Evidently, this is a study I went through in Church. Notice, however, that I did not finish this chapter. I touched a little on v. 14 & v. 16, but not much. So on the end of this is the completion, vv. 15 on, December 21, 1995.
Paul has been encouraging these Hebrew Christians on in faith. Their temptation was to go back into the old Hebrew religion. The persecution was great to turn their back upon their new found faith and freedom in Christ.
Heb. 11, Paul has illustrated the nature and power of faith and now he is going to encourage those he is writing to, to apply the principles of faith to their own situations. In chp. 11, he presents five arguments as to why they should remain true and faithful to their profession and be faithful in fulfilling their duty and responsibilities as followers of Christ.
I. The most obvious is v. 1. The faithful ones who have gone before.
II. vv. 2-4, the example of the Saviour.
III. vv. 5-13. The trials which we go through are for our own good.
IV. vv. 14-17, to back down or to fail to continue on, it would be impossible to regain what we have lost.
V. vv. 18-29, the final argument he uses is the much better dispensation under which they found themselves. Rather than the physical mountain which burned with fire and created fear, they are now under the new Mt. Zion with its joy. Everything about the new Mt. Zion should excite encouragement to faithfulness.
12:1, Paul uses the illustration of running a race even as we would think of it today. The track in the middle of a huge crowd of spectators. Paul refers back to the crowd which have already passed off the scene. Those who have completed their "race" in spite of the tremendous difficulties. Their race is done and they have moved on to their eternal reward. These faithful witnesses have gone on before us. We should gain encouragement to run on as we think of them.
Can we actually see what is taking place here on this earth? The word of God just doesn't tell us this. But our actions and life here should be lived as though they were assembled on high around us, cheering us on. We are compassed with these folks who were faithful.
He follows his illustrations on through--let us lay aside every weigh. Here we see that runners in a race will not wear bulky clothing. They will not wear or carry anything of extra weigh. They will be careful in training. They will watch their diet and how much they eat. A runner which desires to finish a lengthy race will lay aside anything which might hinder him.
As we apply this to Christianity this would call for the removal of everything which would obstruct our progress as Christians or would hinder the cause of Christ. This would include laying aside such obviously sinful things as pride, lust, rebellion, violent temper, vanity, unclean thoughts and imagination, hardness, covetousness.
Even such things as a lack of prayer and study of scriptures, lack of church.
Really, this includes ANYTHING which would hinder our heart obedience and service to God.
and the sin which doth so easily beset us. Skillfully surrounding. Notice the implication here is that this sin is standing right next to us waiting to overtake us. It is at hand. Again, the race. The runner is going to avoid clothing which would wind around him and hinder his running. The application is to lay aside the sin which we are easily susceptible to or that we are the most exposed to, and the person who feels they don't have at least one such sin is already caught in one.
Four types of sin here.
1.) The sin which appeals to our nature. It will probably be different for different people. Some it may be pride, immorality, covetousness, anger, (strangely enough, as an example. The more attractive a young lady is, the more they are tempted with lust), those things which fit within our natural temperance.
2.) Those sins in which we freely partook of before we were saved. The desires were awakened and fed, now demand to be fulfilled. Maybe drunkenness, adulteries, fornication, unholy ambitions, pride, love of money, smoking.
Those things which controlled us before salvation have a hold over us from past habits. Christ gives the victory to avoid them, but he doesn't do away with the old desires and lusts.
3.) Maybe sins which our job, profession might expose us to or our relation to others or even our situations in life.
Those who have more money will be thrown into more society which follows after drinking or adultery or amusements which are distinctly anti-Christian.
Maybe those who are involved in politics will be influenced to become partakers with the politicians. "Potomac fever." Undoubtedly someone self-employed, would be tempted to lie a little (stretch the truth), in order to get a job.
4.) A fourth sin which doeth so easily beset us would be those sins which appeal to our particular character, such as, a weakness of our nature, a weakness in our character. We may be as strong as steel in one area, but as weak as water in others. Every person has at least one weak point.
Some folks wouldn't dream of gossip, criticizing or judging, yet they may be exceptionally venerable to fear, their personality, etc.
Others may be a tower of strength when it comes to believing God or dealing with fear, yet their personality leaves them open to coldness, harshness, indifference.
Each person has a character trait which leaves them wide open to a particular sin. That sin may seem foolish to another, yet it is devastating to you. That sin may be a strong point in us, yet in that other person their character leaves an open invitation for that sin to enter in. The apostle here says, "watch out, lay it aside. (Contrasted or different from the sin which appeals to our nature. This one is a weakness in our personality.)
--and let us run-- Patience--preserver. Run our race without allowing ourselves to be hindered and without giving up or fainting in the way. We are to be encouraged by those on lookers from heaven. They ran the same race before us and successfully completed it. We need to hang in there as they did.
The word is steadfast, endurance, constancy. The characteristic of a man who is unmoved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.
This is a perfect description of those mentioned in Heb. 11, Rom. 15:4. Does it describe us? Do we get our eyes upon what God wants us to do and then run in that direction. Not allowing anyone or any thing or any circumstances to detract us?
Now the apostles second means of encouragement.
II. Look around you, at those who have been faithful and have gone on before. Now, look at Jesus, the author and finisher of faith. He was the perfect example of faith. Faith begins in him and ends in him, Rev. 1:8,, 11. He is the most perfect example which could be placed before anyone. His faith caused him to triumph over absolutely every thing which the world, flesh and the devil could throw at him. In fact, he was tempted in all points like as we re, yet without sin, Heb. 4:15.
There is no one ever before him who could compare in faith (author) and there will never be anyone after him who can compare to him in faith (finisher). Faith starts and ends in him.
Then the apostle jumps clear ahead to the reason why Jesus continued on in faith then he comes back and fills in the gap.
Who for the joy that was set before him. He has already talked about the many saints of old who looked past the present by faith and kept on going. Here he holds up Jesus as the perfect example.
In view of the joy that would be his from the Father upon the completion of his assigned task here is what he went through. (He found his joy in obeying his Father and redeeming sinners.)
1.) Endured the cross. We cannot imagine the pain which was associated with the cross. He patiently endured that pain because of what was before him.
Let us point out that most of us base our endurance upon how things went that morning. Not on what the future holds.
2.) Despising the shame-- He disregarded the shame of this mode of death. We no longer associate the cross with shame. The Son of God turned the cross from the more shameful methods of execution of the most horrible of criminals into an object to be worshiped [sad to say]. The cross because of Christ, no longer stands for dishonour and disgrace and vileness. Rather it now stands for love, self-sacrifice and purity.
It was not that way when Christ took this manner of death and really for many years after in the worlds eyes. He made it a symbol of holiness and victory.
When he took it on it could be compared to the electric chair in our day as an object of shame. Today it is the electric chair which is the symbol of vileness and shame. It is no honour to be associated with the E.C. When we think of it we associate people like Bundy who killed hundreds of young women, with it. This would be something of the shame which the cross held.
Can you imagine trying to convince people that a person who had died in the electric chair was actually innocent. That they were now alive. To say the least, it would be difficult to convince them.
The cross was an object of shame. Christ disregarded that shame as he willingly submitted to this method of death. Why? Because of the joy which was set before him.
a.) He saw his glory at the right hand of the father. I Pet. 1:11; Lk. 24:26.
The little bit of shame which his people might have to go through for him can't hold a spark compared to what he did.
