Heb 12:1 MKJV Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
with so great a cloud of witnesses; or "martyrs", as the Old Testament saints, the instances of whose faith and patience are produced in the preceding chapter: these, some of them, were martyrs in the sense in which that word is commonly used; they suffered in the cause, and for the sake of true religion; and they all bore a noble testimony of God, and for him; and they received a testimony from him; and will be hereafter witnesses for, or against us, to whom they are examples of the above graces: and these may be compared to a "cloud", for the comfortable and reviving doctrines which they dropped; and for their refreshing examples in the heat of persecution; and for their guidance and direction in the ways of God; and more especially for their number, being like a thick cloud, and so many, that they compass about on every side, and are instructive every way. Hence the following things are inferred and urged,
let us lay aside every weight; or burden; every sin, which is a weight and burden to a sensible sinner, and is an hinderance in running the Christian race…likewise the rites and ceremonies of Moses's law were a weight and burden, a yoke of bondage, and an intolerable one, and with which many believing Jews were entangled and pressed.
The Arabic version renders it, "every weight of luxury": all luxurious living, being prejudicial to real religion:
and the sin which doth so easily beset us; the Arabic version renders it, "easy to be committed".
The allusion seems to be to runners in a race, who throw off everything that encumbers, drop whatsoever is ponderous and weighty, run in light garments, and lay aside long ones, which entangle and hinder in running, as appears from the next clause, or inference.
And let us run with patience the race that is set before us. The stadium, or race plot, in which the Christian race is run, is this world; the prize run for is the heavenly glory; the mark to direct in it, is Christ; many are the runners, yet none but the overcomers have the prize; which being held by Christ, is given to them: this race is "set before" the saints; that is, by God; the way in which they are to run is marked out by Him in His word…it becomes all the saints, and belongs to each, and everyone of them, to "run" this race; which includes both doing and suffering for Christ; it is a motion forward, a pressing towards the mark for the prize, a going from strength to strength, from one degree of grace to another; and to it swiftness and agility are necessary; and when it is performed aright, it is with readiness, willingness, and cheerfulness: it requires strength and courage, and a removal of all impediments, and should be done "with patience"; which is very necessary, because of the many exercises in the way; and because of the length of the race; and on account of the prize to be enjoyed, which is very desirable: the examples of the saints, and especially Christ, the forerunner, should move and animate unto it. (Gill)
Lay aside every weight, and the sin: Sin can hold us back. But there are also things that may not be sin (every weight) but are merely hindrances that can keep us from running effectively the race God has for us.
Our choices are not always between right and wrong, but between something that may hinder us and something else that may not. Is there a weight in your life you must lay aside?
So easily ensnares us: Easily ensnares translates a difficult ancient Greek word (euperistaton), which can be translated four ways: “easily avoided,” “admired,” “ensnaring,” or “dangerous.”
a. Some sins can be easily avoided, but are not. Some sins are admired, yet must be laid aside. Some sins are ensnaring and thus especially harmful. And some sins are more dangerous than others are. Let us lay them all aside!
Let us run with endurance: What is needed is endurance, to finish what we have begun in Jesus Christ - a race that is set before us.
b. God has set before you a race. You must run it; and it will involve effort and commitment. Just being passive never runs a race. God wants us to run the race, and finish it right!
c. In Act_20:24, Paul pictures himself as a runner who had a race to finish, and nothing would keep Paul from finishing the race with joy. In that passage, Paul speaks of my race - he had his race to run, we have our own - but God calls us to finish it with joy, and that only happens with endurance.
Race is the ancient Greek word agona, a word used for conflict or struggle of many kinds, and a favorite word of Paul (Php_1:30, Col_2:1, 1Th_2:2, 1Ti_6:12, 2Ti_4:7).
d. Endurance is needed to run that race. Endurance translates the ancient Greek word hupomone, “which does not mean the patience which sits down and accepts things but the patience which masters them . . . It is a determination, unhurrying and yet undelaying, which goes steadily on and refuses to be deflected.” (Barclay) (Guzik)
Sorry the commentary is so long—there were so many good thoughts, I could not leave out.
What is the sin that you just can’t let go of?
Do you understand the race before you and are you determined to finish it?
Heb 12:2 MKJV 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 sat down at the right of the throne of God.
Looking unto Jesus: The New American Standard Version translates this beautifully: fixing our eyes on Jesus. We can only run the race as we look to Jesus, and have our eyes locked on to Him. He is our focus, our inspiration, and our example. In the ancient Greek, looking unto Jesus uses a verb that implies a definite looking away from other things and a present looking unto Jesus. We must guard against seeing Jesus as only an example; He was and is so much more. But He also remains the ultimate example of Christian endurance.
The author and finisher of our faith: Jesus is not only the author of our faith; He is the finisher of it also. The idea of He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Php_1:6) is comforting indeed to these discouraged Christians.
Who for the joy that was set before Him: Jesus did not regard the cross itself as a joy. But He could look past the horror of the cross to enjoy the joy beyond it. The same mentality will enable these Jewish Christians (and we ourselves) to endure.
