Hebrews 11:32 – 40
As we draw to a close on this informative chapter of the Bible, the writer did not fail to mention some of the fascinating characters (some might find these almost impossible, but they made it to this Chapter of the Bible) that also imbibed the doctrine of Grace through Faith; they walked in it and finally got endorsed by the Almighty. They believed in God and it was accredited to them as righteousness. They were no different to Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the many characters that were mentioned and written about.
Before we continue, I would like to draw attention again to the audience and why the writer decided to pen down this masterpiece, using this style. The audience was predominantly Jews who were divided in their views and attitudes towards the Message of the Gospel. Without equivocation, some had responded positively to the message and had began to see Judaism as something that should not be mixed with what Jesus came to do, while some found it outrageously difficult to part with Judaism. Looking at this from another perspective, some of the Jews had become followers of the New Covenant while the remaining decided to hold on to the Old Covenant.
It was a battle in the mind of these Jews. The battle was between the rituals and ceremonies they practiced, which was mostly based on WORKS and the New Covenant which is predicated on Grace through FAITH. It was therefore important that the one thing the writer became so aware of, was educating his audience on why all should gravitate towards the New and dump the Old, considering there was no way they could mix both. Jesus, in explaining this to his disciples told them that new wine required new vessels and that an attempt to put new wine in old vessels would result in waste because the old vessel would eventually burst.
The idea presented in this part of the book is that, only one of two things can happen – you either come to gain access to God through the newly specified way or you don’t. The Bible rejects Salvation in any other way except by the way prescribed through the finished work at Calvary. Not even our WORKS, Ceremonies or Rituals couple with Sacrifices would take us anywhere close to Him. It has to be JUSTIFICATION by FAITH alone. Cain tried to access God through his own way but failed. It has to be through HIS way or there would be no way.
Judaism started with the same message of “Grace through Faith” but was later mixed and embellished with rituals, works and ceremonies. This is the same state the Church has found herself today, where we add all sorts to the message of “Grace through FAITH”.
The writer did not fail to mention Gideon – he was a military leader and Judge who had assembled 32,000 men to fight the Midianites and the Amalekites. Israel could have won that battle (this is me speculating) if they had gone with the 32,000 men and I am sure they would have felt they won the battle through their might and power. God, who knew very well how we reason, decided to cut the number to 10,000 and then to 300. The 300 He chose was not based on their strength or how skillful they were but they were chosen based on how they drank from the spring. We know what happened and how the enemy was ousted and the fact that the victory could not have happened without God. Gideon did not argue but rested on the fact that God was able.
He mentioned Barak – this is someone with no history or background story; very little was mentioned about him and how he helped Israel to conquer Jablin, the Canaanite King whose great commander was Sisera. This happened when Deborah was the judge; she told Barak the instruction she received from God about how He needed to assemble 10,000 men taken from just two tribes (Naphtali and Zebulun). This was done to demonstrate that against all odds, God was still involved and has always been in control. Barak could not take credit for the victory. Barak listened and responded to the instruction and this was accredited to him as righteousness.
What do we say of Samson – the selfish and self-centered man who was endowed with physical strength; and through Samson, God conquered his enemies. He was gullible and immature as he continued to divulge the source of his strength to his woman. With all these short comings, Samson never doubted the fact that God was his strength; he never for once believed and trusted in another God but kept his FAITH in the God that created the universe. And by this, it was counted to him as righteousness. He also believed in Grace through Faith.
We see David who believed and trusted in the God of Israel. It was David who delivered Israel out of the hands of Goliath. There were so many twists and turns in his life, coupled with the fact that Saul looked for every way possible to slaughter him. Unknown to Saul and even David, God was in control of his life; God had told him that he was going to be the next King of Israel. David also believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness. He believed in Grace through Faith and never doubted the fact that God was his only source.
There were also prophets who risked all they had, against all odds, believed in God; they cheerfully, courageously and confidently responded to the commands and instructions from God in spite of the different challenges they were faced with. Many of these Prophets never fought battles but conquered the plethora of enemies they had through FAITH in God.
Many of these prophets were tortured, because they blatantly refused to turn away from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
His audience would have no choice but to respond to the message of the Gospel giving the so many examples the writer cited. In other words, not responding to the message simply meant they didn’t believe in the God of Israel, which indirectly meant there shouldn’t be any Nation called Israel.
The old writers, who are by far the most sensible—for you will notice that the books that were written about two hundred years ago, by the old Puritans, have more sense in one line than there is in a page of our new books, and more in a page than there is in a whole volume of our modern divinity—the old writers tell you, that faith is made up of three things: first knowledge, then assent, and then what they call affiance, or the laying hold of the knowledge to which we give assent, and making it our own by trusting in it” – C.H Spurgeon