Summary: This message seeks to encourage God’s people to faithfully endure the hardships of the Christian life, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
Text: Heb.12: 1c “…let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Intro: Today we celebrate Veterans Day. This holiday was formerly known as Armistice Day, which commemorated the signing of the Armistice (truce, or peace agreement) that ended World War I. However, due to the presidential proclamation of Dwight D. Eisenhower, on June 1, 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day. In short, it is a day set aside to thank veterans for their military service to our country, and their contribution to our national security. It is a time for our nation to show appreciation for the sacrifices made by its veterans, both living and deceased. It is interesting that: “Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans_Day).
Defending a nation usually isn’t simply a matter of giving military personnel a few basic instructions on how to operate a weapon, and assigning them to a post. Young men and women must go through a conditioning process. They must be prepared mentally, emotionally and physically for the demanding, and often, dangerous and deadly task of defending our country’s freedom. For that reason, recruits are not pampered or coddled. They are made to endure rigorous physical and mental challenges meant to prepare them for the hardships of battlefield conditions. The point is that they must be prepared for the worst. They must be prepared to endure difficulty.
In principle, the same is true of Christian soldiers. “The circumstances of a saint’s life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, published by Barbour and Company, Inc., Westwood, NJ. 07675; pg. 231). The circumstances through which God brings us are engineered to produce faith in our Creator, and endurance as Christians.
Hebrews chapter 11 is commonly referred to as the “faith chapter.” The list of people found there, as examples of faith toward God, is often referred to as “The Heroes of Faith.” Of the sixteen people mentioned in that chapter, four were military people (Heb.11: 32). All of these people had learned to endure hardship; for faith in God and Christian endurance go hand in hand. As we think today of those who have faithfully endure while doing their duty for our country, I want to also point our minds toward the faith and endurance needed as soldiers of the Cross.
Theme: As we think about endurance today, let’s look at:
I. THE EXAMPLES OF ENDURANCE
Heb.12: 1a “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…”
NOTE:  The idea of the words “…so great a cloud of witnesses…” is not that of those who are merely onlookers or spectators. The word “witnesses” comes from the Greek word “martus,” which “…was used in the early Church to designate those who have proven the strength and genuineness of their faith in the Lord Jesus by undergoing a violent death” (Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies In The Greek New Testament, Volume II, published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49502; Hebrews In The Greek New Testament, pg. 212).
 The witnesses referred to by the writer of Hebrews are those mentioned in the “Faith Hall of Fame,” of chapter 11 (Heb.11: 4-40). These Old Testament saints had endured every hardship of life by faith in God. Faith in God is not only that by which we overcome the world (I John 5: 4), but it is also our only hope of enduring the dark and difficult times of life.
A. These Witnesses Endured Torture By Faith.
Heb.11: 35b “…and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 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;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
NOTE:  The writer of Hebrews list various types of persecution experienced by believers throughout history. Concerning the words “sawn asunder,” all the Bible scholars whom I consulted indicated that this was a reference to the Jewish tradition that the prophet Isaiah was sawn in two with a wooden saw by King Manasseh. Our faith in God does not mean that we will always be delivered from experiencing trials, but it will provide us with endurance to make it through them.
 The word translated “tortured” means, “to torture with the tumpanum,” which refers to “…a wheel-shaped instrument of torture, over which criminals were stretched as though they were skins, and then horribly beaten with clubs or thongs” (Ibid, Hebrews In The Greek New Testament, pg. 209). Even though the saints were horribly abused, they refused to deny their faith in Christ in order to extend their lives.