By faith, they offered, pleased, built, obeyed, received, blessed, instructed, refused, crossed, lived, conquered, administered, obtained, shut, quenched, escaped, gained, received, and raised to life. What will you do by faith?
In our Life Group at NLC, we have talked about preparing for persecution. The end of Hebrews 11 addresses that very topic. In looking at this, I saw some points I have not realized before. Let’s look at what the Word says:
“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.”
In telling about this amazing list of those who had faith, Paul says that if he also told about the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, time would fail him. He tells of the great things they did and then includes others who have done great things by faith and lists, not what they did, but what happened to them. They were mocked, punished severely, put in chains and prison, stoned, sawn in two, tempted, and put to death with the sword. They lived destitute and poorly treated because of this faith, wandering the deserts and living in caves and holes.
The church of today, who unapologetically upholds Scripture and refuses to make allowances that better fit into the world’s ideas, are already seeing mocking, punishment by fines or loss of job, some have even been imprisoned. There is definitely temptation to follow after the world and try to fit Jesus into that ideology. During my lifetime, being raised with stories of the lives of missionaries, I have always heard of these things in other countries, those who were killed because of teaching God’s Word, but never did I dream I would see this same treatment in America.
But do you see that small little bit of encouragement that can easily be missed. It is a reminder that the people of God do not “belong” to the world, in the words, “men of whom the world was not worthy.”
In the words of Christ,
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (John 15: 19)
Is your faith a real, genuine faith, one that could likely bring persecution in your life? God never, anywhere in His Word, promises happiness for His people. He does promise, to the people of genuine faith, hatred by the world, and the promise of a better life after this one.