So Great A 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,

Hebrews 12:2 – 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.

Hello readers, hope you are going well. Thanks for reading today, and I hope you get something out of it. Today we are talking about “so great a cloud of witnesses”. Articulating your thoughts can sometimes be quite hard. I hope this blog makes sense to you. I’ve always thought about blogging on this part of scripture, these are two great verses in the Bible. Of course they follow Hebrews 11, which is the great “by faith” chapter. It would be advisable to read Hebrews 11 because without reading that chapter, these verses don’t nearly make as much sense.

Hebrews 12:1 begins with “wherefore”. Wherefore means “by which reason”. So that is establishing that what is going to be said is flowing from and a consequence of what was discussed in the chapter before. What a chapter Hebrews 11 is! And as we begin Hebrews 12, God’s word is going to say things we need to get a hold which are because of, and in light of, and as a consequence and conclusion of what we’ve read.

Today we are talking about so great a cloud of witnesses. You know, we are compassed about with many witnesses. The Bible is a book of witnesses. Those people of Hebrews 11, they’re a cloud of witnesses. When the Bible says we are compassed, compassed about means to be surrounded by on all sides. What the Bible is saying is that we are without excuse. Everywhere you look there are examples, there are witnesses that God has of himself. Witnesses testify, they speak, they bear record. But of what? Well these witnesses are all bearing record and testifying of a number of things… but chiefly these witnesses are testifying to God and his word as the truth, and that it is worth trusting his word as they did.

The Bible is a book of witnesses. All the way through human history, all the way back to Abel, that’s thousands of years! You study the lives of godly men through history in God’s word… and they’re telling you many things. They are speaking today. They’re making you without excuse. It has been said there are no innocent bystanders in hell. When you go to hell, it won’t be because God didn’t reveal himself to you, it wasn’t because the gospel wasn’t preached to you, it wasn’t because God had left no witness of himself, of the truth, of the need to repent and believe… no, you won’t have any excuses.

People discard the Bible so quickly. They say there’s no proof for God. They say he’s imaginary. They say it’s made up, it’s fables, it’s fairytales, get with the times they say. Yet in terms of proof, the witness of God’s word, and all the people throughout history who heard and believed and obeyed and told others it… that’s a lot of witness. There’s a lot of people taking the witness stand in your life. Oh yeah, you’re dismissing all those witnesses… but God is building a case against you, a case where you will be found guilty and sentenced to eternal hellfire because you had no love of the truth, you had no ears to hear, no eyes to see, you refused the light, you refused the cloud of witnesses.

Those people of Hebrews 11, they’re the cloud of witnesses. The Bible is the cloud of witnesses. You’ve got 66 books testifying of Jesus Christ. 66 books which are true past, present and future, which apply to us individually and corporately and on a national scale. If you decide to open your Bible and read, you know how many people are in there? There are people, family, cities, nations, civilizations. That’s a lot of witnesses. They’re speaking today. The Bible is speaking today. The lives of those gone before, both good and bad, they’re testifying of the need to be saved, and the folly of those who reject God’s word.

Those wonderful men of Hebrews 11, their lives are speaking today. They’re witnessing, testifying of Jesus Christ. They’re testifying of the faithfulness and truth of God. They’re testifying to the living God. Why do we always think we know better? Why do we cast aside the men of the past, the lessons of the past, the Bible of ages past? This generation is so arrogant, by the time we hit teenage years we think we know everything. We, who have been on the planet but a few years, think we know everything, how stupid is that. Thousands of years of human history, look I’m thirty years old, that’s nothing in the scope of space and time. It’d do me well to heed the lessons of the past, to learn from the people from the past, people who lived thousands of years before, people who were there. Before I was conceived and born, Jesus had already died on the cross nearly two thousand years ago. How crazy is it for me to think I know better?

God speaks through the lives of believers to this world. We have so many people who have lived before us who witness to us today the faithfulness of God, the sureness of God’s word. All these people, all these men and women of faith, they’re going to justify or condemn you. You see, all this past record is written for us, because we have a decision to make in our own lives. He spoke out of the cloud in the Old Testament. He’s speaking out of the cloud today. What does the cloud say to you? A cloud obscures, things may be obscured from you, you may not yet see clearly, but there is a clear, still, small voice from the cloud pleading with men everywhere to repent. You’re not yet going to see, you’re going to have to hear. Who hath believed our report? Isaiah says. Hebrews 11 is a report of faith, they obtained a good report by faith. If you want a good report, if your life wants to have a good report when all is said and done, did you believe God’s word? Did you hear his voice and obey it? These guys in Hebrews 11 did. Will you?

In a court of law, to establish truth, they call in witnesses. With the testimony of the witnesses, they build a case. They establish what happened, when, where, why. Witnesses swear to tell the truth. And what witnesses have to say is examined for integrity and validity. If the witness is found to be a liar, their testimony is thrown out. The Bible is full of so many witnesses, who didn’t know each other, who lived at different times and in different places, yet so many who’s testimony agrees in Jesus Christ. Their testimony which cannot be broken in any way, shape or form. You know. when you call God a liar, in the end you will be shown to be the liar. There are so many witnesses, there are in fact, so great a cloud of witnesses. Learn from these men in Hebrews 11. God is speaking through their lives.

Maybe you don’t think you have enough proof to believe in God, to believe in his Son Jesus Christ. But the Bible is more than enough proof. It’s got so much proof in there. It’s true historically, it’s true past, present and future, and it alone can change the course of lives, nations and kingdoms. And that’s why the Bible says you are without excuse. Every story you read, every testimony of everyone you hear in the Bible, it gives you more and more witness on who God is, what God would have you do. Of course the more you know and hear, the greater responsibility you have and ultimate accountability to God for what you did with what you heard. Once you’ve heard and known, you are without excuse. John 15:22 – If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. With all these witnesses is that consequence that we are without excuse when it comes to what we do with the man called Jesus Christ.

All these people in Hebrews 11, they believed the word of God. And look what they did in life. Look what God did through their lives. And they all died in faith. They died just believing God’s word. And it’s written, recorded and preserved through time for you and I so  we can walk the same steps of faith… so we can have confidence, so we can have assurance, so we can know it’s worth it, it’s not a waste of time and effort, it’s written so we can know we are on the right path though narrow. Noah heard God’s word, he obeyed it, and he survived the flood. What do you learn? Trust God’s word, because it’s true, even when nobody else believes and obeys it.

You know, their walk of faith hasn’t ended there, because the Bible says right at the end of the chapter that they received not the promise. Why not? So that they without us should not be made perfect. What does that mean? Because more would walk the steps of faith after them… that’s us folks. And the story hasn’t ended for these men and women of faith… the story has just begun. You see, eternity belongs to the believer, the child of God. There is no future beyond this world for the Christ rejecting sinner. The kingdom is Christ’s, and he’s going to root out of his kingdom everyone who doesn’t belong. You know, they didn’t receive the promise because there were more people who would walk the same walk of faith. You can walk the same steps of simple faith, towards that same eternal hope that will be fulfilled when the last trump sounds.

We can feel so alone in the Christian walk. But Hebrews 11 is letting you know others have done it. Others have believed God’s word, others have kept the faith. So great a cloud of witnesses. God is speaking through their lives to you and I. You read the Bible and with the eyes of faith you see things that you don’t see yet. Just like Noah saw a flood coming which nobody else could conceive of, you and I see eternity, you and I see hell and heaven, you and I see the cross of Jesus Christ. You see the past and the present and the future. The Bible is quite a witness folks. It’s all we have, but it’s what pleases God. The just shall live by faith. God has made it so we have every day of our lives a decision to make. Will we walk by faith, will we trust and believe his word… or not? All these past lives all validate who God is and what God says, it’s adding more and more concrete to a foundation of truth which you are without excuse if you say no thanks, if you snuff your nose at it, if you set God’s witness at naught as so many do. You know, a lot of us live life like God is a liar. We may not say it, but our lives are calling him a liar. We don’t live like his word is truth and what he says matters at all. We’re like those soldiers putting the purple robe on, hey you’re king Jesus… but they were mocking him. Often our lives are just a mockery of Jesus Christ.

Wherefore… seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses… what should we do? Well the Bible says to lay aside every weight. Weights are heavy. They are a burden. We are going to have to lay aside some things in our lives if we are to follow God. What did these guys do in Hebrews 11? They made tough choices based on believing God. Abraham went out from his country and his kindred. Abel’s right sacrifice cost him his life. He had to lay aside caring what his brother thought, he had to lay aside peer pressure. What’s weighing you down in life? Is it your past? Your present? Is it who you are around or who you are involved with? Is it places you go or things you go? What’s stopping you from believing God’s word and living it? We all have weights on our life that we have to simply lay aside. No more of that weight thank you. Things weighing you down, they’re preventing you from moving anywhere, and so many Christians aren’t going anywhere because they’re so weighed down with cares of this life, they’re so weighed down with activities, events, friends, occupations, ambitions, goals, dreams, desires. And because of that they’re not walking in faith.