He endured the cross. He disregarded the shame associated with the cross. The result is that he is now seated in the highest, most exalted place in the universe. (Ps. 110:1 is given in my Bible cross-reference.)
The though here with v. 2 is this:
"Follow the example of the great author of our religion, of our faith. He endured the most severe suffering that a human could be subjected to. He faced the most shameful of death. Why? Because of the future honor and joy which was before him. Therefore, no matter how severe the trials might be or how much shame we might be exposed to, for the sake of the gospel, patiently endured it all. There is joy and rewards ahead for those who will remain faithful to their profession."
12:3, the command here is to think on Jesus. Keep his life (and yes, his death), in mind. Reflect upon his example. No doubt this alone would solve 90% of our problems.
Temptation--think on Jesus. Lust
Discouraged--think on Jesus. Hurt feelings.
Proud--think on Jesus. Anger.
Covetousness, think on Jesus. Bitterness.
Hard decisions, think on Jesus.
Heb. 12:3 tells us that the only thing which will keep us faithful to God's word in the face of the opposition is keeping our minds upon Jesus. Col. 3:16; Ph. 2:5; Col. 1:21.
Endured such contradiction of sinners. Opposition.
The Jews opposed Christ at every turn. They did not miss a chance to ridicule, scorn, mock or pervert his sayings. Yet in the face of all of this he continued on in the Father's will. No opposition from sinners could turn him from the right way.
Of course the application is that we are not to allow the oppositions of any person turn us from the path which the Father has for us.
lest ye be weary and faint in your mind. Those who Paul is writing to were racing the same persecution from the same source (Jews), which our Saviour faced. Of course, though the application is for all time.
Notice what is indicated here.
What will happen if we allow our mind to wonder from Jesus and his example? See Gal. 6:9.
Let us be reminded again. If we hold ANY MAN other than the man Christ Jesus up for our consideration, we will grow weary and faint in our mind.
We will do what we preached about from Mal. 3:14, and we will say, "What's the use?" Everything went against the Saviour but he never allowed himself to doubt the joy which was ahead.
V. 4. He continues on with the example of Christ.
No matter how bad we may feel we have it, we have not yet gone to the point of the Saviour.
No matter how great the trial of our faith might be, we have not yet shed blood over it as did Christ, who is our example.
Unto blood, there are two references this could be. The blood shed of the cross, but the context (controlled mind), would speak more of Luke 22:40-46. Don't grow weary and faint in your minds. Rather think on Jesus.
The temptation here to turn his back on the Father's will was so great that the struggle against this temptation produced great drops of blood.
Our example, when faced with the temptation to sin and turn from the Fathers will, sweat blood rather than yield to the temptation.
Yes, undoubtedly our temptation is great. Tempted to grow weary and faint. Tempted to give up in the face of a little opposition.
How easily we yield. How many times do we have to repent. How great a battle for our own minds and when lost, actions follow, sinful actions.
Other fail, we fall because we are watching them. We should be watching the One who sweat great drops of blood rather than even entertain the thought of not going through with the Father's will.
Now we come to fifth division of chp. 12, this is the fifth argument which Paul has confronted these people with. Encouraging them to be faithful.
1.) He reminds them of the faithful ones who have gone before.
2.) He calls their attention to the Saviour who was faithful. Follow his example as he obeyed the will of the Father.
3.) The trials which we go through are for our own good.
4.) To back down from or to fail to continue on, it will be impossible to regain what we lose. (Esau is his example.)
Now, V. 18-29, his final argument is the much better dispensation under which they find themselves. Rather than the physical mountain which burned with fire and caused even Moses to fear, they now have a new Mt. Zion with its joy. Everything about the new Mt. Zion should create encouragement to faithfulness. Notice really how little Paul uses for encouragement. He mostly threatens as do the rest of the authors of the scriptures.
V. 18. He is going to compare the two mountains. The church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38, congregation of the Lord), came to a mountain which was both visible and touchable, although they were prohibited from touching it. Everything about that mountain was designed to create awe and fear in the hearts of the people. It was designed to show the terribleness of God, or the power of God with the purpose of keeping them in line. Every thing associated with the giving of the law was to fill the soul with terror, thereby causing them to obey.
As we would read the story back in Ex. 19, we would see that it did create terror. The people were so afraid of it and of the God who spoke out of the midst of the fire and smoke that they ask Moses to speak to them for God, v. 19. (Ex. 20:18020)
God designed the terror or fierceness of this mountain so great that it could not be touched by man nor beast, 20-21. The people said, "Moses, you speak for God to us lest we die." (Ex. 19 and 20.)
The motive for obeying God under the old dispensation was terror and fear. Every thing was designed for this. It is not hard to follow this throughout the OT. When Meriam spoke against Moses, leprosy was the result. When the people spoke against Moses, plagues developed and thousands died. This happens over and over in the OT.
Notice what Paul says, 12:18, For you are not come--- Remember the purpose of the epistle. This is Paul's concluding argument. He has spent almost all of his time convincing them of the better covenant which is under Christ than what they had under the old Hebrew religion.
His concluding argument is to show that under the new dispensation of Christ there is far more to bind them to faithfulness than there was under the old. Under Christ it is also more dangerous to go astray than it was under the old. The new system under Christ is far superior in every way over the old Jewish system. Even with its terror, there is more to cause faithfulness under Christ.
V. 18, For ye are not come unto the mount which caused such terror. (V. 22), But ye are come unto mount Sion. He is going to contrast the two mounts. The one caused fear, the other is far more excellent. All of those who are Christians are come to this mount. This religion (Christianity vs the old Jewish religion [which is still practiced today, I might add]) has more to cause faithfulness to the law of God than did the old. This religion has more to win the affections, elevate the soul and to inspire the soul. It has less to inspire awe (terror) and alarm. It appeals less to fear and more to hope.
Under the old dispensation, there was an immediate result. If the person spoke against someone like Moses, leprosy came. If they stole like Achan, death come. If they rebelled there was immediate results.
Under the new dispensation of Christ we see the patience and long-suffering of God, Rom. 2. This is to encourage man to repent, to change, yet it is interrupted.
Under the old dispensation fear of immediate punishment was used to keep folks in line. Under Christ, his loving patience is used to encourage repentance. This love should cause his people today even more to faithfulness.
Actually, there are two major motivating factors, love and fear. Both will cause people to move in some strange ways. Christ desires that we be constrained by love, II Cor. 5:14. (4912) Constrainethto be emotionally praised, or heed in custody. Acts 18:5.
Sad to say, most of us respond more to fear than we do to love.
Therefore, let us not be deceived into thinking that because Christ appeals to faith rather than terror (by Faith we walk rather than by terror), it is any less terrible in its consequences for apostasy than was the religion under Moses and the mount which burned with fire. 12:29, makes this clear. Also notice what Paul says in II Cor. 5:11.
Mount Sion-- The contrast here is between Mt. Sinai and Mt. Sion. Literally Mt. Zion was the southern hill in Jerusalem on which part of the city was built. David made that part of the city the residence of his court and soon the whole city became known as Zion. Jerusalem was the center of the worship for the whole Israelite nation. Jerusalem contained the temple where the worship of God took place. This is where God dwelt by a visible symbol. The city, known as the city of Zion became a type and emblem of God's holy abode as he dwells in heaven.
Paul's reference here then is not to the physical Mount Zion, but the heavenly Mount Zion which the city had come to represent. Because we see here that all Christians approach this Mount Zion, not just those who were dwelling at a particular physical location.
