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Book of Hebrews
Sixth Peril, denying (Heb.12:15-29).
We are now in the practical section of the Letter to the Hebrews where we see that Christ brings better benefits and better duties. Chapter 11 is the faith chapter; chapter 12 is the hope chapter; and chapter 13 is the love chapter.
The Christian Race (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (KJV)
Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses . . . this huge crowd of witnesses is made up with the people described in chapter 11. Their faithfulness is a constant encouragement to us. We do not struggle alone, and we are not the first people to struggle with problems we face. Others have run the race and won, and their witness to us, urges us to run and win also.
Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us . . . a TRUE Christian must cast off any and every weight or sin in our lives. To run and win, we must not be burdened down with any unnecessary load. We can run faster with no burdens on us.
The race before us, is set by God. The way in which we are to run is marked out by Him. The troubles we meet in this race are appointed by Him. The mark to direct us is set before them in the Gospel, and it is Jesus, the author and finisher of faith (verse 2), to whom we are to look to. The length of their race is fixed for us, how far, how long we shall run, and the prize is determined for us, and will be given to us at the finish line.
And the sin which doth so easily beset us . . . What is "the sin"? What was the great sin in the last chapter? It was unbelief. There is nothing which will hold you back like unbelief . . . the opposite of FAITH! BEWARE!!!
The Christian life is a race, and it is the only race where everybody CAN win.
1 Cor. 9:24-26 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: (KJV)
Gal. 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? (KJV)
Phil. 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (KJV)
2 Tim.4:7-8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (KJV)
We are encouraged by these witnesses. They are in the cheering section, encouraging us to run the Christian life. Abraham tells us, "Run by faith." Moses tells us, "Run by faith." Daniel is tells us, "Run by faith." Every single one in chapter 11 tell us the same thing! Listen to them!
Hebrews 12:2 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (KJV)
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . . we cannot see Him with bodily eyes, we must see Him with our spiritual eyes, with the eye of the understanding, with the eye of faith. Our faith allows us to see Jesus! Our faith sees the Son of God, our High Priest, our Advocate in Heaven (1 Jn.2:1)! My friend, Jesus started our faith, and He shall finish it!
Who for the joy that was set before him . . . Jesus looked forward, with faith, to the honor which He would have at the right hand of God, and the joy which He would experience from knowing that He had redeemed a fallen world (Jn.1:29; 1 Jn.2:2), was willing to bear the sorrows connected with the atonement.
And is set down at the right hand of the throne of God . . . which is in Heaven; and expresses the majesty and glory of God, and the honor done to Christ Jesus in His human nature, which is not granted to any angel. At the right hand of the throne of God is where Christ sits as God, as equal to Him (Jn.10:30), and as having done His work as Man, and Mediator (Heb.8:6; 9:15; 12:24; Gal.3:19-20; 1 Tim.2:5). This may reassure us, that when we have run out our race, we too shall sit down, with Christ upon His throne, and be at rest (1 Cor.6:2-3; Eph.1:18; 2 Tim.2:12; Rev.3:21).
Endured the cross . . . Jesus quietly and patiently endured the humiliation and pain connected with the suffering of death on the cross.
Despising the shame . . . disregarding the shame and disgrace of such a death (Gal.3:13).
Believers Are Now In a Contest
And a Conflict (Hebrews 12:3-14)
Hebrews 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. (KJV)
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself . . . these Hebrew believers had come out of a religion that followed a religious ritual in a great Temple. There was this simplicity in Christ, and the writer now calls them to consider Him. He wanted them to know just what Jesus endured when He was down here and how He learned patience. He wanted them to know that He is God, in the flesh. The writer wanted them to consider the greatness of this Person of Jesus, as God, the Son of God, and the Heir of all things. We too, must consider Him in His offices of Prophet, Priest and King, as the Saviour of lost sinners, the Leader and Commander of His people, as the High Priest of our profession. We must consider Him in His human nature, His lifestyle on Earth, and what all He did and suffered for mankind. We must consider that His nature was pure and holy, His lifestyle harmless and innocent, and His manner meek and lowly. We must consider how He went about doing good to the bodies and souls of men. And we must consider that He suffered, bled and died for sinners like us, and how He is now glorified in Heaven above!
Lest ye be wearied, and faint in your minds . . . I think this means that there is great danger of being discouraged and wearied by the opposition which we meet up with. But . . . we do have a glorious Example of One who was NEVER discouraged, and who NEVER became weary in doing the will of God. IF we keep Him in our mind’s sight, we shall persevere. The best way to lead a faithful Christian life, amidst the opposition which we may encounter, is to keep our eye of faith firmly and securely fixed on the Saviour.
