Presbyterian/Reformed theology reecognizes that all of God's elect are "saints" or holy ones. With that whole predestination-to-salvation thing and Calvin's effectual calling, the saints are US!
Being God's chosen doesn't mean that you're anything too special, like extra-spiritual, super-blessed, or anything. We see from scripture that God's elect can get in trouble, but we also hear how God and God's promise remains for them. "God will wipe away every tear."
In Isaiah 25, God begins by having the prophet declare the destruction of God's sacred precinct on the holy hill of Jersualem. Yet in our passage, God's promise follows on the heels of God's judgment.
That promise is a special sacred feast of the finest goods. Look at the passage and see what's on the menu. The "menu" gets spelled out in detail in the sermon. At this feast, God promises the saints that the covenant will continue with God's will fulfilled. "God will wipe away every tear."
In Hebrews 12, the author is trying to shore up the doubting spirits, shaking kneees, and slumped shoulders of the faithful. These faithful are likely either converts from Judaism, or new Jesus-followers who are seeking to find their place within traditional Judaism as well as, say, a house church. In any case, they have been beset and their beliefs attacked. The author's letter tries to show the fulfillment of Judaism's promise in Jesus.
The Hebrews author summons the witnesses of faith across many generations. The message emphasizes the struggles of these faithful servants, and even the denial of their goals and aims. It also reminds them that God ultimately upheld them, honored them, and fulfilled God's promise in them. These beleaguered early Christians need to see themselves amid a "cloud of witnesses" across a long history of God's faithful, and join with such steadfast and determined faith heroes of the ages.
Finally, the author points to Jesus, his earthly struggles, trials, and brutal crucifixion, in whom God's promise was fulfilled. Endurance, persistance, and sacrifice by the saints is what happens to God's people when they're truly faithful.
We celebrate the saints and their struggles, but most importantly the triumph of the promise of new life in Jesus Christ.
Get the full sermon via the video (yes, it worked this week!) or the text download below the video panel.