A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Study of Those Who Lived by Faith (A Study in Hebrews 11)
January 2021 • Paperback • 978-0-8024-2107-4
Rejuvenate your faith through the stories of the faithful.
Throughout Scripture we find countless stories of God’s faithfulness—we also find countless stories of the people who remained faithful to Him.
To strengthen and deepen your own faith, enter the stories of God’s imperfect yet faithful people in A Great Cloud of Witnesses, a six-week bible study by Trillia Newbell. This study dives into Hebrews 11, examining the lives of Rahab, Enoch, Gideon, Sarah, and many more whose faiths withstood the tests of their days. Each devotional invites you into the lives of ordinary people who lived by faith and concludes with reflection questions so that you can consider how your story connects with those found in Scripture. By studying the great cloud of witnesses found in Hebrews 11, and others who have gone before us, you will learn to imitate their faith while clinging to the One who is always faithful as you run the race God has set before you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Trillia Newbell is the author of several books including A Great Cloud of Witnesses, Sacred Endurance, If God is For Us, Fear and Faith, and the children’s books, Creative God, Colorful Us and God’s Very Good Idea. When she isn’t writing, she’s encouraging and supporting other writers as an Acquisitions Editor at Moody Publishers. Trillia is married to her best friend, Thern, and they reside with their two children near Nashville, TN.
The book of Hebrews is unique in its style and authorship. Let’s start with authorship, which is unknown, as the writer does not identify himself in the text. And although the book does not begin with a greeting as a typical letter does, the end of the epistle indicates that Hebrews was written as a letter (Heb. 13:19; 22-25). The writer is clearly familiar with his readers. And because the author mentions Timothy in these texts, we can deduce that it was written in the first century.
We also see from Hebrews 13:22 that the author labels his letter as an exhortation with all the elements of a long sermon. He desires his readers to endure in the faith, which I encourage you to explore as you read through Hebrews. Where do you see the theme of enduring in the faith and not leaving Jesus? Write it down as you read. He urges his readers to remain in the Lord and build up their faith by encouraging them to look to those who have gone before us (Heb. 11).
Finally, as we’ll see in our study, the readers must have had a thorough knowledge of the Old Testament. The author refers to it throughout Hebrews, essentially pointing out that Jesus is better. Jesus is supreme over all systems and things, whether human or otherwise. Throughout we see the author comparing one thing or another to the greatness of Christ. We see in Hebrews 10 that these Christians must have needed this reminder because they were suffering. And we need these reminders, too.
Our entire Christian walk is a “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). God has graciously made it clear to us that He knows this to be true, and, in His kindness, has given us examples in the Scriptures of those who have gone before us. Understanding faith, growing in it, and living by it are key elements to finishing our race (Heb. 12:1-2). Understanding the basis of our faith is of utmost importance. And setting our eyes on the object of our faith is the only way we’ll endure.
Every day we are operating by faith, whether we realize it or not. Our faith is tested; our faith is stretched. Our faith can falter. Life is a fight for faith to believe and trust God. Over the next several weeks, we will explore Hebrews 11 and many of the Old Testament passages and characters this chapter highlights so that our faith may be built and strengthened as we live out the Christian life.
Ultimately, we will learn to run back to our Savior in faith. Each week we will study the lives of flawed yet faithful servants who endured great suffering, obeyed the Lord, and, in some instances, were even killed for their faith. Scripture tells us to look at this “cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) and remember their stories as motivation to run the race set before us. Stories are powerful tools the Lord uses to inspire, challenge, and encourage us in the faith. My hope is that we will come away eager to stay the course, knowing those who went before us, as we fix our eyes on the One who sustains us and keeps us.
We all need heroes of the faith to sustain us throughout our lives. A Great Cloud of Witnesses will be a meaningful six-week journey that will help you understand what it means to take God at his word!
– Jennie Allen
New York Times Bestselling Author of Get Out of Your Head, Founder & Visionary of IF:Gathering
In an age of short attention spans and shallow understanding, Trillia Newbell invites us to pause and meditate deeply. Her careful and thorough treatment of Hebrews 11 will ground you with a greater sense of the legacy of faith we have received from those who have gone before us. A Great Cloud of Witnesses celebrates their testimonies of well-placed faith and calls us to walk as they walked.
– Jen Wilkin
Author and Bible teacher