And These All

Posted by on Jan 27, 2008

By Pastor Mike Withem

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

January 27, 2008

Sunday Morning

“And These All”

 

Scripture Text: Hebrews 11:32-40

Introduction:

 

A.   Thus far in our study of Hebrews 11, we have looked at the faith of thirteen men and women.

1. First of all, we looked at Abel. (Vrs. 4)

2. Then we looked at Enoch. (Vrs. 5-6)

3. Then we looked at Noah. (Vrs. 7)

4. Then we looked at Abraham and Sarah. (Vrs. 8-19)

5. Then we looked at Isaac. (Vrs. 20)

6. Then we looked at Jacob. (Vrs. 21)

7. Then we looked at Joseph. (Vrs. 22)

8. Then we looked at Amram and Jochebed, Moses’ parents. (Vrs. 23)

9. Then we looked at Moses himself. (Vrs. 24-29)

10.   Then, last week, we looked at Joshua and Rahab. (Vrs. 30-31)

11.   Thirteen different men and women who lived at different times and in different circumstances, yet they all had at least one thing in common, they all demonstrated an extraordinary faith in God!

 

B.   Now as we look at the closing verses of Hebrews 11, we notice that the writer of Hebrews does something different.

1. Rather than deal with these heroes of the faith individually, as he did in the first part of the chapter, he groups them together into at least three distinct groups.

2. Why? Because there were so many heroes of the faith that he could have mentioned, and had he dealt with each one individually, his letter would have been a very long letter.

3. Notice again how he begins Vrs. 32 of our text, “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me…”

4. In other words, “I don’t have enough time to speak to you in depth or at great length about all the heroes of the faith. There are just too many of them.”

5. So what he does in these closing verses of Hebrews 11, he groups the remaining heroes of the faith into at least three distinct groups.

 

C.   The first group that he mentions are those who…

 

I.       Ruled By Faith.

 

A.   Did you notice that the six heroes mentioned in Vrs. 32 were all rulers in Israel, it says, “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:”

 

B.   Gedeon was both a judge and a military leader.

1. According to Judges 6, Gideon had assembled an army 32,000 men to fight the Midianites and the Amalekites.

2. However, to keep Israel from thinking that the coming victory would be accomplished by their own power, God cut his army down from 32,000 men to a mere 300 men.

3. With these 300 men, whose only weapons were trumpets and torches, Gideon routed an army that the Bible says was “like grasshoppers for multitude.” (Judg. 7:12)

4. How did he do it? He did it “through faith!”

 

C.   Barak was also a judge.

1. According to Judges 4, God used Barak to deliver Israel from the oppression of a Canaanite king by the name of Jabin.

2. Barak led his army of 10,000 men against a superior army that had at least “nine hundred chariots of iron.” (Judg. 4:3)

3. Not only was the enemy army defeated, but it’s notorious general, a man named Sisera, was killed as a result.

4. How did Barak do it? He did it “through faith!”

 

D.   Samson was also a judge.

1. While Samson’s life as a whole was not a life after which we would want to model our lives, he did have his moments.

2. On one occasion, according to Judges 15, Samson found himself bound by cords and a prisoner of the Philistines.

3. The Bible says that Samson broke the cords that bound him, then used the “jawbone of an ass” to slay 1,000 Philistine enemies. (Judges 15:14-16)

4. How did he do it? He did it “through faith!”

 

E.   Jephthae was also a judge.

1. According to Judges 11, he preceded Samson as judge , and God raised him up for the purpose of defeating the Ammonites, one of Israel’s enemies at that time.

2. Despite his foolish vow, Jephthah was victorious over his enemies.

3. The Bible says that “he smote” the Ammonites “with a very great slaughter. Thus the children were subdued before the children of Israel.” (Judg. 11:33)

4. How did he do it? He did it “through faith!”

 

F.    The next person mentioned in this group of rulers is David.

1. David, of course, was not a judge, but rather a king.

2. As you know, there were many times in David’s life when he demonstrated an extraordinary faith in God.

3. The time that stands out in most people’s mind was the time that he faced the giant Goliath.

4. While the rest of Israel, including King Saul and David’s own brothers, were cowering in fear, David calmly walked up to Goliath and said, “This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee.” (1 Sam. 17:46)

 

4. From a purely human standpoint, David was no match for the giant, however, David walked away from that battlefield the victor!

5. How did he do it? He did it “through faith!”

 

G.   The next person mentioned in this group is another judge, a man named Samuel.

1. Actually, not only was Samuel a judge, he was the last judge to rule Israel.

2. It’s true that Samuel was not a warrior in the sense that these other rulers were, yet Samuel did fight his battles.

3. The only difference was, his enemies were not the Philistines or the Amorites or the Ammonites, but rather his enemies were the idolatry and the immorality that polluted the society in which he lived.

4. Samuel bravely stood up against these enemies, even when his own countrymen did not.

5. How did he do it? He did it “through faith!”

 

H.   The last person mentioned in this list of those who ruled by faith is not actually a person, but rather a group of people, the prophets.

1. While the writer of Hebrews doesn’t give us any names, there’s no doubt that one of the prophets he had in mind was Daniel.

2. How do I know that?

3. Notice again Vrs. 33 of our text, “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,”

4. I only know of one prophet who “stopped the mouths of lions,” and that was Daniel.

5. Daniel had a decision to make, either stop praying, or face the lions.

6. He chose to face the lions.

7. I’m sure that Daniel’s enemies thought this would be his end, however, when the next morning arrived and they removed the stone from the mouth of the lion’s dens, they discovered that Daniel was still alive.

