“Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the Throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3

 We all need encouragement, don’t we? And we look to the Scripture to receive some. Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, SO THAT through PERSEVERANCE and the ENCOURAGEMENT of the SCRIPTURES we might have Hope.” {Rom 15:4}

So let us look at the Scriptures to the lives of others, who just like you were facing obstacles and in some cases great persecution for their faith in the Lord Jesus and let us trust the Lord to encourage your heart as you continue to Endure for Jesus sake.

“Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us… and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,…”

To those in Hebrews 11 – who ran the race God had placed before them, Look back for ENCOURAGEMENT as you consider their lives, the trials and obstacles they faced and how they lived and endured “By Faith…”  Look back for EXAMPLE, from them of how to live, under great pressures they still ran. Look Back for ENCOURAGEMENT. Look Back to EMULATE…Those in Hebrews 11 had experienced all kinds of persecution, ridicule and the writer to the Hebrews because he loves them writes in chapter 12 so that they too may honor God in the midst of their own struggles, drawing from the example of those who lived before them, whose lives he points to encourage them by.

Your life is not isolated or insignificant, your life is a pattern for those who watch you and observe the way you handle your faith in Christ. None of us live unto ourselves; our lives affect and influence those around us. It does not mean that your performance is flawless and perfect but your aim, THE DIRECTION of your life, is to please Him in all aspects {Col 1:9-10}

The setting in Heb 12:1- is that of a great stadium of “spiritual” athletes who have ran their race, finished their course and under extreme pressure and obstacles received Gods Approval, ” And all these having GAINED APPROVAL BY THEIR FAITH…”.Heb 11:39 Their lives merited the “APPROVAL” of God, to such an extent He had this chapter placed in His Word for others to be Encouraged by the Example of these dear ones, who Exemplified Endurance for the privilege of Pleasing God {Heb 11:6}.

The writer has them “LOOK BACK” For Encouragement and Example at those who Ran before them and despite their obstacles they lived to Please God. So, lets LOOK BACK with them and consider some of them that we too may be encouraged to Live the Christian life.


  1. Look Back to Abel – “By Faith “ -Worshipped God aright…
    AND he lost his life, on account of it. – Heb 11:3 “By faith” he received the Approval of God. Abel offered his sacrifice “by faith” and God accepted it. His brother was Offended by it. God testifies to future runners, that there is a WAY to WORSHIP Him, the WITNESS of his sacrifice and worship of God lives on. Abel lost his life, on account of it. BUT… “By faith” he received the Approval of God. Look back to Abel who “by Faith” WORSHIPPED God… though it cost him his life, He gained Gods Seal of Approval -{Heb 11:39 }
  2. Look Back to Enoch – “By Faith…”- Walked with God aright…
    Enoch pleased God in the way he lived, and had a testimony among his peers as one who was Godly. This is what he was known for. In the story of his life in the Old testament  you see the names of others who they were, how long they lived and they all have the same conclusion “…they died.” But when it comes to Enoch it says HE WALKED WITH GOD. Did not the others have the ability to walk with God? Enoch “By faith” chose to walk with God and that is what he is known for from Heaven’s perspective…he walked straight into Eternity while all around him were dying, his testimony was one of Godliness ….and he was taken… “By Faith” he lived and received the Approval of God…ENOCH-He was translated – God took him  – Heb11:5a

His Testimony to his generation was he “walked with God”– Heb 11:5b
His testimony By God – “he pleased HIM”- Heb 11:5c

THE OUTCOME? GOD TOOK HIM… HE WALKED INTO ETERNITY with his eyes open.  Enoch is not known for some GREAT FEAT as people would consider to be, like raising the dead etc. but he is known for WALKING WITH GOD…the greatest feat of all.

  1. Look Back to Noah, “By faith…” – Worked and Witnessed for God aright…
    Noah  was Rescued and “By Faith…” gained the Approval of God…NOAH… what a picture of Perseverance “By Faith…” He took God at His Word, how do we know? He began to build an ark…and he built and …he continued to build… relying on what God had said. He Obeyed God and took God at his Word, that he knew what He was talking about.
  • He Was Captivated/ Complying by the Word of God- 11:7a
  • He Was Constrained by Reverence for God- 11:7b
  • He Was Committed to the Service of God- 11:7c
  • He Was Marked as a Child of God- 11:7d

He was Saved from Impending Judgment… “By Faith…” he chose to take God at His Word and OBEY Him, and he and his family were the recipient of blessing.

