Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XIX Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Samuel is the last named person in the Hall of Heroes of Hebrews 11; and the last named of six heroes in verse 32: “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.” So we will close our series Heroes With Feet of Clay with Samuel, the last of the judges and the first of the prophets of the kingdom of Israel.

He had an interesting beginning. His mother Hannah was barren. So she cried out to God, “O LORD of hosts, if You will…give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life….” (I Samuel 1:11). God answered her prayer, and Samuel was born! When the boy was about 3 to 5 years old, she took her son to the tabernacle at Shiloh, and said to Eli the High Priest:

     “...my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to 
     the LORD.  For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted 
     me my petition....Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; 
     as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” (I Samuel 
     1:26 through 28).

So Samuel stayed at the tabernacle and served God and Eli the priest.

  • Now the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were rogue priests who misused and abused the sacrifices people brought to be offered to the LORD! (see I Samuel 2:11-17, 22-25). But Eli basically did nothing to correct his sons! (see I Samuel 2:29).
  • I Samuel 3:6 and 9 – “…while Samuel was lying down to sleep…the LORD called…‘Samuel!’ So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ This happened three times before Eli realized it was God calling! So he told Samuel,Go, lie down, and…if He calls you…say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’
  • I Samuel 3:13 – When God called a fourth time, He told Samuel that he would destroy the house (family) of Eli, “…because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.
  • I Samuel 4:11 and 18 – All this was fulfilled soon after when the Philistines went to war against Israel. Hophni and Phinehas were both killed, and the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the enemy!
  • When the news reached Eli, he “…fell off the seat backward…and his neck was broken and he died, for he was [98 years] old and heavy.
  • Seven months later, after God plagued the Philistines, they sent the Ark back to Israel ! (see I Samuel 5:1-6:18).

So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him….And all Israel…knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD.” (I Samuel 3:19, 20). He had quite a career over about the next 60 years!

  • Samuel led a revival in which the Israelites turned from the foreign gods they were worshiping, back to the true God! So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.” (I Samuel 7:4).
  • I Samuel 7:12 and 10 – “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.’ ” The reason for this dedicatory monument was to memorialize God’s help in overcoming the Philistines as they attacked! …the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.
  • I Samuel 8:1 through 3 and 5 – “…when Samuel was old…he made his sons…Joel, and… Abijah…judges over Israel….But his sons…turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.” So the elders of Israel rejected the judgeship of God, and came to him, saying, “…make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

God let the will of the people prevail! The king that God led Samuel to was Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin.

  • I Samuel 10:1 – “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on…[Saul’s] head, and kissed him and said: ‘…the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance [Israel]….’

Samuel advised Saul over the next years, but the king turned out to be fearful, rebellious, and disobedient, much to Samuel’s disappointment.

  • I Samuel 13:5, 8, 9 – “…the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel….[Saul] waited seven days….But Samuel did not come….So Saul said, ‘Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings….’ And he offered the burnt offering.

Saul, being from the tribe of Benjamin, could not be a priest! For priests which were chosen only from the tribe of Levi were allowed to offer to God the prescribed offerings! (see Deuteronomy 21:5). So Samuel, when he arrived shortly after Saul had finished the offerings, told him, “You have done foolishly….now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart…to be commander over His people….” (I Samuel 7:13 and 14).

  • I Samuel 15:1 through 3 – “…Samuel said to Saul, ‘The LORD…says…“I will punish Amalek for what they did to Israel, how he laid wait for them…when they came up from Egypt….kill both man…woman…infant…nursing child…ox…sheep, camel and donkey.”’ ” (see Exodus 17:8-14).

But Saul didn’t obey! He spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and the best of the animals, supposedly for later sacrifice to the LORD! (see I Samuel 15:15). But his real reason he spared the best of the Amalekite animals is revealed when he confessed a bit later to Samuel in verse 24: “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the command-ment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.

Samuel set King Saul straight on this matter in I Samuel 15:22 and 23:

     “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and 
     sacrifices, as in obedience...?  Behold, to obey is 
     better than sacrifices, and to heed than the fat of 
     rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and 
     stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you 
     have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has reject-
     ed you from being king.” 
  • I Samuel 16:13 – So God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a son of Jesse to be the next king of Israel.Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him…and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.

Only once more do we hear of Samuel before his death (see I Samuel 19:18-24). When Saul began his chase of David to kill him, David ran to Samuel’s house in Ramah.

The last mention of Saul is in I Samuel 25:1: “Then Samuel died; and all the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah.

The last mention of Samuel ? No, there is another important one! In I Samuel 28, the Philistines again attacked, and Saul needed divine guidance! But God would not answer Saul,…by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets….” (I Samuel 28:6). So the king found out there was a spiritist medium in En Dor. Maybe she could bring up Samuel to tell Saul what to do! This was a great sin in itself! (see Deuteronomy 18:9-14). So Saul disguised himself and went to the medium in En Dor (see I Samuel 28:3-6).

A question comes to my mind: How do you disguise yourself when you are…taller than any of the people from the shoulders upward.”? (I Samuel 10:23).

The medium brought up Samuel from the dead! (see I Samuel 28:11-19). I believe this was a special act of God, for I have discovered that ‘the deadwhom mediums supposedly bring up are really demons posing as the dead! How do I know? I was in the occult for three years, studying to be a trance medium! Besides, Jesus said the only way someone can come back from the dead is by resurrection! (see Luke 16:31). But back to the story: Samuel’s appearance even scared the medium! (see I Samuel 28:12). I guess she was not expecting the real Samuel to appear!

     ...Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bring-
     ing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for 
     the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed 
     from me and does not answer me anymore....Therefore I have 
     called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.” 
     Then Samuel said: “Why then do you ask me, seeing the Lord 
     has departed from you and has become your enemy? ...Because 
     you did not obey the voice of the Lord nor execute His fierce 
     wrath upon Amalek...the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your 
     hand and given it to your neighbor, David....Moreover the Lord 
     will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philis-
     tines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.” 
     (I Samuel 28:15 through 19).

So Saul and his three sons all died by the hands of the Philistines the next day on Mount Gilboa! (see I Samuel 31:1-6).

But this series is called Heroes With Feet of Clay! It doesn’t sound like Samuel had any indication of clay feet! He even challenged the people of Israel in I Samuel 12:2 asking if he had stolen anything from them or defrauded them in any way. And they answered in II Samuel 12:4, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us, not have you taken anything from any man’s hand.

But in I Samuel 8:1 through 3 (quoted above), we are told, “…when Samuel was old…he made his sons…Joel, and… Abijah…judges over Israel….But his sons…turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.” Apparently, Samuel’s clay feet were his failure as a dad! His two sons did not turn out to be well-parented boys! But God still honored him as a hero!

So, Christian, even if you are not the perfect parent, even if you think you have failed in your efforts to raise godly offspring…

…God can still use you!
He greatly used imperfect Samuel !

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XVIII Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Above is a painting by Guy Rowe, from the book, In Our Image, Oxford Press, 1949. Depicted are Nathan the prophet and David, when he confronted the king concerning David’s affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah to cover up his sin!

David is listed as a Hero of Faith in Hebrews 11:32 –“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.Does this man deserve to be listed as a Hero?

I taught a seminary course a few years ago on David, and it took me three semesters to cover the life of this man! The Bible devotes 43 chapters in I and II Samuel and I Kings to David’s life and the events surrounding that life! So how do I distill it down to a single Gem? There are two outstanding happenings concerning David that give us a good idea of who he is:

  • At the beginning of his Scripture record, David’s great faith in Jehovah God is the focus!
  • Later on, when he was king over all Israel, David’s feet of clay became very apparent!

The first part of David’s story is his confrontation with the Philistine giant Goliath! We don’t know how old David was at the time, nor do we know how long Goliath had been a soldier in the Philistine army. But in I Samuel 17:33, King Saul told David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; you are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” Most Bible scholars think David was just a teenager – maybe as young as 15, and no more than 19! And Goliath had been a trained soldier for probably ten to 15 years! According to Numbers 1:45, an Israelite would not be considered of age for military service until he was 20 years old. And Saul calling David “…but a youth…,” plus the fact that only three of the eldest sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite were in Israel’s army, suggests David was too young to be considered a soldier!

But this young man surely had faith!

  • I Samuel 17:26 – “Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, ‘What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?’
  • I Samuel 17:32 – “Then David said to Saul, ‘Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’
  • I Samuel 17:36 and 37 – “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God….The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.
  • I Samuel 17:40 – “Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.
  • I Samuel 17:45 through 47 – “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of…the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.’

What powerful words of faith this young David spoke! But, they say, “Actions speak louder than words!

  • I Samuel 17:48 and 49 – “…the Philistine…drew near to meet David….David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David…slung…a stone…and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.
  • I Samuel 17:51 – “David ran and stood over the Philistine, took [Goliath’s] sword…and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

His actions backed up his words of faith! David won a contest that no one thought he could win………except David and God! Yes,, he deserves a place in the Hall of Heroes of Hebrews 11, as one of the heroes of faith!

…except his feet of clay became clearly visible!

It happened one afternoon when David was lounging around in the palace. He got up from a nap and glanced down from his high vantage point (his palace was built on a high point of the city), and, low and behold, there was a beautiful naked young woman bathing on the flat roof of her nearby home!

Someone once said, “It’s the third look that gets you!

  • The first look is a quick look, not expecting to see anything unusual.
  • The second look is… “Did I just see what I think I saw?
  • The third look is… Oh, wow! Look at that!

…and the third look is what gets you into trouble! It got David into trouble!

But let’s back up a bit. What was David doing lounging at the Jerusalem palace anyway? It says in II Samuel 11:1:

     It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when 
     kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his ser-
     vants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the 
     people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained 
     at Jerusalem. 

A king was supposed to lead his troops into battle! He was not just to send his general to lead the army and fight the war!

Back to that ‘third look’ moment: “So David sent and enquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ ” (II Samuel 11:3). This report should have been a big red flag to David!

  • Uriah the Hittite was one of the king’s faithful prize soldiers! In II Samuel 23 is listed 37 outstanding warriors in the Israeli army of tens of thousands! Uriah the Hittite is listed as one of the 37! (see II Samuel 23:39; I Chronicles 11:41).
  • Eliam was also one of the 37 prize soldiers! He was the father of Bathsheba, and according to his listing in II Samuel 23:34, he was the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite. And in II Samuel 15:12 we are told, Ahithophel the Gilonite was one of David’s trusted counselors! So, in having an affair with Bathsheba, David was also sinning against her father Uriah, his mighty soldier, and her grandfather Ahithophel, his faithful counselor! Well, Ahithophel was faithful…until the king dallied with his granddaughter! When David’s son Absalom later rebelled and tried to kill his father and take over the kingdom (see II Samuel 14:25-18:33), Ahithophel sided with Absalom, and against David ! (see II Samuel 15:31; 17:1-3).

A few weeks after their tryst, Bathsheba sent word to David that she was pregnant! So the king set a plan in motion to cover up his indiscretion!

  • II Samuel 11:6 through 8 – “Then David sent to Joab…‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ …When Uriah had come…David asked…how the war prospered. And David said…‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.” It was understood that the king was giving Uriah the opportunity to sleep with his wife – which would cover David having sex with Bathsheba!
  • II Samuel 11:9 and 11 – But Uriah didn’t go down to his house! He “…slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord….His reasoning?The ark and Israel and Judah are…encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife?
  • II Samuel 11:12 and 13 – So David tried again! He said, “‘Wait here today and tomorrow….’ Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk…but he did not go down to his house.

Well, that didn’t work! So the king came up with a more malevolent plan:

  • II Samuel 11:14 and 15 – “…David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by…Uriah…saying, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.’
  • II Samuel 11:16 and 17 – “So it happened…Joab…assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men….And some of the people of…David fell, and Uriah the Hittite died also.

Victory!David thought. Now no one would discover that it was David who impregnated Bathsheba! And no one would know that the king had Uriah murdered by the hand of the Ammonites! No one would know………except God!

After a period of respectable mourning for her husband, David sent for Bathsheba, and he married her! Eventually she had her baby, and presented the king with a son!

After about a year, the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to confront David: Why a year’s wait? I don’t know, but I do know God’s timing is always perfect! (see Galatians 4:4, 5).

  • II Samuel 12:1 through 4 – Nathan told the king a story of a rich man who stole the pet lamb of a poor man to prepare a dinner for a visitor.
  • II Samuel 12:5 and 6 – David was furious! He shouted,As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb….
  • II Samuel 12:7 – Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (This is the moment represented by Guy Rowe’s painting).
  • II Samuel 12:7 through 12 – Nathan continued:
     Thus says the LORD God of Israel; ‘I anointed you as king over 
     Israel, and I delivered you from...Saul.  I gave you...[his] 
     house and...wives...and gave you...Israel and Judah.  And if 
     that had been too little, I would have given you much more! 
     ...You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have 
     taken his wife to be your wife....Now therefore the sword shall 
     never depart from your house, because you have despised Me....
     Behold, I will raise up adversity...from your own house; and I 
     will take your wives...and give them to your neighbor....For 
     you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel
     ....’” 
  • II Samuel 12:13 – “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’

II Samuel 12;13 and 14 – “And Nathan said…‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child…who is born to you shall surely die.’

The child did die! (see II Samuel 12:15-23); and David thereafter had continual trouble within his own family! (see II Samuel 13:1-I Kings 2:12).

I have sinned against the LORD.” It really doesn’t sound like much of a confession for so great offenses that David committed. But if we also consider the Penitent Psalms, such as Psalm 51, written shortly after Nathan’s confrontation; and Psalm 32, as David later reflected back on this sinful time; we can see the heart of this man – David was a great sinner, but he was also a great repenter! As it says in Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

And so it is written in Acts 13:22, that God said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.

So, like the other heroes listed in Hebrews 11, David also is a hero with feet of clay! And if David can be so totally cleansed from such heinous crimes and then be used greatly of God…

…there is hope for you and me!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XVII Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

This is another instance of the writer of Hebrews naming Heroes out of order. Jephthah is our featured hero, and his story is in Judges chapters 11 and 12, while Samson is featured in chapters 13 through 16. But we will stick to the order in Hebrews 11:32: “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.” By the way, in this verse, David and Samuel are also out of order!

