The Faith of a Scoundrel

In Hebrews 11 we have the great “Faith Chapter” of Scripture. It is one of the most eloquent explanations of how God’s people are saved by faith and not by works. The writer begins with Abel’s faithful sacrifice. He then moves to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. All of these men had their issues and faults, but scripture certainly portrays them as faithful men. But then it turns a little… “What chu talkin’ bout Willis?”

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He starts by saying the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea by faith. But have you read the Exodus? Most of it is describing how the people are “stiffnecked” and stubborn.

He then moves to Rahab…the prostitute…

Then he lists all the people he doesn’t even have time to talk about. But for your sake, I’ll recap those:

Gideon (Judges 6-8)

  • Did not believe God was actually calling him as a judge. So he put God to the test twice just to be sure.

  • He was also too afraid to stand up to the Baal worshippers, so he tore down their idols in the middle of the night.

  • At the end of his life: “Gideon made an ephod of [gold] and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family.” (Judges 8:27)

Barak (Judges 4-5)

  • Was God’s appointed leader of the army, but would not go into battle unless Deborah came with him. So, God took away the glory of battle and gave it to a woman.

Samson (Judges 13-16)

  • Was supposed to keep the Nazarite vow for life

  • Instead, he took honey out of a lion carcass, even though he wasn’t supposed to touch dead things. (And gave it to his parents)

  • Tried to trick his wedding guests into giving him a fortune. When that failed and he had to pay them, he found a town, murdered all the people, and took the plunder to pay off his wedding guests.

  • Did I mention that it was a wedding to a Philistine woman…who was strictly forbidden by the Law of Moses (and his parents)?

  • He generally loved forbidden women (and visited a prostitute at least once)

  • Let’s not forget, he tied torches between the tails of foxes and set them loose in grain fields. Who does that?!

Jephthah (Judges 11)

  • The bastard son of a prostitute who was cast out by his father’s legitimate children.

  • Was called back by his family because he and his “worthless” friends were really good at fighting and they needed some rough guys around.

  • In his pride, said he would only come back if they made him ruler over them after victory.

  • In his pride and pursuit of victory, made a vow to God to sacrifice the first thing to come out of his tent…which turned out to be his daughter. So he sacrificed his daughter on an altar.

David

  • Well…David did lots of pretty good stuff…

  • But let’s not forget that he also was an adulterer, conspirator, and murderer who was called out by God’s prophet Nathan.

Samuel

  • I actually really like Samuel. He was the last judge and seriously seemed to care about the Kingdom of God.

  • But he also failed to raise his own sons to love the Lord. They were so bad that they caused the nation of Israel to demand a king instead of a judge.

Why in the world are these men listed in “The Hall of Faith”? If we knew a man in our church who lived a life like the men described above, we would be seriously worried about that man. They certainly wouldn’t be nominated as a deacon!

Yet this chapter of Hebrews is mean to remind us that our faith is not our own. Hebrews 12 goes on to say that these men, in all their faults, were looking forward to the promised Messiah. Their faith was in Jesus, though they had not yet seen him. They were saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (the eternal Prophet, Priest, and King) and this was God’s gift to them as it is to us (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Let us then strive for the holiness without which no one will see God (Hebrews 12:14) but also remember that it is God who wills and works through us for His good purposes (Philippians 2:13). We have not yet attained perfect holiness. These men certainly didn’t. But their hearts and minds were set on the Messiah and the Kingdom of God being ushered in on this earth.

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