  1. Look Back to Abraham, “By faith…” – Wandered
    He Went out not knowing where He was going {Genesis 12:1-5 } … Only God had called , “By faith…” he obeyed the call of God and left his culture, what he was familiar with and WANDERED as a pilgrim, with a Tent and an Alter… is how he lived  and  “By Faith” he too Gained  the APPROVAL of God… ” God taught him first HOW to Live by Faith. It meant a SEPERATION- Gen 12:1-5- From all he was familiar with. He was called to forsake all and follow the Lord, not knowing where he was going but only knowing He who called him was worthy to be obeyed. And so “By Faith…” he left his country and his familiar surroundings and followed God.
  • He lived as a PILGRIM – Heb 11:9a- “he lived as an alien…”
  • He Lived as a PARTNER  WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD – “Heb 11:9b
  • He lived as a PARTAKER OF THE PROMISES OF GOD – 11:9c
  • He was  PLEASING TO GOD – 11:39

He learned to WALK BY FAITH and He Learned to WORSHIP by Faith. These two lessons are the hallmark and the PRIORITY OF LIVING “BY FAITH…” in God. He had A Tent and an ALTER…The Tent, spoke of his readiness, his availability. He could pull up the pegs easily as pegs do not have roots…they are easily to disassemble. He was living to be available to the Lord, ready to move at the beckoning of God. He was not attached to this world, this was not his home and he was not living as though it were. He had an Alter- The alter speaks of worship. He would learn more and more that Worship of God is to be the priority of ones life, this Abraham shows again and again. When he moved, he would set up a place of worship- An Alter… and the process of his learning to live “By faith…” is seen in Genesis 22 where he offers up his only Son Isaac on the alter of sacrifice. He was willing to offer his one and only son whom he loved, rather than disobey God. The Worship of God had taken the priority of everything and everyone in his life. But he believed God could raise him from the dead, and that God would keep His promise, such had his faith grown and had become anchored in the character of God. And he gained … the Approval of God.  At the call of God in Genesis 12 to leave all and follow Him, he did not ask God for a reason or an explanation he simply Obeyed God- Gen 12:1-4. “By faith…” “Abram left, as the Lord had told him…” What a picture of Obedience, what a picture of faith… God said it, I do it…

Abraham was promised an heir and he and Sarah, though the promise looked totally unreasonable by human understanding, but they Believed God and God gave them a son…when humanly speaking it was impossible. But when God makes a promise God keeps them and Abraham and Sarah believed Him and He was true to His Word… and “By Faith…” they received the APPROVAL OF GOD.

  1. Look Back to Jacob, “By Faith…” Worshipped – Heb 11:22

One of the Godliest men I know said while speaking once, that he was like “Jacob.” At the time I wondered why he did not say he was like Peter as many of us might, but Jacob? Jacob was a con man, a manipulator, how could he say he was like him? I realized he was right. We are all Jacobs! That is our sinful tendency. This man had a right understanding of his own self apart from the Spirit of God in control of his life.

This is one of my favorite portions of Scripture {At least for today it is} Jacob who had used people to promote and protect himself after having a confrontation with God where God “touched” him and for all his days would walk with a limp and in pain. {Gen 32:24-26} Jacob we see as he comes to the end of his life we see THE CHANGE God had brought in his life. Where once he lived to take from others, now he was Blessing others. Now he is leaning upon his staff, that he needed to aid him in walking as God had touched him and was forever a reminder that God had touched him. His need of a staff was a reminder of his dependence upon God. He was leaning upon it and Worshipping God. What a difference God makes when he “touches” a life. From wickedness and manipulation to worshipping God. From using others for his own selfish benefit to living to Bless them for their benefit. The swindler had been transformed and lived to the glory of God “By Faith…”   Jacob died as a Man of Faith…