But let’s get back to Jephthah…

  • Judges 11:1 – “Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot.” His father, Gilead, was married to his wife and she bore him other sons.
  • Judges 11:2 – “…when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out, and said to him, ‘You shall have no inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.” So Jephthah left.
  • Judges 11:3 – He “dwelt in the land of Tob; and worthless men banded together with Jephthah and went out raiding with him.

One of the Canaanite nations the Israelites were supposed to wipe out, but didn’t, were the Ammonites. And three centuries later, the Ammonites invaded Israel, and fought against them! Apparently, Jephthah had quite a reputation as a warrior! So he was recruited by the Gileadites:Come and be our commander, that we may fight against the people of Ammon.” (Judges 11:6). And if he would agree to lead them against the Ammonites, he would become the …head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” (Judges 11:8).

So Jephthah agreed. And he was made commander of the army and governing head of the Gileadites!

What follows in Judges 11:12 through 28 is his prewar negotiations with the Ammonites:

  • The Ammorites alleged that Israel had stolen their land and the territory of Moab, three hundred years before! So now, ‘Give it back !

Jephthah replied:

        ...Israel, when they came out of Egypt, tried to pass 
          peaceably through the lands of the nations bordering the 
          Jordan River to the east.  But the leaders of these na-
          tions refused the Israelites passage – the nation of...

          Edom – “...Israel sent messengers to the king of 
              Edom, saying, ‘Please let me pass through your 
              land.’  But the king of Edom would not heed.”  
              (Judges 11:17). 

         Moab – “...And in like manner they sent to the 
              king of Moab, but he would not consent.” (Joshua 
              11:17).

          Amurra or Amurri – These are the names  in Assyrian 
              and Egyptian inscriptions of one of the descendants 
              of Canaan (whose grandfather was Noahsee Genesis 
              9:18).  His name might also be the name of the na-
              tion he fathered, but the nation is only known in 
              the Bible by the name Amorites.

                 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of 
                 the Amorites...“Please let us pass through your 
                 land into our place.” But Sihon did not trust 
                 Israel....So Sihon...fought against Israel. And 
                 the LORD God...delivered Sihon and all his peo-
                 ple into the hand of Israel, and they defeated 
                 them. Thus Israel gained possession of all the 
                 land of the Amorites.... (Judges 11:19 through 
                 21)     

The Ammonites had conquered part of the territory of the Moabites and the Amorites shortly before Israel, led by Joshua, came on the scene. Now, three hundred years later, they wanted Israel to give back all the land east of the Jordan River!

     ...the LORD God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites
          ....Should you then possess it? ...possess...whatever 
          Chemosh your god gives you....whatever the LORD...[gives] 
          us, we will possess.” (Judges 11:23 and 24).

     ...for three hundred years, why did you not recover [the 
          land]...within that time? ...I have not sinned against 
          you, but you wronged me....” (Judges 11:26 and 27).

It is at this point that Jephthah’s feet of clay became apparent! He had called together his army, but before he fought against the Ammonites, he made a very rash vow to God:

     If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 
     then it will be that whatsoever comes out of my house to meet 
     me, when I return in peace...shall surely be the LORD’s, and 
     I will offer it up as a burnt offering. (Judges 11:30 and 31).

Jephthah fought the Ammonites, …and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he defeated them…with a very great slaughter.” (Judges 11:32 and 33). And then he went home…

     When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his 
     daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; 
     and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son 
     nor daughter.  And...when he saw her...he tore his clothes, 
     and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! 
     You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word 
     to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.” (Judges 11:34 and 
     35).

At his daughter’s request, Jephthah gave her two months to mourn that she would never be a wife and mother! For two months she wandered with her friends in the mountains, weeping over her fate! Then …she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow….” (Judges 11:39).

  • Some say she was not offered as a burnt offering, for that was forbidden in Israel ! (see Deuteronomy 18:10; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; 32:35). Jephthah’s daughter’s fate, they say, was that she was never married and remained a childless woman, dedicated to serve the LORD all her life!

But the text says Jephthah vowed that the first out of his house to greet him,…I will offer it up as a burnt offering.So his daughter was purposely killed and her body burned! As horrible as it is, this, I think, is what happened!

If she was indeed offered as a burnt offering, how could someone guilty of such a horrendous deed be listed in Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith? But not one of those listed was perfect! And if you investigate what the Bible says about them, you will find David was an adulterer and a murderer! Moses also murdered someone! Jacob was a deceiver! Rahab was a prostitute! And so on…. These are men and women of great faith but with flaws – feet of clay – sometimes glaringly so!

Concerning Jephthah’s feet of clay – his rash vow…

  • We are told by Jesus in Matthew 5:33 through 37:
     Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You 
     shall not swear falsely make a vow], but shall perform your 
     oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: 
     neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, 
     for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the 
     city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, 
     because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let 
     your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is 
     more than these is from the evil one. 
  • And in James 5:12 – “…above all…do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’, lest you fall into judgment.

Jephthah is not my favorite hero! But he used his faith to win a war! So a hero of faith he is!

Could I be listed as
a hero of faith?
Could you?

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XVI Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The above picture represents Samson in the Philistine prison. It says in Judges 16:21 (Contemporary English Version), “The Philistines grabbed Samson and poked out his eyes. They took him to the prison in Gaza and chained him up. Then they put him to work, turning a millstone to grind grain.” It is a sad end to one of the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11:32: “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.Samson is the third of six heroes mentioned in this one verse.

How did he end up blind, grinding grain in a Philistine prison? Samson had supernatural strength, and we are told in Judges 16:31, “He…judged Israel twenty years.But Samson had oversized feet of clay! And his weaknesses and foibles finally did him in!

What were his strengths?

  • His was a miraculous birth!
      Judges 13:2 – “Now there was a certain man from 
          Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name 
          was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no 
          children.   Judges 13:3 through 5 – “...the Angel of the 
          Lord [the pre-incarnate Christ] appeared to the 
          woman and said to her, ‘Indeed...you shall con-
          ceive and bear a son. Now...be careful not to 
          drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat any-
          thing unclean....And no razor shall come upon 
          his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to 
          God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver 
          Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.’Judges 13:24 – “So the woman bore a son and 
          called his name Samson; and the child grew, and 
          the LORD blessed him.
  • God endowed Samson with such abundant physical strength that he accomplished feats of miraculous power!
     Judges 14:5 through 7 – Near “...the vineyards of 
          Timnah...a young lion came roaring against him. 
          And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, 
          and he tore the lion apart...with his bare hands!

        Judges 14:19 – “Then the Spirit of the LORD came 
          upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon 
          and killed thirty of their men....Judges 15:4 and 5 – When Samson’s betrothed Philis-
          tine bride was given to another man, he took revenge! 
          He ...caught three hundred foxes...turned the foxes 
          tail to tail, and put a [burning] torch between each 
          pair of tails....[then] he let the foxes go into the 
          standing grain of the Philistines, and burned up... 
          the...grain...the vineyards and olive groves. Judges 15:7 and 8 – The Philistines killed Samson’s 
          bride and her family because of her father giving 
          her to someone else.  The attack had resulted from 
          Samson burning their fields and orchards.  So “...
          Samson said to them, ‘...I will surely take revenge 
          on you....So [single-handedly] he attacked them hip 
          and thigh with a great slaughter....Judges 15:9 through 14 – The Philistines came to ar-
          rest Samson.  So his fellow Hebrews securely tied him 
          up and turned him over to the Philistine soldiers, who 
          received their prisoner with shouts of joy!Then the 
          Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the 
          ropes...became like flax...burned in the fire, and his 
          bonds broke loose from his hands.Judges 15:15 – Samson...found a fresh jawbone of a
          donkey...and took it, and killed a thousand men with 
          it.Judges 16:1-3 – He then went down to the Philistine 
          city of Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and went into 
          her house to have a good time!  The Philistines found 
          out where he was, and lay in wait for Samson all night 
          at the city gate.  “And Samson...arose at midnight, 
          took hold of the doors of the gate...and the two gate-
          posts, pulled them up...put them on his shoulders, and 
          carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.

