Hebrews 11:32-38 32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
The author now goes through Old Testament history quickly. The opening question of verse 32 implies that he could tell many stories of faith from the Bible. These heroes of the faith faced many challenges but overcame these by believing in God’s promises. The long list of obstacles they faced builds up the type of faith they needed to overcome these challenges. It was “through faith” (v. 33) that they experienced victory through all of their challenges. The challenges these heroes of the faith faced were substantial and life threatening. Faith can even defeat death. Their faith protected them, helped them heal, raised the death, and brought new life.
These images and stories must have brought hope to the readers of this letter who may have experienced similar hardships because of the growing persecution of Christians. We may not face the types of difficulties we read about in these verses, but we can seek to have that kind of faith. This faith will not come from our own resources. It is a gift of God that God gives once we turn to him and begin our walk of obedience towards him. The closer to the Light of the World we get, the more light we will experience in our own lives. Jesus as the author of faith wants to give us more faith and strengthen our faith, but we must turn to him and walk towards him. The author will summarize this crucial idea at the beginning of chapter 12. At this point, he is providing illustrations and examples of what this faith looked like in the Old Testament for people who likewise had to rely on promises of the Unseen One.
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