The author of Hebrews devotes chapter 11 of his letter to listing the amazing individuals who lived by faith up to be time of Jesus. This chapter of Hebrews is the “who’s who” of faith. God gave each of them phenomenal promises, and they followed him in faith certain he would accomplish what he promised. I am dwarfed by the greatness of their faith. Reading chapter 11 up through verse 38 is an encouragement to follow their lead. It is also much more.
The author continues in Hebrews 11:39-40 saying that none of these heroes of faith received what was promised. On one level they did receive what was promised, but they also knew that God’s promises were much larger than their immediate fulfillment. Therefore, they did not receive the greater promise. You see, God was waiting to fulfill all these promises to us in Jesus. These heroes of the faith are only made perfect in the promises that are now available for us to receive.
Before we get carried away thinking this makes us somehow more important than them, please understand that we are not the focus of Hebrews 11:40, except that we live during the time in which God has revealed how all of his promises are fulfilled. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and all these other heroes of the faith find the meaning and purpose of their ministry in Jesus. They just did not understand this at the time, even though they want dot know.
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:10-12 that the Old Testament prophets “searched and inquired carefully” about the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecies they delivered. The Lord let them know they were not serving themselves, but us who live in the time when the good news has been made available. This does’t mean they or their ministry are insignificant. It means they are saved by Jesus the same way we are. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:20 that all God’s promises find their “yes” in Jesus.
We then read the beautiful and moving phrasing in Hebrews 12:1-2, where the author of Hebrews tells us it is all about Jesus. Today, we can experience the fulfillment for which Abraham, Moses, David, Samuel, and others lived by faith: let’s throw aside all sin, and run the path the Lord has now given, with our eyes constantly focused on Jesus. He is the true “author and perfected of our faith.” Interestingly, Peter pens a very similar challenge in 1 Peter 1:13-25.
As I read these verses they feel like they are setting me free to run obediently to Jesus. All the heroes of the Old testament set the stage, and they wanted to see what you and I have in Jesus. Let’s not miss the amazing life promised and available to us in Jesus. Let’s never become complacent. There is nothing boring about this great life of faith in Jesus. Let’s live by this faith. Let’s run with our eyes fixed on Jesus. Let’s obey the author and perfect or if our faith. I guarantee we will never regret the choice!
Hebrews 11:1–38 inspires me. Hebrews 11:39-40 stuns me. Hebrews 12:1-2 calls me to an entirely new life, and lets me know this promised life can be mine if I pursue Jesus. Let’s run to Jesus with all the faithful through the ages encouraging us.