Hebrews 11:32-40 (The Message)
32-38 I could go on and on, but I've run out of time. There are so many more— Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets....Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn't deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world. 39-40 Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.
Paul points out those who proved their faith in God. They were able to accomplish many things in God’s power. Some were protected, while others who stood firm were tortured and killed. And some had to live apart from everyone because of their faith. And as great as these were, our faith and their faith comes together because of the salvation, grace and mercy offered by Jesus Christ.
Imagine a parade of past great heroes marching by as you stand along the side of the road. You recognize them for all the great things they have done and you applaud and cheer out for each one that passes. These people had great faith and accomplished much. Then one of them steps over to where you are and invites you to walk in the parade with them. You hesitate thinking you are not worthy to be with these great heroes. Then he looks at you and says, “We had to look forward to the hope and promises of God, but you have already received them through faith in Christ. Because of Him you are worthy to walk with us.” The book of Revelation says, “And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it. Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Christ is worthy and His victory has given us salvation over sin. Praise God for His son Jesus, the one who is worthy!