In verses 1 through 3, we are clearly told to do five things:
- Lay aside every weight, everything that would hold you back. In a bad sense, it means arrogance, conceit, covetousness. The writer’s purpose is to get the believer to lay aside ANY weight that hinders the Christian progress.
- #2. Lay aside the sin which doth so easily beset us. Sin means missing the mark in a moral sense (Jn.1:29). The sin that easily besets is different from one person to the next. It is the sin that the person has been addicted to, whatever his weakness is.
- #3. Run with patience the race set before us. Each Christian has a race to run, we must fight to stay in it (1 Tim.6:12; 2 Tim.4:7).
- #4. Look unto Jesus. He is the Head of that long train of faith heroes. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
- #5. Consider Him. Observe and analyze every part of Jesus’ life and conduct, and His courage in sufferings.
Hebrews 12:4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (KJV)
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood . . . the writer is telling the Hebrews that they had not yet been called, in your Christian struggles, to the highest kind of sufferings and sacrifices. As great as their trials seemed to have been, their faith had not yet been put to the toughest test. They had resisted sin, Satan, the world, the men of it, and the lusts of it, and false teachers, and every enemy of Christ and their souls . . . but they had not, as yet, resisted unto blood, meaning the shedding of their own blood, as some of the Old Testament saints had done. What they had been involved in, were just some light battles, which may have seemed great to them, but they must expect to suffer as long as they were in the world, and that their blood, when called for, should be spilled for the sake of Christ.
Striving against sin . . . sin is the main opponent that a believer has. Sin is symbolized as an adversary, and enemy. There is always the danger of discouragement and backsliding, and the writer seeks to prevent this. We must faint not. We shall encounter afflictions when running our race, and it is from God whom all affliction comes. He allows it to test our faith!
The Christian life consists of hard work. We must give up whatever endangers our relationship with God, to run with endurance, and to struggle against sin with the power of the Holy Spirit. To live successfully, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. We will stumble if we look away from Jesus to look at ourselves or the circumstances around us. We should run for Jesus, and we must always keep Him in sight. Peter took his eyes off Jesus! (Mat.14:30). We must NOT do that!
Hebrews 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: (KJV)
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him . . . the writer quotes: Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. (KJV) . . . The Hebrew Christians had only one resource, and that was Christ . . . NOT the Temple, NOT rituals, NOT Judaism. They were almost outcasts at this time, and the writer is telling them not to forget this encouragement from God to His children.
Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (KJV)
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth . . . NOT all people are the objects of God's love, only a special people, whom He has chosen in Christ, these for whom He had given His only begotten Son (Jn.3:16), when they were sinners and enemies (Rom.5:8); whom He quickens and calls by His grace, He justifies, pardons, and accepts in Christ . . . and whom He causes to love Him. It is these that He loves with an everlasting and unchangeable love, and in a free and sovereign way, without any regard to any motive or condition in them. It is these that are chastened by Him, and dearly loved while they are chastened. Their chastening is done in great love, for the nature of God is love (1 Jn.4:8), which changes not (Mal.3:6).
And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth . . . this means only those whom God has predestinated to the adoption of children (Rom.8:29-30; Eph.1:5,11), and in the covenant of His grace has declared Himself a Father to. It is these for whom Christ has a special regard. The meaning is the same as in the first part of this verse, that everyone who becomes a child of God (Jn.1:12-13.; 3:3-8), is treated by Him with a watchful eye, that shows that He treats His children with paternal care.
Hebrews 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (KJV)
If ye endure chastening . . . if the child of God stands up under God’s firm Hand of chastening, in faith, with patience, courage and steadfastness, with humility and reverence, God is well pleased with them. God chastens His own because He loves them and wants them to correct their wrongs.
For God dealeth with you as with sons . . . when God chastens a person, He is in reality, owning them as His children, and they learn that they are so when chastened. God does not chasten them unless it is necessary; and when He does, it is in love and mercy, and for their good, and in their best interest.
For what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? . . . NOT one can be named, not even the Son of God Himself. He had the chastisement of our peace upon him (Isa.53:5). Neither were the more well-known among the children of God, such as Abraham, David, and others, nor any in the preceding chapter. IF a person is a TRUE child of God, they shall indeed be chastened if they get out of line!
Hebrews 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (KJV)
But if ye be without chastisement whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons . . . if you never meet with anything that attempts to correct your faults, to subdue your temper, to scold your backslidings, it proves that you are NOT children of God, but instead are illegitimate children, cast off and disregarded by their father.
