The Pursuit of God

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Applying Hebrews 11: The Faith Hall of Fame

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This is a continuation of Applying Hebrews 10: Old vs. New.

The world has invented halls of fame for various professional fields, such as baseball.  Many Christians like to refer to Hebrews 11 as the faith hall of fame. In this chapter, the author of Hebrews (who we’re calling Rabbi) is continuing his efforts to persuade his wavering audience of Jewish Christians to keep persevering in the faith. He has decided to make a list of some famous names in Scripture and point out how everyone who did it right demonstrated exemplary faith.

As usual, the soundness of Rabbi’s argument leaves much to be desired. This list he puts out includes some real pills as well as men who we know nothing about. We have Hebrews 11 to thank for the fact that Christians promote idiots like Samson as heroes to our children in Sunday School class. And then there’s Gideon—the guy who created another idol to worship in Yahweh’s place. If these people are Rabbi’s idea of spiritual role models, the man is a fool. But hey, Christians today like to play games about the contents of the Bible, so why shouldn’t he? Let’s now examine this list for ourselves and see what we can learn.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at Yahweh’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. (Heb. 11:1-3)

Faith is a very powerful thing.  Faith is when we decide in our souls to trust in something that we cannot see and often cannot logically prove. Once our faith has had a chance to be cultivated by the Holy Spirit, it becomes able to persevere in the face of all kinds of countering sensual evidence and reasoning. For example, why do you believe that God is with you when your senses are telling you that He’s far away? Why do you believe that God hears your prayers when you don’t hear an audible Voice answering you?  You believe these things by putting your faith in things which the Holy Spirit has taught you about who your Creators are and how They operate.

Rabbi begins his long list of heroic faith role models by pointing out how we Christians believe that God spoke the universe into existence. But why do we believe this? We weren’t there. We didn’t see it happen. Why do you believe that God created everything in existence? The answer you’re taught to give in church is “Because that’s what the Bible says.” Well, that is a lousy answer.

The world is filled with religions and they all have a different story about how this universe came into being. Why are you putting your faith in the Christian Bible instead of some other set of “sacred” texts? We find this kind of question uncomfortable, yet this is a very important question to ask. You can’t just park your brains and coast along with this religion called Christianity and then decide for yourself that you’ve found the truth. You didn’t create this universe. Unless you’ve received some kind of communication from the Ones who did, how can you really claim to know anything? Who cares what it says in some book? You never met Moses, and he’s the guy who wrote Genesis. How do you know that Moses had all of his marbles? How do you know that the Creation account you find in the Bible wasn’t just a product of Moses’ overactive imagination?

If you want to know the truth, and not just play games with it, then the day must come when you get alone with the Holy Spirit and ask some very serious questions.  Questions like:

“Is any of the Bible even true? If so, what parts? I’ve been taught a whole lot of facts about who You are and how You operate by other Christians. But have I been taught right? Is there anything You want me to unlearn?”

This world is filled with people who are demonstrating mind-blowing faith, yet that faith is completely misplaced. It doesn’t do you any good to be willing to die for your god if he isn’t even real. In this study of Hebrews, Rabbi has been telling Jewish Christians how they ought to view Christ. At the same time, we’ve been telling you that Rabbi is full of baloney. Who is right? Is Rabbi right? Are we right? Is everybody wrong? If you want to end up on the right side of eternity, you can’t afford to be putting your trust in mere mortals. You need to look directly to God to discern truth for you. When Jesus is the One being discussed, then Jesus is the One you need to be praying to.

“Jesus, how do You want me to view You? How do You want me to view our relationship and Your role in my personal life? Is any of this stuff I’m reading about You correct?”

When Yahweh is the One being discussed, then you need to talk to Yahweh. When someone’s putting out theories about the Holy Spirit, then you need to talk to Him. Always go directly to the source. Don’t just put your trust in people.  Rabbi isn’t God. Neither are we. In this world, everyone has an opinion, but God’s opinion is the only one that matters.

Faith is extremely powerful. When it is rooted in truth, it results in eternal salvation. When it is clinging to lies, it lands you in Hell. You need to be very careful about what and who you put your faith in. Is it scary to realize that you can’t just blindly trust whatever you’re told? Yes. The day you stop just believing everything your pastor or some dead apostle tells you is the day that you realize how lost you are going to be unless this God you’ve put your faith in steps up to help you. But He will help you. God will make you know truth when you seek Him directly, and once He confirms something to you, you will experience a whole new level of confidence and peace. But this is a journey no one can make for you: you have to take responsibility for your own walk and start seriously asking those uncomfortable questions.

