Monday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hebrews 11:17-40 (NKJV)
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. 24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
As Lutheran Christians most of us believe the words of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” When pressed hard we will say we believe we are going to Heaven when we die. Hebrews 11 gives us a list of Old Testament saints who believed not only that God would take them to Heaven when they died, but also that God was guarding them in this world too. They suffered many trials and tribulations because of their faithfulness to the Lord, but they steadfastly believed the Lord would deliver them. They lived their lives looking forward to the promise.
You and I live in the same sinful world. As Christians we too can expect all kinds of trials, tribulations, and persecutions because of our faith. We may not always have all the creature comforts that we enjoy now. We may have sickness and suffering; we may have to endure wars and pestilence. These things are common to this world, and will remain so to the end.
In spite of the troubles of the world, these Old Testament saints looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, the Christ, because in Him they knew by faith that they had the victory.
By that same faith you and I can look back to the fulfillment of God’s promises and at the risen Christ and say, “O Death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55-57).
Lord, keep us steadfast in faith in You. Amen.