Great faith is repentant faith.
The remainder of this chapter gives us examples of faith in action and affords us an opportunity to apply the principles practiced by our faithful forebears.
We see that those who came before were not perfect but were faithful in their imperfection, trusting God for their righteousness and acting in repentant belief through the promise of the King Messiah.
In certain cases, their faith proved through trial became a prefigure of the saving work of Yeshua and the redemptive purposes of God for humanity.
17 In faith, trust, assurance, belief Avraham[H], when he was examined, proved, brought up Yitzchak[H] [Isaac], and the one who had received the promises was offering up his only son; 18 it was he to whom it was said, “Through Yitzchak[H] your seed shall be called.” [Gen. 21:12] 19 He considered that the God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type, figure, parable. 20 In faith, trust, assurance, belief Yitzchak[H] blessed Yaakov[H] and Esav[H], even regarding things to come.
HEBREWS 11:21-40 (Author’s translation)
21 In faith, trust, assurance, belief Yaakov[H] as he was dying, blessed, spoke well over both the sons of Yoseph[H], and worshiped, on the top of his staff. 22 In faith, trust, assurance, belief Yoseph[H], when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the children of Yisrael[H], and gave commandment concerning his bones. 23 In faith, trust, assurance, belief Moshe[H], when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the Pharoah’s edict. 24 In faith, trust, assurance, belief Moshe[H], when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment, undergo suffering and affliction with the people, of the God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, temporarily, 26 considering the reproach, abusive disapproval levelled at Messiah greater riches than the treasures of Mitzrayim[H]; for he was looking to the reward, wages. 27 In faith, trust, assurance, belief he left Mitzrayim[H], not fearing the wrath of the Pharoah; for he persevered, as though seeing Him who is unseen. 28 In faith, trust, assurance, belief he kept the Pesach[H] and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them. 29 In faith, trust, assurance, belief they passed through the Red Sea as though on dry land; and the Mitzrayim[H], when they attempted it, were swallowed up, devoured, drowned. 30 In faith, trust, assurance, belief the walls of Yeriychoh[H] fell down after the Israelites had marched around them for seven days. 31 In faith, trust, assurance, belief the prostitute, fornicator, idolatress Rachav[H] did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. 32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gid’on[H], Barak[H] Shimshon[H], Yiphtach[H], of David[H] and Shemuel[H] and the prophets, 33 who in faith, trust, assurance, belief conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 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. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mocking and flogging, and further, chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, examined, proved, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented 38 (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, on mountains, and sheltering in caves and holes in the ground. 39 And all these, having gained a good report upon their faith, did not receive what was promised, messaged, 40 because the God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect, complete, consecrated.
HEBREWS 11:21-40 (line upon line)
21 In faith, trust, assurance, belief (pistis[G], ba-emunah[H]) Yaakov[H] (Jacob – follower) as he was dying, blessed, spoke well over (eulogeō[G], beirakh[H]) both the sons of Yoseph[H] (Joseph – YHVH adds), and worshiped (proskuneō[G]), on the top of his staff (rhabdos[G]). 22 In faith, trust, assurance, belief (pistis[G], ba-emunah[H]) Yoseph[H], when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the children of Yisrael[H], and gave commandment (entellomai[G]) concerning his bones.
21 In faith, trust, assurance, belief Yaakov[H] as he was dying, blessed, spoke well over both the sons of Yoseph[H], and worshiped, on the top of his staff.
Ref. Genesis 48
The reference to Yaakov worshipping God while leaning on the top of his staff either reflects the Greek Septuagint reading of Genesis 47:31 (the Masoretic text marks the vowels [nikudot] as MiTaH “bed”, but the Hebrew text of the Torah scroll has no such markings and may also be read MaTeH “staff”), or refers to an unrecorded act that followed the blessings portion of the account of Genesis 48. In either case Yaakov/Yisrael is worshipping God while leaning on the head of his staff, the staff denoting authority, support and the head of the staff being a metaphor for the chief authority given Yaakov (over Israel the people). Therefore, Yaakov submits all of Israel to God in worship.
The account of Yaakov blessing Yoseph’s sons has many similarities with that of Isaac’s blessing Yaakov and Esav. Yaakov is said to have been blind at this point, just as Isaac had been poor sighted when blessing Yaakov and Esav. Yaakov also crosses his hands in order to bless the younger son over the elder. The text of the Book to the Hebrews illuminates the fact that Yaakov trusted God in faith to fulfil the prophetic blessing he pronounced over the sons of Yoseph. Yaakov believed that those descended from Yoseph’s sons would see the promised land, even though at the time Israel was in the land of Egypt.
This begins a progression of faithful ones from Yaakov through Yoseph to Moshe, who among themselves saw the provision of God from the time Israel entered Egypt until the time that the nation was delivered from slavery and brought to the promised land (which the writer of the book to the Hebrews has previously used as a metaphor describing the transcendent location of the land in the Olam Haba [world to come] ref. Heb. 3 - 4).
22 In faith, trust, assurance, belief Yoseph[H], when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the children of Yisrael[H], and gave commandment concerning his bones.
Prior to this Yaakov had requested that Yoseph inter his remains in the cave Avraham had purchased by the field of Machpelah opposite Mamre in Canaan (the land of Israel)[Gen. 50:1:21].