No statement about God can be accepted as truth until He Himself confirms it to you. This world is filled with shameless liars. Until you know that your faith is anchored in God Himself and that He is the One you are following in life—not people, and not some book—then you aren’t going to be building on a firm foundation. Pastors lie to you. Dead apostles lie to you. For all you know, we could be lying to you for some devious reason.  Perhaps all of our teaching about God is an absolute crock–if it is, you would be quite the fool to be trusting in it.  You can’t trust us.  Only God can be trusted, and God is not a human or a book. So do the work. Ask the Holy Spirit to go over your whole theology with a fine-toothed comb and tear out all the lies that have gotten woven in to your beliefs about God. Ask Him to give you His wisdom and His unadulterated truth. God delights in teaching us, but only when we are fully submitting to His Authority. When we’re putting our trust in words on a page and refusing to question what we can touch and see, we’re insulting God and setting ourselves up for major disillusionment.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to Yahweh than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and Yahweh showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. (Heb. 11:4)

Rabbi starts his list of spiritual role models with Adam’s son Abel. Adam and Eve had many children and only a few of them are listed in Genesis. Abel and Cain are the first of their kids that we hear about. These two brothers both offered sacrifices to God, but only Abel’s offering was accepted. We aren’t told anything about God’s requirements for offerings in these early days, but God’s comments to Cain make it clear that Cain was intentionally treating God with dishonor and God lets Cain know that He is displeased. Cain then gets in a major huff and murders Abel.

Here Rabbi says that Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man. Well, the fact that God accepted the offering tells us it was presented with a right heart attitude because God always responds to people’s hearts. But is Abel still speaking to us today by his example of faith? Not really. We only have a few sentences on the man and without knowing any personal details about him, we can hardly be inspired.

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to Heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased Yahweh. (Heb. 11:5)

There are only two accounts of men in the Bible who leave earth without leaving a corpse behind: Enoch and the prophet Elijah. All we’re told about Enoch is that he “walked with God”—a phrase which is used to mean that a man honored God in his heart. So we like Enoch, and it’s pretty awesome to think of God whisking a guy directly up to Heaven as a kind of reward for his obedience.

Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. (Heb. 11:6)

We have to be careful with this verse. So far in this letter, Rabbi has demonstrated a great lack of compassion and patience for souls who are struggling with doubts. Yet it is impossible to grow in faith without wrestling with some major doubts. So is God going to be disgusted with you every time doubts get the better of you? Certainly not. Faith comes from God. It is a gift, and if God wants us to have more, He needs to supply it.

What pleases God is a sincere desire to please Him and reverential submission to His Authority. You might not have mega-faith to add into the mix, but that’s alright. Many souls come to Jesus desperately hoping He will receive them but they couldn’t honestly say that they absolutely believe that “God will reward those who sincerely seek Him.” On the contrary, many young Christians get slammed with overwhelming tidal waves of fear that God just isn’t that into them. Does God turn these souls away because they didn’t approach Him with enough faith? Certainly not. With God it’s never about how much you have, but how you spend what you do have. Some of us feel like we only have one teensy crumb of faith. We toss it on God’s side, but it never seems enough. Yet in these cases, God is as pleased with us as He is with the souls who are standing firm on their mountains of faith. No one has anything that God didn’t give them, so there’s no room for boasting. Are you reaching out to God with what you do have? If you are, you will be rewarded.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed Yahweh, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith. (Heb. 11:7)

Before the great Flood, no one had ever heard of rain. We’re told in Genesis that water would come up from the ground to hydrate everything. Knowing that Noah had never been in a situation involving heavy rains washing through his hometown, it is very inspirational to see him go into action building a freakishly large boat for a phenomenon that sounded utterly ridiculous: water falling down from the sky in such large quantities that it would wash the world away. Noah showed some major faith. We’re also told that he was the only man left in the whole world who was obeying Yahweh. Talk about serious devotion. Noah is much more inspirational than Abel because we know more about his situation.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when Yahweh called him to leave home and go to another land that Yahweh would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land Yahweh promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by Yahweh. (Heb. 11:8-10)

Abraham is definitely one of the bright spots in the book of Genesis. He was a far more honorable man than his kids and grandkids turned out to be. Abraham was raised in a family that worshiped demonic gods. Then one day Yahweh spoke to him. Abraham immediately turned his life upside down on the word of this totally new Deity. That’s impressive faith.

