April 18, the Thirty-Fifth Day of Lent

April 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

…Quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

-Hebrews 11.34-

The author of Hebrews continues to reference the events of Israel’s history. We, the audience, do not get to hear the names associated with these events; however, the original audience would have been able to make associations and “fill in the blanks” as to who and what is being referenced here. Part of why the author is taking advantage of such generality is that he wishes to refer to multiple events at the same time.

For the vast majority of the chapter to this point, we have been looking at specific people and specific events that demonstrated faith within Israel’s history. Now the author is moving the focus off of specifics onto generalities. By making this subtle shift, he is essentially moving from telling the events within the story to telling events that characterize the story. He has gone from saying, “This is what the story is,” to saying, “This is what the story is about.”

He still references historical events, though. We are reminded of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. We think of God’s prophets Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, and others who were delivered time and again from mortal danger. The judges of Israel were often called out of positions of weakness and derision and then accomplished mighty military successes by God’s strength.

All of these things occurred through faith – by people completely placing their trust and reliance in God and living accordingly. These are all positive things that we can think of and draw inspiration and encouragement from. Tomorrow we will begin to discuss how faith sustains God’s people in times of suffering, but let us be uplifted today. These are the mighty things that have occurred in and through God’s people. This is their story; this is our story.

As we journey through Lent together, may we grow in faith because of those who have gone before.

“Dear Lord, thank you for what you have done. Hearing and reading about these events remind me of what it means to be a part of the family of faith. Please cause my faith to grow strong and please sustain it when it falters. Amen.”

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