They were people of promise. A promise that they would be an innumerable people, that they would possess a land flowing with milk and honey, and that they would know, and make known to all nations, blessings unimaginable (Gen. 12:1-3). But when all was said and done, generations upon generations of those who had received the promise never really realized the promise. At best, some experienced but a foretaste, others had eyes to dimly see but a foreshadow.
Sure, a few experienced “victory” and a sense of advancement toward the promise. But for many, they were tortured for the promise, “suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.” Other were stoned, sawn in two, and killed with the sword for pursuing the promise. And for those not released by death, “they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated . . . wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” — all for the promise. And the testimony of the One who’s testimony is the only testimony that counts at the end of the day, was that these people of the promise were people “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:32-38).
Makes the current conditions and hardships of what this person of promise is enduring today pale in comparison. And yet, this is the time and place and circumstance that this person of promise has been given by God to pursue the promise. And so, just like the “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:3) which have gone before, this person of promise longs to also be commended through their faith.
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)
Their testimony wasn’t founded on having lived a “victorious life,” but on being faithful even to death. Their approval lay not in the amount of material goods left at their departure because of their hard work, but in the treasure which they had laid up in heaven through their obedience. Their eternal reputation not based on their temporal relevance, but on their steadfast submission. Not a success by the world’s standard, but also not worthy of the world in the Creator’s estimation.
They walked by faith, not by sight (2Cor. 5:7). And for that, they were commended through their faith.
That’s all I can aspire to, to walk this day by faith — in these circumstances, with limited understanding, apart from tomorrow’s certainty. Standing firm on His promises, holding fast by His power. With the desire that on that day I too will be commended through faith.
By His grace. For His glory.