Now Rabbi wants us to see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the same camp. Well, no, we really can’t. We’re not told anything honorable about Isaac. The guy inherits a bunch of great promises from his father and then he sits around having God bless his socks off while he raises up two absolute twerps (Jacob & Esau) who show no reverence for God as young men. Isaac’s wife was the conniving Rebekah. His house was full of division and deception. There’s just nothing to love about Isaac.

Jacob is Isaac’s son, and the grandson of Abraham. Jacob is a real yuck. He’s a self-absorbed, conniving cheat who only seems to value Yahweh for what He can give him. Even meeting God face to face doesn’t spark any submission in Jacob—only a bunch of greedy demands for earthly goodies. There’s just nothing to love about Jacob, but because he was so closely associated with Abraham and considered the father of Israel, the Jews admire him.

It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that Yahweh would keep His promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man (Abraham) who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. (Heb. 11:11-12)

Here Rabbi promotes the arrogant idea that we can control what God does by our faith. Well, no, we can’t. God made a barren woman pregnant because He wanted to, not because Sarah was astounding Him with her great faith. Sarah’s faith actually wasn’t so great. We’re told that she scoffs at the whole idea of getting pregnant in Genesis 18:12, then tries to deny that she scoffed when God calls her out on it. Doubting and boldfaced lying to God? No, we don’t find this admirable.

All these people died still believing what Yahweh had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why Yahweh is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Heb. 11:13-16)

This passage confuses a lot of people because it is, well, confusing. Abraham did receive the child he was promised, but there were a lot of other promises he was given that he didn’t see the fulfillment of, like his descendants (the Jews) outnumbering the stars in the sky. Rabbi has listed off quite a few names by now, and notice how he tells us:

They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own.

This is sheer baloney. None of the people Rabbi has mentioned said anything to suggest that they were sitting around pining for Heaven. He’s merely putting words in their mouths and lying about what is actually written down in Scriptures.  How shady.

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when Yahweh was testing him. Abraham, who had received Yahweh’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though Yahweh had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, Yahweh was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. (Heb. 11:17-19)

Both Christians and Jews are so disturbed by the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac that they like to minimize what actually happened. No one wants to deal with the fact that Yahweh—the same Yahweh who would later outlaw child sacrifice as an abomination in Deut. 18:10-12—actually asked Abraham to murder and then barbecue his own son. Well, that is exactly what Yahweh did and Rabbi is lying when he tells us what Abraham’s secret thoughts were. It doesn’t say anywhere in Genesis that Abraham was secretly thinking that Yahweh would bring Isaac back to life. Abraham lived a good 2,000 years before Rabbi. So Rabbi is merely projecting what he’d like to believe Abraham thought as a way of getting out of dealing with what actually happened. But if we look at how God responded to Abraham at the time of Isaac’s sacrifice, we can see that Rabbi is wrong and also that Christians are being ridiculous to try and claim that the sacrifice of Isaac was some foreshadow of Christ’s death on a cross (see Why the Sacrifice of Isaac Had Nothing To Do With Christ).

It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.

It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.

It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left. (Heb. 11:20-22)

We’ve already talked about how uninspiring Isaac was. The tradition of a father-to-son blessing that we find happening in the ancient Jewish culture of the Old Testament is nothing more than superstitious foolishness. Like New Agers today, the Jews were big on the power of the spoken word. They liked to think that their verbal curses and blessings could alter the course of people’s lives. This is why Yahweh ordered children who cursed their parents to be executed. When an Old Testament Jew cursed someone, it was more than just an insult. He was really trying to do them serious harm by wielding his magical powers. Of course in real life, people don’t have any powers, and God does not take orders from us.  So the Jews were delusional with this blessing business, and if you look up the blessings that Isaac gave to Jacob and Esau, you’ll discover that they were rather rotten.