--city of the living God. The city where the living God dwells or the heavenly Jerusalem. God dwelt by a visible symbol in the temple at Jerusalem and under the old dispensation his people came to worship him there. Now he dwells in heaven and his people go there to worship him. His people are to regard themselves as already dwellers in this heavenly city. Our lives and actions are to be as though we were already there, Eph. 4:6; Ph. 3:20
Some passages which tell us that God dwells in a heavenly city, Heb. 11:10' Gal. 4:26.
angels.. Here we see the angels are assembled around the throne of God, singing his praises. W are with them, can we do any less? All of these things are seen by faith. We should be encouraged to remain faithful to such a religion which allows us not only free access into the heavenly city but places us among the holy angels in our praise and worship.
V. 23, general assembly= a festive gathering, mass meeting. The only place this is used. Firstborn. The firstborn among the Hebrews enjoyed special privileges (see messages on firstborn). Our faith in Christ places us in contact with some very special persons. Our spirit is placed among those who are already rejoicing around the throne of the lamb. We are already identified with the holy men of the past, including those mentioned in chp. 11. It is an honour to be identified with these great saints which have gone on before us.
which are written (rerolled) in heaven. See Lk. 10:20.
Remember Paul's confrontation with the centurion, Acts 21:39; 22:25-28, and in 16:37.
Being a citizen of a influential city carried with it honour and privileges. The believer is a citizen of the city of the living God. Why would he want to give up or deny that citizenship?
Not are the believers brought to the heavenly city of God, into the vast company of angels, to the general assembly which is around the throne but also to God, the judge of all. Here is a quick passing reminder that the God with whom they are familiar from the old Mount Sinai is still around. He is still the judge of all. They are in his presence, after all they are in his city. They had best remember that he will judge and they had everything to fear if they departed. They also had everything to gain if they bore up under their trials.
and to the spirits-- Here he includes everyone. Not only those special saints, but everyone who is there. The departed loved ones are already there if they were made perfect. This should be a motive to live right now.
V. 24. The very peak of motivation to live right, Jesus. This is the argument he has used over and over. The new better mediator, Jesus. His blood sealed the covenant, not blood as Abel used. His blood speaks much better than the blood which Abel offered up in obedience to God. Abel's sacrifice spoke of a covenant but the blood f Christ speaks much better of the covenant.
Now he is going to spend the rest of the chapter in warning. He starts out, v. 25. Don't reject or disregard him that speaketh. Who? V. 24, the Lord of the covenant. Even though he is not speaking from the midst of lightening and thunders, his message is no less important. He speaks by his Son and by the Holy Spirit. He speaks in mercy and appeal in the gospel.
For if--- If the ones who heard and saw what happened at Mt. Sinai (vv. 18-21), didn't escape when they ignored the warnings of Moses, then how can we expect to get away with sin when it is the Son of God who speaks now? The contrast is between the founder of the Jew's religion (Moses) and the founder of Christianity (the Son of God), who speaks from above. (Moses was the one that spake on earth).
Ex. 19:18. The voice from heaven shook the earth.
But now hath he promised. This is a quote from Hag. 2:6-7.
The giving of the law on the mount shook the earth. The giving of the gospel involved the shaking of the whole heaven and earth. In fact, it turned the whole world upside down, Acts 17:6. The reference her is probably to the shaking of the nations preparing for the coming of the Messiah.
The introduction of the gospel shook the universe. The introduction of the law only shook the mountain and the land around it. If the gospel has that kind of universal power then how much more important is it that we remain true to it. More important than remaining true to the old Jewish religion. Think of how much more fearful it would be to depart from Christianity.
V. 27. This verse and 28 are extremely important for our day. V. 26 referred to the shaking which led to the coming of the Redeemer. This verse (and 28) refers to the shaking which is going on since he came.
I Jn. 3:8, Christ came to destroy all systems of error, and he will. Whatever was on earth which could be shaken, he will shake it. He also came to establish and confirm truth.
The picture here is of an earthquake. It will destroy everything which does not have a firm foundation. IT will leave standing anything which does have a firm foundation and is built properly. This would be another way of explaining Matt. 7:26-29.
Especially we see Matt. 7:26. Those who do the word of God will have the firm foundation which will withstand the earthquake. Those who ignore or fail to do the word of God will be wasted by the quake. This applies to individuals as well as nations. It applies to churches and institutions of all kinds.
Today, no doubt we are seeing this shaking going on. The nations who have forgotten about God are being shaken. The systems who have gone their own way are being shaken to the very roots. They will collapse. This is the promise of God.
Yet in the midst of this collapse, those things which are built on his word will stand. They cannot be shaken. Again, individuals or a society. This passage demands that the society. This passage demands that the society which has turned away from God be shaken and collapse. Bob P. was telling me of the attitude among the workers which he is around. The attitude that the company owes them (the world). This is humanism running its course. "All things are for man---." It will fall.
Notice the reason for this shaking, v. 28.
We who are Christians and have built our institutions, churches, families, personal lives upon the firm foundation not only will not collapse but we have part in that which cannot fall. In fact, the purpose of the shaking of v. 27, is to establish the things with the firm foundation.
Civil governments which separate from or ignore God's laws will fall. Yet the Christian who has godly self-government will be established.
As we see the things around us being shaken to their very roots, let's claim the grace to remain true and faithful. Here alone is our protection in the troubled times of this shaking. Could be reference to Zec. 13:9, is a ref. to Mal. 3:16-18.
Really, vv. 25-29 would give us a sixth division. Our obedience to the faith will protect us in the terrible collapse of the societies around us who have turned from God.
Paul finishes this chapter of arguments as to why these folks should be faithful with one final short point. VII, actually v. 29.
Now we come to the fourth division, vv. 14-17. If we fail to keep our profession or back down from where we are for Christ, it will be impossible to regain what we lost. Again, David an excellent example of this principle at work.
As we see here with Esau. No matter how much he cried and mourned, he could not regain what he gave up for a piece of meat to satisfy the flesh.
V. 14, follow peace with all-- (Prov. 13:10)
The exhortation from the apostle here is not to give into the things which lead to strife, wars. A good corresponding passage here would be Ja. 4:1-6.
The context here is that these folks being written to are facing persecution for their faith. These folks are facing some tremendous trials for their faith in attempt to get them to back down. Notice what Paul tells them to do even toward the ones who were persecuting them.
He tells them to follow peace with all, even those who are persecuting them. This is consistent all through the gospel. We are never told to and always warned against warring against men. The kingdom of God is at war against evil, not against men. We must stand against evil and sin whenever and where ever it is found, but not against men. We are not at war against men but against what they do.
and holiness--- Rather than yielding to the spirit of war we re to yield to holiness.
The world, flesh and devil would say, "Seek revenge against the ungodly." The word of God says, "Seek holiness."
This is not at all the message which we are hearing today. But this is the message of God as we live among the heathens. Let's look at this a moment.
Prov. 28:4, they that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
Prov. 13:10, Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
What do we have here?
First, forsaking the law of God praises the wicked.
Second, keeping the law of God contends with the wicked.
Third, the contention which is condemned in Prov. 13:10 is not the contention of Prov. 28:4. The contention of Prov. 28:3 would be a war against an individual, brought about by pride. No doubt here a verbal contention.
How do we follow peace with all men, and holiness? How do we contend with the wicked by keeping the law?
Of course Christ is our example. I Pet. 2 would give us an example of this (read vv. 9-25).
We will quickly touch on this. Taken at face value we have the command that the child of God meekly submit to every demand which is placed upon them. But from the book of Daniel we know this just is not true. There we see a meek refusal to yield to anything which would compromise the Lord's authority over his people.
Let's get closer to home:
How do we tend with the evil about us?
1.) The world is given over to covetousness.
a. We refuse to get caught in that trap and live within our means in accord with God's word, avoiding debt. Even as they try their best to lure us into the depth trap through covetousness.
2.) The world attempts to influence us to lust.
a. We stand on God's law-word, keep our minds under control and our eyes from evil.
3.) The evil around us may try to attack us through wrath in their words.
a. We contend with that, not with wrath and anger back but with a controlled spirit of meekness sown in a soft answer.
4.) How do we contend against abortion?
a. By obeying God's word and refusing to murder our babies.
By preaching the gospel of life to the ones being influenced for
and by refusing to use our money to promote the murder of the unborn.
5.) How do we contend with socialism?
a. By becoming self-governing individuals. By becoming responsible individuals and then teaching others to be the same through the word of God.
6.) How do we contend against evil in high places.
a. By letting our voice be heard against that evil, winning the lost and teaching them to seek holiness. Any kind of a return to God's holiness must start in the hearts of the individual. You will not vote in holiness, nor will you vote out evil.
7.) How do we contend with a person whom we don't think is doing right?
a. By us doing right toward them anyway.
8.) How do we contend with the wicked and their wicked deeds which are around us?
a. By obeying God's word, keeping our attitude and actions right no matter what they say or do against us.
In other words, contending against the law-breaker is not to be identified in anyway other than being a law-keeper. Contending against evil is not returning railing for railing, anger for anger, evil for evil, hate for hate.
Contending against evil is keeping a Christ-like attitude and actions in the face of that evil situation. If we fail to respond to lust by God's methods (memorizing scripture, keeping mind and eyes under control), then we will lose the grace of God (power), to stand against lust.
We might grit our teeth and say, "no more," but unless we do it God's way we will fail to stand. If we fail to respond to wrath of evil men God's way, we will lose the power of God to overcome their evil.
If we fail to respond to covetousness God's way, then we will not have his power to avoid its trap.
If we fail to respond to the evil of abortion God's way, then the power of God to stop it is lost.
If we fail to contend with socialism God's way, by reaching people and teaching to become responsible individuals, then there will be no power of God to stop socialism. IT will dominate the world apart from godly self-governing individuals.
Sin will prevent grace from working in us, Ja. 1:22; 4:6. Heb. 12:15, lest any root--
This obviously is a reference to Deut. 29:14-20.
There we see the people's heart turned away from the Lord our God.
The folks saw no problem with this, saying, "All will be okay even though I am going my own way," and responding against evil as I feel is best."
The Lord will not spare him. Heb. 12:14, adds to this that there will be many others defiled by this root. One hypocrite in the church will lead many astray to destruction.
Let's follow the illustration which Paul uses, Heb. 12:16, 17. Esau was a profane person. If you will read Genesis, you will find that not only could Esau not control his physical appetite as far as food, but he could not control it concerning women. He took many wives.
He allowed his physical appetites to control him. He failed of the grace of God and he became a profane person. Really, he rejected God' standards for him. He actually rejected God, despising his birthright.
The birthright was the right of the oldest son to lead in the families worship of God. He wanted nothing to do with this. His spiritual hunger was 'zilch,' nothing. He gladly traded his spiritual well-being for a meal of soup beans.
He allowed his physical appetites to control him and it cost him his relationship to God.
He was far more concerned with the pleasure of sin for a season than he was for his spiritual well-being.
The drugs made him feel good, so he did them. The alcohol made him feel good, so he did it. The sex made him feel good, so he did it. The anger made him feel good, so he did it.
Yet in that pleasure of sin for a moment he sacrificed his eternal relationship with God.
Notice in vv. 16-17, his remorse was when it cost him some money. There was no remorse for his fornication and profane activity.
How many young people have sold their eternal relationship with God for a few pleasurable moments or experiences, yet there will be no remorse until it costs them something. How many adults are in the same fix.
(Chewing tobacco, young people think its 'cool'.)
1.) Esau sold what could have been his spiritually for something to satisfy the flesh.
a. He was already a captive to his profane activity.
2.) When he came to the point of receiving what he still wanted, there was no hope. It was gone. Sacrificed for the pleasure of a moment, a meal to satisfy the flesh.
3.) He found no place for repentance-- We have already referred to this but here we see that once we are 'sold out' we can never regain.
David could not.
Here we see that Esau could not. His profanity caused him to give up what could have been his. His desire of the flesh caused him to yield up what should have been his. He was more interested in what he wanted now rather than what was his in the future if he would remained faithful to God, yet he didn't care.
The conclusion of this point IV. If we fail to keep our profession or back down from where we are for Christ, it will be impossible to regain what we lost.
Esau yielded to the desire of the flesh for a meal. It cost him his birthright, which he despised anyway. But when it came time to get what he wanted, the blessing, it was gone also.
Paul says: Watch out, don't let the grace which God has provided to see you through whatever comes your way slip past you. If you do, you will be like Esau. Your passions will control you rather than the spirit of God. The result will be the loss of the walk with the Lord ("So what," you say), but with that loss will be the lose of those things you do want, the blessing."
Respond to the evil around you God's way and the very power (grace) of God will be there to overcome evil. Evil can only be overcome with good.
We have been looking at the book of Hebrews for quite some time now. We are in chp. 12 where the apostle is urging these Hebrew Christians to faithfully follow their profession in Christ.
This chapter has five divisions. Each division is an encouragement to remain faithful.
I. V. 1. The reason to be and remain faithful is because of the great cloud of witnesses. The faithful ones who have gone before.
II. vv. 2-4. We have the example of the Saviour who was faithful in the face of total opposition.
III. vv. 5-13. The trials which we go through are for our own good.
IV. vv. 14-17. If we fail to keep our profession or back down from where we are for Christ, it will be impossible to regain what we lose. David would be a good example.
He did great things for the kingdom of God. He fell into the horrible sin of adultery and murder. He was forgiven and was restored into fellowship with God, yet he never regained what he lost. He faced the sword from his own house from then on.
V. The final argument which the apostle uses to urge these folks to be faithful is the much better dispensation which they now found themselves under.
Rather than the physical mountain which burned with fire and caused even Moses to fear exceedingly, they now have the new Mount Sion which should excite joy and encouragement to be faithful.
We won't look at all of these divisions at once. We do want to look at the third one today, vv. 5-13. The trials we go through are for our own good.
In this passage the apostle warns of the chastening which will result if we do not remain faithful in our profession.
Whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, esp. by correcting mistakes and curbing the passions; hence a instruction which aims at increase of virtue, II Tim. 3:16. b. acc. to Bible usage chastisement, chastening (of the evils which God visits man for their amendment): Heb. 12:5 (Prov. 3:11).
Heb. 12:6 ( a diff. word in Bibl and eccl. use employed by God, to chasten by infliction of evils and calamities.
12: 7, 10, to chastise with blows, to scourge: a father punishing a son.
Scourgeth, 12:6 --chastening and training men as children by afflictions, Prov. 3:12. For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father correcteth the son in whom he delighteth.
What do we have?
1.) Human parents use blows with an instrument to train, correct, instruct.
2.) The heavenly Father uses afflictions, evils and calamities to train, correct and instruct.
Keeping the context of Heb. 12:5 in mind, we see here that to fail to follow through or continue on with our profession (be consistent with what we profess to be, a follower of Christ), will result in chastening from our heavenly Father. If there is no chastening we re not sons.
Heb. 12:5 is a reminder of the OT exhortation.
Job 5:17, Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of the almighty.
Ps. 94:12, Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law, that thou mayest, give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged from the wicked. For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. But judgment shall return unto righteousness; and all the upright in heart shall follow it.
Prov. 3:11, my son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction.
Here in Heb. 12:5-12, the apostle is pointing out an OT principle which is the need to be faithful to every word of God. To fail will bring the chastening rod of God against his children.
In passing, let us point out Isa. 10:1-7.
V. 4, even though the anger of God was against His people, his hand was still offered to them, encouraging them to return to him.
V. 5, here we see that Assyria was the rod of his anger which he was going to use to chasten them.
V. 6. Here we see the reason. They were hypocrites. They professed with their mouth their love for God, yet their heart was far from him.
The thing which we need to see that the heathen, Christ denying, God hating nation of Assyria was the rod God used to chastise his people who refused to walk in his way. Is God raising up this kind of a nation today for the same purpose?
Heb. 12:5-13. This will break down into several points. We
will break this down into three lessons.
I. First, what does the passage say?
1.) Chastening is not because he hates his children but because he loves them. VV. 5-8.
V. 5. a. When chastening comes it is not to be despised. It is to be viewed as a display of his love toward his children.
V. 8. b. It will come because all of his children are partakers of this. If a person can go their own way (even with their heart out of control), and God not chastise them, they are not his.
2.) This chastening which he sends for our correction, rather than driving us away from him should draw us closer. It should cause us to reverence him.
V. 9. a. It should cause our will to be brought more into subjection to the Father of spirits because it will bring life (not eternal life, but longer and pleasant life here).
V. 10. b. His chastening will make us partakers of his holiness, more like Christ. The purpose is found in Rom. 8:28, 29.
3.) V. 11. When his children are going through this (and they will they are his), it is not at all pleasant, but grievous.
a. The end result is the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
Gentleness, meekness, purity and peacemakers.
4.) VV. 12, 13. Wherefore-- As we think back over the reasons for God's chastening, it should give us encouragement. The 'faintness' which comes from chastening should leave and strength return in its place. Why?
a. v. 13. Rather than chastening being to destroy his people, it is for their healing.
I. What doe sit say?
II. Now, let's look at this a little more in depth.
V. 6. Notice the comparison. It is between a father and his child.
V. 7. Every child needs chastening.
V. 8. Only the child within the family will receive chastening from the father. The father has no responsibility over the neighbors kids, to chasten them. He can have the authority from that child's parents who are responsible for that child.
V. 9. This is very important. The correction which the father (parent) gives his child will cause the child to reverence him. No chastening, no reverence. The child does not naturally reverence his parents (whether human or heavenly).
V. 10. That human correction is in accord with what the father feels is best for his child. That human chastening is to mold the child into what his human father (parents) feels is best for him.
Some times that correction is for the child's good and some times it is not because the human parents are not divine. They will not get it right every time.
Let us add here that the lack of consistent Biblical chastening or correction will result in the child being molded into the way of the world, flesh and the devil.
Verse 10, every chastening or correcting act of the heavenly Father is for his child's good. He never makes a mistake. He never fails. If his child would respond every time properly to the Father's rod he would be molded into the image of Christ.
The purpose of human chastening more often than not is that the child might be partakers of what their parents want for them which is not always consistent with what God wants.
V. 11. When we go through that chastening with our human fathers, it sure isn't very pleasant at the time. In fact, it is grievous.
Really, even in this chastening from the human fathers, this should encourage us rather than make us faint. Even though those parents are not at all they should be, chastening is still for the child's benefit.
Three lessons for us:
I. What does the passage say?
II. A little more in depth.
III. Now, let's go backwards with this. Comparing our human parent-child relationship with our heavenly father-son relationship.
Our human fathers gives us our understanding of our heavenly Father. We cannot see our heavenly Father, but we can see our earthly father and identify with that relationship.
Dad's, this is directed to us.
1.) Every child needs chastening. To fail to be consistent in the chastening and correction of a child which has done wrong or had disobeyed will cause them to believe they can avoid the heavenly Father's chastening.
Really, if we fail to be consistent in this chastening, it will only bring down more of the rod of God against them as they grow older because they will feel they have avoided the result of their sins from the heavenly Father.
Notice v. 9, the end result will be the opposite of life.
a. Not only will it do this but we also see from v. 6, that the child has a built-in (placed there by God), understanding that places proper chastening, correction with love. (Chastening out of anger is not proper Biblical chastisement and that will probably do more to warp the child than anything.)
1. The wrong kind of anger is an uncontrolled emotion and uncontrolled action.
2. The correct kind of anger is an excitement to action, yet that action is completely under control. The uncontrolled display of anger will do just the opposite of creating respect and reverence from the child.
We should get angry at our children's wicked deeds. Angry, enough to take action but that action must always be under control to God's word.
Not to have a godly anger at evil is to condone that evil. Proper chastening is love.
A failure to chasten or allowing that child to disobey and get away with their evil is not love. In fact, the heavenly Father is very strong on this. He says that a lack of chastening is hate toward the child. Prov. 13:24, He that spareth his rod hatheth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes, (when he needs it).
Therefore, if the child has a built-in program that equates proper Biblical, consistent chastening with love, the other side is that it is built into him that a lack of Biblical discipline or chastening is hate.
b. Notice also another point, Heb. 12:8. The failure to chasten will cause the child to feel rejected by the father.
1.) Every child needs chastening.
2.) V. 9. Here we see that only through chastening will the child reverence their fathers. (Also included in this reverence God). THE NATURAL TENDENCY IS FOR A CHILD NOT TO REVERENCE THEIR PARENTS.
This clearly tells us why children don't reverence their parents.
Illustration: Baby elephant tied to a small rope and peg. They strain and tug at it, yet cannot pull it out. He may try for some time but he finally gives up. There as a adult which could easily pull it out, he still is bound by it.
A pup behind a fence. Grows up unable to jump it then when he gets big enough that he could he still won't try to. Believing he can't.
If a child is not taught to reverence their parents, (chastening teaches this), when they are older, they will not. A lack of Biblical correction and chastening will result in a lack of reverence. Really, this goes int the spiritual realm also. If God failed to chasten his children, he would not be reverenced. I fear, reverence God. Why? Because I have been chastened by my dad and then by God.
3.) v. 10. The father, as he chastens as he feels best will error. He is not the heavenly Father. He may desire to correct after holiness, but he isn't holy. He had better make those errors right with the child.
4.) V. 11. Of course that chastening will not be pleasant for the child or for the parent at the time. I can still remember how it hurt as many of you can.
Let's make mention here. The chastening and correction is the father's responsibility, not the mother's. He can delegate the authority but he cannot delegate the responsibility.
Also, if the father has any since at all he will heed mom's concerns concerning the child. More often than not, mom knows what is going on in the child's heart more than dad does.
When a father fails in this Biblical responsibility, he condemns the child to an exceedingly difficult life, if not to hell as the child believes they can avoid the results of sin.
5.) vv. 12, 13. The total for both human chastening and the heavenly Father's chastening. When we remember the purpose of chastening (for our good and long life and because that authority loves us), it should do some things for us.
a. Cause to gain strength to continue on.
b. Renew our courage to try again because we know that they love us. Only this time try again in the right way.
