Hebrews 11: The Hall of Faith

Faith is important to the Christian walk, very important ( Hebrews 11:6). Given its importance, we should invest some time into understanding what faith is, how we apply it, and how we develop a stronger faith. A good place to start on such a study is the most famous chapter on faith, Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith. In this study, we work through the Hall of Faith one verse at a time, looking back at the stories referenced and watching for what we can learn from each one.

Key points of this study:

Hebrews 11

  1. v. 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    1. So by definition faith is about things I can't touch or see right now.
    2. It also pertains to things in the future that I can't prove are coming.
    3. Consequently, faith doesn't come naturally.
    4. Romans 4:17 ... God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. — God delights in the supernatural.
    5. However, faith gives substance to those things which are otherwise intangible.
  2. v. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

    1. Faith is the key to living a good life. Ultimately, it was not their actions that earned the elders their good report, it was their faith.
    2. Romans 4:1-8, 17-25 — It is not our actions that bring justification, but our faith.
      1. As we will see, faith leads to action. ( James 2:14-26)
      2. However, it is faith that justifies us, not our actions. ( Galatians 3:1-9)
      3. This is an important distinction to understand, otherwise we will get tripped up when we read Romans and James.
    3. Our faith is what leaves a lasting testimony.
  3. v. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

    1. Faith also addresses the past which we can not prove.
    2. This verse directly addresses the issue of origins and denies the theory of Evolution.
      1. Because our origins are not observable or repeatable, we can not prove our origins.
      2. So the question is, who will we put our faith in, God or secular scientists? (By the way, there are many scientists who believe in a literal six day creation.)
  4. v. 4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

    1. Faith is necessary to correct obedience, both Abel and Cain offered sacrifices, but only one took God's commands seriously.
    2. So faith believes the whole of God's command, not just the easy parts.
    3. It also leads us to complete and whole-hearted obedience.
      1. 2 Kings 13:14-19 — In this story, Joash king of Israel comes to Elisha who is dying. Elisha commands him to do certain actions which will be symbolic of his reign to come.
      2. First, Joash shoots an arrow out of the window, which is prophetic of Joash's victory over Syria in a specific battle.
      3. Then, Joash is told to strike the ground with the arrows. He does so only three times, and Elisha is upset because Joash didn't do it 5 or 6 times. Because he only did it three times, Joash is told he will only win three battles over Syria and not completely defeat them.
      4. What is going on here? Well, we may need to put ourselves in Joash's shoes.
        1. Joash was not a good king, even though he came to pay his respects to Elisha as he was dying, he did not have respect for God and probably not much for God's prophet.
        2. It is likely he viewed this whole thing as humoring an eccentric old man and did not take it seriously.
      5. Whatever the reason, because Joash did not obey fully, with enthusiasm, he would not overcome Syria.
    4. Am I obeying fully and taking God's commands seriously? Are some commands too difficult? Or maybe they conflict with my sensibilities or rights.
    5. By it he being dead yet speaketh — once again, it is faith that produces a lasting testimony.
    6. Note that both Abel and Cain had apparently good actions, but only Abel was justified. The difference was that Abel's actions were motivated by faith.
    7. James 2:14-23 — Faith and works, how do they fit together?
      1. James 2:14 What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

        1. We know salvation is not by works. So what does this mean?
        2. It means that a faith that is not producing works, is not a real faith.
      2. James 2:15, 16 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit?

        1. Words without actions to back them up are meaningless.
        2. They are meaningless, because the lack of action is evidence that the speaker really didn't mean what he said.
      3. James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

        1. Like empty words, faith is empty if it does not produce action.
        2. By the way, there is a parallel for love.
          1. 1 John 3:16-18 uses a very similar example.
          2. Just as real faith must produce action, so real love also must produce action.
        3. My father's classic illustration:
          1. Suppose my friend runs to my house and beats on the window shouting, Your house is on fire! Get out quick! Your house is on fire!
          2. If I stick my head out and say, Thank you very much for that news. I believe you, but I haven't quite finished my dinner. I will be out in an hour or two, do I really believe him?
          3. No, if I believed him I would act on it.
          4. God's Word demands action. If we do not act, we are not believing His Word.
      4. James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

        1. God sees our hearts and is primarily concerned with the motives behind our actions.
          1. God looks at the heart: 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 1 Peter 3:4
          2. Reins of the heart — There are many verses telling how God tries the reins of our heart.
          3. Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man [are] clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.

