“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 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”
---End of Scripture verses---
God resurrected the sons of the widow of Zarephath through Elijah (1 Kings 17), and the Shunammite woman through Elisha (2 Kings 4). As remarkable as these resurrections to temporary life were, and the exemplary faith that accompanied them, all of God’s faithful children will “obtain a better resurrection” still (verse 35). The Hebrews writer cites some unnamed martyrs who “were tortured, not accepting their release” because they refused to renounce their obedient faith in the one, true God of Creation. We have no biblical record of situations such as this, but uninspired tradition says that the prophet Amos was tortured and killed for his faith.
“Many students of Hebrews have suggested that the author has in mind a story from the intertestamental period that is recorded in 2 Maccabees 6 and 7. As the story goes, the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes, who controlled Palestine at the time, decided to enforce Hellenization upon the Jews, outlawed Torah observances, and rededicated the Jerusalem temple to the Greek god Zeus. Local officials tried to force a man named Eleazar, a scribe, to eat pig meat. When he steadfastly refused, he was put on the ‘rack’ and beaten to death. Seven brothers and their mother were subjected to the same pressure. They were ‘arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and cords to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh’ (2 Macc 7:1 RSV). When the brothers indicated that they would rather die than eat unclean food, they were tortured to death one at a time, and then their mother. The last words of all eight of the characters are recorded, and the fourth brother said ‘One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him (7:14 RSV).” ("A Commentary on Hebrews" by David McClister, page 433, Florida College Press 2010)
Many of God’s faithful beloved “experienced mockings and scorgings…chains and imprisonment” (verse 36); “were stoned…tempted…put to death with the sword…destitute, afflicted, ill-treated” (verse 37); all in the name of faithfulness to the God who raises the dead to glorious, eternal life. Jewish tradition tells us that it was actually the prophet Isaiah who was “sawn in two” by the evil king Manasseh of Judah. Friends, if these men and women were willing to DIE for their faith in God, surely it is not too much to ask of us to LIVE for Him a life of faith, love, trust and obedience.
Please read Hebrews 11:39-40 for tomorrow.
We would love for you to come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
Have a great Lord’s Day!
- Louie Taylor