1. The hands which hang down from weariness and exhaustion can be lifted up.
2. The knees which are made feeble from exertion and effort as though all strength is gone, can be strengthened.
The trials which come our way and sap our strength are for our good. The father loves us. He wants Christ to be formed in us. He desires that we have the fruit or righteousness. He wants us to live.
This understanding should give us courage and strength to continue on.
The heat of the battle may exhaust us but remember: 1.) The faithful saints before us. 2.) The example of the Saviour. 3.) That the trials and difficulties are for our good.
Probably the saddest thing which we as pastors run across is to see God's chastening hand against a person or family and they cannot see it. Things only get more difficult and the put up with it rather than get some things settled with the Lord.
The school played Brother Riker's school the other day. We were talking and he brought up his amazement at the blindness of the folks who sit under his preaching.
He preached an especially hot message and a man told him on the way out, "Pastor, you preach many like that and you will run everyone off." Bro. Riker said to himself, "The message was for you and you missed it completely." God is chastening you and your family and you can't even see it."
God help us. Each of us should be seeking God's face as to whether he is trying our faith or chastening us for something in our lives (Ph. 3:13-15)/
Regardless, if we are his, it is for our good because of his love for his children.
I NEED TO FINISH THE CHAPTER, December 21, 1995
I have been reading through this book, and there are things that keep catching my attention. Primarily, the definition of faith as found in 10:35-36. I did a message and mailing on it. Neither has been used yet as of this date, but both are ready. I did not deal with it "properly" in the text above, so here I go again. Refer to the mailing, of which a copy is on this disk of Hebrews. It gives a good overview to bring me to the point here in chapter 12:15.
12:15: This verse, as well as the complete passage, is given in the context of faith. The context starts at about 10:23, as Paul encourages the Hebrews to remain faithful despite the trials, tribulations and problems they are going through. Faith is defined in 10:35, 36, as doing the will of God and waiting on the Lord to bring His promises to pass.
Chapter 11, develops the ideal of faith as he gives an incomplete list of saints who faithfully followed the will of the Father. The point that is made in chapter 11, is that those who remained faithful to doing the Father's will, did not see the results of their faithfulness in doing. Chapter 11, closes with the statement that Christians have a much better hope than did the saints of old: We have the person of Christ, the Spirit of God and the raveled will of Godthe Word of God.
Chapter 12, reminds us that the past saints are watching modern saints and how they remain true to their faith. V. 2, the motive of faith is looking to Jesus. V. 2, implies that Jesus' faithfulness to doing the will of the Father was based in faith: He looked ahead to the glory that awaited Him at His completion of the Father's will. V. 3, if we look at surrounding circumstances, we will grow faint. V. 4, he points out to his readers that they have not yet resisted unto blood as did the saints of chapter 11--or they would not be reading the passage, we will add.
Vv. 5-14 deals with chastening. I have dealt with it in the above text. In other words, the difficulties one faces could be chastening over sin, and it is done because the Father loves His own. But not all difficulties are the Father's chastening hand, for Christ was not chastened.
The point is that no matter what one goes through, he should remain faithful to his profession of faith in Christ, and that all things work together for good...
This brings us to v. 15: The Spirit warns us against "losing faith." He tells us to diligently watch that we do not allow any bitterness to creep in. Bitterness... In the context of faith as it has been taught in chs 10 & 11, the Spirit is warning against becoming bitter over the unpleasant things that happen to the child of God. Things are going "downhill," one could say, so he becomes bitter at the Lord for allowing those things to happen.
Looking diligently, implies responsibility to one another to see that they do not fall victim to bitterness. Are we not commanded to watch over one another in the faith?
Grace of God, probably refers to the grace that causes one to work for and stand for the Lord in all conditions, 2 Cor 6:1, and remaining faithfully committed to the truth of God's word, Gal 5:4. Our faithfulness to the Lord in spite of trials and difficulties is used by the Spirit to reach others, 1 Cor 15:34, Eph 5:14.
many be defiled: One person in the church who turns bitter over the circumstances the Lord allows to arise in his life will defile many others.
V. 16, fornicator, one who yields to lust; profane, one who returns to the common response to difficulties, e.g. the world responds by blaming God, and becoming bitter at both God and man.
brithright, the right or advantages of the first born son. In the context, we see the warning against losing faith: We inherit the premisses of God through faithfully doing His will and waiting upon the Lord to bring His promises to pass. The birthright is lost if we give up, e.g.,
Isa 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
We loose this, and other, heritage of the Lord, which is our birthright as sons of God.
V. 17, heritage lose, Esau could not regain it though he repented with great tears.
There are more promises in Scripture than can be counted that the Children of God are heirs to. The one above is an example: After the enemy prevails over the child of God, it is too late to repent. Or, after the children are grown and serving the devil it is too late to repent for placing them before the Lord, though one might repent with tears.
The context is faith: The application is that faithfully doing the will of God will inherit the birthright that belongs to the children of God, just as Christ inherited His birthright by faithfully doing the will of God to the death. His birthright was and is at the right hand of God the Father, among other things.
But we sell out our birthright for one morssel of meat: We yield to the faithless spirit that dwells in us; we sacrifice the grace of God, and after it is all gone, tears of repentance will not bring it back.
The loved one dies without Christ, and we might weep in repentance that we did not live a life to reach him: It is too late then.
December 22, 1995
V. 18, starts with For, explaining the reason for the faith which has been encouraged among these people.
Vv. 18-21, the Spirit is going to explain the superior excellency of the new cotenant under the gospel of Christ to the old. It should be noted that the law of the cotenant, the Ten Commandments, was not changes: only the Mediator was changed. The mediation under the old was the blood of bulls and goats, but under the new, it is the blood of Christ. THE BASIC LAW DID NOT CHANGE.
The point being made is that if the situation was so terrible at the giving of the old-which He dealt with in Chapter 10-with its animal sacrifices, then how much more terrible it is under Christ, Who sacrificed His body!
I might mention here that Gill seems to be Pre Mill at this passage (in his notes on Online Bible), for he places this passage off in the future, using the Alexandrian copy to change the wording of v. 22 to for ye are not come. That is indeed sad that people must change the word of God to suit their theories. I must admit, however, that I search for those who support what I feel Scripture teaches, but I try not to be so obvious in changing it as is he: he changed the verse from ye are come to ye are not come. Mercy!!
