Sermon #76                                             Hebrews Notes


     Title:                     Ordinary Men

Trusting An Omnipotent God

     Text:            Hebrews 11:32

     Readings:     Bobbie Estes – 1 Kings 18:1-40

     Subject:       The Faith of the Judges

     Date:            Tuesday Evening – February 12 & 24, 2002

     Tape #         W-85a & W-88a



I want us to turn one more time to Hebrews 11:32. I have titled this message Ordinary Men Trusting An Omnipotent God, with good reason. It is commonly thought that Paul’s purpose in writing Hebrews 11 is to extol the greatness of those men and women whose names are mentioned in these verses, or at least to extol the greatness of their faith. Neither is true.


Paul’s purpose here is to extol the greatness of their God, the give and sustainer of faith. In this chapter the Holy Spirit is encouraging believers, in the midst of great trials, facing great dangers, enduring great opposition, to continue trusting Christ.


Before we read our text, let me remind you of some things clearly revealed in the Book of Gods about faith.


1. The singular Object of all true faith is the triune God, revealed and known in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Substitute.


·        Faith in his Person

·        Faith in his Sacrifice


2. True, saving faith is the gift and operation of God (Eph. 2:8-9; Col. 2:12).


3. Faith is given by, arises from, and acts in obedience to the revelation of God in the Scriptures.


Every act of faith described in this chapter, every act of faith described in the entire Word of God, was in direct response to God’s revelation.


(Romans 10:17)  "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."


(1 Peter 1:23-25)  "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."


4. Though faith is the gift of God, the operation of his grace in us, though we cannot and will not believe apart from the gift and operation of God’s grace, faith is not a passive, but an active thing. Faith acts in response to God’s revelation.


5. The power, strength, and efficacy of faith is not in us, or the strength of our faith, but in our omnipotent God, the Object of our faith.


With those things in mind, let’s read again Hebrews 11:32-40.


(Hebrews 11:32-40)  "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: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 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. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."


Our text tonight will be verse 32.


(Hebrews 11:32-40)  "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.”


Proposition: These were ordinary men, sinners saved by the grace of God, washed in the blood of Christ, robed in his righteousness, born of his Spirit, just like us. – Saved sinners, but sinners still! – Ordinary men, just like us, who trusted an omnipotent God!


Spiritual Darkness


(Philippians 4:12-13)  "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."


(Judges 2:16-19)  "Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so. 18 And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. 19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way."

(Judges 6:12-14)  "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. 13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. 14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?"

(Judges 6:17-23)  "And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then show me a sign that thou talkest with me. 18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again. 19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it. 20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight. 22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face. 23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die."

(Judges 6:25-26)  "And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: 26 And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down."

(Psalms 103:8-14)  "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. (9) He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. (10) He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. (11) For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. (12) As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (13) Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. (14) For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."

(Isaiah 3:12)  "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths."

(Judges 4:8)  "And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go."

(Judges 4:10)  "And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him."

(Judges 14:1-4)  "And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. 3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. 4 But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel."


(Judges 16:28-30)  "And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. (29) And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. (30) And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life."


·        What an example of faith!

·        What a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ!

(Judges 11:9-10)  "And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head? (10) And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The LORD be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words."

(Judges 11:14-27)  "And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon: (15) And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon: (16) But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh; (17) Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh. (18) Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab. (19) And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place. (20) But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. (21) And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. (22) And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan. (23) So now the LORD God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it? (24) Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess. (25) And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them, (26) While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time? (27) Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon."

(1 Samuel 13:14)  "But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee."


(Acts 13:22)  "And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will."

(1 Samuel 17:46-47)  "This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. (47) And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands."

(1 Samuel 1:24-28)  "And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young. 25 And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. 27 For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 28 Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there."

Along with the evangelist, pastor and teacher, the New Testament lists, the ministry of the prophet. It is difficult to find anything said or written about the prophet’s ministry. Like the prophet himself, his work is difficult to define. We know the old definition, "A forth teller rather than a foreteller." We apply the term generally to preachers as spokesmen for God. Yet, there appears to be a distinct calling somewhat different from that of evangelist, pastor, or teacher. There never have been many prophets; and certainly there are few today. Never was the need greater and the supply smaller than today.

The prophet is a voice in the wilderness. It is his business to sound the trumpet, proclaim the ideal, not work on details or set up programs. He doesn’t devise ways and means. He doesn’t fit on boards and committees.

The prophet is a solitary soul and does his best work alone. He is no parrot, puppet or promoter. He is nothing but a prophet, and if he tries to be anything else he is an embarrassment to himself and to everybody else.

He is never popular with politicians either in state or church. He is not cowed by dignitaries. He will call Herod a fox to his face if occasion demands. He is an unreconstructed rebel, an odd number in a day of regimentation. He has no more patience with mere religion than Isaiah had when he thundered or Amos when he called on Israel to come to Bethel.

It is the prophet’s business to say what others cannot, will not, or at least do not say. The politician has his eye on the next election instead of the nation’s welfare. It is possible for a preacher to get his mind on promotion, the next rung of the ladder, a high seat in the synagogue, and being called a rabbi. The prophet has no axe to grind. For him the grass is no greener in the next pasture. He does not does he seek any man's office.

The church today looks for scholars, specialists, socializers, and showmen. We need some prophets who, like Isaiah, have seen God in His holiness, themselves in their sinfulness, and the land in its uncleanness.

The prophet does not pack the house, nor produce impressive statistics. He may get but poor response. Yet, whether they hear or refuse to hear, those who hear him know that a prophet has been among them. People do not crowd churches to hear prophets. People with itching ears look for smooth talking, men-pleasers who will scratch their ears with what they want to hear. They do not want a prophet.

The Prophet is never popular with the Pharisees. "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?" "Ye are the children of them that killed the prophets." So declared the Son of God to the Pharisees of His day. Religious people have always stoned living prophets and enshrined dead ones. The monuments of this generation are designed to cover the crimes of our fathers.

Prophets are never popular at home. Our Lord told us that plainly. Even his family accused him of being a mad man, saying, “he is beside himself.

The prophet’s path is not easy. John the Baptist's head is not served up on a charger these days; but such a prophet is not less despised today than John was in his.

Like John the Baptist the prophet is out to pull down the high places, build up low places and make a way for the Lord. His business is not intellectual explanation but pointed declaration! He does not lecture about mustard, he makes a mustard poultice and lays it next to the wound. Others comfort the afflicted, but he afflicts the comfortable.

Today the whole religious world is trying to accomplish now by pep, publicity, propaganda, and promotion what once was done by preaching. The woods are full of trained pulpit puppets. Oh, may God give us some prophets!

Any young Elisha in line for Elijah's mantle will need the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros. He is sure to irk those who want to preserve the status quo. He is sure to be a disturber of Israel. But no one else can take his place. We must have a prophet—A man who will dare to scorn the hatred of Ahab, Jezebel, and the prophets of Baal, a man who will dare to mock the mock gods of the Baal worshipers of our day, seeking nothing but the glory of God, preaching nothing but the gospel of God, serving nothing but the cause of God!

[1] The word “prophetess” in the Old Testament does not refer to female preachers, but simply to women who were singularly known for their worship of God. Sometimes the word is used simply to speak of a woman who was the wife of a prophet (Isa. 8:3). — Yet, even if those Old Testament women spoken of as prophets actually climbed up into a pulpit and preached, that does not nullify the specific prohibition of the New Testament concerning female preachers.