Documentation Published on Friday, 31 March 2023

That they without us should not be made perfect – The examples of faith shown in old times did not see the promise realised in their time, because you still need to get on board

That they without us should not be made perfect

The examples of faith shown in old times did not see the promise realised in their time, because you still need to get on board

This is probably the longest title and subtitle we have ever used, but it is done so that you can be sure of what you are about to read. First, read Hebrews chapter 11 and then return here. Hebrews 11 starts with this very important verse:

1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2For by it the elders obtained a good report. – Hebrews 11:1

To put it in simple terms, faith is what you hope to get, and have not seen yet. Once you have received it, you see it, and faith does not apply anymore. This will be an important aspect to remember. Faith is also to accept things that happened even if you did not witness it. The Hebrews hall of fame gives us chronological examples of situations that required, and still require, faith. They are:

  1. Creation – we were not there to experience creation and thus we have no right to question the creation account. It is to be accepted on faith (verse 3);
  2. Abel – brought a better offer than his brother (verse 4);
  3. Enoch – did nor experience death but was translated alive (verse 5);
  4. Noah – prepared an ark whenn there had never been rain before (verse 7);
  5. Abraham – went to an unknown land (verse 8);
  6. Sara – became pregnant when biologically it was impossible (verse 11);

We are given a summary, that they all died without receiving the promises (Note the plural – God made many promises to various people and groups, including the coming of Messiah.), but they could see them in the distance (Hebrews 11:13) before the list continues:

  1. Abraham – offered his only son because God told him to do so (verse 17);
  2. Isaac – blessed his two sons (verse 20);
  3. Jacob – blessed Joseph's sons (verse 21);
  4. Joseph – mentioned the exodus long before it happened (verse 22);
  5. Moses’ parents – hid him from the king because he had a future task (verse 23);
  6. Moses – did not fall for the sin of the flesh; and others but remained focused (verse 24);
  7. Rahab – received the spies and hid them despite the danger to her personally (verse 31);
  8. Gideon – fought a battle he was not supposed to win (verse 32);
  9. Barak – relied on a woman to accomplish God's will, something that would not have gone down well with any military leader (verse 32);
  10. Samson – remained faithful despite his many shortcomings (verse 32);
  11. Jephthah – was obedient and was victorious in battle despite his many other faults (verse 32);
  12. David – honoured and obeyed God despite many failures in his life (verse 32);
  13. Samuel – was faithful despite what happened around him (verse 32); and
  14. The rest of the prophets – endured ridicule and cruel treatment but remained faithful in telling people what God told them (verse 32).

We are now told what they had to endure for what they believed in (Hebrews 11:33-38). Yet, they did not receive the promise (Note the singular – this is the specific promise of the Messiah.), despite what they had to endure. But what was the promise? Simply this: that they would be made perfect! See Hebrews 11:40. What is this perfection? It is us seeing Jesus as He is. This is the hope we have today, and it was the same back then. We just have a much clearer understanding of God’s grace for us today than the Old Testament saints had.

The key to understanding Hebrews 11 is found in verses 39 and 40:

39And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. – Hebrews 11:39-40

Even though they lived in faith, none of the Old Testament believers received the promise of the Messiah because God has provided something better for us all (Old Testament and New Testament believers together) that they (the Old Testament believers) would not be made perfect without us (the New Testament believers). Think about this for a moment. As you read this, hundreds of believers before you have died without receiving the promise. This is because God wants us, the New Testament believers, to be made perfect with them (the Old Testament believers).

You are the reason why they have not yet received the promise. Think about air travel. God is delaying the flight’s departure because you are important to Him. Flights will depart, hopefully on time, even if you are not there, because the airline’s staff do not think you are important enough to hold back those who have already boarded. Your name is Average Joe, and it means nothing to them, even if this was the last flight for the day. But imagine it was a VIP. In this case the flight would simply wait for Mr Very Important Person to board at leisure and take their seat.

However, in God’s eyes you are not just Mr Average Joe. The work Christ did on the cross is so important that God has made all the other Old Testament believers to wait until you have been turned into that Very Important Person. You have been changed and you are a new person. You enjoy the same privileges promised to the Old Testament believers. Read verse 40 again: so that they without us should not be made perfect.

While we are on this life’s journey, we need to take heed of Hebrews 12:1-2:

1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

We are to

  • get away from sin;
  • run the race, in other words live our lives with purposes; and
  • be on the lookout (expect His coming – the promise) for the return of Jesus.

This Jesus is the author. He has already written the script for your life. He is also the finisher. He is the last person you need to see. Once you have seen Him, you have received the promise and faith is no longer needed. The Old Testament believers have not seen Him yet because if they did, it would mean that they have already been made perfect and we would have missed out.


Maybe you are the one God is still waiting for to board the flight before we depart to be with Jesus. Maybe your life is a mess and you have not yet surrendered to Christ. Do it this day and allow all the other believers, from Abel onwards, to be made perfect with you. The promise of meeting Jesus was made for all of us, irrespective of our current position. But you need to put your faith in Him to make this a reality.

Send to a friend

Return to home page