20th December 2022
Read (Hebrews 11v33-38)
This is the fifteenth devotion I have written on Hebrews 11 and I suspect I could write dozens more. The chapter is a wonderful read and one that never stops encouraging me whenever I get the chance to delve into it. As the "hall of faith" closes all the names have been mentioned and we have taken a tour through the Old Testament. But the Apostle is not quite finished and although he doesn't mention anyone else specifically, he still has a few more things to say before moving on.
It was by faith that the Israelites conquered kingdoms (v33). It was by faith that the Judges enforced justice (v33b). It was by faith that the people of God say the fulfilment of God's promises (v33c). It was by faith that Daniel, Samson and David stopped the mouths of lions (v33d). It was by faith that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego quenched the power of fire (v34). It was by faith that Elijah escaped the edge of Jezebel's sword (v34b).
It was by faith that men like Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthath, David and Samuel were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war and put foreign armies to flight (v34c). It was by faith that the widow's son was raised by Elijah (v35). It was by faith that Jeremiah, Zechariah, Isaiah and other prophets faced torture (v35b), imprisonment (v35c & 36), mocking (v36), flogging (v36b), stoning (v37), being sawn in two (v37b) and death by the sword (v37c). It was by faith that Elijah wore a garment of hair (v37d) and it was by faith that Obadiah and others hid from Jezebel in dens and caves of the earth (v38).
The Old Testament is not a story about men and women saving themselves by works, instead it a record of the birth and growth of the church of Jesus Christ. Everyone mentioned in this chapter was saved under the terms of the Covenant of Grace. They looked to the promises of God by faith and they looked forward to the day of Christ by that same Spirit worked faith.
They had the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen despite the fact that in their own lifetime they did not receive what was promised (v39). Christ was coming and bringing something better by far (v40). Gone would be the types and shadows of the old covenant and they would be replaced by the substance and fulfilment of Christ. In Him we have been made perfect and the dividing wall of hostility between the old covenant believer and the new has been abolished (Ephesians 2).
My brothers and sisters, Hebrews 11 is the history of the Gospel and the march of faith. If you are a Christian then as you read this chapter you are reading the story of the family of God - your family. In every generation God has been good, gracious and faithful to all that He has promised. From the beginning He has been calling sinners to repentance and faith and constantly adding to the number of those being saved. I trust that you will marvel at these things today.
You might feel like an insignificant spot in the endless sweep of human history but that's simply not true. The Lord has set his love upon you from before the foundation of the world and He has redeemed you in Christ. How can these things be so? As Hebrews 11 constantly reminds us...it is all by faith.
Message (Scott Woodburn)
Q28 Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation? Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.