‘And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated ( men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.’ Hebrews 11:32-40
I was reading through this passage in Hebrews and it struck me different than it had in previous times through it. In times passed I had read it in awe of the power of those described faith. It’s remarkable when you look at the list earlier in the chapter, this who’s who of faithfully obedient people, scripture’s hall of fame. Despite what they gained or loss, had or didn’t, they heard God’s call, saw His planned promise and pursued.
What stood out to me this time through, however, was the lack of the temporal realization of the promise. They never make it to the perfect city. They never fully realize the paradise that God had promised. Why? We know it’s not because He doesn’t love us enough. We know that God always keeps His promise, despite the fact that we in no way deserve His promise. So, why does He not fulfill this promise in this life?
The answer is so very simple, He’s prepared something better than we could ever possibly have here. All that we do, see, hear, enjoy, endure is to shape and refine us for a life in His perfect world. Everything He offers in this life pales by comparison. Paul says it beautifully in Philippians 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.
We get so hung up on the here and now, but the folks listed off in chapter 11 of Hebrews were focused on God, His promise and devoted themselves to that pursuit , no matter the cost, no matter the outcome. They sought God no matter what it meant they would “lose” or suffer. They went and… never got there in this life. Have a blessed weekend.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy