In Chapter 11, the writer of the book of Hebrews brought to mind a wide selection of characters from the Old Testament who lived by faith. One thing that might not have been too obvious in that list of “believers” is that their faith was in “God’s Word.” The object of their faith was God. Biblical faith always has God as the object. The specific content of that faith may change from era to era but the object always remains the same. God’s word to Noah was that a flood was coming that would destroy the world. Noah believed and built an ark. Abraham and Sarah heard a call from God to trust him in their pilgrimage from their homeland to a place he would show them. They left. Moses heard from God in a burning bush. He believed that what God had promised him was better than anything he would get in Egypt. Hebrews 11:26 says of Moses, “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” All of the Old Testament “believers” had faith in God’s promise to bring about their deliverance through the Messiah. They believed God and rested their confidence on His promised redemption through Jesus Christ.

It wasn’t only the Old Testament characters who trusted God and believed His “Word” and acted on it. The Hebrews saw this truth lived out in the lives of those who had proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ. So the author moves on in Hebrews 13:7 to call for his readers to remember those people as well. He writes, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” When he refers to “the Word of God,” I’m convinced he’s referring to Jesus as the living word. They had God as their object but the clear content of the communication now that came from God was the message of his love for the world demonstrated on Calvary through his one and only Son. God spoke to the people of old in many different ways but the author of Hebrews told us at the beginning of his letter that “in these days he speaks to us through his son.” The message that comes to us through Jesus is far better than the messages received from angels and prophets.

This is fully recognized because of the comment in the next verse. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This is not a verse that the author drew out of the blue! He had Jesus in mind all the time. When we’re called to imitate “their faith,” we’re called to put all our confidence in Jesus just as they did. One commentary says, “In this fast-changing world, nothing seems dependable and permanent. Leaders come, and leaders go. One leader however, is unchangeable: Jesus Christ. Says the author, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’ More sermons have been preached on this text than on any other verse from Hebrews, so that this verse almost has attained confessional status in the church.”[1] This short verse carries incredible implications for every believer. Fruchtenbaum explains, “The context simply teaches that Jesus can give the believers victory in their trials. He brought victory for the distant saints of chapter 11 and for the more recent saints of verse 7. He has given victories in the past, He is giving victories in the present, and He will give victories in the future.”[2]

[1] Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, Exposition of Hebrews, vol. 15, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 415.

[2] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude, 1st ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 190.