Yoseph, though he lived several hundred years prior to the exodus, firmly believed God would bring Israel out of Egypt into the land of promise. He believed this based on faith passed down from Avraham and was so certain of its taking place that he gave instructions for his mummified remains/bones to be carried with Israel during their exodus and to be brought into the promised land and there be interred [Gen. 50:22-26].
The bones of Yoseph were carried out of Egypt some 400 years after his death:
“And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had directly charged the children of Israel, saying, ‘God will surely visit you; and you shall carry up my bones away hence with you.’” -Shemot (Exodus) 13:19
Upon arriving in the land of promise the children of Israel interred the bones of Yoseph in Shechem on a parcel of land purchased by Yaakov, and so Ephraim and Manasseh inherited that plot of land according to the will of Yaakov their progenitor.
“And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, they interred in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob had purchased off of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.” -Yehoshua (Joshua) 24:32
23 In faith, trust, assurance, belief (pistis[G], ba-emunah[H]) Moshe[H] (drawn out one, resurrected one), when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid (phobeō[G]) of the Pharoah’s (basileus[G], king’s) edict. 24 In faith, trust, assurance, belief (pistis[G], ba-emunah[H]) Moshe[H], when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
23 In faith, trust, assurance, belief Moshe[H], when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the Pharoah’s edict.
The faith spoken of here is that of Moses’ parents. The Masoretic text records Moses’ mother Yocheved hiding him, while the Septuagint records both parents (Amram & Yocheved Ex. 6:20) hiding him. This is not a contradiction but an illumination. A mother has a special connection to her child that a father does not share in kind, therefore, it was Moses’ mother who led in the decision to hide him in agreement with his father, both loving him equally and uniquely.
The phrase “saw that he was beautiful” is first a way of saying, that as is the case with all good parents, Moses was precious in their sight and that they were willing to sacrifice everything in order to protect Moses from death at the hands of an idolatrous Pharoah. Second, it is an indication of Moses’ unique role as deliverer. The text tells us that Moses’ parents were not afraid of Pharoah’s edict (Ex. 1:16, 22) because of their devout faith in God and by inference, His promised Messiah, prefigured in their son Moses.
Moses, the drawn out or resurrected one, was placed in a basket in the Nile river where other children had been tossed as sacrifices to the crocodile deity Sebek a.k.a Sobek. Metaphorically Moses was given over to death. However, seeing his basket the daughter of Pharoah drew him out of the water and raised him as her own, a living parable of resurrection. Thus, Moses’ very name (character, history) is prophetic of the death and resurrection of the King Messiah Yeshua.
24 In faith, trust, assurance, belief Moshe[H], when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
When Moses reached the age of understanding (13yrs according to the modern Jewish rite of Bar Mitzvah), he was aware of his lineage and refused to be known as the son of Pharoah’s daughter, not out of disrespect for her but in deference to his own people and his own God. We note that to some degree deity was attached to the royals of Egypt and that part of the need for Moses to make his affiliation to Israel clear was related to severing ties to some of the idolatrous practices of the Pharaohs. On a practical level his conviction of faith saw him leave the palace with its comforts and prestige, temporal sinful pleasures and so on, and instead live among his brothers and sisters, the oppressed Israelite slaves in relative poverty.
25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment, undergo suffering and affliction (sugkakoucheō[G]) with the people (ho laos[G], am[H]), of the God (ho Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) than to enjoy the pleasures (echō apolausis[G]) of sin for a season, temporarily (proskairos[G]), 26 considering the reproach, abusive disapproval (oneidismos[G]) levelled at Messiah (Christos[G], Mashiach[H]) greater (meizōn[G]) riches than the treasures of Mitzrayim[H] (Egypt – double distress); for he was looking to the reward, wages (misthapodosia[G]).
25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment, undergo suffering and affliction with the people, of the God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, temporarily,
The context denotes that “the people of the God” is a phrase synonymous with “Israel” (ethnic), the descendants of Jacob.
“The pleasures of sin” can refer to sin acts of any kind, and could include the oppression of the Israelites. Moses firmly rejected a lifestyle of sin in favour of a godly calling unto suffering and trial.
Moses could have worked behind the scenes provoking political intrigue and positioning himself to direct the ruling class of Egypt toward changing their view of the Israelites. He could have done all this and continued to enjoy the comforts of royal life, but he did not. His faith in God and in the ultimate Deliverer Yeshua meant that compromise was not an option. He both counted and paid the cost of clinging to his God, his people and his calling. He saw the pleasures of this world as temporary and instead chose the unseen and eternal joy of the Olam Haba (world to come), trusting that God Who is faithful, would manifest His promises to Israel at the appointed time.
The first century C.E. Jewish recipients of this work were in part faced with a similar choice between living comfortably under the apostate priesthood which was for a time politically aligned with Rome and therefore the Emperor (Pharoah of the day), or being rejected by family and friends and left struggling to make ends meet along with their fellow Messiah following Jewish brothers and sisters. In short, they could relate to Moses and the struggles he faced and could take comfort in the fact that they shared in his faith.
We too can take comfort in this knowledge, that we have many faithful examples in the lives of those who have gone before us. Regardless of when a believer lives within the chronology of history, we are all united in the same saving faith in Yeshua our King Messiah.