Then are ye bastards, and not sons . . . this refers to the neglect with which such children are treated, and to the general want of care and discipline over them.
All are NOT sons that profess religion; all that are under a profession of religion are NOT chastised by the Father in Heaven. For such are these who are the children of the world, of Satan (1 Jn.3:10), and of the antichristian harlot (Rev.17:1). These people do not have the chastising rod of God upon them. Only God’s TRUE children are privileged to be chastened by Almighty God.
Hebrews 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (KJV)
Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us . . . earthly fathers enforced obedience. They were our teachers and corrected us.
And we gave them reverence . . . a turning of spirits within them towards their fathers, they were covered with shame and blushing for their faults. They respected the chastening, and submitting to the penalty, so as to change and turn from the faults for which they were corrected.
Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits? . . . the statement shows the validity of the argument. Since we gave reverence to our earthly fathers, we must more so, give reverence to God, and be in subjection unto the Father of spirits.
And live . . . by God’s chastening our spirits and our immortal souls (Jn.3:6; Rom.8:5-6). Only God can furnish us with a spiritual life, by which we are enabled to live and move only to God. Only God can make us live the life of God, which God in Flesh lived on Earth (Gal.2:20; Eph.4:18; Phil.1:21; 1 Pet.4:6; 1 Jn.3:9). God’s chastening encourages this honorable life in us, and it advances daily, until it is perfected in eternal life (Acts 14:22; Rom.5:3-5; 8:18; 2 Cor.4:17-18; Jam.1:12).
Hebrews 12:10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (KJV)
For they verily for a few days chastened us . . . I think this refers to the amount of time children are under the correction of earthly parents, and which is but a few days.
After their own pleasure . . . I don’t think this means to please and delight themselves in the pains and cries of their children, which would be brutish and inhuman; nor merely in an random way, and when they please; but the sense is, they correct the way as seems good unto them; in the best way and manner; to the best of their judgments, which are imperfect.
But he for our profit . . . on the other hand, God, the Father of our spirits, corrects us, in which in His chastening His children, He brings in His help, puts His shoulder to it, brings in His supply of grace, and so bears together with them (Mat.11:30), unto their advantage and profit in spiritual life, and this during our whole lives. That which He brings home to them, and puts in them by His chastening, is his holiness; of which being made partakers, they prosper greatly in their spiritual life, and increase in all parts of God’s nature with all the increases of God (Eph.3:13,19; Col.2:19).
That we might be partakers of his holiness . . . we become holy when we become partakers of the very holiness of God (2 Pet.1:4). Holiness is what God aims at by our trials. He does not delight to produce pain; nor would He rob us of our little comforts; for He does not need what we prize to increase His enjoyment. To be holy as God is holy; to be so holy that it may be said that we "are partakers of his holiness," and is a much richer blessing than health, property and friends. To obtain this greater good, we should be willing to part with the less; to secure the everlasting friendship, favor and love of God, we should be willing, if necessary, to surrender the last bit of what we have; the last friend we have; the last feeble and fluttering pulse of life in our veins.
Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (KJV)
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous . . . chastisement does not impart pleasure, nor is this its plan. All chastisement is intended to produce pain, and the Christian is as sensitive to pain as any others. Christians’ religion does not dull his feelings, but it instead increases his being susceptible to suffering. The Lord Jesus felt pain, reproach and contempt, more keenly than any other human being ever did. The Christian feels the loss of a child, or bodily suffering, as intensely as any one. But even though religion does not render a believer insensible to suffering, it does do two wonderful things:
- #1. it enables him to bear the pain without murmuring, and
- #2. it turns the affliction into a blessing on his soul.
But grievous . . . chastisements cause pain and grief to the afflicted, and to their friends and relatives around them; and especially, they are very grieving, having heaviness, and are grievous to be borne, when soul troubles join them.
Any time that God hides His Face, the Christian’s soul is filled with a sense of wrath, looking upon the chastening as very grievous, and as being in the wrath and hot displeasure of God. When Satan casts his fiery darts, and when the soul has lost sight of the interest in God’s love, and the grace of Christ, and in eternal glory and happiness, the feeling grieves the believer!
Nevertheless, afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby . . . even though no chastening at the time is fun, "afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." God NEVER will discipline you without a reason! IF He comes down on you, you did something very bad! God does NOT discipline you just so you feel will feel good when it is over. He does not give you ill health just so you will appreciate good health when it returns. There is always a good reason when God chastises you.
Hebrews 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; (KJV)
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees . . . there follows, on the strength of what has been said of God's love and His blessing, the call to the Hebrews to rise up out of their sadness and despair, gird themselves for the race in the way in which Jesus leads us to God. Take courage, he says, ready yourselves for the race, for without it the prize can never be had. Lift up hands, and choose the straight path for your feet, rouse your whole being, and keep your eyes on Jesus. With faith in Him, He will inspire you to follow Him in the path of endurance.
Mistakes are easily made when you allow your trials to convince you that things are impossible. We are to accept God's message, that they are the very proof of His love, the very means of His grace. We are to accept trials as a part of our Christian life. We are to rise up and stand forth as people ready for the race of our life. We must stand firm in our faith, or we will fall . . . and each time we fall, it means more chastisement.
Hebrews 12:13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. (KJV)
And make straight paths for your feet . . . this means to remove all obstacles out of the way, so that they would not stumble and fall. There is probably a reference here to: Pro. 4:25-27 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil. (KJV) . . . The idea is, by every proper way, they were to make the road to Heaven as plain and easy as possible.
Lest that which is lame be turned out of the way . . . they were to allow no obstructions in the path over which the lame and feeble might fall. A crippled man needs a smooth path to walk on. Everything which would prevent those Hebrews in the church who were in any danger of falling . . . the feeble, the unestablished, the weak . . . from walking in the path to Heaven, or which might be an occasion to them of falling, should be removed. It means, that everything should be removed which would hinder anyone from walking in the path to life.
But let it rather be healed . . . in the case of lameness, pains should be taken to heal it rather than to suffer it to be increased by careless exposure to a new sprain or fracture, so it should be in our religious and moral character. Whatever is defective we should try to restore to soundness, rather than to allow the defect to be worsened. Whatever is feeble in our faith, whatever evil tendency there is in our hearts, we should make every effort to strengthen and improve, lest it should become worse, and we should entirely fall.
Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (KJV)
Follow peace with all men . . . be encouraged and be at peace with all men . . . with all who will let you be at peace with them. Some people are natural born warriors, they want no peace.
And holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord . . . I cannot produce holiness, NO way! I simply do NOT have any without Jesus! BUT . . . But, I DO have the holiness which came through the Blood of Christ! Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (KJV)
My holiness, is because Christ Jesus has been made unto me righteousness (2 Cor.5:21). JESUS is my righteousness. When I get into the Presence of God it will be because Christ died for me, and I accepted this fact by faith! We are encouraged in our race.
Sixth Peril, DENYING (Hebrews 12:15-29)
Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (KJV)
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God . . . looking diligently has in it the thought of direction. WHAT direction? Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. (Heb.12:2). Lest any man fail of the grace of God . . . fail here does not mean apostasy . . . I think it means simply to fall back. If a believer takes his eyes off the Lord Jesus, onto the world, he is going to fall back, away from the safety of Jesus, fall back from the grace of God. It is only when we keep our eyes ON Jesus that the grace of God will NOT fail. God has a huge supply of grace, and He wants nothing more than to lavish it upon His children. He is prepared to do that, and He is well able to do that.
Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled . . . it takes only one critical, ugly Christian in a church, to stir up more trouble than you can possibly shake a stick at. One rotten apple in a barrel spoils all the whole barrel of apples. We need to ask God for grace to endure whatever we are going through, and not become bitter toward any one or toward any of our circumstances.
The Writer is Warning Christians
- To follow the faith heroes of chapter 11, who surround them (Heb.12:1).
- To lay aside every weight (Heb.12:1).
- To lay aside the besetting sin (Heb.12:1).
- To run with patience the Christian race.
- To consider and look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith (Heb.12:2-4).
- To know and submit to God's chastening as true sons in order to partake of His holiness (Heb.12:5-11)
- To follow peace and holiness and meet other terms of blessing lest they fail of the grace of God (Heb.12:12-17).
- The whole book Hebrews is for Christians and to them, as proved by:
#1. We . . . the Christians (Heb.2:3; 3:6,13; 4:14; 6:9,19; 10:10,26; 12:1; 13:10,14)
#2. Let us . . . the Christians (Heb.4:1,11,14,16; 6:1; 10:22-24; 12:1,28; 13:13,15)
#3. Their salvation (Heb.2:10)
#4. They were sanctified (Heb.2:11; 10:10,29)
#5. Holy brethren (Heb.2:11-12; 3:1,12; 10:19)
#6. Them . . . the saints (Heb.2:15,18)
#7. Other terms in all chapters are used which prove Christians are referred to, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.