  1. Look Back to Joseph, “By Faith…”- 11:22
    Joseph had experienced the betrayal of others and their jealousy. It had caused him to be sold as a slave, imprisoned under false accusation, forgotten while there but not by God. He went from the pit to prison to the place God desired as the second most powerful man in Egypt and when his brothers who now were in dire need came to him, then would have been a great time to extract vengeance upon them for what they had done to him, separating him from his father, selling him as a slave, but he extends grace and says in Gen 45:5 -“You sold me …but God sent me here to preserve life.” Joseph looked through his circumstances through the eyes of “faith” at Gods Sovereignty and extends grace instead of extracting vengeance, for Joseph lived, “By  Faith…”and by Gods grace could extend Kindness and forgiveness and love and mercy because he saw “Him who is invisible” behind the turns and twists of his life. And “By Faith…” in the midst of death, Joseph made his brothers promise him to bury his bones in Canaan,- in the land God had promised to Abraham 200 years earlier. And while dying Joseph Blessed his brothers with the assurance, “God will surely take care of you”-{Gen 50:25}. Even at his stage of death he was trusting God and turning others mind towards God. Joseph lived and died, “By Faith…”
  2. Look Back by Faith to Moses Parents, “By Faith…” 11:23
    For these dear Hebrew Christians as they considered the faith of this couple who were under great pressure from the decree and wrath of an earthly king, they defied danger, they defied the king, and instead they made the choice to trust God with the life of their son, and  deposit him into His hands. “By Faith…” they gained the “APPROVAL” of God.
  3. Look Back to Moses- WITHDREW / WITHHELD from  the temptations “By Faith…” 11:24-27. It is said that he was a beautiful child…v11:23b – it can be applied both to physical and to Moral beauty.
  • He Withdrew and Withstood the temptation to SOCIAL Position – Heb 11:24
  • He Withdrew and Withstood the temptation to SINFUL Pleasures – v25
  • He Withdrew and Withstood the temptation to succumb to Staggering prosperity”- v26

The world was offering him all kinds of wealth but he regarded the  RICHES OF THIS WORLD INFERIOR TO THE TREAURE OF HEAVEN…CHRIST HIMSELF. So he Withdrew, Withheld, and Withstood because he considered God as WORTHY of his WORSHIP.

Egypt represented all the world had to offer… to entice Moses away from God. He recognized it and Withheld the affections and allegiance of his heart from it and he overcame the world, the flesh and the devil.  Moses endured as seeing Him who was Invisible-Heb 11:27.

These Hebrew believers were standing where Moses stood. The world offering them all kinds of compensation if they would give up their Hope in Christ and turn back. They like Moses needed to make a stand. They could not have both…. They as we could only be loyal to one and serve one- Matt 6:24-  “No one can serve two masters…” Moses made his choice and lived “By Faith…” and he too, Gained the “APPROVAL of God”

  1. Look Back to  those who were delivered FROM their Enemies… “BY FAITH…Won  by Faith…great victories” they too Gained the APPROVAL of God -Heb 11:33-35a.
    Those “who through faith subdued kingdoms”- 11:33a…Men such as Moses and Daniel. Moses subdued Egypt by Power from without, and Daniel subdued Babylon and Persia by promotion from within. Men like these were raised up by God to control the destinies of great empires and to move history along according to God’s Plan for their age.
    Verse -34,- “Those who quenched the violence of fire”
    Here a reference to Daniels three friends who dared burning, rather than bow before a graven image…Others “escaped the edge of the sword” 11:24b. Consider David, SAUL CONSTANTLY sought AFTER HIM AND OTHER FOES BUT GOD preserved him…. Elisha too knew Gods protection -34c  {“some out of weakness were made strong} as the book of Judges illustrates….God uses the foolish things to confound the wise… God raised up Joshua who knew nothing about war to confound the wise
    … “BY FAITH…they Won  by Faith…great victories” and they Gained the APPROVAL of God – Heb 11:33-35a. GOD DELIVERED ALL THESE FROM THEIR ENEMIES…

APPLICATION- No matter what the Hebrew Christians go through, God has the ABILITY to PROTECT them and to PRESERVE them, if He so PLEASES and the Power to Deliver FROM any circumstance or enemy or “power” that come against them, or you too beloved.

