Witnesses or Judges?
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…” Hebrews 12:1-2
Following that great hymn to the faithful sometimes called the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11, we come to this passage of Scripture, which describes them as a great cloud of witnesses.
Does this mean our lives are laid open before them as spectators in the grandstands watching everything that we do and either cheering or jeering depending on our behavior?
I am comforted by this thought in answer to that question. Only God knows our hearts, men and angels can only look on the outward appearance of things. So, whether they are cheering or jeering it matters little to how we should see ourselves.
What I believe the Scriptures are telling us here is that ordinary people with all the same human frailty and failures as every other flawed human being made it through this life by faith in one truth alone, that God is faithful to keep His promises and all those who died having never seen Jesus the Messiah, but trusted God’s Word that the Savior would come hung all their hope on that promise and they were not disappointed.
Now their names and their lives bear witness to the truth that faithfulness to the end will be rewarded. That is their witness. Not that they are judging us for our day to day moment by moment acts of good or evil, but that the record of their lives bears witness to God’s goodness to encourage us and that record should “cheer us on” so to speak to live our lives with unwavering faith in God, in the Love and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the forgiveness and transformation that His presence in and with us provides to keep us and to bring us ultimately into His presence forever, restored, renewed, reborn as incorruptible seed by the will of God never to die again.
More to come on Hebrews 12