But Samson’s downfall was Delilah, a beautiful woman who lived in the Philistine territory of the Valley of Sorek. He was in love with her! The five Philistine lords came to her with an offer of 5,500 pieces of silver…if she could find out the secret of Samson’s strength! Three times Delilah coddled an answer from him, and three times he lied to her!

  • Judges 16:7 – “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
  • Judges 16:11 – “If they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
  • Judges 16:13 – “If you weave the seven locks of my hair into the web of the loom….

Each time Delilah tested his confession: Now there were men lying in wait, staying with her….And she said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ And each time he snapped the bowstrings, broke the ropes, and pulled apart the loom with his hair still woven around the batten and the web! And Delilah wept and kept bugging him!

You would think he would learn! But ‘love is blind,’ so they say, and Samson was being led to the slaughter like a not-so-innocent sheep! He finally told her…

     “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a 
     Nazarite to God from my mother’s womb.  If I am shaven, 
     then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, 
     and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:17).

So Delilah lulled him to sleep with his head on her lap. And she called for a barber who stealthily cut off Samson’s hair. “And she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ ” (Judges 16:20). He jumped up to break free as before… But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.” (Judges 16:20).

Judges 16:21 (Contemporary English Version) – “The Philistines grabbed Samson and poked out his eyes. They took him to the prison in Gaza and chained him up. Then they put him to work, turning a millstone to grind grain.” That is the visual depiction at the start of this Gem: Samson turning a millstone to grind grain in the prison house!

But Samson had one last victory!

  • Judges 16:22 – “However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven.
  • Judges 16:23 –“…the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god….
  • Judges 16:25 (English Standard Version) – “And when their hearts were merry, they said, ‘Call Samson, that he may entertain us.’ So they called Samson out of the prison, and…made him stand between the pillars.
  • Judges 16:26 – “…Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, ‘Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them.
  • Judges 16:28 – “Then Samson called…‘O LORD God…strengthen me…just this once, O God, that I may…take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!
  • Judges 16:30 – “Then Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed [on the two supporting pillars] with all his might, and the temple fell….The temple was packed with people, and there were three thousand more on the roof watching the antics! All of them died…including Samson!

That ignominiously ended the judgeship of one of the Heroes of Faith listed in Hebrews 11! And Satan used the age-old temptation of sex and self to defeat Samson!

  • He did not even try to resist temptation!
  • He just did not take the directions of the LORD seriously!
  • He gave in to his own thoughts and feelings – and that’s always dangerous!

Running our own life, Jeremiah 17:9 applies: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? So to follow our own way is extremely dangerous! (See Proverbs 14:12 or 16:25).

I wonder what Samson could have accomplished if he had really obeyed God!

And I wonder what you and I can accomplish
…if we fully obey God!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XV Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

There are a total of fourteen judges mentioned by name in the book of Judges. But only six are given a description of more than three verses! Also, it is written that certain judges brought peace to the Israelites, some for twenty years, or forty years, and one, Ehud, brought peace to Israel for eighty years! But the rule of the judges was generally not over all of Israel. Such rule was more localized, and there might be two or three, or more judges whose times had some overlap. But the need for judges was because Israel kept repeating the cycle of…

  • …turning to Jehovah God!
  • …turning away from the LORD and toward idolatry!
  • …God’s punishment of oppression by Canaanite nations!
  • …repentance of their idolatry and sins!
  • …returning to Jehovah God!

And this cycle was repeated for about 400 years!

I don’t know why the writer of Hebrews listed the heroes of verse 32 out of order. Gideon, whom we studied in the last Gem is featured in Judges chapters 6 through 9. But Barak’s story is two chapters before Gideon’s. But we’ll follow the listed order in Hebrews 11:32.

We will concentrate on verse 32 for awhile because there are six named heroes in this one verse! And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.The second one listed is Barak, and his story is in Judges 4:1 through 5:31. And, of course, you can’t examine Barak without including the prophetess Deborah! But it is Barak who displayed the feet of clay!

     ...the children of Israel again did evil in the sight 
     of the LORD.  So the LORD sold them into the hand of 
     Jabin king of Canaan....And the children of Israel 
     cried out to the LORD, for Jabin had nine hundred char-
     iots of iron, and for twenty years he harshly oppressed 
     the children of Israel. (Judges 4:1 through 3).

Deborah was a prophetess who lived near the towns of Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim (about ten miles north of Jerusalem). She was one of Israel’s judges, the only woman of the fourteen judges featured in the book of that name!

     Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam
     ...and said to him, “Has not the Lord God of Israel 
     commanded, ‘Go and...take with you ten thousand men...
     and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of 
     Jabin's army, with his [nine hundred] chariots and his 
     multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him 
     into your hand’?”  (Judges 4:6 and 7).

Barak’s clay feet showed forth! – “And Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.’ Apparently, he didn’t totally believe God’s promise, and so he didn’t have the courage to obey and go it alone! So Deborah agreed to go with him. However, she gave him a warning:

     ...she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless 
     there will be no glory for you in the journey you are 
     taking, for the LORD will sell Sisera [King Jabin’s 
     general] into the hand of a woman.”  Then Deborah arose 
     and went with Barak to Kadesh [a march of about 90 miles 
     north]... (Judges 4:9). 

Barak and his army of 10,000 won the day! It says in Judges 4:15 through 17:

     And the LORD routed Sisera...and all the army of Sisera 
     fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left. How-
     ever Sisera had fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the 
     wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between 
     Jabin king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.

Who was Heber the Kenite? Judges 4:11 identifies him as “…of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses….” But there is a problem. In Numbers 10:29 Hobab is identified as…the son of Reuel the Mideanite, Moses father-in-law….This makes him Moses’ brother-in-law, not his father-in-law! How is this reconciled? The following is from The Expositor’s Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel. Zondervan, 1992. Page 405).

     The Hebrew language originally consisted only of conso- 
     nants....Later on, small markings were added above and 
     below each word to guide in pronunciation and allow for 
     easier reading....in the original Hebrew manuscripts the 
     small markings...would not have existed leaving both 
     words identical....‘Father-in-law’ can be ‘brother-in-
     law’ with no change in consonants....

Anytime a supposed discrepancy is seen in the Bible, further study will rectify it. The Bible, as it came to man from God, is free of errors!

Back to Deborah, Barak, and especially Sisera! The song of Deborah and Barak (see Judges chapter 5) is what they sang after winning the battle against the Midianites. In verses 19 through 21 of the song it is written:

     The kings...of Canaan fought In Taanach, by the waters 
     of Megiddo....They fought from the heavens; the stars 
     from their courses fought against Sisera. The torrent 
     of Kishon swept them away, That ancient torrent...of 
     Kishon.

