Read Hebrews 12
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
God Disciplines His Children
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Warning and Encouragement
14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.
The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy
18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”e]”>[e]27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Endurance is defined as:
- The fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
- The ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina.
One of the themes of Hebrews is a call to persevere, to endure in faith. Chapter 12 is the culmination of this admonishment and is rich in encouragement for our often weary souls. We know that following Jesus is a marathon, not a sprint, yet we grow weary. We get tangled up in sin and the hardships of life (and oftentimes good things!) weigh us down.
So, how do we stay the course? How do we finish the race marked out for us? We look back at those heroes of the faith who have run and finished well and remember the faithfulness of God to them – trusting that the same God who was faithful to finish the work in their lives is the same God who will finish the work in ours.
We look up. We fix our eyes on Jesus who endured the pain of the cross knowing that joy was on the other side. Said another way, Jesus endured the pain of this day for the joy of that day. Our hope is not fixed on our circumstances. Our hope is anchored to the One who scorned the shame of the cross and defeated death so that we might have life.
We look ahead. Often what weighs us down and what trips us up is our inability to see past our present circumstances and our feelings. We feel anxious. We feel confused. We feel tired and weary. We feel defeated and discouraged. We feel unsettled and shaky. But, this isn’t our home. If you’ve trusted in Christ, our present circumstances and feelings (while real) are momentary. We may be shaken, but our great God certainly is not. He is a firm foundation. Unchanging. Unshakeable.
- What is preventing you from running the race well? What weighs you down and trips you up?
- What is required for the harvest (or growth) of righteousness and peace according to verse 11? What does it mean to be “trained” by discipline?
- What is one application from Hebrews 12 you will commit to today?
Did You Know?
Mt. Sinai was where the Israelites (Hebrews) originally received the Old Covenant. Mt. Zion represents the New Covenant and is referenced multiple times throughout the New Testament.