Summary: It is easy to want to give up and drop out of the running. God does not want us to become weary and lose heart. Brethren, We have come too far to turn back now. How are we to run the this race of life?
KEEP ON RUNNING THE RACE
The Bible is full of references to Sports. Warren Wiersbe said that if the Apostle Paul were alive today, he would read the sports page. He often talks about running in a race, the victor’s crown, even about boxing. The writer of Hebrews also used sports as an analogy of the Christian life.
The challenge of this passage is that life is seen as a great-life long marathon race. In a marathon, everyone who finishes is a winner. The secret of a marathon is endurance. The King James calls it "patience". The NIV calls it "persevance." We could call it a "holy stick to it tiveness."
Some of the readers were tired of the running and were tempted to give up and turn back. The writer of Hebrews is encouraging them to keep on running and not give up. We are to continue in the race God has marked out for us. His words encourage us to keep on running the race. His counsel is certainly applicable for today when so many, it seems, are turning away from the Faith. What is this text telling us to do if we are to persevere in the race of life?
I. LOOK BEHIND YOU (V. 1a) (11:32-40)
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses….” We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. "Witnesses" does not mean a great cloud of spectators. "Witness" = Martyr. They are not witnesses to what we are doing. Rather they are reminding us that that God can see us through. One of the best ways to endure when the running gets difficult is to remember those who have run before us. To remember how their faith saw them through.
Ron Hutchcraft describes chapter 11 as the alumni in the stands rooting for those who now wear the uniform. Those mentioned in Chapter 11 are God’s honored alumni, who have run for Him in previous generations. The writer then writes about the faith of Abel, of Enoch, of Noah, of Abraham. Isaac and Jacob. Of Moses, etc. The men and women of faith in the Old Testament bear witness that the way of faith is not only the best way, but also the only way. Chapter 11 teaches us that "without faith it is impossible to please God." We need to learn from the example of those who run before us. In the last part of chapter 11, we notice that:
A. SOME DID PROFOUND EXPLOITS THROUGH FAITH (11:32-35a) “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of rGideon and sBarak and tSamson and uJephthah, also of vDavid and wSamuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, xstopped the mouths of lions, 34 yquenched 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 zWomen received their dead raised to life again.”
B. OTHERS ENDURED INTENSE SUFFERING BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH (35b. - 38. “Others were atortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and bof chains and imprisonment. 37 cThey were stoned, they were sawn in two, 2were tempted, were slain with the sword. dThey wandered about ein sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, fin dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, ghaving obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be hmade perfect apart from us.”
God commended them for their faith and said that the world was not worthy of them. Though they did not receive the promise, they looked forward to the fulfillment in Jesus Christ. God rewarded their faith. God has provided something better for us in that we now look back to the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption in Jesus.
The role call of faith could continue until our day. We could add many names to the list. John Wesley, D. L. Moody, those missionaries who in the past year have laid down their lives for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps it was your grandparents or your great grandparents, or your mom or dad who ran their race for Jesus all the way to the finish no matter how hard it got. Maybe you are thinking of former pastors, now with the Lord; i.e. Bob Sanderson, James Watts, etc. They are no doubt in heaven’s grandstand, cheering us own because it is now our time to run. Thank God for those faithful people who maintained their faith in spite of adversities. Let’s learn from them.