            • We can all justify our actions. Everything we do seems right to us.
            • But God doesn't look at what we do, He looks inside and determines the truth. ( Luke 16:15)
          4. Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

        2. However, we humans can not see the heart. We can only see each others' actions. Because things like faith and love must produce action, we can get a pretty good idea of where people stand from their actions.
          1. So while we are justified before God by our faith ( Romans 3:28, 30; Romans 4:5; Romans 5:1; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:24), before men it is different.
          2. We are justified before men by our actions.
        3. Also, no one can keep the law. If I could live a perfect life, I could be justified by my works, but I can't.
          1. The only way I can be justified is through Jesus, who lived a perfect life. My only access to Jesus is through faith. ( Acts 16:31)
          2. Thus we can only be justified before God by faith.
      5. James 2:19, 20 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

        1. Real faith produces action. If it is not producing action it is not real faith.
        2. Had the devils believed that God is good and all He says is right, they would not have rebelled.
        3. So while they knew God exists and is powerful, they did not believe in Him enough for it to change their actions. (See 1 Peter 2:1-3 below)
      6. James 2:21, 22 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

        1. This verse seems to be in direct opposition to Romans 4:2, 3
          1. Romans 4:2, 3 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath [whereof] to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

          2. The word justified is the exact same Greek word in both verses. It is even the same tense, person, etc.
        2. The key to harmonizing these seems to be the context.
          1. In Romans 4, it is argued that before God we can not be saved by works, we can only be saved by faith.
          2. If then, we understand that James is arguing that works should follow faith and works are an evidence to men, things begin to fit together.
        3. James agrees with Romans, it must begin with faith:
          1. faith wrought with his works — Faith comes first, faith is the mover. (Hebrews 11:17)
          2. by works was faith made perfect — Faith is completed by works
          3. Romans 4:2 is alluding to Genesis 15:6, where Abraham's faith was counted for righteousness.
          4. This comes well before Genesis 22:1-19, where Abraham was willing to offer Isaac on the altar.
            • So before God, Abraham's faith had already been credited for righteousness.
            • Much later, that faith produced obedience that we can see.
            • Genesis 22:12, 18 — God tells Abraham specifically that this was meant as a test of his obedience.
      7. James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

        1. Don't miss the phrase, And the scripture was fulfilled which saith....
        2. Abraham had already been justified by faith back in Genesis 15:6. Now that faith was coming to fruition in action.
      8. So how does it fit together?
        1. We are saved by faith alone. We can not do anything to earn salvation. ( Ephesians 2:8, 9)
        2. However, that same faith that saves us then begins to work obedience in us.
    8. So why exactly does faith produce obedience?
      1. Psalms 19:7-10; Proverbs 3:1-8 — If I believe God, then I will believe that obedience will lead to blessing.
      2. 1 Peter 2:1-3 — When I really believe that God is good and gracious, I will want to seek and obey Him.
      3. Romans 12:1 — When I really believe that I am a wicked sinner, but Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for me, then obedience is the only reasonable response.
    9. END OF LESSON 1
  5. v. 5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

    1. We know Enoch had faith, because we know he pleased God, see v. 6.
    2. Because of Enoch's faith, God did the impossible and the incredible.
    3. Again, faith produces a good testimony. Everything we know about Enoch was a product of his faith.
  6. v. 6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

    1. Impossible to please [him] — That is a serious phrase.
    2. I can do all kinds of good things, but if they are done without faith, they will not please my Heavenly Father.
  7. v. 7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

    1. Moved with fear — God had prophesied floods and rain ( Genesis 6:17; Genesis 7:4), but the world had never seen rain ( Genesis 2:5, 6) and presumably had never seen floods either.
      1. To Noah this must have sounded incredible and bizarre, but he believed God.
      2. He believed God to the extent that he was moved with fear. The natural tendency would have been to simply scoff at such things.
    2. Again, faith produces action (prepared an ark), a testimony (by the which he condemned the world), and righteousness (became heir of the righteousness which is by faith).
    3. Faith extends beyond what we know or can understand to what seems to us impossible.
      1. What about me? Is God calling me to do the illogical or irrational?
      2. What about the impossible? (Like building a 450 ft x 75 ft x 45 ft boat with only hand tools)
    4. Also, note that faith requires tenacity.
      1. As far as we know, after the initial commandment, God did not speak again to Noah, until the ark was done and it was time to bring the animals into the ark ( Genesis 7:1).
      2. Noah had to take God's one incomprehensible command and warning of something he could not fathom, and cling to it, for all the time he labored building that ark.
      3. Do I hang on tenaciously to the commands that I know God has given me, even when they seem outdated or far away?
  8. v. 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

    1. Faith: Stepping out into the unknown based only on God's command.
    2. Noah probably didn't understand floods, but he knew God was going to bring destruction, and he knew exactly how to build the boat to protect against it.
    3. Abraham knew almost nothing, he didn't know where to go or how God would bless. All he knew was God's promise to bless and God's command to go.
  9. v. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

    1. This was a big step from his comfort zone.
    2. Abraham was not a poor man ( Genesis 12:5) he probably could have lived comfortably in Haran.
    3. Travel was not easy back then.
    4. Abraham probably left a nice house in a walled city, and we know that he spent the rest of his life living in tents with no protection.
    5. Why give up all that? Because he believed God's promise and obeyed His command.
  10. v. 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.