  1. Look Back to those who were Delivered TO their Enemies…”By Faith…” they  Withstood, – Heb 11: 35b-38
    “By Faith…” the pressures to bow or deny God, and notice God did not Deliver them from their troubles and torture…Was He not pleased with them? Was their Faith somehow Deficient or Displeasing or Dishonoring to Him… NO! – For they too Gained THE APPROVAL OF GOD …. He delivered them TO HIMSELF ultimately -they too Gained  the APPROVAL of God… Heb 11:35b-38 . Just like Jesus was handed over TO His enemies and a greater good came out of a seemingly wasted life. Though His Life alone purchased redemption and the atonement, yet God can in ways use the pain and the suffering of others for His glory. He wastes nothing in His economy. LOOK BACK to these who were delivered TO their enemies and gain strength and encouragement to endure your own pain and trial as you consider they kept going… how did they do this? “By Faith…”

There are some whom God delivered FROM their enemies and then there are others whom God did NOT Deliver from their enemies but gave them TO their enemies… Why did He have to include this section, just when we were beginning to feel “safe.” But here it is, it says in 11:35b- “others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection…”

“The early Christian were soon to prove, when finally their witness aroused Rome, that a pinch of salt on some pagan alter might have won them freedom from torture. BUT the prospect of a BETTER RESURRECTION {BETTER THAN THE 2 JUST MENTIONED} MUST SPUR THEM ON TO submit TO torture rather Than to renounce the faith, just as on old times many a Jew chose death in preference to DISHONOR.”- John Phillips

“and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.”11:36

These dear precious ones were belittled, beaten, bound and bruised, they went forward “By faith..  V 37a – they were stoned; 37b – sawn asunder…There is the tradition,  that the evil king Manasseh subjected Isaiah the prophet to this type of fate, he had him  put in the hollow trunk of a tree and then commanding that the tree be sawn down.

11:37c – “they were tempted” – as Joseph was
11:37d – “They were slain with the sword”- as when Saul ordered the execution of the priests who befriended David. “THEY WANDERED ABOUT IN SHEEPSKINS AND IN GOATSKINS; Being destitute, afflicted, tormented {“men of whom the world was not worthy”}, they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and caves of the earth”11-37e-38.
They were hounded and homeless, considered the filth of the world, bound and beaten, bruised and hated, imprisoned and martyred, they were recipients of the worlds hatred and yet they endured, “By faith…”… and so can you beloved!

Why tell about these?  This does not seem like any “PROSPERITY GOSPEL” that some would proclaim today. {Usually in countries where “MATERIALISM” is the preferred idol of the day! Those who live in countries where suffering for the cause of Christ, no nothing of such heresy}

Some who promote “another Gospel”- {which the Gospel of “Prosperity” is} may have a hard time explaining this passage. “Shouldn’t we just sweep it under the carpet… does this not put a bad light on God? Does this not look like he is impotent, that He cannot deliver? Better yet, lest just say that the people were deficient in their faith, yes, that’s how we will explain it away” NO! THIS IS the LIFE IN FOLLOWING “BY FAITH…” God in His infinite wisdom delivers some FROM their enemies and in other cases they are delivered TO their enemies…. The issue and testimony by which they both gained the Approval of God is this, They lived “BY FAITH…” AND PLEASED GOD!

But surely this is not for today? Not in some circles it may not be, not in our western culture of “Cultural  Christianity” but there are many throughout the world who suffer for the Lord Jesus who count it a privilege. …what can they do to us we know where we are going…”

APPLICATION – Whether GOD Chooses to Deliver you FROM the enemies or Deliver you TO the enemies they the Hebrew Christians MUST CHOOSE TO BE FAITHFUL TO CHRIST…

