Hebrews 12:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Hebrews 12:1 

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” – Hebrews 12:1 

Because of the word ‘therefore’ that begins this paragraph, this is referring back to a previous chapter, namely chapter 11. To start, both the Greeks and Latins used the term ‘cloud’ to speak of a great number of persons or things. Therefore, what is referred to here is a great number of people who have witnessed something. This does not necessarily mean they are witnessing something that is happening now. Here, this probably refers to what they have seen back in their time. And what did thy witness? True unadulterated faith in the one who was coming: the Messiah. And this was faith in something they never saw. “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40. They may not have seen the coming Messiah, but they believed the promises of God delivered to them. One definition of witness is ‘knowledge’ from what you already experienced.

So, what did they witness? Here are a few of what is meant. With Moses we see, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin;  considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.” Hebrews 11:24-29.

Then with others, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mocking and scourging’s, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:30-38. And as stated above, they did not receive what was promised, for what was promised was still in the future. In faith, they persevered because they had witnessed the power of God, if not the culmination of their faith.

In a courtroom, a witness may not necessarily be one who saw a particular action, but has seen an equivalent action before, and knows the inevitable outcome. This is what is meant here by witnesses. These men lived by faith in God, not wavering, and ultimately witnessing the faithfulness of God. And this is what we are to do. Knowing that God is faithful in whatever He says, we can be sure we have an incredible future ahead of us, if we remain strong. Many Christians are looked down upon, and many times hated because the life we live is counter to the life they live. And in some countries, the penalty for their belief is torture and death. And there is no evidence to say this will not happen here as well. Therefore, as the writer of Hebrews wrote regarding what we are to do, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1b-2. And if we do all we can to accomplish this, we will join our Savior in heaven and spend eternity in our glorious new Home with Him.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Hebrews 10:36

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 10:36 

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” – Hebrews 10:36

These are troubling times, and one group that is being greatly challenged are Christians.  The enemy is wreaking havoc on this world.  Christian persecution is increasing around the world, and this includes here in the United States.  Just as an example, during this pandemic, the reopening of churches in various places have stricter rules than other public gatherings.  However, the Word warns us about this.  “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12.  And again, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14. 

Now, what I want to do here is encourage everyone reading this.  Yes, there will be persecution and tribulation.  But we also have great promises as well.  Paul asks the following rhetorical question.  “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35.  And then he gives the answer.  “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39.  God loves us with an everlasting love.  No matter what we go through, He is with us and will help us through.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  We can call out to Him no matter what is happening.  Therefore we can get through no matter what the enemy brings our way.

Now, back to our focus verse.  “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.“  Hebrews 10:36.  We must have patience when any form of trial comes our way.  It is important that we persevere through every trial understanding that we are not alone, for the all-powerful and all-knowing God is right there with us.  If we cannot do anything to rectify it, then we must be patient and remain calm as we lie in the hands of God and submit to His will, for we know He knows all things, nothing is a surprise to Him.  And remember, as Paul so clearly stated, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. 

And finally, when we are patient and endure through all things that comes our way, we shall then receive what has been promised us.  That being our eternal inheritance of life in heaven with God.  In heaven we shall experience perfect love.  We shall be completely at peace and will never be troubled again.  John described this life like this.  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4. 

This is ours if we stand strong and persevere through every hardship that comes our way.  These are His promises to us.  So, let us always do the will of God, never giving in to our fears but holding fast to what He has told, given, and promised us.  If we do, what an eternal future we have to look forward to.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.