Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:32-35a

“And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead, raised to life again.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

After nearly a month working our way through Hebrews 12, today we finally land on the author’s big finish. The next natural section here is big enough, though, I’m going to break it up into two parts. Knowing that his time on this matter is short (why it is short we don’t know), the author of Hebrews launches into a sort of lightning round in which he covers a whole bunch of final examples of faith. But then, instead of naming names any longer, he starts mentioning stories by what happened to them. These stories fall into two different categories into which we can really divide all the responses to our faith. Today, let’s talk about all the good things that might happen to us because of our faith in God.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:30-31

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being marched around by the Israelites for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute welcomed the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been given a request or an instruction that simply didn’t make sense? Did you do it? If you did, why did you do it? There is probably one of a couple of reasons behind your acquiescence. One is simply that the person asking possessed a sufficient authority over you that you felt compelled to do it. The other reason is that even though you don’t understand it, you have enough trust in the person asking to do it anyway. Another way to put this second reason is that you have faith in the person. In the last bit of Hebrews 11 before the big finale (which we’ll talk about next week, Lord willing, and then on to chapter 12), the author mentions two of the stranger stories in the Old Testament. Let’s talk this morning about trusting God even when it doesn’t make sense.

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Morning Musing: Hebrew 11:20-22

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and he worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, as he was nearing the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions concerning his bones.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

When we think about faith and having faith in God, we often think about grand, heroic acts pursued to God’s glory. After all, consider the stories of the various examples of faith to which the author of Hebrews has referred so far in this chapter. Enoch didn’t die. Abraham went on a long journey. Noah built an ark. If we encounter enough examples like this, eventually we can develop the idea that faith is something for super followers of God to exercise, but not necessarily average folks like us. This next collection of faith references brings things back down to earth. Let’s talk about some of Israel’s saltier patriarchs this morning, and how laudable faith can be mundane too.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:17-19

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He received the promise and yet he was offering his one and only son, the one to whom it had been said, ‘Your offspring will be traced through Isaac.’ He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead; therefore, he received him back, figuratively speaking.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I love being in the mountains. This summer we got to spend a week in the Rockies while visiting my sister and her family. It was a delight. One of the things, though, that is so cool about driving up into the mountains to me is how deceptively wide they are. When you start driving from the airport in Denver, you can see the whole front range stretched out before you. It is a magnificent view. As you start driving into the mountains, however, you pass the first peaks you can see…and there are more behind them. You drive over the first big pass…and there are more mountains. You get into the Vail Valley, past dozens of peaks, and in the distance, there are still more hills to climb. Always more. Sometimes the life of faith feels like going into the mountains. Let’s talk about how this morning.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:13-16

“These all died in faith, although they had not received the things that were promised. But they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. But they now desire a better place – a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I enjoy traveling. We don’t do it often, but there’s just something exciting about going somewhere, especially somewhere new. Still, as much fun as it may be, the whole time I’m gone, I am surpassingly aware of one very important fact: I’m not at home. As a result, even though I will adapt some to whatever my current environment may be, I am only ever going to go so far. The reason for this is simple: I’m not staying long. I will eventually return home. For all the ways I may adapt, then, I don’t want to make myself less fit for home by the effort, so I will only ever go so far. Otherwise, I will intentionally stick out as I live with home in mind. This is, of course, a metaphor for our life in Christ. Let’s talk about it.

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