Apparently, God sent a downpour of rain and the River Kishon flooded! Most likely the nine hundred chariots of King Jabin’s army got mired in the mud of the floodwaters! That’s why it is recorded in Judges 4:15, “…Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot.

What happened next fulfilled Deborah’s prophesy concerning Barak in Judges 4:9: “…there will be no glory for you…for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.

  • Judges 4:17 – “…Sisera…fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between [King] Jabin…and the house of Heber….
  • Judges 18 – Jael met him and said, “‘Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; do not fear.’ And when he had turned aside…into the tent, she covered him with a blanket.” Apparently he was worn out from the battle with Barak, and from running from the battlefield!
  • Judges 4:19 – “Then he said to her, ‘Please give me a little water…for I am thirsty.’ So she opened a jug of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him.” According to Becky Kerkenbush, a registered dietitian and media representative for the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (https://restonic.com/blog/ warm-milk-bedtime-ritual-5389):
Milk can potentially help a person sleep because it  
     contains the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to 
     serotonin....We can thank serotonin for milk’s snooze-
     inducing properties. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter 
     that plays a role in appetite, sleep, behavior, mood, 
     body temperature and coordination....also...milk is a 
     rich source of calcium, which helps muscles relax. And 
     when milk is warmed, it has a soothing effect.

So Jael was giving Sisera a sedative to lull this tired army general into a deep sleep!

  • Judges 4:21 – “Then Jael…took a tent peg and…a hammer…and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and…into the ground….So he died.
  • Judges 4:22 – “…As Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said… ‘Come, I will show you the man whom you seek.’ And when he went into her tent, there lay Sisera, dead with the peg in his temple.

The woman in Deborah’s prophesy was Jael. Jael got the glory, and Barak got none! Yes, God used him, but his feet of clay was a bit of cowardness, not believing that the LORD could use him to win a victory for God’s people – without the help of Deborah the prophetess!

We are told in II Peter 1:3 and 4 (Lexham English Bible):

     ...[God’s] divine power has bestowed on us all things 
     that are necessary for life and godliness, through the 
     knowledge of the One who called us by His own glory and 
     excellence of character, through which things He has be-
     stowed on us His precious and very great promises, so 
     that through these you may become sharers of the divine 
     nature....

In other words, when God calls us to accomplish His bidding, He supplies us with everything we need to do it! And the main way He bestows…all things that are necessary for life and godliness…is…through the knowledge of the One who called us by His own glory and excellence of character….” How do we acquire such knowledge? By reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture; even memorizing pertinent truths found in the Bible! As we are told in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….

Be ready! Be filled with God’s promises!
And when He calls you to action, obey and do it!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XIV Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The next verse in the Hall of Heroes is Hebrews 11:32. And in this one verse there are mentioned a number of heroes of the faith! The first one listed is Gideon: And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.Six named heroes, and a large number of unnamed “prophets”!

Let’s consider Gideon. This hero had a large set of clay feet! For he is known as the man who, because of his doubts, tested the LORD! But I like Gideon! For, you see, even though he had his major doubts, God still used him! And he reminds me of me!

Israel had slid into idolatry – again! They were worshiping Baal, the storm god of the Midianites (see Judges 6:1-33). “So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Mideanites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.” (Judges 6:6). God appeared to Gideon with the directive to deliver Israel from its enemies. This man was an unlikely deliverer!

     ...the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said, 
     “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!...Go 
     in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel 
     from the hand of the Midianites.  Have I not sent 
     you?” (Judges 6:11 and 14).
  • Gideon’s first objection to God’s commission is in Judges 6:15: “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” God’s answered, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Mideanites as one man.” (Judges 6:16).

There are two verses in Jeremiah and one in Matthew (repeated in Mark and Luke):

        Jeremiah 32:27 – “Behold, I am the LORD, the God 
         of all flesh.  Is there anything too hard for Me? Jeremiah 32:17 – “Ah, LORD God!  Behold, You have 
         made the heavens and the earth by Your great power 
         and outstretched arm.  There is nothing too hard 
         for You.Matthew 19:26 – “...Jesus...said unto them, ‘With 
         men it is impossible; but with God all things are 
         possible.

Isn’t Gideon’s argument pretty much the same one we use when God’s leads us to do something for Him we consider difficult? “…LORD, how can I…? …my [family]…is the weakest…and I am least in my father’s house.But what is written in our Bibles?

       Matthew 28:18 through 20 – Jesus said,All au-
         thority has been given to Me in heaven and on 
         earth.  Go, therefore and make disciples...and 
         lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the 
         age.Hebrews 13:5 – “I will never leave you nor forsake 
         you. Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through 
         Christ who strengthens me.
  • Gideon’s second objection is in the form of a test:…show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. Do not depart from here…until I come…and bring…my offering and set it before You.” (Judges 6:17 and 18).
     If it is really You, God, prove it!Do we ever 
         challenge the Lord like that – especially when He 
         tells us to do something we really don’t want to 
         do?

     ✡   But God accepted Gideon’s challenge!  

             Then Gideon...prepared a young goat, and 
             unleavened bread... and...broth in a pot
             ....The Angel of God said to him, “Take 
             the meat and...bread and lay them on this 
             rock, and pour out the broth….” Then the 
             Angel of the LORD put out...His...staff 
             and fire rose out of the rock and consumed 
             the meat and...bread. And the Angel of the 
             LORD  departed out of his sight. (Judges 
             6:19 through 21).
  • God’s next command is in Judges 6:25 and 26: “…tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD…and offer a burnt sacrifice….The timid character of Gideon shown forth in his response: “But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.” (Judges 6:27).

What does the Word of God admonish us to be and do?

     Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong 
         and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dis-
         mayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever 
         you go. Ephesians 6:10 – “...be strong in the Lord and in 
         the power of His might.

And the LORD honored this doubting man’s request!When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out…a bowl full of water.” (Judges 6:38).

But it wasn’t enough for Gideon! For his fourth objection, he tested God again!Do not be angry with me…let me test…just once more…let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” (Judges 6:39).

The LORD is so patient!And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.” (Judges 6:40).

  • There was a fifth test, but I think we can forgive Gideon on this one. He called together an army of Israelites 22,000 strong! And God reduced it, first to 10,000, and then to 300! (see Judges 7:1-7).
     ✡   Consider the enemy Gideon was facing: 

             Now the Midianites and Amalekites, all the 
             people of the East, were lying in the val-
             ley as numerous as locusts; and their camels 
             were without number, as the sand by the sea-
             shore in multitude. (Judges 7:12).

And he was to fight them with just 300 men?

     So God sent him and his servant clandestinely down 
         to the enemy camp, saying, “If you are still afraid, 
         go down to the camp...and...hear what they say; and 
         afterward your hands shall be strengthened...” (Jud-
         ges 7:10 and 11).  There they overheard two of the 
         enemy talking:

     Said one, “I have just had a dream: To my 
             surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled 
             into the camp...; it...struck...a tent...
             so that...the tent collapsed.” (Judges 
             7:13).

His companion replied, “This is nothing 
             else but the sword of Gideon...a man of 
             Israel; for into his hand God has deliv-
             ered Midian and the whole camp.” (Judges 
             7:14).

