Wednesday, November 2

By Faith These All (Again)

This is the eighteenth (and last) post in a series from Hebrews 11. You'll find all the posts in this series listed here.

This is the wrap up post, and these are the summary verses for the writer of Hebrews, too:
And these all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised. For God had provided something better for us, so that they would be made perfect together with us. (Hebrews 11:39,40; NET)

Our list is complete, and the writer finishes things off--packaging things up by telling us that everyone on the list was commended for their faith. He started the chapter in verse 2 by referring to the people of old who received God's commendation by faith, and now he completes things in the same way.

So we have all of these people who were commended for their faith, and as a result they received many blessings and many fulfillments of promises to them; and yet, the writer tells us, there is something held back from them. There is something promised that they did not receive. And they cannot receive it without us. There is a strong suggestion in the words of the communal nature of God's people. This final blessing, the ultimate fulfillment of God's promise, this "being made perfect", comes to all saints together.

What is this better thing that God has provided for us? The most important thing throughout Hebrews is the saving work of Christ--the next step in the fulfillment of God's promises. The people of old could only anticipate it, and we look back on it. Our perfection has, in one sense, already been worked through what Christ has done.

However, we wait in the same way they did for the final fulfillment: Christ's return and the fullness of the kingdom. We are not yet living by sight, but we continue to live by faith just as all those who've gone before us did. They hadn't seen, and yet they trusted; and they spur us on to trust in what we've not yet seen. We grow tired of the difficulties of this life, just as they must have; and we can hold on in faith for the fulfillment of God's promises just as their testimonies show us that they did.

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