I can imagine myself walking down the long hallway. A spotlight shines brightly on each picture, highlighting the portrait in each ornate frame. These are true heroes. No, not athletes, musicians, or scientists. Heroes of faith as described by God in the book of Hebrews. Men and women whose lives are noteworthy. Servants of the Lord. Their lives beckon me to take a closer look.
As I peer at the nameplate on one of the picture frames, recognition brings a smile to my face. This is Abraham. One of the patriarchs. Known as the father of the nation of Israel. When I think of Abraham, I think of his spirit of obedience. He was called by God to leave his country and to go to an unidentified land. By faith, he willingly obeyed, although he didn't know where the Lord would lead him. He chose to believe the promise of God, "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3; KJV).
Years later, Abraham is continuing to walk the path of obedience. He cannot fathom God's instructions to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac, yet once again, he willingly obeys. His great faith in God's ability to raise his son from the dead if necessary is seen in his parting words to his servants, "Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you" (Genesis 22:5b). In a miraculous series of events, Abraham prepares to slay his son, when he hears from heaven, "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me" (Genesis 22:12). Wow! Abraham is one hero of the faith whose life provides the perfect example of a believer with an excellent spirit. He chose obedience to God's will rather than rebellion. A great example to follow.
Down the hall and to the right, I notice one of my favorite men of the Bible: Joseph. He begins life as his father's favorite. This doesn't sit too well with his other half-brothers. Add to the mix Joseph's dream that he will one day rule over his brothers and they will bow down to him, and you have a recipe for disaster! The brothers' jealousy eventually lead them to sell Joseph to a band of passing merchantmen.
Miles away in Egypt, Joseph becomes Potiphar's servant. But the Lord is still with him. Beyond that, Potiphar, "...saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand" (Genesis 39:3). Potiphar's wife also noticed Joseph. And boy, was he handsome. When he refused to commit adultery with her, Joseph found himself in prison. He had every right to be upset. After all, he was unjustly accused. He had done the right thing, and look where it had gotten him! But through it all, no complaints are recorded. Joseph trusted God. Apparently God had a plan even in this situation.
Years later, Joseph is elevated to second in command in the land of Egypt. Because of a grievous famine throughout the land, people from far and near are coming to buy grain from Joseph who was wise enough to store up food during previous years of plenty. You guessed it! Joseph's brothers come to town in search of food, and find themselves bowing before him in order to make their request. Seems kind of like a scene I remember from a dream! Anyway, the bottom line is that Joseph forgives his brothers for what they did to him. Think about it! He was in a position to make their lives miserable, but instead, he chose to forgive. Let Joseph's words soak into your soul, "...Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive" (Genesis 50:19-20). What an example of faith! Faith in the goodness of God in spite of the circumstances! How I desire to have such a testimony!
As I finish my tour down the long hallway, I notice that not much press is given to the lady in today's final portrait. Her name is Rahab. The book of Hebrews refers to her as a harlot (Hebrews 11:31). Not the kind of person you'd expect to see in the hall of faith, is she? Obviously not one who could be linked with purity...or is she? Following her encounter with the living God, this woman's life was radically changed. She displayed faith in Him by hiding His servants, the two Israelite spies, and was saved from the destruction of Jericho as a result. We come across her name once again linked with that of Boaz. This former prostitute raised a son that any mother would love for her daughter to marry. A tender-hearted man, full of compassion, wise in business, upright and respected. A man devoted to God. We find that Rahab has been redeemed from her life of sin and is placed in the lineage of Christ. Purified. The perfect example of purity.
Three portraits. Three heroes. Three characteristics: spirit, faith, and purity. Things to weave into the tapestry of our lives as believers. Our goal? To point others to our wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!