Hebrews 11:31-38: Faith in the Good Times and the Bad Times
Read: Hebrews 11:31-38
“Time will fail” if the author of Hebrews took the time to recount all the deeds of the faithful throughout the generations. Rather than list their deeds, he hastily records half a dozen names then makes some generalized remarks concerning these deeds. It appears though that the deeds he lists are exclusive to the names and summaries that he gave, rather some of the deeds were probably the deeds of his contemporaries such as Stephen, Peter, John, and Paul who all experienced intense persecution and some even martyred because of their faith.
Interestingly, the author divides these verses into two types of faith. The first type of faith is the the victorious faith of those who conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, and received back their dead among a host of others victorious deeds. The second type of faith is seemingly not-so-victorious faith of those who received intense persecution through beatings, imprisonments, and even martyrdom. The author of Hebrews is intentional for his inclusion of both to encourage his readers that faith is not contingent upon the outcome in the world. The recipients of the letter were being pressured because of their faith, and some had abandoned it (Hebrews 10:25-26) and were perhaps looking for some sort of miraculous deliverance. But even so, author reminds his readers that they haven’t suffered to the point of death yet (Hebrews 12:4). Regardless of what happens, their faith is in something better – more eternal and lasting than what the world has to offer. The author even goes as far to say that those who received the intense persecution were men “of whom the world was not worthy”. Their faith was of far greater value than anything the world could offer.
Whether one is celebrating victories in the faith or one is facing troubled times where there seems to be no end in sight, one can be faithful. Job, in spite of his affliction, makes one of the greatest statements of faith in the whole of Scripture when he acknowledges, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21) Regardless of what he was experience, he remained faithful to God. In the same manner, Christians too can bless God!
Lord, help my faith be steadfast in the good times and the bad!