Hall of Faith?
I always have wanted to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame. When I was a boy, I listened to the Cincinnati Reds on the radio, heard Marty Brennaman talk about Hall of Famers, and thought about how great it would be to see some of the artifacts, jerseys, and pieces of baseball history. These guys are the best of the best. Less than .5% of high school baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Team. But that’s just getting drafted. Only about one in five will go on to play in the majors. That’s a small pool of players, and the Hall of Fame is the best of these great players.
When I hear someone say Hebrews 11 is the Hall of Faith, I can’t help but think of Cooperstown. The best of the best. The elite. Is that what Hebrews 11 is all about? A class of men and women who stood head and shoulders above the rest? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, some of the accounts are remarkable, like Abraham’s willingness to offer his son Isaac or Moses walking away from the treasures of Egypt to lead the people of God. But Joseph telling his people not to leave his bones in Egypt? Or the children of Israel walking through the Red Sea? If the point is great stories of great people, other reports show the faith of God’s people in a better light than some of these.
These men and women were people of faith. But the point is not to lift them up as the most excellent examples but to show how they trusted in God. Let’s step back and look at the chapter as a whole and not focus on the individuals but on what was going on. There are groups of similar events that the author stresses. Able and Enoch both pleased God by faith. Noah, Abraham, and Sarah “moved with fear” in preparing the ark or living in tents, trusting God’s promises for the future. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses didn’t have the promises but lived believing God would make good on what he said. Moses, the children of Israel, and Rahab all trusted in God’s provision of salvation in escaping the judgment of God.
When I read Hebrews 11, I see imperfect men and women who lived in difficult times, trusted in the God who cannot lie, and walked according to His promises. The chapter is for our encouragement. Life is hard and full of trials (Hebrews 12:3-17), and there are many temptations to give up (Hebrews 10:35-39). But God’s people are not those who draw back but keep believing and trusting in Christ. Keep looking to Jesus Christ, the author, and finisher of the faith, who endured the cross, despising the shame, but now sits at the right hand of the Fathers. It’s not a hall of faith, but a cloud of witnesses, testifying to the mercy and faithfulness of the Lord God. Trust Him.
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