Despising the shame: One of the most prominent elements of the torture of the cross was its extreme shame. Jesus did not welcome this shame - He despised it! - yet He endured through the shame.
This is a stumbling block to many; they will do just about anything for Jesus except endure shame or embarrassment. Spurgeon spoke boldly to Christians who could not bear the shame that comes from the world for following Jesus: “Yet you are a coward. Yes, put it down in English: you are a coward. If anybody called you so you would turn red in the face; and perhaps you are not a coward in reference to any other subject. What a shameful thing it is that while you are bold about everything else you are cowardly about Jesus Christ. Brave for the world and cowardly towards Christ!”
Are you looking to Jesus?
Is he the “author” and “finisher” of your race?
Heb 12:3 MKJV For consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be weary and faint in your minds.
(ERV) Think about Jesus. He patiently endured the angry insults that sinful people were shouting at him. Think about him so that you won't get discouraged and stop trying. 4 You are struggling against sin, but you have not had to give up your life for the cause.
These Jewish Christians were so discouraged because they were starting to experience significant social and economic persecution (though not yet to the shedding of blood). But they should consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, and be encouraged, not discouraged, knowing that they are following in the footsteps of Jesus. As Paul wrote, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom_8:17)
Lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls: Knowing that Jesus doesn’t ask more of us than what He has Himself experienced, and that He knows exactly what we are going through keeps us from becoming weary and discouraged in your souls.(Guzik)
In our trials and difficulties remember what extreme experiences in suffering the Master endured. We should be glad to walk in his footsteps, to endure the same experiences, to drink whatever the Father shall pour out for us in our cup--his cup.
That endured – Patiently, with such meekness. When trying experiences came to him, he did not consider them as merely from the individual but as being under the supervision of the Father.
"Love suffereth long and is kind." (1Co_13:4)
Such contradiction -- Such opposition. Smiting; spitting; crucifying; piercing. Contradiction of his words. His doctrines were disputed and he was slandered. Before his consecration our Lord had no such trials and contradictions, as he had afterwards.
"When he was reviled, he reviled not again." (1Pe_2:23)
Lest ye be wearied -- In well doing and patience. When enduring comparatively light afflictions, and thus fail to be an overcomer. How many become weary and are in danger of losing the prize because they fail to consider what the Lord faithfully endured of opposition. We are to feel assured that nothing can befall us except with the knowledge of the Father who is working all things for our good.
"Pray without ceasing." (1Th_5:17) Pray in faith, nothing doubting.
Are you feeling weary?
Are you looking to Jesus and his experiences for courage?
Heb 12:4 MKJV You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
Resisted unto blood -- Unto death. As Jesus did, we have not yet passed through the trying experiences which he passed through.
We have not resisted to death, it has not yet cost us our lives to be faithful to the truth and righteousness, but our Heavenly Father wants such as will be faithful even unto death. We really suffer very little and give up very little.
Tell us of your struggles you have encountered for Christ.
Heb 12:5 MKJV And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons, "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked by Him;
a. You have forgotten: One great reason for the discouragement among these Jewish Christians was because they saw no reason why God would allow difficult times to arise. But they have forgotten principles regarding the chastening of the Lord.
i. How much of the difficulty in our Christian life can be traced back to those three words: you have forgotten! Perhaps it is some principle we remember in our minds, but we have forgotten it with our hearts - and we must remember it again!
b. Which speaks to you as sons: The quotation from Pro_3:11-12 reminds us that God’s chastening should never be taken as a sign of His rejection. It is rather a sign of His treating us as His children.
i. Only the most proud Christian would claim they are never in need of correction from God. No one is above this kind of training.
c. God’s chastening can come in many forms; and what may be God’s chastening to endure in the life of one believer may be a Satanic attack to resist in the life of another.
i. This is why James recommends a prayer for wisdom in the context of enduring trials (Jas_1:2-5). We need to know how to react differently when God does different things. (Guzik)
The chastening -- Greek, paideuo, to discipline, to instruct, to teach--chastening becomes a part of the discipline only when the subject is an unwilling one. Includes correction when we have erred from the way, and the experiences which we receive along life's pathway when we are not straying. His chastening rod has aroused us from dreamy lethargy and urged us on our way. With the most careful and prayerful watching we will doubtless make some missteps and need some of the Lord's chastening.
Nor faint -- Neither be discouraged.
Rebuked -- Rebukes and reproofs of the Lord for sin and unfaithfulness are "third class" sufferings. (Russell)
Heb 12:6 MKJV for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives."
Heb_12:5-11 deals with the question “why does God allow such difficult times as we are going through.” This is a question commonly asked in seasons of discouragement.
The discussion of chastening that follows should not be regarded as the only reason God allows difficult times, but it is an important one. For example, we know that God allows difficult times so that we can, at a later time, comfort someone else with the same comfort God shows towards us in our crisis (2Co_1:3-7). (Guzik)
He chasteneth -- He disciplines. Instructs, trains up; He comes with the comforting influences of His spirit and turns our sufferings into blessings. He chastens none others.