This gave him the confidence he needed! Gideon took his 300 men, his only ‘weapons’ being pitchers, torches, and trumpets – and he won the battle! Or I should say, God won the battle! He caused the enemy such confusion in the middle of the night, they turned on one another, and wiped each other out! The details are too long to reproduce here. You will just have to read it from Judges 7:15 through 25.

Yes, I have my doubts, but Gideon and his story encourages me! And it should do the same for you!

No one is too insignificant or too timid
to be used of God!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XIII Hebrews 11:31

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Hebrews 11:31 reveals an unlikely candidate for the Hall of Heroes: By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.How unlikely of a candidate?

  • She was a Canaanite! And God gave strict orders to Israel to annihilate the Canaanites! (see Deuteronomy 7:1-5).
  • The LORD gave instructions concerning two Canaanite tribes in Deuteronomy 23:3 through 6. Here are verses 3 and 6:
     An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congrega-
     tion of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none 
     of his descendants shall enter the congregation of 
     the LORD....You shall not seek their peace or their 
     prosperity all your days forever.

The same could be said of any member of one of the seven nations in Canaan – including Rahab!

  • She is called a harlot three times in the Old Testament (Joshua 2:1; 6:17; 6:25), and twice in the New Testament (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).
The Hebrew word is זָנָה (pronounced zaw-naw’) meaning 
         “...to commit fornication, to be a harlot, play the 
         harlot....” – Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitons. 

     The Greek word is πóρνη (pronounced por-nay’) meaning 
         “...a woman who sells her body for sexual uses...a 
         prostitute, a harlot, one who yields herself to defile-
         ment for the sake of gain....” – Thayer’s Greek Defin-
         itions.

According to Deuteronomy 22:20 and 21, a young woman who has played the harlot before she is married is to be stoned to death!…because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house; so you shall put away the evil person from among you.” Especially in Israel, harlotry was a sin very much looked down upon!

Not only is Rahab included in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith, She is also included in the royal genealogy of Jesus Christ through His stepfather Joseph! (see Matthew 1:5). She is King David’s great, great grandmother!

I don’t think we have to look far to see that Rahab, like the rest of us, had feet of clay! But there is another issue to point out: Rahab lied! When the two spies Joshua had commissioned to reconnoiter the city, Rahab …had brought them up to the [flat] roof [of her house] and [had] hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.” (Joshua 2:6). When two men were sent by the king of Jericho to arrest the spies…

     ...she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not 
     know where they came from. And it happened as the gate 
     was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went 
     out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them 
     quickly, for you may overtake them.” (Joshua 2:4 and 5).  

She then told the two spies:

     “I know that the LORD has given you the land...and 
     that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted 
     because of you.  For we have heard how the LORD dried 
     up the water of the Red Sea...and what you did to the 
     two kings of the Amorites...Sihon and Og, whom you 
     utterly destroyed.  As soon as we heard these things, 
     our hearts melted...for the LORD your God, He is God 
     in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

That is a statement of faith in the true and living God! And believing in the LORD’s promises (in this case God giving the Israelites the entire land of Canaan) is the basis of His salvation in both the Old Testament and the New!

  • As it is written of Abraham in Genesis 15:5 and 6:
     Then [God]...brought him outside and said, “Look now 
     toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to 
     number them....So shall your descendants be.”  And 
     [Abraham]...believed in the LORD, and He accounted it 
     to him for righteousness.
  • In the New Testament, God has promised, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved….” (Acts 16:31).

So in spite of being a Canaanite, a harlot, and one who lied, Rahab was saved through her faith in Israel’s God!

After the king’s men left her house, and after she made that wonderful statement of faith, Rahab helped the two spies escape! She…let them down by a robe through the window, for her house was on the city wall…” (Joshua 2:15). And the two spies told her, “…bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down….And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.” (Joshua 2:14 and 18).

The city of Jericho was taken in a most unusual way! (see Heroes With Feet of Clay – XII). All the inhabitants of the city were annihilated……. except Rahab and her family!

     And the young men who had been spies went in and brought 
     out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all 
     that she had.  So they brought out all her relatives....
     And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s house-
     hold and all that she had.  So she dwells in Israel to 
     this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent 
     to spy out Jericho. (Joshua 6:23 and 25).

What of the red cord by which she let down the spies from her window on the wall of the city?

  • It served as a means of escape for the spies, and then it served as a marker in Rahab’s window to show the attacking Israelite army the ones they were to protect and deliver from destruction!
  • As has been said, “…the red line of atonement runs right through Scripture.
        It started in Genesis 3:15 (called the proto 
         evangeliumor the first mention of the gospel):  
         “And I will put enmity between you [the serpent, 
         the devil] and the woman, and between your seed 
         and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you 
         shall bruise His heal.   It continued six verses later, in Genesis 3:21:  
         “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made 
         tunics of skin, and clothed them.Fig leaves 
         (see Genesis 3:7) just couldn’t cover their nak-
         edness!  So God had to kill an animal to provide 
         leather tunics for them – the first incident of 
         the shedding of blood!

     ✞   The red line ran through Rahab’s house in Jericho! 
         For the red cord in the window saved her and her 
         family! 

     ✞   The red line culminates in Jesus!  For...the 
         blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from 
         all sin.

Have you partaken of that Red Line of Atonement?

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XII Hebrews 11:30

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

There isn’t much to tell about the clay feet of Joshua! According to the Bible record, he conducted himself pretty well! And he is listed in the Hall of Heroes in Hebrews 11:30: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.” This refers to the most unusual military victory in the history of warfare!

Moses had died on the eastern side of the Jordan River. He wasn’t allowed to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land because he and Aaron had disobeyed the LORD at the Wilderness of Zin, when to get water for the congregation, he struck the Meribah rock twice instead of just speaking to it, as God had said! (see Numbers 20:7-12).

But God had raised up another capable leader, “…Joshua, the son of Nun…” (Deuteronomy 31:23). It was Joshua who led Israel into the Promised Land! It was Joshua who commanded the Israelite army that defeated the seven pagan nations dwelling in Canaan! Hebrews 11:30 refers to the first battle after the Israelites miraculously crossed the Jordan River (see Joshua 3:14-17). This is when God gave Israel victory over Jericho! Here is a brief account of what happened, from Joshua 6:2 through 5:

     ...the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho 
     into your hand....You shall march around the city, all 
     your men of war; you shall go around the city once.  
     This you shall do for six days.  And the seven priests 
     shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark.  
     But the seventh day you shall march around the city se-
     ven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.  
     Then it will come to pass, when they make a long blast 
     with the rams’ horn, and when you hear the sound of the 
     trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a mighty 
     shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat.

That’s not the way a war is fought, or how conquests happen! You don’t send out seven priest blowing seven trumpets, to go out first ahead of the army of fighting men! Well, you don’t……..unless they are terrible at their jobs and you want to get rid of them!!! Ok, unless God tells you to do just that!!!

The exact mechanics of how it happened at Jericho, we really don’t know!

  • Was there some vibration set up by the blowing of the rams’ horns and the shout of six hundred thousand plus soldiers (see Numbers 26:51), that caused the walls to crumble?
  • Did God so direct the builders of the walls, however long before, to use a certain kind of mortar, or lay the stones in a certain way, that centuries later the walls would “come a’tumbin’ down”?
  • Were unseen angels there to instantly dismantle the walls?

