Cloud of Witnesses VIIIApril 4, 2007
Hebrews 11:36-37 “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
To most of us living in the west, these words seem distant; almost surreal. Many of us attend the same church week in and week out. We sit in padded pews, listen to a stirring message, and then head off to our favorite restaurant for good fellowship. There’s nothing wrong with this as we really “need” to be in fellowship with like-minded saints as often as possible. However, for many saints in the world at this moment, the above verse describes what they face on a daily basis. Far removed from the supposed security of the “western democracies,” they live by faith and are often called upon to endure persecution of a magnitude that would find most of us woefully unprepared. Places such as Uzbekistan, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, China, North Korea, and a host of other places where it’s considered “illegal” to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. The following site is in the blogroll under “Voice of the Martyrs” but I’ll make a link here to bring attention to it.
For these folks, there’s no sitting on the fence and playing both sides. There are very few pretenders as intense persecution or trials will sift the tares from among the wheat. Such talk is disturbing to some, but it really shouldn’t be. Jesus told us to expect it, but promised to be wih us always. Whatever we face, he’ll be right there with us. He truly is the good shepherd who gave his life for the sheep and he is able to keep us when the gates of hell are rising against us.
Luke 21:16-17 “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all nations for my names sake.
Luke 21:18-19 “But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls.”
To be betrayed by parents is seemingly unthinkable; and yet were told that such will take place. The good news is that as we remain faithful to the Lord Jesus, his grace will be sufficient and we’ll have treasure laid up in heaven. Incorruptible treasure that doesn’t depreciate over time or surrender its content to moths and rust. It is absolutely imperative that our hearts be firmly established and set on things above. To continuously examine our hearts as to ensure that nothing sinister has set up shop without our being aware of it. These are warnings which I seem to bring up often, but the perils of the hour are of such that they cannot be stressed enough. I want to see each person who stops by here at the throne of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is my motivation; that we would make our calling and election sure.
Hebrews 11:38 “(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered around in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
Of whom the world was not worthy. Two things come to mind here. First, I think of Jesus coming into the world and shedding his blood for our sins. We are not worthy of such a precious gift as we were once in total contrast to the ways of God. Not a single one of us deserve eternal life, but because of Gods immeasurable love for us, he gave his only begotten Son Jesus to pay for our sins. That we could be with him forever. Second, I was thinking about the following verse:
John 17:9 “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.”
Jesus prayed for the saints, but not for the world. This prayer in John chapter 17 is awesome and offers a lot of insight.
Something else about Hebrews 11:38 that just hit me as I was typing. The saints of old wandered about in caves and deserts. This sounds depressing but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. When we’re out in such places we can fellowship with God and the world cannot reach us. Away from the crowds, the noise, the computer, the cell phone, the workplace, even away from the post office. Just “OUT THERE” with the Lord Jesus. I think of those so called “dream vacation” packages that various travel agencies will offer. Always somewhere with palm trees and white sandy beaches. My “dream vacation” is to be in the middle of absolutely “nowhere” with a bible and notepad.
Last weekend Kimberly and I went up to the U.P; a place that most folks don’t visit in the end of March. It was cold, windy, and isolated. Lake Superior still had ice along the shore, and I loved it. Just away from it all. This is not to suggest that I’m anti-social; it just means that time away is imperative. While this weekend was to spend much needed time with my better half, time alone with the Lord Jesus is beyond awesome; be it in the goat barn, out under the stars after work, wherever we can be away from the daily circus. Nobody to put on a show for, no programs to conform to, no format designed to make us all look and act the same. (I’m sorry; this is venturing into another post for another time.)
II Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of he Lord is, there is liberty.”
Hebrews 11:39-40 “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
They saw the promise afar off. One of the most incredible bible studies in all the history of bible studies takes place in Luke when Jesus is walking with some disciples but they knew not that it was the Lord.
Luke 24:27 “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”
This had to be incredible. And then when their eyes were opened and they knew him; right before he vanished out of their sight. WOW! The Lord was in this place and we knew it not.
Luke 24:32 “And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures.”
I need to close this up. This is the end of Hebrews chapter 11, however, the first few verses in chapter 12 are needful to this and will fall under a “Cloud of Witnesses IX” at some point; unless the globalists bring down the internet before then. I often find myself saying things like “we’ll do this or that tomorrow or the next day, when we really have no idea as to what a day may hold. And so the admonition given us in James 4:13-15 still applies. It’s now after 3:00am and so I’ll close out with the first verse of chapter 12.
Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Hebrews is such an awesome book.