by John Fischer
This is the way Hebrews 11 ends – that great chapter on faith that includes the faith-driven, God-pleasing exploits of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets, along with all the martyrs who were tortured, whipped, chained in dungeons, stoned, sawed in half, killed with the sword, or went about in sheep and goat skins, hungry, oppressed and mistreated, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. These are those who now make up that great “cloud of witnesses” in Chapter 12: 1. And they are not just politely cheering us on; they have a stake in our faith.
I’ve been wrong about these witnesses. I used to think they were there as spectators cheering from the grandstands of heaven – as if to say, “We did it, so can you,” which would be a great encouragement indeed were that the case, but it’s more than that. They are more than witnesses; they are teammates. They are the first runners in the relay race down on the field, all huddled around the finish line ready to receive us because they want to win, but they can’t win without us. They are the rest of the baseball team surrounding home plate waiting for us to touch home with the game-winning run. They are the first three swimmers on the relay team screaming at us from the side of the pool to give it all we’ve got.
So the next time you feel like slacking; the next time you contemplate that little sin that’s not going to hurt anyone but you; the next time you discover yourself thinking your life doesn’t really make that much difference; the next time you start thinking your most significant days of faith are behind you; the next time you think you’re just waiting for eternity to get here, well… think again, because the likes of Noah, Abraham and Paul, himself, are counting on you. You’ve got the baton now, and they can’t receive the prize they fought so hard for until you finish. So get off your butt, John, and let’s go!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
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