Sunday: Hebrews 11:27, 28
Verse 27: Its not clear whether this verse refers to Moses initial escape to Midian where he spent 40 years hiding from Pharaoh or his confrontation with Pharaoh which resulted in the release of the Hebrew slaves. In either case it can be said he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. The Greek word translated as endured literally means, remained silent under hardship (Job 2:9; Isa 42:14 in the Septuagint). It tells us Moses went through hardship without grumbling or complaining against God, and the author must hope that Moses example will encourage his readers to do the same. They too need to keep their spiritual eyes focused on the faithfulness of the unseen God. Verse 28: Nothing during the course of the Exodus was more mysterious or prophetic than the Passover. As we look back on its ceremonies from the perspective of the New Testament we see a magnificent prophecy of the substitutionary atonement of Christ. However, Moses did not have the benefit of our perspective when he received the instructions recorded in Exodus 12:1-28. The selection of a lamb, the preparation of the meal, the application of blood on the doorposts and lintel (top crosspiece above the door) and the gathering of every family into a home marked with the blood required of him a great deal of faith and for that matter, the nation who had to obey the detailed instructions he gave them.
Monday: Hebrews 11:28, 29
Verse 28 (continued): The people of Israel could have easily dismissed the Passover ceremonies as nonsense, but they did not. Moses gave them Gods instructions and they obeyed, resulting in one of the greatest national deliverances in their history. We need only put ourselves back into their circumstances, without benefit of knowing what was going to happen, to see the faith it took to keep that first Passover. They had to trust that he who destroyed would Passover their homes when he saw the blood (Ex 12:23). Verse 29: The drowning of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea is another event so familiar to us today we might not appreciate the faith it required to stand in front of an arm of the ocean and expect it to withdraw (Ex 14:1-31). Israel was trapped with their backs to the sea when Moses declared, Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord
for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever (Ex 14:13). Then he had to lift up his staff and stretch out his hand over the sea in a symbolic gesture of dividing it (Ex 14:16). During the night a strong east wind blew and the sea was miraculously divided providing an escape route (Ex 14:22), but now the whole nation had to act in faith to march down onto the seabed, trusting the walls of water on either side would not collapse. Once again Gods people are required to do something dangerous or unreasonable because they believe God will do what He promised.
Tuesday: Hebrews 11:30
Verse 30: The conquest of Jericho forty years later was another opportunity to respond in faith. Israel had to obey an order from God that seemed unreasonable to the natural mind (1Co 2:14). Instead of attacking the city directly, the Lord told Joshua to arrange the army by tribes and march around the city with the priests leading them and blowing rams horns (Jos 6:1-21). They were to encircle it once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day. When the final march was completed they were to blow the horns one final time and the soldiers, who up until now had been silent, were to shout. We who read the account today know the walls collapsed and a great victory was won, but the soldiers and priests who marched each day were doing something that made no military sense and they must have been embarrassed. It took faith to believe the unseen God had told them to do this and would by this strange process give them victory. They too had to see Him who is unseen (Heb 12:27) and obey Him before receiving their miracle.
Wednesday: Hebrews 11:31
Verse 31: Prior to the assault on Jericho, Joshua sent two spies into the city (Jos 2:1-24). While there, the men were aided in their mission by a woman named Rahab who was a prostitute. Strangers entering her home might not arouse suspicion so they went there to find lodging for the night. Yet, they had been noticed by authorities and soldiers were sent to arrest them. Before the soldiers arrived she recognized the Hebrew spies and bargained with them. She told them she believed their God was the true God because of all the miraculous reports they had heard about their deliverance from Egypt and their victories over the Amorite kings (Jos 2:9-21). Because this God was with them she was sure they would conquer Jericho and so she offered to help them escape if they would promise to spare her family when the city fell. Her bargaining was motivated by her faith in God and that faith not only saved her life, but ultimately it gave her eternal life (Jas 2:25). Interestingly, the author of Hebrews labels the rest of the inhabitants of Jericho as disobedient (lit. unpersuaded, unbelieving), meaning they could have responded in faith just as Rahab did if they had chosen to. They had seen the same evidence she saw. In fact, they were so aware of the mighty works God had done were told they were in terror and their hearts melted and no courage remained in any man (Jos 2:11). Had they decided to surrender peacefully and confessed God other arrangements could have been made instead of annihilation (Jos 9:1-27).
Thursday: Hebrews 11:32
Verse 32: Here the author lists several more names in rapid succession. He says he needs to conclude his review of biblical history because he doesnt have enough time to write an exhaustive list. Were he to continue elaborating on such people as Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets he would wander away from the main point he was trying to make. But even though he does not go on to elaborate on the faith modeled by each of these, we can easily remember some of the great events associated with each name. Gideon put his life at risk to protect his people from oppression. He led 300 militia against 135,000 Midianite soldiers because he believed God had spoken to him, and as a result he won a great victory (Jdg 6:14-16).
Friday: Hebrews 11:32
Verse 32 (continued): Barak, under the leadership of the prophetess Deborah, led 10,000 men against a Canaanite army which included 900 iron chariots because he trusted God was speaking through her (Jdg 4:6-16). Samson received supernatural strength as long as he obeyed certain commands God had given him (Jdg 13-16). Jephthah led Israel in a great battle against Ammonite oppressors even though his family and tribe had rejected him (Jdg 11:1-40). He boldly defied the gods of Ammon declaring God had given Israel the land. Afterward he became a judge in Israel for six years (Jdg 12:7). David became Israels greatest king, performing many great acts of faith during his lifetime. Unlike many of Israels later kings he remained loyal to God all his life. And Samuel, along with the other great prophets, spoke the word of the Lord even though it brought hardship and sometimes cost them their lives.
Saturday: Hebrews 11:33-35
Verses 33, 34: As we read the history of the Bible we see it was always those with a strong faith who accomplished great things: some conquered enemy kingdoms; some used their positions of authority to bring justice or cleanse false religions (Josiah, 2Ki 23:19, 24); some like Daniel (Da 10:1-21) and Nehemiah (Ne 1:8-11) prayed in Gods promises for their nation; some like Daniel (Da 6:16-28) and Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego (Da 3:13-30) miraculously escaped death; some like Jonathan (1Sa 14:1-15), David (1Sa 17:1-54), and Davids mighty men (2Sa 23:8-23) won in hand-to-hand combat against overwhelming odds. Next, the author mentions the positive effects of faith in general terms: human weakness is replaced by divine strength, military might is given to people who would ordinarily be defeated and invading armies are repelled by divine interventions (1Sa 7:5-14; Isa 37:36-38). Verse 35: He mentions women receiving back their dead by resurrection and there are two examples in the Old Testament of mothers having their dead sons raised to life after a prophet prayed for the children. Elijah did this for the widow of Zarephath (1Ki 17:23) and Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman (2Ki 4:32-37). At this point the author stops listing the benefits of faith and starts describing various types of persecutions which people of faith suffered.