Epistle to the Hebrews (10:32-39)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsThink back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things.You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For,“In just a little while,he who is coming will come and will not delay.”And,“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:32-39

Remember brothers and sisters your first love. Remember how zealous you were when you first encountered with Christ. Remember where you come from. Our author has exposed to us the supremacy of Jesus Christ in the previous chapters. We know how exalted the Son is. Our author wants the readers to remember where they come from. Paul said:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” Eph 2:1-3

We were once dead in our sins, we were living in sin, had the devil as master and were enemies of God. We were objects of wrath like everyone else. We were like those we call idolaters and sons of the devil. God no longer remembers our past sinful life because He has forgiven it all. But it keeps us humble when we look back and remember where we come from. It humbles our prideful soul that we were once objects of God’s wrath (Romans 9:22).  As much as you have to remember that God no longer remembers your past sins, do not forget where you come from.

But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” 2 Pet 1:9

The author is here acknowledging that these Hebrews Christians have endured persecution and trials. These people have suffered in the past because of the radical decision they took to abandon Judaism and follow Christ. They were beaten, jailed and deprived of their comforts. They gladly accepted all this because they knew that their real possession was heaven.

 “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.” Phil 3:20, 1 Pet. 2:11

But the past should not be a picture we have framed as a souvenir. We should rather take as evidence what God did in the past to boost our confidence for what is yet to come. Do not act like the Israelites who thought God was a God of the past who did miracles for their forefathers. Do not remain on your past achievements, you need to continuously be changed in Christ likeness and grow.

 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Cor 3:18

Is it tranquility of mind, ceasefire, attenuance of persecutions which made the Hebrews asleep? Persecution is a factor that cleansed Christians quickly from all kinds of impurities. You really had to trust and love Jesus if you wanted to be His follower. The persecutors thought that beheading Christians would threaten Christians, attenuate their zeal and discourage them but it was the reversed which happened.

And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.” Phil. 1:12-14

The persecution has led to the scattering of Christians and thus a quicker spread of the gospel. Remaining in the cocoon of Christian fellowship because everything is safe is not the right thing to do. Jesus said “Therefore GO to all the nations”.  Paul’s radical stand and his love for Christ inspired many Christians who in turned became martyrs for the sake of Christ. Right now, if someone confesses he is a christian in Nigeria, he must really be one because by doing so he is putting his life at stake. Persecution allowed to remove the weeds from the wheat. Persecution boosted Christians in their commitments. No one will put his life at stake for a lie. Christians have been tortured and ill treated because of their commitment to Christ. They really knew in whom they believed (2 Tim 1:12).

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” Mat 5:11

But we must take it as a warning when we no longer feel the pain. You must be contented when you still feel the pain in your bleeding feet but when the pain is gone you need to be more alarmed.

Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.“But woe to you who are rich,for you have already received your comfort.Woe to you who are well fed now,for you will go hungry.Woe to you who laugh now,for you will mourn and weep.Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:23-26

It is a sign of ceasefire when there is no conflict between the children of light and those of darkness. The devil will never make a compromise. We should not be politically correct. We should examine ourselves when the world starts to speak well of us. It could be a sign that we are no longer a threat to their works but an ally. The devil will offer you whatever you want to have you by his side in subtle ways. It can be a better job or a smart but unconverted spouse. If all soldiers on the battlefield decide to raise the white flag, lives will be saved but the battle will be lost. Your battle will be lost but the war will be won anyway and you will have to give an account for why you deserted on Judgement Day. The Lord of the heavenly Armies, said :

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul” Mark 8:35

Jesus knew that many of His soldiers will lose their lives because of Him. But what matters is that they were partakers, they were faithful and obedient to the voice of their Commander.

The Spirit within us is in direct opposition to the sinful desires of the flesh.

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” Gal 5:17-18

If you do not know, let me tell you that you have enrolled in a holy battle when you decided to follow Jesus. You have to be equipped, for war is not a fictitious game. There are only 2 camps. If you do not fight against the works of the devil, you’re his friend and therefore God’s enemy. If someone in the camp does not attack the enemy, beware wolf in! There is no neutral or peacemaker in this war. The devil is God’s ancient foe, the archenemy. Do not try to bring a truce lest heaven’s armies swords turn against you and consider you a betrayer!