The Early Church Father's view of this section is interesting. Origen [A.D. 185-230-254]:
22. Now, if the statements made to us regarding Israel, and its tribes and its families, are calculated to impress us, when the Saviour says, "I was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," we do not understand the expression as the Ebionites do, who are poor in understanding (deriving their name from the poverty of their intellect- -"Ebion" signifying "poor" in Hebrew), so as to suppose that the Saviour came specially to the "carnal" Israelites; for "they who are the children of the flesh are not the children of God." Again, the apostle teaches regarding Jerusalem as follows: "The Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." And in another Epistle: "But ye are come unto mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and to the Church of the first-born which are written in heaven." If, then, Israel is among the race of souls, and if there is in heaven a city of Jerusalem, it follows that the cities of Israel have for their metropolis the heavenly Jerusalem, and it consequently is the metropolis of all Judea. Whatever, therefore, is predicted of Jerusalem, and spoken of it, if we listen to the words of Paul as those of God, and of one who utters wisdom, we must understand the Scriptures as speaking of the heavenly city, and of the whole territory included within the cities of the holy land. For perhaps it is to these cities that the Saviour refers us, when to those who have gained credit by having managed their "pounds" well, He assigns the presidency over five or ten cities. If, therefore, the prophecies relating to Judea, and Jerusalem, and Israel, and Judah, and Jacob, not being understood by us in a "carnal" sense, indicate some such mysteries (as already mentioned), it will follow also that the predictions concerning Egypt and the Egyptians, Babylon and the Babylonians, Tyre and the Tyrians, Sidon and the Si- or Babylonia and the Babylonians, and Sidon [sic.] and the Sidonians, are not to be understood as spoken of that Egypt which is situated on the earth, or of the earthly Babylon, Tyre, or Sidon. Nor can those predictions which the prophet Ezekiel delivered concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt, apply to any man who may seem to have reigned over Egypt, as the nature of the passage itself declares. In a similar manner also, what is spoken of the prince of Tyre cannot be understood of any man or king of Tyre. And how could we possibly accept, as spoken of a man, what is related in many passages of Scripture, and especially in Isaiah, regarding Nebuchadnezzar? For he is not a man who is said to have "fallen from heaven," or who was "Lucifer," or who "arose in the morning." But with respect to those predictions which are found in Ezekiel concerning Egypt, such as that it is to be destroyed in forty years, so that the foot of man should not be found within it, and that it should suffer such devastation, that throughout the whole land the blood of men should rise to the knees, I do not know that any one possessed of understanding could refer this to that earthly Egypt which adjoins Ethiopia. But let us see whether it may not be understood more fittingly in the following manner: viz., that as there is a heavenly Jerusalem and Judea, and a nation undoubtedly which inhabits it, and is named Israel; so also it is possible that there are certain localities near to these which may seem to be called either Egypt, or Babylon, or Tyre, or Sidon, and that the princes of these places, and the souls, if there be any, that inhabit them, are called Egyptians, Babylonians, Tyrians, and Sidonians. From whom also, according to the mode of life which they lead there, a sort of captivity would seem to result, in consequence of which they are said to have fallen from Judea into Babylonia or Egypt, from a higher and better condition, or to have been scattered into other countries. [Fathers, IV.371, 2. CDROM.]
Christ was sent not to the lost sheep of Israel after the flesh, but to Israel after the Spirit, i.e. the church. He called and led these lost sheep to the new Jerusalem, which is freedom from above; He did not attempt to call them back to the old Jerusalem, which is bondage from beneath. Origen clearly warns against mixing spiritual and carnal truths together.
Against Celsus' [c. 176 A.D.] heresies, Origen said:
...the apostle spoke, as one who, "being risen with Christ, and seeking those things which are above," had found a truth which formed no part of the Jewish mythology. "Ye are come," says he, "unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels."(5) And in order to be assured that our explanation of "the good and large land" of Moses is not contrary to the intention of the Divine Spirit, we have only to read in all the prophets what they say of those who, after having left Jerusalem, and wandered astray from it, should afterwards return and be settled in the place which is called the habitation and city of God, as in the words, "His dwelling is in the holy place;"(6) and, "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness, beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth."(7) It is enough at present to quote the words of the thirty-seventh Psalm, which speaks thus of the land of the righteous, "Those that wait upon the Lord they shall inherit the earth;" and a little after, "But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace;" and again, "Those who bless Him shall inherit the earth;" and, "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever."(8) And consider whether it is not evident to intelligent readers that the following words from this same Psalm refer to the pure land in the pure heaven: "Wait on the Lord, and keep His way; and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land." [Fathers, IV.622, CDROM.]
Thus the early church doctrine was that God's people were scattered by sin from the old, literal Jerusalem, and His people would be regathered not to a particular piece of real-estate, but to the new city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem the general assembly and church of the firstborn. "Jewish mythology" held to a literal regathering to the old city of bondage, Jerusalem. [I wonder if this Jewish myth did not count in Jerusalem's total destruction: There was nothing left to return to?] Furthermore, Origen pointed out that the new promised land for the child of God in Christ was/is the whole earth, not just one small piece of it. He saw no distinction between the Jews and the church since Christ.
V. 18, the Author's intention is to keep the people to whom He is writing faithful to their profession of faith in Christ, viz. faithfully doing as required of them by the Lord, 10:35, 36. He proceeds to point out the terrible grander at the first appearing of the Lord to His people at Mount Sinai. But as Christians, their appearance of the Lord is not the Mount, but in Jesus Christ and the church.
The first giving of the Law was meant to instill fear into the people, but, as we have already been told, the second giving brings Godly reverence, love and obedience to the heart. Fear kept the people under the old covenant faithful, but love is to keep the people under the new covenant faithful. Both people are to be faithful to the same law of the covenant.
The first appearing of the Lord to His people at the mount led to only bondage, Gal 4:25ff. Why in the world would anyone want a regathering of anyone, especially the "Jews," to a literal Jerusalem. Paul said that old city represented BONDAGE.
The gathering of God's people since Christ is to the new city of God, the Jerusalem which is above.
V. 20, the people could not endure the terrible sight and sound of the Lord at His first appearing, so they asked Moses to intercede for them. The Lord's appearance at the mount to His people even caused Moses to fear and quake, v. 21. We do not have that record, but we can rest assured this happened to Moses.
V. 22, contrasts the new Jerusalem with the old; it contrasts the new mount Sion with the old mount Sinai. Notice this verse says, ye are come unto mount Sion... Therefore, the Spirit does not speak in a literal since, but spiritual. He speaks in present tents, not future, i.e. believers are there now. It is not some future state to be longed for in the by and by; it is present state to be lived for in the here and now.
Believers are now in that heavenly city of the living God. Origen explained this passage very well: Sin scattered the old nation of God from their land--represented by that old city of Jerusalem--to the four winds around the world. The promise to those scattered was the one day they would be regathered to Jerusalem, the city of God, Ps 48:2.
the city... Barnes:
God dwelt by a visible symbol in the temple at Jerusalem, and to that his people came under the old dispensation... They [God's people, ed] should regard themselves already as dwellers in that city, and live and act as if they saw its splendour and partook of its joy.
Abraham understood that the Lord God was not referring to a physical land nor city in the promise given him about Canaan; rather, he saw by faith that the city was spiritual, Heb 11:9, 10.
angels..., general assembly: Barnes points out that here is meant multitudes of angels, which is not to be confused with the church. The church, i.e. believers though here on earth, is gathered around the throne of God by faith in praise to the living God as are the angels gathered around His throne literally. (See Eph. 2:6.)
Keep im mind, the purpose of these chapters was to keep the Hebrew Christians faithful to their profession of faith; the purpose is the same today: to keep Christians in general faithful to their profession of faith. By faithful we mean faithfully doing what is required by God's Word upon us.
...by becoming Christians, we are in fact identified with that happy and honoured church, and that this is a powerful motive ot induce us to persevere.
All the saints of all time were, are and will be gathered around the throne of God as one body, the church: That includes Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, Policarp, and an unlimited list which includes the name of every person who placed their hope and trust in the Lamb of God. They were thus made perfect by faith. Remember, Hebrews 11 warned us of the multitude of witnesses watching our movements from heaven.
December 26, 1995
written in heaven... That is, enrolled.
1) Christians are citizens of another country, heaven, with all its privileges and responsibilities. I should mention here that part of our heavenly responsibilities is to exercise Godly dominion over God's creation here under heaven.
2) They are written in the Lamb's book of Life, where men nor angels can erase any name. Rev 13:8, &c.
