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more shall I
fail me if I
Samuel and the
Amplified: And what shall I say further? For time would fail me to tell of
Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,
Bible - Lockman)
KJV: And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also,
and Samuel, and of the prophets:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us
should not be made perfect.
NLT: Well, how much more do I need to say? It would take too long to
recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah,
David, Samuel, and all the prophets. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: And what other examples shall I give? There is simply not time
to continue by telling the stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jeptha;
of David, Samuel and the prophets. (Phillips:
Wuest: And what shall I say yet? For the time will fail me telling of
Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthae, and both David and Samuel and the
Young's Literal: And what shall I yet say? for the time will fail me recounting
about Gideon, Barak also, and Samson, and Jephthah, David also, and
Samuel, and the prophets,
AND WHAT MORE SHALL I SAY? FOR TIME WILL FAIL ME IF I TELL OF GIDEON, BARAK, SAMSON, JEPHTHAH, OF DAVID AND SAMUEL AND THE PROPHETS:
Kai ti eti lego; epileipsei me gar diegoumenon o chronos peri Gedeon,
Barak, Sampson, Iephthae, Dauid te kai Samouel kai ton propheton:
(Ro 3:5; 4:1; 6:1; 7:7) (Jn 21:25 ) (Jdg 6:1-8) (1Sa 12:11)
(Jdg 4:1-5) (Jdg 13:1-16) (Jdg 11:1-12) (1Sa 16:1,13; 17:1-18; Acts
2:29-31; 13:22-36) (1Sa 1:20; 2:11,18; 3:1-12; 28:3-25; Ps 99:6; Jer
15:1; Acts 3:24; Acts 13:20) (Mt 5:12; Lk 13:28; 16:31; Acts 10:43;
Jas 5:10; 1Pe 1:10, 11, 12; 2Pe 1:21; 3:2)
Hughes comments that all of
the preceding examples and those in these closing verses are
consistent with Hebrews 11:1 noting that...
faith is a dynamic certainty made
up of two certitudes: a future certitude that makes one sure of the
future as if it were present, and a visual certitude that brings the
invisible within view. One hears God’s Word and so believes it that
its future fulfillment becomes subjectively present and visible to the
Time will fail me - Why?
Because he had so many OT examples of faith that he could have given
to encourage his Hebrew readers. In short he was running out of time,
not examples of faithful men and women.
Jephthah- These 4 names come from
one of the darkest times of Israel's history, the days of the Judges,
which is tragically summed up by the declaration in Judges 21:25.
by faith defeated the Midianite army with a small band of 300 men.
(see Judges 6-8)
with the prodding of Deborah was used by God to defeat the
Canaanites. (see Judges 4, 5)
defeated the Philistines several times most notably in his last
act of faith in which he himself was killed.
defeated the Ammonites with God’s power (see Judges 11, 12)
Steven Cole's sermon...
In 1987, Marla and I went to the
Far East, where I spoke to some people who were teaching English in
China. We took a side trip to Macao, which had not yet gone back under
Chinese rule, to visit some missionary friends. Through an
interpreter, we chatted with two brave young Chinese women, who each
week risked imprisonment or worse by traveling into China for ministry
I asked them if they had ever heard of a false teaching that has
plagued American churches, called “the health and wealth” gospel. It
is the teaching that it is God’s will for His children to be healed of
every disease and to be rich. If you lack these things, it is because
of your lack of faith. One of the women laughed softly when she heard
this, shook her head and said, “No, I don’t think that Chinese
Christians would believe that!” Chinese Christians know that following
Jesus Christ is more likely the path to hardship and persecution than
to health and wealth.
The current The Voice of the Martyrs magazine (Nov., 2004) has an
article on a 34-year-old Chinese woman who was arrested in June for
distributing Bibles and gospel tracts. The authorities kicked her,
tore out some of her hair, and beat her to death. They reported that
she died of a “sudden disease.” She joined the company of many of
those chronicled in our text.
The author of Hebrews sounds like a preacher with his eye on the
clock. He could say far more, if time allowed. But instead, he simply
lists a few names without comment and then describes the experiences
of others, without naming them. Some won great victories by faith.
Others suffered horrible torture and death by faith. While all of them
gained approval (or, testimony; our word martyr comes from the Greek
word) by their faith, they did not receive the promise that we have
received. The author is trying to steel his readers to be faithful to
Christ in the face of looming persecution. His message is much needed
because of the human tendency to use faith in Christ as the means to
personal comfort and happiness. But when trials come, faith is
abandoned. His message is that…
Faith trusts God in spite of results, looking to the final reward.
The text falls into three sections. In Heb 11 :32, 33, 34, 35a, he
shows how sometimes God blesses those who trust Him with spectacular
results. But without even catching his breath, in the middle of Heb
11:35 he shifts direction to show (Heb 11:35, 36, 37, 38) that
sometimes God blesses those who trust Him with the grace to endure
horrible persecution without wavering. He concludes (Heb 11:39, 40) by
showing that God will bless all who trust Him with eternal rewards.
1. Sometimes God blesses those who trust Him with spectacular
results (Hebrews 11:32, 33, 34, 35a).
Time would fail me if I went into detail on every person listed here,
so I will summarize this section under two points:
A. Faith enables flawed people to accomplish great things for God.
The author (He 11:32 tells us that he was a man, since “me” is
qualified by a masculine participle in Greek) lists four men from the
period of the Judges, followed by David, Samuel, and the prophets. He
does not list them in chronological order, in that Gideon followed
Barak, Samson followed Jephthah, and David followed Samuel. No one
knows why he chose this order; perhaps he was just rattling off the
The interesting thing is that the first five men all had some
serious shortcomings, but in spite of these flaws, God honored their
Gideon at first was cowardly and
had to be coaxed to do what God called him to do. After his amazing
victory with 300 men over the Midianite army of 135,000, he made an
ephod that lured Israel into idolatry (Judges 8:24, 25, 26, 27). Yet
in spite of his failures, the author names him as a hero of faith.
Barak won a great victory for
Israel over an army that had 900 chariots, but he only did it at the
prodding of a woman, Deborah.
Samson routed the Philistines on
numerous occasions, yet he was tripped up by his lust for foreign
Jephthah, the son of a harlot,
was at first driven away by his half-brothers. But later, the elders
of his home town pled with him to return and lead them in battle
against the enemy. He won a victory, but then made a rash vow to
sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house when he returned
from battle. His only daughter came out to greet him, and he foolishly
kept his stupid vow.
David was a man after God’s heart
(Acts 13:22), who had great faith even as a teenager, when he defeated
Goliath. But he later committed adultery and then murder to cover his
tracks. Even Samuel, al-though a godly man himself, failed to raise
his sons to follow the Lord (1Sa 8:1, 2, 3).
Samuel was regarded as the first
of the prophets, and so the term covers everyone from his day down to
As a whole, they boldly spoke God’s
truth, and often suffered for it. But overall, put the men of Heb
11:32 into a scale and it tips towards those who had glaring flaws.
But in spite of these flaws, God used them because they trusted Him in
some challenging situations.
We would apply this improperly if we shrugged off our sins and
shortcomings as no big deal. We should be confronting our sins,
growing in holiness and maturity. But this list should encourage us
with the fact that God uses imperfect people who trust in Him. While
we should never justify our sins, we don’t have to wait until we are
sinlessly perfect (which is never!) to serve the Lord.
This is one of the benefits of reading Christian biographies. If a
biography is written well, it does not portray the person as if he or
she walked on water. It lets you see the imperfections, immaturity,
and blind spots of people who did great things for God because they
trusted in Him.
William Carey, “the father of modern missions,” had an illiterate wife
who defiantly refused to go to India with him. He was going to go
without her, but his departure was delayed by some problems. He and
his traveling companion returned to his house, where his companion
laid a guilt trip on Carey’s wife. He warned her that if she didn’t
accompany them, her family “would be dispersed and divided forever-she
would repent it as long as she lived” (Mary Drewery, Wiliam Carey
[Zondervan], p. 52). She fearfully went with them, only to be bitterly
unhappy and finally to go insane in India. Carey himself was an overly
indulgent father who did not correct his children (Ruth Tucker, From
Jerusalem to Irian Jaya [Zondervan], p. 119). After seven years of
labor in India, he could not claim a single Indian convert (ibid., p.
117). Yet God used William Carey in an extraordinary way in spite of
his faults. Faith's
Reward (Pastor Cole's sermons are highly recommended
Sermons by Book)
Amplified: Who by [the help of] faith subdued kingdoms, administered justice,
obtained promised blessings, closed the mouths of lions,
Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained
promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
NLT: By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and
received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: Through their faith these men conquered kingdoms,
ruled in justice and proved the truth of God's promises. They shut the
mouths of lions, (Phillips:
Wuest: who through faith overcame kingdoms, wrought
righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: who through faith did subdue kingdoms, wrought righteousness,
obtained promises, stopped mouths of lions,
WHO BY FAITH CONQUERED KINGDOMS, PERFORMED ACTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,
OBTAINED PROMISES, SHUT THE MOUTHS OF LIONS: (Joshua 6:1-13;
2Sa 5:4-25; 8:1-14; Ps 18:32, 33, 34; 44:2, 3, 4, 5, 6; 144:1,2,10)
(He 11:4, 5, 6, 7, 8,17) (He 6:12, 13, 14, 15; 10:36; 2Sa 7:11, 12,
13, 14, 15, 16, 17; Gal 3:16) (Jdg 14:5,6; 1Sa 17:33, 34, 35, 36; Ps
91:13; Da 6:20, 21, 22, 23; 2Ti 4:17; 1Peter 5:8)
The writer now
presents a variety of manifestations of faith. John Owen
These instances are taken from
things of all sorts to show that there is nothing of any kind whatever
wherein we may be concerned but that faith will be useful and helpful.