Hebrews 12:16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. (KJV)
Lest there be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright . . . fornication here is spiritual fornication. There is the danger of turning FROM God TO the things of the flesh, and it could be most anything of the flesh. Esau is by the writer called wicked for selling his birthright, a spiritual birthright that involved so much. It meant that Esau would be in the line that led to the Messiah, and it meant that he would be the priest of the family of Abraham. It seems he didn't care for it; he was not interested in spiritual blessings.
Profane person does not mean that Esau cursed a lot. I do not think it refers to that at all. The word profane comes from two Latin words: pro, meaning either "before" or "against," and fanum, meaning "temple." So it means against the temple or against God. It means that Esau was a godless fellow. He saw no need to recognize God, no need to have a relationship with Him, he felt no responsibility toward Him. He despised his birthright and counted it as something of no value (Gen.25:32-33). It meant so little to him, that he was willing to trade it in for a bowl of stew!
There are millions who have sold their soul. Some have sold it for liquor, some for drugs, some for sex, some for dishonesty, some for wealth, some for power. There is a danger lurking for the child of God, to turn FROM God TO the things of the flesh, the things the world has to offer! We will either go forward in our relationship with Christ or fall back. We will not stay in the same place. Which way will you go?
Hebrews 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. (KJV)
For ye know how that afterwards . . . when Esau heard the words of his father, he desperately wanted him to reverse the sentence which he had pronounced (Gen.27:34-40). The "blessing" referred to here was NOT that of the birthright, which he knew he could not regain, but what was pronounced by his father Isaac on him whom he regarded as his first born son. This blessing Jacob obtained by fraud (Gen.27:1-29), when Isaac really meant to bestow it on Esau. It seems Isaac was totally ignorant of the bargain which Jacob and Esau had made in regard to the birthright, and the deceitful way Jacob and his mother thought up a way to have that confirmed which Jacob had obtained of Esau by contract. The approval of the father, it seems, was necessary, before it could be made sure. Rebecca and Jacob understood that the dying blessing of the aged patriarch would establish it all. It was obtained by dishonesty on the part of Jacob, but so far as Esau was concerned it was an act of righteous vengeance for the little regard he had shown for the honor of his birth.
The meaning of this Passage, as used by the writer, may be easily understood.
- #1. The decision of God, on the human character and destiny, will one day be pronounced. That decision will be according to TRUTH, and cannot be changed.
- #2. If anyone ever despises our privileges in Christ Jesus, as Esau did his birthright, and IF we renounce our faith, it would be impossible to recover what was lost. There would be NO chance of changing God’s decision in the case, for it would be determined for ever.
Few Passages in God’s Word have been as misunderstood as has this Passage has. It gives the impression that Esau wanted to repent and God would not accept his repentance. I think the writer is saying something completely different than that. Esau despised his birthright, and then when he found out that there was also an inheritance attached to it, he panicked. The one blessed would inherit twice as much as any other son of Isaac. Esau was interested only in that which was physical. When it says, "he sought it carefully with tears," it means that he cried a lot, because he saw, too late, what he had done. Esau was not repenting because he wanted to turn to God and receive His spiritual blessing. He repented because he had missed out on something material. He was actually against God.
Hebrews 12:18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, (KJV)
For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched . . . the writer introduces this beautiful comparison between the old and new dispensations (Heb.12:18-24). The object, in agreement with the principal scope of the Letter, is to guard the Hebrew Christians against apostasy. To do this, he shows that under the new dispensation there was much more to bind them to faithfulness, and to make apostasy more dangerous, than there was under the old. The writer does not mean that it was permitted for the Israelites to touch Mount Sinai, for this was strictly forbidden (Ex.19:12); but he clearly refers to that ban, and means to say that a command forbids them to "touch" the mountain. The sense of the Passage is, that every condition that occurred there on Mount Sinai was tailored to fill the soul with terror. Everything that accompanied the giving of the law, the setting of bounds around the mountain which they might not pass, and the darkness and tempest on the mountain itself, was adapted to intimidate the soul.
And that burned with fire . . . as Mount Sinai did (Ex.19:18; Deut.4:11; 5:3), which set forth the majesty of God, when He was upon it, at whose Feet went forth burning coals (Hab.3:5); and also the wrath of God, as an avenging lawgiver and Judge; and the terror of that law, which strikes the minds of the transgressors of it with an expectation of fiery indignation; and so points out the end of such transgressors, which is, to be burnt:
Nor unto blackness and darkness . . . which covered the mount when God was upon it (Ex.19:16,18; Deut.4:11), and which may also show the majesty of God, round about whom are clouds and darkness, and also the horror of the legal dispensation, and the obscurity of it. Little was known by these early Jews of the spirituality of the law, of the strict justice of God and of the righteousness which the law requires. They did not know the end it, and especially the way of salvation by Christ, which was so dark to them.
