THE GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES

December 12, 2021
1710 Words – 9 Minute Read

PEOPLE WHO ARE EVEN HALFWAY LITERATE OF THE BIBLE PROBABLY RECOGNIZE WHERE THE TITLE OF TODAY’S POST CAME FROM.

Yes, the book of Hebrews, chapters 11 and 12. Those are probably two of the most encouraging and inspiring chapters found in the Bible.

Not too long ago, I was studying my Bible and I intended to read the entire book of Hebrews in one sitting. I often do that especially as it was in the wee hours of the morning, and I would not be disturbing me either.

As a rule, I am a very fast reader. But, when it comes to reading something inspirational, whether it be from the Bible or some other source, I like to take my leisure time when reading – I enjoy savoring what I read.

This is what I was doing on the occasion that I will now tell you about. I had just completed reading Hebrews 11, and before starting Hebrews 12, I decided to take a water break. So, I had just started on a brand-new bottle of water when I was glancing at some posts on one of my favorite social media sites.

I was not scrolling up or down when this meme was just there in front of my eyes. I don’t always read everything that comes up in front of me, but the title of this post got my attention and curiosity, so I read it. Once I began reading the entire meme, I could tell it was written by a very intelligent man, probably middle-aged, and well-off financially.

As I continued reading the entire meme, I soon saw that the writer was very depressed with life. Everything he said was so negative. I won’t take time to tell all of his problems, because there were just too many to list. But once I finished reading the meme while drinking my water, I contemplated should I reply or not, and if so, what should I tell him.

I felt duty-bound to comment, and I did. I told the writer that coincidentally, I had just completed reading Hebrews 11, and that I was getting ready to start reading Hebrews12. I did not tell him what the subject of these two chapters was about, but I said to him that before he despaired to please take time to read both chapters.

Then I said something to him that I did not want to say but felt that I had to say it even though it would probably insult him. I told him that if he were a Christian the way his meme had pointed out, that if he did not even try to fight his depression and do something himself about this horrible condition the world is in today, that, in my opinion, he was a COWARD and owed God an apology for not willing to fight till his dying breath. That/s it, that’s all I told him, and left the meme behind, feeling that I would certainly hear no reply from this man.

But I was wrong. It was the following day that I received a reply from him. Basically, what he said to me was that he thanked me for pointing out te errors of his thinking and feeling sorry for himself and that he DID read the two chapters I sugested he read and that the words gave him a new way of looking at life. Then he ended by saying, “Thanks,” and he wrote no more.

When I finished reading his reply to me, I thought, “Surely the Lord knew what He was talking about when He said His wwords would not return in vain.” Then I said to myself, AMEN!

I always enjoyed when I could preach from Hebrews and encourage my congregation by talkin about this great cloud of WITNESSES. Sometimes I would focus on only one from this great Cloud and maybe not even as it is read from Hebrews 11 and 12.

I particularly enjoyed preaching about ELIJAH. He was listed as being in that great Cloud. What I enjoyed most about preaching about him was that at one time in his life he felt like a complete loser. He was so discouraged with his life and the circumstances in his world, that he fled to a desert area and sat down under a Juniper tree, and asked God to just let him die there.

Have you ever felt that way? I bet all of us have, at times. But God intervened, shook some sense and encouragement back into Elijah”s life after he heard God speaking to him in a still small voice. Elijah arose and became a great HERO for God by listening to God and getting up and obeying HIM.

But of all the sermons I ever preached about this GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES, to me, was when I had been invited back to a former church where I once pastored, to preach the HOMECOMING sermon where we would have a large meal in the fellowship hall afterward. I had pastored there for nearly five years, and knew the congregation well. It had been a wonderful pastorate, and I looked forward to preaching this sermon.

once I was introduced and invited to the pulpit, my whole body seemed to be flooded with adrenalin. But I knew it wass the spirit of God within me that made me feel so excited. Preachers somehow can sense this when God gives us a special annointing for a special occasion.

So I began the sermon with tremendous enthusiasm. I got to speaking about this GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES very quickly. I started back with Adam and proceeded in chronological order as the CLOUD OF WITNESSES were mentioned in Hebrews 11 and 12.

During my time as pastor there, I would ALWAYS tell the congregants to get out their Bible and at least read the text with me. So, on this occasion of this sermon, the congregants had more to follow along with than a short text. I noticed that many of them must have been underlining the name of the hero I was reading about at the time. (That was something else I taught my congregants to do: write in their Bibles.) So, as the sermon progressed through that list of heroes listed in that GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES, people must have been thinking that when I got to that final HERO that the sermon was about over. But on this occasion, they would learn that there was much more of this sermon than they must have thought.

I named the last of the HEROES in that GREAT CLOUD, and just keep on going.

I would say of each of those I would mention from that particular church as such: And God bless you, John Doe, for being a great hero, God bless you, Mrs. Sheila Jones for being a great hero, etc. for about 12 of those from that parish, who had already died, some before I became pastor.

I saved the last hero’s name on purpose to be last on my list. She was very young, and would turn out at that time of my ministry to have been the youngest person I had ever buried.

Unfortunately, she had been killed in a tragic car wreck where she had run off the road at the beginning of a bridge, and had been pretty much hidden from oter cars until daylight. The police report would say that she must have been ive for hours, trying to get out of her car, but with no success. The police report also said that she was highly intoxicated when she left the road.

she had been a very popular person in high school, and very beautiful, too. She was 17 years old.

So, as she was the st on the list I had read, I took a little more time than with the others I had read about on the list to say, that yes, very young persons could also be GREAT HEROES for the Lord.

I then closed the sermon and everyone eventually went to the fellowship hall for great food and visitation.

I usually stayed at the homecomings I had been invited to preach until just about everyone had left the room. But I noticed as the room became fewer and fewer in number on that day, that the mother of this young girl who had died int he car wreck was waiting to talk to me specifically about something.

She thought that the time was right to approach me. She asked if we could go to one of the unoccupied corners of the room so she could speak to me more privately about herthoughts.

We were finally in the corner of the room and she said to me, “Brother Plumley (tears were rolling from her eyes so bad that she had already gotten some tissue paper to keep blotting the tears as they just kept on flowing) I waited to be able to tell you this in private (she was having to stutter the words out of her mouth) I can never, never, in a million years thank you enough for calling my little girl’s name out in the congregation a while ago as being a hero to God.” At that point, she broke down and began sobbing while hugging my neck. That went on for about two minutes and she composed herself and said goodbye to me.

I know what most of you, my dear readers, are thinking right now. Why did you not tell us all the names listed in THAT GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES?

There was a purpose in my not telling you everyone mentioned in that great list. First, it would have taken more time than I allot myself in my blog posts, and secondly, I wanted you to read Hebrews: 11 and 12 for yourselves. But don’t despair, I have a link listed below that will take you directly to those great chapters. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+11-12&version=DRA

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God Bless You,
Spencer Plumley