And with laying aside weights, we also have to lay aside the sin that doth so easily beset us. Sin easily can take over in our lives. We can be riding high one minute, and down in the valley the next. We can be going on in life fine, and a week later we are neck deep in sin. I’ve been thinking about laying aside sin. You know, if you are saved, you can lay your sin aside. God will give you power to. You aren’t laying it aside, you aren’t laying those weights aside… you know why? Because you don’t want to. It’s that simple. Sin will take over our lives. None of us are exempt from besetting sins. We all battle with sin, sin is nothing to muck around with. Lay it aside. Just like when a soldier lays down his weapon in surrender, take that sin and lay it aside. God I’m laying this lust and pride down. I’m laying my bitterness and envy and wrath aside. You aren’t going to be moving anywhere with God when sin is all over your mind, heart, soul and life.

There’s a race that’s being run. God has a race for us, there is a destination for us. But it’s a long haul. It’s going to require patience. Because as we go along, years may go by, God’s word may seem not to be true, it may not seem to pay to serve God… it’s going to require patience. It’s going to require truly trusting God. It’s one thing to say you’re trusting God, another thing to do it. This race we are in is going to require patience. There is a prize at the end of the race, that prize is Jesus Christ. This isn’t saying it’s our effort, but the fact is God has put us here in a human body and there’s a life to be lived. There’s a finish line, the end of our life here, but on the way we are going to get tired, wore out, beat down, we’re going to get thirsty, we are going to want to faint and stop running.

This race we are in, the race of faith is going to require patience. These guys in Hebrews 11, they had patience. Look at the years Abraham waited for his son. You can’t say his patience wasn’t tested. Year after year went by… no son. God are you serious or not? God is all this a joke or not? Patience is going to test us. Patience has a perfect work in our lives. You’re not going to see the promise in your life in an instant, these guys didn’t, what makes you think your faith won’t be tested and purified? Having to wait tests our faith, our belief, our confidence, our hope.

So what are we looking towards in this race? Jesus Christ. Because he is who started our faith journey, and he is who will finish it. So often we talk about our own faith… but our own faith is nothing compared to the faith of Christ. He is faithful. And because he started a good work in you, he will perform it. He is the only reason we make the finish line. He is our finish line. We often aren’t looking unto Jesus, that’s why things are so messed up, because we’ve take our eyes off him. We’ve stopped running the race that God has set before us. We are off doing our own thing. Looking unto Jesus. That’s what his life is. Even if these guys didn’t know what we do, they had the word of God, and their life was looking unto Jesus. The Bible says in Hebrews 11 that Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. You know, Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. God’s got many great promises for us, can we see the end of our faith? Can we see the end of the race? It will be worth it to trust and obey God. Moses appeared to be losing out refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter… he appeared to be losing out leaving his lavish palace lifestyle, think of all the women and fame and riches he could have had for the rest of his life. Think of the comfort and ease… but he forsook Egypt the Bible says. Because he saw the end of a life of sin, and weighed it up against the eternal reward of Christ.

I’ve been thinking of how foolish it is to just throw the Bible out, to ignore all the cloud of witnesses. Abel. Enoch. Abraham. Moses… the list goes on. I often think of Belshazzar, he was the son of Nebuchadnezzar. God did great things in Nebuchadnezzar’s life, he humbled his pride. And yet the son was lifted up with pride. He didn’t listen to his daddy. He didn’t rate his dad’s God. Oh of course you know better, you’re going to do it all better than your parents did. What a fool to completely disregard all that God had done in his dad’s life. The Bible is full of warning. The witnesses are warning us don’t go to hell. Don’t be like those who perished in Noah’s flood. Don’t be like those of Sodom and Gomorrah. That old world got flooded out, and Sodom got pulverized with brimstone and fire. Why is God telling us that? Don’t repeat the mistake! Learn from the past. God’s word is true, he is full of judgement and wrath and authority and power. It’s written so we can learn and change our ways based on being warned. So we can believe in the authority of the God who is speaking to us from heaven today. All those people in the wilderness who God destroyed because of unbelief… why follow their tried, tested, and proven error? The Bible speaks about being lead away with the error of the wicked. Why commit the same error of generations past? Why do we live as though there are no witnesses? Why are we so willingly ignorant?

