Janet Weaver Smith Â©9-4-2015 gardenministries.org
Not only are encounters with the Cloud of Witnesses possible, they can be so inspiring that we are moved to throw off everything that may be slowing us down. Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The word “surrounded” in Greek is: perikeimai (pronounced per-ik’-i-mahee) and its expanded meaning is: “I am encompassed, surrounded, or clothed with, am in submission to.” Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us that we are actually “wearing the testimony” of those who have gone before us like clothes. Thus, the Ephesians 5:21 mutual submission of the body of Christ extends to and includes these from heaven, as well as those in the body of Christ who we are in relationship with on earth. We are all working togetherâ€”literally!
Hebrews 11:40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they [the Cloud of Witnesses] be made perfect. In these last days, together with the Cloud of Witnesses, we will be made perfect (Greek: teleios completed). Our process of finishing well is combined into and with their well-run race. Together, by faith, we will be interacting on heavenly ground as it invades our earthly existence. That means that like Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, we too can expect to encounter those who are in the Cloud of Witnesses.
But what might be the purpose of these encounters? We need to acclimate toward a more heavenly-minded lifestyle and to know our supernatural God who promises that “no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love Him.” (2 Cor. 2:9) In Hebrews 12:22, Paul teaches us to expect to “come to” heavenly ground and have supernatural experiences with God with joyful expectation. He contrasted the Old Mountain of Fear to the New Mountain of Joy and described all of the heavenly encounters we can expect to “come to.”
Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
In these last days, God is sharing with us His testimony of faithfulness in and through His saints of old as our encouragement and joy. God is the God of the living, not the dead. These saints are alive. And some never actually died. And whether they died or never died, like Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, both “types” can appear in person for our encouragement. They can wear cloaks of invisibility and appear exclusively to one person and not others or they can appear to groups. It depends on the assignment.
No encounter surpasses those with Jesus Himself, however, I cannot deny the good fruit that has come from my encounters with the Cloud of Witnesses. For example, to my surprise, I encountered the Apostle John in person at a Contemplative Prayer Conference in Kansas City, MO. At the time, I did not realize that such a thing was even possible and I kept it mostly to myself. More recently, I encountered a relatively unknown missionary to China named Anna Ziese in a grocery store parking lot. I had seen her years earlier in a dream where Jesus showed me the transition between her generation and mine. I did not actually talk to either of these two but their presence provoked me to ask God why they appeared to me and I learned His message in that creative way.
Then I encountered and talked with the Apostle Paul in a deeply reverent “live-chat” as he tangibly ministered to me in a dream-vision-trance on Mother’s Day, 2015. I also saw in a dream, my own Mom come out of heaven and down to speak to a church group that she had been a part of most of her life. As she spoke, the white smoke of God’s glory came out of her mouth. She warned us of a demonic entity that was releasing a “demonic anointing” on young women and was channeling through the pop performer named Beyoncé.
And not only do the Cloud of Witnesses enjoy interactions with us and have divine purpose in doing so, the angelic realm will become more and more visible and interactive with us as well. Our angels enjoy meeting up with each other and with us. They look forward to our times of koinonia fellowship as much as we do!
The purpose of these encounters is to receive impartations, wisdom and revelation, understanding, and encouragement from what these saints learned and developed in their love relationship with Jesus when they walked the earth. Hebrews 2:12 tells us that Jesus Himself declares their name to His brothers and sister [in heaven and on earth] and in the assembly [on earth and in heaven] He even sings their praises.
Ask the Lord Jesus yourself whether these encounters are real and if you are to receive them. Let Him bear witness to your heart about the matter and then let Him take it from there. It is not something we can make happen, but we can open our heart by faith to its possibility and thus, enter into it as He leads and chooses by His Spirit.