A W Pink
opens his comments on this verse with a discussion of faith...
True faith performs a prominent
part in all experimental godliness. Where there is a total absence of
the grace of faith, a man is without God and without hope in this
world; but where that spiritual principle exists, if only in the very
small degree, there has taken place a wondrous and miraculous change.
The one who is the subject of it may not, for a time, understand its
nature; but instead, make the greatest mistakes about it;
nevertheless, that change is no less than one passing from death unto
life. “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed” (Matthew 17:20):
that little grain has a principle of life in it, and contains in
embryo the future plant; so with the implanting of the principle of
grace in the heart—it will yet develop into, or rather be consummated
No matter what our lot may
be—“pleasing or painful”; no matter what station we are called to
fill—high or low; no matter how formidable or difficult the obstacles
which confront us, “All things are possible to him that believeth”
(Mark 9:23). (Exposition
Conquered kingdoms - (2610)
(katagonizomai from kata = against, +
agonizomai = to contend for victory
in the public games) means to struggle against and by implication to
overcome or subdue. The idea is to fight or contend, to enter into a
trial of strength, of courage on the field, to prevail in battle.
Historical examples would include Joshua's leading Israel to conquer
Canaan and David's rulership leading Israel to conquer the surrounding
A W Pink on performed acts of
righteousness reminds us that...
right actions must spring from
right principles and must be performed with right ends, if they are to
be acceptable to God. In other words, they must issue from a living
faith and have in view the glory of God.
Charles Simeon comments on
How diversified its (faith's)
operations—There is nothing to which it may not be applied, and
nothing for which it will not equally avail. It will alike enable us,
1. To do any thing—by it has
“righteousness been wrought,” in its utmost extent. Not only
has political righteousness been given for the government of kingdoms,
as to Asa, Hezekiah, and Josiah, but moral righteousness, in a degree
never produced by any other principle under heaven. Where do we find
such characters as those recorded in the Scriptures? Yet it was faith
which made them what they were: and faith, in proportion as it exists
in the soul, enables every child of God to resemble them. The weakest
of the human race shall “out of weakness be made strong;” and prevail,
not only over men, but over all the powers of darkness also, if only
he rely on the promise of a faithful God. His faith, though it were
only small as a grain of mustard-seed, would be abundantly sufficient
for all the powers that the occasion called for.
2. To obtain any thing—By it
“have promises been obtained;” even such as, according to human
expectation, could never have been fulfilled. To Abraham and Sarah was
the birth of a son delayed, till there remained not the smallest
probability of its accomplishment, nor a possibility, according to the
course of nature (cp Ge 18:14). And David’s establishment on the
throne of Israel was as unlikely, according to man’s estimate of
things, as any event that could be conceived. But never, in any single
instance, did a promise, apprehended by faith, fail him who relied
upon it (cp Josh 21:45, 23:14, Nu 23:19). Take, then, the promises
of God (no matter how great they are, or how small); and only rely on
them, and plead them before God in prayer; and sooner shall heaven and
earth pass away, than you be disappointed of your hope. “Ye may ask
what ye will,” provided only it be contained in a promise, and “it
shall assuredly be done unto you.” (Jn 15:7KJV) (Hebrews 11:32-35 Power of Faith)
A W Pink on obtained
“Obtained promises,” or
secured the blessings promised. God assured Joshua that he should
conquer Canaan, Gideon that he should defeat the Midianites, David
that he should be king over all Israel. But outwardly, tremendous
difficulties stood in the way of the accomplishment of those things,
yea, apparent impossibilities prevented them. Gideon was put upon a
great improbability when he was commanded to take but three hundred
men, fall upon and destroy an immense host. David and his little
company seemed to be no match for the armed forces of Saul, and after
his death, for years the throne seemed as far away as ever. But where
there is a real trust in the living God the most formidable
difficulties may be overcome.
