Morning Thoughts (Hebrews12:1)

Morning ThoughtsHebrews 12:1, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"
This morning, one of the greatest fears that many have is being alone.  While a very select few people enjoy being by themselves, it is a general truism that people enjoy sociality.  The idea of dying alone or living alone is quite bleak to most.  In a spiritual sense, one of the most effective darts of our adversary is convincing us that we are alone.  How often has Satan influenced someone to sing his siren song, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen"?  If he can convince a misguided child of God that they are alone, he can then advance the ideas of discouragement, sorrow, and depression that bring discouragement to the little lamb and heighten his sadistic pleasure.  Friends, the Bible is quite clear that we are never alone.  God repeatedly promises "never to leave or forsake us.”  Paul will utter those very sentiments after our study verse in the 13th chapter.  If God's companionship was all that we had, that would be sufficient, but Paul's point makes the thought of our fellowship ultimately even more sublime.  God has not just given us His presence, but He has given us so much more as well.
Even though our study verse begins the heading of a new division in Scripture, the language and thoughts of the verse are directly correlated to all that the previous chapter contains.  Therefore, we might look at this verse as not the opening of a new thought but a firm conclusion on all the previous points that Paul makes about faith in chapter 11.  Consider how many characters Paul brings under the glass to examine.  He mentions Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Rahab, and many others – whole groups that are not specifically named but referenced in glowing terminology.  All of these characters truly lived and died, and their witness of faith is clearly seen from Paul's discussion.  Still, it is needful to point out that these people were not supermen and superwomen.  They had like passions as you and I do, much like Elijah did, though he was still blessed to do some marvellous things. (James5:17-18) Therefore, we should not look at this heady list from chapter 11 and think, "Well, they're just better than I am and were able to do more than I can."  Friends, God has dealt the measure of faith to each of His children in regeneration (Romans 12:3), and we are all capable of producing honoring and glorifying fruit by faith unto Him.
When Paul finishes talking about all these different characters of faith, he brings in a grand conclusion in our study verse.  It is not only the conclusion of the thoughts but also the answer to the inevitable question.  After talking about all these people from bygone years, what would someone inevitably ask when shown all these wonderful examples?  A very real question would be, "What good does this do me today?"  The question pertains to two things relating to the people in Hebrews 11: 1. Their faith – while quite noble – was about different circumstances than I have today and 2.  Their lives – while Godly – are now over so that I cannot interact with them while I live.  None of us have ever been called upon to build an ark to the saving of our house like Noah did, so how well can we relate to his experience?  Moses was raised the son of an earthly king's daughter but refused that honour to lead his native people out of captivity, but how many of us can similarly so say?  And ultimately, we cannot talk to Noah, Moses, or any of the others as they have all passed from this life.
So, what good do all these examples do for us today in our personal walk of faith and life of service?  Paul states quite simply that "we are also compassed about."  Notice that Paul brought in different characters from different periods even though those periods had people living by faith concurrently.  For example, during the time of Moses, there were other Godly people trying to seek Him (like Joshua).  During the life of David, we read of many Godly people like Samuel and Nathan that were seeking to serve God by faith during that time.  However, Paul shows that lives of faith have perpetually been upon this earth throughout all generations.  And though these wonderful people are not with us today in the flesh, the same thing happens today.  Do not miss the tense of what Paul says: "we are also compassed about."  That is present tense, and the word "also" pertains to something in addition to what has already been discussed.
Paul's concluding point and answer to the question is that today we have something in addition to all these wonderful characters.  100-200 years ago, the people in this great nation had wonderful examples of faith as seen through church history.  Very edifying ministers like Hassell, Cayce, Oliphant, Newman, Daly, Craig, Redford, and countless others wrote extensively and preached to God's people.  They were blessed characters of faith for generations past.  What about today?  Do we have witnesses of faith?  Based on Paul's conclusion we undeniably do!  Though God is always with us, He never leaves this world without a great cloud of witnesses for each of us personally to walk with, lean on, counsel with, etc.  Every generation has had witnesses, and any future generations will have them too.  The promise is given in present tense, and no matter the present, the promise stands solidly.
All of us are prone to falling prey to Satan by developing the "Elijah complex."  In I Kings 19, he complained to the Lord about 5 things.  4 of the 5 things were true.  Naturally speaking, he had a good percentage, but God rebuked him for getting one thing wrong.  Elijah complained that he was the "only one left."  Was he?  No.  God reminded him of something – out there in this nation are 7,000 that have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.  How often do we feel that we are alone with no one to counsel with and have to be reminded by the Lord of the countless multitudes that have strived to live faithfully?  Perhaps they are outside the purview of our sight, but they are still there.  Paul says they compass us about.  That means they are all around, and the fact that we have not seen them is likely a failing on our part.
The immediate command from this promise is for us to "lay aside every weight."  Have you ever noticed that it is always easier to do the right thing when surrounded by good people?  Quite frankly, my decorum is much higher at church than by myself.  It is not that I am trying to put on a fake church look, but the right path seems easier to find and follow when you have good communications. (I Corinthians 15:33) What if we were journeying down the road of life with no fellow pilgrims and strangers?  The weights of sin would seem heavier and the path longer.  However, God has not just blessed us with a measure of His Spirit to give us comfort.  He has blessed us with company too!  People do know the trouble we have seen, and people have been to the places we have been.  There are other precious people in this world that intimately understand our plight.  With this company, the command to lay aside the weights of sin becomes even brighter.  With all of us walking arm in arm, we can mutually set our eyes on the One who authors and finishes our faith.  (I Corinthians 11:1, Hebrews 12:2)
The next time that any of us feel alone, let us remember that God has not left us today without a cloud of fellow pilgrims and strangers.  The fact that Paul refers to this band of people as a cloud gives a couple of connotations.  1.  This is a grand collection rather than just a couple (God revealed the existence of 7,000 to Elijah rather than 7) and 2.  Clouds provide much comfort through shade.  When the sun of trials beats down on us, we have been given shade not only by God Himself but through His people to relieve some of the burdens from our hearts.  This shade allows us to rest for seasons in His love and mercy and reflect on His goodness.  Friends, I have experienced the shade and company of God's faithful in this world, and my hope is that my life will likewise help to shade and comfort other pilgrims in this world.  May we seek to be this help and rest to our kin as part of a great cloud witnessing by faith the glory of God.
In Hope,
Bro Philip

One thought on “Morning Thoughts (Hebrews12:1)

  1. Much heartfelt thanks to you and your family Bro. Philip, as well as many others at Cool Springs, for being just such a cloud of witnesses for me and my family. We have found great solace and rest in your company. We thank the Lord for you and for His wonderful providence.

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