Like the author of Hebrews, we don’t have time to talk about all the examples of Faith in this great chapter.  

But, we should pay attention to some of the names: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah and David. Who were they? 

Gideon was afraid. He was hiding when the Lord called him to lead an army. His reply was “How can I save Israel?” But, God used him with an army of 300 men that had been pared down from 32,000 to defeat an army with trumpets. 

Barak also lacked courage. Deborah was a prophet and she was leading Israel at the time. She called Barak to lead an army of 10,000 men to a battle God was going to orchestrate. But Barak said to Deborah “If you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” 

Samson had courage, but he also had arrogance. Along with his arrogance came a weakness for women. His strength was strength, but his weakness for women caused him to divulge the secret of his strength to a the woman who had been convinced to betray him. While he was sleeping in her lap, someone cut off his seven braids and his strength left him. 

Jephthah in an attempt to get God to secure the victory that would restore him to the position of ruler in the land made a foolish vow with God. He said: ” “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” (Judg. 11:30-31) This seems foolish to us because we don’t keep animals in our homes in our culture. In that time they did. However, it was still foolish because, when he came home, victorious, the first thing to come out of the door of his house was his only child, a daughter. He did what He said he would do. 

David, while being described as a man after God’s own heart, having courage to kill lions and giants, is also the man who used his position of power and authority to steal another man’s wife and orchestrated that man’s murder. 

The author started this final section with Rahab, the prostitute. The only action she is known for is hiding the Jewish spies on the roof of her home and lying to the officials of Jericho. Other than that, she was known for her lifestyle. 

Why would the author choose to end this list of giants of the faith with cowards, prostitutes, ego-maniacs and murderers? 
I have a theory. In the end, these all were used by God in a critical way to bring about his purposes. Though their lives were earmarked with deception, rule-braking, pride and cowardice, for all of them their faithfulness to being a part of God’s bigger plan was the most notable trait of their story. 

God is not impressed or concerned with our strength or ability to perform. When you’re God, it’s not strength, courage or ability that impresses you. Why would it, you can do all of it and infinitely more with a word from your mouth. 

And I think that’s why the author included these examples. And it’s something we desperately need to understand. Faith is not something we muster up to impress God enough to get Him to do what we want. Our security in Christ is not dependent on our ability to secure our salvation through building up our faith over time. 

What made these names noteworthy, the common denominator to them all was that there was nothing about their courage or cowardice, their power or pride, their position or prostitution that could have made them noteworthy or removed their noteworthy status in God’s story. Nothing about their strengths or imperfections gets their stories recorded. 

What got their story recorded is that they all eventually put their complete, ultimate and only hope in God and his power to accomplish his promises. Rahab heard about God’s power, determined that He was the one true God and was willing to risk her life and status to protect people of the one true God. Gideon, though he was a coward trusted God to lead him into battle. Barak, though he needed the security of Deborah, still fought the battle he had been called to. Samson in the end used his strength to tear down a building and kill leaders that opposed God. Jephthah honored his commitment. David, though he was kept from building the temple like he desperately desired to do, is still noted as a man after God’s own heart and it would be through his lineage that the Messiah would come. 

Faith isn’t something I do. Faith is about where my hope is anchored. Faith is living in the assurance of that hope no matter what circumstances I may face. Faith is about trusting God to do what He has said He will do, and when God calls us into something knowing that God will secure the victory. 

And all of that is not by our strength, power or might, but by His. 

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