Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for…13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. NIV
Hebrews 11 is called the “By Faith” chapter. Twenty one times it uses that phrase to show the human side of the real life of notable “ancients” elsewhere in the Bible. The intersection of living by faith and the evidence of real life circumstance was just as mysterious for them as it is for me today as a new widow but they were commended for living “by faith.” Oswald Chambers said “Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him” so…
I will live by faith believing life is different, but still good
I will live by faith that what I can’t control does not mean I am helpless
I will live by faith that redeems without me knowing all the details
I will live by faith in yet undiscovered reserves of strength
I will “live” by faith that Jesus is nearest to me right now
3:1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
This story seems odd to me. Why was the man with the withered hand there on the Sabbath? Had he just gone to the synagogue because it was the expected thing to attend? Did he know Jesus would be there? Did he want to hear what Jesus had to say? Did he hope for healing? He must have known of the hostility the silent group of Pharisees had toward Jesus. He cetrtainly knew that healing on that day would be breaking the law even before he heard Jesus say “stretch out your hand”
– Lesson 1: It takes faith to even consider there might be answers to your questions but from that faith comes the courage it takes to be willing to reach out to Jesus when you hear him speak.
Healing may have happened in a miraculous moment but the destruction of Jesus required a plan, and thankfully for us, even evil plans require time. The Pharisees chose to leave the synagogue determined to use their spiritual power along with the political power of the Herodians to destroy Jesus…but God had a different plan so Jesus could continue his ministry
– Lesson 2: God can,and will, even use evil men and the time they spend planning destruction. Jesus has the power of God that redeems men and their misspent time. Through Jesus, evil will be overcome with good that accomplishes God’s plan for a future and a hope for us.