You adulterous people,don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Eph 6:10-13

Paul said “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor 10:3

As Jesus said, those who are not with Him are against Him. Those who do not gather with Him scatters.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters “Mat 12 :30

It is good to remember what a courageous soldier you were in the past but do not say you’re now a war veteran that needs to rest.  Do not give up. Your flesh is weak but not your spirit (Mat 26:41). This war is not against the flesh but a spiritual war against the powers of darkness.

The author wants the Hebrews to persevere. Soon the trials will be over when the Son will establish His Kingdom.

They started well but they need to finish the race.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Cor 9:24-27

Running only a mile without finishing the whole 26 miles marathon does not mean anything. In this race we are running there is not as such a competition between Christians but it is an individual reward that will be given without comparisons with others. It is good to remember that you had a good start in the race but it is another thing to finish that race (Hebrews 10:39). The Galatians started well but eventually began to drift away.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.” Gal 1:6

Our author wants to tell us this:

“Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering…You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.”

Your past remembers you what God has done. You have enough evidence that God is real. Based on these facts, will you rejoice on past souvenirs or sit down at the Commander’s table for new conquests and establishment God’s Kingdom?

But my righteous one will live by faith.And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

My righteous One says God. This demonstrate a sign of possession and trust. My righteous one, it is this good and faithful servant who rejoices the heart of the Father. This righteous soul’s objective is to do nothing except the will of the Father (John 4:34). Much can be said about this righteous person who lives by faith. His reliance is on the work of the Son of God. He has given full control and authority to the Messiah. He is called God’s possession, “MY righteous one”, God’s friend as Abraham and Moses were. God does not take pleasure in war deserters, in those who shrink back.  We are not among those who have a foot in the sand and the other in the water. We know where we are going to and what we ought to do.

As we have seen earlier, there’re those who started well with Jesus and finally abandoned Him. They trampled on the Son of God. They betrayed Him. These are the people who shrink back to their own destruction. But we are those who remain in Christ, live through His mighty power and are saved by sole reliance on Jesus’ work.

Jesus said that there is a cost in becoming His disciples (Luke 14:28). You’ll be faced with situations where you might have to leave your loved ones, your comforts and status because of His glory. If one wants to be a disciple of Jesus he must sit down and think well because that implies that he will have to give up all his rights. When the commander will say to go and fight, he will have to obey and not desert. It is better to be a fierce enemy than to be a deserter.  Both sides scoff and hate deserters. If you have decided to follow Jesus, you must follow Him till the end or you’ll be judged more severely.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish. “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

Jesus has put it clear that if one wants to follow Him, he must give up everything and let Him alone be the Master. Think well about the cost of serving Jesus. In this illustration Jesus talked about “terms of peace”, of course that does not mean that there is a way to make peace between God and the devil. It rather means that if you are not ready to start and finish something, it’s better you do not engage yourself. Do not enroll in war if you think you will desert. If you do not want to follow Jesus, you are already His enemy. The Gospel is free but not a cheap one. We are not rendering Jesus a service when following Him. It is war my friend, you’re either with Him or against Him. It is us who need Jesus to be saved. By becoming His follower we are not increasing His popularity as likes on facebook do. Jesus is God and it is not a mere man who will make Him more radiant in His glory.

When Jesus said that He was the bread of life many of his disciples deserted Him.

David said: “Those who desert him will perish,for you destroy those who abandon you” Ps 73:27

What will you do today? Will you shrink back or follow Him till your last breath on the battlefield?

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:60-67

Jesus never forced someone to follow Him. In fact He knew that the Words of Truth He said would offend many. He did not seek to be popular and he even turned to the 12 saying:

You do not want to leave too, do you?

Will you leave also today if asked the same question? Or proclaim like Peter ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Joshua said to the Israelites, ” Decide what you’ll do but as for me and my house we’ll serve the Lord.” Joshua 24

Will you walk with Him through the valley of death and be on the battlefield? Or will you give up, be politically correct, shrink back, lose faith and desert?

Advertisements

Posted April 16, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: