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Reviewing our study of Hebrews 11, we see that it covers the whole of history from Cain and Abel to the time just before the birth of Christ. We read of the faithful exploits of the well known patriarchs and also of those who are nameless to us, but very well known unto God (Mal. 3:16). These were people who loved God, believed Him and obeyed His word. They didn’t think it strange when asked to do the impossible, such as march into the Red Sea. They probably looked rather silly marching around the walls of Jericho. However, God said march and they marched.
Hebrews 11:30-40 summarizes many of the things that these people of faith accomplished:
By faith they subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. By faith, women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
They did all this, because they saw the day of Christ approaching. They didn’t live to see it, but we are blessed to be partakers of it. Looking at their struggles and their martyrdom, I feel most unworthy. However, there are many places in the world today where people still pay for their faith with their life. In 2006, a relative of mine was in Viet Nam teaching at a Christian seminary. He commented something to this effect, "What do I tell these people who have been required to give their life for their faith, when this is something that we in the west have never experienced?"
Going on to Hebrews 12, the writer summarizes all that he has been saying.
Hebrews 12:1 ¶ Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
He paints the picture of us running a footrace with all these heros of faith looking on. I wonder what father Abraham would think of some of our unbelief? How about Daniel in the lion’s den or the three Hebrew children in the fire? Some of those who were tortured stoned or sawn asunder for their faith, I wonder how we look to them? I’m afraid, we wouldn’t look all that good!
Yet, we have been blessed with so much more than these old testament saints.We have been seated in heavenly places with Christ and are joint-heirs with Him. We have the privilege of being able to approach the throne of God boldly in time of need (He. 4:16). We have been blessed to be filled with His Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:6). I have so much that has been freely given to me that I feel ashamed when I read of what these old testament saints accomplished.
Our study started out by stating that the just shall live by faith, and that it is impossible to please God without faith. We have a race to finish, and the only way we can do so is to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Song: I'm Looking for Jesus
"Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading." - Oswald Chambers
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Don and Marie Spooner
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