Daily Readings and Thought for December 5th. “SO GREAT A CLOUD OF WITNESSES”
We read yesterday in Hebrews ch. 11 of the men and women of faith who “pleased God” [v.5] The list started with Abel and included worthies such as Abraham, Moses, Samuel and David who “though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised” [v.39]
This leads into today’s chapter 12 which starts – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of (these) witnesses …”- who effectively served God and not themselves, “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 …”
The “witnesses” listed in ch.11 are examples to us in overcoming the various challenges of life that confront us today. But we have an additional benefit, for we have the greatest “witness” of all! The next verse says we should and must be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith”
And what ‘inspired’ Jesus to accomplish such a ‘perfect’ faith? It was because of “the joy that was set before him (that he) endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Think of what is “set before” us! We do not have to endure a literal “cross”! Recall what we read last week in Paul’s letter to Titus – that we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of … Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” [2 v.13,14].
Let us really feel that purifying at work in us as we read and absorb God’s word each day and put it into practice.God’s wordopens up to our thoughts “so great a cloud of witnesses” in both the Old and New Testaments; examples for us to follow, “who are zealous for good works” striving to complete “the race that is set before us” – even more so as the finishing line looks to be so very close! Finally we note how today’s chapter in Hebrews ends! “… let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”