The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT
Podcast Episode: The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT – PATIENCE #2
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, AND SELF-CONTROL. There is no law against these things.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NLT]
The Day Of The Lord
Hebrews 11:35-40 (NLT) says, “35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.
But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.“
Some even received their loved ones back again from death. The widow from Zarephath received her son back from the dead because of Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24), and so did the Shunammite woman, through Elisha (2 Kings 4:8-37).
We, too, can experience victory through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We may have experiences similar to those of the Old Testament saints; more likely, however, our victories will be directly related to the role God wants us to play. Our lives may not include the kinds of dramatic events recorded here, but it surely includes moments where faith is tested. Give testimony to those moments, publicly and honestly, and thereby encourage the faith of others.
While the above examples mention great victory – there is a victory that may not seem so. Other believers were tortured, preferring to die rather than turn from God. These faithful people experienced the blessings and endured persecution because they placed their hope in the resurrection. These people lived by faith because they knew that gaining the world and achieving this world’s success was not their objective. They waited for a better life that would begin after death. This promise of a better life encouraged them during persecution and other difficulties.
These descriptions could apply to many people who lived by faith – including some who were part of the community of the original readers of this epistle. Many Christians were persecuted and punished for their faith. They were:
mocked – like Elisha (2 Kings 2:23-25); Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:19; 4:1); and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 18:12); cut open with whips – like Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:15), chained in dungeons – like Joseph (Genesis 40:15), Samson (Judges 16:21), Micaiah (1 Kings 22:26-27), Hanani (1 Chronicles 16:10), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:16; 38:6); killed by stoning – like Zechariah (1 Chronicles 24:20-21); according to Jerome, Jeremiah was stoned at the hands of Jewish Egyptians because he denounced their idolatry; killed by being sawed in half – like Isaiah, presumably. Although we do not know for sure, tradition (from the apocryphal book, The Ascension of Isaiah, chapters 1–5) says that the prophet Isaiah was sawed in half at the command of King Manasseh because Isaiah had predicted the destruction of the temple. Isaiah had at first escaped and hid in the trunk of a tree while in the hill country. Manassah supposedly had the tree sawed in half with Isaiah in it; killed with the sword – although some prophets did escape death by the sword, others did not (see 1 Kings 19:10).
Many of God’s followers who lived before our Lord Jesus Christ and many who have lived after Christ have been persecuted. Their clothing was the skins of sheep and goats. Many faced being hungry, oppressed, and mistreated. Some had to wander and hide in the wilderness. Despite their difficult situations, the writer of Hebrews claims that they were too good for this world. These people were great men and women of faith.
One of the most tender verses in the Bible is Hebrews 11:38. After recounting many hideouts death of early followers of God, this wonderful verse says, “the world was not worthy of them.” Those faithful saints who were killed for their beliefs are here honored. Ironically, many of those who have held the marches or wielded the implements of torture throughout time were people who claimed allegiance to God and who believed that they were doing God’s service by burning inferior disciples. Arrogance alone lights such heinous fires.
All of the above people mentioned by name and those alluded to received God’s approval because of their faith. These people looked forward to a better day and salvation, but none of them received all that God had promised. Of course, they saw some of God’s promises fulfilled, but not the promises that referred to the new covenant and the promised eternal Kingdom. These people did not live to see the Kingdom arrive, but their future citizenship was secure there. Thus, they were able to endure suffering.
Hebrews 11 has been called faith’s “hall of fame.” No doubt the author surprised his readers by this conclusion: these mighty Jewish heroes did not receive God’s full reward because they died before Christ came. In God’s plan, they and the Christian believers (who were also enduring much testing) would be rewarded together.
The far better things that God has in mind refers to the new covenant. The forefathers did not receive this; rather, it is experienced by those who live after the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, for He is the one who introduced the new covenant and the new promises (see Hebrews 1:2).
There is a solidarity among believers (see Hebrews 12:23). Old and New Testament believers will receive the prize together. Not only are we one in the body of Christ with all those alive, but we are also one with all those who ever lived. One day all believers will share in the promised blessing with our Lord Jesus Christ. We will then be complete and perfect in Him.
Hebrews Chapter 12 contains clues regarding the situation of the believers to whom this letter was written. They have been encouraged not to drift away (Hebrews 2:1), but in this chapter we perceive a community weary of persecution, struggling to stay strong in an increasingly hostile environment, but weakening perhaps to the point of giving up and turning away from their faith.
How many a martyr died feeling that God was disinterested or uncaring in this time of need? Yet, here in a tender expose of faithfulness, the writer of Hebrews says, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” Their patience and perseverance ended in more waiting.
What is the plan that God has prepared for us? What is the “something better”? Who can say for sure? His purpose will not be entirely consummated until our Lord Jesus Christ splits the skies and history is finished. And then we will know the end of all truth. God never lies; all that He has promised will come to be after we have waited long enough. Patience will at last expose us to glory immeasurable, for patience is the key to the final blessing of God. Amen!
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