    1. Abraham looked for something God would build. Not something man made.
  11. v. 11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

    1. This was a faith that both Abraham and Sara shared.
    2. Romans 4:18, 19 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:

      1. Compare this against hope believed in hope to the definition of Faith in v. 1
      2. Abraham had no worldly reason to hope, but he believed and had hope anyway. In fact, according to Romans 4:19 he had every reason not to hope, but because of his faith he did not considered the physical impossibilities.
      3. This was a really big hope. It was impossible for him to have any children, but the promise was for multiple nations!
    3. Romans 4:20, 21 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

      1. Staggered is a good word, here is a promise of the incredible and impossible. However, to have been overwhelmed with it would have been unbelief.
      2. Lord, teach me to be strong in faith.( Mark 9:24)
      3. giving glory to God — Of course when Isaac was born everyone had to glorify God for the great thing he had done, but this is talking about before Isaac was born. I think this means Abraham gave God the glory before God had done anything.
      4. In other words, something like, Yes Lord, I am fully persuaded that, what you have promised, you are able also to perform. I believe and praise you for what you will do.
    4. Faith is based on what God has said.
      1. Note according to that which was spoken in Romans 4:18.
      2. All of this was not based on Abraham's idea of what God should do, but on what God had said, He would do.
      3. We need to be careful that we are basing our faith on God's Word and His promises, not on our ideas about what God should do.
  12. v. 12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, [so many] as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

    1. God did do the impossible! This was not just Abraham's pipe dream, God did the amazing and incredible.
    2. Note the therefore in the verse. Was it because of their faith that God did this?
  13. v. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

    1. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob never saw the land given to them, before they died. They never saw the blessing to all nations. However, they knew God's promises were true and that someday He would fulfill them.
      1. were persuaded of [them] — They were completely convinced of these promises.
      2. embraced [them] — Not only did they believe these promises, but they desired and looked forward with anticipation to there fulfillment.
      3. confessed — This belief came out in their actions and words.
    2. they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth — This affected how they lived their life.
    3. 1 Peter 1:10-12 — We are blessed to be able to see God's fulfillment of these prophecies.
    4. 1 Peter 1:13-16 —But God has more promises that we must live in light of even if we never see their fulfillment.
  14. v. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

  15. v. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that [country] from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

  16. v. 16 But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

    1. now they desire a better [country] — How did they know it was a better country? No one had ever seen it? — By Faith
    2. How is my faith? Do I know and seek God's better country or am I continually enamored with that [country] from whence [I] came out? (See also: Moses and v. 24-27 below)
    3. Don't miss the phrase, wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, once again my faith is pivotal to my testimony.
      1. When we claim to be Christians, our attitudes and actions reflect on God. ( 1 Peter 2:9-12)
      2. This is a very serious responsibility. Do I besmirch God's holy name before others?
      3. How do I live to bring praise to my Lord's name instead? What controls my attitudes and actions? If I want to be pleasing to God, faith is the answer to both.
  17. v. 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [son],

  18. v. 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

  19. v. 19 Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

    1. Abraham had waited and hoped all his life for this son. Finally in his impossibly old age, God provided the son miraculously.
    2. Then God called him to give up that son he had hoped for all his life! All of Abraham's hopes and desires were tied up in Isaac, how could he let him go?
    3. Abraham believed that God was able to do all things, even the impossible twice.
    4. Abraham's faith drove his obedience!
    5. Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the dead
      1. God had promised that Isaac would be the one that God would use to build the great nation.
      2. Do you see the faith here? God said it, therefore it will certainly be true even if the current circumstances make it seem impossible.
      3. Notice how thorough Abraham's faith is, it doesn't focus just on the present command, but everything God has said.
    6. from whence also he received him in a figure — Figuratively Abraham did get Isaac back from the dead.
    7. When God calls me to do something hard, I need to stop look back at all of God's promises, cling to them, and obey.
  20. v. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

  21. v. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshiped, [leaning] upon the top of his staff.

    1. This is recorded in Gen 48.
    2. Genesis 48:3-4 — Jacob begins by recounting the promises God had made to him. (Faith is based on what God has said.)
    3. Genesis 48:14-16; Genesis 4:20 — The actual blessing on Ephraim and Manasseh are based on God's previous faithfulness and promises. (Our faith is bolstered as we look back at what God has done.)
    4. Genesis 48:21-22 — Jacob ends with, I am going to die, but God will still keep His promise.
      1. God's promises are true, even if I never see the fulfillment.
      2. Does my faith begin to fade after a week or month, when I don't see an answer?
      3. Jacob's faith grew over a whole lifetime, and he never saw the ultimate fulfillment of the promise.
  22. v. 22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

    1. Genesis 50:24-26 — Again Joseph did not live to see the promise, but he still believed.
  23. v. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw [he was] a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.

