April 14, the Thirty-Second Day of Lent

April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.

-Hebrews 11.32-

At this point in the chapter, the author of Hebrews changes his approach. He believes that his audience is tracking with what he’s trying to say; even though he could continue telling the stories that they all knew and casting these tales in the light of faith, he knows that his point is made. His audience is familiar with the history of Israel; these names here are, like the ones before, great names in Israel’s history. Merely mentioning them would have caused one to think of events surrounding these people’s lives.

These people all occupied a pivotal role within the  history of Israel. Gideon (Judges 6-8), Barak (Judges 4, 5), Samson (Judges 14-16), and Jephthah (Judges 11, 12) all played the role of judge within Israel. David (1 Samuel, 2 Samuel) was the “King After God’s Own Heart.” Samuel (1 Samuel, 1 Chronicles) anointed David King. Clearly, these are pivotal figures in the history of Israel.

The author makes the statement in this verse in order to demonstrate that a life characterized by faith-filled actions is not something reserved for a select few of the great characters of old; rather, the author of Hebrews is trying to make the case that faith-filled activity is a theme that runs through all of Israel’s history. In this way, it becomes a matter of identity; if we are truly the people of God, and if we have truly joined with his story, then our lives will be characterized by this behavior. Part of our identity as Christians is faith-behavior.

Again, to recap an earlier post, “faith” for the author of Hebrews is not a logical, rational assent to a set of propositions. Instead it is more of a deep-seated belief in trust that God will do what he says and living accordingly. The author of Hebrews has emphasized that faith has a practical, physical component. True faith will change our behavior; it can do no less.

This kind of faith isn’t reserved for heroes. It’s a theme in God’s story. If we desire to join the story, then we must start walking in faith. This is because faith and God’s story are inseperable; we  can read the Bible from start to finish and see it characterized by powerful demonstrations of faith-filled acts.

Today, ponder your own story. Think about the places where faith was present (or perhaps lacking). Also, consider the “giants” in your life that have helped affect your story in positive ways. If we could hear the stories of all the people who had been used by God to bring us into his fold… Then we may lament with the author of Hebrews that time itself is too short to undertake such an endeavor.

As we journey through Lent together, may we recognize our faith-filled story.

“Dear Lord, thanks for bringing me into your kingdom. Thanks for grace, encouragement, and the strength to accomplish what you have set in front of me. I ask that you would bring to my mind those who shaped and brought me up within the church. The heroes of my faith – be with them, Lord. Bless them greatly. Help me to carry on their tradition of faith. Amen.”

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