26 considering the reproach, abusive disapproval levelled at Messiah greater riches than the treasures of Mitzrayim[H]; for he was looking to the reward, wages.
Ref. Exodus 2:11-15
To say as so many commentators do, that “Moses’ understanding of the Messiah was very limited”, is utter nonsense born of presumption. If the resurrected Messiah is transcendent and unbound by time and space then He is also trans-locational and able to reveal Himself at any point in the chronology of Israel’s history.
First, Moses must have seen Messiah in faith in order for him to consider “the suffering of Messiah of greater riches than the temporal riches of Egypt,” and second, the suffering of Messiah is here connected to the suffering of the Israelites under bondage in Egypt. Moses being a type for the Messiah, the “prophet” like Moses Whom God would send in the future.
Moses knew enough to say that “the Word (ha-Davar[H]/logos[G]) is very near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart” (Deut. 30:14), and “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me…” (Deut. 18:15-22). Yeshua said “For had you believed Moses, you would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me.” (John 5:46).
One might say that Moses’ understanding of the King Messiah was markedly greater than that of many modern Christians. So was his understanding limited? Perhaps. But not as limited as the understanding of many of our modern theological scholars.
“He was looking to the reward” based on his faith in God through Messiah. It is the reward that is unseen. The Olam Haba (world to come).
27 In faith, trust, assurance, belief (pistis[G], ba-emunah[H]) he left Mitzrayim[H] (Egypt – double distress), not fearing the wrath of the Pharoah (basileus[G], king); for he persevered, as though seeing Him who is unseen. 28 In faith, trust, assurance, belief (pistis[G], ba-emunah[H]) he kept the Pesach[H] (Passover) and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them.
27 In faith, trust, assurance, belief he left Mitzrayim[H], not fearing the wrath of the Pharoah; for he persevered, as though seeing Him who is unseen.
Ref. Exodus 2, & 5 through 13
“he left Mitzrayim[H], not fearing the wrath of the Pharoah” can refer to both his fleeing to Midian aged 40 years (Ex. 2) and to his subsequent exodus with Israel following the plagues (Ex. 13). There is no need to debate over the application of this phrase.
Moses did not fear the powerful wrath of Pharaoh because he feared the One true God of all creation, El Elohay Yisrael (God the God of Israel). The fear of God is an end to fear.
“As though seeing Him who is unseen” is a reference to God the Father, Who is unseen. And makes sense because Moses spoke to the person of Messiah (the Son) face to face.
“So the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When [a]Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.” -Exodus 33:11 (NASB)
We know that “the Lord” in this verse is YHVH manifest as the Son Yeshua (resurrected, transcendent, not preincarnate), because in all cases in the Tanakh where a human being sees God it is an encounter with either the Malakh HaShem (Samson's parents) or a the Man [Angel] (Jacob wrestled) that they see and not the unseen Father (albeit He is revealed in the Son). They do not see the unseen Father because:
“He further said, “You cannot see My face, for mankind shall not see Me and live!” -Exodus 33:20 (NASB)
28 In faith, trust, assurance, belief he kept the Pesach[H] and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them.
Ref. Exodus 12
Moses kept the Passover according to God’s instruction understanding the great cost being paid in order to save the lives of Israel’s first born.
Moses’s own firstborn son had come close to being killed by the Destroyer (Angel of the Lord) when he was returning to Egypt with Zipporah following his exile in Midian.
God does not abide hypocrisy, if the uncircumcised sons of Egypt were to suffer death as a result of Egypt’s guilt, how much more an uncircumcised son of Israel. Moses had not circumcised his son Gershom in covenant to HaShem according to the covenant of the fathers and was therefore putting his son at risk. An uncircumcised male was not considered a son of Israel.
Zipporah Moses’ Midianite wife rushed to circumcise their son, and as a result of her faith in the God of Israel Moses’ son was spared from the Destroyer, Angel of the Lord, the Lord Himself. Zipporah threw the bloody foreskin at the child’s feet signifying that the boy was to walk according to the faith of Israel, and thus his life was spared in a prefigurative prophetic action relating to the final plague that was to come against the firstborn of Egypt. Alternatively, the bloody foreskin was thrown at Moses feet to symbolize the sanctifying and sparing of Moses household wherever they walked. Either way, all of this prefigures the substitutionary death of the only begotten Son of God Yeshua the King Messiah.
Finally Zipporah cried out “You’re a Husband of blood to me”. Moses may be the subject of the pronouncement, but given he is likely not the subject of any of the other events pertaining to this exchange, the most likely subject of Zipporah’s pronouncement is the Angel of the Lord (Yeshua, manifest, resurrected, transcendent, not preincarnate).
For further study please read my commentary on Exodus 4:24-26
I believe Moses further understood the symbolic significance of the blood of the Pesach lamb and its prefiguring of the suffering of the Messiah, which he has already been said to have considered of “greater worth than the temporal pleasures of Pharaoh’s palace.”
