Watching from the Grandstands


Who are the “cloud of witnesses" described in Hebrews 12? Are these men and women watching us, taking notes of our progress, and cheering us on?

Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2, TLB).

Are friends and loved ones in heaven watching us right now and cheering us on? What “huge crowd” is this? What is this “great cloud of witnesses,” as it says in the King James Bible?

One big hint is the fact that Hebrews 12 comes right after Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11 is a record of the great men and women of faith who died serving God. We sometimes refer to it as the Hall of Faith. You read about Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Gideon, Samson, David, Rahab, Daniel, and the list goes on.

So who are the witnesses in Hebrews 12:1? One interpretation says they are simply people of faith who have gone before us, giving us a model to follow so that we might live and exercise our faith as they did. Reading about the lives of these men and women who have walked with God and trusted Christ and stood strong in the face of trials and persecutions can add steel to our souls.

Another way to look at it is that these men and women aren’t simply giving us a template to follow, but are actually observing us and taking note of our progress in the faith. They are the “cloud of witnesses” watching us and cheering us on, if you will.

Is that the case? Are there heavenly grandstands where people monitor the progress of loved ones living out their lives on earth? It wouldn’t surprise me at all, but I don’t know. But I do know this much: We are in the race of our lives on earth, and we don’t how long it will last. And I know for certain that Jesus is watching us, turn for turn, step for step.

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