As we study these examples of faith, we need to continually go back to Verse One of this chapter and review the definition of faith. TRUE SAVING FAITH RECEIVES AS FACT AND REALITY THAT WHICH IS NOT REVEALED TO THE NATURAL SENSES. It is the assurance of all that we hope for in Christ and the proof and reality of things we do not see. Faith believes that GOD IS and that GOD WILL DO all that He says, regardless of the circumstances. Where there is true faith, there are always two things present:
1. THE GRACE OF GOD. Faith is the gift of God, not the product of the natural heart.
2. THE WORD OF GOD, which is the foundation of faith. We can only believe what God has said and has revealed to us (Isa. 8:19-20; Rom. 10:17).
(Vs. 26-29) Moses fled from Egypt, not simply because he had killed an Egyptian and feared Pharaoh, but because he believed God. He knew of the promises of God to Israel, and he was willing to endure the afflictions and reproaches of Christ because by faith he saw Him.
It was by faith that he instructed the people of Israel to slay the lamb and put the blood on the door, which was typical of the blood of Christ being sprinkled on the hearts and consciences of His people.
It was by faith that he believed that God would make a passage through the Red Sea and deliver them from the Egyptians (Exo. 14:10-14).
(Vs. 30) Marching around the walls of Jericho seven times, blowing the trumpets, and shouting seemed a useless activity; but they believed God and did as He commanded. The walls fell (Joshua 6:1-25).
(Vs. 31) The harlot Rahab (Joshua 2:10-15, 18) hid the spies of Israel and dropped the scarlet line from the window. She believed God. Some say that the scarlet line gave birth to the red light, but is it not a picture of the red blood of redemption?
(Vs. 32) By faith GIDEON marched against a huge army with only three hundred men (Judges 7:15). By faith BARAK engaged in battle under the sole direction of a woman, Deborah, giving God the glory (Judges 4:14; Judges 5:1-3). By faith SAMSON, in the last act of his life, destroyed the Philistines (Judges 16:28-30). By faith JEPHTHAH returned to Israel (from which he had been cast out because he was the son of a harlot, Judges 11:1-40) to deliver Israel from her enemies. By faith DAVID slew Goliath (I Sam. 17:20-29). By faith SAMUEL was always ready to hearken to the voice of God.
(Vs. 33) By faith they SUBDUED KINGDOMS. Believers have no reason to fear wicked rulers or their powers. Our God is King and reigns over all (Prov. 21:1).
By faith they WROUGHT RIGHTEOUSNESS or administered justice, for righteousness is the fruit and evidence of faith. Our faith is not our righteousness (Christ is our righteousness, and faith brings us into union with Christ), but true faith produces righteous acts and attitudes (James 2:18).
By faith they OBTAINED PROMISES. Their faith was not the cause of the promises being made nor the cause of the promises being fulfilled. God's purpose, love, and grace give and fulfill all promises; but their faith RECEIVED them, BELIEVED them, WAITED for them to be fulfilled, and even ENJOYED them before they became a reality!
By faith they STOPPED THE MOUTHS OF LIONS. A lion was slain by Samson and by David, and the mouths of lions in Daniel's den were closed. This may refer also to stopping the mouth of Satan, who is a roaring lion (I Peter 5:8).
(Vs. 34-38) All these are examples of faith without reference to particular persons. They DID great things, SUFFERED great things, and ENDURED great things BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED GOD!
(Vs. 39) CHRIST IS THE PROMISE, for He is the fulfillment of all things provided in God's purpose and grace. In Him all of the promises center. The Old Testament believers rested in the promise of Christ and life in Him, though He came to earth after they had died.
(Vs. 40) They had Christ IN PROMISE; we have Himself! They had Him IN TYPE; we have Him in reality! They BELIEVED and were saved by looking to Him Who was to come; we believe and are saved by Him Who has come. They were justified and perfected, not in the law, but in Christ. And so they were not made perfect without us nor we without them, for all believers in all dispensations are one church and general assembly.