They are listed in the Hall of Faith as heroes, but we must remember that they are quite undeserving of hero worship. Though God used them to complete extraordinary assignments, these unique individuals were far from perfect!
Noah is an example. After leaving the ark, Noah planted a vineyard, got drunk from its wine, and then scandalously shamed himself. (Genesis 9:20-21)
Abraham, the father of the faithful, was such a squirrel. He pawned his beautiful wife off as his sister (not once, but twice) to save his own skin. (Genesis 12:13; 20:2) Reprehensible! Disgraceful!
The greats weren’t always so great, but they inspire us because they “conquered kingdoms”, they were “mighty in war”, and they put “foreign armies to flight.” (Hebrews 11:33-34, ESV)
They encourage us through their extreme sacrifices! “Some were tortured... Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword ... destitute, afflicted, mistreated.” (Hebrews 11:36-37, ESV)
So, after recapping the Old Testament examples of flawed faithfulness, the inspired author gives us divine directions for a faith-filled life... two priceless nuggets of wisdom.
“Lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus,” (Hebrews 12:1-2, CSB)
First, we must start by laying aside the weight of unconfessed sin. The Olympian doesn’t compete wearing army boots, and a Christian mustn’t carry the baggage of condemnation and sin.
And second, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, the only perfectly worthy example. The Olympic sprinter doesn’t watch the scenery but focuses on the finish line. So, we can’t lose focus and be enticed by worldly pleasure and treasures. We must look to Jesus!
I want to worship like Abel, giving God my best. You too? I want to walk with God like Enoch, and like Noah, I want to diligently work for God until my final task is complete. I want to see the waters of the Red Sea open and the walls of Jericho crumble.
The key is ... drum-roll ... FAITH!
To run victoriously to the finish line ... by faith, focus on a victorious God!