Isaac was intentionally deceived by his conniving son Jacob. Being the second born, Jacob was in line to get much less of an inheritance from his father, so when the time came for the great verbal blessings to be cast like magic spells, Jacob pretended to be Esau to trick his blind old father into accidentally prophesying the best stuff for him.  When he laid his hands on Jacob to bless him, Isaac thought he was blessing Esau, who was the oldest. And after dishing out some long, flowery prophecy for his favorite son Esau, Isaac found out that he’d been tricked—he was speaking to Jacob the whole time. So what? In his heart, Isaac was really blessing Esau. Well, apparently the fates don’t care about heart—they go with literal words. The family then concluded that Jacob had effectively stolen Esau’s blessings and Esau had a meltdown.  Daddy Isaac then scraped up some crummy makeup blessing for Esau which amounted to, “Your life will be miserable, you’ll be oppressed by your brother, but some day you’ll tell him to stuff it and regain your independence.” Gee, thanks, Dad.

When it’s Jacob’s turn to dole out the blessings to his heirs, he also messes things up. In blessing his two grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh (who were the sons of Jacob’s favorite son Joseph), the old and blind Jacob starts with the wrong kid. The oldest is supposed to be blessed first, yet Jacob starts with the youngest. Joseph gets mad. Jacob refuses to conform to cultural tradition and he prophesies that the younger boy will become greater than his older brother (see Gen. 48). The whole thing is a tiresome routine of favoritism.

When Jacob’s son Joseph is about to die many years later, he is the right hand man of the king of Egypt. He’s had a sweet life, yet he hates the idea of his bones being left in a foreign grave. So he makes the Jews swear that when they leave Egypt to go claim the land that was promised to Abraham, they’ll take Joseph’s bones with them. Is this admirable? No, it’s superstitious. Who cares where your bones are? The Jews had all kinds of unnecessary fears about the afterlife. Joseph was very anxious about his bones. Of course by the time his bones were carried out of Egypt 400 years later, he wasn’t around to notice. So this is who we’re supposed to be admiring–men who sat around trying to invoke spells and who were paranoid about their bones being preserved after death?  All in all, we’re finding Rabbi’s list of heroes to be rather lackluster.

It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that Yahweh had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.

It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of Yahweh’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. (Heb. 11:23-26)

Yep, you read that right. Rabbi is actually telling us that Moses thought he was suffering for the sake of Christ—a God he had never even conceived of. Moses was the guy who met Yahweh through a burning bush. Moses was the guy who recorded these famous words:

“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Deut. 20:3)

Moses was a prophet of Yahweh, he spoke with Yahweh face to face, and he was devoted to Yahweh. It was his devotion to Yahweh, not to Christ, that got him in so much trouble with the Jews and the Egyptians. No one in Exodus had ever heard of Christ. Moses lived over 1400 years before Christ showed up on earth so what is Rabbi smoking to try and tell us that Moses was a Christian?  Really??

It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the One who is invisible. It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons. (Heb. 11:27-28)

Moses really was a stellar model of faith, even though he didn’t consider himself to be persecuted for Christ’s sake. If only Rabbi wouldn’t misrepresent his own heroes.

It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.

It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.

It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey Yahweh. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what Yahweh had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. (Heb. 11:29-35)

At the end of his story, Gideon melted some expensive metals down and shaped them into a breastplate, which he then bowed down to and worshiped as a new god. He was so into the worship if his new toy that he led his entire town astray by having them follow his example. Prior to that, the man was a rage-aholic who did some rather sadistic punishing of people who crossed him. He also demonstrated very little restraint over his hormones, as evidenced by the seventy sons that he left behind. When it comes to demonstrating faith, Gideon is most famous for his lack of faith.  He’s the fellow who he kept asking Yahweh to bend the laws of the universe with miraculous signs that would re-confirm things that God had already said. We’re just not loving Gideon (see Gideon: Idolatrous to the End).

Jephthah was the fellow who tried to bribe Yahweh into giving him a military victory. When Yahweh caused the bribe to backfire, Jephthah ended up having to sacrifice his only daughter in order to keep the vow that he had made. We give Jephthah major points for reverence at the end of his story, but we’re not seeing any reason to applaud him in the faith department.

Samson was the entitled lust ball who went around jumping in the sack with Philistine prostitutes. He was an overgrown brat with a short fuse who showed no respect for his parents, Yahweh, or anyone else who irritated him. He was disturbingly sadistic and such a self-absorbed showoff that his entire life was spent in the pursuit of sexual release and having the last word in his unending war with the Philistines. Samson was an irreverent yuck.  A thorough reading of his story gives us every reason to believe he ended up in Hell.  Given this, it’s utterly absurd to see his name included in a list of spiritual role models (see Samson: Carnal to the End).

Barak is the faithless weenie who wouldn’t go to battle unless a woman went with him. That woman was the prophetess Deborah who called Barak out on his spineless state (see Judges 4). Some list of heroes, huh?

