The contrast appears in vv34 and 37 where we are told that by faith some were delivered from the sword while others were delivered to the sword. If given the choice I opt for deliverance from the sword. How about you? No one likes to suffer and go through hard times. And it’s wonderful when God miraculously delivers us from trouble.
The Bible is full of stories of deliverance. We love to read the stories of Joseph delivered out of prison, Israel delivered out of Egypt, and Daniel delivered out of the lion’s den (just to name a few). Those are great Bible stories that build our faith!
But what about those in Hebrews 11 who were delivered to the sword? These must have been people with defective faith. Surely, these were the failures of the Bible. No, they are listed right along with the others in the faith chapter. Hebrews 11:39 says, “And all these…obtained a good testimony through faith.” Those delivered from the sword and to the sword were all given a passing grade.
The lesson of the contrast is this: Faith has a twofold victory. In one sense it conquers. In the other, it endures. It takes strong faith to endure the ordinary and extraordinary hardships of life. It takes strong faith to keep believing when it seems the answer is nowhere in sight. In God’s estimation of things, such endurance in the midst of trouble is not failure. It’s victory!
There will come a day when our faith becomes sight and all our troubles are past. Until then, we live by faith. Sometimes that will mean conquering. Other times it will mean enduring. Either way, may our faith be strong enough to stand all the tests of time.
Pastor Todd Weston