“Obtained promises.” Ah, it
is one thing to hear and read about the wonderful things which the
faith of others secures, but what about your own experience, dear
reader? You may sincerely think that you believe in and are resting
upon the sure promises of God, but are you obtaining a fulfillment of
them in your own daily life? Are the blessings set forth in the
promises actually in your possession? Are you securing the things
promised? If not, is the reason to be found in your failure to heed
what here precedes? Before “obtained promises” comes “subdued
kingdoms” and then “wrought righteousness.” We must not expect to
“obtain” the precious things set before us in the promises until we
definitely and diligently set about the subjugation of the flesh, and
walk according to the rules of God’s Word—regulating our conduct by
its precepts and commands. (Exposition
Shut the mouths of lions
- This is a clear reference to the prophet Daniel in the lion's
den because of failing to obey a pagan order not to pray to God.
Daniel records the story in chapter 6...
And when he (King Darius) had come
near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king
spoke and said to Daniel, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your
God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the
lions?" 21 Then Daniel spoke to the king, "O king, live forever! 22 "My
God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not
harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also
toward you, O king, I have committed no crime." 23 Then the king was
very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den.
So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was
found on him, because he had trusted in his God. (Da 6:20, 21, 22, 23-see
How might this apply to
believers today who are unlikely to be thrown into a literal lion's
den? While a literal
lion was Daniel's enemy, a figurative lion is our relentless
ferocious foe, the
himself (and his minions)
who ever seeks to "kill and destroy" our faith and our testimony for
Jesus Christ. Peter writes that in order to "shut the mouth"
of this roaring lion we must...
Be of sober spirit,
be on the alert.
(Both of these commands are
= Do this now! Don't delay! Conveys a sense of urgency!) Your
adversary, the devil (diabolos),
prowls about like a roaring lion, (cp 2Ti 4:17, 18-note)
seeking someone to devour. But
him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of
suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the
world. (1Pe 5:8-note,
adds that a Hebrews 11:1 quality of faith...
enables us to accomplish things that are explainable only by
God’s power. By faith, the men listed and others
who go unnamed,
“conquered kingdoms, performed
acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,
quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from
weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to
flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection…” (He 11:33, 34, 35a)
“routine” things on the list are “performed acts of righteousness”
(NIV = “administered justice”) and “obtained promises” (depending on
what those promises are). The rest of the list includes things that
are quite impressive, if not totally miraculous.
But one thing on the list is common to everything accomplished by
faith: “from weakness were made strong.” Faith requires recognizing
our weakness, but at the same time, laying hold of God’s strength. As
Jesus said (Jn 15:5), “… apart from Me you can do nothing.” The
apostle Paul, who on the surface seems to be a competent, powerful
man, confessed (2Co 3:5), “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to
consider anything as coming from our-selves, but our adequacy is from
God.” He further explained (2Cor. 4:7), “But we have this treasure in
earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be
of God and not from ourselves.” That is why he taught that the
Christian must walk by the Spirit, Who produces His fruit in our lives
(Gal. 5:16, Gal 5:22, 23).
Every Christian who has accomplished great things for God has known
this truth as the very foundation of what they did. Robert Morrison, a
pioneer missionary to China (we saw his grave in Macao), was asked,
“Do you really expect to make an impact on that great land?” He
replied, “No sir, but I expect God to” (source unknown). George
Muller’s biographer wrote of him, “Nothing is more marked in George
Muller, to the very day of his death, than this, that he so looked to
God and leaned on God that he felt him-self to be nothing, and God
everything” (A. T. Pierson, George Muller of Bristol [Revell], p.
112). Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to inland China, said, “All
God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because
they reckoned on God being with them” (source unknown).
William Carey was a cobbler by trade. Most churchmen in his day
believed that the Great Commission had been given only to the
apostles, and thus they had no vision for “converting the heathen.”
But Carey came to the revolutionary idea that foreign missions were
the central responsibility of the church. He wrote a book promoting
that thesis, and he spoke to a group of ministers, challenging them to
the task of missions. In that talk, he made the now-famous statement,
“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God” (Tucker,
The mission he established in India was plagued by huge problems, not
the least of which was an associate who mismanaged mission funds and
made many enemies because of unpaid debts. As mentioned, Carey had
major family problems. Yet during his years in India, he translated
the Bible into three languages, supervised and edited translations
into 36 languages, produced a massive Bengali-English dictionary,
pioneered social reform, planted churches, engaged in medical relief,
founded the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of India, founded a
college and other schools, and served as professor of Sanskrit,
Bengali, and Marathi (J. D. Douglas, ed., The New International
Dictionary of the Christian Church [Zondervan], p. 192)! He was a weak
cobbler made strong through faith in a mighty God.