Now David and Samuel were definitely some inspirational guys. Joshua was good, too—he led those famous marches around Jericho. But Rabbi is really talking like a fool to put together such a polluted list.

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from Yahweh in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 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. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that Yahweh had promised. For Yahweh had something better in mind for us, so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Heb. 11:36-40)

It is commonly said that the prophet Isaiah was sawed in half, although in real life there is no historical evidence of this. Every culture likes to exaggerate their heroes, and religious cultures are no exception. Don’t let all this talk about torture freak you out. While it’s good to realize that God’s devoted guys have a long history of getting kicked around, also realize that if God should ever call on you to walk the tough path, He’ll also give you what you need to get through it. Don’t anticipate torture. Don’t sit around biting your nails about an end times tribulation that’s never going to happen. Don’t read a bunch of books about martyrs that will only give demons more material to torment you with.

God has only given you enough grace for right now, not for the next ten years. There is no value whatsoever in anticipating horrific things in your future. If God wants you to prepare for some difficult thing, He’ll tell you about it in a way that will point you in a positive spiritual direction. God always gives us hope. He doesn’t just pump us up with fear and then ditch us like these jerks you find on the internet who are always pontificating about how horrible the end times are going to be. Stop listening to so-called prophets who are freaking you out. Such people are not speaking for God (see Identifying False Prophecy About the End Times). When God speaks about grim times in the future, He turns our focus onto Him, He identifies positive perspectives that will help us stay in alignment with Him, and He promotes confidence and trust, not fear and despair. God never exalts the power of demons or the power of evil men. God exalts God.

So, here’s a good point that our prosperity teachers don’t want you to think about: how come God’s faithful guys had such a hard time of things in the Old Testament? They were living under the Old Covenant—that Covenant promised an abundant life if they were faithful to God. The language from that same Covenant is what prosperity teachers are using today to back up their claims that God has promised you health, wealth, and happiness if you tithe regularly, brag about your amazing faith, and constantly throw Bible verses in God’s face. Yet if these jokers would actually read the Bible they are always quoting, they’ll discover that the blessed life has never been guaranteed for any individual believer. Yahweh only ever promised the entire nation of Israel that she would thrive if she stayed faithful to Him. She didn’t, so her life was miserable. And while she was miserable, she persecuted the individuals in her midst who were obeying God—guys like Isaiah and Jeremiah.

This is real life: there are no guarantees of a sweet life on earth. Some believers had it: Abraham and Job were bucks up and living well. But so was Solomon, and he likely wound up in Hell for being such an idolatrous yuck (see Know Your Bible Lesson 11: The Rebellion of Solomon). Wealth and health are not a guarantee that a man is approved of by God. Poverty and disease are not signs of Divine cursing. Not every Christian in this world is going to be terribly persecuted for their faith—that doesn’t mean that they can’t still do a fabulous job of pleasing God.

Now let’s look at this last statement that Rabbi makes:

All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that Yahweh had promised. For Yahweh had something better in mind for us, so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

According to Rabbi, the souls of believers who died under the Old Covenant were held in some strange suspension waiting for the New Covenant to be established so they could experience better things with us.  We already know that Rabbi has an inappropriately low view of the Old Covenant now that he feels he’s moved on to something better.  Yet where is his support for this idea that Old Covenant believers are being kept in some holding tank somewhere until we Christians come along?  This is absurd.  Enoch and Elijah went to Heaven.  Jesus describes Heaven as already being filled with people when He speaks in the Gospels, and later in Revelation, He shows John a Heaven in which martyrs who are freshly killed are already in Heaven complaining about how long God is taking to avenge their blood.  So when it comes to this idea of Old Covenant believers not getting to go directly to Heaven or this theory about everyone having to lay in the dirt until Christ comes again–these things simply aren’t true.  When people die in this world, they go directly to Heaven or Hell (see What Happens After Death).  Yahweh didn’t find His Old Covenant lacking, nor is He bound in time like we are.  He doesn’t think Christians today are superior to believers in the past so, no, He really isn’t putting off the party until we Christians arrive.  This is just arrogant foolishness on Rabbi’s part.

So then, Hebrews 11 was supposed to inspire anxious Jewish Christians to persevere with this Jesus thing by reminding them of all the great faith icons who lived before them. Do you think it worked?

UP NEXT: Applying Hebrews 12: Threats & Warnings

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