I have to admit that Hebrews is not my favorite book in the Bible to read. There is a lot of pretty heavy stuff in there. My mind tends to wander a bit as I try to concentrate on the words.
And then there is chapter 11, called the Faith Hall of Fame by many. Throughout the chapter I find a list of some of the most famous people in the Bible. The ones that children learn about from little on. These are the examples of great people of the Bible.
And yet as I look closely at the list I see more. The Bible is not a feel-good account of the lives of those listed here. We know the whole story of their lives. There is Abraham who deceived people into thinking that Sarah, his wife, was only his sister. Then there are the brothers Esau and Jacob, one who sold his birthright for a bowl of stew and the other who openly deceived his father.
We hear of Jacob, who treated his daughter-in-law like a prostitute; Joseph the younger brother who sometimes lorded it over his brothers as less than him; and Moses the murderer. Then there is Rahab, a prostitute; Gideon, who made God prove he was telling the truth; Samson who spent most of his life carousing with idolaters; and David, who committed adultery with a woman and then had her husband killed.
So how could these people be listed in a Hall of Fame of anything? Verse 39 makes it clear, “They were all commended for their faith.” All of them had faith that someday their Savior would come. Not a Savior for this world, but one who would assure their salvation.
Their sins were obvious. They also knew that God demanded perfection. In the Savior for whom they waited, was his perfect life and saving death. Believing in that Savior made them true heroes. The rest of their lives showed their faith as they, “Conquered kingdoms, administered justice … were tortured, faced jeers and flogging, being chained and put in prison,” (vv.33-37). They clung to the promise of the coming Messiah because of their faith, no matter what they faced.
That is why chapter 11 is my favorite part of Hebrews. If I am a hero of any kind I am a misfit hero. I fail every day in countless ways to live my life to show God how thankful I am for sending Jesus to die for my sins. I cannot claim anything based on the person I am. But I have faith in the same Savior as these heroes of the Old Testament. That Savior never fails.
I will never rewrite history the way the persons listed in Hebrews 11 did. That’s ok with me. But the way I look at it, everything is still good. After all, I have the gift of faith–in Jesus.
Come on back sometime. Who knows, maybe you can share the story of faith in your life.
I will wait you.
Just a song about how we can sometime take our eyes off faith and onto ourselves.