What are you trusting God for right now that is beyond your comfort
zone or human ability? Are you praying for God to do anything that, if
He did it, there could be no human explanation for it?
involves the risk of putting yourself into a situation where, if God
does not come through, you will fail miserably. This is not to imply
that we should be sloppy about preparation or planning. There is
nothing spiritual about spontaneity. But it is to say that after all
of our plans and preparation, we should be praying, “God, if You don’t
work, this whole thing is going to be a colossal failure!” Like Peter
stepping out of the boat onto the water, we should be very much aware
that if He doesn’t hold us up, we’re going to drown! Pray with me that
God would accomplish things through this church that can only be
explained because He did it.
Before you launch out on something grandiose, like reaching the Arab
world for Christ, start on the personal level. These heroes conquered
kingdoms by faith-have you conquered your anger or lust by God’s
power? These heroes “performed acts of righteousness,” or
“administered justice” by faith. Have you applied your faith to your
daily job or routine, so that you reflect God’s righteousness by your
integrity and honesty? These heroes “obtained promises” by faith. Do
you claim God’s promises for the problems that you face in your
personal and family life?
So the first part of the list teaches us that sometimes God blesses
those who trust Him with spectacular results. Even though they are
flawed people, God uses those who trust Him to accomplish things that
are explainable only by His power. (Faith's
Reward (Pastor Cole's sermons are highly recommended
Sermons by Book)
F B Meyer THE ROLL OF FAITH
FAITH IS the link between our souls
and God. It is the capacity of entering into fellowship with the
Eternal Love and Power, so that we are able to do all things with the
sense that it is not we who do them, but God in us and with us. Faith
is the open door and window towards God. In faith our heart goes out
towards God in clinging dependence, and God comes in to strengthen us
with His Divine fullness.
In human life, when we trust a man,
we draw from him all that he is able to supply; in the Divine life,
faith draws upon the resources of God, so that they flow freely into
our nature, and the results of our life-work are immensely increased.
Faith is possible amid a great deal of ignorance. It is clear that
Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah were ignorant of the truth which
the Gospel has revealed, and yet we learn that their work was largely
due to their faith. Dispensations come and go; the revelation of God
grows from less to more; but the attitude of faith is always the
same--in the simple woman that touched the hem of Christ's garment, as
in St. John the beloved disciple, who had years of training in
Faith achieves very different
results. In some, it produces the heroic strength that turns the
battle from the gate; in some, the passive suffering that endures the
long ordeal of pain. Here, it turns the edge of the sword; there,
shuts the mouths of lions. We know how electric force may be applied
to all the various machinery of human life. In one place used for the
beaming light, in another to drive the motor car, or to flash the
message of music and speech from one continent to another. So Faith is
able to appropriate God's might for any purpose that lies within the
compass of the life-task, whether active or passive. (See Heb. 11:32,
33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39.)
God bears a witness to all who
trust Him. He never fails us in the hour of need. His response is the
echo of our appeal. As soon as the uplifted arm of the tramcar touches
the overhead wire, there is the spark, and the immediate entrance of
electric power. So God answers faith.
PRAYER - O God, we are full of need, but we have learnt that Thou
givest power to the faint and to those that have no right. Change our
weakness into Thy strength; our ignorance into Thy wisdom; our
changefulness into Thine everlasting constancy. AMEN. (F. B. Meyer.
Our Daily Walk)
edge of the
Amplified: Extinguished the power of raging fire, escaped the devourings of
the sword, out of frailty and weakness won strength and became
stalwart, even mighty and resistless in battle, routing alien hosts.
Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out
of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight
the armies of the aliens.
NLT: quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the
sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in
battle and put whole armies to flight. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: they quenched the furious blaze of fire, they escaped
from death itself. From being weaklings they became strong men and
mighty warriors; they routed whole armies of foreigners. (Phillips:
Wuest: quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the
sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, turned to
flight armies of aliens. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: quenched the power of fire, escaped the mouth of the sword, were
made powerful out of infirmities, became strong in battle, caused to
give way camps of the aliens.
QUENCHED THE POWER OF FIRE: esbesan (3PAAI) dunamin
(Ps 66:12; Isa43:2; Da 3:19, 20, 21, 22, 13, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28; 1Pe
means to quench, put out or extinguish referring to a light or a fire.
