In my job as a school librarian, I often get asked where the superhero books are located. Spiderman and and Ironman are favorites of my kindergarten and first grade students. These characters possess superpowers that amaze their readers.
Since Covid-19 unfortunately appeared in our world, signs started sprouting up in front of hospitals or health-care centers, stating “Superheroes Work Here.” It was a way to honor and recognize the life-saving daily work of our health-care providers fighting this unwelcome virus. These individuals labored long hours, days, weeks, months through challenging and heartbreaking circumstances.
In both examples, superheroes use their powers to help make the world a better place. In Hebrews 11, superheroes used GOD’S POWER to face the world’s challenges, all the while anticipating the “world to come” that God had promised them.
Hebrews 11 is known as the Faith chapter of the Bible, and when you read it, you quickly understand why. It begins with a beautiful definition or statement of what faith is—“the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Let those words sink in. Meditate on them in conjunction with your life circumstances and trials. This singular verse brings so much reassurance and comfort.
Verses two and three continue with an explanation and introduction to verses 4-40, the Faith “Hall of Fame” of the Bible. Read these verses carefully, slowly, reverently.
“For by it the people of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the world has been created by the word of God so that what is seen has not been made out of things that are visible.”
“By faith”, “by faith”, “by faith”—these two words are repeated over and over throughout the chapter to introduce God’s superheroes and to justify their inclusion in this passage with an explanation of what they did “by faith.” Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. Their stories are inspiring, uplifting, encouraging, HEROIC—because their faith, unfaltering in God and His promises, was the foundation of their lives.
These superheroes, “by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mocking and flogging, and further, chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, on mountains, and sheltering in caves and holes in the ground. Hebrews 11:33-38
As verse 38 said, the world was not worthy of them!
Going back to Hebrews 10:32-34, the writer reminds his readers of their sufferings after coming to faith. “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through insults and distress, and partly by becoming companions with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better and lasting possession.” It all ties together—the Old Testament heroes, the New Testament heroes, and faithful believers down through the ages.
The writer’s counsel is this: “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come, and will not delay.” Hebrews 10: 35-37 NASB
The superheroes of Hebrews 11, the Faith chapter, “gained approval through their faith, (but) did not receive what was promised.” (verse 39) They are resting in their graves, waiting for their reward. We are waiting, too.
That same reward can be ours. Have you accepted and follow God’s plan of salvation, so you can receive this reward God has waiting for you, a reward for your faith? I pray you have–I pray you will.
“Because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:40