However, we do know one factor in the taking of Jericho by Israel – faith! From what we learn from Joshua’s tactical methods following the destruction of Jericho, he was a warrior who had good military acumen and used good military tactics! And he was led by God!

  • The next city after Jericho Joshua attacked was Ai (about eleven miles northwest of Jericho). At the first try they did not succeed. “…Achan, the son of Carmi…” (Joshua 7:1) had taken loot from Jericho that was to be totally dedicated to the LORD. Because of his disobedience, the three-thousand-man Hebrew army suffered defeat at the hands of the army of Ai, and 36 Israelite soldiers were killed! (see Joshua 7:1-5). But God showed who was at fault, and Achan and his family were put to death! (see Joshua 7:10-26). Sin just does not pay!

Under the LORD’s direction, Joshua then set an ambush against Ai, with the main army out in plain sight. When the men of Ai engaged the Israelite army, Joshua feigned panic and retreated, drawing the enemy army away from the city. Ai was left open and defenseless and then the ambush appeared and set the city on fire! The army of Ai was promptly defeated! (see Joshua 8:1-29).

The next campaign was against the armies of five Amorite kings: …the kings of… Jerusalem…Hebron…Jarmuth…Lachish, and…Eglon….” (Joshua 10:3).

     And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I 
     have delivered them into your hands; not a man of them 
     shall stand before you.”  Joshua therefore came upon 
     them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal.  
     So the LORD routed them before Israel, and killed them 
     with a great slaughter.... (Joshua 10:8 through 10).

…and with the help of a God-sent miracle and hailstones! (see Joshua 10:11-14).

  • Then the cities of Makkedah, Libna, Lachash, Gezer, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir fell next, and their people were wiped out!
  • Joshua then turned his attention to northern Canaan, where he engaged a federation of kings joined by the “…the Canaanite…Amorite…Hittite…Perizzite…Jebusite…and… Hivite [armies]” (Joshua 11:3).
     So they went out, they and all their armies with them, 
     as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in 
     multitude, with very many horses and chariots....But 
     the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid...of them, 
     for tomorrow about this time I will deliver all of them 
     slain before Israel....And the LORD delivered them into 
     the hand of Israel, who defeated them....They attacked 
     them until they left none of them remaining. (Joshua 
     11:4, 6).

In Joshua 11:7 through 24, there is a list of thirty-one Canaanite kings the Israelites defeated!

But that first assault against Jericho was unique! God gave Joshua instructions that just didn’t make sense…to the human mind! But by faith he followed the LORD’s instructions, and victory resulted!

Hebrews 11:1 and 6 tell us:

     Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the 
     evidence of things not seen....But without faith it 
     is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God 
     must believe that He is [exists], and that He is a 
     rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

The instructions that God gives us to live our lives and accomplish His work cannot be comprehended by human reasoning based on our five natural senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. Faith makes the things of God we can’t see real and solid! So, “…the just shall live by faith…,” we are told four times in the Bible – Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38. God uses words sparingly! If it is written four times in Scripture, it must be important! There is no other way but by faith to please our Heavenly Father!

That’s why Joshua was successful! By faith he believed the LORD! It might have sounded foolish to General Douglas McArthur of World War II fame, to march around a city blowing rams’ horns and shouting. But…the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (I Corinthians 1:25).

That’s why Joshua is listed Hebrews 11 in the Hall of Heroes, those who lived by faith!

What is God leading you to do by faith?

The Miraculous Red Sea Crossing! Hebrews 11:29

Red Sea Crossing | We Are Israel

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

In this Gem I am using the same featured Scripture as in the last Gem, Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XI: By faith…[the Israelites] passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, drowned.” I have been thinking about this miraculous Red Sea crossing, and I want to bring these thoughts to you.

How many Israelites left Egypt under the leadership of Moses?

  • According to the first census recorded in Numbers 1:45 and 46:
     ...all who were numbered of the children of Israel, by 
     their fathers' houses, from twenty years old and above, 
     all who were able to go to war in Israel – all who were 
     numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hun-
     dred and fifty. 

603,550 men of fighting age, 20 years old and above! The passage does not say anything about an upper age limit for soldiering. It does say that Caleb, at 85 years old, was still ready to fight the Canaanites (see Joshua 14:10-12). But there must have been a number of older men who could not be counted as soldiers.

  • What about women, children, and young men under twenty? By the census records in I Chronicles, the first ten chapters, some of the Hebrew families were quite large – even up to ten or more children! (see Judges 8:30; I Chronicles 8:38, 40; 21:20).
  • Also, according to Exodus 12:38, “A mixed multitude went up with them also….” How many, we don’t know, but they are called a multitude.

Conservative estimates of the number of people who, led by Moses, left Egypt are about two to three million! But if 75% of the men of soldier age were married and had families, and the average family consisted of six people, then a better estimate of Israel’s size (plus the mixed multitude and older non-soldiers) would be three to four million people!

As discussed in the last Gem, the Gulf of Suez is the most likely route the Israelites took as they crossed that northern arm of the Red Sea:

  • The Gulf of Suez is 12 to 20 miles wide. If we take a median width, the crossing of this gulf would be 16 miles.

The average depth of the Gulf of Suez is 130 feet, with a maximum depth of 230 feet. Again, taking the median depth of 180 feet, that is about how high the walls of water would be on either side of the Israelites as they crossed the dry seabed!

How long would it take for the children of Israel to cross the Gulf of Suez?

  • Let’s take for example a wagon train traveling west 150 years ago. With oxen or horses pulling the covered wagons; with children sometimes walking; with herds of cows, horses, sheep, goats – a wagon train might travel at about 2 miles per hour, and cover ten miles a day, maybe 20 miles on a very good day! (see https://www.californiatrail center.org).
  • Although we don’t know the width of the path through the water, let’s work with some figures:
If the width of the path between the walls of 
         water was 100 feet wide, maybe 20 people (plus 
         animals) could form the first line (although 
         I’m quite sure it was not an orderly marching 
         body of people).  That would give each person 
         five feet of left-to-right space.  But the 
         length of the crossing Israelites would be 
         150,000 lines of people!  And if each line had 
         five feet front-to-back in which to walk, the 
         line of Israelites would be 142 miles long!

So if we widen the path through the Gulf of Suez 
         to 500 feet, the line would be almost 28 and 1/2 
         miles long!

     Widen the path to a mile wide between the walls 
         of water.  The length of the line of the crossing 
         Israelites would be 2 and 7/10 miles long!

All this to say, it was a massive movement of people and animals that crossed the Gulf of Suez! It probably took a full 24 hour day! The Scripture does not say exactly how many hours it took to cross the gulf, but here is what is written:

  Exodus 14:21 – “Then Moses stretched out his 
         hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea 
         to go back by a strong east wind all that 
         night....Exodus 14:22, 23 – “So the children of Israel 
         went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground
         ....And the Egyptians pursued and went after them 
         into the midst of the sea....Exodus 14:24, 26 – “...in the morning watch...
         the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand 
         over the sea, that the waters may come back upon 
         the Egyptians....Exodus 14:27 – “...and when the morning appeared, 
         the sea returned to its full depth....So the LORD 
         overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

From these Scriptures, it seems to indicate that when God parted the waters, the east wind He sent blew all night, and completed the job by the morning of the next day. The next 24 hours, the Israelites crossed. Then, on that morning, when His chosen people were safe on the Sinai side of the gulf, God made the sea waters return, and the Egyptians drowned!

