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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on October 12, 2016 under PM Bible Study |

PM Home Bible Study Group; October 12, 2016

Hebrews 11:32g

Theme: The prophets of the Old Testament are examples of a faith that actively trusts in the promises of God.

We have been exploring the faith of some of the specific individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11; and most lately, those that the writer only mentions by name in Hebrews 11:32. He wrote; “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 …” We have explored together how they all have demonstrated a trust in some specific promise of God—showing by their lives that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony" (Hebrews 11:1-2); and that "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (v. 6).

And at the end of his short list in Hebrews 11:32, the writer adds, “and the prophets …” The Old Testament prophets also demonstrate faith to us. The apostle Paul reminds us that the church is built on the foundation of not only the apostles, but also the prophets (Ephesians 2:20); and Pastor James encouraged us, “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience” (James 5:10).

The Bible’s focus with respect to the writing prophets of the Old Testament is primarily on their messages—given to them by God for the edification of His people. And of course, there is far too much in their writings to touch on in just one study. But there are statements in each of their writings—small ‘snippets’ of information—that suggest something to us of their active faith in the promises of God. Each one of them has a lesson to teach us about faith.

First, consider …


He exemplifies to us a faithful obedience to God when results aren’t immediately seen. God called him to the difficult task of speaking to his Jewish kinsmen about impending judgment at the time before the exile to Babylon. God began his ministry by giving him a glorious vision of Himself—high and lifted up—in heavenly glory. This humbled Isaiah and convicted him of his sin; but God graciously cleansed him of his sin so that he could be His spokesmen to his people. He was able to say, “Here am I! Send me” at God’s call.

And what was God’s call to him? God told him to “Go, and tell this people:

Keep on hearing, but do not understand;

Keep on seeing, but do not perceive’” (Isaiah 6:9).

He was to preach a message that the people would not accept; and was told to keep preaching it until judgment finally came upon them. How hard that must have been! And yet, God used Isaiah’s ministry and brought His people through the refining judgment of captivity so that—one day—the Messiah, our Savior, would be brought forth.

May God teach us to be faithful to His call on our lives—trusting that He sees the results of that faithfulness when we ourselves may not see it even in our own lifetimes.

And then, consider …


Jeremiah was called to a very hard task. He preached to God’s people while they were in the process of being taken captive to Babylon. Few preachers have been called to a harder ministry than Jeremiah—often called the ‘weeping prophet’. His people hated him—and they hated his message. But he exemplifies to us the courage of faith that declares God’s word in the face of danger.

At one point, he preached God’s appointed message in the temple. The people interpreted it as treason; and they laid hands on him and sought to execute him for it. But he told them;

The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city with all the words that you have heard. Now therefore, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; then the Lord will relent concerning the doom that He has pronounced against you. As for me, here I am, in your hand; do with me as seems good and proper to you. But know for certain that if you put me to death, you will surely bring innocent blood on yourselves, on this city, and on its inhabitants; for truly the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing” (Jeremiah 26:12-15).

God spared Jeremiah’s life that day. Not all such courageous prophets were spared from those who hated them. But may God nevertheless give us the kind of faith that speaks His word at His call—no matter what the consequences.

And then, consider …


Ezekiel was called by God to speak to his people during the time of their captivity in Babylon. He was a priest; and he seems to have been a gentle soul. But God called him to—quite often—do things and act as an object lesson to his people in ways that must have been very shameful and painful and humiliating to him. He exemplified the kind of faith that willingly suffers loss and shame in order to serve as a sign to a rebellious people.

Early in his ministry, God caused him to be unable to speak (Ezekiel 3:26-27) as a sign to God’s rebellious people. And at a particular point in his ‘mute’ ministry, God took away his wife from him by death. This too was a sign to the people of Israel—showing them the mourning He was going to bring upon them because God was going to take the temple from them. He told Ezekiel;

And you, son of man—will it not be in the day when I take from them their stronghold, their joy and their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that on which they set their minds, their sons and their daughters: that on that day one who escapes will come to you to let you hear it with your ears? On that day your mouth will be opened to him who has escaped; you shall speak and no longer be mute. Thus you will be a sign to them, and they shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 24:26-27).