    1. Moses' parents had no special promise from God regarding Moses. They knew only that God had given them a healthy baby and trusted He had done so for a reason.
    2. In the end this meant for them, letting their baby float away in a basket and praying that God would care for him.
  24. v. 24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;

  25. v. 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

    1. This is the same principle (delayed gratification) that little children learn when it comes to saving money.
      1. When they get a little money, they can spend it right away on something small or they can save it up for something bigger later.
      2. On a much more significant scale, this is what Moses faced, he could have the immediate pleasures now, or he could choose to suffer now, for the much bigger fulfillment God had to offer later.
    2. 1 Peter 1:6-8 — My faith in trials, the eternal perspective.
      1. 1 Peter 1:6 — The verses before this have been talking about the great hope we have in Christ. This verse begins by rejoicing in that the future hope, but right now ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.
      2. 1 Peter 1:7 — The future hope can give us present hope even in trials, because we know the trials build our faith.
        1. Our faith is so very precious, because it will bring praise and honour and glory to Jesus when He returns. (See v. 16 above)
        2. So, by faith, I can rejoice in my trials, because I know they will bring glory to God.
        3. This of course assumes that I make the choice to grow in the trials, and not to bail out or become bitter.
      3. 1 Peter 1:8 — The passage then turns back to the joy we have in Christ, not just a future joy, but a present joy.
        1. At the time of this letter the Christians were probably suffering sever persecution.
        2. But look back over the verses in this chapter, these manifold temptations are a mere blip in the stream of joy and hope.
        3. Note that all of this joy pivots on the faith to believe that God will fulfill His promises to come in the future.
        4. The hope and joy Christ has to offer us swamps out any present trials we have, as long as we can have the faith to keep our eyes on the future.
  26. v. 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

    1. Faith effects my attitude, because if I really believe God's promises I will gladly choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God.
  27. v. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

  28. v. 28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

    1. Again faith led to obedience.
    2. Moses took God's command seriously. They did what otherwise would have seemed foolish and wasteful.
    3. The result of their faith was not only deliverance from the terrible plague, but also a strong testimony to all around them.
  29. v. 29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry [land]: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

    1. Think back to this story. You can get a feel for the mood from this.
    2. They were in desperate straights, unlike Abraham, they couldn't just wait for the promise. They needed the impossible right now!
    3. Moses, said Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD. That is a strong faith!
      1. Note that this strong faith did not come over night.
      2. Moses had been obeying in faith, and each time that he did it made his faith stronger. ( James 1:2-4)
    4. In the face of impending peril, can I stand still and wait for God's deliverance?
    5. END OF LESSON 2
  30. v. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

    1. This again is faith leading to obedience.
    2. Had it not been for faith, marching around the walls would have been pure absurdity.
    3. However, Israel obeyed even when it made little sense, and they won a great victory.
  31. v. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

    1. Joshua 2:9-11 — Everyone in Jericho was terrified. They all knew that Israel had a great God behind them.
    2. What made Rahab different?
      1. All of Jericho feared Israel, but the rest of city looked to their walls for deliverance.
      2. Rahab looked to God for deliverance.
      3. James 2:19, 20 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

        1. Real faith makes a difference in how we act.
        2. Real faith changes who we depend on.
      4. You can believe that God exists, but if that belief doesn't drive you to Him for redemption, it is not faith.
  32. v. 32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae; [of] David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets:

