Hebrews 12: 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…ESV
We spent several days last week studying this verse of scripture and therefore we will not at this time go into any great detail again. However, I thought it would be a blessing to take a moment and follow up yesterday’s study with this important verse.
Hebrews 11:36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– 38 of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth… 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…ESV
This great cloud of witnesses includes not only those who built great boats or brought down giants, but also those who faithfully endured their mockings and floggings. These testimonies were made a part of ‘God’s Heroes of Faith’ in order to encourage suffering Christians who were beginning to become fainthearted. The thought is – if other men and women could stay faithful during times of difficulty, so can we.
Not only do we have the example of these great saints, we also have the example of our great Savior.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. ESV
In other words, before you bow out on Him, considered what He endured for you. No one has suffered more for the sake of righteousness than the Lord Jesus Christ. He endured not only the physical suffering of the cross, but the spiritual suffering as well. While on the cross, Jesus bore the weight of His Father’s wrath against our sin. So terrible was this suffering that He cried out – “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?”
Though I am not a prophet, I feel very strongly that the day is coming when the church will face terrible persecution again. Already many Christians around the world are suffering for their faith. Recently I read that over 100,000 Christians are martyred each year. It is because of this that the Lord has placed a heavy burden upon my heart concerning the importance of preparing our children for what lies ahead. I believe that one of our top priorities should be to make sure that our children truly know Jesus Christ as their Savior and that they are well-grounded in the faith. It could well be that one day they will desperately need examples such as those found in the book of Hebrews to help them stay strong.