15: And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16: But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. 17: By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18: Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. 20: By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 21: By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. 22: By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. 23: By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. 24: By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25: Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26: Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27: By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28: Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29: By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. 30: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. 31: By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. 32: And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34: Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35: Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 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; 38: (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39: And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
The thing that drove Abraham onward was that he had had a vision of a better country. If that were not true then he would have gone back. Babylon was after all a beautiful place. But he had seen a place that transcended everything in this world. That’s faith. That’s seeing what cannot be seen with the natural eye. The whole of Abraham’s life was a life of hearing and believing. God accounted him righteous by faith. Isaac eventually did the right thing and blessed Jacob. And when Jacob was dying, he did right blessing the two sons of Joseph. Joseph’s life was a live of believing too and in the end he did the right thing, prophesying of the Exodus and giving instruction about his burial. In the Life of Moses we enter a new territory under Law. By faith, the parents of Moses did the right thing, they hid him and when he was come to years, by faith Moses did the right thing, he forsook Egypt because he saw the reproach of Christ as a greater thing than the wealth of Egypt. By faith he did right and kept the Passover and by faith He went through the Red sea. And so the story of faith goes on and on. Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, David and Samuel. They all obtained ‘The Good Report’ (That is, that God testified that they had done what was right in his eyes - they were righteous). Throughout the record of the kings we read that ‘Such and such’ lived ‘so many’ years and he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord’ etc, That is that they in fear kept the commandments of the Lord. They all received 'a good report' but they did not receive ‘the promise’. In other words they lived as righteous men but they did not enter into the blessings of salvation as in The New Covenant! Nor did they enter The Messianic kingdom. They were not saved as christians are by faith in Christ’s atoning blood, rather they heard the word of the Lord and lived under the Law. Many people think that they were saved as Christians are, but this is not true and never stated. Often they were saved from danger or death – that is they were saved from death to continue under the Law, but that is not the salvation of the soul. This is proven by the fact that there was no Gospel preached, There were no evangelists and no conversions. If they got away from the Lord in covenant God disciplined them until they turned again in fear to the Lord. This was always a restoration to the Old Covenant. At every point the experience of Israel under the Law is a marked Contrast to Grace. They had no complete forgiveness of sins only the covering of their sins. They had no abiding indwelling of the Holy Spirit, they had the Spirit upon them at times to enable them to serve God. Under the Law they always looked back to Sinai but under Grace we look back to Calvary. The only restraining influence in their lives was the fear and dread of the Lord, but the Christian says the Love of Christ constrains us. ‘There is no fear in love perfect love casts out fear’. In the new covenant God promises to those who he will raise from the dead, A new heart (The new birth), the Holy Spirit within, the Law written in their minds and complete forgiveness of their sins. God has provided for Israel the personal appearance of the Messiah himself and one day they will all be made 'perfect' in their faith with us. For the OT saint faith led to obedience to the Old Covenant and that led to the testimony of God that they were righteous and to the promise of resurrection to eternal life and the Messianic kingdom.