In the previous post we began to look at the cloud of witnesses that Paul describes in Hebrews 11 and 12. Let’s take a closer look to see who they are, who they are not and what role they play in the times we are in and the times to come.
The first thing necessary to understand is this … it is God alone that we are to seek. While He often chooses to minister to us in many different ways through people or angels, our focus is to be on Him and not them. Just as we do not pray to angels or worship them, the same applies to the cloud of witnesses. 1 Tim. 2:5 tells us that there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Christ Jesus. He is the only one worthy of our worship and He is the only one to whom we pray. But this does not mean that there is no interaction with them. There are times when we are permitted to see angels, to receive the messages or the help they come to bring us. The same is true of those in the cloud of witnesses. They can be used as messengers as well. These are not people you are apt to see on a regular basis even though Paul tells that we are ‘compassed about’ or ‘encircled’ by them. But there are times when the Lord chooses to just let us have a glimpse of them as I did in the experience I related in the last post. This was crucial to my understanding at the time and very precious to me. It gave me courage to know I had made the right decision.
Who is this cloud of witnesses? Paul describes them in the previous chapter. In fact, if you read Hebrews chapter 11 and keep going into the first few verses of chapter 12 it will be self explanatory. They are those who overcame and died before us. They are from every generation from Adam up to the present. Paul only listed and referred to those up until his own generation but the books were not closed and have been added to in every generation since. They are not angels or other forms of Heavenly beings. They are men and women, flesh and blood who were born and lived on the earth, became over-comers, died in the faith and have now gone to Heaven.
They have been given the right to watch us and see how we are running this race. (Heb. 12:1) It’s like a relay race and it’s now our turn to run. They are cheering us on toward the end but much more than that. They are also messengers whom God will use on occasion. The whole book, The Final Quest by Rick Joyner, is basically about experiences that Rick had with these people in Heaven. They told him about their own failures and cautioned him to avoid the same traps. Many of them explained that they should have had a higher rank in Heaven and why they failed to achieve it. Their messages to him were crucial to help keep him on the right path. And his writings of those experiences have been instrumental in helping us stay on the path as well.
There is a call going out now to “rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way and of the sin which holds onto us so tightly, and to run with determination the race that lies before us” so that we will not be ashamed at the end. (Heb. 12:1 Good News Bible)
This subject will be continued in the next posting.