Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
Hebrews 11:32–12: 2 (NRSV)
And what more should 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, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
By now it seems the author still has a lot more acts of faith stories to check off the list but has run out of time, perhaps feeling the pressure to get to the punch line, the so what of all these great stories. There are so many more faith heroes to talk about—Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all those prophets. By their acts of faith, kingdoms were toppled, and justice prevailed. They were protected from lions (and maybe tigers and bears), fires and swords, and warring nations. Some of these faith heroes were tortured, but refused to give up. Others were whipped, chained, and thrown in prison.
Finally in verse 39 we find words similar to verse 13. Not one of these faith heroes got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for them (and us): their faith and ours would come together to be made whole; their lives of faith would not be complete apart from ours.
Chapter 12 starts out with “Therefore”…. Whenever a writer uses this word, the reader knows the bottom line, the “so what” is about to be revealed. The author is saying: Do you see what this means? Do you see these pioneers who blazed a trail for us, all the veteran faith heroes who are cheering us on? It means we have a lot of work to do so we better get busy.
We should be comforted by the giants of the faith, knowing we aren’t alone. We should be bold and motivated in our faith, running the race with perseverance and confidence. We should keep our eyes on Jesus, who started and finished the race. Jesus never lost sight of where he was headed, putting up with anything that came his way. He now sits in a place of honor alongside God.
God, thank you for the great cloud of witnesses whose stories of faith motivate us and cheer us on, encouraging us to live our lives with boldness and courage as we seek to serve you faithfully. Amen.
Go with God.