Metaphorically, sbennumi speaks of ceasing, thwarting or
blocking an activity.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are the obvious examples of this
manifestation of faith, Daniel
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with
wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach
and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven
times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain
valiant warriors who were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and
Abed-nego, in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire. 21
Then these men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps
and their other clothes, and were cast into the midst of the furnace
of blazing fire. (See notes on
Daniel 3:19, 20, 21)
While the writer doubtless refers
to quenching the power of literal fire, there is a
metaphorical application to all believers, Paul exhorting us...
in addition to all, taking up the
shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish
(quench) all the flaming missiles of the evil one. (Ep 6:16-note)
The psalmist records the
faithfulness of God in the fire...
You made men ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a
place of abundance. (Ps 66:12)
Through Isaiah God promised...
When you pass through the waters, I
will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the
flame burn you. (Isaiah 43:2)
John Henry Jowett comments:
WHEN Mrs. Booth, the mother of the Salvation Army, was dying, she
quietly said, “The waters are rising but I am not sinking.” But then
she had been saying that all through her life. Other floods besides
the waters of death had gathered about her soul. Often had the floods
been out and the roads were deep in affliction. But she had never
sunk! The good Lord made her buoyant, and she rode upon the storm!
This, then, is the promise of the Lord, not that the waters of trouble
shall never gather about the believer, but that he shall never be
overwhelmed. He shall “keep his head above them.” Yes, to him shall be
given the grace of “aboveness.” He shall never be under, always above!
It is the precious gift of spiritual buoyancy, sanctified good
spirits, the power of the Christian hope. When we are in Christ Jesus
circumstances shall never be our master. One is our Master, and “we
are more than conquerors in Him that loved us, and washed us from our
sins in His own blood.”
Oswald Chambers: The waters
are real, and the fire is real, but (Isaiah) claims that the
relationship to God holds.
Spurgeon: There are certain
trials that would rapidly overwhelm our faith and consume us if we did
not have a secret source of divine, omnipotent strength. If it were
not true that the Lord sits enthroned at the flood and as King forever
(Ps. 29:10), the rivers would long ago have overwhelmed us. If it
were not that He makes the flaming fire His messenger and the burning
heat His servant, we would be utterly consumed (Is. 43:2). You may
expect that between here and heaven, if you have not met with it yet,
you will have enough trouble to destroy you unless the Lord is your
Helper. Most of us can sing with the psalmist, “If it had not been
the Lord who was on our side … then the waters would have overwhelmed
us, the stream would have gone over our soul” (Ps. 124:1, 4).
Believer, you will pass through the
fire. But the Lord says that “when you walk through the fire, you
shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you” (Is. 43:2).
This verse implies that your march through the flames will be quiet,
calm, and safe. There is no need to increase your usual pace. If I had
to go through literal fire, I would want to run and leap, but
spiritually we are to walk through the fire.
There is a beautiful passage in the
Psalter, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil” (Ps. 23:4). Walking is our pace,
“whoever believes will not act hastily” (Is. 28:16) but will walk
even through the fire.
What a blessing that “in all these
things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am
persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities
nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor
depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from
the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:37, 38,
39). Therefore, no trouble or trial can prevent our progress toward
heaven. Through divine grace we will walk through the fire.
Jesus Christ is with you in every
pang that rips your heart and in every pain that tears your body. Do
you feel the sorrows of poverty? Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and
birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His
head” (Matt. 8:20). Are you sorrowing? “Jesus wept” at Lazarus’
tomb (John 11:35). Have you been slandered and hurt? He said,
“Reproach has broken My heart, and I am full of heaviness” (Ps.
69:20). Have you been betrayed? Remember, He had a friend who sold
Him for the price of a slave (Matt. 26:15). Every stormy sea that
has tossed you has roared around His boat too. There is no adversity
so dark, so deep, or so apparently pathless that you cannot discover
the Crucified One’s footsteps when you kneel. In the fires, in the
rivers, in the cold night, and under the burning sun He cries:
Fear not I am with you, O be not
For I am your God, I will still give you aid:
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of sorrow will not overflow,
For I will be with you, your trials to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.
When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be your supply
The flames shall not hurt you, I only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine.
Oh, the wonderful security of
the heaven-born and heaven-bound pilgrim! Floods cannot drown him, nor
fires burn him. Thy presence, O Lord, is the protection of thy saints
from the varied perils of the road. Behold, in faith I commit myself
unto thee, and my spirit enters into rest.
(Above from various of Spurgeon's works)
ESCAPED THE EDGE OF THE SWORD: ephugon (3PAAI) stomata machaires:
(1Sa 20:1; 2Sa 21:16,17; 1Ki 19:3; 2Ki 6:16, 17, 18,32; Job 5:20; Ps
144:10; Jer 26:24)
Escaped the edge of the sword
- Not by one's cunning but by one's faith. The believer is immortal
until God says it's time to come home! In the meantime we operate in
the sphere of faith.
