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God’s Word for You

Hebrews 11:35,36

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, December 31, 2014

35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.

In the Old Testament, there were people raised from the dead just as there are in the New. Elijah delivered the son of the widow of Zarepheth back to her (1 Kings 17:17-24). The Shunammite woman also received her son back from the dead, raised by Elisha (2 Kings 4:35). This incident was especially significant because Shunem lies on the other side of the hill from Nain where Jesus performed a similar miracle (Luke 7:11-17). Another incident happened after Elisha died. When Moabite raiders attacked Israel, some men burying a comrade had to hurry with the funeral and “threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb” (2 Kings 13:21). When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the dead man came to life again.

In fact, quite a few of Jesus’ miracles have parallels in the ministries of the prophets—especially Elisha. But our author’s point is about the faith that these women had—the widow of Zarephath with her nearly empty jar of oil, her handful of flour, and her surviving child; the woman from Shunem and her darling boy, and the women (mother? wife?) to whom the Israelite corpse returned as a living man.

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.

The word for “torture” here is tympanizo (τυμπανίζω), to torture by stretching out and beating as if beating a drum (perhaps you can detect the word “timpani” in tympanizo). There is no clear instance of this in the Old Testament, although there are several in the apocryphal books (2 Macc. 6:18-30; 2 Macc. 7:1-42; and 4 Macc. 5:32 where a torture device is called “the wheel”). However, Sarah mistreated and abused Hagar, whose faith is shown when the Angel of the Lord—the first appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ—appeared to her in the wilderness (Genesis 16:7-14). That mistreatment probably included beating young Hagar. Also, the Israelites were cruelly mistreated and wounded by the Egyptians during their captivity (Numbers 20:15; Deuteronomy 26:6) and were sometimes beaten savagely (Exodus 2:11). They endured these things because of their faith that God would deliver them.

Some prophets were put in prison (1 Kings 22:27; 2 Chronicles 16:10), others were mocked and jeered at (2 Chronicles 36:16). Jeremiah was beaten and put into stocks (Jeremiah 20:2), he was beaten and imprisoned (Jeremiah 37:15), and he was lowered into a muddy cistern to starve (Jeremiah 38:6-9). As a final insult, after Jeremiah warned the people of Judah that they should go to Babylon in order to survive the captivity—they must not try to flee to Egypt—an army officer named Johanan forced Jeremiah to go to Egypt anyway (Jeremiah 43:1-7). As far as we know, Jeremiah never returned to Judah; he died there in Egypt.

Despite their mistreatment, all of these people lived by faith. They looked forward to what they knew was coming, and they died knowing they would not see it during their lifetime. But they still knew that the day would come when their faith would mean the resurrection of their purified, glorified bodies, and eternal life in heaven.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

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