“By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish…for time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms…and others were tortured…They were stoned, they were sawn in two…they went about…being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated…wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. Hebrews 11:31-40
We live in stressful times. Some would say, historically stressful! One major source of stress is unfulfilled expectations. Often, for a Christian the major cause of stress is unbiblical expectations! Should a Christian always win? Be rich? Be healthy? Be successful? Hebrews 11 reveals some interesting case studies that vary dramatically!
Some had sensational deliverances. After all, Jesus is our Deliverer (Psalm 18:2)! There is a list of well-known Old Testament ‘heroes’ in verses 31-32, and an interesting thing about each one is that each one (for example, David) had a flawed testimony, which only emphasizes God’s grace and mercy! At the same time, others are described anonymously who led in military victories, performed acts of righteousness and carried out miraculous works in vv32-35a. It becomes abundantly clear that the author of the letter of Hebrews in chapter 11 is emphasizing that nothing is outside of the scope of God’s power in the life and ministry of one living by faith in Christ!
Yet, equal emphasis by the author of the letter is that sometimes those who live by faith experience spectacular difficulties in verses 35b-38. Clearly, the lesson to be learned is that faith is not some kind of earthly insurance that always delivers us out of difficulties, but when we operate by faith we can be delivered in our difficulties! Some deliberately choose the unseen realities of eternity than the seen rewards of the earthly (see verse 35b; also verses 24-25). Other instances of affliction and abuse are clearly devilishly concocted (verses 36-38). Whatever the case it often takes greater faith to embrace than it does to escape!
Perhaps the most important lesson to be earned from this chapter is that whatever the Christian faces in life is brought about by supernatural design! The Believer is not at the mercy of whim, or happenstance, but lives his or her life in faith that their steps are ordered by the Lord (see Psalm 37:23). Missionaries were expelled from Ethiopia prior to, and during World War II. Twenty years later Christian missionaries were allowed back in, only to discover that after twenty years of abuse and opposition, the Christians were greater in number and spiritually stronger than before!
1-The prophet Jeremiah was delivered from the hand of the wicked King Jehoiakim. Uriah the prophet was put to death by the same king. By faith one lived, and by faith one died, both to the glory of God!
2-Blessed be the name of the Lord!