Hebrews 11:32-40 … This is the third reading from the “Faith Chapter” … the record of heroes of faith from days near the creation (Abel, Hebrews 11:4) through Jewish history. More heroes of faith are recorded here (v.32); Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah were heroes who led an apostate Israel back to faith during the days of the Judges. (The book of Judges records a 400 year time period with cycles of coming to faith and then backsliding into apostasy, idol worship, and indifference. The “judges” themselves were God anointed leaders who brought the people back to faith.)
The list includes David, the remarkable King of Israel and sweet psalmist of Scripture, and Samuel, the priest and prophet who, under God’s direction, guided the nation when kings were established for governance. All these heroes were victorious showing the power of faith as an enabler of great things in life (the great accomplishments are listed in 11:33-34). In a remarkable testimony of faith in action, verse 35 reminds us that there were women who received back their dead by a miracle of bringing them back to life … of reviving the dead … all showing the power of faith. There are several examples of this in both Old and New Testaments; the widow of Zerephath (1 Kings 17:17) and the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:18) had sons resurrected by Elijah and Elisha respectively. But, verse 35 also tells of a better resurrection, which is a resurrection to life eternal with Christ, and uses that better resurrection to explain that heroes of faith aren’t always victoriously successful in life … sometimes they’re called to be faithful even when threatened by torture and death (11:36-38) or a life of poverty and destitution, like Elijah, Elisha and John the Baptist. Interestingly, the Scripture tells us that such men and women are people of whom the world is not worthy. That’s quite a testimony!
Perhaps you know some like that … faithfully serving God no matter what … to bring the Gospel to others. I think there are some in every generation and probably in every geography. The conclusion of all this is in the powerful statements of Hebrews 11:39-40. All of these Old Testament heroes of faith did not receive the promises of God during their lifetimes, because those promises are revealed in Christ … only death enabled them to see the pre-incarnate Christ and to experience heaven. But (v.40), God has provided something better for us … the reality of salvation in Christ and the grace of God, now … in this life, … living in the power of The Holy Spirit of God. That’s an important conclusion – worth taking a moment to let it sink in!
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