“Who through faith—obtained promises.”—Heb. 11:33.
“And these all—received not the promise.”—Heb. 11:39.
The promises which were obtained by faith refer to those which were fulfilled during the Old Testament dispensation. It was promised to Abraham that he should have a son; to Israel, that they should possess the land of Canaan for an inheritance; to David, that they should return from the Babylonish captivity, &c; and by faith each of them in due time obtained the promise.
But there was one promise which was of greater importance than all the rest; namely, the coming of the Messiah. In the faith of this the fathers lived and died; but they saw not its accomplishment. To see this was reserved for another generation. Hence the words of our Saviour to his disciples:—“Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”
It is thus that God has wisely balanced the advantages of different ages. The fathers obtained much, but not all. In respect of the blessings of Messiah’s kingdom, they sowed, and we reap; they laboured, and we enter into their labours. Thus it is ordered, that “they without us should not be made perfect.” The fulfilments of our times must come in to answer the faith and complete the hopes of those who have gone before us.