Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the ‘hall of faith’ chapter in the Bible. Among its verses you read of the remarkable reliance and trust of men and women such as Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab. As I was reading this chapter recently, verses 32 and 33 caught my attention. I’m familiar with most of the men listed in verse 32, but Jephthah, not so much. What had he done that would merit his name to be listed in this faith chapter?
Upon research, I discovered that Jephthah, an Israelite from Gilead, was driven out of town after he grew up because he was the son of a harlot. But, because he was a mighty warrior, he was summoned to come and fight against the warring Ammonites. The Gileadite elders made him their head and chief; he became their judge for six years. However, Jephthah made a tragic vow to the LORD. If God would give him victory over his enemies, he would sacrifice whatever came out of his house when he returned in peace. It cost him the life of his daughter, his one and only child. How sad!
What of the other men listed in verse 32? What was hiding among their faithful acts?
Gideon – because of his fear of the people, he destroyed the idols of Baal and the Asherah as God commanded, but at night instead of in the daytime. He also asked not once, but twice, for a sign from God that He would deliver Israel through him.
Barak – was summoned to fight against Israel’s enemies, but he refused to go unless Deborah, the judge, went with him. As a result, Barak was victorious, but the honor of defeating the enemies’ commander Sisera was given to an obscure woman, Jael, and not him.
Samson – used by God to defeat the oppressive Philistines; but his weakness for women, and especially Delilah, became his downfall.
David – was known as a man after God’s own heart, yet he committed adultery and murder.
Samuel – was one of the greatest prophets of old, yet both of his sons turned from following God and were dishonest, took bribes, and perverted justice.
Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the less than stellar actions of others and even ourselves. We all have faults and failures as did the great list of people in the hall of faith. Nevertheless, I find such hope and encouragement in the fact that God chose to remember them for their great faith, not for the lack thereof. Let us do the same.
“who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” Hebrews 11:33-34 NASB (emphasis mine)
[Digging deeper – Judges 11 – 12:7; Hebrews 11:1-40]
Living by faith,
Photo Credit: photo by Beverly Lussi