The achievements of faith in the times of Joshua and later:
v. 30. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were compassed about seven days.
v. 31. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
v. 32. And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets;
v. 33. who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
v. 34. quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to fight the armies of the aliens.
v. 35. Women received their dead raised to life again; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection;
v. 36. and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment;
v. 37. they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
v. 38 (of whom the world was not worthy;) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
After the children of Israel had finally crossed the Jordan by another miracle, they were given an opportunity to show their faith in the Lord at the siege of Jericho: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, having been compassed about for seven days, Jos_6:1-27. It must have been no easy matter for the soldiers of the army of Joshua to march around the city day after day without so much as touching their hands to a weapon, pursued, moreover, by the taunts of the besieged. Worse still, when they, on the seventh day, marched around the city time and again, and yet were kept back from using violence before the time appointed by the Lord, this was undoubtedly a sore trial of their faith. Yet they continued until the word of the Lord was literally fulfilled and they could annihilate their enemies.
An incident that is recorded in connection with the same siege is that in which the harlot Rahab was concerned: By faith Rahab, the harlot, did not perish with the unbelievers after she had received the spies with peace. Even when Joshua was encamped at Shittim, before the people crossed the Jordan, he had sent two men to view the land which he intended to subdue first of all, Jos_2:1-2. In performing the work assigned to them, these men came to the house of Rahab, the chances being that they could get the information which they sought at this place. Rahab, however, though formerly a harlot, a notorious sinner, had been struck by the reports of the Lord's fighting for Israel and had been converted to belief in Him. Accordingly, she received the spies in peace and saved their lives. This act of faith later saved her own life and that of her entire household, because she did not perish with her disobedient and unbelieving countrymen. She afterward became a member of God's people, and her name appears in the list of the forefathers of Jesus.
But there are so many individual examples of faith in the records of the Old Testament that the inspired author summarizes: And what do I say further? For time would fail me while recounting of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Solomon, and the prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, extinguished the force of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were restored out of weakness, became mighty in battle, routed the armies of strangers. The writer purposely does not observe a fixed order of narration, in order to indicate the great number and variety of examples which he might enumerate if he but had the time and the space to do so. There was Gideon, who with only three hundred men routed the mighty army of the Midianites, Jdg_7:1-25. There was Barak, who with the aid of the prophetess Deborah routed Sisera and his host, after which Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, killed the invader as he lay asleep, Jdg_4:1-24. There was Samson, also one of the judges of Israel, who gained a number of victories over the Philistines, Jdg_14:1-20; Jdg_15:1-20; Jdg_16:1-31. There was Jephthah, who conquered the Ammonites, Jdg_11:1-40. The great deeds of David and Solomon in behalf of the children of Israel, the people of God, are so well known that they are also merely referred to, 2Sa_5:17-25; 2Sa_8:1; 2Sa_21:15-22; 2Sa_10:1-19; 2Sa_12:26-31. Some of these men and others subdued kingdoms, those of all the nations of the Canaanites being recorded; they ruled their people with righteousness and equity, 2Sa_8:15; they obtained promises, not only Messianic promises, 2Sa_7:1-29, but also some of a general nature, Jos_21:45; Jdg_7:7; Jdg_13:5; 1Ki_8:56; they stopped the mouths of lions, not only Samson and David, but also Daniel, Dan_6:22; Jdg_14:6; 1Sa_17:34-36; the very power of fire to burn and destroy they extinguished, as in the case of the three men in the fiery furnace, Dan_3:1-30; they escaped the edge of the sword, 1Sa_18:11; 1Sa_19:10; 1Ki_19:1-3; they were restored after an attack of weakness, Jdg_16:28-30; they became mighty in battle; the Lord being on their side, they were enabled to overcome all the resistance of their enemies. Such were the victories of faith.
But faith is equally strong in overcoming misery and suffering of every kind: Women received their dead by resurrection; others, however, were beaten to death, not accepting the deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection; but others endured the trial of mockings and scourgings, and still further of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were cut to pieces, they died in the slaughter of the sword, they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, suffering want, being abused, enduring affliction,—of whom the world was not worthy,—wandering over deserts and mountains, and in caves and in the holes of the earth. It is a long recital, which will fit practically every age of persecution in its principal points. Women, like the widow of Sarepta and the Shunammite, received their dead back from the embrace of death. In the case of others it is related (and the truth of history is here substantiated) that they were beaten to death, probably by being broken on a wheel, 2 Maccabees 6:17-28, and that they accepted this rather than perform a deed which conscience would not permit them to become guilty of; they knew, even if they died under the torture, a better resurrection awaited them at the end of time. Mockings and scourgings were endured by some of the martyrs at the time of the Maccabees, 2 Maccabees 7:1-7, and it happened often, as in the case of Jeremiah, that men were thrown into chains and imprisoned, Jer_38:9. They were stoned, as is related of Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, 2Ch_14:15, and of Jeremiah, the latter incident, however, not being verified in Scriptures. The most cruel death of being sawn asunder while still alive was inflicted on some of the Old Testament believers, 2Sa_12:31; Amo_1:3, an apocryphal account stating this also of Isaiah. Others were cut to pieces, ruthlessly murdered with the sword, and tortured in other ways, as some accounts of the Maccabean period relate. Being driven from their homes, they were obliged to cover themselves against the inclemencies of the weather by donning sheepskins or goatskins and living out in the deserts and in the mountains, wherever a cave or even a mere hole in the rock afforded them some shelter, 1Ki_18:4; 1Ki_18:13; 1Ki_19:4-13; 1Ki_1:1-53 Maccabees 2:28-29; 2 Maccabees 5:27; 6:11; 10:6. All these sufferings their faith enabled them to endure. Surely the remark that the world was not worthy of them gives us the estimate which the Lord places upon the steadfastness of these martyrs.