Summary: This is a message from my Hebrews Comentary that shows "the sin that doth so easily beset us"
LOOKING UNTO JESUS
This chapter is introduced with the transitional word, “Wherefore” which strongly connects back to the eleventh chapter which is known for its treatment of the subject of faith. In hermeneutics, one may recognize a principle that is called, “The full mention principle” being employed in chapter eleven as the subject of faith is being considered. The “full mention principle” states that when everything is fully given in a chapter or passage, as it pertains to a particular truth, where nothing else need be said to make it more complete than that which has been already stated, then “The full mention principle” has been exercised. Another way of saying it is: "God declares his full mind upon any subject vital to our spiritual life."
Such is the case with the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. In this chapter both the definition and the application of faith are given. Beginning in chapter twelve, we find ourselves entering into a section of Hebrews that gives great practical insight as to the way that the believer is to conduct himself and how he is to be encouraged in his own spiritual journey. This twelfth chapter likens the believer’s journey to a race. There is the encouragement to remove anything that would impede or hinder the race. The analogy is being made to a conditioned runner who is outfitting himself to win the race while at the same time keeping his eyes glued on the goal.
While running our spiritual races, we should make sure that we avoid the awful pitfall of taking our eyes off of Jesus. We will discover that the “sin which doth so easily beset us” is taking our eyes off of Jesus. We will learn some of the ways that God helps us to keep our eyes focused upon Him and also learn what happens when we do take our eyes off of Him.
I. THE WAY THAT HIS SAINTS ARE INSTRUCTED. (Vv. 1-3)
The first word of this chapter is the word “wherefore” as we have already noted. This word is a transitional word that connects by example the previous chapter to this chapter thereby giving us a strong reason to run our race well. All those who are mentioned in chapter 11 are there for our examples to encourage us to be faithful by their faithfulness. They have lived and then died, or in the case of one who was translated that he should not see death, and they all left behind a great example of how each of us should proceed in the faith.
A. By The Cloud That Surrounds Us. (V. 1a)
The great cloud is a metaphor that describes the great number of people that made up the faithful believers. These who made up the cloud of witnesses were great in that they pleased God. We have learned from our previous study that it is impossible to please God without faith. These patriots of the faith certainly pleased God. If we constantly examined and studied their living we would have much by way of example to encourage us. When we are given instructions to go forth in the Lord, we may, as an example, observe the person, Abraham, who left his land and people and trusted God as he journeyed. While he was in the land of promise, there were times that his faith suffered a lapse, yet God graciously helped him to return to where he needed to be.
As we observe this cloud of witnesses to be our example, we may also observe it to be our challenge. A good example should also challenge. The writer of Hebrews, under the inspiration of the Spirit gave us and encouraging challenge as he gave us these good examples. They were given to us as witnesses. They all witnessed their faith in a very admirable way, even those who were “sawn asunder” (Hebrews 11:37). Those who make up “so great a cloud of witnesses” are those whom the Lord especially honored. He thought them worthy to be put on display as examples because of their faithful exercising of their faith. The expression “great cloud of witnesses” indicates a most worthy number of witnesses. It represents, as does a cloud a far reaching number. When one observes a great cloud, he does so recognizing that it covers a great span of space. The space that has been covered by those mentioned in chapter eleven and referred back to in chapter twelve covers many years. This shows that the Lord has had and still has those who faithfully worship Him across a great period of time.
B. By the Command That Strengthens Us (V. 16)
We notice the expression that is given in verse one, “let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us”. We recognize that this command is given in two parts with the second command saying, “let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” This command involves removing and running. The metaphor is given of a runner in a race. Those who were to run in the race did not always free themselves from those things which could have hindered their race. Such things were capable of impeding or hindering their race to the extent that they could not claim the prize for finishing well.