13th December 2022
Read (Hebrews 11v32)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
Perhaps you have once been told "dare to be like Daniel"? What I think such a phrase means is dare to be a man or woman of prayer or maybe dare to stand up for your faith in a pagan world. The problem with such a phrase is that Daniel should never be our example. He was a mighty man of faith but he was still justified yet sinful.
We see similar examples in Hebrews 11. The Apostle is running out of time and so he says "time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah" (v32). None of these men should be our focus either. Gideon was a tremendous leader who led just 300 men against the enemies of God's people. Tragically he then went on to make a golden ephod which led the people into idolatry. An ephod is usually an article of clothing worn by a priest but some argue that Gideon's ephod was some sort of golden image. Regardless his golden ephod became a snare for Gideon and the people.
What about Barak? Barak like Gideon was a great military general who led the Israelite armies to victory over their Canaanite rivals. But if you know Barak's story he isn't exactly the hero. The prophetess Deborah was judging Israel at the time and she accurately told Barak that the Lord was sending him to victory over the Canaanites. Barak's reply was that he would only go to war if Deborah went with him. She did and the victory was won.
Samson is famous for his great strength but if you read his story in the book of Judges you will also see that he had an eye for the ladies. Eventually this would lead to his downfall. A woman by the name of Deliah seduced Samson and he freely told her the secret of his great strength - if his head was shaved then his strength would disappear. Needless to say Samson fell into the trap, his head was shaved and he ended up blinded and a slave of the Philistines.
Jephthah is perhaps the least known of the four. He was the son of a prostitute and a military man but one day he made a rash vow to the Lord. He said “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” What Jephthah didn't expect was his daughter was the one who came out of the doors of his house and she would lose her life as a result of her father's hasty words.
What do we say? Dare to be a Gideon and lead people into idolatry? Dare to be a Barak and put conditions on the commands of God? Dare to be a Samson and foolishly fall into the hands of those who hate you? Dare to be Jephthah and speak rashly and quickly bringing trouble on those you love? I don't think any of us would want to dare to follow any of these paths.
Yet this chapter is clear that each of these men was a man of faith. To describe them we could say that they were flawed yet faithful. We can be so thankful for the Gospel for by it Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah were saved. We can be so thankful for the Gospel for by it we have been saved. None of us can point the finger at anyone else. We too have hearts that churn out idols every single day. We are guilty of questioning the Lord. We are often led astray by the desires of our sinful hearts and who among has never spoken in sinful haste?
My hands aren't clean and neither are yours but today we don't dare to be a Daniel or anyone else, instead we fall before Jesus in repentance and faith crying out "Lord have mercy on me a sinner!" He is sure to meet such a cry with His glorious grace.
Q22 How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man? Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.