To whatever extent the new creature gives consent or sympathy to the sin of his flesh is worthy of "stripes" which correctively will assist in his character development. Every son receiveth chastisement to fit him for future service and to demonstrate worthiness of being counted in as a Body member. He who escapes all trials and temptations and difficulties has every reason to doubt that he is really a son. It is a wonderful privilege of the Church to have their trial in this age that they may enjoy the exceeding great and precious reward.
Those chastisements that came to our Lord were not deserved, but were experiences by which he proved his thorough loyalty and worthiness of exaltation.
And scourgeth -- Flog. When we wander or neglect to do what He teaches us is duty. This promise guarantees that we shall have trials and difficulties to develop us in the proper character-likeness of our Lord.
Every son -- To be a son implies both special favor and special endurance. The Lord gives every son trials and difficulties.
Our Lord learned obedience by the things which he suffered. (Heb_5:8)
Do you recognize chastenings and scourgings in your life?
Heb 12:7 MKJV If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father does not chasten?
Many people claim an inability to relate to God as a loving Father, because they have never known a loving human father in their own experience. Yet, even these can still receive the love of God the Father.
i. We have not all known by experience what a model father is, but we do all know by intuition what a good father is. God is that perfect Father, and He has given us that intuition. (Guzik)
God deals with you as sons: God’s correction is never to punish us, never to make us pay for our sins. That was done once and for all at the cross. His correction is motivated only by His love, not by His justice; He chastens us without anger. (Guzik)
Endure chastening -- Patiently endure. Trials of faith, of patience, of character, to which others would not be subjected. Many of which are not punishments for sin, but preparation for the work of the next age.
Whoever does not appreciate the spiritual joys can hardly be expected to endure the present training with patience and thankfulness. Our experience is a test of our loyalty of heart--as to our willingness to learn the lesson which the Lord teaches and our recognition of the source from which they come. The taking away of the dross and the development of the fruit-bearing qualities.
God dealeth -- That we may be fully conformed to the divine will. The Jews forgot that they were a people for a purpose, and that to fit them for divine service in the future, trying experiences were permitted, and were really evidences of divine favor.
With you -- The Church needs practical lessons in character-development of a very high order, and they are receiving experimental knowledge that no other creatures in the Universe receive. God has engaged to treat them as sons, not as servants; not as opposers or enemies, but as children. A son requires more careful training than a servant; for he is to be his representative and heir. (Russell)
"He that spareth his rod hateth his son." (Pro_13:24)
Are you enduring chastening?
Heb 12:8 MKJV But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then you are bastards and not sons.
Those who fancy themselves “beyond” God’s chastening mark themselves as illegitimate children of God.
Without chastisement --Corrective chastisements, or judgments, will be upon those who incline to wander from the narrow way, intended to reclaim, to establish in the ways of righteousness. All of God's people need chastisements for their correction and development, some more and some less. Tested in order to prove the depth and sincerity of their sanctification.
Instead of regarding sufferings as evidences of disownment by the Lord, we should look for and receive them as evidences that we are accepted as sons, and in training for the promised royal honors. The truth will cost something. Faithfulness to the Lord will cost much.
Whereof all -- All true sons of God. All who are designed to be sharers of God's Kingdom power.
Then are ye bastards -- Then are ye spurious. If anyone lack disciplines, prunings, after having become identified with the Vine, he lacks the "witness of the Spirit," and correspondingly has reason to doubt his acceptance with the Lord. Whoever has not shared persecution has every reason to doubt his relationship to God as a son.
Not sons -- Not real sons. Not new creatures. Not real heirs of the Kingdom. (Russell)
Examine your life—are you a son of God?
Heb 12:9 MKJV Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?
Heb 12:10 MKJV For truly they chastened us for a few days according to their own pleasure, but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.
We should be even more submissive and respectful to our Heavenly Father’s correction than to an earthly Father’s correction. Therefore, we must never despise God for His chastening, though it is unpleasant. When we resent it, we consider ourselves virtual equals with God, instead of His children.
a. It is humiliating and bitter to be chastened by an equal, but not by one who is legitimately our superior. Resentment at chastening shows how we see God and how we see ourselves.
Human fathers, even with the best of intention, can only chasten imperfectly, because they lack perfect knowledge. The all-knowing God can chasten us perfectly, with better and more lasting results than even the best earthly father. (Guzik)
Shall we not -- Shall we hope to escape discipline and training? Not unless we despise it, refuse to receive it, and turn our backs upon it, ignoring our covenant entirely, implying open rebellion. (Russell)
Do you take chastisement? Do you resent it?
Heb 12:11 MKJV Now chastening for the present does not seem to be joyous, but grievous. Nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are exercised by it.
(Heb_12:11) Look to the result of chastening more than the process of chastening.
Our author isn’t trying to deny the unpleasant nature of a “heavenly spanking” (no chastening seems to be joyful for the present). But he does want us to look beyond the process to the result.
b. The peaceable fruit of righteousness: Is this fruit evident in your life? The reason why many live a “one-crisis-after-another” life is because they are either blind to God’s chastening, or are resisting it. They have not been trained by it, and so the peaceable fruit of righteousness is not evident.
i. They never experience the peaceable fruit of righteousness because they have never been trained by God’s chastening.
ii. Trained in the ancient Greek language is a word from the world of athletics; as an athlete is trained by some agony, so are we - as God’s “spiritual athletes.”
c. God has a purpose for training you. Think of David after being attacked by a lion while just he was just a boy tending the sheep. “Why did God allow such a terrible think to happen to me?” He might of thought. “I barely escaped!” But if only David could see ahead, he would see God had a giant named Goliath he was destined to face, and the battle with the lion prepared him ahead of time. God always has a purpose. We can trust Him. (Guzik)
Can you relate to anything in the above commentary?