It takes great faith to allow God to use us, in our times of trial and suffering, to be an illustration to others. Ezekiel was such a man of faith. May we be people of such faith too.

Another great example was …


He was a remarkable man. He was a foreigner—being a Jew; and yet, because of his outstanding character, he has the unique distinction of having been a high-ranking official over two successive Gentile world empires; that of Babylon and that of Media Persia.

He always kept a love in his heart, however, for his Jewish homeland. And while serving in his official capacity in his later years, he recalled the promise of God regarding the deliverance of His people from Babylonian captivity:

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes (Daniel 9:1-3).

Thus Daniel prayed one of the greatest prayers of national repentance recorded in Scripture—found in Daniel 9. He did so because he knew that God made a promise two generations beforehand, and that He had not forgotten His promise. Daniel prayed with a belief that God would keep His promises regarding His people from generation to generation. And God did! Oh that we were characterized by such trans-generational faith today!

And then, there’s …


Hosea, like Ezekiel, was called by God to be a living illustration to His disobedient people. God commanded him to do something that must have been very hard for a man of holiness to do—to take a harlot as a wife to himself and marry her. She was meant to be a picture of disobedient Israel; and like Israel, she proved to be unfaithful to her husband. And yet, through Hosea’s devoted love for her, he demonstrated a faith in God’s unfailing love for His own chosen people.

When his wayward and wandering wife Gomer became caught up in her sin and had to sell herself into slavery, God sent Hosea to buy her back; telling him,

Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.” So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. And I said to her, “You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man—so, too, will I be toward you.” For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days (Hosea 3:1-5).

Certainly, he was a great man because he was used as a sign of God’s love for His wayward people. But more, he was a great man of faith who also loved his wayward wife just as God loved Israel. May we be characterized by the sacrificial kind of faith in God’s unfailing love toward others—just as Hosea was!

Consider also …


Joel had to warn his people that a great plague of locust was coming upon them. The plague of locust however was symbolic of an even greater day of judgment—the future Day of the Lord. He warned the people of this coming judgment; but in the process of doing so, he didn’t simply announce judgment and harden his heart toward the people. Instead, in light of that impending judgment, he also appealed to them to turn to God and seek His mercy instead. His was a faith that so believes God’s warnings of judgment that it cannot help but result in an appeal for repentance.

In Joel 2:12-14, He wrote this;

Now, therefore,” says the Lord,

Turn to Me with all your heart,

With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

So rend your heart, and not your garments;

Return to the Lord your God,

For He is gracious and merciful,

Slow to anger, and of great kindness;

And He relents from doing harm.

Who knows if He will turn and relent,

And leave a blessing behind Him—

A grain offering and a drink offering

For the Lord your God? (Joel 2:12-14).

Do we have enough faith in the promises of God’s judgment to compassionately open our mouths and call people to flee from the wrath to come?

We find another example from a farmer in …


He spoke to his people at a time when things seemed good and prosperous. The people were living in luxury—and they thought that they were being blessed by the God that they were disobeying. But in the simple, plain-speaking manner of an orchard farmer and sheep-tender he showed his people that they were really like rotting fruit—and, in the process, was demonstrating a faith that refuses to be silent when God says to speak.

Apparently, the people had told him to be silent—arguing that he was just nothing more than a farmer. Why should they listen to him? But he told his people;

I was no prophet,

Nor was I a son of a prophet,

But I was a sheepbreeder

And a tender of sycamore fruit.

Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock,

And the Lord said to me,

Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’

Now therefore, hear the word of the Lord:

You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,

And do not spout against the house of Isaac.’” (Amos 7:14-16).

In spite of the fact that he was not known as a prophet, Amos nevertheless spoke the bold message God had given him for his people. He demonstrates to us that, by faith, we must speak God’s message—even if we feel unqualified; and even if we’re told to be silent.

The smallest book in all the Old Testament prophets demonstrates …


His message came at a time when the people of Edom where harassing the captive people of Israel—even though, from long ago, God chose Jacob over his brother Esau. Obadiah demonstrates to us a trust that God will exalt those whom He says He will exalt.

In verses 19-21—in spite of the dire state of things for Israel at the time—we read;

The South shall possess the mountains of Esau,

And the Lowland shall possess Philistia.

