Hebrews 12: 1-2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
This cloud of witnesses. That is a list of people from chapter 11 and others in history who have persevered for the sake of the gospel. What is the purpose of this cloud of witnesses? What are they witnessing? My guess is that they are our examples, a way for us to lifted up when we don’t want to keep fighting for the gospel and when we don’t want to persevere through persecution anymore. They are there as our own personal pep squad when sin and circumstances are trying to distract us and weighing us down.
The people in the OT overcame a lot of odds and huge obstacles because God was faithful. Most of these people lived flawed lives, did a lot of things that are not much different from the way we would be. They were sinners same as us, in need of an intervention from God for their sin like us, but they chose to act and move in faith when God gave them instructions to act. The whole purpose is to encourage us and let us know that God uses people like us to do great things in His name.
We can’t become tied up in sin and always be concerned about our circumstances. We cannot dismiss our selves as being useful instruments for the purpose of the gospel and for the purpose of bringing glory to the name of the Father. This cloud of witnesses had doubts, fears and sometimes unwillingness to obey but they did and God used them in mighty ways. What usually holds us back is the excuses we make blaming the situation we are in. What it really comes down to is if when we said we would follow Jesus did we really mean it.
This great cloud of witnesses is there to encourage us and enable us to see that people no better than us can do great things for God, and enable us to stay the course as we fun the race for the joy that has been set before us. Don’t be shortsighted in your quest to follow Jesus. Look beyond the misery and pain for the joy to come.