“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground’ ( Hebrews 11:32-38 )
Faith has always been the defining characteristic of God’s people. Throughout the entire chapter of Hebrews 11, we see example after example of faith. Circumstances grim, chances for natural success low and yet, God’s people always flourish because of faith and God’s promise to respond to it. Faith is so important to the believer that Paul told the Corinthian church, “We live by faith, not by sight” ( II Corinthians 5:7 ). The Amplified Bible describes it this way, “For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance” ( II Corinthians 5:7 Amp ).
In every example given, faith was a lifestyle, there was no going back to live a normal life. Faith made the difference from ordinary into extraordinary, although in the natural they faced torment, beatings, prison, mutilation and death, wandering in the deserts, mountains and living in caves. However, the scripture says that the world was not worthy of them. Like Enoch, they received a good report that God was pleased with them and it is still on record today, centuries after their experiences.
These examples were given to encourage and give us hope. Throughout the entirety of the scriptures we see countless examples of the men and women of faith. This was written for us, Paul said, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” ( Romans 15:4 ). Since faith is the substance of things hoped for ( Hebrews 11:1 ), the scriptures were given to give us a place to aim, hope.
No wonder the world was not worthy of the countless individuals that decided to trust God when all else seemed hopeless. They have received a good report and have run their race so that we might draw encouragement from their example of faith. Therefore, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” ( Galatians 6:9 ).