And tempest . . . there being thunderings and lightnings, which were very terrible (Ex.19:16; 20:18; Deut.4:11; 5:3). And though there is no mention made of a tempest by Moses, Josephus speaks not only of very terrible thunderings and lightnings, but of violent storms of wind, which produced exceeding great rains.
Ten Facts About Mount Sinai
1. Not to be touched (Heb.12:18; Ex.19:12)
2. Burned with fire Heb.12:18; Ex.19:18)
3. A thick cloud (Ex.19:16)
4. Full of darkness (Heb.12:18; Deut.4:11)
5. Thunders and lightnings ((Heb.12:18; Ex.19:16)
6. Voice of a trumpet (Heb.12:19; Ex.19:19)
7. The Voice of God (Heb.12:19; Geut.4:12; 5:4,23)
8. Israel could not endure God’s Voice (Heb.12:19-20; Deut.5:23-26)
9. Anything that touched the mount was killed (Heb.12:20; Ex. 19:12,21)
10. The sight was so terrible that even Moses trembled with fear (Heb.12:21; Ex.3:6).
Hebrews 12:19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (KJV)
And the sound of a trumpet . . . which made it still more dreadful (Ex.19:13-19. 20:18), just as the trumpet will sound at the last day (Rev.1:10; 4:1; 8:2,6,7,8,10,12,13;14; 9:14; 11:15).
And the voice of words . . . spoken by God (Ex.19:18-19). It is easy to think what awe and surprise must have been produced by an actual Voice being uttered from the midst of this tempest, so distinct that it was heard by the hundreds of thousands of Israelis, when the speaker was invisible.
They that heard, entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more . . . the people fearing that they would die, pleaded with Moses that it should stop (Deut.5:25; 18:16). He was their mediator, and could draw nigh to God, and hear His words, and speak to God for them.
The Words that God spoke were the Ten Commandments (Ex.20:1-17).
Hebrews 12:20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: (KJV)
For they could not endure that which was commanded . . . not that they disliked and despised the law, as unregenerate men do; but they simply could not endure it, or bear it, as a yoke, for it was indeed a yoke of bondage; for the Law required perfect obedience (Gal.3:10). The Law gave NO strength at all to carry it out. The Law showed them their sins (Gal.3:24-25), but did not show the way to the Saviour.
And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned or thrust through with a dart . . . the mountain was so holy, that if a man, or even an animal, touched the mountain, it meant death (Ex.19:12-13).
Hebrews 12:21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) (KJV)
And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake . . . the Old Testament does not state that Moses said these words. Some question on what authority the writer said this. Moses may not have said this in the written Scriptures, BUT, Moses WAS afraid! Exodus 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. (KJV)
After Moses had come down from the mountain, and had broken the two tables of stone that were in his hand, he was greatly afraid of the anger of the Lord on account of the sin of the people. Deut. 9:19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also. (KJV) . . . It has been supposed by some that this is the Passage to which the writer here refers. But, to me, it is clear that this was spoken on a different occasion from the one which is referred to in the Passage before us.
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (KJV)
But ye are come unto Mount Sion . . . ye who are Christians, and are now under the new dispensation. The plan is to contrast the Christian dispensation with the Jewish, and to show that it far excels, has advantages that are far better than the religion of their fathers. It had much less to fear, and much more to hope for! In this Passage, the writer clearly contrasts Mount Sinai with Mount Zion! Mount Zion would win the heart, and preserve faithfulness, something Mount Sinai could not do.
And unto the city of the living God . . . Heaven is the city where the living God dwells . . . the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb.11:10). God dwelt by a visible symbol in the Temple at Jerusalem, and to that his people came under the old dispensation. BUT . . . in a more literal and glorious sense, His abode is in Heaven, and to that Place His people now have to come through Jesus, the High Priest.
The heavenly Jerusalem . . . Heaven is often represented as a magnificent city, where God and angels dwell; and the Gospel revelation discloses that it is to this Place, that TRUE Christians will one day go as their final home. They should regard themselves already as dwellers in that city, and live and act as if they have seen its splendor, and partaken of its joy. It is true that Christians have not yet seen that city by the bodily eye, but they look to it with the eye of faith.
