July 24, 2022
They have been called “The Most Crushing Losses in Sports History,” “The Hall of Flameout,” and “Snatching Defeat from the Hands of Victory.” They are sports events that are considered major failures, gaffs, and defeats. For years, ABC captured the sense of loss on Wide World of Sports with an image of a ski jumper falling haphazardly off the end of the jump ramp to the words, “the agony of defeat.”
Every sports fan has their own list of particularly hard defeats, but here are a few:
- They needed one more strike to win the World Series in 2011; instead, the Texas Rangers gave up a hit that drove in two runs in the ninth inning and then lost the sixth game of the World Series in extra innings and then lost the World Series the next day.
- On the last day of the 1996 Master’s golf tournament, Greg Norman led by six strokes — an insurmountable lead that was surmounted; he lost by five strokes.
- Similarly, in 1999, Jean Van de Velde only needed to shoot a double-bogey on the final hole of the 1999 British Open to win. He shot a triple bogey and lost by one stroke.
- And perhaps my personal favorite, way back in 1916, poor Cumberland College was outmatched by the Georgia Tech football team, suffering the greatest loss in football history, losing 222-0.
Sometimes it seems like similar things happen in the spiritual realm. We look to our spiritual heroes and while we see people who accomplished great things, we also see great flaws. And we see gracious people who suffer and godly people who “aren’t rewarded.” That certainly has seemed to be the case with many of the people of Hebrews 11 — and will be as we work through the final verses of this great chapter. What are we to understand and believe from these verses? Are they stories of victorious followers of God, or failed followers of God? And what should we think and believe as we meditate on these verses?
These verses are a reminder that God is doing more than just working in the lives of individual people. Abraham’s story was about God’s faithfulness to a nation, not just about Abraham’s faithfulness. And so it was with Abel, Noah, Moses, David, and all the others mentioned in this chapter. Their stories may have ended in apparent failure or apparent victory, but the real meaning of their stories was what they revealed about the faithfulness of God.
As we conclude this great chapter this morning, we are going to be reminded that —
God uses frail people to demonstrate that He is always trustworthy.
Whether His people “win” or “lose” in given circumstances is not the goal or lesson of these stories; the goal is to reveal that God never fails and that God is always victorious. In these final verses, we see four demonstrations of God’s victory…
- The Victorious People of Faith (v. 32)
- The Victorious Accomplishments of Faith (vv. 33-35a)
- The Victorious Sufferings of Faith (vv. 35b-38)
- The Victorious Hope of Faith (vv. 39-40)
Download the rest of this sermon on Hebrews 11:32-40.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.