Hebrews 11/ June 25
“…God has provided something better for us” (11:39)
After chapter 10 gives stern warning to those who treat shamefully the grace of God through their continuing to sin with knowledge of their wrongdoing (10:26-31), the tone changer to one of encouragement to those who remain faithful. (10:32-39) There are those to whom he is speaking who both suffered persecution and those who became sharers with others who suffered torture due to Christ (10:33) by showing sympathy to the prisoners, even to the point of having their own property seized (10:34).
There are times that the suffering we endure can cause us to have a feeling of wanting to give up, we feel that it becomes too difficult for us to endure. The author here encourages the child of God to not quit, saying, “Therefore do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward.” The writer tells his readers to look beyond the present suffering, “For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what was promised.”. (10:36), this reflecting back to those of the Old Testament days who suffered due to faith in Jehovah God. Rewards are promised the one who endures through hardships of living in accordance with faithfulness to God, as v39 shares, “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”(10:39)
The author transitions to chapter 11 through means of speaking in regards to the faith demonstrated by saints of previous generations. He begins by giving a definition of faith as“the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). Those are solid words: assurance and conviction. Conviction is without doubt, without wavering. Assurance of things hoped for- this is not meaning that you hope for something while retaining a degree of doubt that it may occur- he is speaking of ‘assurance’! And though it’s ‘not’- you are convicted that it is real and in existence. The Christian is to have such faith in the existence of the God of the Bible, not just any type of god-substance but of Jehovah God. The Christian is certain of heaven and eternal life as Christ described. Any degree of doubt puts God into question. The stronger your faith the more confident and devoted is your walk in Him. It’s not a timid, fearful, cautious walk but one of confidence for you are filled with His Spirit and are encouraged by His presence. Without this type faith it is impossible to please God (11:6).
Chapter 11 is devoted to an overview of the entire Old Testament from start to finish. In chronological order, the author takes individuals and describes how they lived a life directed by faith. It starts by saying, “For by (faith) men of old gained approval” (11:2).
For those who have not heard of Jesus YET have faith there is a God who is received by faith- does this same principle apply? We do not know exactly how God works with those who have not heard of Jesus except that He is a just God, a righteous God who can reach anyone, anywhere.
The chapter closes with “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.” (11:39,40). There must be an object to faith, something or Someone who is hoped for even when not seen or even gained during their lifetime.
This last verse speaks of the what we receive in Christ being better due to Him actually coming as the perfect Sacrifice needed for the forgiveness or sin. That for which they waited we received. Sins are washed away by His blood (Revelation 7:14,22:11) and a restored relationship with God is made; no longer only longing for, it comes “in fact” in Jesus. This is why they needed our period of time- the time of Jesus. And it is for this reason they watch the New Testament saints, as will be seen in chapter 12.