In our Bible classes, we have been studying from Hebrews and James, and Hebrews 11-12 and James 1 encourage us to press forward despite all odds, despite all trials. Toward the end of Hebrews 11, the author begins to quickly cover several examples of individuals overcoming through faith. They trusted in God and found victory in that trust, these individuals like Samson, Gideon, Jepthah, and Barak.
Victors of Faith
- Gideon. In Judges 7 introduces us to Gideon who is preparing for battle against Israel’s enemies. They constitute such an overwhelming force that scripture depicts them as a swarm of insects. Gideon begins with 32,000 men against these odds, but God tells him he has too many. Eventually, God whittles this number to an army of 300 against a seemingly insurmountable enemy. Furthermore, they are armed with no more than torches, clay pots, and trumpets. Gideon follows these instructions, and God delivers him and his force of 300. Sometimes, we don’t feel we have the resources we need, but God provides. He does not need us to be strong by secular standards for us to be strong in spirit.
- Joshua. Joshua faces similar odds in Joshua 6 when bringing his army against Jericho. He and his men face an army behind walls as thick as a two-lane road is wide. Instead of a major act of destruction, God commands Joshua to lead his forces in marching laps around the city. No fire falls from the heavens. No plagues strike the city, but, when Joshua and the Israelites obey, Jericho’s defenses fall. We may not always understand the reason God does what He does. We may not understand His requirements and stipulations, but obedience in God leads to victory. In chapter 7, Achan leads the people in understanding the consequences of ignoring God’s rules. Achan takes of spoils that were devoted to the Lord, and the consequences are severe. With God comes victory. Without God comes defeat.
- Joshua and Caleb. In Numbers 13, Moses sends twelve spies into Canaan. After returning, all report of the wealth of the land, but only two declare faith that God can deliver it into their hands. Those who lack faith are condemned to die in wilderness wanderings in chapter 14. At one point, the people decide they will try to conquer the land now that they understand the consequences of faithlessness. God does not relent, however, and only Joshua and Caleb survive to inherit the land of promise. Again, God’s absence leads to defeat for God’s people, but those who trust overcome.
Sometimes we don’t feel we have the support we need. We feel under-equipped and unprepared. We wonder why God requires certain things of us. Ephesians 6:10 reminds that we are in warfare like Gideon and Joshua. Unlike these, we do not face physical foes, but our assault is of a spiritual nature. Our faith in God, though, allows us to stand in the face of attack. If we allow God to guide us, if we spend time with Him, we can be victorious.
John 16:33 records Jesus telling His apostles that peace can be found in Him and that He has overcome the world. In I John 5:1-5 continues this theme of overcoming the world, and this victory is obtained through our faith in God. Philippians 4:11-13 demonstrates Paul’s willingness to endure anything in Christ because he believes that he can do all things in Christ. In Romans 8:31-39, Paul rhetorically asks who can stand against us when God is with us and that no external force can remove us from His love. Paul calls us more than conquerers in Jesus. I Corinthians 15:50-57 tells of the final victory we can have in faith – a victory over death and corruption. Finally, Revelation 15:2-4 describes those who are victorious singing praises to the Lord around His throne.
We are going to feel perplexed, alone, and outnumbered at times, but if we keep our faith with God on our side, victory is assured. Our trust is in Him. He has delivered victory to our spiritual forefathers, and He can deliver that same victory to us if we endure.
lesson by Tim Smelser