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The World Was Not Worthy of Them

by David Johnson

IMG_0666 It is great to be together again as we look into the Word of God and as we make application personally and share these truths with others.  The title for the lesson is, “The World Was Not Worthy of Them.” And our text is in the New Testament the book of Hebrews chapter 11 verses 31 through verse 40.  Listen to the Word of God.

By faith the prostitute Rahab because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.  And what more shall I say?   I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barach, Samson, Japheth, David, Samuel and the prophets who through faith conquered kingdoms and ministered justice and gained what was promise, who shut the mouths of lions, 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. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released so that they might gain a better resurrection.  Some faced jeers and flogging while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned. They were sawed in two. They were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheep skins and goat skins and destitute, persecuted and mistreated.  The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and holes in the ground. They were all commended for their faith.  Yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. This is the Word of God. May he add his blessing to the public reading of his Word.

Everybody honors heroes. Well or at least almost everybody surely honors heroes.  We have all kinds of heroes. We have heroes in our families, sports heroes, heroes that are in service as police officers and firemen and other service ways and, of course, our military heroes.  On this Wednesday, on November the 11th, we find in America as we celebrate once again Veterans Day when we honor our service men and women for their sacrifices and often their heroism which often is not even publicly known and yet some are widely known and we can lift up the few that we do know about of their heroic exploits. For example, do you remember private first class Jessica Lynch, a POW in Iraq. She was only 19, recued by daring, heroic marines. In service to our country Jessica suffered lacerations to her head, fractured her right forearm. She sustained two broken legs, a spinal injury that required surgery to release pressure on her nerves and all of her discs had to be realigned. Plus she had plates put in to get the feeling back in her feet. Her injuries were due to combat and torture. Jessica Lynch is a genuine American heroine who eventually overcame her many injuries through her faith in God and country.

Another hero connected to PFC Jessica Lynch’s daring rescue probably very little is known about him.  He was an Iraqi lawyer whose name has been withheld, but who was sympathetic to American’s fighting for Iraq’s freedom from a brutal dictator. And this Iraqi’s concern was for also this 19 year old battered, tortured and wounded American PFC.  This lawyer tipped off the marines of Jessica’s whereabouts. He hiked six miles, three times, through so-called ambush alley and provided US marines with five maps of the layout, of the number of guards, of the helicopter landing sight on the roof of the Iraqi hospital where Jessica was being held.  Even to the exact room number to rescue her.  This Iraqi lawyer not only gravely risked his own life, but also that of his entire family as he greatly aided the United States marines.

On the day after Jessica’s successful rescue, his house was ransacked. His wife and his six year old daughter had to hide out. Eventually marines air lifted this Iraqi lawyer and his family to marine headquarters, eventually resettled them in the USA in a secret location. So another genuine hero who overcame tremendous troubles in and against his own native country to do what was right.

Heroes are usually every day people who put what is right first, even often living out their faith. In Scripture we have many listed known heroes of the faith.  Consider, again, Hebrews chapter 11 and verse  31 and 32 and the heroes of the faith featured there.  In verse 31 Rahab did what was right, similar to the Iraqi lawyer.  Rahab even put her faith in the God of Israel over and against the gods of the Canaanites and her own people. Rahab became an over comer of her many troubles facing her and her family and trusted in the God of Israel and even the invading Israelis, tremendous faith, an example to all believers today to trust, to lean upon to rely on our great God regardless of how troubling the circumstances can be that rage about us today.


In verse 32 Gideon was an Israelite leader with only 300 men who routed a much greater army arrayed against him and had a great heroic victory primarily due to his faith in our great God. Barach defeated 900 chariots of iron by the power of God due to his faithfulness.  Samson was not perfect, but his heroic strength was a scourge to the Philistines who he finally overcame by his faith even in his own death.  Japheth was a great military hero whom defended the helpless and forgave the wrongs against him and became an over comer by his faith, also an example to each of us.   David was a warrior king whom eventually overcame his many troubles even in his own personal family by his deep faith in his Lord and God, an example to us. Samuel, a faithful prophet, priest and judge, a type of Christ who served with godly character amongst an unfaithful, rebellious, stiff necked, discontented people, certainly an example to each of us.  All of these heroes of the faith, according to verse 34 whose weakness was turned to strength.  How? How was it turned to strength? A greater faith, trusting in reliance, faithfully leaning up their God and our God even as we must lean on our God today.

In verse 38 of Hebrews chapter 11 it says: The world was not worthy of them.  Well, why is that?  Because they all evidenced heroic faith, especially in the face of persecution and mistreatment and even death. And we can be overcomers in the same  type of faith. They were all flesh and blood just like us.  In verses 39 and 40 it describes, it details the crowning victorious heroic faith of these overcomers that can also be ours. And we today in the Church have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to help us, to guide us, to give us the fruit of the Spirit which certainly includes faithfulness as one of the explicitly recorded fruit of the faith or fruit of the Spirit, which is faithfulness.
In verse 39 it says, in part, that they were all commended for their faith.  Yet none of them received what had been promised. Promised what? Well, here particularly promised eternal life.  Because this verse refers back to Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 13 that says: 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. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on the earth.  This latter part particularly refers to the patriarchs, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who lived in the Promised Land, but never possessed it.  They were sojourners. They moved around. Yet they still believed God and through the eye of faith trusted God. Now that is heroic faith, the type of faith that we as believers need today consistently trusting as a pattern of our lives in our great God.  To trust God in spite of the circumstances and conditions that might afflict us and will afflict us eventually today, afflict us individually, in our families, in our communities and even as a nation.

In Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. What does this mean exactly? Better for us equals the faithful Church. They made perfect equals the Old Testament saints before the cross. So the faith of the Old Testament saints looked forward to the promised eternal life, forward to the Messiah whereas us the Church through faith look back to the fulfillment of God’s promise through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross.  For all sinners, both Old Testament and New Testament saints through faith are saved by the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. As he submitted himself, the suffering servant, to the altar of the cross to give up his body and his blood for mankind to be our substitute, to pay the price in full once and for all which we could not pay.  The mighty heroes of the past, the hall of fame of faith together with the heroic faithful of the Church will receive the same inheritance, the same reward in Christ Jesus even eternal life.  For life is found in the Son. They who have the Son have life, life eternal. He who does not have the Son does not have life, that is life eternal.

And so we honor our veterans past and present, dead and alive for their sacrifice, for their service, for their faithfulness. At the very least for our country, but even especially those of the household of faith, faithfulness to God through thick and thin.  However, we worship our super hero Jesus Christ who died for us and was raised back to life alive forever more, never to die again, who sacrificed himself totally to earn for us throughout persevering faith eternal life, even though we are not worthy of him, even though we don’t deserve eternal life by the grace of God it is a gift.  We are saved by the grace of God through faith. What a Savior we have. What a Lord.  May we worship him every day.  May we recognize that we have great men and women, even of God, in our military service that continue to put their lives on the line for us around the world.  God bless our veterans.


David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4