The end of Hebrews is inspiring me right now. Not in a Hall of Fame, ‘check out these incredible stories’ kind of way – but in a ‘Hey Mike, the very thing that is frustrating you to no end right now is what is leading you where I want you to go right now so suck it up, have faith, and persevere’ kind of way. Someone said something several weeks ago to which I had an immediately vehement reaction (and nearly a vomitous one, at that) and to which I still disagree. I will have to admit that my hope ran low for a while.
But in reading through some of Hebrews today, I have found an inspirational bank of hope. People who had nothing but a promise (or even less) are commended for the perseverance that was birthed out of their faith. They didn’t see God immediately delivering on the promises He was making… but they still acted as if He would deliver. They knew that the nature of God meant that He would keep His promises, so they lived as if He would keep them. So…
Abel brought a better sacrifice.
Enoch pleased God (which is impossible without faith) and was taken without dying!
Noah built an ark to save his family.
Abraham left his homeland for an unknown place.
He also lived as a foreigner (as did Isaac and Jacob) as he awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise.
Sarah was enabled to have children (even though she was way passed the phase of life when that is possible).
Abraham offered his son as a sacrifice (essentially offering the only thing he knew of as a possible means for God to fulfill His promise).
Isaac blessed His sons (out of order).
Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons as his own (again out of order).
Joseph looked forward to a future exodus of his people out of slavery.
Moses’ parents hid him – not fearing Pharaoh.
Moses chose a slave’s heritage over a prince’s privilege. (And “he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.”)
Moses kept the Passover.
The Israelites miraculously escaped Egypt.
The walls of Jericho fell.
Rahab was spared (to later gain a place in the lineage of Jesus).
And so much more… The common thread in the story of the Pentateuch is the faith of God’s people to God. They didn’t believe what they saw. The evidence told them that they’d been abandoned by God. The facts told them they were a former band of nomads that now were slaves far from home – nothing like a great nation as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. But God told them otherwise. And they were certain of what they did not see.
As I said a couple days ago, faith is not mindlessly assenting to the evidence at hand – it is being certain of what we do not see. Their certainty in the unseen promise of unseen God was the very faith that bred in them the perseverance it took to follow God through to the end.
Some facts are telling me right now it’s not worth the fight and I should just give up…
A lot of evidence is stacking up to convince me that my efforts are in vain anyway and should be abandoned…
But Truth is telling me something else. He is reminding me to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…”
May you be sure of your hope today and may you be certain of what you do not see.