    1. Lets take the time to look briefly at these people:
    2. Gideon
      1. Judges 6:13 — Gideon knew the old stories and God's might
      2. Judges 6:15 — Gideon was a nobody with nothing to bring
      3. Judges 6:19-24, 36-40 — When God called Gideon, Gideon's first response was, I want to make absolute sure that this is God's call.
        1. God was patient with Gideon. And answered his requests.
        2. Notice that Gideon wasn't launching off on his own crusade and declaring that God was in it. He was making double sure to see what God was in and then he launched off on that crusade.
      4. However, once Gideon was sure, he obeyed.
        1. Judges 6:25-27 — Gideon tears down the alter of Baal that his people had.
        2. Judges 6:33-35; Judges 7:1 — Gideon calls his people to war.
      5. Judges 7:10 — God knew that Gideon was scared and sent people to help him.
      6. The real test of Gideon's faith came when God said, You have too many troops.
        1. Judges 7:2, 4 — God said essentially, I want you to have so few troops that it is impossible for you to win without My help.
        2. Notice we don't see Gideon questioning any more, he is convinced this is God's will, and he believes God will do it.
        3. In your life, does God wait until everything is impossible, before he delivers? When that happens does your faith hold, or do you faint, give up, or bail out before then?
        4. Or better, does God call me to do the impossible, just so he can show His power? Am I willing to step out in the faith that God will show His power?
    3. Barak
      1. Why is Barak in this list?
        1. Judges 4:8 — He is the one who refused to go to war without Deborah.
        2. That doesn't sound like a strong faith
      2. First of all, Barak had good reason to be afraid.
        1. Judges 5:8 — His army had no weapons.
        2. Judges 4:2 — Sisera had defeated Israels armies many times before, and that was when Israel was stronger.
        3. Judges 4:13 — Now Sisera had his whole army together, this was not a raid or a scouting party.
        4. Sisera's army had 900 chariots of iron. With Israel on foot, that is something akin to a handful of rebels trying to take on a battalion of tanks.
        5. From an earthly prospective this battle meant certain death for Barak.
      3. Judges 4:14 — I think the reason Barak is in this list is that although he was scared spit-less, when the time came to obey he had faith and stepped out.
        1. Imagine staring down the mountain at an unbeatable army and all you have in your hand is a pitch fork.
        2. The only way Barak could lead that charge was that he had to have faith that God would deliver.
          1. Faith that God would keep His promise and do the impossible.
          2. Think about it, could you lead a charge into 900 tanks with a pitch fork?
        3. Otherwise he was charging to certain and probably painful death.
        1. Gideon and Barak were ordinary nobodies.
          1. The were scared ordinary nobodies.
          2. But God used them to deliver their people, because despite their fear they had faith and obeyed.
    4. Samson
      1. Certainly, even if Gideon and Barak made it into the list of faith, I wouldn't expect to see Samson here.
        1. This is a man that lived for himself, and trusted in his own strength to save himself.
        2. Judges 14:1-20; Judges 15:1-17
      2. Judges 15:18-20 — It does appear that Samson lived right with the Lord for a little while.
      3. Judges 16:1-22 — However, in Samson's capture by the Philistines, it seems he was again trusting in himself and not God.
        1. All he was concerned about was keeping Delilah from pestering him.
        2. He was self confident and supposed that he could get up and throw off the Philistines whenever he wanted to.
      4. Judges 16:28-31 — Finally, at the very end of his life, Samson turned to God for strength.
        1. I think this is why Samson is in the list.
        2. Although, he made a mess of his life, he finally recognized that he needed God. He finally looked to God to provide the strength he needed to fulfill his mission in life, which was to deliver Israel from the Philistines.
      5. Self reliance is driven by pride and a lack of faith. ( Proverbs 18:11, 12)
        1. Driven by pride because, it says, I am up to this task. I am strong enough to handle it. ( Luke 12:19-21; Psalms 20:7-9; Psalms 31:23)
        2. Driven by a lack of faith, because God says I am nothing and all must be done in His strength, but self reliance responds, No God, you are wrong, I can handle it. ( Psalms 49:6-9; Jeremiah 17:5-8 )
        3. This is a wicked sin. ( Proverbs 6:16, 17)
        4. It took Samson all of his life to learn this.
    5. Jephthah
      1. Judges 11:1-3 — Jephthah had a very rough childhood.
        1. However, he did not use that as an excuse, he still grew into a godly man.
        2. Also, we don't see any sign of bitterness or him seeking revenge.
      2. Judges 11:12-22 — Jephthah new what God had done for Israel ( Numbers 21:-26).
      3. Judges 11:21-24 — More importantly he gave God the credit.
      4. Judges 11:29-33 — God gave him a great victory over the Ammonites.
      5. The key here I believe, is that with God's help Jephthah rose above his circumstances to be used of God.
    6. David
