Hebrews 11 continues and develops the argument of chapter 10. In chapter 10, we are told not to give up, but to press forward in faith. Hebrews 11 describes what that faith looks like, how persevering faith that doesn’t give up and receives the reward has expressed itself in the lives of great men and women of God.
Hebrews 10 contains a pretty terrifying warning that has scared a lot of people, myself included:
Recently I’ve been reading the book of Hebrews. It’s an immense and encouraging blessing.
Hebrews is written to people who are feeling discouraged in their newfound faith, and are tempted to leave Jesus and return to Judaism in order to avoid persecution. The writer of Hebrews encourages them to persevere, have faith, and not give up, because Jesus and this salvation they have received are so much better than the law and the old priestly system.
This isn’t the space for a detailed commentary on Hebrews. But one verse in particular really struck me:
Recently I found myself in a very interesting conversation with a former Jehovah's Witness. He had left the church after a period of doubting and questioning, which resulted in his family and all his former friends shunning him. He had had to begin an entirely new life, and had swung to the opposite end of the pendulum faith-wise. Feeling betrayed by having given unquestioning faith to the organization that let him down, he had become extremely cynical and skeptical, trusting only in science.
I so easily fall into the trap of thinking that I can somehow manipulate God and force situations to turn out the way I want them to by doing the right thing. I am often under the illusion that if I fast enough, pray intensely enough or use the right words, come to the right point of surrender, or obey fully enough, then God will grant me what I want. The outcome will be good, and by good, I mean the way I want it to be.
I was reading Exodus 17:1-7 today. In it the Israelites are grumbling and complaining because they have no water. They quarrel with Moses and accuse him of bringing them into the wilderness to die. So Moses talks to God and God does a miracle by having Moses hit a stone with his staff and water came out of it. It says that the Israelites tested God by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
I am guilty of doing the exact same thing they are.