“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” (Hebrews 11:32).
Although the author of Hebrews could have added to names given to us here in chapter eleven, the constraints of time limited him from continuing with a list of other heroes of the faith who were equally worthy of recognition. As one source wryly observes, “He has not run out of examples, but only out of time.” (1)
Thus, the final stops on our tour through the Hebrews 11 “Faith Hall Of Fame” takes us to visit with six well-known (and not so well-known) examples of genuine Biblical faith. The first four individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11:32 (Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah) all lived during the Old Testament period chronicled in the Biblical book of Judges. Samuel and David also lived near the end of that period and shortly thereafter.
While some of these names may be more recognizable than others, each of these individuals can tell us something important about what it means to live a life that honors God in faith. That becomes especially clear when we look at the first person mentioned in Hebrews 11:32, a man named Gideon.
We find Gideon’s account beginning in the sixth chapter of the book of Judges. But before we get to Gideon, we’ll begin with some important background information from the opening verses of Judges chapter six…
“Then once again the Israelites started disobeying the Lord, so he let the nation of Midian control Israel for seven years. The Midianites were so cruel that many Israelites ran to the mountains and hid in caves.
Every time the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites invaded Israel together with the Amalekites and other eastern nations. They rode in on their camels, set up their tents, and then let their livestock eat the crops as far as the town of Gaza. The Midianites stole food, sheep, cattle, and donkeys. Like a swarm of locusts, they could not be counted, and they ruined the land wherever they went.
The Midianites took almost everything that belonged to the Israelites, and the Israelites begged the Lord for help. Then the Lord sent a prophet to them with this message:
I am the Lord God of Israel, so listen to what I say. You were slaves in Egypt, but I set you free and led you out of Egypt into this land. And when nations here made life miserable for you, I rescued you and helped you get rid of them and take their land. I am your God, and I told you not to worship Amorite gods, even though you are living in the land of the Amorites. But you refused to listen” (Judges 6:1-10 CEV).
This sets the stage for Gideon’s entry into our narrative next.
(1) William Macdonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary Edited by Arthur Farstad, Thomas Nelson Publishers [pg. 2200].