God Had Planned Something Better For Us (Hebrews 11:39-40)

Hebrews 11:39-40“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” ( Hebrews 11:39-40 )

To die in faith, believing God until the very end was a privilege that the patriarchs shared. Their ultimate promise was the Messiah and they looked forward in faith until the time of Jesus. God had planned this for us, so along with these heros of faith we would be the recipients of this promise. David saw what New Testament believers would have and called us blessed and highly favored in Psalm 32. We now live in the time they saw from a distance. God truly had something better planned for us!

Every example of faith given, is to solidify the message of mercy and redemption in the book of Hebrews. Jesus’ sacrifice for us, made us righteous, holy and cleansed from the guilt of sin. He resides, seated on His throne in heaven, as our High Priest guaranteeing this right standing with God. His blood has cleansed us and speaks a powerful word of righteousness on our behalf. Because of this we have confidence to live a dramatic faith-filled existence as the writer notes in chapter 10, “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” ( Hebrews 10:39 ).

Those listed in Hebrews 11 understood this and yet they did not receive what had been promised. However we have, which is why we live and walk by faith ( II Corinthians 5:7 ). This is what the ancients were commended for, it is what pleases God and it is what ensures and makes readily available the sweet and precious promises given to us in the Scriptures. Faith is how the righteous live ( Habakkuk 2:4, Hebrews 10:38 ). Together with the patriarchs, we have now been made perfect by the blood of Jesus and we have received the blessings of their faith. What an amazing truth!

The World Was Not Worthy of Them (Hebrews 11:32-38)

Hebrews 11:32-38“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.  They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground’ ( Hebrews 11:32-38 )

Faith has always been the defining characteristic of God’s people. Throughout the entire chapter of Hebrews 11, we see example after example of faith. Circumstances grim, chances for natural success low and yet, God’s people always flourish because of faith and God’s promise to respond to it. Faith is so important to the believer that Paul told the Corinthian church, “We live by faith, not by sight” ( II Corinthians 5:7 ). The Amplified Bible describes it this way, “For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance” ( II Corinthians 5:7 Amp ).

In every example given, faith was a lifestyle, there was no going back to live a normal life. Faith made the difference from ordinary into extraordinary, although in the natural they faced torment, beatings, prison, mutilation and death, wandering in the deserts, mountains and living in caves. However, the scripture says that the world was not worthy of them. Like Enoch, they received a good report that God was pleased with them and it is still on record today, centuries after their experiences.

These examples were given to encourage and give us hope. Throughout the entirety of the scriptures we see countless examples of the men and women of faith. This was written for us, Paul said, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” ( Romans 15:4 ). Since faith is the substance of things hoped for ( Hebrews 11:1 ), the scriptures were given to give us a place to aim, hope.

No wonder the world was not worthy of the countless individuals that decided to trust God when all else seemed hopeless. They have received a good report and have run their race so that we might draw encouragement from their example of faith. Therefore, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” ( Galatians 6:9 ).

By Faith The Prostitute Rahab Was Redeemed (Hebrews 11:31)

Hebrews 11:31“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” ( Hebrews 11:31 )

Rahab had an understanding of God’s character; an understanding that many of His covenant people lacked. As terror spread throughout the land, because of the Israelites camped at the Jordan awaiting entrance into their Promised Land, Rahab made a deal with the spies hidden in her house and God honored it. The account of Rahab’s faith is an amazing story of redemption.

When Joshua sent spies into the land to bring back a report, they stopped at Jericho entering into Rahab’s house. As a prostitute, her house gave them opportunity to blend in. After hiding them on the roof, she redirected the king’s servants, who were looking for them, into the countryside on a wild goose chase. She reveals to the spies that the entire land was shaking with fear because their God’s fame and mighty works had preceeded them for decades ( Joshua 2:9-11 ).

Rahab’s next move was amazing, she asked the spies to exchange her kindness for a sign that she and her family would be spared when Jericho was defeated ( Joshua 2:12-13 ). Agreeing to her terms, they instructed her to keep the scarlet cord, on which they escaped in the window. Assuring that everyone remaining inside would be spared ( Joshua 2:17-20 ).

