The writer of Hebrews looks all the way back to Abel and then forward to the days just preceding John the Baptist. This whole time was an era of unfulfilled (or incompletely fulfilled) promise. God’s covenant through Abraham was that Abraham would be a great nation and that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed through him. God’s promise through Moses was that God would show God’s glory through Israel to the nations. God’s covenant with David was to establish David’s throne perfectly and forever. Finally, the new covenant spoken by the prophet Jeremiah was to overcome national exile and forever press a holy identity onto the people’s hearts. These promises were made yet unfulfilled for multiple generations.
While the writer commends the faith of these generations, we know from the record that they did not always wait perfectly. Abraham jumped the gun with Hagar, and Moses lost his cool on Mount Sinai. Jeremiah wished he had never been born, and Jonah ran from his mission. These important ancestors in our faith often stumbled toward the promise.
Despite all the imperfections of faith, God planned something better—a better promise, hope, covenant, and sacrifice. Christ is the fulfillment of all this! He has secured the completion (perfection) of hope for all those who wait in faith. This is God’s better plan. We have the benefit of seeing in retrospect this great legacy of faith and God’s faithful keeping of the covenants with Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets. Now we join them, waiting in hope for the ultimate consummation.
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!
Holy God, I humbly join those who await your final consummation in Jesus Christ. I too am impatient with your plan at times. Help me trust you and live today with hope. Amen.
Isaiah compares the people of Israel to a vineyard that God has planted. However, the grapes that grow there have become wild. There is no justice, no right living in the vineyard, so God is considering letting it be destroyed. The psalmist uses the same metaphor to bemoan the state of God’s people. The vineyard has been overrun, burned, and cut down. The psalmist appeals to God to restore the vineyard. The author of Hebrews presents many more examples of people of faith in past times. All these exemplars now surround us and cheer us on in our life of faith. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus cautions that following the gospel requires full commitment. For some, this will mean tension in relationships, even within families. Following Jesus is not a commitment of convenience.
Read Isaiah 5:1-7. Recall a time when you lovingly prepared a place. What would prompt you to destroy it?
Read Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. How has God restored you when you have been at your most vulnerable?
Read Hebrews 11:29–12:2. Who makes up your personal Faith Hall of Fame? How does each person cheer you on in your spiritual journey?
Read Luke 12:49-56. What does it mean for your life of faith for Jesus to have come to bring division?
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