Heb 12:12 MKJV Because of this, straighten up the hands which hang down and the enfeebled knees.
Application: Get strong, get right, get bold, and watch out.
1. (Heb_12:12-13) Get strong.
Therefore strengthen the hands which 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.
a. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down: Almost like a coach or a military officer, the author tells the “troops” to get with it. He has given exhaustive reasons to be strong in the Lord and put off discouragement, so now is the time to do it.
b. The pictures here (strengthened hands and knees, “straight-ahead” feet) speak of readiness to work and move for the Lord. This readiness is first to go when one surrenders to discouragement. (Guzik)
How do you react to God’s chastisements? Do they spur you on to be better or do you run and hide?
Heb 12:13 MKJV And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed.
Make straight paths -- Level paths. Arrange your circumstances as far as possible, so as to help and not hinder you. Avoid trials and temptations which would be a special strain upon us, because of our weaknesses of the flesh!
Think less of earthly advantages, social, political and financial, and think much more of the moral and spiritual influences and advantages, obtainable through isolation from the evil which is in the world.
Being shod with the needful preparation, we may not so much feel the sharpness and ruggedness of the way.
As we find out what our weaknesses are, physical and mental, we should endeavor to shape our course of life accordingly, so as to be able to overcome the difficulties of the way and the besetments of the Adversary. By choosing such a course as will not unnecessarily aggravate and excite our weaknesses, and thus make us the more lame.
For your Feet -- The strongest need to remember this text, and the weaker ones need to obey it. -- That we might walk pleasing to the Lord.
That which is lame -- We are all lame. None is able to walk uprightly, perfectly, in the footprints of our Lord. At very best, we limp. We are to seek to overcome our lameness, not only by praying "Abandon us not in temptation," but also seeking to avoid the temptation in all ways, by the exercise of our wills, by mental resolutions, or vows.
Lameness or likings for certain things which as consecrated ones we have not right to.
Out of the way -- Of righteousness. (Russell)
Quoted from Pro_4:26, Septuagint, “Make straight paths for thy feet.”
straight — that is, leading by a straight road to joy and grace (Heb_12:1, Heb_12:2, Heb_12:15). Cease to “halt” between Judaism and Christianity [Bengel].
paths — literally, “wheel tracks.” Let your walk be so firm and so unanimous in the right direction that a plain track and “highway” may be thereby established for those who accompany and follow you, to perceive and walk in (Isa_35:8) [Alford].
that which is lame — those “weak in the faith” (Rom_14:1), having still Judaizing prejudices.
be turned out of the way — (Pro_4:27); and, so missing the way, lose the prize of “the race” (Heb_12:1). (JFB)
Are you making straight paths? Or are you being turned out of the way?
Heb 12:14 MKJV Follow peace with all, and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord;
Get right with both men (pursue peace with all men) and with God (and holiness). Discouragement makes us sloppy and unconcerned with our personal relationships.
- Regarding holiness, we are told without which no one will see the Lord. A lack of holiness is a critical obstacle to a close relationship with God. (Guzik)
follow peace with all men — with the brethren especially (Rom_14:19), that so the “lame” among them be not “turned out of the way” (Heb_12:13), and that no one of them “fail of the grace of God” (Heb_12:15).
holiness — a distinct Greek word from God’s “holiness” (Heb_12:10). Translate here “sanctification.” His is absolute holiness: our part is to put on His holiness, becoming “holy as He is holy,” by sanctification. While “following peace with all men,” we are not so to seek to please them, as to make God’s will and our sanctification a secondary object; this latter must be our first aim. (Gal_1:10).
without which — Greek, “apart from which.”
no man shall see the Lord — no man as a son; in heavenly glory (Rev_22:3, Rev_22:4). In the East, none but the greatest favorites are admitted to the honor of seeing the king (compare 2Sa_14:24). The Lord being pure and holy, none but the pure and holy shall see Him (Mat_5:8). Without holiness in them, they could not enjoy Him who is holiness itself (Zec_14:20). The connection of purity with seeing the Lord, appears in 1Jn_3:2, 1Jn_3:3; Eph_5:5. Contrast Heb_12:16 (compare 1Th_4:3). (JFB)
Follow peace -- "Blessed are the peacemakers." (Mat_5:9) The fact that we are counseled to be peacemakers implies that there will be opposition. Combativeness is necessary, or we could never overcome. But we need to restrain ourselves that we do not fight the brethren; and we are not to enter into a personal combat with the devil.
And holiness -- Moral purity. Separation, setting apart to God's service. The righteousness of Christ is applied to such who desire to forsake sin.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Mat_5:8)
No man shall -- The Church. In the sense that none but such will experience the glorious change of the first resurrection. This text has been misused in urging the world to become Christians.
