and what more shall I say? for time would fail me to tell of gideon, barak, samson, jephthah, of david and samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. [heb 11:32-34]
i am sure that it has been mentioned in these readings before, but as a reminder, hebrews 11 is often called the “hall of faith”. even though we sometimes can feel like the old testament and new testament are only loosely connected, this chapter affirms that the two testaments are really just one story about God bringing about a kingdom through Jesus Christ. the individuals who feared and trusted God were flawed, but they had hope in a coming messiah that would set them free from their bondage to sin.
after creation, we see the “protoevangelium”–or “first gospel” stated clearly in genesis 3. God, speaking to the serpent declares–
i will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” [genesis 3:15]
sin entered the world through one man–adam, and one day, God would send a perfect man in the form of Jesus who would–through his bruising death–would finally and decisively end satan’s reign here.
the rest of the bible is the narrative of how broken men sought to find ways to save ourselves, rather than remembering the promise that God made so early in our existence. we still are broken. we still need to remember the promise.
lest we should take the stories we find in the bible and turn them into analogies about how we can be strong and conquering (gideon defeated midian with only 300 men! you can accomplish a lot with a small army! david defeated goliath! go out there and slay your giants today!), hebrews 11 has a resounding emphasis:
i count no less than 26 uses of this word in hebrews 11. faith in a God who conquers all. faith in a coming messiah. faith that God keeps his promises. faith in a God who takes weak men and women and uses them for his glory so that we might not boast. he alone is worthy. he alone delivers us. he alone is Savior.
i, I Am the Lord,
and besides me there is no savior.
i declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I Am God.
also henceforth I Am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
i work, and who can turn it back?” [isaiah 43:11-13]
the answer to that question?
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. [1 corinthians 1:28-29]
~ conor eastman