By Tyson Thorne

March 29, 2018
 

Hebrews 13 Large

Hebrews chapter ten cycles back through the author's previous arguments. The "law" (verse 1), its required offerings (verse 8) and every Levitical priest (v. 11) is described as a shadow of reality (v. 1) incapable of perfecting anyone (v. 1) but was necessary until the time that forgiveness of sins was won by Jesus (v. 18). As is his custom, the author pHebrews chapter ten cycles backresents several well-reasoned proofs from Old Testament texts (verses 5, 6, 7, and 16) that would have been well known by his Jewish audience. Here, however, he argues less for the superiority of Jesus and more for our need of Jesus.

Unlike a modern sermon which frequently ends with application, the author drops it right into the middle of his current argument. Starting in verse 19, we are given three action points:

  • Draw near to each other (and to God) assured that our whole being is cleansed by the blood of Jesus, verse 22.
  • Keep hoping for sanctification and trusting the One who is completing it, verse 23.
  • Think about how to inspire and encourage others to doing good works, verse 24.

These are followed by a warning. No, not just a warning, an ominous warning: "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (verse 31). What could prompt such a statement? We are warned that if, after learning the truth about Jesus, the Jewish audience were to return to the old covenant that they would fall under the wrath of God. This statement follows from all that has been built up to this point. Moses and the Ten Commandments were great at the time, and rejecting that testimony resulted in a death sentence! Now we have Jesus who is superior to Moses and the gospel which is better than the Law, If rejecting the old covenant resulted in death, what must be the punishment for rejecting the new? This adds emphasis to the applications outlined immediately before this warning.

After such a harsh warning, chapter ten ends with a word of encouragement. The author reminds his people of the persecution they suffered when they first put their trust in Jesus. That suffering is a credit to them, for they shared in the sufferings of others and in the suffering of Christ. Their past has already laid a foundation of assurance, so they should have no thoughts about returning to their Jewish roots and their persecutors. Instead, their past confidence should inspire present confidence which will result in a future reward (verse 35). We all must keep moving forward.

 

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