      1. There is of course much of David's life we could look at, but looking for evidence of faith, perhaps the best story is in slaying Goliath.
      2. 1 Samuel 17:4-11 — Goliath was one scary dude.
        1. Saul was a big man and a great warrior, and certainly they had many other good soldiers in the Israeli army.
        2. 1 Samuel 17:24 — But every one of them cowered in fear before this giant.
        3. Depending on which commentaries you read, Goliath was somewhere between 9 to 11 feet tall.
        4. The weight of his armor would suggest that his strength was equal to his height.
      3. 1 Samuel 17:26-29 — David's response: Where does this man get off defying God's army?
        1. Was this youthful idealism?
        2. 1 Samuel 17:28 — David's elder brother thought so.
          1. He also thought David had a pride problem.
          2. Remember that David had already been anointed.
          3. 1 Samuel 16:14-23; 1 Samuel 17:15 — Also, David had already served in the kings court.
          4. It would have been easy to have a big head.
        3. 1 Samuel 17:29 — But David thought he was justified.
      4. 1 Samuel 17:32-37 — A different attitude
        1. 1 Samuel 17:32 — Many mighty men of Israel's army had good reason to fear this giant.
        2. 1 Samuel 17:33 — David had even more reason, he was a boy and he had never fought in battle.
        3. Why then wasn't David afraid?
        4. Keeping his fathers sheep David has already gone through many trials (a lion and a bear).
          1. In each one of them David had shown faith and stepped out to do his duty in protecting the sheep. ( John 10:11-13)
          2. In each case God had given David victory and David's faith had grown.
          3. Now facing a new challenge of obedience David looked back on previous victories God had given, to reinforce his faith.
        5. David didn't look at this as a giant against a little boy. He viewed it as a man against God.
          1. Certainly there is a good deal of idealism here. David is not looking at this practically.
          2. However, this is likely not youthful idealism as much as spiritual idealism.
        6. So, David was convinced it was the right thing to do.
          1. It was certainly a hard and terrifying thing to do.
          2. However, not only was it right, but it was necessary.
          3. Goliath was blaspheming God. As long as Israel cowered before Goliath, God's power was in question and His glory was tarnished.
          4. What about me, when I know the right thing to do, do I step out in faith? Even if it is hard? Even if it is realistically impossible?
        7. 1 Samuel 17:45-47 — Read this passage!
          1. Think about a teenager with peach fuzz ( 1 Samuel 17:42) standing before a battle hardened giant and defiantly proclaiming this.
          2. Look for David's faith, what was he relying on? — I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts
          3. Look for David's motivation, why was he there? — And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear
          4. Finally, note that David proclaimed his faith boldly. When God delivered, every one knew it was God and glorified God.
          5. What about me?
      5. 1 Samuel 17:38-40 — David's faith was clearly in God.
        1. David didn't rely on all of the strength man had to offer.
        2. It probably would not have been wrong for David to use the armor, but we can see clearly that he was not relying on it.
      6. 1 Samuel 17:48 — David ran to meet Goliath
        1. There is no hesitation here, if David was afraid on the inside it doesn't show.
        2. Why was their no hesitation? David was absolutely convinced that God was able.
      7. 1 Samuel 17:49-51 — God gave David personally a great victory.
      8. 1 Samuel 17:52-53 — He also used David's faith to give Israel a great victory.
      9. What about me?
        1. Am I obeying in faith so that my faith can grow to bigger tasks.
        2. When I see what must be done, do I look at the practical limitations or at God's power?
    7. Samuel
      1. Samuel did not have an easy childhood.
        1. 1 Samuel 1:22 — Samuel was separated from his parents at a very early age to become essentially a servant.
        2. 1 Samuel 2:18-21 — Samuel only got to see his mother, father, and siblings once a year.
        3. 1 Samuel 1:28 — His vocation was chosen for him, even before he was born. He didn't get any choice in the matter.
        4. 1 Samuel 2:12-17 — Samuel worked under Eli and his sons. Eli was likely kind, but his sons were wicked men.
      2. 1 Samuel 3:19-21 — And yet through all of this Samuel grew close to the Lord.
      3. We might characterize Samuel's life as one of obedience.
        1. 1 Samuel 3:19 and did let none of his words fall to the ground. — Samuel is summarized as being very diligent to keep God's word.
        2. 1Samuel 3 — When God first called Samuel, he was willing and obedient, even though he didn't know who called at first.
        3. 1 Samuel 7:3-6 — Samuel led Israel in returning to obedience to God
        4. 1 Samuel 7:7-12 — Samuel led Israel in trusting God for deliverance.
        5. 1 Samuel 8 — Samuel didn't like the idea of giving Israel a king, but when God said to, Samuel obeyed.
        6. 1 Samuel 16 — Samuel cared for Saul and also was afraid of him, but when God commanded him to anoint David, he obeyed.
    8. END OF LESSON 3
  33. v. 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

