Hebrews 11 is often called 'the hall of faith' because it lists so many Old Testament 'heroes of the faith'. Among those people we find named or known by events in their lives:
Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, 'the prophets', Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, Abednigo. And many others: "Escaped the edge of the sword, routed foreign armies in battle, women who received their dead back to life, others tortured, in chains, in prison, put to death by being sawn in two (Isaiah)", and so on.
The writer continues: "Seeing then that we have such a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight that hinders us and of sin that would hold onto us, and run the race set before us with patience, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." Hebrews 12: 1-2
These people are not asleep for he calls them the 'cloud of witnesses', not dormant, but alive and well. The use of the phrase 'cloud of witnesses' indicates they are in heaven. The use of cloud paints a perfect picture of heaven, for if they were not in heaven he could have said 'their lives provide a testimony to us', or something else to say they are in 'soul sleep' or otherwise unaware of our own lives. But he didn't, instead saying they are a 'cloud' floating above us so to speak, witnessing our lives.
The word 'witnesses' is the Greek word 'martus' (where we get the word martyr) and means "eye witness as a spectator" or "one who can confirm what he has seen, witnessed, or knows".
Of those in Hebrews 11, it says they are now witnesses to our lives like spectators at a sporting event, which is why the author said 'let us run the race set before us'. They don't know everything going on in our lives, but they know the basics of what is happening in the body of Christ: Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus to talk of His approaching death on the cross, and in Revelation 6 John saw martyrs asking the Father who long until their deaths are avenged.
My opinion and observation, for thought
Satan only perverts the true, and we all know that in the world there are many who focus on ghosts, spirit guides and such. But the existence of a counterfeit proves the existence of the true, otherwise there is no need for a counterfeit.
Therefore the real and true are those who have died in Christ being witnesses of this life. Certainly Jesus visiting people all over the world after His ascension is true - not a ghost, not a spirit guide - but the real Jesus. From Acts 9 appearing to Paul and Ananias, to Acts 18 in Corinth giving instructions to Paul, down through the centuries, people have seen and do see in the Spirit realm and are aware of that realm being in turn, aware of this realm. Moses and Elijah appearing to Jesus in Luke 9 talking of His approaching death on the cross should be mentioned too.
But many of us have at various important times in our lives, had an awareness in our spirit that 'mom and dad' or another close family or friend are spiritually present and/or aware and witnessing that event. We often hear that at the birth of a grandchild that someone felt or just knew down inside that so and so in heaven was watching. The same could be said of weddings and even funerals. Many if not most of us have had times in our lives we were aware but dare not say for fear of sounding weird, that we felt someone we love now in heaven, was watching as one of those among the cloud of witnesses.
Yes, there are the counterfeits, and it is forbidden to initiate contact with those who have died, but there are times heaven initiates it and lets us know someone near and dear to us though departed, are in fact witnessing what is happening in our lives here on earth.
What my friend saw, who he spoke with
A friend of mine went to the hospital for what he thought would be a simple procedure, but something went horribly wrong and he suffered a heart attack and died. They worked on him about 40 minutes to bring him back. During that time he was in heaven he spoke to people that he didn't know, but who he found out later, knew people that he knew. And to his amazement, they knew what was going on in the lives of some of their relatives on earth.
After he recovered and over the next weeks he would just go about his business and then cross paths with someone who he realized was the person mentioned by someone he met in heaven.
One example is a woman he saw in heaven who told him to tell 'James' to work hard and he will get through it, to complete his education. My friend didn't know the woman so didn't know who 'James' was. But one day about a week later he was talking to his neighbor who mentioned his son Jimmy. As they talked, my friend steered the conversation and discovered they had lost the neighbor's mom, Jimmy's grandmother, about a year earlier - and that Jimmy was in college but thinking about quitting. He was able to relay the story directly to Jimmy, confirm his grandmother always called him James, tell what she looked like, and all agreed that really was his grandmother.
I've shared several times about my 'tour' of heaven and how I saw a little girl and boy sitting under a tree while over a dozen relatives from several generations were with them in what appeared to be some sort of family picnic or gathering. When I noticed the several generations of family present, the children's parents were not.
When I asked 'my' angel who was walking with me, he said: "These children died in a car accident, but their parents are still on the earth. When possible, children are raised by relatives in heaven." I told him I needed chapter and verse on that, and he responded: "Have you not read Ephesians 3:14 where Paul said he 'bows his knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named'. There is only one family, it doesn't matter if some are now on earth and some are in heaven, you are all one family."
The earth-suit we have
When I was new in the Lord and getting to know the Father, He told me something that erased any doubt in my young mind. I had been reading and thinking on Colossians 1: 12-13:
"Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to be able to share in the inheritance of (all) the saints in the light, who has delivered us from the authority of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son."
I was thinking on the difference between authority which is used here (though erroneously translated 'power' in some translations). Power is the gun on the hip of the policeman, authority is their ability to raise a hand to stop traffic. A police officer has authority to stop traffic, and has power in their gun to back up their authority.
I was thinking how it says I had been delivered from the authority of darkness - that Satan had no authority on me anymore - which meant I am a citizen of heaven now, and I have the right to command spirits away, I had the right to not sin, and so on. And that I had been translated, transferred, into the kingdom of the Father's Son, made able to partake of all therein. Amazing.
The Father spoke to me as I thought on these things: "Your body gives you authority on the earth. But when the body dies, your spirit and soul automatically become subject to the kingdom you're a citizen of."
It made clear the fact there are exactly 2 kingdoms in the universe: God's and Satan's. Light and dark. Legally and spiritually, being in Christ meant Satan had no authority over me in any way, for I became a citizen of the kingdom of Jesus. In Him I have authority over the darkness.
But that little sentence He spoke to me also made clear every single person walking on the earth is right now a citizen of one of those 2 kingdoms. Because their spirit and soul are temporarily housed in a physical body it provides them the ability to choose which kingdom they want to be part of as long as that body is alive in this physical realm. I also realized every person who has ever lived and died, is right now alive in one of those kingdoms.
Jesus detailed in the afore mentioned story of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man that human beings live on once their bodies die, and retain all our memory and senses, functioning fully in that realm which is unseen to the physical eye. But that realm created the physical world, and is just as real and solid and functioning as this natural world.
We don't die and then enter eternity, we are right now already living in eternity. One day each of us will join the cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 11. If we think like that and hold that truth close to your heart, you'll find the cares of the world, the pains and hurts suffered in this world, lose much of their sting. The presence of the Lord in your spirit will become just that much more noticeable and His grace will carry you through.
New subject next week, until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org