Outline of a talk I gave @ Stauros a few months ago.
As a teenaged I used to have posters of all my heroes up on my bedroom wall. Rock stars, motorcycle racers, rugby players. These were the people I celebrated and looked up to as a teenager.
In a sense God has a bedroom wall, there is place where he celebrates his heroes, not rock stars or rugby players, but heroes of the faith. God’s bedroom wall is Hebrews chapter 11 God. Here in His word God personally commends a whole group of people for their faith, for the way they have lived.
Here are a few of the people God celebrates:
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
31 By faith Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
39 These were all commended for their faith,
God commends these people, in other words these are the people that God personally holds up as examples. You would think that all these people had lived lives like Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, that they were all clean living, religous people all their lives. Well they weren’t, anything but.
I wonder if you know that all these people in different ways all had a bit of a shady past, all these people had let down God, themselves and other people big time in their past.
Noah got steaming drunk after God had used him to help save humanity and had a fight with his sons as a result.
Jacob was a serial liar and thief. He deceived his father and swindled his brother out of what should have been his.
Moses before he became the great leader who lead the Israelites across the Red Sea was an arrogant violent young man who had killed someone in an outburst of anger.
Rahab, before she helped God’s people capture Jericho had been a prostitute selling her body to whoever had the money.
Samson was a bit of a ladies man as well and slept around which got him into no end of trouble.
David was a great King but he had also made some great mistakes, he acted like some sort of peeping tom and saw a woman he fancied in the bath. He then used his position and power to get her into his bed and then had her husband one his most loyal soldiers murdered to cover his tracks.
So these people God says are heroes were at one time a bunch of sex mad, adulterers, prostitutes, liars, swindlers and violent men. These were people who had seriously let themselves down and hurt people around them by their actions.
Now here is what I find amazing, looking back on their lives here in Hebrews 11 God doesn’t mention any of that stuff, he just talks about the great people they became when they handed their lives fully over to his control. Seems like their past is forgiven and forgotten.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT TELLS ME? ….tells me two simple but significant things
1. That failure is never final with God.
2. People can really change
Perhaps at the end of one year and the start of another some of us need to take those truths on board and live them out.