Cloud of witnesses

Today in Sunday school, my teacher Kevin talked about the cloud of witnesses:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)

I hadn’t really thought about the cloud of witnesses as actual people–people from history–who are witness to what we do, or who are watching us.  But Kevin reminded me it is very real, and I had that moment of thinking of them actually watching.  I focused on one in particular I thought might be watching me–one whose victory is my weakness.

That got me to thinking, what might each of these people, these real people, be looking for in us?  I started focusing on one quality in each person that think about when I think about him or her.  You might pick different qualities as you think about them.  The question is, Will we win victory and achieve the qualities these heroes of faith had . . or will we nearly lose our race and barely escape into Heaven with only our selves to show for it (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)?

I don’t mean here that Heaven is in any way by “works” or that any person from the Bible will be judging us other than Jesus Christ.  But God reveals to us in Hebrews that the heroes of faith are watching us.  If I could talk to them right now, what would they say about what I do?

Here are (some) qualities I connect to the men and women of faith given the honor of appearing in Hebrews 11, the ones the author of Hebrews means are our “cloud of witnesses” (from Hebrews 12:1).  The quality that I connect with each of them here . . . would they find any of that quality in me?

  • Abel: obedience to God
  • Enoch: intimacy with God
  • Noah: outcast for God
  • Abraham: willing to do God’s plan
  • Isaac: fearing God
  • Jacob: learning from God
  • Sarah: hopeful in God
  • Joseph: forgiveness, given by God’s companionship with him during his tough times, towards his greatest enemies
  • The parents of Moses: upholding life because they gave ultimate authority to God, not rulers
  • Moses: leadership given by God
  • People of Israel: trust in God
  • Rahab: love for God
  • Gideon: growing in God
  • Barak: accepting God’s decision after a mistake
  • Samson: repentance before God
  • Jephthah: unashamed of God
  • David: passionionate for God
  • Samuel: listening to God
  • The Prophets: outspoken for God
  • The Martyrs: suffering for God

But who has all of these qualities?

Jesus Christ.

Will Jesus find these qualities in me?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2a)

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