Hebrews 11 is the great chapter on faith and in it we meet many of those old testament saints who lived by faith and, through faith, obeyed God in their generation while they looked for the reward.
Hebrews 12 starts: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…”
These people are not a history lesson. They are witnesses. They are examples of living by faith – they speak to us. Their lives encourage us to press on.
This is why we need to be people of the Word. We need to meet these witnesses and let God speak to us through them.
We need to…
Look at their failures. This is important. These heroes were not perfect. Failure and even serious sin does not disqualify us from God’s kingdom or God’s purposes, as long as we repent and turn to Him.
Look at the battles they faced. Life was not easy. Let’s not be taken in by false promises that everything will always go well. In this world we will have trouble, but we do not need to fear because Jesus has overcome the world.
Look at their faith. Challenge yourself by how they trusted God. Look at their prayers. Look at how they persevered while they waited for God to fulfil His promises. Even those who failed, see how God still used their faith (for example, Samson – he messed up most of his life but called upon the Lord at the end and God brought a great victory through his death).
Look at what they did. Learn from their example. Let the word of God challenge you to live for His glory and to avoid sin.
So, these witnesses cheer us on – their lives speak to us to run the race of faith and to keep our eyes on the prize.