Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. For therein the elders had witness borne to them (Hebrews 11:1-2).
Hebrews 11 enshrines the men of faith from the old covenant. Yet consider these men:
Noah (Hebrews 11:7): got drunk, exposed himself in a tent (Genesis 9:20-21).
Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-10, 17-19): deceived rulers, took an additional wife without God’s consent (Genesis 12:10-20, 16, 20).
Sarah (Hebrews 11:11-12): laughed at God’s promise, lied about it (Genesis 18:9-15).
Jacob (Hebrews 11:21): cheated his brother, deceived his own father (Genesis 25, 27).
Moses (Hebrews 11:23-30): attempted to reject God’s call, at times did not give God the glory (Exodus 3-4, Numbers 20:1-13).
Rahab (Hebrews 11:31): lied to cover for spies (Joshua 2:3-6).
Gideon (Hebrews 11:32): made an ephod, caused family to go astray (Judges 8:24-27).
Samson (Hebrews 11:32): visited a prostitute (Judges 16:1-3).
David (Hebrews 11:32): committed adultery with a faithful servant’s wife, schemed to have that servant killed (2 Samuel 11).
These are the men whom God commends for their faith? How can this be?
We must recognize that God is not commending these men and women for being perfect, because no one is perfect save Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8). God is not commending them for their sins and character faults.
They receive commendation for their faith– their trust in God at difficult moments, their willingness to do what God tells them to do even if they did not entirely understand or if the situation looked hopeless.
Being a man or woman of God does not mean that we are perfect. It means that we place our trust in God and strive to follow His will in all things, even if we do not understand or if our situation looks hopeless. Yes, it also means that we must confess our sins and repent of them (1 John 1:9), but let us not be deceived into thinking that God can only use perfect people. The “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) is full of imperfect people who trusted in a perfect and holy God. Let us strive to be as them, and run the race set before us!
And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him (Hebrews 11:6).
Ethan R. Longhenry