And to an innumerable company of angels . . . ten thousand times ten thousand (Rev.5:11).
Eight Things in Heaven
1. The heavenly Mount Zion (Heb.12:22; Rom.11:26; Rev.14:1)
2. The capital city of God (Heb.12:22; Heb.11:10,16; 13:14; Rev.3:12; 21&22)
3. Innumerable angels (Heb.12:22; 1:5-14; Rev.5:11-14)
4. The general assembly and church of the firstborn (Heb.12:23; Col.1:18)
5. God the Judge of all (Heb.12:23)
6. The spirits of just men made perfect (Heb.12:23; Rev.6:9-11)
7. Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant (Heb.12:24; Mat.26:28; Heb.9:15)
8. The Blood of Christ sprinkled (Heb.12:24; Mat.26:28; Col.1:20; 1 Pet.1:18-23)
Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (KJV)
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven . . . I do not think firstborn refers to Christ here, although He is called that elsewhere in Scripture (Rom.8:29). The writer is speaking of the ones who have been born again into the family of God (Jn.1:12-13; 3:3-8). They are the only ones who are going to be there. This is the church of firstborn ones, those who shall at the Rapture (1 Thes.4:13-18), be caught up to this place, where God is (Jn.14:6). Their names are written in Heaven (Lk.10:20).
And to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect . . . this Judge will pronounce the final sentence on all mankind. The destiny of ALL people depend on Him, they should be VERY careful not to provoke His wrath. People have so much to fear if they rebel against Him; and everything to hope for IF they had endured their trials with patience, and persevered to the end. And to the spirits of just men made perfect . . . not only the more well-known saints, but to ALL who were made perfect in Heaven by faith in the precious Blood of Jesus. Justified = just as if I never sinned; justified = declared not guilty in the courts of Heaven. Justified (Rom.5:1), because we believe God, and have faith in His Son to save us!
Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (KJV)
And to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling . . . (Heb.8:6,8). We can come to Christ only by faith. This was the crowning excellence of the new dispensation, in contrast to the old. They Hebrew Christians had been made acquainted with their Messiah, and they were united to Him by faith. They had been spiritually, sprinkled with His Blood (Heb.7:22; 8:6; 1 Pet.1:18-19; 1 Jn.1:7). The best words which can be spoken to encourage someone to persevere in a life of piety, is the fact that the Son of God has come into the world and died to save sinners (Heb. 12:2). When God looks down and sees the Blood of Christ on me, He does not see my sinful existence, He sees my faith in JESUS! Are you sprinkled with the Blood of Jesus? It is the ONLY thing in the world that will get you to Heaven, no matter what you think (Jn.14:6; Acts 4:12).
That speaketh better things than that of Abel . . . the sacrifice approving the Gospel covenant is SO much better than all the typical sacrifices under the old covenant. The once for all Sacrifice (Heb.10:10) purchased and secured holiness to those interested in it. The Blood of the spotless Lamb of God, sprinkled on penitent, believing sinners, was that which Jesus has purchased pardon for them, sanctified them, and bringing perfect holiness to them (Heb.9:12; 1 Pet.1:18-19; 1 Jn.1:7,9), freeing them completely from the rituals of the sprinkling of the blood of sacrificed animals.
Hebrews 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: (KJV)
See that ye refuse not him that speaketh . . . since the Lord Jesus’ Words are very important, it is very important that you pay attention to Him.
For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven . . . the Jewish people paid no attention to Jesus when He was on Earth as Man. Look at their condition today! They have no peace! Theirs has been a really sad story for over nineteen hundred years. WHY? Because they refused to hear JESUS! They also refused to hear the Law, and for that God judged them, and is judging them. It is a serious thing, not to listen to this warning. Jesus said: John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (KJV) . . . IF you do the will of God, you will find out whether it is true or not . . . but IF you refuse to do the will of God . . . HOW will you escape if you neglect so great a salvation? You CANNOT! You cannot escape the judgment of God!
There are so many who turn aside scornfully from Jesus, and will not hear His Voice, nor receive the revelation of the Gospel covenant. Jesus is God's only begotten Son, and brought the Gospel with Him when He came down from the Father's bosom in Heaven (Heb.1:2; Jn.1:2,14,16-18; 3:13), and approved it with His own Blood. Since this sin is far greater, so will the punishment be, and the certainty of its infliction both for time and eternity, (Mat 11:24; 2 Thes.1:7-9; Heb.10:26-31), for there remains NO more sacrifice for such sin.
