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The Cloud of Witnesses

Our ladies are doing a book study and the other day the book stated that the great cloud of witnesses were watching us. I disagreed. The believers of the past that have died don't watch us --just inspire us to stand firm in our faith, right? I need scripture references if anyone other than God watches us from heaven.

Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

In context, the cloud of witnesses must refer to the people in the previous chapter. Hebrews Eleven is known as the Hall of Faith because of all the references to men and women of faith who have gone on before and shown us the way of faith. I do not think anyone can honestly read the last verses of this chapter (Hebrews 11:34-40) and then go straight to Hebrews 12:1 and miss the connection. Clearly, you have seen this and you are right.

Although it may be fascinating to think of those in heaven looking down on our lives and cheering us on, this is not the meaning of the text. In Hebrews 12:1, we are the ones seeing the witnesses by looking back on their records and deeds of time past. They are not the ones seeing us.

Also, it seems to me that it would take a lot out of the blessing of heaven if the saints saw everything that was going on down on earth. How discouraging! Can you imagine reading an earthly daily newspaper in heaven? The Bible says that nothing that defiles can enter there (Revelation 21:27). That would apply to most of what goes on down on earth.

However, I am not prepared to say that nothing of earthly happenings are known by the saints in heaven. In Luke 15:10, Jesus stated, "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." When a sinner repents, there is joy in the presence of the angels. That means that this joy occurs in heaven. Also, it is in the presence of the angels--it does not say that it is the angels who are rejoicing. If it is not the angels, it must be either God or some of the saints of heaven. Either way, it would seem strange if such an event occurred and the residents of heaven knew nothing about its purpose.

Therefore, I believe that although the day to day events of earth are not known to the saints in heaven, they may get occasional reports of spiritual blessings. Though this is speculation, I can see a heavenly saint rejoicing and glorifying God because an angel just reported to her that her great-grandson just got saved. Yet, I suppose that we will have to get there ourselves before we know for sure how much is known. But that does not keep us from looking forward to that day.