In the Shadow of the Cloud | Those Bound for the Promised Land

by Ron Hutchcraft

(Editor’s note: This is the 7th post in a series through Hebrews 11 called “In the Shadow of the Cloud.” We will be exploring what we can learn from those mentioned in this clouds of witnesses section.)

Ron Hutchcraft, Hebrews 11, Hall of Faith, those bound for the Promised LandIn a moment, the love of my life was gone and with the Savior she loved and served so valiantly. She lived large for Him and left both a huge void and an amazing legacy of lives for whom she was the face of Jesus.

In a subsequent radio interview, I shared that because of Jesus the Anchor holds. I also told about the hundreds of Native American young people who called my Karen “Mama”.  I made it through the conversation okay—until the end. The host said, “Ron, I believe you made Jesus proud today. And I believe you made Karen proud today.”

That comment has made me think on a much more personal level about what the Bible calls “the cloud of witnesses” who ran their race faithfully and apparently are cheering us on as we run ours (Heb. 12:1-2).

Hebrews 11 highlights some of heaven’s biblical heroes who likely have front row seats in that crowd of champions.

As I reread God’s Honor Roll, I saw the choices they made that immortalized them as models of God’s witness in the world. These might be the same choices that will enable us to make Jesus proud.

The verbs of their lives reveal two common traits that put them in the epicenter of a great move of God in their generation.

Risky obedience and eternity thinking.

Abraham “obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). He “offered Isaac as a sacrifice.” Risky obedience.

Noah “in holy fear built an ark” (11:7), no doubt inviting ridicule and hostility. Moses “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time” (11:25).

And what are our risky orders today? To be “Christ’s ambassador” to a world without Him (2 Cor. 5:20). To “preach the good news to everyone” (Mark 16:15). To “snatch others from the fire and save them” (Jude 23).

Day after day, the lost-seeking Spirit of God is prompting us to join Jesus in the rescue mission for which He died—to show or tell about Jesus to someone in our path. But too often, fear wins instead of obedience. The “yeah, buts” of the risks cause us to “put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thess. 5:19). We were supposed to be someone’s chance at Jesus but we failed them and we failed Him.

God’s heroes of yesterday and today say “yes” to those risky obediences because they know lives are at stake.

The champions “in the stands” also made their choices based on eternity thinking. Abraham “made his home in the promised land like a stranger . . . looking forward . . .” (11:9-10).    Abandoning earth-security to be a nomad in a strange place made no sense unless you saw it against the cosmic backdrop of what would matter forever.

Moses chose disgrace in Egypt and the forfeit of its treasures because “he was looking ahead to his reward” (11:26-27).  And our dear Savior “endured the cross…for the joy that was set before Him” (12:2).

That’s eternity thinking—choosing what will matter forever, not what is convenient and comfortable right now.

When you look at the people around you “looking ahead,” you will see what Jesus sees. In your neighbor, your co-worker, your teammate, and those you love. You will see people who are “lost” (Luke 19:10) . . . “without hope” (Eph. 2:12) . . . who will one day be “shut out from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thess. 1:9).

They need a rescuer who will take the risky obedience of telling them about Jesus.

The heroes in the stands risked it all to say “yes” to their Lord. Jesus paid with His life to rescue the lost. It’s our turn now. And heaven is watching.

Ron-Hutchcraft2Ron Hutchcraft (@ronhutchcraft) is an international speaker, radio host, and bestselling author. As president of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Ron and his team specialize in developing, authentic, relevant, and creative tools to reach people with the message of Jesus. Ron’s closest partner in life and work is his wife, Karen. They are the parents of three grown children and have nine grandchildren