David escaped the edge of
the sword of Saul...
Then David fled from Naioth in
Ramah, and came and said to Jonathan, "What have I done? What is my
iniquity? And what is my sin before your father, that he is seeking my
life?" (1Samuel 20:1)
And in another episode of David's
Then Ishbi-benob, who was among the
descendants of the giant, the weight of whose spear was three hundred
shekels of bronze in weight, was girded with a new sword, and he
intended to kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah helped him,
and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore
to him, saying, "You shall not go out again with us to battle, so that
you do not extinguish the lamp of Israel." (2Samuel 21:16, 17)
FROM WEAKNESS WERE MADE STRONG: edunamothesan (3PAPI) apo astheneias:
(Jdg 7:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25; 8:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; 15:14, 15,
16, 17, 18, 19, 20; 16:19-30; 2Ki 20:7, 8, 9, 10, 11; Job 42:10; Ps
6:8; 2Co 12:9-note; 2Co
from a =
without + sthénos = strength, bodily vigor) means literally
without strength or bodily vigor = want of strength = lacking
strength. Literally astheneia refers to bodily diseases or
ailments (Lk 5:15, 13:11, 12, Jn 5:5, 11:4, 28:9). Another meaning of
astheneia is incapacity to do or experience something, an inability
to produce results, a state of weakness or limitation (1Co 15:43; 2Co
11:30; 12:5, 9, 10, 13:4; Ro 8:27; Heb 4:15; 5:2; 7:28; 11:34) Paul's
use in 1Co 2:3 conveys the sense of weakness in terms of courage.
This group of words expresses
powerlessness. The weak are without strength, incapacitated in some
serious way. (Expository Dictionary)
see also word study on related word
endunamoo; words of the stem
dunamai all have the basic sense of ability or capability) means
to be enabled and speaks of an inherent power which gives one the
ability to do something. This verb is in the
which means that the strengthening comes from outside source (God)
Note the principle
clearly implied is that when we are weak (in our self, our strength,
our puny efforts) then we are strong (in His endless source of
strength), specifically in spiritual matters.
Weakness...made strong - The
paradox of the Christian life, the truth which the natural man (who
lacks a living, saving faith) cannot comprehend (1Cor 2:14), for such
spiritual truth can only be comprehended and apprehended by faith in
His Word of Truth. As Paul wrote...
And He (Jesus after Paul had
entreated 3 times to take away his "thorn" - read context = 2Co 12:1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) has said to me, "My
grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that
the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with
weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with
difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2Co 12:9-note; 2Co
Spurgeon in his sermon
The Best Strengthening
THOSE who out of weakness were made
strong are written among the heroes of faith, and are by no means the
least of them. Believers “quenched the violence of fire, escaped the
edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong.” Who shall tell
which of the three grand deeds of faith is the greatest? Many of us
may never have to brave the fiery stake, nor to bow our necks upon the
block, to die as Paul did; but if we have grace enough to be out of
weakness made strong, we shall not be left out of the roll of the
nobles of faith, and God’s name shall not fail to be glorified in our
Brethren, as believers in the Lord
Jesus, we are called to two things, namely, to do and to suffer for
his name’s sake. Certain saints are summoned to active marching duty,
and others are ordered to keep watch on the walls. There are warriors
on the field of conflict, and sentries in the box of patience.
Both in doing and in suffering, if
we are earnest and observant, we soon discover our own weakness.
“Weakness” is all we possess. “Weakness” meets us everywhere. If
we have to work for the Lord, we are soon compelled to cry, “Who is
sufficient for these things?” and if we are called to suffer for him,
our weakness, in the case of most of us, is even greater: many who can
labor without weariness cannot suffer without impatience. Men are
seldom equally skilled in the use of the two hands of doing and
bearing. Patience is a grace which is rarer and harder to come at than
activity and zeal. It is one of the choicest fruits of the Spirit, and
is seldom found on newly-planted trees. The fact soon comes home to us
that we are weak where we most of all desire to be strong.
Our longing is to be able both to
do and to suffer for our Lord, and to do this we must have strength
from above, and that strength can only come to us through faith. I
have read you this glorious eleventh of Hebrews, which describes the
mighty men of faith, the men of renown. They accomplished all their
feats by a power which was not in them by nature. They were not
naturally strong either to do or to suffer. If they had been, they
would not have required faith in God; but being men of like passions
with ourselves, they needed to trust in the Lord, and they did so.
