Thursday 29 October 2020

Bible Book:

...God had provided something better... (v.40)

Hebrews 11:32-40 Thursday 29 October 2020

Psalm 8


Hebrew 11 ends with the writer summarising a list of outstanding achievements and actions by people of faith. Some of these might remind us of great Old Testament stories, but others point to lesser known people of faith who may not appear at all in the books of our Bible. The common theme is the faith of people who realised that God was not on the side of the oppressor, and who through their faith “conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises” etc (v.33). These are people prepared to take risks and be involved in sacrificial living, in order to do things for God that might seem impossible through human strength alone.

 It is as well to remind ourselves at this point that the letter to the Hebrews was written to those who were no strangers to the Jewish scriptures. These new converts from Judaism to Christianity may have been tempted to return to their Jewish faith because of persecution by the Roman authorities. What the writer is trying to demonstrate is that, however great  the faith of those mentioned, and no matter how revered they might be in the Jewish faith, the ultimate goal of these heroes was actually never fully attained. They had hope and confidence in God, who would bring in a time of realising his promises, but they never actually received this blessing in their mortal lives.

Implicit in verses 39 and 40 is that it is only with the appearance of Christ that such promises of God are fulfilled. The life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus are the fulfilment of God’s promises in this earthly life. French philosopher and priest Teilhard de Chardin wrote: “The essence of Christianity is simply and solely belief in the unification of the world in God through the Incarnation.”

It seems to me that the writer of this letter to the Hebrews is reminding readers to look at the cost for these people of faith through the ages. They have inspired others up until this moment; their faith in God has actually pointed the way to Christ as the living outworking of God’s promises. We simply have to be true to such a heritage.


To Ponder:

  • Think of your own faith journey and the people  who witnessed to you, who inspired you, whose faith gave you hope and confidence. Who would you regard as part of your heritage of faith? Give thanks.
  • The first verse of hymn 518 in Singing the Faith ends with a prayer “for strength that we may ever live our lives courageously.” May we use that prayer today both for ourselves and others we know in special need.
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