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Noon Day Bible Study
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
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How Can I Strengthen My Church?
(Positive Attitudes Lead To Positive Actions)

The Great Faith of God’s People

Hebrews 11:28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 

Finally, he rejected Egypt’s religion. By instituting the Passover and by sprinkling the blood, he emphatically separated himself from Egyptian idolatry forever.

He flung down the gauntlet in defiance of the religious establishment. For him, salvation was through the blood of the lamb, not through the waters of the Nile. As a result, the firstborn of Israel were spared while the firstborn of Egypt were slain by the destroyer.

Hebrews 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.

At first the Red Sea seemed to spell disaster to the Hebrew refugees. With the enemy in hot pursuit, they seemed to be trapped. But in obedience to God’s word, they moved forward and the waters parted: “The Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided” (Ex. 14:21).

When the Egyptians tried to follow, their chariot wheels became clogged, the waters returned to their usual place, and Pharaoh’s armies were drowned.

Thus the Red Sea became a causeway of deliverance to Israel but a dead end of doom to the Egyptians.

Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.

The walled city of Jericho was the first military objective in the conquest of Canaan. Reason would claim that such an impregnable fortress could be taken only by superior forces. But faith’s methods are different.

God uses strategies that appear foolish to men in order to accomplish His purposes.

He told the people to encircle the city for seven days. On the seventh day they were to march around it seven times. The priests were to give a loud blast on their trumpets, the people were to shout, and the walls would fall. Military experts would write off the method as ludicrous.

But it worked! The weapons of the spiritual warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4).

Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

We do not know when the harlot Rahab became a worshiper of Jehovah, but it is clear that she did. She abandoned the false religion of Canaan to become a Jewish proselyte.

Her faith received a rigorous test when the spies came to her home. Would she be loyal to her country and her fellow countrymen, or would she be true to the Lord? She decided to stand on the Lord’s side, even if it meant betraying her country.

By giving friendly welcome to the spies, she and her family were spared, while her disobedient neighbors perished.

Hebrews 11:32 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:

At this point the writer asks a rhetorical question: And what more shall I say? He has given an imposing list of men and women who demonstrated faith and endurance in OT times. How many more must he give in order to make his point?

He has not run out of examples, but only out of time. It would take too long to go into details so he will satisfy himself to name a few and catalog some triumphs and testings of faith.

There was Gideon whose army was reduced from 32,000 to 300. First the timid were sent home, then those who thought too much of their own comfort. With a hard core of true disciples, Gideon routed the Midianites.

Then there was Barak. When called to lead Israel to battle against the Canaanites, he agreed only on the condition that Deborah would go with him. In spite of this cowardly facet in his character, God saw real trust and lists him among the men of faith.

Samson was another man of obvious weakness. Yet, in spite of that, God detected the faith that enabled him to kill a young lion with his hands, to destroy thirty Philistines in Ashkelon, to slay one thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, to carry away the gates of Gaza, and finally to pull down the temple of Dagon and slay more Philistines in his death than he had in his life.

Though an illegitimate child, Jephthah rose to be the deliverer of his people from the Ammonites. He illustrates the truth that faith enables a man to rise above his birth and environment and make history for God.

The faith of David shines out in his contest with Goliath, in his noble behavior toward Saul, in his capture of Zion, and in countless other episodes. In his psalms, we find his faith crystallized in penitence, praise, and prophecy.

Samuel was the last of Israel’s judges and her first prophet. He was God’s man for the nation at a time when the priesthood was marked by spiritual bankruptcy. He was one of the greatest leaders in Israel’s history.

Add to this list the prophets, a noble band of God’s spokesmen, men who were embodied consciences, who would rather die than lie, who would rather go to heaven with a good conscience than stay on earth with a bad one.

Hebrews 11:33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

The writer now turns from naming people of faith to citing their exploits.

They subdued kingdoms. Here our minds turn to Joshua, to the judges (who were really military leaders), to David, and to others.

They worked righteousness. Kings like Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah are remembered for reigns which, though not perfect, were characterized by righteousness.

They obtained promises. This may mean that God made covenants with them, as in the case of Abraham, Moses, David, and Solomon; or it may mean that they received the fulfillment of promises, thus demonstrating the truth of God’s word.

They stopped the mouths of lions. Daniel is an outstanding example here (Dan. 6:22), but we should also remember Samson (Judg. 14:5, 6) and David (1 Sam. 17:34, 35).

Hebrews 11:34 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.

They quenched the violence of fire. The fiery furnace succeeded only in burning the fetters of the three young Hebrews and setting them free (Dan. 3:25). Thus it proved to be a blessing in disguise.

They escaped the edge of the sword. David escaped Saul’s malicious attacks (1 Sam. 19:9, 10), Elijah escaped the murderous hatred of Jezebel (1 Kgs. 19:1–3), and Elisha escaped from the king of Syria (2 Kgs. 6:15–19).

They won strength out of weakness. Many symbols of weakness are found in the annals of faith. Ehud, for instance, was left-handed; yet he slew the king of Moab (Judg. 3:12–22).

Jael, a member of “the weaker sex,” killed Sisera with a tent peg (Judg. 4:21).

Macdonald, Farstad Grady Scott, Hindson, E.E.