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Further Reading Resources for you - Hebrews
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The Christian's Walk of Faith.
1. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (NKJVTM)
Having read the list of so many men and women of faith in God from the Old Testament, we should be emboldened to follow their example. We must put off anything that would hinder our progress in Christ and run the race, (or walk the walk), of faith. We must refuse to be bogged down by sin, which would stop us finishing the race and instead be determined to persevere to reach our heavenly goal.
2. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NKJVTM)
The Lord Jesus Christ died and rose again that we might be saved. He alone is the author (the one who brought our faith into being, both by giving us a way of salvation to believe in and by going that work of bringing us to faith) and the finisher (who will carry on the work of faith in us to its completion - Phillip.1:6). That is why we look to him, he alone can enable us to finish the race. For the joy of redeeming many sinners by his blood and bringing them to everlasting glory he was willing to endure the cross, thinking nothing of its shame (it was the death of a criminal) and having endured he is now exalted to the right hand of God. Let us endure that we too may sit with him in heaven.
3. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (NKJVTM)
Think of him who took patiently such violence and rebellion from ungodly men. If he did so, yet triumphed, we can also triumph through patience as we face the same things (John 15:20) As we endure we will not faint and lose heart and our faith.
4. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. (NKJVTM)
In fact, to date the Judaen Christians, although they had suffered, had not resisted sin to the point of blood shed, as Christ had. Paul's words seek to encourage them not to give up. It is better to allow your blood to be shed than to give in to sin.
The Discipline of God.
5. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "MY SON, DO NOT DESPISE THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD, NOR BE DISCOURAGED WHEN YOU ARE REBUKED BY HIM. (NKJVTM)
Because of their discouragement in the face of opposition, they had let go of what they had learned "forgotten the exhortation". God uses hardships and difficulties for our benefit and good. They are his chastening to keep us on the right way. We are not to resent God's chastening hand, nor be discouraged or give up when we are rebuked by him.
6. FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." (NKJVTM)
It is because God loves us that he chastens us, and because he has made us his own children that he takes responsibility to correct us. The word scourge means a beating as a father might give his son.
7. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? (NKJVTM)
We should accept the chastening from God's hand since God is dealing with us as his sons.
8. But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. (NKJVTM)
Since no Christian who be excluded from God's chastisement, those who do not experience it are not true sons at all.
9,10 . Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. (NKJVTM)
Many of us have known our human fathers, who sought as best they could to correct us and bring us up best they could when we were children. We learned submission (or to obey) and give respect to them. How much more should we submit to the Father of all men's spirits that we might have life, and be partake of his holiness. For God does not chastise to satisfy his displeasure, or because he is angry with us, but in order to teach us his way, purely for our good.
11. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (NKJVTM)
Of course, no one enjoys chastening. At the time it is painful, but when we have been trained by it and learned its lessons, it produces a harvest of righteousness in our lives, giving us the peace (whole well-being) God intended.
12. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees. (NKJVTM)
So, do not be discouraged under God's hand of chastening. Lift up your hands to God in prayer and let your feeble knees stand firm in the faith.
13. And make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. (NKJVTM)
Do not allow your experience to make you bitter and resentful against God, turning you out of the way. Instead yield your spirit and turn your feet into his straight paths. As we submit and do not rebel we get through the experience much more quickly, for when the work which needs to be done in us is done, God removes the rod with which brought us into line.
14. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. (NKJVTM)
Our aim must be to live peaceably with all men. We are not to keep any enemies if we can help it. However, note that some will remain our enemies, as they were Christ's even without cause (John 15:25). We must also aim to live a life of holiness, set apart to God and free from moral contamination, for on this condition men will be permitted to see the Lord (Matt. 5:8).
15. Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. (NKJVTM)
Be watchful unless anyone falls from the grace of God, turning to sin and wickedness. Many Christians have supposed that the root of bitterness refers to some dispute between believers. Rather, in the OT it is a reference to idolatry, and therefore to turning away from God and back to Satan. Paul is referring to a text in Deuteronomy, let us read it all (Deut. 29:17 - 28). The danger Paul has in mind is that one can lead away many others "many may be defiled".
16. Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. (NKJVTM)
Included in this idea of a bitter root - turning away from God can also lead to sexual immorality. A fornicator is a man or woman who has sexual intercourse with anyone other than their husband or wife. It cannot be stressed enough that sex before marriage, or sex with someone else's husband or wife, is a sin which will bring the wrath of God upon those who do it. God's will for the believer is sexual purity (1 Thess. 4:1-7).
A profane person is someone who treats the things of God lightly or with contempt (Heb. 10.29). Today, most people (including Christians) do not make any distinction between what Is holy and what is common. The church has mixed God's standards with the secular spirit of the world. Esau's birthright was to inherit the promises of God given to his Father Isaac and his grandfather Jacob, and his responsibility was to train his family in the ways of God. He though so little of this privilege and responsibility that he traded it with his younger brother Jacob for one bowl of stew.
I have known believers exchange their everlasting soul with the devil for a pint of beer or an immoral sexual relationship. But was it a worthwhile deal?
17. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (NKJVTM)
Remember, when Esau later wanted to receive the blessing from his father, his father refused, and would not change his mind even when Esau tried to pursuade him with begging and tears. So those who treat God in this way may also find there is no way back for them either.
A Heavenly City and a New Creation.
18,19. For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (NKJVTM)
In our new spiritual relationship with God through Christ, we have not come to a physical mountain, a place that can be seen and touched. The reference is to Sinai where God gave Moses the law for the people. As God's presence came down to this mountain it burned with fire and was hidden by gloom, darkness and tempest (Deut. 4:11-12). The trumpet was unendurable in volume and the words terrified the people so much they begged that it should no longer be heard by them (Ex. 20:18-19).
20. For they could not endure what was commanded: "AND IF SO MUCH AS A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT SHALL BE STONED OR SHOT WITH AN ARROW." (NKJVTM)
So strict were the boundaries concerning access to Sinai that even an animal which touched the ascent to the mountain was to be executed without being touched - stoned or shot with an arrow.
21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I AM EXCEEDINGLY AFRAID AND TREMBLING." (NKJVTM)
The sight was truly terrifying even Moses, who was used to hearing the voice of God was terrified. As Christians we have not come to meet God in this place or in this way. The event was a picture of God hidden in darkness and wrathful against sin - not that he was hiding from us, but that our sin separated us from Him.
22. But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels. (NKJVTM)
Since Jesus Christ died to take away our sin, we enter into the reality of God's presence; which is the place of his holiness, the city of the living God, the city of peace in heaven, surrounded by angels too many to count.
23. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect. (NKJVTM)
The whole church (those born of God, whose names are written in heaven) gather there to worship God, who is righteous not only as the judge of all men, but as the one who makes us righteous through the death of his son, that our spirits might be perfect before him, bearing Christ's likeness.
24. To Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (NKJVTM)
The old covenant could not bring us near to God in this way, but the blood of Jesus has brought us into a new covenant mediated by him through his death on the cross. That blood speaks better things than that of Abel. When righteous Abel was murdered by his brother, his blood cried to God for vengeance. When Jesus blood was shed he cried to God for forgiveness, peace and reconciliation.
25. See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven. (NKJVTM)
This wonderful news ends with a warning. If those who refused to listen to God when he spoke from Sinai, which was only a foreshadowing of things to come, were put to death, how shall we escape judgment if we turn our backs on Jesus, who speaks from heaven.
26,27. Whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO HEAVEN." Now this, "YET ONCE MORE," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. (NKJVTM)
At Sinai God's voice shook the earth, but God has promised to speak again to end the earth, the dissolution of this present creation so that only those things which are eternal and spiritual, part of his new creation, will remain. As believers we are part of that new creation (2 Pet. 3:10-14 ; 2 Cor. 5:17 ; Rev. 21:1).
28. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (NKJVTM)
Since, thank God, we are entering into an everlasting kingdom, let us by the grace of God worship and serve God, yielding all our lives to Him with reverence and godly fear (Rom. 12:1 ; 1 Cor. 6.20).
29. For our God is a consuming fire. (NKJVTM)
For our God, although our Father, is a consuming fire, able to destroy, if he chose, not only the body and the material universe but the spirit of man and the realm of what is spiritual, by his own all consuming presence.
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