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A Call to Persevere May 28, 2015

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Hebrews 10:19-39.

Summary: The author begins by exhorting his readers – in light of the preceding discussion – to:

  • approach God with true hearts
  • be unyielding in continuing in their profession of faith against difficulties and opposition
  • spur each other on in exhibiting the fruit of their saving faith
  • continue coming together themselves.

The author then warns his readers that if they obstinately depart from the living God after they have been convinced of the truth of the Gospel message and experienced its power, then they must look forward to God’s just and righteous sentence on the last day – since God is holy and righteous. Indeed, in Deuteronomy 17:6, God states that He will pass a death sentence on those who reject the Old Testament law, if at least two witnesses are available to testify against them. Clearly, then, those who reject the Gospel message – despising Jesus Christ – will be judged even more harshly by God. He quotes from Deuteronomy 32:35-36 to show that God’s judgment is terrible; moreover, those who reject the Gospel message will be under His power.

Now the author assists his readers in overcoming their difficulties by reminding them of their past sufferings – and how they acted in the midst of those difficulties. In particular, he reminds them that they suffered together with those who were being imprisoned, as they had a real practical concern for their welfare.

The author then reminds his readers about the necessity of continually exercising patience. He concludes by quoting from Habakkuk 2:3-4, where it is asserted that Christ will return soon; thus, those who wait to do God’s wishes show that they have really been made just, while everyone else will definitely be ruined.

Thoughts: In verses 19-22, the author exhorts his readers to approach God with sincere hearts in light of the person and work of Christ. Owen offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 22:

But the truth of the heart, which is meant here, is the sincerity of heart that is opposed to all hypocrisy. From this it follows that the heart is what God is most interested in when we approach him, and that universal, internal sincerity of heart is required of everyone who comes close to God in holy worship.

This passage may have influenced at least some of the worship leaders who call worshipers to “quiet their hearts” at the start of each worship service. My personal experience leads me to believe that a worshiper is easily distracted by their surroundings; thus, worshipers need to be reminded as to why they have come to church on a Sunday morning. One helpful strategy along these lines involves the worship leader reading a particular passage; this allows the congregants to meditate on that passage and connect it with the different stages of the service. Now the practice of “quieting our hearts” extends to our daily prayers before God. Indeed, whenever we approach God in any context, we must ask ourselves, “who am I approaching?” The answer to that question should help us approach Him with reverence.

In verses 32-34, the author exhorts his readers to persevere in their faith – just as they had previously persevered in their faith under intense persecution. Clearly the Hebrews were persecuted for their Christian faith, while the Jews of that period enjoyed their special status in the Roman Empire. This passage shows that Christians of that period were subjected to insults, imprisonment and the confiscation of their property. I would certainly like to meet the Hebrews in the next life and learn how they found the strength to “joyfully” respond to the persecution that they faced. How did they grow closer to God as a result of this persecution? Were any of their tormentors affected by their atypical response to persecution – and come to faith in Christ? Who were the other Christians referenced in this passage who were imprisoned? What caused the Hebrews to drift away from God after those “earlier days”?

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