Those who get spots upon their robes and leave them there will not be fit for the Kingdom of God. (Russell)
Do you follow peace with all?
Do you live a holy life?
Do you desire to see God?
Heb 12:15 MKJV looking diligently lest any fail of the grace of God, or lest any root of bitterness springing up disturb you, and by it many are defiled,
We must get right with God’s grace. So look diligently to keep both yourself and others from a return to legalism in either outward form or inward attitude that falls short of God’s grace, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble.
i. “A bitter root is a root that bears bitter fruit . . . So it is possible for the seed of bitterness to be sown in a community and, though nothing is immediately apparent, in due time the inevitable fruit appears.” (Morris)
ii. Many are corrupted because of bitterness towards someone they feel has wronged them, and they hold on to the bitterness with amazing stubbornness! What they must do is remember the grace of God extended to them, and start extending that grace towards others - loving the undeserving.
- A legalistic attitude will always produce a bitterness that defiles many; its emphasis on what we should do for God before what He has done for us in Jesus puts us (and those around us) in a terrible performance trap. (Guzik)
Fail -- All who, after being justified, draw back and refuse to use their reckoned justification for the purpose intended have received the grace of God in vain. (2Co_6:1) Watch diligently, lest any fail of attaining to the full privilege of God's grace.
The grace of God -- The Lord will keep us safe and secure if our part be done.
Many be defiled -- By evil hearts--who do not build up in the most holy faith. By listening to evil speaking we are a partaker in the sin. Yielding to the pleasures of sin for a season would signify the selling of the great birthright. (Russell)
root of bitterness — not merely a “bitter root,” which might possibly bring forth sweet fruits; this, a root whose essence is “bitterness,” never could. Paul here refers to Deu_29:18, “Lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood” (compare Act_8:23). Root of bitterness comprehends every person (compare Heb_12:16) and every principle of doctrine or practice so radically corrupt as to spread corruption all around. The only safety is in rooting out such a root of bitterness. (JFB)
Looking diligently — With the greatest attention, watchfulness, and care, for yourselves and each other; for Christ hath ordained that the members of the same church or society should mutually watch over one another, and the whole body over all the members, to their mutual edification; lest any man fail of the grace of God — That is, come short of it, or do not obtain it, as the same verb is rendered, Rom_3:23. It means also to be deficient in any thing, Mat_19:20; sometimes to come behind, 1 Corinthians 1-7; and sometimes to be destitute, Heb_11:37; which different senses of the expression are nearly allied to each other, and seem all to be here included; lest any root of bitterness springing up, trouble you — The apostle here alludes to Deu_29:18, Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away from the Lord, lest there should be a root that beareth gall and wormwood; and he primarily intends, lest there be any person whose heart is inclined to apostacy from the gospel.(Benson)
Are you looking out for your own heart?
Do you consider what you say and how it can affect others?
Are you rooting out any root of bitterness you might have?
Heb 12:16 MKJV (lest there be any fornicator, or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
Lest there be any fornicator or profane person: Get right with your moral conduct; remember that there are blessings reserved only for the pure in heart: they shall see God (Mat_5:8).
i. Like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright: Many Christians today sell a birthright of intimacy with God as cheaply as Esau sold his birthright (Gen_25:29-34 and Gen_27:30-40).
ii. Though he sought it diligently with tears: Esau’s birthright wasn’t restored simply because he wished it back. It could never be regained because he despised it. (Guzik)
Lest there be -- Esau's carelessness is held up as a warning that if any of us are careless of our birthright, we shall not only lose it, but lose the favor of God. All should be on guard against any and everything that would in any degree correspond to the attitude of heart allegorically represented by Esau and his course of action.
The Christian must choose whether he will pursue his worldly ambitions for wealth or name, etc., or whether he will renounce these and pursue the study of God's Word and a life of consecration, with smaller income.
Fornicator -- A more easily comprehended translation from the Greek would be, heathenish, a prostitutor or seller of his birthright for base, unworthy considerations.
Profane person -- In very round terms denouncing the spirit of Esau. In the sense that all the Gentiles or heathen were recognized as profane--godless, not reverent, unbelieving, preferring the things of this present life.
As Esau -- Typified those Christians who barter their glorious inheritance as prospective heirs of the divine nature, for the enjoyment of the fleeting pleasures of the present life. The class of Christians represented are not always rude, uncouth, coarse. Some are refined, titled, wealthy, ministers, doctors, lawyers, judges, merchants, mechanics. The Esau class may be in every station. Does not represent the world--it has no birthright to sell.
For one morsel -- A mess of pottage--lentil soup. What Esau got was of such trifling value; it seemed as nothing, as merely a bite. Esau pandered to his appetite at the expense of the higher interests of the future, represented in God's promise.
The Apostle's words seem to apply especially to the Church, and to our danger of losing our birthright as new creatures. Those who love the pleasure of this world and sell their birthright for earthly advantage. The spirit that is not appreciative of God's mercy and blessing which He has in reservation for them that love him.
