Hebrews 10:1 - James 1:1
My favorite part of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is actually found in Hebrews chapter twelve.
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is a list of heroes, people of great faith, men and women who understood the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
We read of Caleb and Joshua, who obtained a good report. Abel, Enoch, and Noah who understood that “he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) We read of Abraham who obeyed, not knowing wither he went, and Sarah, who received strength because she judged him faithful who had promised. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them.” (Hebrews 11:13)
I want to be known as someone like that, one who is not only persuaded of God’s promises, but one who embraces them.
The verses talk of Issac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. The walls of Jericho falling down, Rahab, who perished not. Great men the likes of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, David and Samuel, “who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, and women who received their dead raised to life again.” (Hebrews 11:33-35)
We read of heroes who were tortured. Others suffered trials of cruel mockings, bonds, scourgings, imprisonment. They were sawn asunder, stoned, tempted, slain, left destitute, tormented, and afflicted.
This is a chapter that describes noble and valiant people.
The stories and images contained within are filled with power.
And yet, it is the first three verses of chapter twelve that make me love chapter eleven most.
The first line reads, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…” What is this cloud of witnesses? It’s everyone we just read about in Chapter eleven. “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight…and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross… consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:103 emphasis added.)
If you are weary and faint in your minds, lay aside every weight.
Think about those who have gone before you ––remember their stories of faith.
When you set out to run the race before you, remember, you are compassed about by a great cloud of witnesses, both within the scriptures and within your circle of influence. There you will find strength enough to lay aside every weight, strength to continue your own journey with patience.
Take a moment to consider the witnesses in your life.
Who are they?
Why do you consider them a witness?
Listen to their testimonies and learn from them. Gather the strength you need from the witness they declare.
Perhaps there will be days when you wonder, when you question all you know.
Maybe this cloud of witnesses will not be enough.
On those days, consider Him.
The Author and the Finisher. The One who knows the end from the beginning and all of the moments in between. The One who endured opposition. The One who endured the cross, for the joy that was set before Him.
Were you the joy that was set before Him?
If you are His joy, will He ever turn His back on you?
Will He let you struggle through this on your own?
In the moments when doubt fills your heart, “Consider how great things he hath done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)
In the moments when you question all you know consider Him who said, “I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and they ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”
(Mosiah 24:14 emphasis added.)
If you are weary…