“…There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them…” (Hebrews 11:35-38, NIV).
Hebrews Chapter Eleven is a bit of a who’s who of the Christian faith. It’s not surprising to see the heavy hitters of Christianity make the list of spiritual all-stars: folks like Noah and Abraham, Jacob and Moses. Each of these men made huge contributions to advance the Kingdom of God. The list also includes those we might consider to have played lesser, although still vital, roles in God’s service. We read of people like Abel, Enoch, and Rahab, just to name a few.
Martyrs Of The Bible
The individuals who most capture my attention, however, are the countless martyrs of the bible who died for their beliefs. These are the men and women who were so devoted to God that they chose to give up their lives rather than their beliefs. These individuals are simply referred to as the “others”. They remain nameless, not because of their insignificance or unimportance, but because, in many cases, their identities are unknown.
The author of Hebrews paints a gruesome picture of the torment these martyrs of the bible faced. Beatings, imprisonment, stoning, and being sawed in two are just some of the cruel techniques described. And then the writer makes the statement that tears at my heart and stirs my soul, “…the world was not worthy of them…” (Hebrews 11:38, NIV).
The World Was Not Worthy Of Them
Think about this phrase, “…the world was not worthy of them…” (Hebrews 11:38, NIV). These faithful individuals lived life and faced death in such a way that the world need not even attempt to lay claim to them. But God claims them. And Heaven welcomes them.
I hope I never have to give up my life to hold-on to my beliefs. If I do, however, I know I will be in good company with those whose lives have preceded me. And hopefully it will be said of me what was said of them, “…the world was not worthy…” (Hebrews 11:38, NIV).