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Hebrews 11:32–38

“What more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets” (v. 32).

If the author of Hebrews highlighted every Old Testament example of faith, he would never finish his letter. The number of faithful individuals, the total episodes in which they trusted in the Lord, and the richness of Scripture are such that he could go on and on. The author of Hebrews recognizes this truth in today’s passage as he closes out his old covenant roll call of faith.

Hebrews 11:32–38 gives us a concluding summary of the faith of the old covenant saints, mentioning several individuals specifically while referring to others more generally. Notably, most of the individuals mentioned fell into significant sin. Gideon led the people into idolatry at the end of his life (Judg. 8:22–28). Barak doubted that the Lord would give him victory over the Canaanite king Jabin (4:1–9). Samson visited prostitutes and gave the secret of his strength to Delilah (16:1–22). David committed adultery and had Uriah killed (2 Sam. 11). This sin brought suffering and made the lives of these individuals and their families harder than they needed to be. Nevertheless, Hebrews 11 remembers them for their faith, reminding us that true faith can be exercised by sinners. This encourages us as well. We dare not take the Lord’s grace for granted, but we also should not despair that God overlooks true faith in His sinful people. John Calvin comments, “In all the saints, something reprehensible is ever to be found; yet faith, though halting and imperfect, is still approved by God.”

The author of Hebrews also lists many of the feats performed by men and women with true persevering faith (Heb. 11:33–38). Some of the examples are drawn from Scripture, while others refer to acts of faith from the faithful people of God who lived in the four hundred and fifty years or so between the death of Malachi and the advent of John the Baptist. By including men and women whose stories are not told in Scripture, the author of Hebrews shows us that even the faith of ordinary people who are not remembered by history is still mighty to move mountains. Our trust in the Lord is as powerful as David’s or Moses’ or Rahab’s because we serve God Almighty as well.

Several of the examples in verses 33–38 are not of conquering heroes but of those who suffered persecution and even death. Faith does not always lead to success in terms of this world, but because it is placed in the Creator it will never be forgotten. Such faith pleases God and also receives His gift of eternal life (John 3:16).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

The world persecutes many people who trust in Christ because the world believes us unworthy of life in this era. There is irony here, for it is actually the world that is not worthy of believers (Heb. 11:38). When we feel discouraged, we should remember—with humility—that the world is not worthy of us. In Christ, we are citizens of God’s kingdom and will share in the honor of that kingdom.

For Further Study
  • 1 Kings 17
  • 2 Kings 6:8–23
  • Daniel 3
  • Mark 1:1–8

Faith at Jericho

The Day of Something Better

Keep Reading Christian Discourse

From the August 2020 Issue
Aug 2020 Issue