How does something become valuable? What makes one thing worth more than another? Some things have value and worth only for a short time, while other things seem more special and their value and worth endures.
Perhaps things like precious metals and stones come to mind. Tangible things like assets and property are also seen as valuable items. The more special or rare they are, the more their worth increase.
Value and worth can also be attributed to intangible and intrinsic things like beauty or talent. But such things fade with time or their value changes with variations in culture and trends.
Internal qualities, such as character, integrity, spirituality, and wisdom, are more timeless in their value and worth, as is faith. Genuine, godly faith has eternal value and worth. It's also rarer than you might suspect, which makes it special.
Faith caused the people to go through the Red Sea as if it were dry land. The Egyptians also tried this, but they drowned. Faith caused the walls of Jericho to fall after the Israelites marched around them for seven days. Faith led the prostitute Rahab to welcome the spies as friends. She was not killed with those who refused to obey God. [vss 29-31]
What more should I say? I don’t have enough time to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Through faith they conquered kingdoms, did what God approved, and received what God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, and escaped death. They found strength when they were weak. They were powerful in battle and defeated other armies. [vss 32-34]
Women received their loved ones back from the dead. Other believers were brutally tortured but refused to be released so that they might gain eternal life. Some were made fun of and whipped, and some were chained and put in prison. Some were stoned to death, sawed in half, and killed with swords. Some wore the skins of sheep and goats. Some were poor, abused, and mistreated. The world didn’t deserve these good people. Some wandered around in deserts and mountains and lived in caves and holes in the ground. [vss 35-38]
All these people were known for their faith, but none of them received what God had promised. God planned to give us something very special so that we would gain eternal life with them. [vss 39-40]
(Hebrews 11:29-40 GW) [Context– Hebrews 11]
God planned to give us something very special
Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions
Who are mentioned as people of faith? How are they commended for their faith?
What are the many things spoken of that were done in faith?
What stands out to you regarding what they endured and the nature of their faith?
How can these people be known for their faith yet never receive what was promised?
This record of faith, people who trusted in the living God of Israel, reveals the nature of true faith. It is far more than a belief system or ideology these people held in common. This kind of faith is personal and based in a relationship of trust with God. It's a faith of substance and depth intrinsic to their lives.
Today, thousands of people live by this same faith in God but are persecuted because of their faith. They endure oppression and even die for their faith. What motivates them? Why do they remain so faithful?
As it says in another version of this text, "the world was not worthy of them" (Heb 11:38 NIV). Yes, we need to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith, but we need to emulate their faith. We need to have this same faith. But how?
What was the "something very special" God planned for all who have this genuine, enduring faith? Not just the hope of eternal life but the very presence of God living in us through the Holy Spirit.
The presence of God's Spirit living in them is the distinct difference between the Old and New Covenant. When we have a personal trust relationship with God through His Son Jesus, He promises to be present in us—in our innermost being. That is special!
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions
Why didn't the world "deserve these good people"? What made them "good"?
- How is the faith of the people in this Scripture text different than a set of beliefs or ideology?
What is the "something very special" that God gives true followers of His Son Jesus?
Is your life of faith governed by the Old Covenant Law or have you received this "something special" in a New Covenant relationship with God?
Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews