Hebrews: The Family of God

The Bible sometimes says things that seem to contradict the rest of the Scriptures. Like the passage in Hebrews that we’re looking at today. After extolling the faith of the Heroes of Israel – men and women who believed God’s promise – the writer said, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised” (11:39). Wait. What? A promise of God was left unfulfilled? But all along we’ve declared God as the Promise-Keeper, the Faithful One who always keeps His Word. How can this be?

We talked about this same premise when we studied verses 13 – “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised . . .” Abraham was promised a nation of descendants that outnumbered the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the beach. He died with eight sons (Ishmael, Isaac, and the sons Keturah bore to him – see Genesis 25:1-4) – and only one of those was the “promised son.” Not exactly a nation. He was promised land on which his family could settle but he died in a tent owning nothing more than the plot where his wife was buried. But he looked past his own life and believed God would be faithful through his descendants. And his faith was proved right.

Taken on its own, this verse is enough to shake us to our core. But like Abraham, we have to look ahead. Verse 40 says “God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” This is The Big Picture. This is the vision that was cast when God created the first man. It is the great promise of John 1:12: All who receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” The “something better.” God has planned is a holy family of redeemed people “made perfect” through the blood of His Son.

The promise of God is greater than any one nation of people. It is greater than any plot of earthly ground. It is greater than a few generations of men and women loosely tied by human blood. It is the eternal plan of the Sovereign God of the universe. And it will not fail.

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