“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.Hebrews 11:39-40
After inspiring us with stories of bold faith the author of Hebrews 11 takes a somewhat surprising turn when he says, “these were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised…” This is surprising because we have just seen how some have them had received something of what they were promised.
- Noah was saved from the flood.
- Abraham did receive the son of the promise in Isaac.
- The judges did receive strength in battle.
- The martyrs did receive the promise of the resurrection.
But, we can also see clearly that these heroes in the faith did not receive the complete fulfillment of that promise.
- Noah and his family were saved but grievous sin continued, even in his own household.
- Abraham only saw his son, not the nation that arose from him, let alone that nation becoming a light to the Gentiles.
- The judges won military victories, but peace was as short-lived as the peoples’ obedience to God.
- The martyrs only had the hope, they had not yet witnessed God bring about such a resurrection.
The writer continues and clarifies: “since God had planned something better for us.” Everything that these heroes were promised has been fulfilled in Jesus.
- In Jesus, we can be saved from sin and judgment.
- In Jesus, we have seen the perfect “Israel”, the light to the Gentiles, and the true children of Abraham; those who live by faith.
- In Jesus, we can find rest.
- In Jesus, we have seen a resurrection to eternal life.
We live at a truly blessed point in history. The heroes of faith are “made perfect with us” because “with us” there is fulfillment of God’s ultimate promises.
And yet, we have something in common with those men and women of faith who trusted in the goodness and promises of God. Though God’s promises have been fulfilled in Jesus we still live in an already/not-yet world. Things are not the way they are supposed to be. Like the people of the Old Testament we continue to look forward in hope to yet another day when:
- There is no more sin and judgment to be saved from,
- There is no more darkness, and the light is not rejected,
- We find eternal rest from trials and temptations,
- We receive new spiritual bodies, not subject to decay.
Because of this we ought to have an optimistic vision of history. If you want to be “on the right side of history” align yourself with Jesus. Those who lived by faith hoped for an enduring city built by God and, in Jesus, they have found it. And, if we persevere in faithfulness, through the promises of God, will also enter into that city.
Postscript: This concludes my series “On Faith.” Lord willing, I will go through all my posts on this topic, compile them, edit them, and format them into curriculum/devotional guide on Hebrews 11. I hope you have been encouraged to follow God with faithfulness and boldness.
 There is a strong connection in the book of Hebrews, and elsewhere in the Bible, between the land of Canaan and Rest. I hope to expand this elsewhere at some point because the connections are not always immediately clear.