Hebrews 11: 13 tells us “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”
I once heard a message preached base on this verse. The speaker barraged the church and said “look even these heroes of faith did not receive the things promised, how much harder do we have to be more faithful in serving the Lord to obtain our reward in heaven. Be careful if not your life would be a total waste of time.”
I really had a problem with the message. It is entrenched in Scripture, salvation and rewards are always by grace. Even the so called rewards which are given is not given because of merit but by grace. We must understand we do not work for God. We are God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2) Hence it is always about what he did and is doing through us.
So I asked myself this question, “Did they get their reward or not?” Let’s look at things in its context. What is the first place is this reward. Let’s read further.
14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
What they wanted was a better place. What God gave them was a city. So that was the reward. Did they get it?
Let’s read further.
40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Note their reward was to be given together with “us”. This word “us” is not referring to the believers in the 21st century but that to those who had just believe in Christ not long after Christ died and rose again. Probably around AD 40.
Hold this thought.
22 But you have (note past tense) come to Mount Zion, to the city (note the city we were talking about earlier) of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
As such these people of faith had already received their reward. They receive their reward when Jesus became their mediator on the cross.
We enter into our reward by believing in what Jesus attained for us and not by striving forth to win what has already been won for us. All those in Hebrews 11 have received their reward. Their home. It is the city God prepared for them. The heavenly Jerusalem. Paul tells us we are already seated with Jesus at the right hand of God. We have entered our reward, so has Abraham. Nice to be neighbours with him.
Peace be set free.