3) The word, NAME is implies: God knows us by name. Did He not tell us that every hair of our head is numbered and that we are more important that many sparrows, each of which the Lord knows all about?
and to God the Judge of all... Christians are united in spirit in the heavenly Jerusalem with the angels, with all the past saints and with the spirits of just men made perfect in Christ. They are all united before God the judge of all.
... it is one of the privileges of the saints, in the present life, that they have access to God... [Gill]
The contrast of Hebrews is how much better the new covenant in Christ is than was the old covenant given from the Mount was. The reason for pointing out the difference was/is to motivate believers since Christ under the new covenant to faith, having done the will of God, ye might inherit the promise.
Those under the old covenant did not have access to the heavenly Father. But those under the new covenant in Christ have free access through the work of Christ to God the Judge of all.
Those under the old covenant were keep faithful through fear; but those under the new are to be kept faithful through love. However, the wrath revealed under the old is still very much alive under the new, Hebrews 10.
We have free access to the Heavenly Father and to the spirits of just men made perfect: This could refer to the saints who have gone before and whose spirit is now with the Lord, or it could refer to all believers still here on earth. It probably includes all people of all times who have been made perfect through faith. We are told in Eph 2 that we are already seated in the heavens through faith in Christ; therefore, we are all united together in heaven in Him.
V. 24. Believers are brought by faith to the city of the living God, to the company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect through faith in Christ. Believers are also brought by faith to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. The key point between the old and new cotenant, Jesus, and His blood of sprinkling. His blood is compared to the blood that Able offered in the first sacrifice recorded in Scripture, though implied is that God made the first sacrifice for Adam and Eve as He provided them clothing from the skin of an animal.
The Spirit is here telling these people--and believers of all time--that the old covenant was simply mediated by Moses and the blood of bulls and goats. On the other hand, the new covenant is mediated by Christ and His blood. Able pictured the sacrifice to come by Christ by saying that salvation could be only by a bloody offering." Barnes.
The sprinkling of the blood clearly tells of the passover in Egypt, Exo 12. It looked forward to the sprinkling of the Lamb's blood upon the individual in the Christian dispensation.
V. 25, presents those living in the Christian dispensation with a terrible warning: If those under the old covenant who only had the blood of bulls and goats could not avoid the fearful wrath of God against sin, how much more should those under the greater, better covenant of Christ fear the retribution of God against sin?
The Lord spoke from heaven at the mount in the most fearsome way imaginable; so fearful, in fact, that the people were afraid of dying, so they asked Moses to intercede for them. But in these last days, the Lord spoke from heaven in the form of Jesus Christ. He spoke in fearful manifestations of fire and lightening to draw His people to faithful obedience; but now He speaks in mercy and grace--pleadings--to draw people to faithful obedience.
He warns that if those who refused to hear the voice from heaven at the mount could not avoid destruction, then how much more can those who refuse to hear the pleading voice of the Son expect no escape? Moses was a mere man, and no one could escape his words; but Christ is the God-Man, so we can be assured that no one will escape his words.
V. 26, His voice shook the earth at and around the mount in
the desert at the first giving of the covenant; it shook the earth
again at the second giving of the covenant. Isa 42:6 & 49:8,
both say that Christ was given for a covenant of the people. Thus,
upon the cross at the death of Christ, the new covenant was given
and sealed, and the earth shook again.
V. 27, but v. 26 tells us that was not the last shaking: The earth will continue to shake until everything that is not founded upon the truth of God's Word is brought down.
The gospel--faithfully and Biblically proclaimed--will subdue all opposition. Remember what the Spirit said in Mat 22:44 ; Mar 12:36 ; Luke 20:43 ; Acts 2:35 ; Heb 1:13, and He 10:13, all quoting Ps 110:1? History since Christ, accordingly, is simply God shaking everything in heaven, earth and under the earth, as He brings down everything opposed to the Word of God, incarnata in the flesh, Jesus Christ the Son.
We might mention here that Barnes points out that the shaking brought down everything of the old Jewish economy that was contrary to the new covenant and left everything standing that was in conformity to it: All the sacrificial laws and ordinances were brought down while "all that was of permanent value in the law of God, and in the principles of religion, was incorporated in the new system and perpetuated..."
And in general, it may be remarked, that the effect of Christianity is to give stability ot all that is founded on truth, and to drive error from the world. Christ came that he might destroy all the systems of error--that is, all that could be shaken on earth, and to confirm all that is true. The result of all will be that he will preside over a permanent kingdom, and that his people will inherit "a kingdom which cannot be moved," ver. 28.
God's law and righteousness CANNOT BE OVERTHROWN, Ps 2. Rather, Divine Providence moves continually to bring down all people and things opposed to His law and righteousness.
Therefore, those who stand faithfully on God's law and righteousness in Christ Jesus will be left standing midst the world-wide rubble of the lawless: That was the object of the Redeemer,
1 John 3:7, 8 Little children, let no man deceive you: he
that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth
from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested,
that he might destroy the works of the devil.
V. 28, and thus the call to remain faithful. As the world around us trembles, shakes and collapses, the Christian kingdom, i.e. those things built upon the firm foundation of God's truth, cannot be shaken.
Observe here that if what we have can be shaken and is shaken, it was not of God. However, we must factor in the weakness of the fallen flesh, which easily and readily grows weary in well doing.
V. 28 assures Christians that if they have built and are building upon the Truth of God's Word, their house cannot be shaken, Mat 21. Thus the call is to remain faithful to the Word of God midst the turmoil that is collapsing the world around us.
whereby we may serve God... This statement tells us that the confidence that our kingdom cannot be moved provides the grace to continue to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear...
The argument is that our kingdom in permanent; there is no danger of it being overthrown; it will continue until the end; in fact, we are assured throughout Scripture, qv. that it will prevail over all the kingdoms of this fallen earth.
But in a kingdom like this there is every encouragement, for there is the assurance (1) that all our interests are safe; (2) that all our exertions will be crowned with ultimate success; (3) that the efforts which we make to do good will have a permanent influence on mankind, and will bless future ages; and (4) that the reward is certain. [Barnes.]
And the assurance is made in Heb 12 midst terrible social and political turmoil, c. A.D. 64.
Do not fail to faithfully continue to do the will of God, Heb 10:35, 36, because the Christian kingdom will not fall nor fail. It will prevail over all opposition through the working of God's Spirit.
V. 29, For our God [is] a consuming fire. The Spirit has reminded us of the Lord's terrible appearance at the mount, which He compared with Christ's appearance.
This statement gives us several options:
1) God moves as a consuming fire in the social, political, civil and religious realms against all ungodliness. No one, no matter how powerful and great in man's opinion, will avoid the consuming fire of God. His Divine Providence reaches everywhere.
2) God moves as a consuming fire in the midst of His people, the born again believers. Hence, the call to remain faithfully doing all the will of God as revealed in His Word.
The OT saints had fear to keep them in line, but the NT saints have in inner love for the Lord and His law to keep them in line. Violation, therefore, of the inner love and desire placed by the Holy Spirit has fearful consequences. God is still a consuming fire.
His goodness and mercy; the gift of a Saviour to redeem us; the revelation of a glorious world; the assurance that all may soon be united in fellowship with the angels and the redeemed; the certainty that the kingdom of the Saviour is established on a permanent basis, and the apprehension of the dreadful wrath of God against the guilty, all should lead us to persevere in the duties of our Christian calling, and to avoid those things which would jeopardize the eternal interests of our souls. [Barnes]
December 26, 1995