Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
Not to overwhelm the reader with more wonderful examples of faith from the Old Testament, the writer brings his list to a summarised conclusion. He mentions six more names (Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel), without going into detail, ranging from the judges to the early monarchs. Prophets are also included. Their achievements, carried out by faith, are summarised (Hebrews 11:33-35). They ″conquered kingdoms″ (Judges 7-8; 11:29; 2 Samuel 8:1-3), ″administered justice″ (1 Samuel 7:15-17) and ″gained what was promised″ (Joshua 21:43). They ″shut the mouths of lions″ (Daniel 6:22), ″quenched the fury of the flames″ (Daniel 3:17) and ″escaped the edge of the sword″ (2 Kings 6:11-18). Their ″weakness was turned to strength″ (Judges 16:30; 1 Samuel 14:14). They were powerful in battle and ″routed foreign armies″ (Judges 4-5). ″Women received back their dead″ (1 Kings 17:22-23; 2 Kings 4:8-37). All these were achieved by faith.
But faith does not always bring success and victory; it also gives strong endurance amid persecution and suffering. The writer includes in his list ″others who were tortured, refusing to be released″-they preferred to die and be resurrected than deny their faith in God (Hebrews 11:35). The list of sufferings of the martyrs is tragic and inspiring at the same time (vv. 36-38): some faced ″jeers and flogging″ (Jeremiah 20:2; 37:15); others were ″chained″ and imprisoned, ″stoned″ (2 Chronicles 24:21), ″sawed in two″ and ″put to death by the sword″ (1 Kings 19:10). They were reduced to poverty and were persecuted, seeking safety in deserts, mountains, caves, and holes in the ground. The writer summarised their exemplary faith and righteousness by saying ″the world was not worthy of them″ (Hebrews 11:38).
By the time the author comes to this point, his readers no doubt were stirred in their faith as they surveyed the gallery of heroes of the faith. Such a tour is necessary today, for we have many more examples from the history of the church: martyrs, monks, missionaries, and ordinary Christians whose lives exhibited the reality and the power of God as they placed their faith in Him, in trust and obedience. Reading good Christian biography will help us to do this.
Think of some examples of faith in Christian history that you may know about. What lessons can you learn from them?
In what way is your faith helping you to do great things for God, and in what way is it helping you to endure hardship? If you are included in the gallery of faith, what will you be remembered for?