They shall possess the fields of Ephraim

And the fields of Samaria.

Benjamin shall possess Gilead.

And the captives of this host of the children of Israel

Shall possess the land of the Canaanites

As far as Zarephath.

The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad

Shall possess the cities of the South.

Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion

To judge the mountains of Esau,

And the kingdom shall be the Lord’s (Obadiah 19-21).

Why? It was because God said, “Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated” (Romans 9:13). No matter how hard things seem for God’s people, may we—like Obadiah—trust that God will, in time, exalt those upon whom He has placed His faithful love.

Consider next …


Many people think that Jonah was a cowardly prophet; and that that’s why he ran from God’s call on his life. But this is not so. He ran because he was being sent to preach a message of repentance to Nineveh, the capital city of the nation of Assyria … and he knew that God’s message to them would be effective! He didn’t want the Assyrians—these brutal people who were the enemies of Israel—to repent! He wasn’t cowardly. Rather, he was bigoted.

We all know the story of what happened next! And after he did indeed go to them and preach—and they did indeed wonderfully repent—he threw himself a pity-party. He sat and moped and said;

Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” (Jonah 4:2-3).

Jonah’s story is certainly a strange one. And perhaps we can conclude by the fact that he wrote this book that he had truly repented before God. But one thing we learn from his life is that he had the kind of back-door faith that recognized that God will always prove merciful to those who repent and seek Him. May it be that we have that kind of faith through the front door!

In a prophetic book that is sometimes called “mini-Isaiah”, we find …


Micah—like Isaiah—preached to the people at a time before the captivity. And he demonstrates in his book a trust that God will prove Himself in due time. In Micah 7, he speaks of the great sorrow of his heart over the fact that his people heard the message but would not repent. Judgment was now certain. It seemed as if the work of God in His people was over. How his heart must have sunk in sorrow. Would his people ever experience the favor of God? And yet, in verse 7, he wrote;

Therefore I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
My God will hear me (Micah 7:7).

God did hear him! May it be that, in those times when things seem hopeless and bleak, we will lift our eyes and look to the Lord—trusting Him that He will hear our prayers, and prove to all that He never changes and is true to every word He spoke!

Just as Jonah spoke to the people of Nineveh at the time of their repentance, we find a message to them—many years later—at a time when they fell back again into their evil rebellion against God. This leads us to …


His is a hard message—not one that was at all comforting to the people of Nineveh. It was a vivid and often frightening testament of coming judgment. But in the midst of it, we find that Nahum demonstrates a faith that looks with awe at the faithful nature of God in unfaithful times. He speaks of the glorious majesty of God above the affairs of this earth, and wrote;

The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7).

May it be that, in dark times such as ours—days that seem to invite judgment—we keep our eyes fixed on our unchanging God; just as Nahum did!

As we travel on through the prophets, we can also see …


He wrote when God had given him a troubling message; and he puzzled over the ethics of it. He had asked how long God would allow the wickedness of His people to go on; and then, God dropped the bombshell on him that He was bringing the dreadful Babylonians against them. They were more wicked than the Jewish people! How could this be?

His book is an exploration of how God can use the wicked and yet remain holy. Surely God’s ways are higher than ours; and we can’t always hope to grasp the majesty of His ways. But at the end of his book, Habakkuk wrote words that have been a comfort to God’s people ever since:

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

And the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

And there be no herd in the stalls—

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Habakkuk demonstrates a faith that expects the goodness of God to be wonderfully shown forth in the end. May we have such a faith also—living as we do in dark times; and learn, like Habakkuk to praise God today for the goodness He will show forth tomorrow!

Then, there’s …


The people of God in his day were demonstrating an outward change—but not a true inward revival. For a God who looks not on the outside, but measures what’s in the heart, this was unacceptable. It wasn’t long before they were reverting to their old ways on the outside as well. It seemed like a dark and hopeless time. Spiritual gains that had been made were being lost. What more could be done to reform the people?

Yet Zephaniah demonstrates a faith that waits on the goodness of God. What a great call it is that God so often gives us!—that is, to ‘wait’ on His perfect time of things. Zephaniah wrote down the message he received from God:

Therefore wait for Me,” says the Lord,

Until the day I rise up for plunder;

My determination is to gather the nations

To My assembly of kingdoms,

To pour on them My indignation,

All My fierce anger;

All the earth shall be devoured

With the fire of My jealousy.

