Yesterday evening, I preached from Hebrews 11:29-30 in our series through the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.  The focus of the text was upon the people of Israel and the writer to the Hebrews simply highlights the faith of the people.  In these two verses, the writer points out two specific events in God’s redemptive story whereby Israel exemplified real faith.  The first event was the crossing of the Red Sea and the second event was the capturing of the city of Jericho.

Real Faith on Display at the Red Sea

Interestingly enough, the story of the crossing of the Red Sea is found in Exodus 14.  Following the last of the plagues and the death of the firstborn, Israel was sent off to serve their God.  However, Pharaoh was prideful, greedy, and he suffered from a god-complex.  Therefore, he and his army pursued the Israelites to recapture their slaves before they escaped.  They pursued them to the boundary of the Red Sea.

As the nation of Israel arrived at the Red Sea, there was no large rescue boat awaiting them.  In fact, it seemed that there was no hope.  That’s when the Israelites demonstrated a lack of faith in God.  In Exodus 14:10-12 we see the entire scene unfold:

When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. [11] They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? [12] Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

Interestingly, the Exodus story doesn’t capture a bright moment for the Israelites.  They complained and blamed Moses for their unfortunate circumstance.  It was in that moment that God did something amazing.  He commanded Moses to lead the people across the Red Sea.  Moses did as the LORD had commanded him, and he stretched out his arm over the water and the sea divided into two massive walls of water by a strong east wind (Ex. 14:21-25).  As Israel crossed the sea, the mud turned to dry land beneath them.  Although all of Israel was not Israel in that massive group of people, true Israel was among them and in faith they obeyed Moses and gained renewed strength in the sovereign power of God.

Real Faith on Display at Jericho

After forty years of walking in the wilderness, they are finally led to the border of Jericho.  Moses is now dead and Joshua has assumed the leadership role of Israel.  This massive walled fortress city of Jericho was the gateway to the land of promise.  The people understood that God had led them, protected them, and provided for them along their journey.  However, as they arrived at the city of Jericho, God gave them specific instructions that seemed a bit strange and illogical.

Rather than charing the city walls and attacking the people in the normal way that an army would overtake a walled city in ancient days, they were given different marching orders.  They were instructed to line up behind the priests and the Ark of the Covenant.  They were to march around the city once per day for six straight days.  On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times and after their seventh time around the city, they were to blow their rams’ horns and the entire nation of Israel was instructed to shout loudly.

I would imagine that a group of nomadic ex-slaves and sons and daughters of slaves would look rather ridiculous marching around a city with a fortress wall.  I can imagine that it would have been a bit embarrassing.  It certainly wasn’t logical.  However, the nation of Israel never complained to Joshua.  They did exactly what they were instructed to do.  And in an amazing display of God, the strong and high walls of this fortress city came crumbling to the ground.  The people never had to fight to overtake the wall, instead the wall just dropped flat.  The nation of Israel walked right into the city and overtook the people.

We must not forget that we serve the same God that caused the Red Sea to part for the nation of Israel.  We serve the same God who caused the walls of Jericho to fall flat for the nation of Israel.  Our sovereign God can raise water and crumble walls.  What may seem ridiculous to us and completely illogical is nothing for our God.  The entire world has seen enough imposters and false faith.  It would be a wonderful thing for the world to see a glimpse of real faith put on display in the lives of people who have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Imagine what that would look like in your community through your church.  Hudson Taylor once said, “A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in the little things is a great thing.”