Lists can be boring, but not the one in Hebrews 11. It’s an impressive list of Old Testament believers and their amazing accomplishments. However, the writer kept interspersing the words “by faith,” for his emphasis was strictly faith, not fame. Through faith these people obtained a good testimony (v. 39). But was there always a good outcome?
In verses 33-35a, the writer highlighted those who by faith subdued kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions, and escaped the edge of the sword. Then he mentioned “others” who were tortured and killed, those for whom reprieves never came (vv. 35b-38). Did they obtain a bad testimony? No! Verse 39 says that “these all”—both the delivered and the undelivered—obtained a good testimony, for all had acted in faith.
I’m certain that all had asked the Lord for help. But some received deliverance, and others received an answer similar to the one given to Paul when he pleaded for his “thorn” to be removed: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Be greatly encouraged! Whenever you act in faith and in God’s strength, you are obtaining a good testimony before Him—no matter what the outcome.
—Our Daily Bread