“Therefore God is not ashamed …”
God ashamed? What is this verse saying? What is it about? Today’s reading in Hebrews is that well known chapter 11 on FAITH. We should all be familiar with the words, that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (verse 1). What are the things we are convinced about – things that give reality to our future expectations – going far beyond the things we hope to achieve in this life?
Verse 6 is often quoted as a powerful personal challenge to us, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God, must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him”. It is sad that so few have a real genuine conviction that there is a God – and more than that, having that conviction, we can and must have a personal relationship with him, and this creates a totally meaningful prayer life.
What a contrast with most of the Jews in the days of the prophets; they only had a relationship with him as part of a chosen nation and not in a personal sense; and they were proud of being “children of Abraham” (John 8:33), and this satisfied them. Is not this similar to ‘Christians’ for whom membership of a church creates a sense of ‘relationship’? Yet, as individuals, we ourselves are without excuse if that is all our relationship consists of!
The Psalms of David are outstanding, if we will meditatively read them and see the reality of a personal relationship with God that can be developed – and when developed to the full, how wonderful it is, as David reveals in so many Psalms.
Verses 13 to 16 in today’s chapter caused us deep meditation. In the midst of naming significant men and women and the particular acts of faith in their lives, we read: “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised …” Abraham is the greatest example of this. Such men and women of genuine faith “acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth”.
Such people found it impossible to fit in with ‘ordinary’ humans although they might attempt to, as Jacob did at times. Verse 16 makes the point: “But as it is, they desire a better country that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” And that city is the new Jerusalem (see Revelation 3:12 – the heavenly city to be established on earth)!
Because of this, those with real faith desire something infinitely better than what this world offers – a world which is ‘empty’ of any vision of the future so that the people today just live for the present, this week, this month, this year! But those with real faith live so as to develop a real relationship with their Creator – and the Saviour he provided and as a result “God is not ashamed to be called their God”. Make sure you develop that faith.