They were quite as weak as the weakest of us; but by their faith they
laid hold on heavenly strength until they could do all things. There
was nothing in the range of possibility, or, I might say, nothing
within the lines of impossibility, which they could not have
performed. They achieved everything that was necessary in the form of
service, and they bore up gloriously under the most fearful pressure
of suffering, simply and only by faith in God, who became their
Helper. You and I may be very weak at this time, but we can be made
strong out of just such weakness. We need not wish to have any
strength of our own, for by faith we can reach to any degree of power
in the Lord. We can have all imaginable strength for the grandest
achievements desirable, if we have faith in God. Upon this simple but
most practical matter I am going to speak to you at this time. We all
wish to be strong. Medicines, embrocations, foods, baths, and all
sorts of inventions are advertised as means of increasing strength. We
are all in heavenly things so weak, that the idea of being made strong
should be very attractive to us. Let us learn, then, how others “out
of weakness were made strong,” and let us follow on to enjoy their
privilege by copying their conduct. Let me ask you to note, first,
faith makes men strong for holy doing; and, secondly, faith makes men
strong for patient suffering. We shall go over the ground which I
marked out in my introduction....
Dear friend, would you like to do
something great for God? Have you heard the motto of our early
“Attempt great things for
Does that thought burn within your
heart? Do you long to be of some great use? “Oh, yes,” says one, “I
would attempt great things for God, but I am terribly weak.” Make the
attempt by faith in God, for it is written about people “who through
faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises,
stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped
the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became
valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Heb.
11:33, 34). If you feel incapable, throw yourself on the infinite
capacity of God. As long as you are willing to be used, as long as God
has given you a concern and a labor of spirit for the souls of others,
you need not fear. You may by faith get to work in all your
feebleness, for “as your days so shall your strength be” (Dt
33:25). Has not the Lord said to you, “My grace is sufficient for
you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor. 12:9-note)?
Is not this word true? (Read the full sermon on Hebrews 11:34 -
The Best Strengthening
(See Spurgeon's related sermon on
Hebrews 11:34 God's Cure For
BECAME MIGHTY IN WAR: egenethesan (3PAPI) ischuroi en polemo:
On the victories of faith!
When faith takes to working,
how mightily she works.
Is this also a feat of faith? Yes;
instead of showing their faith by putting their enemies to flight,
they prove it by enduring all manner of tortures without shrinking.
PUT FOREIGN ARMIES TO FLIGHT: parembolas eklinan (3PAAI) allotrion:
(1Sa 14:13, 14, 15; 17:51,52; 2Sa 8:1-18; 2Chr 14:11, 12, 13, 14;
16:1-9; 20:6-25; 2Chr 32:20, 21, 22)
Do you notice how, every now and
then, there is the mention of a feat which seems altogether beyond
you; but then there follows one, in which you can be a partaker with
these heroes and heroines of faith? It may be that you have never
“quenched the violence of fire;” yet, often enough, it has been true
of you that, by faith, “out of weakness” you have been “made
Charles Simeon asks...
Who would imagine that faith should
ever possess such powers as are here ascribed to it? Who would suppose
that by it men should “put to flight mighty armies,” and “subdue whole
kingdoms?” Yet this has been done, and done by faith also: for all the
kingdoms of Canaan were subdued by Joshua’s faith; as were the
surrounding kingdoms of Moab, and Syria, and Edom, with many others,
by the faith of David. And who would think that this principle should
prevail to shut the mouths of lions; yes, and to quench the violence
of fire, so that a furnace heated to the utmost extent of man’s
ability, should not be able to singe a hair of a person’s head? Yet
was the former of these done by the faith of Daniel; as was the
latter, by the faith of his three companions, Shadrach, Meshech, and
Abed-nego. Even to the raising of the dead has this availed: for,
through the exercise of it, Elijah raised the son of the widow of
Zarephath, and Elisha the son of the Shunamitish woman.
Now of these things I say, they are
utterly incredible: and, in declaring them, I seem to demand an assent
that is perfectly unreasonable. For, how should it be that such a
hidden principle of the mind should ever enable a man to work such
miracles as these? Verily, the whole account seems to be nothing but
“a cunningly-devised fable,” that yet can impose on none who give to
it one moment’s consideration. But it is true, and the very truth of
God. Nor will it appear incredible, if we duly consider the way in
which it operates. It is God himself who engages to do the thing: and
faith calls into action his Almighty arm (and with him all things are
possible). So that, inasmuch as faith, insures his effectual aid, it
may be truly said, that “all things are possible to him that
believeth.” (Hebrews 11:32-35 Power of Faith)
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