Hebrews 12:1-4 says, “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, 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” These verses of Scripture have so much to say to us right now in our present situation as a church and nation. Let's get into God's Word and receive from Him.
The Book of Hebrews was written as a warning to Jews who had believed on Jesus Christ, but because of persecution, were not growing in the faith - and were even turning back to Judaism. Paul encourages them through the letter to hold fast their confession of faith, because God is faithful. He describes how Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament types and shadows. He reminds them in chapter 11 of the many people who, by faith, saw God's faithfulness. That brings us to chapter 12.
“Seeing then, that we are encircled with such a vast cloud of witnesses (martyrs)”. We must always remember that there are thousands of faithful believers who have gone on before us. Their testimony cheers us on. It tells us, “With God, all things are possible!”. These were not perfect people. They were just like you and I. They were flawed. They did stupid things. They did sinful things. But they believed God! Faith pleases God! God honors faith! He is not looking for perfect – only faithful. If you were perfect, God wouldn't use you anyway, because you would probably think your own power delivered you! Over and over in the chapter it says, “By faith! By faith! By faith! By faith! By faith!...”. It does not say, “By being perfect, Noah built the ark. By being smart, Abraham received a child in old age. By physical strength, Moses delivered God's people”. No, no, no! By faith they did these things!
Through their faith, they cheer us on to believe God for all things! They tell us, “Keep going! Don't give up! Don't quit! Don't get discouraged! God will come through! God will keep His promise! Scholars believe it was between 70 and 120 years that Noah was building that ark before he saw any rain! He didn't quit! Abraham was 25 years waiting for the promised child! He didn't quit! Joseph waited 13 years, many of them in prison, before he received the promise! He didn't quit! Moses was 40 years on the backside of the desert before he delivered his people! He didn't quit! By faith, by faith, by faith, they did not quit, and they received God's promise! Hang in there!
I believe many people are weary in well doing. I believe I'm talking to people right now that are discouraged. You might feel like quitting right now. You have stood and stood and stood. You have confessed and confessed. You have prayed and prayed. You have spoke and spoke. You have fasted. You have meditated on the Word. You have done all you know to do – and still, no breakthrough. I know how you feel. But imagine Noah in his 119th year of building. In Abraham's 24th year of standing. In Daniel's 20th day of fasting and praying. In Moses 39th year in the desert. In Joseph's 11th year in prison. I believe they may have had some discouraging days; but they did not quit. They “hoped against hope”. They walked by faith, not by sight. They were on the brink of a mighty work of God in their life, and they held on until they saw it.
Brothers and Sisters, don't grow weary. In due season, you will reap a harvest. In Eph. 6, Paul tells us, “Having done all to stand – stand”. Don't give up on Jesus. Don't give up on your walk with Christ. Don't quit praying. Don't quit reading the Word. Don't quit your fellowship with other believers. Don't start speaking against God's promises. Guard your heart. Guard your mouth. Call on God when the hour is dark. Don't run away from God – run to Him. I don't know why things must take so long. I don't know why things must often be such a struggle. I do know, that if you let them, they will build character, maturity, and patience in you. If you don't, these things will just simply destroy you. Will you become bitter, or will you become better? If you'll stay with Jesus, you can become better. If you leave Him, you'll just become bitter.
I encourage you to simply live for God. Pray, study His Word, confess His Word, obey His Word, and stand on His Word. Do what you know to do, and leave the rest up to God. While you're doing that, don't forget the many that have gone before you, doing the same thing. They are cheering you on. As for the meaning of the title of this article, you'll have to come back next week. Until then, rejoice in The Lord!