“Purge out therefore the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, for you are unleavened. For it is certain that Messiah our Pesach (lamb) is sacrificed for us:” -1 Corinthians 5:7
29 In faith, trust, assurance, belief (pistis[G], ba-emunah[H]) they passed through the Red Sea as though on dry land; and the Mitzrayim[H] (Egyptians – people of double distress), when they attempted it, were swallowed up, devoured, drowned (katapinō[G]). 30 In faith, trust, assurance, belief (pistis[G], ba-emunah[H]) the walls of Yeriychoh[H] (his moon, Jericho) fell down after the Israelites had marched around them for seven days.
29 In faith, trust, assurance, belief they passed through the Red Sea as though on dry land; and the Mitzrayim[H], when they attempted it, were swallowed up, devoured, drowned.
Ref. Exodus 14-15
It is worth noting that “he” (Moses) is said to have kept the Passover, whereas “they” (all Israel) passed through the Red Sea (Sea of Suph, Sea of Reeds). This can be understood as a remez (hint) that points to Messiah. “He” being the Pesach Lamb, the ultimate keeper of Passover, and “They” being those who follow Him through death (Red Sea) into life everlasting (Promised land). The plain meaning of the text denotes both individual and corporate saving faith. We accept Messiah in faith as individuals and our faith is connected to the community of believers.
This concludes the references to Moses, the writer having alluded to each 40 year section of Moses’ life. His exile and return from Midian, His leadership of the Israelites under the oppression of Pharoah, and finally, following the journey through the Red Sea, his 40 years of leading Israel in the wilderness toward the promised land. Moses died aged 120 in Moab (Deut. 34:1-7).
30 In faith, trust, assurance, belief the walls of Yeriychoh[H] fell down after the Israelites had marched around them for seven days.
Ref. Joshua 6:1-20
The writer now alludes to the corporate faith of Israel under the leadership of Yehoshua (Yeshua, Joshua, Jesus: YHVH is Salvation).
Moses led Israel to the promised land and Joshua led Israel into the promised land, crossing the Jordan as they had crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. Once again, the crossing of the waters was a metaphor for death and the entering into the land a metaphor for everlasting life in the promised land of the Olam Haba (world to come). Joshua sharing his name with the future Messiah Yeshua Who would lead us through death and into life, make resurrection unto eternal life possible.
This is now the second time that corporate faith is mentioned. The faith of all those among the ancient Israelites who truly trusted in God. The lesson for the first century Jewish believers is that of seeing their personal faith as part of a corporate faith that unites them.
Several ancient Jewish commentators: Targum Yonatan, Yarchi, and Kimkhi re. Joshua. vi. 5. Describe the walls of Jericho sinking right down into the ground, and being completely swallowed up. The Septuagint says that the walls fell round about and the Masoretic text describes the walls falling flat (Joshua 6:20). Each of these accounts affirms and illuminates the other.
Yarchi and Kimkhi claim that the walls of Jericho fell on the Shabbat, and there is a strong likelihood of this given that the march around the walls is likely to have begun at Havdalah (distinction: the end of Shabbat at sundown) the seven days of the march concluding the following Shabbat when the walls fell.
31 In faith, trust, assurance, belief (pistis[G], ba-emunah[H]) the prostitute, fornicator, idolatress (pornē[G]) Rachav[H] (wide, broad, Rahab) did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace (beshalom[H]). 32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gid’on[H] (feller, cutter, hewer, warrior), Barak[H] (lightening flash) Shimshon[H] (like the sun), Yiphtach[H] (he opens), of David[H] (beloved) and Shemuel[H] (hears God, named for God) and the prophets, (nevi’im[H])
31 In faith, trust, assurance, belief the prostitute, fornicator, idolatress Rachav[H] did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
Ref. Joshua 2:1-21; 6:21-25; Matt. 1:5-6
“the prostitute Rachav” is a description of the lifestyle of Rachav prior to her entering the faith of Israel. Rachav did not perish because she was repentant and acknowledged the God of Israel as the One true God and deliverer of those who receive righteousness in Him. We know this because she was not among “those who were disobedient…” and instead “welcomed the spies” of Israel in peace.
The suggestion by many ancient Jewish scholars and some Christian theologians that Rachav was not a harlot but merely an innkeeper contradicts the Holy Spirit inspired writings of the Book to the Hebrews and the Book of Yaakov (James). The Hebrew “zonah” is from the root “zanah” which describes the act of fornication, adultery, prostitution and leaves no doubt that Rachav was a woman of the night. The use of the word “zonah” is so intrenched in the Hebrew psyche, that it remains a part of modern colloquial Hebrew vernacular, “Ben zonah” meaning, “Son of a whore”, equivalent to the English slang “Son of a bitch”.
Regardless of disagreements over Rachav’s occupation, both Jewish and Christian commentators agree that Rachav is a heroine of the faith (Sifre Numbers 78; Talmud Bavliy tractate Megillah 14b; Numbers Rabbah 8.b; Matt. 1:5; Jas. 2:25).
Part of Rachav’s journey toward salvation and faith was her decision to welcome and protect the spies of Israel the chosen people of HaShem. To despise God’s chosen people Israel is evidence that a person does not know the saving faith of Yeshua. Many today who claim to be Messiah followers, hate and actively speak out against the Jewish people and the modern state of Israel, proving by the fruit of their mouths to be without true faith.
The faith of Rachav is as important as the faith of Avraham. As I have stated previously, great faith is repentant faith.
