“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.”
For six days the army of Israel carrying the Ark of the Covenant marched around Jericho one time per day. On the seventh day the army with the Ark marched around Jericho seven times. Then the priests blew the trumpets and the people shouted, the walls fell. (Joshua 6:1-21) The army did not attack by scaling and assaulting, but by following the instructions that God had given them. They applied the doctrine (faith) they had in their souls.
“By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.”
Rahab was a woman of Jericho at the time of the Jewish entrance into the land — BC 1440. She was a Gentile. She was a great woman. Rahab was not only a believer but one who had doctrine in her soul. When the two-man reconnaissance team sent to spy out the city entered Jericho they were immediately spotted. When Jericho intelligence discovered the spies they sent troops to capture them, but Rahab hid them, completely outwitted the king’s troops and saved the lives of the reconnaissance team. (Joshua 2)
“And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection, and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword, they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (of who the world is not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”
Beginning in verse 32 we have a summary of the deeds of many faith heroes in the Old Testament. Every time the writer mentions a detail, his Jewish audience was able to identify who he was writing about. Some of these heroes are listed, but for the most part it is the deed of these great men and women that the writer lists. And as he said, time or page does not permit a detailed description of all that they accomplished with God’s help.
God’s grace operates in men and women who are filled with doctrine and willing to be used by Him. Jesus Christ controls history and often uses faithful believers to do so. Such was the case with these great heroes of the faith like Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel. And Jesus Christ often picks those who have no obvious talent, no worldly wisdom, no background, no training, no human attractiveness to show His greatness.
From the lives of these believers we can see how they met pressures, how they faced crisis after crisis, adversity, tragedy, trial, heartache, and frustration. By means of doctrine they conquered kingdoms because they understood that it was God they were serving and trusted Him for the results. Performed acts of righteousness means acts in the sense of doing what God wills, therefore righteousness based upon doctrinal application. This is an experiential righteousness which is a synonymous term for experiential sanctification. Doctrine in the soul is the basis for practicing divine righteousness.
Obtained promises refers to the fact that God has special blessings for each believer. This is not a reference to promises in the covenants, specifically. The result of doctrine in the soul enabled Daniel to stop the mouths of lions. (Daniel 6:21-22) Quenched the power of fire is the story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednigo from Daniel 3. Escaped the edge of the sword, meant men like David, Caleb, Jehoshaphat and many others who were delivered in time of disaster and war.
Became mighty in war is a reference to courage in battle, and good decisions by commanders. It refers to those who through persistence in taking in doctrine reach spiritual maturity and demonstrate through courage and good decisions the spiritual dynamics of doctrine resident in their souls. Put foreign armies to flight means God’s servants turned back the invading armies of the enemy on many, many occasions.
The writer of Hebrews continues his list of great accomplishments by Old Testament believers. Women received their dead back by means of resuscitation (not resurrection). Some were tortured, mocked, beaten, imprisoned in chains, put to death, were destitute, and all for serving Jehovah (Jesus Christ) the One true God. So great were these believers that the Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Hebrews to say, “the world was not worthy of them.”
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.”
And all these, is a phrase which refers to all those noble men and women, those who were believers in the past who thought it was important to take in doctrine on a consistent basis and to grow spiritually.
Having obtained approval uses the Greek word “martureo” for approval, which means to bear witness or to testify. It was used especially for testifying in courts. It means to confirm something. Here in the passive voice it means to be well spoken of or to be approved. Through their faith means the approval came because of doctrine in their souls. What was promised is a reference to all God promised these great believers from the Old Testament which would be fully realized in the future.
God is going to provide something better for these believers, and for us as well, based on the execution of the spiritual life. What is going to be provided is even greater grace blessings and rewards, forever. It has not entered the mind of man what God has prepared for us in eternity. The many blessings that we enjoy in this life are nothing in comparison to what we will enjoy in eternity.
Something better for us refers to the entire structure of the Church Age. It begins at the point of salvation with the baptism of the Spirit whereby we are late in history but first in line for rewards. The baptism of the Holy Spirit makes you Royal Family of God forever and puts you up in the front of the line of God’s plan. As the Royal Family of God, believers of the Church Age live at a time when the victory over Satan has already been accomplished. The death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ settled it.
It is now a matter of winning our victory on a daily basis. And we have so much more in order to succeed than believers before us. For the first time in history, and exclusive to the Church Age, Jesus Christ indwells every believer. Israel was dependent on a specialized priesthood from the tribe of Levi. We have a universal priesthood. Now all divine revelation is in the canon of Scripture, and there is no extra biblical revelation. The completed canon of Scripture, the gift of pastor-teacher, and the provision of a classroom (the local church) all make it easier today than it ever has been to achieve spiritual maturity.
The word us is a reference to Church Age believers. Apart from us means the heroes of the Old Testament do not get their rewards until after we do, chronologically. Each dispensation receives their rewards at the end of their dispensation. Would not be made perfect means would not be completed. The completion of receiving all that was promised will be eternity. They, like us, are going to have greater grace blessings and rewards in the future. All believers have an eternal inheritance.
Inheritance implies a family relationship and eternal is a permanent, everlasting relationship. This is certainly the case for every Christian. At salvation, every believer becomes a child of God. One of the amazing things is that as children of God, we also become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. This means that we share in Christ’s inheritance. The Bible declares that it has not even entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for him. So the questions are, “What is this inheritance and how do we get it?” (Galatians 3:26; 4:26; Romans 8:17)
In eternity past, when God was designing a plan for your life, He included as part of His plan an inheritance. God was thinking of you in eternity past and predesigned a magnificent plan for your life on earth (therefore you could not have worked for it, earned it or deserved it). He has also designed a plan for you for the eternal state (also, you cannot work for it, earn it or deserve it). God’s plans are always a matter of His grace. (Ephesians 1:11)
For the believer in Christ, God has become your Father, not merely your Creator. This family relationship is entered into by faith in Christ at salvation. Therefore, it is not something for which we have worked, nor is it something that we deserved. In other words, this family relationship is based on the grace of God. Therefore, our inheritance is also based on God’s grace. As our Father, God desires only the best for His children. It is a divine decree from our Heavenly Father that we have an inheritance, and His decrees must be carried out. (Galatians 4:4-7)
Inheritance implies a family relationship even in the case of Jesus Christ. As the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus is the Son of God. It is this family relationship that Jesus has with God the Father that guarantees that He will have an inheritance. As a matter of fact, Christ is the inheritor of all things according to Hebrews 1:2. It is this inheritance that the believer, as a child of God, shares with Christ because of his union with Him.
Eternal inheritance means exactly that – it lasts for all eternity. Our inheritance begins at salvation but will not be fully realized until we enter the eternal state. After the believer is evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ, his “escrow blessings” (those kept in his escrow account) will be conveyed to him to enjoy for all eternity. It is the realization of these greater blessings in eternity that should be a motivating factor in the life of every believer. This knowledge becomes part of our personal sense of destiny and the hope (full confidence) of a future filled only with peace and happiness.
In God’s grace He has provided for every believer for the eternal state. For those believers who execute the Christian Way of Life, the rewards will be greater. Nevertheless, all believers will be blessed in eternity and all believers will enjoy happiness forever. Personal sins are not going to be an issue when you stand before the Lord Jesus Christ to be evaluated, because your sins were dealt with on the Cross. Only what you did or did not do with your spiritual life will be evaluated.