Sunday, May 30, 2010

A cloud of witnesses who ran with endurance!

This passage of scripture was read today during our church service. I had not read it in a while and it touched my heart. I hope it touches yours.

It is from Hebrews 11:30- 12:2 NKJ.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. 32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted,[a] were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Today was celebrated as the Sunday of All Saints.


Who am I said...

I had often heard of Jesus motivation to go to the cross being obedience to the Father, but here it stands out that it wasn't just a grudging obedience but he was focused on the joy set before Him.

I have often heard this passage called "God's Hall of Faith." It is such an inspiration.

Ancient Mariner said...

(I think I may have hit the wrong button when I tried to post this initiallly. If I did, please discard this.)

It does touch my heart...with trepidation. In my Protestant tradition, everything is always bright and joyous, and there is no talk of suffering, except in the most abstract, cerebral way. Yet if you read 35-38, Paul talks about the scourging, the torture, the imprisonment, and the sawing in two. This is the more dramatic reality of the cross God asks us to bear, and I fear I will not be able to bear it unless I am given grace.

There are no promises of a prosperous, peaceful life, or of earthly comforts for us. The Christians of the early times probably expected Jesus to return soon, perhaps even in their lifetimes, so they willingly let themselves be burned alive and devoured by lions. I don’t think they imagined it would take more than 2000 years. Now, so far removed from that time, even though I believe in my innermost being, I wonder if I would have the strength to bear the burden, if called. I know that some later Christians (and by “later,” I mean in the 2nd and 3rd centuries) when given the choice between renouncing their beliefs or being boiled in oil, chose apostasy. Would I be one of those? I wonder...All I can do is pray constantly for grace.