Everyone who is in the Lord's family must expect that he will be tested to see which he loves the more, the mess of pottage or his prospects for inheritance in the oath-bound covenant and its blessings. (Russell)
Is your moral conduct in line with God?
Do you value the “birthright” you have been given when you became a “son of God”?
Are you in danger of treating if like Esau did?
Heb 12:17 MKJV For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected; for he did not find any place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears).
The blessing -- Including the inheritance of certain great divine promises--the Covenant made with Abraham. Abraham's spiritual seed is to have the greater blessing, typified by Jacob's inheritance.
He was rejected -- Esau's carelessness is held up as a warning that if any of us are careless of our birthright, we shall not only lose it, but lose the favor of God.
No place of repentance -- Esau did not find an opportunity to get back what he had forfeited.
Carefully with tears -- Esau found plenty of opportunity to cry and be sorry. His chagrin evidently was in the thought that he had parted with the larger share of the father's estate. (Russell)
Repentance - Here μετανοια is not to be taken in a theological sense, as implying contrition for sin, but merely change of mind or purpose; nor does the word refer here to Esau at all, but to his father, whom Esau could not, with all his tears and entreaties, persuade to reverse what he had done. I have blessed him, said he, yea, and he must be blessed; I cannot reverse it now. Nothing spoken here by the apostle, nor in the history in Genesis to which he refers, concerns the eternal state of either of the two brothers. The use made of the transaction by the apostle is of great importance: Take heed lest, by apostatizing from the Gospel, ye forfeit all right and title to the heavenly birthright, and never again be able to retrieve it; because they who reject the Gospel reject the only means of salvation. (Clarke)
Do you live a carefree life with the thought that you will get serious about God later in your life?
Heb 12:18 MKJV For you have not come to the mountain that might be touched and that burned with fire, nor to blackness and darkness and tempest,
For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire: Exo_19:10-25 explains what it was like when Israel came to Mount Sinai. The mountain was fenced off; there was no trespassing, on pain of death. They were commanded to wash their clothes and abstain from sexual relations. There was thunder, lightning and a thick cloud. There was the sound of a trumpet, calling forth the nation to meet with God. There was more smoke, like a furnace, and earthquakes; then the trumpet sounded long - until Moses spoke, and God Himself answered. God spoke to Israel from Sinai, but warned them in every way possible to stay away. (Guzik)
Come unto -- A pen picture of Mt. Sinai trembling under the glorious manifestation of divine power, symbolically represented in flame, smoke, quaking earth, rolling thunder and lightning flashes, preparing Israel for the Law Covenant.
The antitypes of this must be much more strenuous and will serve to prepare mankind in general for the blessings of the New Covenant under the antitypical Mediator.
The mount -- The rocky, barren, Mt. Sinai, where the Law was given and where the servant house was organized as a nation. The natural mountain with the terrors of the Law.
That might be touched -- A literal mountain could be touched and stands associated with literal or earthly things. The earthly is but a symbol of the heavenly which is therefore called a mount which could not be touched.
That burned with fire -- Because the Lord descended upon it in fire. All the people saw the lightnings and the mountain smoking. (Russell)
The apostle’s design is to show that the dispensation of the law engendered terror; that it was most awful and exclusive; that it belonged only to the Jewish people; and that, even to them, it was so terrible that they could not endure that which was commanded, and entreated that God would not communicate with them in his own person, but by the ministry of Moses: and even to Moses, who held the highest intimacy with Jehovah, the revealed glories, the burning fire, the blackness, the darkness, the tempest, the loud-sounding trumpet, and the voice of words, were so terrible that he said, I exceedingly fear and tremble.
These were the things which were exhibited on that material mountain; but the Gospel dispensation is one grand, copious, and interesting display of the infinite love of God. It is all encouragement; breathes nothing but mercy; is not an exclusive system; embraces the whole human race; has Jesus, the sinner’s friend, for its mediator; is ratified by his blood; and is suited, most gloriously suited, to all the wants and wishes of every soul of man. (Clarke)
Heb 12:19 MKJV and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words (which voice they who heard begged that a word should not be spoken to them any more,
Heb 12:20 MKJV for they could not endure the thing commanded, "And if so much as a beast should touch the mountain, it shall be stoned or thrust through with a dart,"
Heb 12:21 MKJV and so fearful was the sight that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake).
So that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore: The reaction of Israel was understandable: they were terrified (Exo_20:18-21). They wanted the experience to stop, not to continue.
i. Did this fear work in promoting holiness among the people of Israel? Did it change the heart of Israel? 40 days later, they worshipped a gold calf, saying it was the god that brought them out of Egypt!
But we are in a different place. For you have not come to the mountain: Our relationship with God is not modeled after Israel’s experience on Mount Sinai. We come to God’s other mountain: Zion, the name of the hill upon which Jerusalem sits.
Contrasts between Mount Sinai and Mount Zion.
i. Mount Sinai was marked by fear and terror. Mount Zion is a place of love and forgiveness.
ii. Mount Sinai is in the desert. Mount Zion is the city of the Living God.
iii. Mount Sinai spoke of earthly things. Mount Zion speaks of heavenly things.
iv. At Mount Sinai, only Moses was allowed to draw near to God. At Mount Zion, an innumerable company, a general assembly is invited to draw near.
v. Mount Sinai was characterized by guilty men in fear. Mount Zion features just men made perfect.
vii. Mount Sinai was all about exclusion, keeping people away from the mountain. Mount Zion is all about invitation.
ix. Mount Sinai is all about Law. Mount Zion is all about grace. (Guzik)
Do you try to keep the Law and the Gospel at the same time?
Heb 12:22 MKJV But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
The lesson is plain. We shouldn’t come to Mount Zion as if we were coming to Mount Sinai. So put away your hesitation and get bold in coming to God!
i. Of course, the idea of the superiority of the New Covenant is also repeated. How could these Jewish Christians even consider going back and preferring the religion of Mount Sinai over the relationship of Mount Zion? (Guzik)
But ye are come -- You have approached to. (Diaglott) Addressing the Church and pointing down to the end of this age. Here spiritual Israel is pictured as an army marching and the things at the farther end are seen and to be reached. As the journey to the promised land brought the Israelites to Mt. Sinai and the Law Covenant, so the journey of God's people will ultimately bring all the willing, obedient and faithful to the antitype.
In the type one nation was delivered from Egypt and led to Mt. Sinai to receive the Law; in the antitype, all nations are to be delivered from hades, and led to Mt. Zion to receive the Law. Mankind will find themselves close up to the glorious spiritual Kingdom of God, from which it is designed that the Lord's blessing shall extend through the New Covenant.
Not, "Ye are coming." We have come by faith to that glorious epoch or condition referred to, but it is still in the future.
Mount Sion -- The spiritual phase of the Kingdom of God. The glorious antitype, the Kingdom of Christ. Millennial Kingdom of Christ. This Kingdom is to include the whole earth.
City -- A city represents the government of the nation. God's Kingdom of power and great glory. The city for which Abraham looked afar off.
Heavenly Jerusalem -- The New Jerusalem. The glorified Church. As the literal Jerusalem was the capital of the typical Kingdom of God, so there will be a New Jerusalem--a higher government--which is to be God's Kingdom to rule over the whole earth.
Innumerable company of angels -- "Myriads of messengers in high festival."
Not only shall we see our Heavenly Father and Lord, and be ushered into the assembly of the Church of the firstborns, but we shall be ushered into the presence of an innumerable company of angels. Who have encamped round about us. It will be our joy to meet them and to learn which of them specially served us. (Russell)
If you are a Sabbath Keeper (one who keeps the Law as well as Christ)—do you see in this study that you have to make a choice?
Heb 12:23 MKJV to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are written in Heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
The general assembly -- The faithful in Christ Jesus, and the Master himself.
This will include the true saints of every nation and denomination. CR463:2;
Church of the firstborn -- Consists of two classes; a Little Flock or Priests, and a Great Company of Levites. All begotten of the holy Spirit during the Gospel Age, not merely the Little Flock. The antitype of the first-borns of the Israelites.
Written in heaven -- In the Lamb's book of life. Not on an earthly roll of membership. Not an earthly organization, but a heavenly one.
And to God -- Jehovah. The Supreme Judge.
Just men made perfect -- Refers to the Ancient Worthies (Hebrews 11)--they will come forth perfect beings. Neither the Church nor the Great Company will be "men made perfect." It would not be reasonable that he would first mention the "Church of the first-born" (which includes all the spiritual class), and then mention a part of them. The Ancient Worthies were just--they will be perfect flesh when they come up from the tomb. The Ancient Worthies were already righteous in spirit, and now they will be made perfect, by having a better resurrection. (Heb_11:35) (Russell)
Heb 12:24 MKJV and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
The blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel: The blood of Abel does not mean the blood he shed in his martyrdom. Rather, it was the blood of the sacrifice he made - the first recorded sacrifice from man to God in the Bible. The blood of Jesus speaks better things than the blood of animal sacrifice, the blood of Abel. (Guzik)
Jesus -- The New Law Covenant will be established as the old Law Covenant was, only on a higher plane and through a greater Mediator and by better sacrifices.
The mediator -- A term in Scriptural usage always connected with the mediation of a Covenant. Moses, as the Mediator of the Law Covenant, was a type of Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant. Jesus is not performing his work under that Covenant yet. Soon the "better sacrifices" (Heb_9:23) will be complete. Then everything will be ready for the inauguration of the New Covenant.
His work, during the Millennium will be the instruction, enlightenment and uplifting out of sin and death, and depravity--up to human perfection. R4555:2, 4367:6
The new covenant -- It has not yet been inaugurated; but will be in the end of this Gospel age, and its work will embrace the entire period of the Millennial age.
It will be made with the nation of Israel (see Jer_31:31).
It will be sealed as soon as the Church shall have been completed, and passed beyond the veil.
Blood of sprinkling -- Which cleansed us and presented us faultless before the Father in love.
When our glorious Head shall have made satisfaction before the Father, the next thing in order will be the sprinkling of all the people with the same blood. The sprinkling of mankind.
