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And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. – Hebrews 11:32-34

Through the Hall of Faith we have studied the lives, faith, and works of many of those through history who were called by God and who trusted Him with amazing results. As the author begins now to close out the chapter, we get an overload of information. These verses are easy to read right through without much thought but we will take the time to work through what is said about the faithful and their faith.

To get an overview of these last thoughts in the chapter I want to start by asking a question, “Do you ever feel all alone?” Do you face trials and temptation and wonder if you are all alone? It is easy to think that we struggle alone and that no one else has the same thoughts, issues, questions, or feelings that we do. But the truth is that Hebrews 11 really does not end until we get into chapter 12.

Hebrews 12:1 tells us that we are not alone. Even as we have studied all these people, real life, every day people who lived long before us and also live on in the presence of God awaiting the time we will be joining them around the Throne. All of these that we have looked at, and all of these that are listed in the next several verses, all of these are a “great cloud of witnesses” and they tell us that God is faithful. When we believe Him, there are works that results and benefits that are more valuable than anything this world has to offer.

Verse 32 starts, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of ……” In other words, there is not room in the Book nor words enough to adequately detail all those who have been faithful to God. What a truth. So often it seems that true solid believers are far and few between, but the reality is that there are many, so many faithful that there are not enough words to tell about them. There is not time to cover them all. That makes me glad that eternity is forever – that will give us all the time we need to get to know the faithful.

There are so many faithful and so many works that result from faith that there is so much more to be said. We each have a part in saying what needs to be said. Our testimony is a valuable contribution to these things that the writer of Hebrews did not have time to say.

Have you ever thought that there are so many faithful? Have you ever thought about the fact that we really are not ever alone? No matter how lonely we feel, Jesus never leaves or forsakes us and we are surrounded indeed by so great a cloud of witnesses, of the faithful who know and trust God and encourage us on as we run the race of faith.

What more can we say? There is plenty more to say as we look at those who are faithful and as we strive to see and know the One who is the Object of that faith. Remember – we are never alone. Never. God is always there with us.

We have been given quite a list here in these few verses – a list that the author just does not have time to recount. These are (or should be) familiar stories from the Old Testament about those who trusted God and lead and ministered to the people of God. They walked by faith.

Let’s review who these people are. Who are these who have been added to the Hall of Faith? Each of them in these verses is a prophet or a judge. David as King is the only king listed in the Hall of Faith, and he is also a prophet, having written the Psalms which include prophecy, including predictions and prophecies fulfilled by Christ. Let’s look at this group.

Gideon

“The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord.” And so the Lord used the Midianites to oppress and impoverish Israel for 7 years. As a result the nation finally cried out to the Lord for help and deliverance.

Gideon was called and appointed by God through the message of the Angel of the LORD to be a judge over Israel. He had a desire to save his people but was concerned at that start of his ministry because he was from the small tribe of Manasseh. Remember Joseph’s sons blessed by Isaac? Well Gideon was a descendant of Joseph through his son Manasseh.

The Lord directed him to tear down the altar of Baal, but the Scriptures tell us that because Gideon “feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.” Indeed, the men of the city, upon learning that the altar had been desecrated and torn down and that Gideon was responsible, demanded that he be put to death. But Gideon’s father Joash told these men that if Baal was indeed a powerful god then he should be allowed to plead for himself. Hereafter Gideon was known by the nickname Jerubbaal, which means “Let Baal contend.” The Bible says that he earned this nickname as people would say, “Let Baal plead against him, because he has torn down his altar.”

gideonLater, as the Midianites and others encamped against Israel and prepared to attack them, Gideon received instructions from the Lord. He was told that he would be used to protect Israel by overcoming their enemies. Yet his faith faltered and he sought assurance from the Lord by means of a fleece.

Judges 6:36-40 gives us the account:

36 So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— 37 look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew   on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the   fleece, a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.

This dual test was not an exhibition of faith, but of doubt. Gideon even pleaded with God not to be angry with him, knowing that he was testing the Lord after having been told to his face by the Angel of the LORD that he would lead the Israelites to victory. Thankfully, we see that God graciously gave Gideon the signs he had requested in order to bolster his faith.

Gideon was to lead an army to defeat the Midianites in a well known battle. He raised an army but the Lord said that there were too many men. When they won the victory that He promised He knew they would claim the glory so God wanted to make it clear that He was giving them victory. He had Gideon narrow down his army. First Gideon told anyone who was scared to fight that they could go home. Twenty-two thousand men left.

Secondly he was instructed by God to take the men to the river to drink, and when they drank those who cupped the water in their hands and lapped it were to be chosen for the battle. Having started with 32,000, then having 10,000 God narrowed the group down to only 300 men who lapped the water.

God gave Gideon the battle plan. Gideon divided the force into three groups of 100 men. They each had a trumpet and a torch. The torch was covered in a jar and when Gideon gave the order they broke the jar so that the light shone out and they blew the trumpets. The enemy though they were surrounded by a great and fierce force and in the confusion the Midianites started fighting and killing each other. The survivors fled, God received the glory, and Gideon was noticed for his faith.

(tomorrow: Barak and Samson)

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