Rachav, a foreigner and an idolater, being repentant, was not only welcomed into the family of Israel and the faith in God, she also become a forebear of the King Messiah Yeshua (Matt. 1:1-16).
In teaching that faith is evidenced by action Yaakov (James) writes:
“In the same way, is it not true that Rachav the prostitute was considered righteous given what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without right action proves to be dead.” -Yaakov (James) 2:25-26 (Author’s translation)
32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gid’on[H], Barak[H] Shimshon[H], Yiphtach[H], of David[H] and Shemuel[H] and the prophets,
This verse gives a concise account of the generational faith that stretches from the judges of Israel to the kings and prophets, in order to show that faith in God through Messiah is a common thread that runs through the leadership of the Jewish people, both political and religious.
Faith among the Judges (intermediary rulers)
Gideon (Judges 6-8)
Samson (Judges 13-16)
Jephthah (Judges 11-12)
General of Israel’s army (sub ruler, commander)
Barak (Judges 4-5)
The Faith of Kingship (rule of the king)
The faith of Prophets (spiritual rule)
Samuel (judge – prophets)
Prophets (all other prophets of God, not inclusive of false prophets who were faithless)
While this list of judges of Israel leaves out Ehud (Judges 3) and Deborah (Judges 4-5) among others (1 Sam. 12:11), those judges absent from the list are nonetheless implicitly included according to their equivalent faith they expressed in through belief in action.
a. Gideon (Judges 6-8) Gideon was not perfect, he doubted God at times and at times demanded signs rather than trusting God’s clear direction. However he is perhaps best known for his trusting the Lord by sending away members of his fighting force reducing their number from 32,000 to 300 and then going to battle against a Midianite force of 50,000.
b. Samson (Judges 13-16) Samson is known for many acts of strength in the defeat of Israel’s enemies, and for his ungodly lifestyle and lack of relational understanding of God and the role God had given him. However, he is listed here based on his repentant cry to God asking that he might use the last of his strength to tear down the pagan temple of the false god Dagon.
c. Barak (Judges 4-5) The mention of Barak is in fact also a reference to the faith of Deborah and Yael. If not for the faith of Deborah, Barak would not have gone out to battle (Judges 4:8-9). And if not for the faith and courage of Yael the Kenite (not Israeli), Sisera the head of the enemy army would not have been captured and killed (Judges 4:16-23). This of course was ordered by God due to the initial doubting of Barak. However, Barak’s faith in the God of Deborah led to his entering saving faith and a personal relationship to God. Therefore, his faith is alluded to here as yet another example of repentant faith.
d. Jephthah (Judges 11-12) Jephthah acted in sin by making a foolish vow, and then compounded his sin by acting on the sinful vow he had made. However, his faith in God enabled him and Israel’s armed forces to defeat the Ammonites. He is listed here to show the danger of allowing faithful vision to become clouded following victory. His faith is valid, but his lack of discernment in the aftermath of victory shows that at least for a time he took his eyes off of God and as a result he became responsible for the murder of his daughter.
e. David’s life and faith are well documented and what stands out most is his consistent desire to be in intimate relationship with the Lord. Yes, David sinned and there were times when he distanced himself from God relationally by hardening his heart, but he was ever repentant, ever concerned with right relationship in God. David means “Beloved”, and He was one who loved God because God had first loved him. His truly repentant and all-consuming love for God is a wonderful example of true faith.
f. Samuel’s life and actions are also well documented and his impeccable integrity unmatched. His faith actions included the slaying of Agag the king of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:32-33) in order to honour the instruction of God which Saul had failed to obey. Samuel was grieved according to the heart of God when Israel asked for a king, though they already had the King YHVH. However, even Samuel, one of the greatest of Israel’s prophets failed to raise his sons in righteousness. In fact, the cry of Israel for a king was in part due to the wickedness of Samuel’s sons (1 Sam. 8). Therefore, Samuel, like all those listed here (in one way or another), is listed as both an example and a warning.
Those listed here are listed as both an example of true faith and as a warning against becoming distracted in faith. Further, they are listed as an example of the grace and mercy of God Who received these ones through Messiah in their repentance, and has given them access to everlasting life in Him. The warning is “Don’t allow yourself to become distracted in your faith, keep your eyes on Messiah Yeshua unto God, and if you do become distracted, return in faith and receive God’s mercy.
33 who in faith, trust, assurance, belief (pistis[G], ba-emunah[H]) conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 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.
33 who in faith, trust, assurance, belief conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 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.
These verses affirm the fact that the writer is talking in general terms about the ancient and common faith of both individuals and the collective of Israel and those foreigners who joined with Israel through faith in the God of Israel.
The deeds and accomplishments of both those already mentioned and others, who have not been mentioned by name are alluded to here in an effort to point to the One in Whom they have placed their trust, faith, certain belief. They have acted based on their faith, their right actions having come forth from God and being performed as acts of worship.
“conquered kingdoms” Moses conquered the kingdoms of Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan (Num. 21:21-25). David conquered the kingdoms of Syria, Moab, Ammon, Amalek, Edom, and the Philistines (2 Sam. 8-12).
“performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises” All mentioned qualify.
“shut the mouths of lions” In response to Daniel’s faith God sent His angel to shut the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6:1-29).
“quenched the power of fire” In response to the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego God quenched the power of fire (Daniel 3:1-30).
