Summary: The text is divided into two great principles, the exciting victories of faith and the enduring virtues of faith.
A Study of Hebrews 11
Sermon # 3
“Faith is the Victory”
We live in a society where winning is everything. Everything in our society is success oriented. Even the church has acquired the success syndrome. One religious leader says that what we need is to “think positively,” while another maintains “you just need to claim the wealth that God wants you to have” and yet another declares that “something good is going to happen to you.” All of these ignore the principal that there is a difference between spiritual success and material success. There is a difference between being deemed a success by the world and deemed a success by God.
This morning we are going to conclude our look at faith as it is displayed in Hebrews chapter 11. Last time (11:8-19) we saw how true faith involves a willingness to obey, a willingness to wait, and a willingness to sacrifice. Today in the author’s summary to his great “Heroes of the Faith Hall of Fame,” he gives two great principles about faith. Today we will see the great victories of faith and the enduring virtue of faith.
The Exciting Victories of the Faith 11:32-35a
In verse 32 it is as if the writer realizes that time constraints will not allow him to continue a detailed account of the heroic exploits of faith. He says, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:” He has now confined himself to six additional figures who’s lives span from the time of the judges through the monarchy and ends with the inclusion of “the prophets.” These men who are mentioned are intended to be suggestive of a host of men and women who had lived for God in a hostile world.
Gideon the first listed is a powerful example of faith, in that he and three hundred select men routed the Midianite army with torches and empty jugs (Judges 7: 7-25).
Barak, when the judges ruled Israel, was a military leader who along with Deborah, led Israel to defeat Siscera and the Canaanites (Judges 4:8-10).
Samson, is usually remember for his great strength not his faith, yet in spite of his weaknesses, he was a great champion of Israel during period of the Philistine oppression (Judges 13:1- 16:31).
Jephthah, often remember for his foolish vow, placed his faith in God and relied on his power to overcome the Ammonities.
David, a man who could and did make tragic mistakes, was first and foremost a man of faith. David is called “a man after God’s own heart” because of his faith and his desire to do the will of God.
Samuel was first of the prophets and the last of the judges. He started as a young boy and continued always through his life serving God.
“The prophets, ” who remain unnamed accept for Samuel, all served God cheerfully, courageously and confidently accepted God commands and faced whatever opposition came along.
In verse 33 he details some of what they had been able to do through faith, “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, (34) quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (35) Women received their dead raised to life again.”
First we see the rather broad overview of the results of these believers faith; they saw political victory in that they “through faith subdued kingdoms,” they achieved moral success in government as they “worked righteousness” (some translations have this as “administered justice), and they achieved spiritual reward in that they “obtained promises,” that is that they received words of promise from God.
But secondly, these believers also saw various forms of personal deliverance. Those who “stopped the mouths of lions” seems to be an obvious reference to Daniel who was thrown to the lions and left overnight but was unscathed, “because he trusted in his God.” (Dan 6:23).
It was Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, who, “quenched the violence of the flames” when they were thrown into the fiery furnace for their refusal to worship false gods (Daniel 3: 16-30).
Many of the prophets including Elijah, Elisha and Jeremiah, “escaped the edge of the sword. ”
Stories such as David’s defeat of Goliath with a sling and Gideon’s victory over the Midianites demonstrated that “out of weakness were made strong. ”
The Old Testament contains many examples of groups who “became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”
But if the faith of God’s people could boast of spectacular achievements in the form of military victories, miraculous deliverances and the raising of the dead to life, it was no less inspiring than the willing endurance by others of horrible torture and cruel death.