Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the faith chapter. The first verse has scripture’s definition of faith.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
In the following verses is a long list of names of men and women of God and what they did by that faith. Verses 33, 34 and the first part of 35 are a wonderful summary of the positive results of faith.
33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.
God inspired the writer of Hebrews to continue in the same subject, about faith. In verses 35b, 36 and 37, you can read about more examples of God’s people who in faith endured physical suffering, death, imprisonment, ridicule, poverty, and homelessness.
35 Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—
Was it because of a lack of faith that these people had to endure these things? No. Verse 39 tells us that all of these people mentioned in this chapter had a good testimony of faith.
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
And was it because of sin that these things happened to them? No, again. Verse 38 tells us that the world was not worthy of such people. In other words they were righteous, not sinners.
38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
So why am I talking about what seems to be so obvious? It’s because of what we often hear in the church about the connection between faith and positive results. Many believe that with a certain amount of faith the believer’s life will be full of good things. But those heroes of faith in the latter part of the chapter didn’t have that kind of life. Yet those in the first part of the chapter did have many blessings in their lives.
Is there a contradiction between those of great faith in the former and latter part of the chapter? No, there’s not a contradiction between them, but there are connections. One connection is that they were all God’s people. Another is that He had a plan and a purpose for each one. What mattered to God was not whether they were rich or poor, healthy or sick. free or imprisoned, admired or despised or anything else. What was important was their accomplishing His purpose in their lives. And as it says in verse 40 another connection between the two groups and with us is that they along with us will all be made perfect together and be with God forever.
40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Pastor Sharon and I pray that you will always remember what is important to God. What is important is not which group of the heroes of faith that your life is like. Or whether it changes from one to the other. Remember that God loves you more than you can know and will never put more on you than you can bear. Remember what matters to Him is that you are willing to serve His chosen purpose in your life regardless of what’s going on.
copyright 2014, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved