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Hebrews 12and13 - The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

INTRODUCTION: The author focused on Jesus as he closed his letter to the Hebrews, who had many centuries of tradition and honoring of the law that had set them apart from all other people of the earth. But God has established the new covenant in Christ, which fulfilled the promise made to Abraham, that in his seed all nations would be blessed. So, the time had come for the Hebrews to move on from strict adherence to the law that could never save, and share in the salvation to everlasting life that is available to all who will now place their faith in Christ. Therefore, those who believe should now show evidence of that gift of eternal life as they daily give praise to the Lord by the manner in which they live.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the American King James Bible.

A - LOOK TO JESUS THE AUTHOR AN FINISHER OF OUR FAITH

Hebrews 12 "1 Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking to 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. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. 4 You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and whips every son whom he receives. 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? 8 But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. 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 to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they truly for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby. 12 Why lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 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. 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 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; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For you 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."

COMMENTS: The author encouraged the Hebrews to be motivated by the many examples of firm faith in God beginning with the first generation born from Adam and Eve, and down through significant periods of history that all led to the final sacrifice of Christ for the remission of the sin that so easily plagues mankind. Since Christ Jesus became the author and finisher of the believer's faith, we must turn to him with praise and adoration. The sinless Son of God showed incomparable love by all the shame and agony of death on the cross he endured as the perfect lamb of God, to be offered only once forever. he now sits at the right hand of the Father on the throne of God. If we are chastened for sins we commit after we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we need to realize that it is to get us back in step with the desires that our Father in heaven has for us. The LORD will not let us continue in disobedient choices without consequences if we are truly children of God. If we had fathers in the flesh who corrected us when necessary by their standards and we accepted it; shouldn't we be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? The LORD corrects us that we will be partakers of his holiness.

Deuteronomy 8 "5 You shall also consider in your heart, that, as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you. 6 Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him."

Proverbs 3 "11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the LORD loves he corrects; even as a father the son in whom he delights."

Now, no chastening will immediately bring joy, but afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who can realize the benefits of the Lord. So, don't be discouraged and feeling weak, but make straight paths to stay with the Lord even as the prophet Isaiah had written about some of the fears that we might have.

Isaiah 35 "3 Strengthen you the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. 4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you."

As children of God we are to be at peace with all and to follow holiness: by such diligence we will see the grace of the Lord. Be careful to avoid any root of bitterness that might trouble you and cause you to be defiled. Esau became profane, when he sold his birthright to Jacob for one morsel of meat; and afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected for there was no way for him to repent of his earlier action, though he sought it carefully with tears. But Esau also had despised his birthright as recorded in Scripture, and Jacob was not condemned for fooling his father Isaac!

Genesis 25 "29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray you, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day your birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swore to him: and he sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright."

Genesis 27 "30 And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it to his father, and said to his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that your soul may bless me. 32 And Isaac his father said to him, Who are you? And he said, I am your son, your firstborn Esau. 33 And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that has taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before you came, and have blessed him? yes, and he shall be blessed. 34 And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said to his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. 35 And he said, Your brother came with subtlety, and has taken away your blessing."


B - SERVE GOD ACCEPTABLY WITH REVERENCE AND GODLY FEAR

Hebrews 12 "18 For you are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor to blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 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: 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22 But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 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, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things that that of Abel. 25 See that you refuse not him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire."

COMMENTS: This new covenant in Christ Jesus was not presented in such a fearful way as was the one given through Moses. Moses went up to the mountain top to meet with God, out of any observance of the children of Israel (beginning in Exodus 19). In contrast, Jesus was taken prisoner, treated viciously, and crucified in public between two thieves. But on the third day he rose alive from the grave just as he had said he would, and there were many who witnessed this. The resurrection of Christ assures the promise of a heavenly Jerusalem, for believers who are now part of the general assembly of the church of the firstborn through his sacrificial gift. He is the mediator of a new covenant that surpasses all others since the sprinkling of the blood of Abel. Moses gave a warning before Israel entered the earthly promised land, because he would not be permitted to enter. Now with Jesus as the everlasting high priest, we need to be careful not to turn away from His instructions in Scripture.

