35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. 39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. NLT
There is a good chance that you have heard Hebrews chapter 11 referred to as the “Faith Hall of Fame.” In the earlier part of the chapter we find many “faith giants” listed like Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samson, David, Samuel, and others.
If you grew up going to Sunday school in your earlier days, these Hebrews 11-guys were the ones we learned about while our eyes were glued to the flannelboard. We knew their stories, and we knew the great exploits that took place through their lives for the Kingdom of God. How many of you men have ever wished you were young David…dropping a giant with a slingshot while an entire army was paralyzed with fear? Or being so endued with strength by God, that you could actually carry away the gates of an enemy city on your back like Samson did?
These are the heroes of faith whose names we know, and whose great acts we look up to. But I think the “nameless” ones listed in verses 35 through 39 are “faith giants” of the first order.
I think people love “larger-than-life” heroes, because those are the kinds of heroes we will never become. Consequently, we can “ooooh” and “aaaaah” for those heroes, but what they did really has no bearing on our personal lives. Why? Because in our minds those heroes are in a whole other category than we are. We could never aspire to that place.
But then we have the “unnamed” people listed in verses 35 through 39. Their exploits are very different than the ones spoken of by that first bunch. Unfortunately there are some Christians who would look at these believers and blame their hardships and difficulties on their “not having enough faith.” Because, “if they really had faith, their lives would be marked by blessing, abundance, and health.” Friend, that is nonsense.
Don’t write these “nameless” ones off. That’s why these verses are so important. The people described here were the ordinary, unknown, nameless believers. But they didn’t sit and complain about the difficulties they were facing. They didn’t run away when all hell had broken loose. They didn’t see the deliverance or victory that perhaps they were hoping to see. But they never gave up, and they continued to trust in their God. They were faithful to the end. The faith of these “unnamed” was not based on the accolades of people, but rather on love, conviction, and commitment to God.
And God noticed everything each one of those people stood for, suffered for, and endured. And they did it all for His sake alone. Friend, that’s faith. Real faith. Huge faith. And although people down here on earth may not know who those “nameless” ones were, everyone in heaven does. That’s why verse 39 says, “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith…” And that is what truly counts, isn’t it?
Are you content to be a “nameless” one? Are you content to continually entrust your life to Christ even when things do not turn out exactly how you would have liked them to turn out? When you choose to live your life like that, then you are one of those “nameless” who have “earned a good reputation because of their faith…”
I believe the Apostle Peter said it best in 1 Peter 5:5-7.
5 … be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. NKJV
I believe that in the heart of God, Hebrews 11 is an ongoing, continually-being-written chapter. Men, let’s live so that we, though “nameless,” are written in there, too!
We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.
-Martin Luther King