Devotion: Hebrews 11:13-16

Each month I have the opportunity to speak and share music a couple of times at the chapel of our local nursing home.
This is the devotion I shared on a recent visit there.

Hebrews 11 is often referred to as “The Hall of Fame of Faith.” We are taking some time to look at the individuals and other teachings about faith in this chapter of Scripture.

So far we have defined faith (v.1), and spoken of several individuals who lived by faith. Abel offered a better sacrifice than his brother. Enoch walked with God and was taken into Heaven without having to die. Noah heard God’s warnings and built the Ark to save his family from the Flood. Abraham obeyed God, leaving his home when God said “Go,” he waited for the land that God promised him, and he trusted in God to do what he promised.

Then we run into verse 13 that tells us something that seems out of place about these people of faith.

All these people were still living by faith when they died…
(Hebrews 11:13 NIV84)

The first point here is obvious. These people of faith and their contemporaries who trusted in God as they did, never gave up. They may have felt like throwing in the towel and they were probably tempted to walk away from it all. But they didn’t.

Verse 13 goes on to tell us that they saw and welcomed what was promised (v.13).They wantedit. Whatever was promised to them was not something to be ignored, wasn’t something they did not want, wasn’t something that would be harmful to them. After hearing about the promise they were glad to receive it, they “welcomed” it.

But they did not receive it all. They received some, but God promised them even more.

Did they get angry with God because they did not receive it before they died? No, they weren’t angry. They may have been frustrated and confused. But if they had become angry it would mean that they had given up. They might be frustrated but they never stopped hoping that it would come to them.

They were able to keep hoping, against all the evidence that told them to give up. How were they able to hope? Because their hope and faith were not in this world or even in receiving all that they wanted to make life in this world better for them. Their hope and faith pointed their eyes to a better country.

… they [were] looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
(Hebrews 11:14-16 NIV84)

Because they continued to live in faith, because they lived for a heavenly country instead of this earthly life, God was pleased with them. If God is not ashamed, then He is proud! Like a father carries pictures of his children and shows them to everyone he meets, God points over to these saints and says, “You see that one down there? That’s my boy. The little beauty over there? She my precious little daughter.”

God can be pleased with us, too. All we have to do is live by faith. It is, after all, the only way to please Him.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV84)

Talk Back

What are you trusting and waiting for God to do for you? Will you continue to serve Him and live in faith even if you don’t receive it in this world?