A Letter to Hebrew Believers (Part 4)
December 19- Nº 353 Hebrews 12 – 13
The author of a letter to persecuted Jewish believers urged his readers to stay strong and grow in their faith. He warned them not to turn back to Judaism just because it seemed easier and safer (see #350 - December 16). He listed ways that worshiping Jesus was far superior to anything the old Jewish system of worship could offer them (see #350 - December 16 and #351 - December 17). Then he gave examples of Old Testament heroes who had stayed strong in their faith through extremely difficult times (see #352 - December 18). He explained that these amazing men and women were now standing at the finish line cheering them on in their faith! With this in mind, the believers needed to get rid of everything that was hindering them from running well. They needed to commit themselves to finishing the race that God had prepared for them. To do this, they needed to focus on Jesus. “Jesus is the ultimate example of persevering through pain,” the writer explained. “He knew the joy that was waiting for him at the finish line, so he endured the cross and ignored the shame. And now he is sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God. Stay focused on him and don’t give up. Then one day you will share in his joy and join him at that throne!” The writer continued, “In the same way an earthly father lovingly disciplines his children, our heavenly Father sometimes allows us to go through trials. Not only do these trials point out areas where we still need to grow, they validate the fact we are God’s children.” He explained that God has amazing rewards of righteousness and peace for those who are willing to endure. He warned them not to be like Esau who quickly and carelessly gave up his inheritance for a pot of stew when he experienced a little hunger (see #19 - January 19). Later he regretted it—but it was too late! Next, the author pointed out that the Jews who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah still approached God in fear—just as their ancestors had at Mount Sinai when He was surrounded by fire and His presence shook the mountain (see #48 - February 17). No one had dared to approach Him except Moses. But believers could now come directly to God without any fear. Why then would they want to go back and put themselves under the Laws that terrified them? The author explained that the Jews who still approached God according to those old Laws would one day be shaken and consumed by fire like their ancestors. But those who approached Him based on the death of Jesus would never be shaken again. As he concluded his letter, the writer told these Jewish believers to love each other as brothers and sisters, to show hospitality to strangers, and to take care of those who were being mistreated. He told them to protect their marriages and to be content with whatever God had given them. He warned them not to listen to strange, new teachings. Instead, they needed to remember what they had been taught by the apostles. It would never change because Jesus would never change. “Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever,” he wrote. Finally, he reminded them that God had promised that whatever happened, He would never leave them or forsake them!
Satan likes to use the difficult times we face to convince us that God has abandoned us. But that will never happen! Over and over in the Bible God promises (and over and over in the Bible He proves) that He will never leave His children or forsake them. Take a few minutes and talk to Him. He is with you right now!