As we complete our look at Hebrews 11, notice that the phrase that gets repeated far more than any other in Hebrews 11 is “by faith”. Over and over the writer of Hebrews describes instances when someone “by faith” did something. What does it mean to do something “by faith”? It means that faith is the fuel behind your action or decision.God wants us to live by faith every day. In the verses that follow, we see more examples of what living by faith can do.
Hebrews 11:30 (NIV) 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.
On verse 30: After talking about Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt, Joshua led the Israelites to break through and conquer the city of Jericho by obeying the Lord’s command to march around the city for seven days (Joshua 5-6). What can we learn from this? Faith in the Lord is the key to experiencing breakthrough and victory.
Hebrews 11:31 (NIV) 31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
On verse 31: Rahab was a resident of Jericho. When Joshua sent two spies into the land of Jericho, Rahab welcomed them and hid them in their home because she believed that God was with them (Joshua 2). Because she did so, her life was spared when Joshua later conquered the city of Jericho. What can we learn from this? Faith in the Lord is the key to salvation. Just as Rahab was saved because she welcomed into her home the foreign spies that Joshua sent, so we are saved when we welcome in our lives the One God sent, Jesus Christ the Lord.
Hebrews 11:32-35 (NIV) 32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 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. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again…
On verses 32-35a: The writer of Hebrews has been moving chronologically through the Old Testament as he mentions different individuals and groups who had noteworthy faith. He says that he does not have time to go into detail about other individuals in the Old Testament who accomplished great things and experienced great miracles because of their faith. He mentions them in passing and also gives a list of just some of the miracles they experienced because they had faith in the Lord. What can we learn from this? Faith in the Lord is the key to experiencing God’s power.
Hebrews 11:35-38 (NIV) 35 …Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 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– 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
On verses 35b-38: After mentioning some of the miracles that people experienced because of their faith in the Lord, the writer of Hebrews now mentions some of the difficulties, persecution and suffering people experienced because of their faith in the Lord. What can we learn from this? Faith is being willing to suffer and die for what you believe in. Also, a life by faith has its huge blessings and benefits, but also its costs and hardships.
Hebrews 11:39-40 (NIV) 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
On verses 39-40: What are these last two verses saying? In other words, as great as it must have been for the above mentioned individuals to shut lions’ mouths, walk through the sea on dry land, and escape fiery furnaces by their faith, there was “something better” that God had planned for them to experience only together with us: the new covenant that Jesus established by His blood and through which we are “made perfect” (v40) and acceptable to God for eternity. All the things that the above mentioned people in the Old Testament experience because of their faith was just an appetizer getting them and us ready for the main course. That main course is Jesus as well as the life and relationships we can have through Him.
Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us that truly it is our faith in You that gives us victory, both now and for eternity. As 1 John 5:4 says, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” In Jesus’ name, AMEN!