Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance 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, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Life can be tedious to the point the soul becomes discouraged, despondent, and feeling left alone in a world given over to immorality. It is clear the world has been a place of spiritual conflict since Adam and Eve lost paradise. The world of today is no different than any other time. It is easy to say how bad the world is becoming, but the truth is the world has always been bad. Sin destroyed the peace and happiness of man with God and continues to ravage the spirits of men. Life is hard, and that should not surprise someone desiring to live godly in this world. Swimming upstream against the tide of unrighteousness has never been easy. God never promised life would be a bed of roses. In fact, quite the opposite if a man lives a holy life. The mistaken idea that God wants a man to be happy fuels many people’s discouragement when life turns against them. The Lord is not so much interested in the happiness of His people but their holiness. It is only in the holy character of righteousness that true happiness is found.
Holding the banner of Christ in a dark world is a daunting task. The writer of Hebrews is trying to encourage the souls of God’s people to not give up on the covenant of grace. There is no comparison between the Law of Moses and the covenant of Christ. Everything is better because Jesus is the Son of God. Numerous examples are given of those who faithfully served the Lord during times of hardship and persecution. Abel became the first to experience the horror of sin when his brother murdered him. The world Enoch lived in was about to be destroyed, yet he was found to be pleasing to God. Noah watched the wrath of God annihilate the entire population of the world. Abraham was told at the age of 75 to go somewhere he had no idea where to go and to believe in an impossible promise. Moses became the leader of the people of God when he esteemed the reproach of righteousness higher than the reward of Egyptian power and wealth. The Hebrew writer continues the story of faith with the conquest of Jericho and the faithful like Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. All of these obtained something better than what they experienced in life because they believed God would provide something better for them in glory. Life was hard for them. It was not easy. Faith had to take on wings of courage.
All of the saints of glory died believing in the promises of God. Their stories would become the backdrop for all those who would follow Jesus and claim His name. A great cloud of witnesses is permanently embedded in the ceiling of the throne room of faith to encourage God’s people to remain steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. The witnesses were not visually watching the lives of the saints, but the stories of their victories are models for all who seek to walk in a dark world like Enoch and Noah or face the uncertain future like Abraham. God has never failed on any promise He has made. The chapter of faith is a testimony to the unwavering hope that all that God has said will come to pass. In a dark world, He is a light. When the tide of immorality swells around the souls of the saints, the commander of the Lord’s army is there to protect and defend. Faith is the victory over doubt and the blessed assurance of hope.
The faithful witnesses grow each day as the number of godly men and women find their moment of glory. Their lives are testimony that overcoming is possible. When the heart is despondent about the pandemic, the economy, the future of the world, health concerns, and the general tediousness of life, look to the witnesses that lived before and know there is something greater coming. If there were no witnesses, there would always be the One. Look to Jesus, the author, and finisher of faith, who sits at the right hand of God. He overcame because of the promises of His Father. God never left His Son, and He will never leave you.