and following until I have to stop because like the writer said,
"And what more shall I say?
For time will fail me if I tell of
Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha,
of David and Samuel and the prophets..."
Okay, reader, maybe you need a refresher in these true stories of heroes of the Jews, but the writer--who I think is Paul, "the Hebrew of Hebrews"--is talking to the choir. These Hebrews he is talking to were spoon-fed these stories before Gerber made baby food. They grew up trying to be brave like these courageous examples of faith and ate it up like ice cream. Now they are adults with families who are being persecuted for their faith, who have been run-off from their homes, some becoming destitute as immigrants, and are being tempted to retreat to Judaism. It would be so much easier than this new faith which is costing them dearly to put their trust in the Messiah. But Paul is reminding them of their heritage to bolster their faith with the big picture.
My kindergarten grandson rose to the challenge to be a hero this week when his older sister went to get a snack but scared out a mouse instead and had his mother and older sisters squealing.. Knowing his dad was at work, he called from his bed, "Mom! Since I'm the man of the house right now, do you want me to come deal with that?" Yep. Ezra's my hero.
Other than an occasional Sunday School Bible story, for us who have not been raised eating them up like Wonder Bread, we need a primer to remind us. My goodness, kids nowadays don't even know the simple song, "Jesus Loves Me" any more and have fuzzy recollections of these stories of faith. Yeah, I have my fuzzies too. So here goes with a little help from Adam Clarke...
Gideon (one of my favorite Old Testament Bible stories) "Who by faith in God, with 300 men, destroyed a countless multitude of Midianites and Amalekites, and delivered Israel from oppression and slavery." Judges 7 & 8
Barak (No, the former president is not in the Bible, though some seem to worship him.) "Who overthrew Jabin, king of Canaan, and delivered Israel from servitude. Judges 4
Samson (Yep, you might remember him! because he got tangled up with the hair thing.) "Who was appointed by God to deliver Israel from the oppressive yoke of the Philistines; and, by extraordinary assistance, discomforted them on various occasions." Judges 13-16
Jephthae (Not the guy in the old T.V. series "The Beverly Hillbillies.) "Who, under the same guidance, defeated the Ammonites, and delivered Israel." Judges 11 & 12
David (Bingo, the boy, the king!) "King of Israel, whose whole life was a life of faith and dependence on God; but whose character will be best seen in those books which contain an account of his reign, and the book of Psalms...It is probable he is referred to here for that act of faith and courage which he showed in his combat with Goliath." I Samuel 17
Samuel (He is the one whose mother prayed for a child and promised to dedicate him to the Lord, the boy who heard God calling him though Eli the priest missed it. Yeah, that one.) "The last of the Israelitish judges, to whom succeeded a race of kings, of whom Saul and David were the two first, and were both anointed by this most eminent man." found throughout I Samuel.
"All these are said to have performed their various exploits through faith. 1. The faith of Gideon consisted in his throwing down the altar of Baak, and cutting down his grove, in obedience to the command of God (though he had to run from his dad). 2. The faith of Baak consisted in his believing the revelation made to Deborah (a woman warrior and woman judge), and the command to go against Jabin's numerous army. 3. Samson's faith consisted in his obeying the various impulses produced by the Spirit of God in his own mind. (an encouragement to all those A.D.H.D. people out there, but a warning to only follow godly impulses). 4. Jephthae's faith consisted in his believing the promise made to Abraham and his posterity, that they, should possess the land of Canaan; and in his resolutely fighting against the Ammonites, that they might not deprive the Israelites the land between Arnon and Jabbok." (Yeah, I had to look on an Old Testament map).
"It may be observed here, that the apostle does not produce these in chronological order; for Barak lived before Gideon, and Jephtahe before Samson, and Samuel before David. He was not producing facts...but instances of the power of God exerted in the behalf of men who had strong confidence in him.
"'Who through faith subdued kingdoms.' As Joshua, who subdued the seven Canaanitish nations; and David, who subdued the Moabites, Syrians, Ammonites, and Edomites. (II Samuel 8, etc.).
'Wrought righteousness' Did a great variety of works indicative of that faith in God without which it is impossible to do any thing that is good.' 'Obtained promises' This is supposed to refer to Joshua and Caleb, who through their faith (and helped by Rahab) obtained the promised land (which not even Moses was privileged to do)...and to David, who, for his faith and obedience, obtained the kingdom of Israel, and had the promise that from his seed the Messiah should spring."
Which one of these is your favorite hero of faith? It's hard to pick just one. But you mamas out there, this Mother's Day, raise your sons up (and daughters too, of course) to be tough heroes of faith, not snowflakes, but those willing to stand against the status quo and fight for truth and righteousness. God's not done picking heroes out of the lineup of sappy, worldly, wimpy milk-toast men, looking for one who is strong in his faith. But like Samuel, some of these guys had a mother who prayed ferociously for their heroes as they turned from boys to men.
Well, we will pickup the rest of verse 33 and talk about Daniel and some others in the next blog because we have just skimmed the surface. We might even tackle the issues of why does God allow His people to beat up on others or leave some of his brightest and best be tortured for their faith.