“escaped the edge of the sword” Among others Elijah and Elisha escaped the edge of the sword (1 Kings 17:8-24; 2 Kings 6:31).
“from weakness were made strong” This speaks of recovery from diseases and infirmity, such as was experienced by Hezekiah. It may also refer to the supernatural strength imparted to Samson.
“became mighty in war,” Barak, Gideon, David, and many others.
“put foreign armies to flight” Numerous pagan nations were put to flight by Joshua, the Judges, David, and others.
We note that these victories and miraculous deliverances are followed in the next verses by the suffering, trials and deaths of others who were faithful.
35 Women received back their dead by resurrection (anastasis[G]); and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection (anastasis[G]); 36 and others experienced mocking and flogging, and further, chains and imprisonment.
35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mocking and flogging, and further, chains and imprisonment.
“Women received back their dead by resurrection” The widow of Zarephath and the woman of Shunem received back their dead resurrected by God through the faith of Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:8-24; 2 Kings 4:8-37). Yeshua raised the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17), the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue leader (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43), and Lazarus, the brother to Miriyam and Marta (John 11:1-44).
“others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection;” During the oppression of Israel by Antiochus Epiphanes the principle scribe Eleazer refused to compromise his faith and was executed believing he would obtain a better resurrection (2 Maccabees 6:18-31). The Mother and her seven sons all of whom died for their faith at the hand of the wicked Antiochus Epiphanes, hoped to attain a better resurrection (2 Maccabees 7).
“Now when this man was dead also, they tormented and mangled the fourth in like manner. So when he was ready to die he said thus, It is good, being put to death by men, to look for hope from God to be raised up again by him: as for thee, thou shalt have no resurrection to life.” -2 Maccabees 7:13-14 (KJV)
“others experienced mocking and flogging, and further, chains and imprisonment.” Many of the aforementioned were also flogged and chained, imprisoned and the like. Joseph was imprisoned (Gen. 39:20). Samson was chained, Micaiah the prophet was stuck (1 Kings 22:24) and Jeremiah imprisoned (Jeremiah 20:2-7; 37:15). John the immerser was imprisoned and died for his faith (Matthew 11:2–7, 14:6–12; Mark 1:14, 6:17–29; Luke 3:19–20, 7:18–25, 9:9; John 3:24; Jewish Antiquities 18. 5. 2.), and Yeshua himself also suffered all these things (John 19:1-3; Mark 15:1-9).
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, examined, proved (peirazō[G]), they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented 38 (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, on mountains, and sheltering in caves and holes in the ground.
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, examined, proved, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented 38 (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, on mountains, and sheltering in caves and holes in the ground.
“They were stoned” The righteous man Naboth was stoned to death by order of Ahab (1 Kings 21:13). By the command of Joash, Zechariah was stoned to death in the Temple court between the porch and the altar (2 Chron. 24:20-22; Matt. 23:35). Stephen the first Messianic Jewish martyr was stoned to death and died believing he would receive a better resurrection (Acts 7:59-60).
“they were sawn in two” Outside of extra-Biblical Jewish tradition there is no record of servants of God being sawn in two. However, the words of Yeshua recorded in the New Testament infer that the punishment of sawing in two was familiar to the first century Jewish community (Matt. 24:50-51). Jewish tradition asserts that Isaiah the prophet was sawn in two at the command of Manasseh king of Judah:
“The teachings of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov measure only a kav but are clean and accurate, and so the halakha is decided in accordance with his opinions. And it was written in it: Manasseh, king of Israel, killed Isaiah the prophet… Isaiah said to himself: I know him, i.e., Manasseh, that he will not accept whatever explanation that I will say to him to resolve my prophecies with the words of the Torah. And even if I say it to him, I will make him into an intentional transgressor since he will kill me anyway. Therefore, in order to escape, he uttered a divine name and was swallowed within a cedar tree. Manasseh’s servants brought the cedar tree and sawed through it in order to kill him. When the saw reached to where his mouth was, Isaiah died. He died specifically as this point due to that which he said: “In the midst of a people of unclean lips, I dwell” (Isaiah 6:5).”
-Talmud Bavliy, Yevamot 49b .6 & .8 (The William Davidson Talmud)
“they were tempted, examined, proved” All mentioned qualify.
“they were put to death with the sword” Daniel 11:33 prophecies that righteous ones of understanding will die by the sword among other methods of executions. the priests at Nob died by the sword according to the order of king Saul (1 Sam. 22:18). The prophets of the Lord died by the sword at the order of Jezebel (Ahab) (1 Kings 18:22), and others suffered the same fate during the occupation of Israel by the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes. In the first century C.E. Yochanan (John) the Immerser (Baptist) was beheaded at the command of Herod the tetrarch (Matt. 14; Mark 6:14-29).
“they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented 38 (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts, on mountains, and sheltering in caves and holes in the ground.” This is an accurate observation of the life of Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist)[Matt. 3:4], and of the ancient prophets Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:6, 18:4, 19:13; 2 Kings 2:14), and of the many Jews who fled the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Maccabees 2:38). It can also be considered a description of Yeshua, Who had “nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).