For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language,

That they all may call on the name of the Lord,

To serve Him with one accord.

From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia

My worshipers,

The daughter of My dispersed ones,

Shall bring My offering (Zephaniah 3:8-10).

God’s plan was not over. There were still things He had purposed to do—things that involved more than just Israel. And it required ‘waiting’ on His timing. It’s one thing to believe God will do something; and another thing altogether to actually ‘wait’ for it. May God give us a faith that waits on Him confidently.

Next, we find …


He was one of the prophets who wrote to encourage his restored people to get about the work of building the temple. They were focusing on their own needs and comforts—building their own houses, but were neglecting to build the house of God. Haggai’s book is a short journal—one in which he wrote down God’s call for the people to get to work; and then, a record of God’s blessings as a result. And in the process, he demonstrates a confidence that God will reward obedience.

In Haggai 3:20-23, he wrote of God’s word to the governor—speaking of the far future;

Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying:

I will shake heaven and earth.

I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms;

I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms.

I will overthrow the chariots

And those who ride in them;

The horses and their riders shall come down,

Every one by the sword of his brother.

In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:20-23).

Did you know that Zerubbabel is recorded in the linage of the Lord Jesus according to the flesh (Matthew 1:12-13)? How much such a promise would have inspired Zerubbabel! How much it must have encouraged Haggai! How much more faithfully would we ourselves rise up and act in obedience to God, if we had absolute faith that God will reward such obedience in due time?

Another prophet who encouraged the people to build the temple also wrote at about the same time as Haggai; and in other prophet’s book, we find …


Zechariah is a book of deep and mysterious visions. It reads very much like the Book of Revelation; and tells us much about the return of the Lord. Just like that last book of the New Testament, this second-to-the-last book of the Old Testament shows us a faith in God’s zeal for His people and their holiness. God told him;

Thus says the Lord of hosts:

I am zealous for Jerusalem

And for Zion with great zeal.

I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease;

For I was a little angry,

And they helped—but with evil intent.”

Therefore thus says the Lord:

I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy;

My house shall be built in it,” says the Lord of hosts,

And a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.”’

Again proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts:

My cities shall again spread out through prosperity;

The Lord will again comfort Zion,

And will again choose Jerusalem”’” (Zechariah 1:14-17).

This was at the very beginning of Zechariah’s prophetic ministry; and it must have encouraged him throughout all the things God showed him. God’s people may overlook much in terms of their own holiness; but God Himself never does. He promises to cleanse His people. May we have the kind of faith that shares in God’s zeal for His people—and sincerely seeks what God seeks!

Finally, consider what we find in the last book of the Old Testament of …


In his day, the people were restored and the temple was built. But their hearts were not sincere. Much of this powerful book has to do with exposing the spiritual hypocrisy of God’s people. It’s a book that is, in a lot of ways, like the New Testament book of James—a book that you cannot read without getting your toes stepped on along the way! But in it, we find that its human author Malachi has a strong faith in the promise of God to cleanse those who are His.

After many of the hard things he writes about his people’s hypocrisy before God, Malachi writes of the promise of the coming of John the Baptist first—and then of Christ Himself—when God tells him;

Behold, I send My messenger,

And he will prepare the way before Me.

And the Lord, whom you seek,

Will suddenly come to His temple,

Even the Messenger of the covenant,

In whom you delight.

Behold, He is coming,”

Says the Lord of hosts.

But who can endure the day of His coming?

And who can stand when He appears?

For He is like a refiner’s fire

And like launderers’ soap.

He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;

He will purify the sons of Levi,

And purge them as gold and silver,

That they may offer to the Lord

An offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:1-3).

This was partially fulfilled when Jesus came to the temple before His time of dying on the cross. It will be ultimately fulfilled at His second coming. Can we have such faith too?—believing that God will indeed cleanse His people, and finish the good work He began in them? Can we fully embrace the promise that we will, indeed, stand before our Lord Jesus “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24)?

* * * * * * * * * *

What great lessons there are for us to learn from all the great heroes of faith. But more … “and the prophets”!

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