THE GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES
Jesse M. Hendley
If you have your Bible now, I want you to turn with me
to Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 1, and today we are
taking up a wonderful study of the Word of God, and I
pray it will be a rich blessing to our hearts. There
are many Scriptures here in chapter 11 and 12 of the
Book of Hebrews that will be one of the greatest
blessings we can receive, and I hope you will have
your notebook and pencil ready for this study from the
Word of God.
Our subject this morning is "The Great Cloud of
Witnesses." Hebrews 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."
You recognize immediately that the word "wherefore"
throws us back to the chapter preceding and what the
writer is summing up at this time. In this verse he
sums up the main teaching of what he is trying to get
at in the entire chapter 11, which is one of the
greatest chapters in the Bible, one of the greatest
encouragements to the people of God and warnings to
the unsaved. We read then in this verse 1 that we
Christians, believers on the Lord Jesus are "compassed
about with so great a cloud of witnesses."
Notice that expression, "a cloud of witnesses." A
large number of witnesses. There have been two ideas
about this passage. First of all, a very attractive
idea has been that these witnesses, with which
believers are compassed about, are spectators in
heaven, saints in heaven who behold us down here on
earth. There are those who say that this passage
alludes to the famous Roman games and Greek games, a
big amphitheater, and down on the track below are the
participants running the race. Up above them, and
surrounding them in the great amphitheater or stadium,
are rows upon rows of spectators watching them as they
run the race. The idea that they have taken is that
the saints who are in heaven, who have lived for God
and died and have gone on to heaven, are leaning over
the ramparts, beholding US as we down here go through
the race of life, as we run life's race. That life IS
a race is very definite, because he says, "Let us run
with patience THE RACE set before us." This would be a
very attractive idea, if you thought of it just for a
minute. Of course, there are problems involved, such
as the problem of whether they would suffer when they
see us doing something wrong or see us in trouble or
in suffering. But that is a very attractive idea to
some people, because some people WANT to be comforted
by the idea that their loved ones, mothers and dads
and children and husbands and wives, BEHOLD them as
they are running the race down here.
Now that idea, that interpretation of this passage, is
not tenable. It isn't true. And there are three
reasons that make it very ...
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