Day 284 – The Litany of Old Testament Saints

Today’s reading: Hebrews 11

Today’s reading begins with one of the most famous and powerful lines of scripture:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I always like to mention that this doesn’t mean faith is “blind”.  There is evidence for all we believe and what we believe is reasonable.  For example, we can be confident that Jesus said and did the things recorded in the Bible because we know that historically the gospels are the recorded testimony of the witnesses to his life.  That’s evidence, just like if you were to go to court today and hear someone testify about something that they witnessed.  Faith is the understanding of what those things mean.  In other words, we can assured that Jesus is the Son of God (even though we cannot see it this moment) because through faith we can know what the evidence means.

In the next part of Chapter 11, the author of Hebrews lists many of the great Old Testament figures.  He lists, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and Rahab.  He notes that he doesn’t even have time to get into Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the other prophets.  He also lists among these Old Testament figures:

Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Hebrews 11:35

Who are these people the author is referring to?

As Catholics, we know this is a reference to a story in 2 Maccabees chapters 6 and 7 and the woman whose seven sons were killed in front of her rather than agreeing to eat pork and violate the law.  However, many Protestants may just pass over this reference thinking it to be just a general allusion to some pious tale because they have removed the book of 2 Maccabees from their Bible.  That this story is missing from Protestant bibles when this story is the litany of the greatest heroes of the Old Covenant is striking.  While not conclusive it is powerful evidence that if this woman and her sons, who were martyred for God, are to be included among the Old Testaments greatest figures than the book that contains their story, 2 Maccabees, should be in the Bible.

Tomorrow: Hebrews 12


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