My grandparents were very faithful followers of Christ. You can search this blog for my eulogies for them. They weren't perfect of course, but you would have enjoyed knowing them, particularly as I knew them. They were good people. Respected, loved, and effective. They figure heavily into my daily Bible reading for today, which comes from Hebrews chapter 12.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverancethe race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Are my grandparents part of this "cloud of witnesses?" That's honestly difficult to tell. The writer may have only been talking about those he listed in the previous chapter. If that's his standard, then of course they are not in the cloud of witnesses. Most likely, since the writer was focusing on Jewish believers (as the book's name suggests), he meant those who had gone before the Jewish ethnicity. That would mean that the writer's "cloud of witnesses" included only those in the previous chapter.
However, I don't think that I'm stretching the word too far by saying this is really about legacy. Not mine or yours, I might add, but legacy of those who were before us. For the Jewish believer, or for the Jew who was attempting to decide between remaining orthodox or going the way of the new faith, remembering Abraham, Able, Sarah, and others and what they did in faith would be vital. It is those legacies that define faith for the Hebrew.
Just like that, my grandparents define my faith. My grandfather taught me how to dive into scripture (particularly through dispensationalism and the gap theory) and pick it apart. I grant that he may have sometimes picked it too clean. My grandma, on the other hand, provided me a stable, consistent model of someone who just didn't give up on God and who showed what it meant to be in God's word.
So for me, and again I don't think I'm stretching the word of God too much, my grandparents and others provide this cloud of witnesses for me to remember. This is particularly true for me as I try to live out my faith, flawed though that faith is.
Who comprises the cloud of witnesses in your life? Who's example are you attempting to emulate? Please comment and share!