Devotional: ‘Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy’

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Who is the greatest person you have met or known? Perhaps some of us would name a politician or a famous entertainer. Maybe some of us would refer to someone who was a multimillionaire. Each of these may be great in their own way, but the Bible says the greatest who have ever lived upon this earth are those who have faithfully suffered for the cause of Christ.

Hebrews 11:35 …and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Most of us know about the heroes of faith such as Noah, Abraham and Moses. We love to tell the stories of David and Goliath, or the three Hebrew children who walked about inside the fiery furnace. But rarely do any of us talk about the men and women who died cruel deaths as a result of their love for God.

Perhaps our neglect of them is because we do not naturally see such people as being a hero. The world certainly never has. Today’s passage of scripture says that these individuals were the subjects of ‘cruel mockings and scourgings.’ An example of this is the way the Roman Emperor Nero martyred many Christians during the first century. Tacitus, a Roman historian who lived during the first century, wrote – “In their (Christians) very deaths they were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights.” [1]

The actions of Nero were so hideous that it is hard to imagine how someone could be so cruel. Yet his evil actions actually reveal mankind’s hatred of God. This same hatred still exists today in many ways. For instance, a few years ago the National Endowment for the Arts have gave tax-payer support to a so-called artist who submerged a small replica of Jesus on the cross in a bottle of urine. Or consider also how many openly mock the idea that there could be a God or that the Bible could be His infallible Word.

Yet the Bible teaches us that those who mock God today – will be mocked by Him tomorrow.

Psalm 2:2 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and His Anointed One: 3 “Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them. 5 Then He speaks to them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath: CSB

Though the martyrs found in Hebrews 11 may not seem at first as those who should be called heroes, scripture teaches us that they are some of God’s greatest. Verse 38 says of them – “Of whom the world was not worthy…” So great in the eyes of God were these men and women of faith, that the wicked of this world did not deserve to have them living among them.

[1] Tacitus, Annals, (c. 55 -117 CE)

 

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