What is interesting about this, is that Rahab made this deal based solely on God’s grace. She was from Jericho, she was a harlot, she had no right to ask anything. Secondly, she put herself in grave danger by helping the spies and then remaining in the city surrounded by enemies who could turn on her if they knew her part in helping the Israelites. And yet, her token of this agreement and her life line was a scarlet cord hanging in plain view. This is a marvelous picture of redemption. She put her faith in the grace of God and God provided a way out giving her a reminder by the scarlet, blood-colored cord, ever present before her; reassuring her, redemption was drawing neigh.

As the city fell, Joshua gave the spies the honor of bringing Rahab, her family and all her possessions out from the midst of the destruction and into the Israelite community ( Joshua 6:22-25 ). She trusted God to save her because she had insight into God’s character trusting solely in His goodness and His grace. God responded to her faith and forever commemorated her in the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ ( Matthew 1:5 ). Her story is one of redemption and restoration and will forever be celebrated in the Hebrews Hall of Fame.

By Faith the Walls of Jericho Fell (Hebrews 11:30)

Hebrews 11:30“By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days” ( Hebrews 11:30 )

This account of defeat of Jericho truly belongs in the Hebrews hall of fame. This was a crowning moment for Israel as they trusted God to make good on His promise to them. After wandering the desert for forty years, due to their unbelief, the first mission in the Promised Land of Canaan was to conquer Jericho, a fortified city whose walls were thick and impenetrable.

Previously Joshua had sent two spies into Jericho to scope out the city and their report was vastly different than the report given back to Moses the first time spying out the Promised Land. Instead of doubt, dissension and unbelief, the spies told the people, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us” ( Joshua 2:24 ).

As they prepared to defeat the city, instructions were given about how to do it. The entire army was to march around the city every day for six days. On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times.Then the priests were to blow their trumpets while the people shouted and the walls would fall down for them to enter and fight. The Ark of the Covenant would go before them to remind them of their covenant with God.

Joshua also gave further instructions, “Joshua had commanded the people, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” ( Joshua 6:10 ). This was wisdom on Joshua’s part after witnessing the repercussions on the entire nation of Israel, caused by the ten spies who had made negative reports. ( Numbers 13:26 - 14:4 ). The people of Israel had allowed these negative words talk them out of God’s promise and His best for them, As a result they ended up wandering the desert for forty years until that entire generation died.

Since the idea of marching around the city day after day, believing at the end, the walls would cave in to deliver it into your hands takes faith, Joshua was helping them along forbidding them to speak any doubt. In fact, I believe each day it probably got harder and harder to march around the city, I’m sure there were people camped on the walls shouting insults which only got worse with each passing day. I’m sure it would have been easy for the Israelites to talk themselves out of the victory even if only one person started voicing doubts. Instead they remained silent which allowed them to walk out their faith in what God had instructed them to do.

The result was complete and total victory. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times, blew the trumpets and shouted their war cry as they entered and defeated Jericho, burning it to the ground. They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing, just as they were instructed. Only Rahab and the family that was with her was saved.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell and the people of Israel enjoyed great success. They took God at His promise and carried out His instructions and God did exactly what He promised He would do. What a great lesson in faith for all future generations to study and examine.

By Faith the People Passed Through the Red Sea On Dry Land (Hebrews 11:29)

Hebrews 11:29“By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned” ( Hebrews 11:29 )

It takes faith to walk into the midst of the sea with water piled high to both your left and right side trusting that you will make it safely across. However, this is exactly what the Israelites did as they fled from the Egyptians. God demonstrated His power both to Israel and the nation of Egypt as He fully delivered His children from their captors.

As they fled, the Israelites looked back to see the Egyptians pursuing them. Crying out against Moses for bringing them to a place of sure death, Moses responded in faith “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” ( Exodus 14:13-14 ). He spoke in faith that the Lord would deliver his people before he knew what the plan for deliverance was.

The account of what happened next was amazing, “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” ( Exodus 14:15-18 ).

The Lord responded to Moses faith and delivered His people as promised. Moses acted in faith by raising his staff and stretching out his hand over the sea and in return God moved the waters creating an escape path of dry ground. The angel of God blocked the way of the Egyptians so that Israelites could safely escape. After the entire nation was safely across, the Egyptians pursued, only to be drowned as the waters returned to their natural place. God’s power and glory was displayed as He delivered His people remaining true to His word.

Faith is what propelled Moses to lead the people out of Egypt and faith is what sustained them through their escape. God always responds to the faith of His children. “As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame” ( Romans 10:11 ).

Juli Camarin

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