Hebrews 11:32-40 The Message (MSG)
32-38 I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of time. There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. . . . Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them! — making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.
39-40 Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.
Hebrews 11 is considered by some to be the Hall of Fame of Faith. Some of the names mentioned are well known and their faithful deeds are obvious; Gideon won a battle, David killed a giant, Samson destroyed an enemy, etc.
While they all may have had a single act (or season) of faith (hence the Hebrews 11 shout-out), they all also behaved in ways that were less than ideal for hall-of-famers. Gideon “fleeced” the Lord so frequently, the very word today constitutes a negative action. While David may have been a man “after God’s own heart”, his parenting was an absolute disaster and he’s responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people. And while Samson may have been physically strong few can argue that he was morally weak. These are the people who made it into the Hall of Fame chapter? These are the believers that the writer of Hebrews acknowledges as examples of faith? These are the ones we are supposed to look up to?
Yes and here’s why. We can relate to them. While we all have parts of our lives and past that are less than ideal, we are all capable, through Christ, to be men and women of faith. Don’t feel like a spiritual giant? That’s okay. Feel like your past or failures are too great to keep you from God’s next mission? You’re in good company.
Trust in the Lord this season… and watch what God can do with that kind of faith.