Brit Hadashah Reflections 12
Hebraic understanding Hebrews and Revelation
Hebrews 12: 1-29
A wonderful letter to Jews exalting the Name and Person of Yeshua. No-one knows the identity of the author or the time of its authorship. The most speculated names associated with this letter are Rabbi Sha’ul and Barnabas, but that matters little to the content. The author was one who had a fervent desire to see Jews come to faith in Yeshua, and just as importantly to continue in that faith in the face of opposition and discouragement. However, its content has often been portrayed by Christian teachers as abrogating the Torah. That was not its purpose, and there are great lessons for believers of every culture and background contained in its message. Again we remind ourselves that the chapter and verse convenience was not present in the original, even though we will take the chapter divisions for our study and ‘reflection’. Additionally, there is significant quotation of the Hebrew Scriptures in this letter. The source document for these quotations is the Septuagint, also known as the LXX, the earliest Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, and which was completed about 130 years before the birth of Yeshua. (so where those Scriptures are quoted the wording may not exactly accord with your own favourite translation!)
Last week we were reminded of the many faithful servants of the Lord who had lived their faith in their actions, all of whom were known and greatly revered by Jewish people through the ages. The writer this week starts off with another “Therefore” (having regard to all those giants of faith who have gone before us), “let us lay aside every weight (the baggage we hang on to from our past life), and the sin which so easily ensnares us (a common factor for all humanity), and let us run with endurance (that which requires stamina, determination, application and obedience) the race that is set before us.” Why? “Looking unto Yeshua, the author and finisher (complete assurance) of our faith.” He who ran the race set before Him by the Father. The record of His selfless application to the task He was set is recorded in the Scripture account of His life, death, and resurrection. And that is attested to by those who met with Him after His death on that cruel Roman cross, and witnessed His ascension into the clouds with a promise of return in like manner.
The writer is in ‘chastening’ mode as he continued this encouragement to persistence in the faith. He wrote as from the Lord. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” What son is there who hasn’t been chastened, corrected, guided, taught, and encouraged, by an earthly father? How much more then can we expect our Heavenly Father to do likewise, and that all for our own ultimate benefit. And then the writer said words which demand careful consideration. “But if you are without chastening, of which you have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” Take time to let that sink in. The writer is telling them that if the life of faith appeared easy, not much different to what it was before they became believers, they should carefully evaluate the situation. There is an important lesson here. By putting our trust, by faith, in Yeshua for our salvation, we literally ‘join another Kingdom’. We are no longer ‘of this world’ even though we are still in it. That brings many challenges and situations which were once familiar, but are no longer part of our new Kingdom. Putting it bluntly, do others, our friends, workmates, and family notice any difference in our behaviour, attitude, habits, and lifestyle? Does the reading of the word of God challenge me, or do I find it boring? Does God speak through His word, in correction, instruction, encouragement, direction and faith building? If not, it is time for a spiritual stocktake. “Therefore strengthen the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”
The writer then contrasted Mount Sinai and Mount Zion. He reminded the Messianic Jews that in time past, when God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, Moses declared that just being on that mountain terrified him. Moses trembled at the prospect of approaching YHWH Elohim. No-one else, just Moses alone, dare go near the mountain, such was the awesome holiness of the place. It was on Mount Sinai that God spoke, and wrote, the instructions for righteous living. It was on Mount Sinai that God taught Moses the way to lead the Israelites to the Land of Promise. But in absolute contrast, Mount Zion, represented by the very Son of the living God, Yeshua, is approachable by anyone who so desires, without fear, without pre-condition, without anything but a repentant heart. Mount Zion had become representative of “The Land of Promise”, the heavenly Jerusalem, in which the righteous are destined to dwell for all eternity. The Messianic Jews had made that decision. They had come in faith to the One who had the power to invite them in. The writer had spent time in the declaration of the excellence, the superiority, of Yeshua over everything else they had encountered and known, even the most revered Moses. The kingdom of heaven is established in Yeshua, Prophet, Great High Priest and King. Unshakeable, unmovable, permanent.
“Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire”. Hold fast to your faith.