Summary: First in a series on the unlikely heros of faith introduced in Hebrews 11
Chico Alliance Church
October 6, 2002
Pastor David Welch
Unlikely Heroes: Part One
God uses all kinds of people to accomplish His work. We ought to consider it a privilege that God includes imperfect fragile humans to bring about eternal impact. Oftentimes a whole group gets themselves into bondage and God uses a single person to bring deliverance for all of them. Hebrews 11 reveals a lengthy list of faithful heroes used by God to lead and effect eternal change on earth. One section of this distinguished list of Bible heroes includes a group of unlikely heroes. Not only were these ordinary people, they were people with some major struggles and even noteworthy flaws that normally would disqualify them to be used at all let alone to effect eternal change. The Bible records God’s use of many unlikely heroes. In the next several weeks I want to focus just on these named yet unlikely heroes listed in Hebrews 11:32-34
And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Hebrews 11:32-34
The bulk of these listed here fit the category of “from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” What does it take to be a minister of deliverance to those in bondage? Who will God use to help others? Since four out of the six people specifically named in these verses came from the period of Judges it would do well to understand the times.
The Book of Joshua records the initial occupation of the Promised Land. Joshua led the people to victory over the evil and corrupt inhabitants of the land. The entire nation joined in warfare against some formidable foes and fortresses. After a series of successful full scale military campaigns the territory was divided between the twelve tribes of Israel with instructions to finish the occupation and completely eradicate the former inhabitants lest their evil influence spread to the Israelites and the world. The book of Judges continues the history of the conquest. The book begins with the record of continued conquest by each individual tribe. It was not long however before complete conquest turned to partial conquest and then to no conquest and then reoccupation by foreign people again. Partial obedience resulted in complete occupation. Judges records a series of cycles revolving around bondage and deliverance. This week I want to explore the five elements in the cycle. Next week we will devote the service to Baptism and the wonderful salvation that it symbolizes. The following week we will look at the first of the unlikely heroes -- Barak.
The writer of Judges first summarizes the cycle and then illustrates it with the history of seven major Judges.
When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land. The people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD which He had done for Israel. Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten. And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.
Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger. So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed.
Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do as their fathers. When the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them. But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways. So the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He said, "Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers and has not listened to My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk in it as their fathers did, or not." So the LORD allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not give them into the hand of Joshua. Judges 2:6-23