Hebrews 11:29-12:2 (NRSV)
Verse 29By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. Verse 30By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. Verse 31By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
Verse 32And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets- Verse 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, Verse 34quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Verse 35Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Verse 36Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. Verse 37They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented- Verse 38of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Verse 39Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, Verse 40since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
Chapter 12Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, Verse 2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
n 2020, the SD Synod asked leaders to write devotions that were emailed out weekly in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the ordination of women in our church. I volunteered and wrote a devotion on the daughter of Jephthah (Judges 11). The daughter was killed by her father because of a stupid vow he had made and against God’s rule of child sacrifice. The daughter was remembered by the women in ancient Israel. But in today’s reading from Hebrews, Jephthah, not the daughter, is remembered. I don’t know how he made the list and I would not hold him up as an example of faith. But we are remembering this week that God is the judge, we are not. Somehow God must have considered Jephthah worthy to be included as a person of faith. It gives me hope that, even when I think that my example of faith is very inadequate, God might have a different view.
Faithful God, thank-you for all those who have been faithful witnesses to me, especially (name those who come to mind). Use my faith as an example for others. Amen.