“And they kept the eight days with gladness, as in the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long afore they had held the feast of the tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts.” -2 Maccabees 10:6 (KJV)
39 And all these, having gained a good report upon their faith (pistis[G], al-emunatam[H]), did not receive what was promised, messaged (epaggelia[G], hahavtachot[H]), 40 because the God (ho Theos[G], ha Elohiym[H]) had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect, complete, consecrated (teleioō[G]).
39 And all these, having gained a good report upon their faith, did not receive what was promised, messaged,
They each died not yet having come into the fullness of the promised eternal land, but seeing it from a distance in faith and being certain in hope of its future fulfilment.
40 because the God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect, complete, consecrated.
The reason that the kingdom of God is revealed as now and yet to be fully manifest is that with regard to time and space God is allowing the fullness of chronology to reach its goal so that all who have, and all who will live and accept His loving offer of redemption, might share together in the completion, consecration and perfection of the body of Messiah.
The “something better” referred to here is the entry into time and space of the King Messiah, Who by living perfectly, dying sacrificially and resurrecting victoriously, makes perfect in holiness all those who receive Him, past, present and future, so that together they become one people in right relationship with God and with one another.
“so that apart from us they would not be made perfect” The righteousness of the tzadikim (saints) of the Tanakh (OT) is, like that of those of the time of the writing of this work, and like that of those of us who now receive it, purchased not by our works but by faith through grace, a gift of God made manifest through the saving work of Yeshua the King Messiah (Eph. 2:8-9).
In short, no one is perfected except in Yeshua the King Messiah for the glory of God everlasting.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Questions regarding godly discernment
1. Why is godly discernment so important today?
2. What does the Bible teach about godly discernment?
3. What does Yeshua (Jesus) the King Messiah teach about godly discernment?
4. How does the discernment of God's Spirit differ from human discernment which relies on human intellect alone?
5. What practical things can I put in place in order to be more discerning both spiritually and intellectually?
Sadly, the Holy Spirit gift of godly discernment is observably the least exercised spiritual gift in the modern community of faith. Those who do exercise this gift are often accused of being divisive, critical, unspiritual. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because we have quenched the fire of the gift of discernment among us we are reaping delusion in the body of faith on both a local and global scale.
We have an individual and corporate moral obligation in Messiah to repent of our sin in disarming those among us who have attempted to warn us through godly discernment, and a Biblical moral imperative to begin to encourage and elevate the practice of the gift of godly discernment within both the local and wider body of the King Messiah Yeshua.
1. Why is godly discernment so important today?
First let’s make a discernment, and distinguish between discernment and godly discernment.
Distinction, distinguish, judge, taste, insight, perception, awareness and wisdom are synonyms of discernment, each of which inform our understanding of discernment.
Discernment is defined as "the ability to judge well".
Godly Discernment is defined as "Making a right judgement according to God's Spirit"
Intellect and human sight alone cannot be relied on to discern spiritual matters.
Yeshua (Jesus) says:
"Do not judge by mere appearances, but make a right judgment." -John 7:24
Godly discernment is the practice of godly judgement and is available to every believer through Yeshua according to the indwelling of God's Spirit and a disciplined knowledge of His written Word (Bible).
In the present chaos of this world believers are finding themselves in a position where they must make life changing decisions concerning issues for which an abundance of information exists but have no clear direction in which to head based on that information.
In such circumstances intellectual rational is of little help on its own. We require spiritual help from the One Who sees the unseen and knows the hearts, minds and hidden agendas of humanity as well as the workings of the spiritual forces that influence us.
Practically speaking, in many cases we are offered two opposing options, while God reveals a third option that exposes both "rational" choices and proves them to be counterfeit.
We see in part, He is all seeing, we know in part, He is all knowing. Therefore, we are foolish to base our decisions on human vision and intellect alone. Instead we are challenged to employ our sight and intellect in submission to God's Spirit and the gift of discernment that He imparts, rather than relying on our own, often flawed human discernment.
In matters of discernment information and the source of it is of primary importance.
Information is not synonymous with truth. It must be interpreted and discerned. We live in an age of an overabundance of information from mainstream and alternative sources, but the majority of these sources are of fallen human origin or are gleaned from the airways (media) and influenced by the spirit of the air (Satan) rather than being from God.
Ultimately the only reliable source of information comes from God Himself through Yeshua and is found in His Word both living and written, illuminated by the present help of His Spirit.
Today far too many believers are making emotional decisions based on fleshly thoughts and desires, often seeded by ungodly fears. Our failure to effectively abide in Messiah, in God, in His Word (Bible) is resulting in mass delusion and an inability to comprehend the spiritual forces at work in our midst. False choices are being presented by spiritual leaders who are often well meaning but sadly are guilty of unnecessarily dividing the body of believers. Many of these false choices seem godly but are in fact born of the fallen nature and merely disguised as godliness. Thus, the desperate need for godly discernment among believers.
One such example is the present debate concerning vaccines, another is the debate regarding political freedom. These two examples alone have become distractions that have taken the eyes of believers off Yeshua and away from the important work of the Kingdom of God.
At present two satanic emissaries are fighting for the hearts and minds of Messiah followers. The deity of False Freedom is battling the deity of Socialist Fascism and the prize they seek is the deluding of the minds of weak and undiscerning believers.
