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When writing to the church in Corinth in the first century, the Apostle Paul reminded them of important events in Israel's history 1,500 years earlier (1 Corinthians 10:1-10), adding that: "... all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition...” (verse 11).
Abraham was "the father of all those who believe" (Romans 4:11), and Sarah is also recognized as an outstanding example (1 Peter 3:6). In Hebrews 11 they are both honored as people of faith. "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance…By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country… dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:8-10).
When God told him he would father an heir and his descendants would become as numerous as the stars in the sky, Abraham "believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). Sarah similarly set an example of faith: "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised" (Hebrews 11:11).
Abraham and Sarah faced many other difficulties and sometimes their faith wavered. Fearful for his life, Abraham twice made a misleading statement, claiming Sarah was his sister (she was his half sister) instead of his wife (Genesis 12:13; 20:1-3), and when Sarah heard she would bear a child she, at first, laughed at the idea of someone her age giving birth (Genesis 18:9-12). But overall their lives were shining examples of people growing in faith and confidence in God's promises.
David's example also exemplified living faith in God. As a youth he faced the giant Goliath, with faith God would help him: "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" (1 Samuel 17:37). God called David "a man after My own heart, who will do all My will" (Acts 13:22) and, just as God protected and delivered David, so can we faithfully trust in God's protection.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3) put their lives on the line when they would not worship King Nebuchadnezzar's golden image, because doing so would have been a violation of the First and Second Commandments (Exodus 20:1-6).
They knew refusing to do so meant they would be thrown alive into the king's fiery furnace, but notice their inspiring response to their last opportunity to save their lives: "...Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up" (Daniel 3:16-18).
Even though God allowed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed- Nego to be thrown into the furnace, the blazing heat didn’t affect them, and they walked out unharmed (Daniel 3:25-27). Regardless of the outcome, their faith convicted them to put God first—a principle Jesus also emphasized during His earthly ministry (Matthew 6:33). Living faith comes by doing what God says is right and accepting whatever results may come from our actions.
Another important aspect of faith exemplified in the preceding examples is obedience. This is why we read in James that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). God expects us to have faith, and our works (efforts in doing God's will) show that we have it (verse 20).
When Christ offered to go to a Roman centurion’s home to heal his servant, the centurion’s faith was so strong he knew Jesus didn't have to be physically present for the servant to be healed. He told Jesus: "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed," (Matthew 8:8). Jesus was very impressed by his faith and responded, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! . . . Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you" (Matthew 8:10-13). The officer's servant immediately recovered.
The Apostle Paul affirms, "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7) and we are also told "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). Our faith in this life has eternal significance and we have the sure biblical promise of the resurrection to come.