Verses 36-38 list various trials God has required of some of the faithful. Especially notice verse 39: "And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise." Even though all looked lost from a human standpoint, they still believed God, knowing that the sovereign God could and would keep His promises even beyond the grave.
With all of God's promises, He does not promise when He will answer. The timing of those answers is in His hands. Based on what is best, God, who is love (I John 4:8,16), decides when (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The right time may be, not in this life, but in the next. In fact, believing God's promises, even to the end—death—could be the last piece of proof God requires to "know" He can entrust us with eternal life, an everlasting relationship with Him.
Faith—What Is It?
At our calling we were excited about having found God and His truth. We may have even thought we were ready to face the lion's den, crucifixion, the fiery furnace, or boiling oil. In retrospect, however, our failure to follow all God's instructions, our weakness in trials, our impotence in tests of faith are mute testimony that our zealous, early faith, though encouraging, was not the kind Christ is looking for in His elect. He seeks mature faith as we see in these Christians of Hebrews 11. They were faithful in little and followed through when everything was on the line. This is the mature, living, unwavering faith required for salvation that allows us to please Him.
Have we reached the point where we do not fear those who can destroy the body, but He who can destroy both body and soul? Do we practice this living faith in our daily walk? The just—those who are righteous—shall live by faith, and in doing so, will inherit the Kingdom of God!
Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Faith Toward God
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Hebrews 11:39: