Hebrews 12:1 says that we are not running our race unobserved. While we are running in this spiritual race, the Bible says we are surrounded by a "great cloud of witnesses."
Who is included in this great cloud of witnesses? Hebrews chapter 11 tells us. Here are the names of the people of faith listed there:
Abel – offered a better sacrifice by faith and was commended as righteous
Enoch – by faith he pleased God, so he never experienced death
Noah – by faith he obeyed God’s command and turned his back on a world of evil
Abraham – obeyed God and went where God told him to go, without knowing where ths would be. He made his home in the Promised Land even though he was a stranger there. From him came "descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky".
Isaac – Abraham’s promised child, who by faith blessed Jacob and Esau
Jacob – who by faith blessed Joseph’s sons and worshiped God
Joseph – who by faith spoke about the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions that his bones should one day be carried out of Egypt and buried in the Promised Land
Moses’ parents – who by faith hid Moses from the edict of Pharaoh and did not leave him to die
Moses – who, though adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, by faith refused to be known as her son, and "chose to be mistreated along with the people of God". By faith he kept the first Passover.
The People of Israel – who by faith passed through the Red Sea
Rahab- who by faith welcomed God’s spies, saving her family from the fall of Jericho
The rest of this scripture is just too good to leave out. Look at what those that have gone on before us went through. Hebrews 11: 32-40 says:
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
When you go to a track meet, you are in a stadium and the crowd is surrounding the runners and watching and cheering on the athletes. This is what is happening with us. The huge difference here is that this is the race of our lives. Our spiritual race.
The message of Hebrews 12:1 is, "All these heroes I've listed here and all the other believers who have ever died are watching us from the grandstands in Heaven as we run our spiritual race." They are up there cheering us on! Not only the people of Heb. 11, but people that we have known and loved and who loved God and glorified Him. They are cheering us on, too. Thinking about their lives, how they lived, what they lived for, and how they died, is an inspiration. Their example shows us how to have that kind of faith and how to live it. Oh, if we could only keep this thought in the forefront of our minds daily.
So who is on your personal great cloud of witnesses list?
It would be good if we each spent some time thinking about it. Maybe we should write their names down and put them up where we can see them daily.
Father, thank you for the men and women of faith that have gone on before us. Thank you that they are cheering us on and waiting on our arrival. Please help us to walk with You daily and to live lives that glorfy You. In Jesus' beautiful name. Amen.