It must have been an exhausting day for the Hebrew people!

  • They marched all day and night across the dry seabed!
  • I think many were terrified, especially at the beginning of the march, to walk a path through the gulf with waters standing on either side up to 180 feet high!
  • Also, the entire Egyptian army began to follow them, with chariots, horses, and foot soldiers rushing to overtake the fleeing Israelites!

But they had a leader with total confidence in the LORD! For He had told Moses, and Moses told the people:

     Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation 
     of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today.  
     For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see 
     again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, 
     and you shall hold your peace. (Exodus 14:13 and 14).

What can we learn from this? God is mighty, and He can accomplish anything! Also, He raises up leaders who are in touch with the Almighty, and who will help us find a way through to victory! And He gives us His Word…

     ...thus says the LORD, who created you...and He 
     who formed you...“Fear not, for I have redeemed 
     you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. 
     When you pass through the waters, I will be with 
     you; and through the rivers, they shall not over-
     flow you. When you walk through the fire, you 
     shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch 
     you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One...
     your Savior....” (Isaiah 43:1 through 3).

It is as Jesus says to us in Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20:

I will never leave you, nor forsake you….
I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XI Hebrews 11:29

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Moses, that great Old Testament hero of faith listed in Hebrews 11. I thought that two, maybe three Gems would cover his six-verse entry in the Hall of Faith! But this is the fourth Gem concerning him! Hebrews 11:29, our featured Scripture, doesn’t mention him, either by name or pronoun, but he figures prominently in this short verse!By faith…[the Israelites] passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, drowned.

  • Moses was called by the LORD to lead the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. But he tried to fulfill that call on his own initiative when he rescued a fellow Hebrew from being whipped, killing the Egyptian taskmaster! Pharaoh found out, and Moses ran for his life!
  • Forty years later, after being gentled by a shepherd’s life in the wilderness of Sinai, God called him, saying, “Come now…and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10). Moses tried to argue his way out of this task, but you don’t win many arguments with God!
  • Ten plagues later, with the tenth being the death of all the firstborn of man and beast throughout Egypt, Moses led the Israelites, about two to three million strong, out of the land of their slavery!
  • God personally showed the way! We are told in Exodus 13:21, “…the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light….
  • But He led them …to turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon…” (Exodus 14:1). By all human logistics, God escorted them into a trap – the mountains behind them, the Red Sea before them, and, with the king of Egypt reconsidering having let all those Hebrew slaves go, “…all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army…overtook them camping by the sea…” (Exodus 14:9).
  • …the children of Israel…were very afraid….‘Because there were no graves in Egypt,” they wailed to Moses,have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:10 and 11). But Moses calmed the people, saying, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD….For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.” (Exodus 14:13).
  • Moses held out his hand holding the rod of God over the water, “…and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.” (Exodus 14:21).

This is where our featured Scripture comes in: “By faith…[the Israelites] passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, drowned.

  • It took faith to believe in a deliverance when the vast Egyptian army was almost upon them!
  • It took faith for Moses to stand there at the edge of the Red Sea, holding out the rod of God, believing that the LORD would make a way through the water to victory!
  • It was by faith that the Israelites walked the sea bed with great walls of water on each side!
  • It took faith to believe the pursuing Egyptian army would not overtake them in that path through the waters! And they didn’t! They all drowned when God brought the liquid walls down upon Pharaoh’s army!

I did a bit of research on the internet concerning the Gulf of Suez, the most likely route of the Israelites as they crossed that northern arm of the Red Sea:

     ✡   The Gulf of Suez is 12 to 20 miles wide.  It would 
         have taken the Israelites a full day’s march, and 
         maybe more, for two to three million people to cross 
         that seabed!

     The average depth of the Gulf of Suez is 130 feet, 
         with a maximum depth of 230 feet.  That means the 
         walls of water on either side of the Israelites as 
         they marched across the sea bed was about 150 feet 
         high!

But Hebrews 11:29 says nothing about Mosesclay feet (his short-comings). So where do his feet of clay come in?

  • Previous to this episode in the life of this great man, we certainly have seen blunders, doubts, and angry actions as Moses struggled with the LORD’s leading! Look back over the preceding three Gems if you can’t call to mind his clay feetthinking and actions!
  • It wasn’t but three days after the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea that the Israelites complained against Moses about having no water (see Exodus 15:24); and again about lack of food (see Exodus 16:2, 3); and yet again they griped because they were thirsty! (see Exodus 17:1, 2).
  • According to Exodus 18:13 Moses tried to take on himself too much: …Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.” It wasn’t until his father-in-law Jethro told him, “Both you and these people will surely wear yourselves out. For this…is too much for you…” (Exodus 18:18). Upon Jethro’s advice, “…Moses chose able men and made them heads over the people….So they judged the people at all times.” (Exodus 18:25 and 26).
  • Again, in Numbers 11, the people complained about the lack of variety in their diet. They only had manna – God’s daily provision of …angels’ food…” (Psalm 78:25). So they griped, Who will give us meat to eat?” (Numbers 11:4). This time Moses ‘lost itbefore God!
     Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I 
     not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the 
     burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all 
     these people? Did I beget them, that You should say 
     to me, “Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian car-
     ries a nursing child,” to the land which You swore 
     to their fathers?  Where am I to get meat to give to 
     all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, 
     “Give us meat, that we may eat.”  I am not able to 
     bear all these people alone, because the burden is 
     too heavy for me.  If You treat me like this, please 
     kill me here and now – if I have found favor in Your 
     sight – and do not let me see my wretchedness! 
     (Numbers 11:11 through 15).
  • Perhaps the biggest incident in which Moses showed his clay feet is found in Numbers 20:7 through 12. The people complained about having no water. So God told Moses, Take the rod…and…Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water.
     So Moses took the rod from before the LORD....And Moses 
     and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the 
     rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels!  Must 
     we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses 
     struck the rock twice with his rod, and the water came 
     out abundantly....

Why was it so wrong when Mosesstruck the rock twice”? God had said, “Speak to the rock…! So the first reason is Moses disobeyed God! But there are three more reasons concerning this incident that we can learn from the New Testament:

  • Paul says of the Israelites in I Corinthians 10:4, They…all drank from the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.
  • Jesus Christ only needed to be smitten once, and that when He was mocked, beaten, and crucified! As it says in Hebrews 9:25 and 26:
     ...not that he should offer Himself often, as the high 
     priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with the 
     blood of [the sacrificial animal]...He then would have 
     had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; 
     but now...Christ was offered once to bear the sins of 
     many.
  • Now that He has been smitten once, all we have to do is speak to Him to procure blessings from Him! As we are told in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us come boldly before the throne of grace [just speaking to our Lord Jesus], that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Moses was a faulty human being, just like the rest of us! But, with all his faults, he offered himself to God!

Even with all our clay-footedfaults,
if we offer ourselves to God,
He will do mighty things with us and through us!