Abel -- A comparison which seems to imply that Abel was in some degree a type of Christ in that he offered an acceptable sacrifice and was slain therefor. (Russell)
Heb 12:25 MKJV See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape, those who refused him that spoke on earth, much more we shall not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from Heaven,
They did not escape: There were consequences for rebelling at Mount Sinai. How much more should there be consequences for resisting God’s greater work at Zion? (Guzik)
See that ye -- The members of the Body of Christ. Not the world, or those being drawn toward God's message.
Refuse not him -- The hearing of the Word of the Lord brings with it responsibilities. Beware of the presumptuous sin of disregarding the remarkable circumstances which now accompany the establishment of the New Covenant through Christ Jesus.
He is here contrasting the message of Christ (Heb_1:2) with the message of the other inferior servants--the prophets.
That speaketh -- That now speaketh.
Escaped not -- Those who refused to obey and presumptuously disgraced the ceremonies of the occasion at Sinai, met with instant death. The penalty suffered by refractory members of natural Israel was but a temporary one; they will be awakened in the Millennial age.
They "died without mercy." (Heb_10:28)
Him that spake -- Moses, the typical teacher. The voice which gave Israel the commandments.
Shall not we escape -- The spiritual Israelites of the Gospel age. How can we escape if we disregard the voice of the great Mediator of the New Covenant and the remarkable circumstances which now accompany its establishment. How much sorer punishment--for those who would count the blood of Christ an unholy thing--second death punishment.
From heaven -- We need to be taught by the Great Teacher God has appointed to teach us, and if we refuse then we are refusing him that speaketh from heaven; we are refusing the very teacher God appointed, the Lord Jesus.
After you have agreed to be subject to Christ in all things--if you are disobedient to him, you will run the risk of the second death. (Russell)
Does your life reflect that you are listening or refusing the Lord?
Heb 12:26 MKJV whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I will not only shake the earth, but also the heavens."
God is shaking the present order, and these beleaguered Jewish Christians felt it. But the things of God and the people of God will remain. (Guzik)
Then shook -- The inauguration of the Law Covenant at Sinai was typical of the introduction of the New Covenant to the world at the opening of the Millennial age, or reign of Christ's Kingdom. The literal shaking and terrible sights associated at the time of the inauguration of the Law Covenant was but a feeble picture of the awful commotion which will prevail in its antitype in the end of this age.
The earth -- Symbol of society. The civil organization of society. Picturing the shaking of society to its very center. The destruction of present social, financial and political affairs. In the time of Jacob's trouble.
Promised, saying -- In Hag_2:6, 7. The voice of the Lord shall be heard in rebuke of evil.
Yet once more -- Finally. In the end of this Gospel age; there will never more be a requirement for shaking.
I shake -- God's voice will shake. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken and removed. In these judgment times.
Prefigured the great time of trouble we are expecting, in which society will be shaken and mankind be prepared for the Mediatorial Kingdom of Christ. Not just one nation; "And I will shake all nations." (Hag_2:7) The shaking of the nations and overthrow of kingdoms, are to precede Christ's coming as the "desire of all nations."
There may be also literal earthquakes and great physical changes, intended to bring the earth into alignment with Millennial blessings.
"A great earthquake such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great." (Rev_16:18)
But also heaven -- The powers of spiritual control. The ecclesiastical systems of the present time. Not the true Church, but the many systems will be shaken. Churchianity will be shaken in all its various sects and parties, because of so many egregious errors, superstitions, falsities and dishonesties.
That the true Christians of all denominations may get free from denominational thraldom. The trouble and shaking of the Church, to shake out of profession of faith all who are not really saints, built upon the rock, is because the election of the Church is almost complete.
"The powers of the heavens shall be shaken." (Mat_24:29) As the powers of the third heaven take possession, the powers of the second are "shaken" until they are destroyed.
Heb 12:27 MKJV And this word, "Yet once more," signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, so that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Heb 12:28 MKJV Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear,
The kingdom itself will never be shaken. So it behooves us to seize God’s unmerited approval in Jesus, helping us to serve God acceptably. (Guzik)
The removing -- Utterly, completely, removed, thoroughly shaken loose, overthrown, destroyed.
That are shaken -- That may be shaken. All things sinful and contrary to the divine will. Everything false, bogus, inequitable,rverything unsound, untrue, imperfect, unstable. Everything that is not fixedly established upon principles of righteousness and truth. Everything not authorized and approved by the divine law of love and justice.
Cannot be shaken -- Things of truth and righteousness. That which will fully have the divine approval. Those things which are harmonious with divine standards. The Kingdom of God in the hands of The Christ. (Russell)
"God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved." (Psa_46:5)
Are you serving God?
Heb 12:29 MKJV for also, "Our God is a consuming fire."
Since God is in fact a consuming fire, we do best to come to Him on His terms. These are the terms of unmerited approval in Jesus. He will consume all that is outside of that sphere. (Guzik)
Is a consuming fire --"A jealous God." (Deu_4:24) He will sweep away all errors during the time of
"He cannot look upon sin." (Hab_1:13)
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb_10:31)
His anger will burn against willful sin to its utter destruction, and if we harbor such sins a portion of His anger will assuredly burn against us proportionately, and we should not be fit for the Kingdom. (Russell)