If you missed part 1, be sure to check that out first! Now let’s continue on our journey through the Hall of Faith.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. (v30)
While he is not named here, Joshua is most certainly the subject of this statement, as he believed what God said regarding the fall of Jericho. Joshua’s Faith brought Jericho down (discard a site) and rallied the people as their Judge to take the Promised Land (search for a Joshua card).
By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. (v31)
Rahab could have turned the spies in, and why not? She would have received a reward in all likelihood, and she could have continued her obviously-profitable business in Jericho. She was also terrified, along with the other inhabitants of the city, of the stories that had been spreading about the Israelites; what cause did she have to help them?
Instead, Rahab told the spies, “I know that the Lord has given you the land…for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Judges 2:9-11). She knew from testimony, not even what she witnessed, that God is the God Above All, and that He would have the city taken no matter what. Her Faith in His power allowed for Jericho to fall (discard a Fortress or Site), and saved her entire household, not just their lives but also their future by joining God’s people (convert and take an Evil Character).
And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. (v32-34)
If it feels like the writer is losing steam here, he is most certainly not. This is an incredible list of feats that God repeated time and time again, which is why so many people are listed with these acts.
Now, as there are a lot of people listed here, we’ll take these cards one-by-one. You’ll notice that each Faith Enhancement made from this section pulls out the particular events that pertain to their lives for the verse printed on the card.
Gideon was called during a time of great need for Israel; like most Judges in that book of the Bible, he was called during a time when Israel had abandoned God and He had lifted His protection, allowing the people to be conquered or oppressed. But Gideon was the youngest son of the lowest family of his tribe, he was no fighter, and he had no one following him; there was just no reason to expect him to become a leader and save his people.
But God gave Gideon His promise, that the armies assembled against Israel were given to him to defeat, and Gideon continued to believe even when God whittled his army of 22,000 men down to 300, so that no man could say that they won without God. By Gideon’s Faith, the armies that had oppressed Israel turned on each other in confusion (cause Evil Characters to fight) and then fled far to the east, allowing Israel to gain considerable territory (withdraw Evil Characters).
Deborah was judging Israel and prophesying, and at God’s instruction called Barak to her. She then told him that he was to amass an army to fight the Canaanites who were oppressing Israel, but who had not been defeated because the large force also had 900 chariots (very powerful in combat of the day). Barak did not have the most perfect faith, saying he would do it only if Deborah went with him, which led her to tell him that Sisera’s death would come at the hands of a woman instead (opponent may withdraw a male Evil Character if a female Hero is in play); however, he still believed in the promise given through Deborah. His Faith rallied the forces of Israel, “and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not even one was left” (Judges 4:16), represented by discarding everyone who remains in battle.
Samson is a very interesting character in the Bible. He was supernaturally strong, and his temper matched his strength. He is one of the only people ever specifically noted to have taken the Nazirite vow, though he is also noted to have broken every command therein. Still, despite his flaws (which we all have), Samson was still a man of faith, who judged Israel and defeated its enemies. After he angered the Philistines, his own people bound him to be turned over to them, in order to avoid the punishment to come. Samson was all alone (lone Hero), and yet his Faith in the power God had given him was more than enough; he broke the bindings, grabbed the jawbone of a dead donkey, and then killed 1,000 Philistines by himself (discard all male evil characters in battle). Their numbers, weapons, and the binding of Samson was nothing compared to the power of God (cannot be negated if more than one is in battle).
There have been plenty of cards related to Jephthah’s vow to God that cost him his daughter (Jephthah (Pa), Jephthah (J), Jephthah’s Tragic Vow), but the rest of his story has been largely ignored. Jephthah was chased off by his family, only to have them ask him back to help fight the Ammonites, who were oppressing them and demanding land they claimed Israel stole over three hundred years prior during their conquest of the Promised Land. Jephthah’s response was to recite history to the king of the Ammonites, bringing up the chronicles of those time and listing those who made themselves enemies of Israel (discard an evil Enhancement) to show that the claims to the land belonged to another people entirely (convert to that brigade). Just as a character converted to a different brigade has no support in Redemption, the Ammonites had no protection from the armies of Israel after refusing to give up the claim, because by Faith Jephthah called God as judge between them. With the strength God gave him, he subdued the Ammonites, taking twenty cities from them.
David, like Moses before him, has a great number of stories to his name, and plenty of examples of his faith. But one of the things that David did throughout his life was inspire others, and come to the aid of those in need. His Faith allowed him to lead others, and to add his strength and commitment to to battles of others (add your Hero to fight an enemy).
Samuel was an amazing Judge for the people of Israel, and he led them justly, fairly, and with great wisdom. He started his life as a great prophet, signaling the start of the times of major prophets in Israel, and became a much-loved Judge of the people. They may have refused to listen to his advice at times (demanding Give Us a King! despite his warnings, signaling the end of the age of Judges), but he was still an inspiring and imposing character. He anointed both Saul and David, provided counsel, and shared God’s word in an attempt to keep Israel on the correct path. Throughout his story, Samuel’s Faith constantly showed how God can halt the threat of Israel’s enemies (interrupt), bring the people together as one to confront them in God’s name (band), and secure the promises God provided (draw).
Now, Daniel is not listed by name, and instead we have “the prophets;” well there was no way that we could print a card for all of the prophets who were faithful, but Daniel is pretty heavily implied here. Not too many people actually shut the mouths of lions by their faith (even though some on this list shut them more permanently…). In Daniel’s stories, his faithfulness to God through tough times and in the face of potential punishment were critical, and he was saved by this faith. Through Daniel’s Faith, God sent an angel to shut the mouths of the lions in the den (protect if an angel is in play), and by this faith those who laid the trap were thrown into the lion’s den themselves (discard evil characters if Lion’s Den or an animal are in play).
And those are the new Faith Enhancements in Cloud of Witnesses! I know this was a long read, but I wanted to close by pointing to two large sections that I left out, because there was no one in particular mentioned in them:
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (v13-16)
This first section is from earlier, between the passages I pulled out to represent the Faith of Abraham, and it is a beautiful illustration of how we should view the world and life. Abraham left his country behind, and did not think of that land, because he was moving towards a better one, one that God promised. If we think of ourselves as part of the world, “thinking of that country from which they went out,” we lose sight of the fact that there is “a better country…a heavenly one.” This echoes Jesus’s teaching:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
So the question is, where is our heart? Is it in the faith of what is to come, what we have not seen or touched? Or is it on the worldly realm, what we can see, and what blinds us to the heavenly country that we should call ourselves to?
The problem is, it is not always so easy to follow that path…
Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. (v35-38)
This feels so depressing, after all of this triumph to see the cost, the pain that the faithful often endure. And yet…
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. (v39-40)
We should remember that each of these men and women who showed this faith did not know Christ. They did not know the truth of the Resurrection, they did not have the absolution of sins, they did not have the Holy Spirit among them and assisting them. Yet, they were still faithful. They believed that God had something better for them. They still strived for that heavenly place instead of focusing on what was in front of them. And they were rewarded by God for their faithfulness, who did mighty deeds through them.
They did not gain what was promised during their own lifetimes, so how much more blessed are we now that the promises are fulfilled? How much more impactful could our faith be today, with the Holy Spirit among us and Christ as our savior?
Will our stories be worthy of a Hall of Faith?
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