…who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire…out of weakness were made strong…
In the above it is quite possible the “mouths of lions” and the quenching of “the violence of fire,” likely is in reference to Daniel and his peers Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego.The point being that the power of accomplishment and protection is from God and His power and the faith and confidence we can and must have in Him. The author of Hebrews continues–
…all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive
the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not
be made perfect apart from us. Hebrews 11:39-40
The great list of portraited saints of Hebrews 11 all had to live in hope. Their faith, not unlike ours, had courage to count on God for their salvation. They knew their salvation was coming and it was the basis for their trust. They were certain that one day God would do what was necessary to redeem and reward them. The faith of these was not in an immediate fulfillment, but in the ultimate fulfillment. The ultimate fulfillment was in the Messiah, their Savior, our Lord Jesus… Jesus being “the something better for us.” It was not until the appearance, death and resurrection of Jesus that salvation was completed and made perfect. It was not in simply a faith without an object. But their faith was in the sole provision of God as their rescuer from sin. Their faith looked forward to the promise of Calvary. Ours looks back to the promise, fulfillment and acceptance of its reality.
Yes, their faith in God did permit them wonderful triumphs– conquered kingdoms, acts of righteousness, obtaining promises, shutting the mouths of lions, quenching fire, escaping the sword, gaining strength over weakness, mighty in war, seeing the dead brought to life. But for others in this same gallery there was torture, mocking and scourging, chains & imprisonment, stoned and sawn asunder, temptations, death by the sword, clothed only in the skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted and ill-treated, having to wander in deserts and mountains. All these saints, from both lists, counted on salvation from God. They believed the word of God. They knew He was He able, and certain He would. We know He is able, and we know He did!
Robert Moffat ministered for years in remote South Africa, not seeing a single convert. When friends in England wrote asking him what they might send as a present, he requested a communion-set. His response was a surprise as they were aware of the seeming complete lack of response to the gospel. Nevertheless, they honored his request. When the communion-set arrived, several months later, several of the people group had just realized their need for Jesus as their Savior. They were able to enjoy communion from the just received communion-set. Jesus said– “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Lord, help us with our belief! Amen.