Victory Through Faith
Before the Hebrew writer ends his list of those who are members of Faith’s Hall of Heros, he points out that the list goes on and on. The question: “and what more shall I say?” was “a common homiletical and literary idiom for indicating that time and space are limited.” (Ger 197). As if preaching a long sermon he indicates that the illustrations of faith are by no means lacking. Having spoken of the faith of the antediluvians, the patriarchs, those who left Egypt for the Promised Land, he now mentions the notable faith of the Judges (Gideon, Samson and Jephthah); a military leader for the judge called Deborah, named Barak; David the king and prophet; and finally Samuel the last judge and the beginning of the prophets. “The prophets” sum up the rest of this list. All those mentioned in this section of the great chapter on faith are those of history of the nation of Israel who used their belief in the promises of God to preserver through various trials.
Through Faith Subdued Kingdoms
The reader of Hebrews 11:32 can take the six names and all the prophets and attach them to the following examples of their struggles with the enemies of God. However, there are many more not mentioned by name whose faith is equally applicable. Joshua led the Israelites to “subdue kingdoms” as did the Judges and especially King David. The parents of Samson were promised by the angel their son “shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5).
Through Faith Worked Righteousness
The phrase “worked righteousness” means those who administered justice. Two men stand out King Solomon with his God given wisdom to rule the people wisely. Also, Nehemiah as governor over Jerusalem.
Through Faith Obtained Promises
God made a promise to give victory through faith and obedience. He gave Gideon victory over the Midianites (Judges 6:16; 7:19). Barak was victorious over King Jabin the Canaanite and his great general Sisera who commanded a large army supported by 900 chariots of iron. Although a woman named Jael killed Sisera, the promise of deliverance was fulfilled. Added to this was the fact he only had ten thousand men from just the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. “And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot” (Josh. 21:45).
Through Faith Stopped the Mouths of Lions
Several men of faith “stopped the mouths of lions.” Samson with is bare hands (Judges 14:6). Young shepherd, David, while protecting the sheep from a lion and even a bear (1Sam. 17:34-37). Perhaps, the most famous was Daniel in the den of lions. After a night in the lions’ den “Daniel said to the king, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.’ Then the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God” (Dan 6:21-23). As Christians do we have enough faith to stop the mouth of the great deceiver Satan (1 Pet. 5:8)?
Through Faith Quenched the Violence of Fire
The author of Hebrews must of had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in mind when he wrote of those who “quenched the violence of fire.” Nebuchadnezzar command all leaders to fall down and worship an image. Anyone who refused to obey this command were to be cast into the burning fiery furnace. “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Dan 3:16-18),
Through Faith Escaped the Edge of the Sword
David “escaped the edge of the sword” of King Saul on several occasions (1 Sam. 23:19-29). Although some of the prophets of God fell victim to the wrath of Queen Jezebel Elijah was able to escape (1 Kings 19:8-10). The King of Israel wanted to murder Elisha (2 Kings 6:31-32).
Through Faith out of Weakness Were Made Strong
The Israelites as a nation of nomadic slaves coming out of a forty year wandering in the wilderness “out of weakness were made strong” because of the faith. They were able to defeat giants in walled cities. After his hair was cut Samson was bond by the Philistines who blinded him. However, he in a state of weakness was made strong. “Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” (Judges 16:28). King Hezekiah was on his death bed and the prophet Isaiah had informed him he would not recover. Through the prayer of faith he was given fifteen more years of life (Is. 38:1-8).
Through Faith Became Valiant in Battle
Samson was a one man fighting force against the Philistines (Judges 13:25; 14:19; 15:14: 16:28). Consider the time he killed a thousand Philistines with just the jawbone of an ass. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of David’s faith was when he defeating Goliath. His faith was of such that it was not if he killed Goliath or even when, it was deemed a certainty in David’s heart. “Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1Sam. 17:47). Jephthah, although the son of a prostitute, led the Israelites of Gilead in victory over the Ammonites (Judges 11). King Jehoshaphat defeated Edom (2Chron. 20:1-30) through faith in God who gave the victory.
Through Faith Turned to Flight the Armies of the Aliens
“And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot” (Judges 4:15). King Hezekiah’s prayer when faced with a siege by the army of Sennecrib turned to God in faith and prayed for help. God sent an angel who killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in a single night (2 Kings 19:1-36). David put to flight the Philistines by just killing one man, Goliath. This reminds of the promise in Leviticus 26:7,8:”You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.”
Through Faith Dead Raised
Two “women received their dead raised to life again” in the Old Testament. Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath’s son back to life. (1 Kings 17:17-24). The Shunamite woman received her son alive again by a miracle by the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4:8-37). In the New Testament several examples of a literal resurrection come to mind. Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 11:7-17), Jairus and his wife received their daughter alive again (Mark 5:21-23), and Mary and Martha received Lazarus back after he had been dead for four days (John 11:1ff). Even Mary received her son, Jesus, back to life. After his ascension into heaven the apostle Peter raised up Tabitha (Acts 9) and Paul raised Eutychus (Acts 20:11f) from the dead. Christians through faith hope to see the dead saints when Christ returns (1 Thess. 4:13-18f).
Daniel R. Vess