Hebrews 12:26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. (KJV)
Whose voice then shook the earth . . . God’s Voice was like an earthquake, shaking the Earth, when He gave the Law on Mount Sinai. This Voice was like the voice of thunder, or the voice of the trumpet, which made the people quake and tremble, even Moses himself (Ex.19:18; Ps.68:8).
But now he hath promised, saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven . . . at the giving of the Law there was an earthquake, and at the crucifixion of Christ there was an earthquake. God is saying that the day is coming when He is going to shake everything.
Future Earthquakes of Prophecy
#1. In the sixth seal (Rev.6:12-17)
#2. Between the seventh seal and first trumpet (Rev.8:5)
#3. When the two witnesses are resurrected and ascend to Heaven (Rev.11:13)
#4. At the seventh trumpet (Rev.11:19)
#5. At the seventh vial (Rev.16:17-21)
#6. Many earthquakes in various places (Mat.24:7; Mk.13:8; Lk.21:11)
God is going to shake the Earth and Heaven itself. WHY? God is going to shake everything to let all His created Universe know that there are some things which are unshakable, and one of those things is a living faith in Jesus Christ. He is the Rock that we rest upon, and He CANNOT be moved or shaken. If you want a firm and secure place today where you can rest, that Place is JESUS! He is the Place to go. God is going to make the world safe someday, but in order to do that, He is first going to shake everything.
Earthquakes that Manifested God
#1. At Sinai (Ex.19:18)
#2. To Elijah (1 Ki.19:11-12)
#3. To Israel and Jerusalem (Isa.29:6)
#4. At the crucifixion (Mat.27:54)
#5. At the resurrection (Mat.28:2)
#6. When disciples prayed (Acts 4:31)
#7. When apostles prayed (Acts 16:26)
Hebrews 12:27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (KJV)
And this word yet once more . . . (Hag.2:6), suggests, that something had already been done, so in a very little time, and at once, something very wonderful and surprising would be achieved, and it
Signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made . . . means we had better be very careful that we build our lives on the right foundation (1 Cor.3:10-15). Are you building on sinking sand? Or are you building upon the Rock which is Christ, that firm Foundation? Those things which cannot be shaken may remain. God will remain. His Word will remain, and His eternal Kingdom to which believers belong will remain.
Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: (KJV)
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved . . . as believers we are steadily moving toward a heavenly Kingdom . . . BUT . . . as we move toward the heavenly Kingdom we must know that we should be serving God down here. But how are we to serve Him?
Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear . . . we are to serve Him acceptably. HOW do we serve God acceptably? The verse tells us: With reverence and godly fear. TRUE Christians do NOT play church, as youngsters ‘play house’. Serving with reverence and godly fear is NOT assuming a holy attitude . . . that is pride and arrogance! Serving with reverence and godly fear is a living, vital and real relationship with Christ Jesus that transforms your life and anchors you in the Word of God. Godly fear is admiration, awe, high regard, esteem, respect, worship of Jesus.
Hebrews 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire. (KJV)
For our God is a consuming fire . . . (Deut.4:24; 9:3). The writer to the Hebrews repeats his warning the Hebrews to worship God with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. There is nothing mysterious about consuming fire. It means exactly that . . . God is like a fire that utterly consumes or destroys. How can a loving and merciful God also be a consuming fire that utterly destroys? Because He IS! God is a God of love, absolutely! BUT He is also a God of wrath! God makes Promises to His children, and He will keep them! God also makes Promises to the wicked (unbelievers), and He will also keep them. Believe it because it is true.
In Deuteronomy 4:23-25, Moses is speaking first to warn the Israelites against idolatry, because God is a “jealous God” and will not share His glory with worthless idols. Idolatry provokes God to a righteous anger which is justified when His holiness is disrespected.
God’s holiness is the reason for His being a consuming fire, and it burns up everything unholy. The holiness of God is what separates Him from sinful man. Who can live with the consuming fire? Who can live with everlasting burning? Only the righteous can withstand the consuming fire of God’s wrath against sin, because sin is an offense to God’s holiness. Isaiah tells us that no amount of our own righteousness is sufficient.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (KJV)
I thank my precious Saviour and Lord, because He has provided the righteousness (1 Cor.1:30) we need. Christ Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all those who would believe in Him. In that one act, Christ lessens God’s wrath, exchanging His perfect righteousness for our sin.
2 Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (KJV)
All the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus on the cross, so that those who belong to Him would not have to pay the penalty of sin. Jesus paid it for us! Thank You Jesus!
Book of Hebrews
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