February 20 I Saturday
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Hebrews 11 commends many men and women for their faith. We read of Abel: “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did....And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead” (Hebrews 11:4). And we read of Enoch: “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death…” (Hebrews 11:5). One died for his faith and the other did not experience death for his faith.
We also read of Abraham: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” It also mentions his wife: “By faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise.” Even a prostitute was mentioned: “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Hebrews 11:8, 11, 31).
How did these men and women exercise faith in God? To understand this, we must begin with a note that chapter divisions were not part of the original text. In other words, the content of Hebrews 11 on people who lived by faith serves as a support to what was written in the previous chapter. Hebrew 10:35-38 says, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For, ‘In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.’ And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’” The point of illustrating men and women of faith is to encourage us not to throw away our confidence because we cannot see what is going to happen. We persevere and press on, even through the dark periods, because one day, He is coming and everything will come to fulfillment.
In the chapter following Hebrews 11, we read, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us...” (Hebrews 12:1). The point is reiterated, reminding the reader to put faith in God, to live by faith in God and to persevere with faith in God.
May we persevere in the race marked out for us like the faithful who went before us.
Prayer: Lord Heavenly Father, thank You for men and women who demonstrated faith in You. Help me, by Your strength, to persevere in my faith journey with You. Amen.