The book of Hebrews is avoided by more readers of the New Testament than most books, other than possibly the Book of Revelation. Many of the concepts reach back into the Old Testament, in order to tie the old sacrificial system together with the new.
I was doing some reading in Hebrews however and was struck by a few things that I hope will have an impact. As often as I have read the Book of Hebrews, I’ll have to admit that the scriptures I read this time had quite the effect—especially in this day of great trouble we happen to be living in.
The first verse of chapter two makes a strong statement that we too often skim by because we are trying to make sure we get our “quota” of Scripture read for the day. This is what it says,
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” (NIV)
This reminds me of numerous other Biblical passages—one in particular where Jesus said that many have left their first love. Most professing Christians today are not people who see themselves in any danger of “drifting away” as is said in Hebrews 2:1. I wonder however if there are ways of drifting away from the walk we see ourselves participating in.
I want to make one thing clear right at the outset of this article. I have no intention of “bashing” anyone. I do however want to be faithful to what God brought to mind when I was doing my reading. It really made me think, and I pray it will have the same effect on others.
Verse three really puts things into perspective because it gives us a healthy balance between the unfathomable grace of God and yet the requirements of His Holiness, which we have been asked to participate in because we have become part of His family. In verse 11 and 12 of chapter two it says:
“Both the One that makes men holy and those that are made holy are of the same family. So, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers, in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.”
That gives just that much more depth and responsibility to what it says earlier in verse 3 when it says:
“…how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation.”
Obviously the human race will be held accountable for the gift of forgiveness, freedom, and eternal inheritance we have been offered. We have the opportunity to be totally free from the curse of sin and everything that comes with it, but we should also take a real close good look at how this verse along with many others like it, might have to do with those of us who are of the house of faith!
I refer to the laxness of commitment to God that is so evident in the western world, and I do it often. For some, this is offensive. I feel bad, but so be it. When God’s Word says things like it does in Hebrews 2:3, I don’t dare water it down. I’m afraid that most of us who call ourselves “Christ-followers” take unacceptable advantage of His grace. I realize that none of us stand a chance of being free before this Holy God without His provision, but there is a real danger in making our commitment to Him and then not following through. We can’t afford to make that mistake. This has nothing to do with following a whole litany of religious legalism and all the ridiculous rules we “write” for each other to follow—as the Scribes and Pharisees did 2,000 years ago. This has to do with living the life of a true believer in Jesus the Messiah! It should matter to us how we live and I’m afraid for way too many of us, it does not matter because we have allowed ourselves to become immersed in the sophisticated, immoral, hedonistic society around us. Things that we wouldn’t have even considered participating in a few years ago have become accepted by us as “normal”. God has not changed, why have we?
Bottom line is this: God’s grace is a wonderful gift but it does not remove the severity for ignoring the high price paid for our freedom. We dare not forget this—especially now that we are on the threshold of the Bridegroom stealing His Bride away. The Bride and Bridegroom need to be of the same mind and heart! We know where the Bridegroom stands because it is spelled out in the Scriptures. That only leaves the question of where we stand. We cannot let the world around us affect “who” we are.
At least twice in these two chapters there is a reference made to our “claim” of being followers of Jesus. Chapter 3 verse 1 says this:
“Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest whom we confess…”
In Hebrews 3:6 it goes on to say this:
“…Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.”
The emphasis is pretty obvious in both passages. Basically, it says that it’s great that we make the confession of being a Christ-follower, but there is a condition put on that claim. In fact, in that last passage, the little word “if” really crosses much of what is taught today. I really don’t want to try and handle the whole controversy of “faith vs. works” in this short little article, but we would be wise to realize that the Christian life is meant to be lived and not just a claim made of being a Christian. Too often so-called “Christian” lives can’t be recognized as anything apart from the society around us. Are we different? What sets us apart?
After reading through chapter two, verse five makes a point of saying that Moses was faithful as a servant “in all of God’s house”. That seems like kind of an odd statement, but the easy meaning of it is just that Moses was obedient to everything God asked of him. This can sometimes be pretty costly, and proved to be so in Moses’ life.
After the statement is made of Moses being faithful in “all of God’s house”, there is a strong warning against unbelief. Most of us would quickly say that this Scripture has nothing to do with us, yet I’m afraid we are often more affected by the world around us than we realize.
Here’s a question: How would it affect you if your life was all of a sudden turned upside down? We have all grown accustomed to certain things being a constant. Most of us—at least in western society are pretty dependent on everything that modern life has to offer. We get up in the morning and expect the lights to come on when we turn the switch on. If it’s cold, we turn up the heat. When we are hungry, we go to the refrigerator and get something to eat. I could go on, but don’t really need to.
What would we do if we lost all these things that we are so used to having? For most people, they would either become bitter, or they would become better. Which would it be for you? It is easy to act “Christ-like” when all is well in our lives. When things go wrong, we can often be challenged to our very core.
We sometimes are guilty of making fun of the Israelites which the writer in Hebrews is referring to because they had seen God do such amazing things and then couldn’t seem to hang onto their faith for the future challenges. Are we really any different? Will we be different when greater challenges come our way? Can you trust God in a situation that is the worst of the worst??
Most of us have read great stories of the faith people have shown in the face of severe challenges, and these stories always move us. How would it be however if it were our own name being the main character in one of these stories? Chapter 11 of Hebrews is a well known passage because of its long list of those that had lived lives beyond what most of us could imagine having to endure. The thing that many of us don’t realize is that this list is still being compiled. That list was not completed with the early church. Millions have been added to that very list, and still are today.
In conclusion, I just want to encourage everyone that reads this simple writing, to allow the Spirit of God to make you the best you can be. Don’t look for recognition, because it rarely comes—at least not in this life. Very accurate records are kept by the God who chose for you to be on this earth at this very time. One of the things that I am hearing more and more from people all over the world today is God’s personal encouragement to “finish well”. I have said it again and again; time has run out—whether that is a day, week, month, or maybe even a handful of years, those of us living today are the runner on the baseball field running between third base and home. We need to give it all we have—no matter how costly it may become.
I used Scriptures that pointed out the faithfulness of Moses. There was only one Moses, but there is also only one of YOU, and there is only one of ME. Moses, as great as he was, was nearly murdered by the very people he was sent to deliver. It happened before they ever left Egypt, and then while on their long trek through the desert. Don’t be surprised if you don’t hit it off well with everyone due to the stand that God asks you to take. Not everyone is asked to do the same job in preparation for the Kingdom of God. We all have our tasks, and the thing that God honors more than anything I can think of is faithfulness. It is a faithfulness that requires us to die to everything the flesh has to offer. If that is too much of God to ask of you, then you need to ask why He would pay such an extreme price for your salvation. Take the time to watch the “Passion” again. It brings a bit of perspective back into our cushy, entertainment filled lives!
God Bless You All, and…
KEEP LOOKING UP!