ALL of the above mentioned, from Abel to those who wandered in sheep’s clothing, THESE ALL WALKED “BY FAITH…” and had the testimony of God Himself, the DIVINE STAMP OF APPROVAL, that their lives were Pleasing to Him. Yet the OUTCOME was DIFFERENT… one was murdered for his faith…one was transported for his faith… one was saved from disaster because of his faith… one died without seeing the promise…one renounced worldly fame, riches and prestige because he valued the Lord Jesus of Greater Value…some were recipients of tremendous deliveries and miracles others were delivered over to death

It’s not how you end, what the outcome of your situation is… WHETHER it is MARTYRED or DELIVERED but WHAT God says about you in the end…THAT YOU LIVE TO GAIN “THE APPROVAL OF GOD…” and that only is “BY FAITH…” is all that matters. Will you have the DIVINE SEAL OF GODS APPROVAL? You will and only will as you CHOOSE TO LIVE “By Faith…” in Him, His Word and walk in His Ways…FAITH IS GODS CURRENCY. We are..

  • Saved by Faith – Eph 2:8-9
  • Serve By Faith
  • Strengthened By Faith

Continue by Faith- Col 2:6 -“As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk…”

FAITH is Gods currency, and those in Hebrews 11 endured by faith

Heb 10:36 – “For you have need of ENDURANCE, SO THAT when you have DONE THE WILL OF GOD, you may receive what has been promised.” You need endurance – in order to do the WILL OF GOD… and to Receive the REWARD which God has promised.
HOW DO YOU GET ENDURANCE TO RUN? – “…All of these ENDURED”. How do you get endurance?

  • God Gives it – Rom 15:5
  • God Produces it through TRIALS

James 1:2-3  “Count it all JOY WHEN you encounter various TRIALS, KNOWING the testing of your Faith produces ENDURANCE…”

James 1:12-“Blessed is a man who PERSEVERES/ ENDURES  UNDER TRIAL ; FOR ONCE HE HAS BEEN APPROVED, HE WILL RECEIVE THE CROWN OF LIFE WHICH THE Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

It Pleases God-Heb 11:39
It is a Means to express of our Love for Him – James 1:12
Those who Endure do so because they LOVE HIM and to them He gives the CROWN OF LIFE.

Peddling with EVAN
We are to run the race with “PERSEVERANCE.”  To persevere is to keep going and going and going. I remember when Evan was about 5 years old. he was in a bicycle race at church. He had training wheels on it. He was so far behind the other racers, that they were giving out the trophies and making the speeches and there was EVAN… SMILING AND PEDDLING! He didn’t Pout, he didn’t compare himself to others … he just kept PEDDLING AND PEDDLING. The following day his older sister Mary, kindly gave him her trophy which she had won for first place. He got it because as Cindee said he kept going and smiling as he peddled … oh what a beautiful picture of perseverance.  And beloved as you keep “peddling” by Faith…” faithful to your task in life, living to honor God in the “lane” God has placed you in, you too will receive a crown… and the words “well done thou good and FAITHFUL SERVANT.” When your tempted to give up, when your tempted to give in, “Keep peddling like Evan”… do the NEXT THING before you, DO IT well, DO IT FOR JESUS…”

We are to run because our hearts are filled with the glorious Vision of Jesus, and the way we fuel our vision is by filling our minds with true thoughts from His Word about, His Person, His Passion, his Preeminence. TO CONSIDER HIM-we must turn from other preoccupation’s – to Place Him before our Minds. MEDITATE UPON Him…WHEN YOUR MIND HAS THOSE “FREE” MOMENTS WHEN YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE IT  TO “WORK,” Take your THOUGHTS TO JESUS and of JESUS…”CONSIDER HIM”

In the Book of Hebrews chapter 11…In some cases God delivered dramatically and miraculously in other cases He did not…HE HAS THE RIGHT TO DO AS HE PLEASES….HE IS GOD. We see from their lives, they were committed to God, and proved it by the way they lived…”BY FAITH…” irrespective of the consequences, personally, socially, monetarily, career wise, culturally…or any other way…there was a great divide in their lives it was “BUT GOD…” and therefore “BY FAITH…” in Him they lived…and “BY Faith…” They Worshipped, Walked, Worked, Witnessed, Wandered,  Withheld,  Won, Withstood…the obstacles, the taunts and rejection, the cultural idolatry, the religious insufficiency, hypocrisy, the family rejection…the cultural conformity …and what ever New thing came into their Lives they responded “BY FAITH… in God..”….and “damn” the consequences…”


