth are every bit as much men and women of faith – in many ways more so – than those who achieved famous victories and died quietly in their own beds. Well does the author of Hebrews conclude: “the world was not worthy of them.”
It is important that we celebrate the history and story of men and women of faith, for it inspires others to emulate their example and encourages us all even in our lesser battles. Remember these men and women of faith. Your story is not forgotten. Your battle is not unimportant. Your triumph in Christ is worth every tear, every prayer, every blood-stained wound.
But what then are we to learn from all this roll call of faith? At one level the answer is now obvious. What we learn is: faith. Victory comes through trusting God and his Word. That much has been made clear already, and at the end of this chapter the author of Hebrews underlines it again. But there is a final element which will now point forward to chapter 12: God has planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. That is, we are all part of one family of God. And together our faith is fulfilled in Christ (for those Old Testament heroes who looked forward to the coming of the Messiah) as well as to those heroes of the faith after Christ (who look back to the Messiah, as well as forward to his second coming). We too in our battles today are Gideons and Samsons and Davids and Moseses and Abrahams. Even more so: for with Christ’s coming, something even better has been planned for us. What is that? It is the Christian community of the church, its purpose and mission, its worship and experience of Christ, and to that, from chapter 12 the author of Hebrews will now focus his attention.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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