Deuteronomy 4 "20 But the LORD has taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be to him a people of inheritance, as you are this day. 21 Furthermore the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, and swore that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in to that good land, which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance: 22 But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but you shall go over, and possess that good land. 23 Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God."

At the time of Moses, the LORD's voice shook the earth, but He has said in later prophecy, that there will be new heavens and a new earth that will be eternal. Apparently, this is the general concept being given by the author of Hebrews. He advises believers who will receive this kingdom which cannot be moved, to serve God by the grace we have received, acceptably with reverence and godly fear, knowing He is a consuming fire.


C - SHOW BROTHERLY LOVE AND AVOID DECEPTIVE DOCTRINES

Hebrews 13 "1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. 4 Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me. 7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. 10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. 11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Why Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

COMMENTS: Brotherly love should be a continuing characteristic of Christians, and that includes showing hospitality to strangers: as the example of some in Scripture who unknowingly showed hospitality to angels. The author of the letter continued to encourage his readers with more basic advice given in verses three through seven. And because Christ Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, do not be duped into following strange doctrines. It is good for the heart to be established with grace, and not with offerings made on a physical or symbolic alter, which is no longer necessary under the new covenant. That former system was replaced by the superior one when Jesus suffered outside the city gate, and not on an altar made by man. So, we can go to him outside of any designated camp, and bear his reproach as one of his own. On this present earth we have no continuing city, but in faith we seek one which is to come and will endure forever. Therefore, in the name of Jesus we should continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God from the fruit of our lips. Don't forget to do good socially and materially to others and to share with them the Word of God, for those things can be pleasing sacrifices as well. Obey the leadership in the assembly of believers with proper respect, remembering that they are responsible to the Lord for carrying out their duties.


D - THE AUTHOR CLOSED HIS LETTER REQUESTING PRAYER FOR HIMSELF

Hebrews 13 "18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. 19 But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. 20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 22 And I beseech you, brothers, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter to you in few words. 23 Know you that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. 24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. 25 Grace be with you all. Amen."

COMMENTS: The author requested that his readers pray for him even though he believes he has a clear conscience; but his specific request was that he would be able to be with them again very soon. Then he offered a prayer for them, that the God of peace through the blood of the everlasting covenant, who resurrected the Lord Jesus who is the great shepherd of the sheep, would make them able to do that which is well pleasing in his sight, for glory to Christ Jesus forever. Amen.

The author then fervently urged his readers to accept the things contained in what he described as a brief letter. He said that Timothy had been released, and if he came soon, the two of them would come to the recipients of the letter. Then, his closing encouraged them to give greeting to those in leadership and to fellow saints. He said those of Italy sent their greetings. His final word of prayer was that grace would be with all of them, and then he gave another amen.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I thank you for the many examples of faith exercised over numerous centuries, beginning with that of Abel. Help me to remember that many of those people held on to their belief in you LORD, despite very difficult times, including some who suffered cruel and violent death. I know that your sacrifice as the sinless Son of God, showed incomparable love by all the shame and agony of death you endured on the cross as the perfect lamb of God.

That once forever sacrifice is the only acceptable one for the remission of sin that so easily plagues all of mankind. Even if a believer has many physical blessings, because of our inherent sin we may periodically need the chastisement of a loving heavenly Father. Help me Lord, by your Holy Spirit, to return to your ways quickly when ever I have strayed, and even to give you praise for anytime you do invoke correction to me. Since you, Christ Jesus, became the author and finisher of my faith, that assures my place in the kingdom that cannot be removed: therefore, I want to pray to you often Lord with praise and adoration. Help me Lord, to serve God by the grace I have received, acceptably with reverence and godly fear, knowing you are a consuming fire. Help me to Show brotherly love to other believers in various ways; and to show friendship to people in my community, especially as it may present opportunity to share the gospel with them. I want to be respectful to all leaders who have authority over me, but to trust your Holy Spirit to guide me to avoid any form of deceptive doctrine. In similar manner to the prayer of the author: I ask that the God of peace who resurrected the great shepherd of the sheep, would make me able to do that which is well pleasing in His sight, for glory to Christ Jesus forever. Hallelujah, Amen.

Published 18 February 2020