“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country” (Hebrews 11:13,14).
This is the heart-touching testimony of the great “heroes of faith” of Hebrews 11. The experiences of all these godly men and women of the past are outlined as an example for us as we pass through the years of our own “pilgrimage” on the earth. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us . . . run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
There is another group who also gave their own lives, and the testimony of our text seems appropriate for them as well. Once a year, on Memorial Day, we remember in a special way those who died in defense of our own country. They had seen its promises and embraced them and were willing to die for them. Many of those were also Christians, and they loved their country, especially because of its unique Christian heritage and its freedom to practice and propagate their faith.
One of these was this writer’s younger brother who died in the jungles of Burma as a young pilot flying the famous “Hump” into China during World War II. Before his death, he had given a faithful Christian witness to many of his buddies as he ran his own race with patience. Many readers of these lines no doubt remember their own friends and loved ones who likewise offered up their lives for God and country.
As we remember them, we surely must remember, with even greater love and appreciation, the one who made the greatest sacrifice of all, “looking 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 12:2). HMM