Read: Hebrews 11:13-16, 39-40
I love the anticipation of waiting for something special that you know is on it’s way. The traditions and excitement leading up to Christmas. The plans and packing before a vacation. To me that time of waiting only helps make the occasion even more special.
But there’s another kind of waiting… waiting with uncertainty. Waiting when you’re not sure what is going to happen. Waiting when you don’t know if the news will be good or bad… or if there will even be any news at all.
When we read Hebrews 11 the theme of waiting for the promise comes up several times. It actually goes even further than waiting as Hebrews 11:39 states, “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised…”
So what was the promise?
The promise was Christ, His saving work on the cross, and eternal life.
These faith “hall of famers” knew that this world was not their home as it says in verse 14, “having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth”. And while they did see the fulfillment of some promises in their lifetime (think of Abraham and Isaac), they did not live to see the full redemptive work of Jesus.
But still they had faith.
I love what it says in verse 16, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”
God is not ashamed to be called their God. Wow.
Years later we have received some of the promise. We know salvation, brought by Jesus through His death and resurrection, in a way that those heroes of the faith were still waiting to see. But we are still waiting for the complete fulfillment of the promise.
And sometimes I wish we weren’t waiting anymore. How about you?
But here’s how I see it… waiting in faith for this promise is the waiting for Christmas type. Remember, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
I’m not waiting for something uncertain, I’m waiting for something that I know is on it’s way. I don’t know when, but I know without a doubt that someday I will stand in Heaven with my God. Even better, I know that someday He will make everything new.
In this life there will still be that tough kind of waiting. We’ll live with uncertainty and experience trials, just as the people mentioned in Hebrews 11. There may be things we hoped for in our lifetime that don’t come to fruition.
But ultimately we know the promise will be fulfilled. Our faith and hope rests in that truth and gives us the strength to live as “strangers and exiles” seeking our heavenly home.
Reflect: I know this series has been focused on Hebrews 11 but I can’t help but close with the charge that is given in the first two verses of chapter 12.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.