  • We won’t Compromise
  • We won’t Conform
  • We are Convinced
  • We are Committed
  • We are CHRIST’S
    And so these dear Hebrew Christians were told to LOOK BACK; and Be encouraged, at the Examples of those who Endured under great duress… and PRESS ON… RUN THE RACE… THEY DID…SO TOO THE HEBREW CHRISTIANS CAN. WE LOOK BACK TO THEM  FOR WORSHIP, WITNESS, WALK, WANDER, WITHDRAWN, WHY? BECAUSE GOD IS WORTHY TO LIVE LIVES THAT PLEASE HIM AND THAT PATTERN IS SET…IT IS “BY FAITH…” ALONE IN GOD, HIS WORD. Taking him at His Word and trusting His character and living “by faith and not by sight”- 2 Cor 5:7
    ·         WE LOOK BACK TO THEM FOR
    The setting in Heb 12:1 is that of a great stadium of “spiritual” athletes who have run their race, finished their course and under extreme pressure and obstacles received Gods Approval, “And all these having GAINED APPROVAL BY THEIR FAITH…” Their lives merited the “APPROVAL” of God, to such an extent He had this chapter placed in His Word for others to be Encouraged by the Example of these dear ones, who Exemplified Endurance for the privilege of Pleasing God {Heb 11:6}. Now they are in the stands as it were Abel, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Abraham and Sarah, God pointing to their lives to ENCOURAGE through their EXAMPLE and the great pressures, suffering and obstacles they faced…they made it…they ran and got the DIVINE SEAL OF APPROVAL…to Keep Going…AND TO  Keep Enduring

LOOK BACK at the EXAMPLE of their Lives.
LOOK BACK at those who ENDURED.
LOOK BACK at their example and EMULATE them.
LOOK BACK at those who EXALTED God and EMULATE them

“Without Faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to Please GOD.”- Heb 11:6

“Those who come to God must believe He is, and is a REWARDER of those who diligently SEEK HIM.”- Heb 11:6

Life is to be lived “By Faith…” in God, Who He is and What He says in His Word.

To Live “By Faith” in Him is to Abandon yourself first into His safe keeping and then to Depend and derive all from Him and the evidence of the life lived “BY Faith…” in Him, is a life of Dependence, {John 15:4, 7-8} and Doing His Word. {James 1:21-22} motivated by Devotion to Him and for Him {John 14:21; Eph 5:21; 1 Peter 1:17}



Do you find yourself growing weary today? Obstacles and fears and “Giants” that would tempt to overwhelm and wear you down? Then dear Beloved, “LOOK BACK…” to those who now are in the stands of Victory, who have run the race before you, and won, “BY FAITH…” and you too can “BY FAITH…” Run and overcome any obstacle by Gods Grace and receive the DIVINE APPROVAL OF GOD and be numbered with those who have gone ahead and be part of the great cloud of witnesses… ” And all these having gained approval through their faith…”

Keep running, Looking Back only for Encouragement … and Looking Away to Jesus for Empowerment… “By Faith…” do the next thing, to the Glory of God…Like little Evan…”Keep Peddling…” Keep Going…LISTEN to those who have gone before you…they are cheering you … take the next step, “By Faith…” in His Word and with one foot on front of the next… W-AL-L-K By Faith … and in doing so you are EXALTING Him … your life is proving how much you value Him…You are loved.

Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20 what MOTIVATED him to “LIVE BY FAITH in the SON OF GOD…” He writes, “…And the Life I NOW LIVE in the flesh I live BY FAITH in the Son of God, WHO LOVED ME. and GAVE HIMSELF for ME.”

THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST MOTIVATED Paul “BY Faith…” to Live… He Loves you … think on Him often and let His SACRIFICIAL Love for you Motivate you to life one foot at a time and honor Him as you obey His Word…Keep Trusting, Keep on Obeying … now your living…to the Glory of God!