8. How did Daniel do it?

9. How did he survive a night in the lion’s den? He did it “through faith!”

 

I.    That’s what all of these rulers of Israel had in common.

1. The extraordinary things that they accomplished for God, they accomplished “through faith.”

2. Our text goes on to tell is in Vrs. 33-34 that “through faith”…

-they “subdued kingdoms,”

-they “wrought righteousness,”

-they “obtained promises,”

-they “stopped the mouths of lions,”

-they “quenched the violence of fire,”

-they “escaped the edge of the sword,”

-“out of weakness” they “were made strong,”

-they “waxed valiant in fight,”

-they “turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

 

J.    And so, the first group of heroes mentioned here in the latter part of Hebrews 11 are those who ruled by faith. The second group mentioned are those who…

 

II.      Suffered By Faith.

 

 

A.   Just like with “the prophets,” the writer of Hebrews does not mention any names here.

1. He does, however, describe the manner in which they suffered.

2. For example, in Vrs. 35 he talks about those who “were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:”

3. In other words, those who chose to die slow and agonizing deaths, rather than deny Christ.

4. According to Vrs. 37, some “were stoned” to death, others were “sawn assunder” (cut into pieces), still others were “slain with the sword.”

 

5. Stephen, of course, was the first Christian martyr whom we know about.

6. According to Acts 7, Stephen was stoned to death for his faith in Christ.

7. In more recent times, believers have been burned at the stake, boiled in oil, disemboweled, impaled, and beheaded.

8. Many times they were given an opportunity to renounce their faith and live, yet they chose to die rather than deny their Lord.

9. How were they able to do it?

10.   Again, the answer is their “faith.”

11.   Their faith gave them the courage they needed.

12.   Did you notice how Vrs. 35 ends? It says, “… not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:”

13.   In other words, they chose death because they believed that not only would they go to heaven, but also that one day their bodies would be raised from the dead.

 

B.   Not only does the writer of Hebrews here mention those who “were tortured,” he also mentions those who suffered “imprisonment.”

1. Notice again Vrs. 36, “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:”

2. When I read this verse last week, immediately the apostle Paul came to mind.

3. Why? Because he himself, before he came to know the Lord, was responsible for imprisoning many believers in Jerusalem.

4. In fact, he was on his way to Damascus to hunt down even more Christians when he had his encounter with the Lord.

5. As you know, after Paul (who was called Saul then) got saved and committed his life to serving the Lord, he spent his share of time in prison as well.

6. In fact, tradition teaches us that not only Paul imprisoned in Rome, but he was also beheaded there.

7. Down through the ages multitudes of believers have been imprisoned because of their relationship with Christ, yet they didn’t waver in their commitment to Him.

8. How were they able to do it?

9. Again, they were able because of the faith!

 

C.   Our text goes on in Vrs. 38 to tell us about those who in an attempt to avoid torture and imprisonment, “…wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

 

D.   These are those who have suffered by faith.

1. You know, believers in this country have been very blessed in that we have not been subjected to torture, death, or imprisonment because of our faith.

2. However, that could change very quickly.

3. As we draw nearer and nearer to the return of Christ, persecution will increase greatly, even in this nation of ours.

4. Will we have the faith to endure that suffering?

 

E.   There is one more group that the writer of Hebrews mentions here, in addition to those who ruled by faith and those who suffered by faith, and that is those who…

 

III.    Obtained By Faith.

 

 

A.   “Obtained what?” some asks.

1. Obtained “a good report.”

2. Notice again Vrs. 39 of our text, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:”

3. What does this mean?

4. It simply means that they have obtained a good name, a good reputation, a good testimony.

 

5. By the way, this refers to all the heroes of the faith who are named here in Hebrews 11.

6. They have all obtained a good testimony.

7. How did they do it?

8. They did it…

-by faith,

-by believing God’s promises,

-by acting upon God’s promises.

 

B.   And they did it without actually seeing many of God’s promises fulfilled.

1. Notice again Vrs. 39, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:”

2. For example, none of these Old Testament saints lived long enough to see the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Messiah. (By the time Jesus came into the world, they were all dead.)

3. However they believed that God would keep His promise and that God would one day provide a Savior for the world.

 

C.   You know, we have a definite advantage over those who live in the Old Testament days.

1. Why? Because we have much more light than they had.

2. You see, we were born after the fulfillment of God’s promise to provide a Savior for the world.

3. We are not looking for a Savior Who has not come, but rather looking to a Savior Who has already come.

4. We definitely have an advantage.

5. This is why we read in Vrs. 40 of our text, “God having provided some better thing for us,”

 

Conclusion:

 

A.   And so, in the closing verses of Hebrews 11, the writer of Hebrews mentions three different groups of heroes of the faith.

 

1. First of all, those who ruled by faith (judges, kings, and prophets).

2. Secondly, those who suffered by faith (martyrs).

3. Finally, those who obtained by faith (all the faithful).

 

B.   In closing, this morning, may I ask you a personal question?

1. When you come to the end of your life here on earth, will it be said of you that your faith earned you “a good report”?

2. Will those whom you leave behind be able to say, about you, “He was a man of faith?” or “She was a woman of faith?”

3. When you get to heaven and find yourself rubbing shoulders with these heroes of the faith mentioned here in Hebrews 11, will you feel as though you have something in common with them?