Summary: Now if we want a faith that shines, I believe we need to look at the faith of the people the writer names in the closing chapter.
The rest; a faith that shines
Hebrews 11:32-40 03/19/06
Each year or more than once a year, there will be a magazine that usually will list the top 100 people in the world. As we conclude our study of Hebrews 11, I believe we could not conclude it in any greater fashion. We come to a list of Bible heroes who, may not make TIME Magazine lists, but made the Hall of Faith list. These are people who ought to serve as our mentors, idols and heroes from a spiritual standpoint. The examples given in Hebrews 11 were taken from the first 6 books of the Old Testament. There were many other examples, which could have been used, but the writer states in verse 32 that “time would fail” him to speak of all the examples of faith. Now, he gives the specific names of 6 men and recounts the lives of other unnamed men in the following verses to describe for us the type of faith that shines.
Now if we want a faith that shines, I believe we need to look at the faith of the people the writer names in the closing chapter.
I want you to see first of all a faith that shines is A FAITH THAT ENDURES DARK TIMES. One of the first, most impressive things about the lives of faith discussed is how their faith shined in the midst of enduring dark times. From a historical standpoint we learn that: A. It was a Time of Moral Decay! There were murders, idolatries, drunkenness, reveling, as well as the practice of pagan rituals. It was a time where the old adage would have held true, "If it feels good, do it."
It was not only a time of moral decay but also B. It was a time of spiritual declension. It was a time when many had pushed any spiritual persuasion aside to go after their dream. They wanted what they wanted and did not mind violating spiritual laws to get it. Man had placed God in the background of life determined to go his own way, and do his own thing. Now people if that isn’t the picture of America today, then I am not reading the day in which we live correct. It is a time just like we read in the closing verse of Judges and it reads every man did that which was right in his own eyes. There is a way that seems right unto man but the end is destruction. God made man perfect; but, the creature has pushed aside the Creator, and has sought his own way of doing things. Thus, like the times of the judges, we are people of faith living in a day of moral decay and spiritual declension.
Now folks, a great responsibility rest upon the shoulders of the people of faith. We may be the only "salt" in our home, factory, office or school. We may be the only "light" in our depressing and dark personal world. If an eternal change is going to be made, it will not be made by the White House, it can only be made by God’s House.
I want you to see that a faith that shines is not only a faith that endures dark times but also that shines is A FAITH THAT ESCAPED DIFFICULT TROUBLES. In verses 32-38 the writer explores the lives of some of the greatest people of faith who ever lived. Time would not permit us to examine every one of their lives, but we are able to look into a few.
Many believe that the writer is speaking of men such as Gideon, Barak, and Samson. Gideon was that great man of valor. The name Gideon means, “He that bruises, or a great warrior.” He was an ordinary, hard-working man whom God chose to use. In fact, once God called Gideon he felt inadequate for the work God had called him to do. The greatest episode in the life of Gideon is described in Judges 7. An army of 32,000 men came to Gideon equipped for battle. They were too many for God to use. God, finally, reduced the number down to 300, and used Gideon to lead them to a great victory. He took 300 men armed with “barley bread,” “trumpets,” “empty pitchers,” and “lamps within the pitchers,” and defeated the host of the Midianites. Gideon reminds us that God specializes in taking ordinary people and accomplishing extraordinary things.
Every time that I read of these great examples of faith I fall under conviction. They lived in the most difficult of times, yet they continued to be faithful to God. We will never know the persecution they endured as they lived for God. Most of us will never be thrown in prison for sharing the gospel. Most of us will never be thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to bow to the gods of this world. Most of us will never be called upon to give our lives for the cause for which we stand.