The Book of Hebrews #58 chapter 11:32-40
The Book of Hebrews
A Conquering, Courageous Faith, Part 2
Hebrews 11:32-40
 
Hebrews 11:32-40
 
I’m sure you remember that the reason for the writing of the book of Hebrews is to convince this largely Jewish audience of the nature of salvation and relationship with God, that it is faith and not works.
 
And in an attempt to convince them that salvation has always been by faith and never by works, he goes all the way back to the very beginning of redemptive history and builds the evidence through these very well-known historical figures.
 
He starts with the family of Adam in verse 4, and talks about the faith of Abel. Then in verse 5, he points to the faith of Enoch.  Then he moves on to Noah and Abraham , Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.
 
That, in a nutshell, is the book of Genesis.  Then He moves to the book of Exodus and the books of the Law as he refers to the faith of Moses.
 
Then when you come to verse 30, as we saw last week, we move to the book of Joshua as the Israelites move into the Promised Land.
 
Tonight we come to verses 32-40 which conclude the chapter.  We may not make it through all of this passage tonight, but we will begin.
 
Here we find a sweep through the rest of the Old Testament.  He starts with the Judges.  That is Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah. Then he touches on the kings using David as an example.
 
Then he moves to the prophets and talks about Samuel and those who followed.  And then he begins to paint with very broad strokes as makes all these statements about the kind of suffering they endured and in every case their faith stood the test.
 
So, the point of the writer is to show us that redemptive history has always made clear that salvation is by faith.
 
But it seems to me there is an escalation in the intensity of narrative.  We began with an example of faith that is shown through the approaches to worship with Cain and Abel.
 
Then Enoch is seen as walking with God and the picture is that of sweet, intimate fellowship.  With Noah, the pressure ramps up a little.  Noah is asked to follow God by building an ark.  And while I’m sure there were lots of questions and maybe even some ridicule, we have no evidence that Noah suffered physically for his obedience.
 
And outside of family fusses, we don’t see much of that with Isaac or Jacob.  Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, experiences challenges to his faith more than anyone else but God faithfully delivers and elevates and protects him.
 
Even with Moses, there is miraculous deliverance from Pharaoh’s armies as they face the Red Sea and the same is true for Joshua at Jericho.
But when we get to chapter 11:32, the scenery changes quite drastically because now it is life and death kinds of issues.  In fact, when you get to verse 35, it is not just being tested for your faith and finding deliverance by God.  Now the faith of these is being tested to the point of persecution and death without deliverance. And I would suggest this is where faith is tested at its highest level.
 
And that was extremely important for this group of Hebrews to hear because that’s where they were living.  By the time of the writing of this letter, they were already enduring persecution. And the writer desperately needs for them to hear that true believers have a faith that endures.
 
In fact, this last part of chapter 11 was maybe the most applicable to them. It’s good to know that faith worships and walks and works. But when you are being persecuted for your faith, you need to know that faith stands the test of persecution. It stands the test of life and death situations. So the word to have in your mind in this last section, particularly verses 32 and following is the courage of faith.
 
Last week we saw courage in struggles.  That’s verses 30-31.
 
Both the story of Jericho and in particular the story of Rahab demonstrate that faith conquers in a struggle, that faith is courageous.
 
Now when you come to verse 32, we move into of the history of the Judges and the Kings.
 
 
There are six men mentioned in verse 32 and they are not in chronological order but they were all very critical men in the nation of Israel who demonstrated their faith in God in crisis situations. They were all courageous in faith. So let’s just briefly look at them.
 
The first one is a familiar name to us.  His name is Gideon. And if you want to read the story of Gideon, you’ll find it in the seventh chapter of Judges.
 
Gideon is a judge. Now the term judge doesn’t mean that they were the ruling president of the nation. It simply means they were elevated to a place where their leadership and their wisdom put them in a ruling position somewhere in the life and the land of Israel. This judge had to face the Midianites. The Midianite army had a hundred and thirty-five thousand men.
 
When Gideon starts out, he has an army of 32,000.  Not the greatest of odds, but not impossible.  But God comes to him and says, “You have way too many men and you’ve got to pare this down and by the time God gets through, he’s left with an army of 300.
 
Obviously, any military strategy is out the window at this point.  I don’t care how smart you are, there is no military strategy by which 300 men can defeat an army of 135,000. So Gideon is now at the mercy of God.
 
Tomake matters worse, God gives him strange instruction in the seventh chapter of Judges. He tells him to get water pitchers, trumpets and torches and go find the Midianite army.
Now nowhere in history has anyone ever fought a successful military campaign armed only with , no one has fought a battle with torches, pitchers and trumpets. You might announce the battle with a trumpet. You have might have a torch if you want to protect yourself at night.  You might carry water along to avoid dehydration.  But that’s not how you fight a battle. It is in an absurd battle strategy, humanly speaking.
 