  34. v. 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

    1. I want to do great things for God. All of these did great things by faith.
    2. out of weakness were made strong
      1. Rather than they did great things it would be better to say God did great things through them.
      2. They trusted that God would do great things, and they obeyed.
    3. turned to flight the armies of the aliens — Hezekiah vs. Assyria
      1. This is another example of urgently needing an immediate answer from God.
      2. 2 Chronicles 32:1-8 — The threat
        1. Assyria has been marching through the world conquering everyone in their path. Now they have turned to Judah, and plan to take it too.
        2. Hezekiah does what he can to prepare, but he is still in big trouble.
      3. 2 Kings 18:17-37; 2 Chronicles 32:9-19 — The blasphemy
        1. The Assyrian army is headed toward Jerusalem, but they send messengers ahead to destroy the moral of the city.
        2. Their message in short is, Do you trust in your God to deliver you? Look at the other nations that we have conquered, their gods did not help them. What makes you different? What makes you think your God can stop us?
        3. 2 Kings 18:25 — They even claimed that God is on their side.
        4. Sometimes when I look at the horizontal it seems that there is no way God can help me.
          1. Satan sometimes launches his own attack on my moral, questioning whether God can actually help me or is even real.
          2. Can my faith in what I can't see overcome the doubts that I can see?
        5. Read through what they said and put yourself in the shoes of the people in Jerusalem.
        6. An unstoppable army is headed for you. What would you be thinking?
      4. 2 Kings 19:1-4; 2 Chronicles 32:20 — We know what Hezekiah was thinking
        1. 2 Chronicles 32:7, 8 — Even before the Assyrians arrived, Hezekiah was keeping the spiritual perspective.
        2. Now that they were here, he didn't try and solve the problem himself, and he didn't give up.
        3. He turned to God in fervent prayer. He put his trust and faith in God.
      5. 2 Kings 19:5-7 — God's answer was, do not be afraid, I will deal with it.
      6. 2 Chronicles 32:21-23 — God's deliverance
        1. 2 Kings 19:8-13 — As God had said, the army left, but they sent a letter back saying, don't think you are off the hook. We are coming back for you.
        2. 2 Kings 19:14-19 — Again, Hezekiah went straight to God. Hezekiah said:
          1. It is true that Assyria has defeated many nations and their gods,
          2. But they were false gods, I know you are the true God.
          3. Deliver us for the sake of Your glory.
        3. 2 Kings 19:35-37 — God did miraculously deliver them. In fact, He did more than that, not only did God save them from the immediate peril, but He also removed the King of Assyria, so that he could not return to torment Judah.
        4. Don't miss the fact that God did this in a way that He would get the glory. Or the fact that had Judah failed to give Him the glory they would have been guilty of a grievous sin.
      7. Lessons for me
        1. Hezekiah did what he was able to do, to prepare.
        2. When, it was past what Hezekiah could do, he did not continue to try and solve the problem, he turned to God.
        3. God must get the glory in all things.
  35. v. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

