Hebrews 11:35

Monday, 1 April 2019

Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Hebrews 11:35

Whereas the author noted active deeds of faith in the previous verses, he now notes passive acts through verse 38. Here he says, “Women received their dead raised to life again.” The Greek literally reads, “by a resurrection,” and it should be translated that way. This is because it is the same word used in the next sentence of this same verse.

The two examples which are certainly on the author’s mind are found in 1 Kings 17:17-24 & 2 King 4:8-37. Each account looks, in type, to the work of Christ. They are true accounts which are recorded from Israel’s history, and which reflect the hope of the resurrection as provided in the coming Messiah.

The author next says, “Others were tortured.” The word used here is unique in Scripture, tumpanizó. It signifies to beat a drum (one can think of a tympani-drum), and thus it means that these people were beaten to death, probably with clubs. However, it could be referring to generally cruel torture of various kinds. It is noted in the apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees 6 that a man named Eleazar was martyred because he refused to defile himself with swine’s flesh. It could also be referring to others in the Old Testament who were physically abused in various ways for their lives of faith. They accepted this punishment while “not accepting deliverance.”

The implication in those words is that they could have taken whatever action was demanded of them, but which was contrary to what is morally right, and have been saved from their torture. Instead, though, they refused to budge, knowing “that they might obtain a better resurrection.”

This doesn’t mean that when they are resurrected they will have a better resurrection than those around them who will also be resurrected. Rather, it is a contrasting statement in relation to the women mentioned in this verse who received their sons back. The resurrection there was a temporary raising to life which would eventually result in their final death. However, these people who were tortured were willing to go through that torture because they knew it wasn’t the end for them. Rather, it was a necessary step on the road to the final resurrection of the righteous. It was, and it remains, the great hope for all who have trusted in Messiah. It is certain that this has always been the hope of the faithful people of God because Daniel wrote about it many centuries before the coming of Messiah –

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame 
and everlasting contempt.
Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:2, 3

Life application: As noted above, twice in the Old Testament, young boys were raised to life. Once was during the time of Elijah (1 Kings 17) and once during the time of Elisha (2 Kings 4). Read the following two verses which occurred during these accounts. Then read what Jesus said in the raising of Lazarus. See if you can determine a difference –

And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.’” 1 Kings 17:21

“He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord.” 2 King 4:33

“Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’” John 11:43

The difference is that Jesus, while thanking the Father, raised Lazarus under His own authority. Elijah and Elisha both prayed to the Lord, who is Jesus, for His authority to restore. Now think on the significance of this. By faith these prophets looked forward, not seeing what we see. How much more confident should we be after having the fullness of God in Christ!

In Christ is the hope of the resurrection, and so understand that there was and is a reward for being faithful during persecution, torture, and martyrdom. Should you ever face such a difficult ordeal, in and through your ordeal you also can expect a glorious resurrection and the crown of life from the hand of the Lord.

Lord God, we look to the completed work of the Messiah, knowing that what Jesus has accomplished has paved the way for our own resurrection. Help us to live by faith, never fearing, never fretting, and never regretting! Instead, fill us with Your constant and unfailing peace, and allow us to faithfully testify to Your splendor all of our days. Amen.

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