And I’m sure everything human and logical in Gideon wanted to say, “God, I’m not moving!  Are You kidding? You’ve pared me down to three hundred men and the only reason the 300 are the 300 is because of the way they drank water out of a stream? This is absurd.  And now you’re going to take away our weaponry and leave us only with kitchen utensil and musical instruments?”
 
But Gideon didn’t argue because his faith was so strong.  He understood the odds and the potential for death.  But he trusted God.
 
They split in to three groups and got in the circles of the hills where the Medianites were and they lit their torches. And at the appropriate time of the announcement, they smashed the pitchers which made noise and revealed the torches and the trumpets began to blow and the Medianites went into panic, probably assuming that for every torch there was an entire division of troops when it was just one guy with a pitcher and a torch and a trumpet.
 
The Medianites rolled out of their bunks, or off their pads on the ground, thinking they were fighting these massive hoards of Jewish troops who had descended upon them, they massacred each other. That was the faith of Gideon.  It would be pretty hard to believe God in that setting unless you had a supernatural faith in a supernatural God.
 
Then there was Barak. I love the story of Barak. It’s one of the most interesting of Bible stories. I will take you to this one because it’s a little bit shorter and not quite so familiar.
 
It’s found in Judges 4.  Now Barak, like Gideon is a judge.  Barak had ten thousand men and he was going against the mighty and massive forces of Sisera.  Sisera was a Canaanite commander of some confederated chariot troops. Again there was incredible odds with no way to win. But God sent a message to Barak through a woman by the name of Deborah. Barak believed the message. Barak believed that God would give him the victory.
 
Judges 4:7
 
That is the message from God through Deborah who was deemed there a prophetess because God uses her as His mouthpiece.
 
verses 8-9
 
In other words, if you just trusted God and didn’t have to take along Deborah, you’d have gotten all the credit. Now you’re going to be sort of embarrassed because you had to hide behind a girl.
 
Well, of course, the victory came. In fact, it was an incredible victory.
 
Notice verses 15-16
 
Now Sisera is still running in the other direction.
 
Verses 17-20
 
But notice what happens at verse 21
 
I think maybe her hormones are out of kilter that day!  And I love the last line of verse 21, “So he died.” I guess he did!  I promise you if someone ran a tent peg from one side of your head to the other into the ground, you would hope you were dead!
 
Once again we see a small band of almost unarmed infantry routing a tank division by faith. It happened with Gideon and it happened with Barak where we find these men stepping courageously into an unbelievable battle, trusting God. These are men of faith.
 
Then we come to Samson. Everyone knows about Samson. His story is told in Judges 13 to 16.  He was Israel’s champion against the Philistines. The Philistines are the primary enemy of Israel. They seem to show up on the scene more often than any others.
 
And in spite of his stupidity, in spite of
his tragedy with Delilah, in spite of his loss of strength, this man had years of great strong faith in God, enough so that he shows up here in Hebrews 11 as an example of faith.  We often forget about that when we tell the story of Samson.
 
Because of his prowess and strength, Samson was called by God to conquer the Philistines. And he approached it with immense courage. He never feared to enter into battle.
He knew that at any point in time his strength came from the Lord. His hair may have been the symbol of his strength, but the source of his strength was the Lord and he knew when he went into battle that at any moment that strength could disappear because he knew his own heart and he knew he was not a man who had by any means deserved this power. And he trusted God to not pull the plug, so to speak.
 
He was a man of incredible courage.  You see that at several junctures in his life.
 
First, in anger at the father of his Philistine wife for giving her away to somebody else, he tied the tails of 300 foxes together with torches in between them and set the torches on fire and sent them through the Philistine’s grain field and burned them all up.
 
Now he knew that could irritate the Philistines and again he’s only one man.  But he also knows that God has given him his power and he has this strong faith in his calling. When the Philistines found out who did it, they killed Samson’s wife and father-in-law. He even was more angry and Scripture says, “He smote them with a great slaughter.”
 
When they tried to retaliate, he took the jawbone of a donkey and killed a thousand more of them. They tried to trap him in Gaza.  He just picked up the city gates and walked up a mountain carrying them. He believed the promise of God, that God had called him to fight for Israel against the Philistines even against unimaginable odds.
 
Finally, after recovering his strength, he went in to the Philistine temple and brought it down on all of them in his last act of self-sacrificing faith.
He knew his calling.
 
Listen to Judges 13:5
 
He always knew when he was doing that, that he would know and experience the power of God and he lived by placing his faith in the revealed word of God.
 
Life, from time to time, will call for some courage from you as well.  The only way to face those circumstances is in courageous faith that comes from trusting God.
 
Next week we’ll look at Jephthah, David, and Samuel.
 
Let’s pray.

 

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