Hebrews: The Race Set Before Us
Adult Bible Class, June 19 & 22 - Hebrews 11:23-12:13
Every soul is on a slightly different journey. We all process the happenings of life in a different way, and we each have a unique personality in responding to those circumstances. Certainly, this is true in our walk with the Lord: each person has the opportunity to have a special, direct relationship with God all their own (Psalm 139; Ephesians 2:10).
And yet, yours is not a new race. Mine is not a new race. We can draw encouragement and inspiration from those who have run the race of faith before us.
That's the whole point of Hebrews 11. Moses, Joshua, Rahab and the host of other names dropped by the author all serve the same illustration: trusting God and resting in His promises is what this life is all about! For better (Hebrews 11:33-35a) or worse (Hebrews 11:35b-38), the faithful follower and child of the Lord is commended for their confidence and assurance in God's word. These individuals, no matter how they were blessed or how they may have suffered, ran the race set before them.
And that race has always been about following where God leads (Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 16:24-25).
Surrounded by such an impressive roster of faithful followers of Jehovah, the author puts the onus back on the readers of his day--and, by extension, those of us who follow Christ today--to run this same race (v. 1b). Nothing is new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), and we know the obstacles we have to overcome have been vanquished before by others (1 Corinthians 10:13; John 16:33; 1 John 5:4). Therefore, we can run enthusiastically and with determination, knowing so many have run a faithful race before us--even our Savior himself (Hebrews 12:2-3)!
To be certain, we will hit rough terrain on this run. Some will be a result of human free will and the consequences of living in a sin-broken world. Some of the hurdles will be Satan's attempts to derail our efforts to reach our goal. And some struggles will be methods used by our Father to discipline us in an effort to keep us on a straight on narrow path to the finish line (Hebrews 12:7). But that's the beauty of this collection of faithful journeys we read about in Hebrews 11: their faith was shown to be true by how they responded to the circumstances of life, good or bad, in light of God's promises. And the incredible thing? We have the potential to run with even more assurance and motivation than them, since we see the finish line and know our Advocate and our Father wait for us on the other side (Hebrews 11:39-40).
A faith tested is a faith proven. It was true for God's people of old, and it's true for us today. So don't get discouraged! Put one foot in front of the other, make the necessary adjustments to run a better race each successive day (Hebrews 12:12-13), and fix your eyes on the Founder and Finisher of our faith. That's how the Christian endures until the end.
We hope you'll come be part of our weekly studies on Sundays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Here are a few thought questions we'll be discussing in class:
- Since Christ hadn't yet come to the earth, why was it said that Moses esteemed "the reproach of Christ..." (Hebrews 11:26)?
- Study each of the Biblical characters mentioned by name in Hebrews 11:32. Why do you suppose these individuals were listed to round out the "cloud of witnesses" who ran the race of faith?
- What are some of the ways that God disciplines His children in this life?