Hebrews 12: 1-3 – The World Behind the Text

This week we are starting a series in worship here at St. Matthew’s entitled Running the Race.  We will be looking at Hebrews 12: 1-3 as our base text that we jump from as we consider different passages.  Today we are going to look at the world behind the text of this passage.  

This passage comes at the conclusion of Chapter 11, which is a great chapter of faith. In Chapter 11, the heroes of faith are listed and we see the great things that they have accomplished for the faith.  And today we see this interesting phrase since we are surrounded by this cloud of witnesses. We’ll talk more about that passage itself tomorrow, but today I wanted to talk about the concept of ancestors that is happening here.  One of the constant reminders in the Jewish faith is of those who have gone before.  Remember how often in the Old Testament that the people are reminded of what that has happened before.  How often are they reminded of what Abraham did, or Issac, Jacob, and Joseph? We hear their stories over and over again.  We are reminded of what they did and told to make that our example of how we should live our lives, what we should do, and who we should be.  

Remember, Hebrews is written to a people who are very influenced by Jewish tradition.  So, as they would read this passage, they would think of it in the same way that the Jewish people would have been thinking about their ancestors who went before.  

These are my people!  This is who I am. This is what I am about.  

To the original hearers of this passage, this is the same type of call to faithfulness that the Jewish people heard throughout the Old Testament. Remember who you are. Remember where you came from.  

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