THEY DID NOT RECEIVE THE PROMISES

James 5:7-11   Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patient.  Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.  Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!  My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the LORD, as an example of suffering and patience.  Indeed we count them blessed who endure.  You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end of the Lord – that the LORD is very compassionate and merciful.

Heb 11:13-16, 32-40   These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the Earth.  For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And truly if they had called to mind that land from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly place.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

And what more shall I say?  For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also David and Samuel and the prophets:  who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 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.  Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.  Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.  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 – of whom the world was not worthy.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

We all have a tendency to make our selves and our lives as comfortable as we can.  We want job security, financial stability, good health, peace in our country, neighbors who do not disturb us or our comfort.  We want our families to b successful and happy.  We want our congregations to be what suits us.  We want what every other normal human being wants.

The Scriptures warn us, though, that when we have all these things that we think would satisfy us and make our life comfortable, we are in danger of losing sight of God’s purposes and promises for an even better life.  Consider the words of the Lord Jesus to His church in Laodicea through John as being as relevant for us today as it was for them in their time.

As we read the brief accounts of these heroes of the faith in the letter to the Hebrews, we learn that their lives prove the necessity of establishing our hearts in the suffering and patience of Jesus, until the coming of the Lord, as James writes to us. (Rev 1:9; 14:12-13)  We are amazed by the circumstances of the works of faith they accomplished as a proof to us of their victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.  In doing so, they are heirs of the promises given to the righteous – to those who believe God. 

What are some of those promises to which they are heirs, not yet having received?
   —Gen 3:15   Messiah would put away the devil and evil in the world.
   —Gen 28:13-15; Heb 11:9   YHVH promised to give Jacob and to his descendants the land of Canaan, which He had earlier promised to Abraham and to Isaac.
   —Is 11   Righteousness and peace on Earth when Messiah, the Son of David, comes to reign
   —2Cor 12:9   God’s grace is sufficient for us:  though we are weak, He is strong in the power of Christ.
   —1Cor 10:13   God is faithful not to allow any temptation greater than we can resist.
   —Mt 6:33; Lk 6:20; Mt 25:34   the Kingdom of God, prepared for us from the foundation of the world
   —Rom 5:15-17   free gift of grace, of righteousness, of eternal life in Christ Jesus

All of these witnesses mentioned in Hebrews who have gone before us made a choiceby the grace of God they all chose not to live a life of victimization in a world against them, but of being victors in the world in which God promised them an inheritance.  Each one could have said, “When am I going to get what God promised me?”; “It’s not fair that I have to wait so long or suffer so much!”  “I thought that everything would go smoothly since I believe in God.”  They could have blamed God for their troubles and forsake Him, like Job’s wife suggested to Job; they could blame others for not standing with them; they could join a revolution and overthrow the government and ‘change the world for the Lord!’  But they all chose to suffer with Messiah because of God’s promises of something better for us, which includes them and us together at God’s appointed time.

Heb 12:1-2   Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God.

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