Hebrews 11 isn’t just written to sound good. It’s written for our real lives. It’s God telling us, look at all these guys, it was by faith. God’s telling us he can be trusted. He’s telling us his word counts. He’s telling us his word can be counted on. He’s telling us we are without excuse. We’ve got all this information and knowledge at our disposal. We can’t blame God not for giving us witness of himself, of who he is, of what he’s doing, of what he requires of us. We need to have that same faith to God’s word that these guys in Hebrews 11 did. Each life is a testimony, it testifies that God is who he says he is, that God can be trusted, that the life of a believer is a life of faith and obedience to God’s word. The true believers are those who hear God’s word and obey it as they all did in Hebrews 11. The criteria wasn’t perfection on their part, the criteria was what they did with the light that we given them. God has given us every chance, God has given us so many lives for us to learn about him, to obey what he says for us to do.

What are the witnesses telling us today? They’re telling us God is the Creator. They’re telling us God is real. They’re telling us God has spoken. They’re telling us God sees.  They’re telling us God has power. They’re telling us God knows what he’s doing. They’re telling us God fulfills his promises for us. They’re telling us God’s got something better for us, the promise of a glorious future. They’re telling us that the criteria for us to be saved is to simply believe his word. Remember how Abel’s blood spoke… well it still speaks. But there’s even better blood than Abel’s, the blood of Christ, who’s blood speaks and bears witness in the earth today. His blood speaks and declares the righteousness of God. It declares his power and authority to forgive you your sins, his blood which says the price of our sin has been paid in full. That same blood which can wash your sins away. Or are you treading that blood underfoot? It’s nothing to you. You know better, you’re going to ignore the cloud. The cloud is speaking… but you can’t be told, you won’t be told. God’s speaking out the cloud to you today.

One of today’s greatest lies is telling ourselves how great and advanced we are. That’s the lie assisted by evolution. The lie that we are advancing to higher and higher levels of enlightenment, to a more advanced being… ye shall be as gods right. Well, we’re not as smart as we think we are. It is folly not to heed the lessons of the past, and there are many examples of good and bad guys and their end for us to learn from. A wise person will see and read and consider. Remember Solomon, he looked out his window and he received instruction from what he say. Are you going to receive instruction for your life from the lives and God’s record of their lives in the Bible? Can you be instructed… or you already know it all? People talk about death like they know what’s on the other side… and they speak with such authority… but they don’t know. Jesus told a story about a rich man in hell, and Jesus rose from the dead … he’s the guy that knows what’s on the other side. Why not listen to what he says about life after death? God was there at the beginning of this whole thing, nobody alive today was, why not listen to the guy that was there? We’re such know it alls. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, and we go along willfully ignorant and in unbelief. We still and still and still don’t believe. All these guys who believed and trusted God… nah you know better than them right.

We’re compassed around with so great a cloud of witnesses. That’s the Bible, and the lives of those in the Bible. God’s record of lives. He’s going to speak to you out the cloud. You’re not going to hear his voice anywhere else. We are without excuse. On every side, we have creation, conscience, God’s word, the Holy Spirit… it’s not a problem with the witnesses, the problem is us. It’s that hard heart, it’s that blindness, it’s that dark loving nature we have. The very first witness Abel, he was killed by his brother Cain. All because he refused to get right with God, and he hated what Abel had to say, he hated the gracious words of Abel telling him… why can’t you just take a sheep and go and offer that? Is it that hard? Is it that hard to obey God’s word? Are you going to receive instruction. Would reading Hebrews 11, the lives of all these guys, and what justified them was faith in God’s word… would it instruct you. Would you heed the warning, reproving, convicting? Would you heed the instruction on the necessity to believe the gospel and prepare your life like Noah did by building the ark.

Wrath is coming, flee from the wrath to come the Bible says. You build an ark by trusting in Jesus Christ, building a life based on him and his word. That’s the only thing that will keep you afloat, he is who will keep you afloat. Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith. He started it, he will finish it. Look to the example of Jesus Christ. One day the Bible says a cloud came, and God spoke out the cloud saying this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. The cloud points us to Jesus Christ. He is who it is all about. I hope today you receive instruction from God’s word, that you hear the witnesses and ignore God’s voice no longer. Repent and believe, that’s what required of us, salvation is by grace through faith. God had a lot of grace on these guys, and the extends that grace to you as well. God’s not changing, you’re the guy or girl who’s going to have to change. He’ll change you. Just believe on him. It just takes a believing heart. Reader, there’s so great a cloud of witnesses.


Joseph View All →

Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 32 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – :)

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