“For it was our way to go onward; to go forward and to try to shape our world into something that would make our lives easier, even if more complicated. Our struggle was for time. Our leisure was bought from hardship, and we needed leisure to think, to dream, to create.”
--Louis L'Amour (Bendigo Shafter)
"Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering."
--Hebrews 10:32 (NLT)
I have read the verse below many, many times and have heard numerous sermons preached using it as a text. Today, I want to concentrate on a couple of things from the verse.
"Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us."
--Hebrews 12:1 (Amplified)
Who are these "great cloud of witnesses"? I have heard that they were the departed saints looking down from heaven as if in a grandstand. They are hollering, "Go, go, the finish line is just ahead." If a person falters or falls down, one of these witnesses will stand and shout, "Get up, get up, I made it, so can you." It may be Noah, or David, or one of the nameless saints in history. Then I had a preacher friend tell me they could not be those in heaven. He explained that there are no tears in heaven, no sorrow, and if someone from heaven were watching life back on earth there surely would be tears. However, I might add, those in heaven are no longer looking with earthly eyes, but with the eyes of God and see things now from His perspective.
Remember, this verse follows the great Hall of Faith chapter--Hebrews 11. I like how the Amplified examines the "witnesses." They "who have" borne testimony to the truth. Look back at Hebrews 11 for this verse rests on that great chapter. We are following great examples. They are our witnesses, they have given us testimony. These people, Moses, Abraham, and the others had to fight and struggle, they had to put their faith to the test. "Their walk of faith was a great, great challenge" (Renner) We have these individuals to give testimony to the fact that they made it, therefore, we can make it also.
We are completely surrounded (compassed about) by these witnesses. They are not hollering at us now, but we have their examples to follow. I think one of the great travesties of our age is that we do not know about the great men and women of the faith. We have several mentioned in Hebrews 11, but what of the others? What of the saints in the 2nd century, the 10th century, or the 20th century. Folks may know the name of Billy Graham, though it is beginning to fade, but few know of Charles Finney, Sam P. Jones, or R.A. Torrey? We do a disservice to the present generation by not teaching them of the great people of faith and that includes those from the Bible. By their faith they made it; by our faith we can as well.
I remember hearing the great missionary Charles Greenaway say many times in his preaching, "We're going to make it! Some of us may not look like much, but we're going to make it. Some may crawl across that finish line, bruised, battered, torn, and scarred, but they're going to make it." Friend, keep going forward. Fight the good fight of faith--you're going to make it. You may get weary, you may be wounded in the fray, but you're going to make it!
Rick Renner gives clarification on this first part of Hebrews 12:1, "We are surrounded on every side with powerful examples of people who were challenged in their faith, yet who held fast to the Word of God." That's why it is so important to guard the truth, to be alert, to learn and study, to grow in the faith so that your legacy will say to the next generations--I made it!