Faithful Unto Death


     Hebrews 11:33-38 discusses two sharply different facts about faith: There are occasions when people of faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens, and received their dead raised to life again (vv. 33-35); there are also occasions when people of faith are tortured, not accepting deliverance, have a trial of mockings, scourgings, and chains of imprisonment, are stoned, sawn in two, slain with the sword, and wander about in sheepskins and goatskins being destitute, afflicted, and tormented (vv. 35-38).

     Even among Jesus’ apostles we can see these two facts.  James was arrested by Herod and killed with the sword (Acts 12:1-2); Peter was arrested by Herod, then delivered from death by an angel (Acts 12:3-10).  One apostle died; one was delivered.  Both men lived by faith.

     Psalm 88 is an incredibly melancholic contemplation of Heman the Ezrahite.  It contains no hopeful ray of deliverance.  Maybe this is true, because in Heman’s case, no deliverance from physical peril came.  Maybe it was Heman’s lot in life to be faithful unto death.  “Unto” is an expression of degree, not duration.  Of course, God expects you to be faithful to Him until the day of their death; He also expects you to be faithful to Him even if it costs you your life.  Maybe in Heman’s case, he died in the “lowest pit” (v. 6), in affliction (v. 9), separated from loved ones and friends (v. 18).

     “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

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Author: jchowning

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