When we make "Freedom" our god we show our disregard for the God of freedom. Anarchists masquerading as Libertarians herding gullible Conservatives, ultimately seek freedom devoid of accountability, built on vain conspiracy. They are sirens of moral decay trading one form of tyranny for another. Counterfeit freedom is the brother of bondage. In practice, "the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness" is a pursuit of three false deities, Temporal Life, False Liberty, and Fading Emotionalism. But the freedom gifted of God in the King Messiah Yeshua transcends all temporal chains.
The Good News is this, if we return to God's Word, both written (Bible) and Living (the King Messiah Yeshua), and turn away from the voices of the air (satanic), we will be found among those whose homes are filled with light when the coming darkness descends.
2. What does the Bible teach about godly discernment?
Deuteronomy 4:1-10 teaches that:
Godly discernment is found in God's Instruction (Bible) and keeps us safe. Failure to consistently abide in His Word results in a lack of godly discernment.
Hebrews 4:12 teaches that:
Godly discernment relies on God’s Word both written and living, and is able to divide indivisible things.
1 Kings 3:7-12 teaches that:
Godly discernment helps us to govern (ourselves and others).
Ezra 8:16 teaches that:
Godly discernment is a collective responsibility. We are reliant on both God and each other in matters of discernment.
Psalm 53:1-4 teaches that:
Those who disbelieve God lack godly discernment, are corrupt and seek to harm God's people.
Proverbs 3:21-26 teaches that:
Godly discernment must be observed and acted on.
Proverbs 10:13 teaches that:
God disciplines those who lack discernment.
Daniel 5:14 teaches that:
Divine discernment is available only to the chosen of God.
1 Corinthians 2:14-15 & 1 Corinthians 11:31 teach that:
Godly discernment is of God's Spirit and not of the human nature. A believer who relies on God's Spirit to judge him is not swayed by the false judgements he makes of himself nor the false judgements others make. Therefore, the one who relies on God’s Spirit at work in him is able to discern seemingly undiscernible things.
1 Corinthians 14:29 teaches that:
Godly discernment is required in order to judge the words of prophets.
1 Corinthians 12:10 teaches that:
The Holy Spirit gift of discernment distinguishes between spiritual forces and sees unseen things.
Colossians 1:8 explains that:
We are admonished to be discerning so as not to be lead astray.
1 John 4:1 teaches that:
Godly discernment tests spirits.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 teaches that:
Godly discernment tests everything and holds on to what is good.
1 Corinthians 12:13 teaches that:
Godly discernment affirms the authority and deity of Yeshua (YHVH with us) the King Messiah (Imanu – with us, El – God).
3. What does Yeshua (Jesus) teach about godly discernment?
In John 5:30
Yeshua teaches that godly discernment listens to and hears from God and does not seek self as the source of distinguishing between truth and error.
In John 8:15
Yeshua teaches that godly discernment does not judge according to the fallen nature.
In Mathew 11:25-30
Yeshua teaches that godly discernment is revealed to infants while intellectual giants fail to comprehend it.
In Matthew 7:13-20
Yeshua teaches that godly people can be discerned based on their fruit, both its type and its condition.
4. How does the discernment of God's Spirit differ from human discernment, which relies on human intellect alone?
We have already been given the answer to this question in the preceding Scriptures:
Godly discernment does not rely on human intellect.
Godly discernment requires the discerner to be a child of God in Yeshua the King Messiah.
Godly discernment requires the discerner to be familiar with God’s Word, written and living.
Godly discernment requires the discerner to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Spirit of the Father and the Son).
Godly discernment requires humility (revealed in children [innocent of heart and mind, teachable and inquisitive], kept from those in a state of intellectual pride).
Godly discernment can distinguish between spirits and sees unseen things because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit rather than a human artform.
Godly discernment is completely reliant on God both in its use of spiritual knowledge and its application in guiding human intellect.
Godly discernment often seems counterintuitive because it is propelled by the Word of God Yeshua, Who divides between indivisible things (Heb. 4:12).
These are just a few of the many ways godly discernment differs from the discernment of human intellect and rational philosophy.
5. What practical things can I put in place in order to be more discerning both spiritually and intellectually?
The acronym R.I.T.E.S is a good start:
R - Repent of intellectual arrogance and Rely on God
I - be Intentional about daily Scripture reading and prayer
T -Turn away from unreliable sources of information
E - Enter into dialogue with godly people
S - Submit all decisions to God through Messiah Yeshua in the power of His Holy Spirit
Admit before God and to myself that without His help I am unable to discern correctly.
Repent of reliance on my own intellect in discerning.
Repent of any part I have played in quenching the use of the Holy Spirit given gift of discernment among the body of believers.
Choose to be completely reliant on God in Yeshua the King Messiah.
Be intentional about reading God’s Word (the Bible) daily.
Be intentional in praying for the revelation of God’s Spirit when deciding matters great and small.
Turn away from information sources that I’ve known to be unreliable, including those which claim to be vetted by believers but bear the rotten fruit of apostasy and proving that they’re not walking in step with God’s Spirit in Messiah Yeshua.
When asked to discern between things, seek counsel from godly family and friends who are genuine disciples of Yeshua the King Messiah.
Choose to be teachable when asking for advice from godly people rather than coming with an emotional agenda.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” -Proverbs 3:5-6
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.