In the Old Testament, we are told of many men who had great faith. Let us examine some of these now.
- Abel. In Genesis 4, we read that Abel’s sacrifice was offered correctly before the Lord, and He accepted it while denying that of Cain. Cain then killed this righteous man of God.
- Enoch. We do not know much about Enoch, but he must have been a strong man of faith because he “walked with God” in Genesis 5:22, and was one of only two men to never taste death.
- Noah. We read of the great faith of Noah in Genesis 6, when God commands him to build an ark because of the impending Flood. Noah was given no indication beyond the statement of God that a flood was approaching, and he was mocked by man. Despite this, he built the Ark to God’s specifications, and thus saved his entire family.
- Abraham. Abraham is a great man of faith, and his story runs in Genesis 12-25. God told him to leave his father’s land and to follow Him into Canaan, where he received the promise, that through him would be a great people and eventually, a great person. He was promised a son which he saw in his old age, and yet still would offer him as a sacrifice when God told him to do so. His undying and unwavering faith in God earned him the title of Father amongst the Jews, and deservedly so.
- Joseph. Joseph, in Genesis 37-50, places his life and trust in God, who delivers him from chains in Egypt, and places him as second-in-command in all of Egypt. Through Joseph comes the delivery of Jacob and his sons, and the promise of the Exodus.
- Moses. The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy all testify to the faith of Moses. He rejected the soft life in the Egyptian court for his people, and through the work of God he was able to deliver them from the Egyptians. He delivered to his people faithfully the laws which their God had given him, and despite the unfaithfulness of his people, Moses stood firm for God.
- Joshua. Joshua was given the charge in the book of Deuteronomy to lead the people of God into their Promised Land, Canaan, which he fulfills in the book named for him. Despite the great numbers he is pitted against, God strengthens Joshua and his people, and they are able to overcome their adversaries.
- Rahab. In Joshua 2, we read of the remarkable faith of Rahab, who was a Gentile living in Jericho. Having heard of the greatness of the Jews and their God in war, she protected the Israelite spies, and received the promise of safety. Her life and the lives of her family were spared because of this faith.
- The Judges of Israel. In the book of Judges, we read of great men and a woman who constantly delivered the people of Israel from the bondage of their neighbors and from their faithlessness.
- Samuel. The prophet Samuel, in the books named for him, demonstrates his faith by judging Israel and performing the commands that God gave him, even when that required the chastisement of the king.
- David. What can be said of David? By trusting in the Lord, he was able to make Israel a power to be reckoned with, conquering Canaan, Philistia, and lands to the east. He inaugurated a great era of peace and prosperity delivered through his son, and set about the task of preparing the Temple.
We could go on and on, discussing the great faith of the prophets and some of the kings of Judah, how they were able to succeed and prosper or persevere through the providence of God. However, the individuals above are the ones discussed by the author of the letter to the Hebrews in the eleventh chapter, of which he ends in verses 39-40:
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
We have seen all of these great men of faith, and yet they were not able to have a taste of the promise which we now share through the Savior Christ Jesus. Think about all of these men and the obstacles they overcame, and that they all knew that they did these things, not for themselves, but so that we may inherit the promise given to mankind. Do not make that promise null and void, and invalidate the great works of the men of faith; please obey our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and humbly submit to His will.