Hebrews 12:1 states, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…” Some understand the “cloud of witnesses” to be people looking down on us from heaven. That is not the correct interpretation. Hebrews chapter 11 records many people whom God commended for their faith. It is these people who are the “cloud of witnesses.” They are “witnesses” not in that they are watching us, but rather in that they have set an example for us. They are witnesses for Christ and God and truth. Hebrews 12:1 continues, “…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.” Because of the faith and diligence of Christians who went before us, we should be inspired to follow their example.
The Bible does not specifically say whether or not people in heaven can look down on us who are still on the earth. It is highly unlikely that they can. Why? First, they would sometimes see things that would cause them grief or pain, namely, acts of sin and evil. Since there is no grief, tears, or unhappiness in heaven (Revelation 21:4), it does not seem that observing earthly events would be possible. Second, people in heaven are so preoccupied with worshipping God and enjoying the glories of heaven that it does not seem they would have significant interest in what is happening here on earth. The very fact that they are free from sin and experiencing God’s presence in heaven surely is more than enough to captivate their attention. While it is possible that God allows people in heaven to look down upon their loved ones, the Bible gives us no reason to believe this actually occurs.