Monday 31 January 2011

Bible Book:

"And what more should I Say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets - ... of whom the world was not worthy." (vv. 32,38a)

Hebrews 11:32-40 Monday 31 January 2011


Do you remember the 1979 hit song by Ian Dury and theBlockheads, "Reasons to be cheerful"? The letter to the Hebrewscould be subtitled 'reasons to be faithful' as it encouragesChristians in hard times not to give up but to remain faithfuldisciples. 

The epistle presents something of a mystery; no-one is certain whowrote it (although most scholars now agree it is unlikely to be byPaul) and the title "To the Hebrews" doesn't give much away either.However, its content suggests it was aimed at early Christians indanger of giving up as they lived through difficult and challengingtimes - maybe that description fits you today? 

In these few verses, the writer takes us on a tour of the Jewish'Hall of Fame' reminding readers of some of the great heroes andheroines of Jewish history; characters who were renowned for theirfaith and perseverance in the face of great opposition - frommockery to being sawn in two (which was the fate of the prophetIsaiah, according to one early source)! Each of the six named menhas a colourful history; they were vastly different in theirpersonalities, circumstances and opportunities and none of them waswithout faults: Gideon was timid (Judges6:15); Barak lacked confidence (Judges4:8); Samson tended to wildness (Judges15:4-5); Jephthah was rash (Judges11:30-31); David committed adultery and murder (2Samuel 11); even Samuel made some poor decisions (1Samuel 8:1-3). Yet all were used by God in their own generationand can be an inspiration for generations to come. 

As well as the famous names, there are many unnamed heroes referredto; that vast company of men, women, boys and girls who, throughtheir faith, achieved extraordinary feats, grappling with anythingfrom lions to foreign armies, and suffering enormous personalprivations, such that the writer sums them up as people "of whomthe world was not worthy". And somehow, the writer tells us, thesestories are bound up with our own stories, for "they would not,without us, be made perfect" (verse 40). Only through the sacrificeof Christ could they, or we, reach the completion of ourfaith. 

Reflecting on great characters of the past is reason number one tobe faithful. 

To Ponder

Think about the people you have known "of whomthe world is not worthy".

Who are the figures from Christian history whoinspire you today?

For us, living after Christ's sacrifice, in thenew covenant (ie a restored relationship with God), is perfection apossibility? How?

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