Heb. 12:1 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,
This is a very powerful picture painted for us in the book of Hebrews. The word cloud used in this passage, defined by Vincent “means a great mass of cloud covering the entire visible space of the heavens, and therefore without definite form, or a single large mass in which definite outlines are not emphasized or distinguished”. This is no ordinary cloud. This is the cloud of witnesses just described in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. This is Abel’s sacrifice of faith, Enoch’s walk of faith into heaven, Noah’s work of faith, and Abraham’s life of faith. The author sees us struggling with the daily obstacles that hold us back, being cheered on by the lives of those that have gone before us. We are being challenged to shake off our daily hinderances and finish the race that we began by faith. Here are some thoughts from Albert Barnes on today’s verse.
“The apostle represents those to whom he had referred in the previous chapter as looking on to witness the efforts which Christians make, and the manner in which they live. There is allusion here, doubtless, to the ancient games. A great multitude of spectators usually occupied the circular seats in the amphitheater, from which they could easily behold the combatants. In like manner the apostle represents Christians as encompassed with the multitude of worthies to whom he had referred in the previous chapter. It cannot be fairly inferred from this that he means to say that all those ancient worthies were actually looking at the conduct of Christians, and saw their conflicts. It is a figurative representation, such as is common, and means that we ought to act as if they were in sight, and cheered us on.”
I love to imagine the scene in heaven as the eternal race draws to a close. The witnesses know what is at stake and they also know the challenges we face. Like Jesus stood to cheer for Steven, He stands again with all His other witnesses as we approach the finish line. Their shouting from another world penetrates the atmosphere of this realm as this age draws to a close. What are they shouting? Finish the race, run with all your strength, the reward is greater than you can ever know. Shake off your fears, your doubts, your insecurities and your sins and run with strength into His arms of love.