What they did, they did because of faith. How they performed was the fruit of believing what was promised. How they responded to their life’s circumstance, based on what they reckoned to be true concerning their life’s future. What they lived for, a function of what they longed for.
. . . of whom the world was not worthy . . . (Hebrews 11:38a ESV)
You just have to sit back and pause after reading Hebrews 11. To put aside a few moments and allow your eyes to scan again the page and take note of the who’s who of redemption’s story–the pillars of faith upon which our faith is built. To take note again of the tales of heroism, sacrifice, and endurance. And all but for a promise that they never received. A land they never truly inhabited. A rest they never fully found. A Messiah who was never really, clearly identified, much less actually seen.
However, what they did know, what they had received, was enough for them to look forward to a better city (11:10), desire a better country (11:16), pursue a better reward (11:26), so that they might “rise again to a better life” (11:35). Of whom the world was not worthy.
But these inductees to Faith’s Hall of Fame lived on the other side of the cross. The side of types that pointed to something they couldn’t imagine. Navigating life in the shadows of a sacrifice to end all sacrifices; a way into the holy of holies that would forever rend the barricading curtain; a Priest who would forever mediate a perfect peace with God; and a priesthood, of which they would be part, that would forever congregate, unstained and unashamed, before the throne of God. They lived in the shadow of the cross.
We, however, live in the full glory of the cross. Thus, there is something better for us.
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
(Hebrews 11:39-40 ESV)
They looked forward to what the types and shadows sought to speak of. We look back on an empty tomb and hear afresh the cry, “It is finished!” They saw the cloud descend upon the tabernacle and wondered at the manner of glory that dwelt under the cherub’s wings. We know of the Son who came down–Immanuel, God with us–and have beheld His glory, making a way for us to boldly enter before God’s glorious throne of grace. They encountered the power in their pilgrimage through the desert. We are indwelt by the Power as we sojourn to our destination. They waited and anticipated the Messiah who was to reign, we remember Jesus who conquered sin and death, ascended on high, and is soon to return with ruling majesty and power.
As inspiring as these OT saints are, God has provided something better for us.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
Look to Jesus! Something better for us.
Let us, anew, rejoice in His amazing grace!
Let us, by faith, continue to live for His all-deserving glory!