Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Hebrews: The Superiority Of Christ To Errant Religions
Part VI: The Response Of Faith To Christ's Superiority, Hebrews 11:1-13:19
G. Examples Of Living By Faith By Suffering Old Testament Saints
(Hebrews 11:35b-40)
  1. Introduction
    1. A whole segment in Christendom asserts that if you believe God, instead of suffering physical or material loss, the Christian will experience wealth and health in this life.
    2. One passage that corrects this misunderstanding is Hebrews 11:35b-40 as follows:
  2. Examples Of Living By Faith By Suffering Old Testament Saints, Hebrews 11:35b-40.
    1. After recalling how a number of Old Testament saints had trusted God to escape suffering physical and material loss by fire, sword, weakness, military victory and resurrection of deceased loved ones (Hebrews 11:33-35a), the author of Hebrews alluded to "others" in Old Testament days who experienced suffering and loss instead of physical or material gain, Hebrews 11:35b.
    2. The description of what these "others" faced counters today's "wealth-health gospel", Heb. 11:35b-38:
      1. First, some believers in contrast to being raised to life from the dead or avoiding death refused to accept deliverance, accepting being tortured to death that they might attain a better resurrection, Hebrews 11:35a,b. B. F. Westcott's work, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 1974, p. 379-380 holds the author of Hebrews here refers to some Hebrews between the Old and New Testament eras who refused to recant allegiance to the Law before pressuring Greek rulers, choosing to accept death by torture .
      2. Second, some Old Testament saints by faith in God were cruelly mocked and beaten, and were put in bonds or imprisoned, Hebrews 11:36. Jeremiah experienced such things, Jeremiah 37:12-21; 38:1-28.
      3. Third, some Old Testament saints were martyred for their faith in God, Hebrews 11:37a:
        1. Some were stoned, and that included Zechariah the son of Jehoiada in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22.
        2. Some were sawn asunder, including the prophet Isaiah according to Hebrew tradition, Ibid., p. 381.
        3. Some were slain by the sword like John the Baptist, the last Old Testament prophet, Matthew 14:10.
      4. Fourth, some Old Testament saints wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted and tormented, and such saints included men like Elijah, Hebrews 11:37b; 2 Kings 1:6-8.
      5. Fifth, some saints wandered in deserts, in mountains, and in dens and caves (Hebrews 11:38b):
        1. Elijah hid by the brook Cherith, a destitute place, 1 Kings 17:2-3; Z. P. E. B., vol. One, p. 788.
        2. A hundred other prophets in his era were hid and fed by Obadiah by fifties in a cave, 1 K. 18:3-4.
        3. The school of the prophets in Elishah's day (1) had to be helped during a famine with miraculous provisions of good food versus inadvertently poisonous food (2 Kings 4:38-41) and (2) with the miraculous multiplication of meager amounts of good food (2 Kings 4:42-44) (3) together with material aid for adequate housing (2 Kings 6:1-7).
        4. These saints were so godly the world did not deserve to have them minister unto them, Heb. 11:38a.
    3. Nevertheless, all these saints who faced such trials obtained a good report in Scripture through faith, not having received the promise of Messianic blessings so that they without us believers in Christ in the dispensation of the Church should not be made complete in getting their reward before us, Heb. 11:39-40.
    4. Such an application would be effective for the original readers of the Hebrews epistle: they faced persecution by apostate Hebrews were they to continue in the Christian faith versus reverting to their former dead Judaistic religion, cf. Hebrews 13:10. Accordingly, the author of Hebrews urged his readers to join the ranks of the godly past saints who faced suffering by going outside the camp figuratively speaking to bear the reproach of Christ as He did in his death, Heb . 13:12-13 with Matt. 27:31-35. Since we Christians have no continuing city in this life, but seek the heavenly Jerusalem to come (Rev. 21), we should trust and obey God and offer up the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips, Hebrews 13:14-15.
Lesson: Many Old Testament saints by faith in God did NOT know freedom from suffering and loss, but chose to heed the Lord amid such suffering in hope of eternal reward in the life that is to come.

Application: May we NOT heed the "wealth-health gospel" that faith in God automatically releases us from present loss, but trust God whether the result is earthly blessing or loss in hope of eternal reward!