Hebrews 11:31-38: Faith in the Good Times and the Bad Times

Read: Hebrews 11:31-38

“Time will fail” if the author of Hebrews took the time to recount all the deeds of the faithful throughout the generations. Rather than list their deeds, he hastily records half a dozen names then makes some generalized remarks concerning these deeds. It appears though that the deeds he lists are exclusive to the names and summaries that he gave, rather some of the deeds were probably the deeds of his contemporaries such as Stephen, Peter, John, and Paul who all experienced intense persecution and some even martyred because of their faith.

Interestingly, the author divides these verses into two types of faith. The first type of faith is the the victorious faith of those who conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, and received back their dead among a host of others victorious deeds. The second type of faith is seemingly not-so-victorious faith of those who received intense persecution through beatings, imprisonments, and even martyrdom. The author of Hebrews is intentional for his inclusion of both to encourage his readers that faith is not contingent upon the outcome in the world. The recipients of the letter were being pressured because of their faith, and some had abandoned it (Hebrews 10:25-26) and were perhaps looking for some sort of miraculous deliverance. But even so, author reminds his readers that they haven’t suffered to the point of death yet (Hebrews 12:4). Regardless of what happens, their faith is in something better – more eternal and lasting than what the world has to offer. The author even goes as far to say that those who received the intense persecution were men “of whom the world was not worthy”. Their faith was of far greater value than anything the world could offer.

Whether one is celebrating victories in the faith or one is facing troubled times where there seems to be no end in sight, one can be faithful. Job, in spite of his affliction, makes one of the greatest statements of faith in the whole of Scripture when he acknowledges, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21) Regardless of what he was experience, he remained faithful to God. In the same manner, Christians too can bless God!

Lord, help my faith be steadfast in the good times and the bad!

Joshua 9:1-15: “Do Not Fear”

Read: Joshua 9:1-15

Gibeon had made peace with Israel by deceiving them, but Joshua nevertheless upheld their mutual defense pact even though they Israel had been deceived. Shortly thereafter, the other Amorite kings heard that Gibeon had made peace with Israel and formed an alliance to destroy Gibeon. Israel came to Gibeon’s aid, and the Lord fought for Israel and Gibeon by giving them an extended day, sending hail upon the Amorites, and confusing the Amorite armies when Israel attacked. The battle was a complete route by God on behalf of the Israelites.

The battle with the Amorite kings is but another example of how God doing the fighting on behalf of Israel. The day was full of miracles such that Joshua notes that there was never a day like it before and hadn’t been one since. The confused army and the hailstones are easily fathomed, but the unfathomable was the sun stopping in the sky and Joshua makes special note of this miracle. There have been explanations offered up throughout the ages to explain this phenomenon, but the only one that really makes sense from the text is that God deed indeed stop the sun in the sky. The scope of this miracle however is not so hard to grasp if one considers that God created the universe and all that it contains by merely speaking it into existence!

When God told Joshua, “do not fear,” God was telling him that he was going to be with him in the battle and the people Joshua was going against were already given to Joshua. Joshua was being reminded of the promises God had given to them before they entered the land in Deuteronomy 20:1-4. Here, God tells Israel to not be afraid because he was going to be fighting on their behalf. God fought for Israel, and is still fighting for his people today. When Jesus left the earth, he promised that he would be with them even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus explains in John 14:18-23 that he would be with them by means of the Holy Spirit. Paul in Romans 8:31-39 makes some strong remarks concerning the nature of God. He says, “If God is for us, who is against us?”, that Christians are “overwhelmingly conquerors,” and that nothing can separate Christians from the love of Christ. The ultimate victory of Jesus is when he conquered death which Jesus did on behalf of those who believe (1 Corinthians 15:54-58). Christians have no reason to fear anything in life or in death for that matter because God is fighting on behalf of those who believe. God is the most awesome, powerful force in the entire universe. This unstoppable, unmovable force is still telling his people, “do not fear” because he will win the day!

God, you do the fighting for me! Help me not to fear!