  36. v. 36 And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

  37. v. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

  38. v. 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.

    1. Living by faith is not all blessings and roses.
    2. These heroes of faith endured terrible trials, and some died in their trials.
  39. v. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

    1. All, died without seeing the great promise of redemption fulfilled.
    2. However, all lived and died in the assurance that God is faithful and would keep His word.
  40. v. 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

    1. God's great plan for the world continues, now God is using us.
  41. Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

    1. Now what is my response?
    2. First: Many have gone before us.
      1. They have been a testimony to God's faithfulness.
      2. They have proved that a man can live by faith instead of by what he sees around him. ( 2 Corinthians 5:5-8)
    3. Second: If we are to run by faith, we must make changes in our life.
      1. If faith leads to obedience, then obviously sin is apposed to faith. So if we are to walk by faith, we must be dealing with the sin in our lives. ( 1 John 2:1-6)
      2. every weight what about those things that are not really sin, but hinder our faith or obedience? (Examples: unwholesome friends, unbiblical world views, things that promote those worlds views [TV], hobbies/desires that become idols)
    4. Third: Remember Abraham, who waited most of his life for God to send Isaac? We too need to be patient and wait on God's timing. ( James 1:2-4)
  42. Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    1. Jesus the author ... of [our] faith
      1. Ephesians 2:8, 9 — Faith is the gift of God.
        1. Ephesians 2:1-3 — Tells how hopeless we were. We were dead, dead men can't do anything to save themselves.
        2. Ephesians 2:4-5But God in his great love reached out to us.
        3. Romans 5:6-8 — God initiated our salvation, God gave us the faith we needed.
      2. 1 Peter 1:3, 5 — We are born again by God's power.
        1. By God's mercy, He has brought us into a living hope .
        2. We are kept in that hope by God's power, the instrument God uses is faith.
        3. Note again this is all God.
      3. Our faith is not something we drum up, it is a gift of God.
      4. 1 John 4:19 — Love has many parallels to faith. Love between us and God, like faith, is authored by God, not us.
    2. Jesus the ... finisher of [our] faith
      1. 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24 — God has called us to sanctification ( 1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 2:10), and He will accomplish it in us, we are not on our own to make it happen.
      2. Philippians 1:3-6 — God started the work in us, and He will continue it.
      3. Faith and other gifts by Grace
        1. 1 Corinthians 1:4 — God's grace (unmerited favor) is given to us through Jesus.
        2. 1 Corinthians 1:5 — This gift doesn't stop at salvation, Christ enriches us, teaches us.
        3. 1 Corinthians 1:6, 7 — In fact He gives us many gifts.
        4. 1 Corinthians 1:8
          1. Who shall also confirm you — God has promised eternal salvation, He will keep and establish us in that promise.
          2. unto the end — God's promise of establishing us is not partial or temporary.
          3. [that ye may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ — God's goal is that one day we can stand blameless and mature before Christ.
        5. 1 Corinthians 1:9 — God is faithful, we know that since He has called us, He will also help us finish.
      4. 1 Peter 1:7 — God uses trials to accomplish this sanctification. That is what much of Heb 12 is about.
    3. What does it all mean?
      1. I can't take any credit for my faith.
        1. I can not be proud about my faith.
        2. I should, instead, thank God for my faith.
      2. I know God will accomplish it.
        1. We all know that we should all live by faith.
        2. But truly living by faith is a superhuman calling.
        3. If I had to do it alone, I would be lost, but I know God is in it, He will help me.
      3. So, if faith is all by God, then I don't need to do anything. I can just sit and wait for God to work. Right?
        1. No! Heb 11 and 12 is one long exhortation for us to strive toward living by faith.
        2. God begins it and God ends it, but in between God works with us to perfect it.
        3. God will give us the trials, grace, and tools to grow our faith, but we must work with God, not fight Him.
        4. To some extent we have already talked about how to do this. Heb 12 gives more details.
        5. See Also: Hebrews 10:19-25
    4. who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross
      1. Jesus will not only give us what we need to run with patience, but He has also provided us an example.
      2. Jesus faced tremendous trials, but He kept His focus on the end goal.
  43. 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 — One final story of application:
    1. 2 Chronicles 20:1 — There was an entire alliance coming down against Jehoshaphat.
      1. 2 Chronicles 20:11 — Judah did not have enough of an army to resist this attack.
    2. 2 Chronicles 20:3-13 — What a great response! he was afraid, so he looked to the Lord. He didn't cry, run or give up, he turned to God.
      1. 2 Chronicles 20:6, 7 — He started with God's great power and how God had delivered Israel in the past.
      2. 2 Chronicles 20:8, 9 — He remembered God's promises.
      3. 2 Chronicles 20:10-12 — Then he says, God we have no strength to deal with this problem, but we are looking to you to deal with it.
    3. 2 Chronicles 20:14-17 — God's response
      1. 2 Chronicles 20:15he battle [is] not yours, but God's.
        1. This is one of the great things about being a Christian, God is fully invested in our lives.
        2. We are not here dealing with our own problems asking God to take an interest.
        3. No. We are here fighting God's battle and He is intimately interested in every detail.
        4. And because it is God's battle, we will win by God's power, not our hard work.
      2. 2 Chronicles 20:16 — Military intelligence
        1. In any battle, intelligence about the enemy's positions is crucial.
        2. God knew not only all their present positions but their future positions as well. ( 1 Kings 6:8-12)
        3. That is the marvelous thing about being in God's army, God already knows the future. So, He knows what decisions are best, even when I am totally baffled.
    4. 2 Chronicles 20:18-19 — My response to God: worship and praise
      1. Note also, God hadn't done anything except respond.
      2. They praised God for His promise.
      3. They praised God in faith, for the promise He was yet to fulfill.
    5. But God hasn't sent me a prophet to say that He would deal with my trial!
      1. Romans 8:28, 29 — God hasn't promised to make all our trials go away or be resolved the way we want them to, but He has promised that He will make them all end for the best.
      2. Psalms 73 — God is good, always! It may not always look that way to us, but it is still true.
      3. Ephesians 2:6, 7 &mdash God's plan is to glorify Himself by showering grace and kindness on us.
    6. 2 Chronicles 20:20 — A great exhortation to faith! Do you want to be established and prosper?
    7. 2 Chronicles 20:21 — This is their belief in action, praising God for what He has yet to do.
      1. If you were marching against a giant army, would you be thinking?
        1. "What if I misunderstood God?"
        2. "What if God doesn't really come through this time?"
        3. Am I marching to my death? Because if we go into battle with that army we will all be slaughtered.
      2. They were singing praises to God, I think it would be hard to sing in this situation, unless they really believed.
    8. 2 Chronicles 20:22-24And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments ...
      1. God was waiting for the praise.
      2. Just as soon as they began to praise Him, He dealt with the problem.
    9. 2 Chronicles 20:25 — God turned the trial to a blessing.
      1. Just 24 hours before, if you had asked an Israelite what good could come of this, I doubt they could have thought of a single thing.
      2. But God already knew how He was going to bless them. He had made sure that the army would be carrying that much treasure. He had prepared the blessing before the trail began.
      3. more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil — This was not a small blessing either!
      4. 2 Chronicles 20:29, 30 — God's plans are often multi-dimensional, He accomplished many things in this one trial. The most important though, was that He brought glory to himself.
    10. 2 Chronicles 20:26-29 — The Israelites were not done yet though, they had praised God before He delivered. How much more important is it to praise Him after He has delivered?
      1. It is very important that God get the glory in everything!
      2. 2 Chronicles 20:29 — Notice that God was glorified before the heathen as well.
  44. Review
    • God can do astounding things in ordinary people's lives. Don't miss the marvelous and impossible things that God did, when people had faith! — All of them.
    • Faith is a key to a good testimony. — Abel, Enoch, Noah
    • Faith always produces obedience, and without the faith the obedience is not correct. — Abel, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Barak
    • Faith extends beyond what we know or can understand to what seems to us impossible. — Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David
    • By faith we can step out into the unknown on God's command alone. — Abraham, Gideon, Barak
    • Faith is tenacious. I must continue to believe even if God's answer is slow in coming, or if I never see His answer. — Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph
    • Real faith changes who I depend on. — Rahab, Samson, David
    • I can praise God in faith, for the answers I have not yet seen. — Abraham, Jehoshaphat