Comments for Study 12
Memory Verse 12:7
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I. Fix Our Eyes on Jesus (1-3)
>1. What does it mean to be surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses? (see chapter 11) What can hinder our walk of faith? How does sin entangle?
>2. What is it like to run a race? How is it like a life of faith? What does a runner fix his eye on as he is running a race? What did Jesus fix his eye on as he endured the cross? How is he our inspiration?
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."
* "Therefore" -Chapter 11 point is concluded. The point was that absolute faith in God is all important and the one thing common to all the believers in Jesus throughout history.
* "since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses" -The lives of believers before us witness to us. They tell us something. We can learn from them. They have wisdom worth sharing.
* "let us" -Since we now can see that faith is the key the author lists some acts that are compelled by the common faith of the saints of past.
* "throw off everything that hinders" -The author is not specific. What are we hindered from? Obeying and loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and spirit. What hinders one person may not hinder another. Each person should do a survey of their life and being. What is keeping you from serving Jesus?
* "the sin that so easily entangles" -Jesus taught, "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell." (Matt. 18:7-9)
* "let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" -A runner and an athlete is a common example given in the New Testament for the life of faith. A runner trains constantly and works to get and stay in good physical and mental fitness. He just doesn't get up and join a race one day. If he did he would stop after a few steps. not complete the race, and may even have a heart attack. A good runner also does not practice one hour a month and eat unhealthy food and drink. Nor does a good runner practice twenty four hours a day every day. He gets good sleep at night and allows his body to rest every once in a while while practicing a little every day. He eats good healthy food and drink every day; not to much, not to little. If a part of his body is injured or in pain he attends to it, perhaps even going to a doctor to get aid. A good running takes nothing harmful to his body. He may size up his competition, but does not allow them to dictact his goals, and a good runner always has personal goals. Perhaps he may hire a personal trainer to educate, push, and equip himself to meet his goal. He also learns from other famous and honored runners. Then on race day he streatches and get's mentally ready. He listens to the race official so he knows the race marked out for him and the other runners. He listens to the rules of the race. During the race he keeps his mind concentrating on the finish line. He watches his time and pace and adjusts according to his known body limits, self aware because of his training. From practice he knows his limits; thus pushing to the limit and staying on pace. He does not pay much attention to other runners pace. He stays on the trail and within the border lines during the race. He drinks only a little water during the race and never stops. When he draws near the finish line he knows the strength of his body and give it all to a sprint to the finish line. He knows that he can rest when the race is done. Believers in Jesus can learn from a good runner.
Hebrews 12:2 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
* "Let us fix our eyes of Jesus" -Jesus is the price for believers at the end of the race. "...the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." (Gen. 15:1)
* "the author and perfecter of our faith" -Even our faith is not of ourselves. John 3:21 states, "But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
* "who for the joy set before him" -Jesus and yourselves have a joy coming. Joy may not be in their world, and seldom it is for believers. But an endless joy is coming. Jesus taught, "I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." (John 16:20-22)
* "endured the cross" -All believers follow Jesus and the cross. Jesus taught, "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:27)
Hebrews 12:3 "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
* "who endured such opposition from sinful men" -Throughout Jesus' whole three plus ministry the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the teachers of the law, and the Herodians opposed him.
* "so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" -If Jesus who was fully human, in flesh and bones, endured so can we. We have been given the Spirit. Jesus said to his disciples, "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:25-27)
II. Our Father's Discipline (4-13)
>3. What is our struggle against? What had the Hebrews endured already? (10:32-34) How did this compare to Jesus' suffering? To ours?
Hebrews 12:4 "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."
* "In your struggle against sin" -We need to struggle against sin. Sin is in our very nature. St. Augustine considered sin. He thought about why he sinned. As a young man he remembered a elderly lady's fruit tree. He and his rich young friends would steal her fruit. "Why," he thought to himself, "did I do that? The fruit was not very good compared to the plenty that I had at home. She did not have much and often were filled with worms. My homes fruit was very good and abundant. So why did I steal from the little elderly kind neighborhood lady? Why did I take one bit, through it away, and laugh with my friends?" St. Augustine's (354-430 A.D.) conclusion was that sin in his very body cause him to do the non-logical and foolish. Apostle Paul wrote, "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." (Rom. 7:14-25)
* "you have not resisted to the point" -Should we give into sin? No. We should resist constantly. The author of Hebrews says we should flee sin and we should resist. 1 Corinthians 10:13 states, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
Hebrews 12:5-6 "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
* "And you have forgotten" -We can remind ourselves so we do not forget with Bible study, prayer, and fellowship and worship with believers.
* "rebukes" -When we do no do what we are suppose to and when we do what we are not suppose to.
* "punishes" -God does punish his people. Why? David said, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4) A shepherd's rod and staff is whacked hard against the sheep because they are not very intelligent, often going the wrong way unless strongly encouraged to go the right way.
* "everyone" -no exceptions.
* "he loves" -A common phrase today is "tough love." Some have used this wrongly. Love incorporates wisdom and understanding. 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 states, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. or we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
* "do not make light" -consider carefully. When things become hard seek the Lord all the more. If no answer; fast and pray. The Lord is with us always. He does not keep us in the dark.
Hebrews 12:7-9 "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 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 our spirits and live!"
* A good father disciplines for the sons good; not for his own good or selfish plans and desires.
* "then you are illegitimate children and not true sons" -Many people say and believe that they are a part of the family of God. Yet they do not have hardships. They rationalize this with, "I am good and right; that is why all is well in my life." They fool themselves. As long as we are in this body, we have a sinful nature that must be dealt with.
* "submit to the Father" -We can oppose him. The Hebrew's who received this letter we doing so. The author wrote them from Italy to warn them.
* "Father of our spirit" -We are a new creation in christ. We have a new spirit. Jesus taught a religious leader, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3:5-8)
>4. What does God say to his sons? What are hardships? Is it possible to live by faith without God's discipline? Why does God discipline his sons? (10-11)
Hebrews 12:10-11 "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 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."
* "that we may share in his holiness" -The goal of God's discipline.
* "it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace" -Are you frustrated with struggling against sin? Endure for God will complete his work in you. James 1:2-4 states, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
>5. What does verse 12 and 13 mean?
Hebrews 12:12-13 "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."
* "feeble arms and weak knees" -Not from old age, but because of sin. Consider this in light of the earlier reference to a runner.
* "Make level paths for your feet" -Go back to the illustration of a runner and how it relates to our life of faith. God's disciple makes it easier to run the race of the life of faith. As a teenager running a long distance race I did not courses that had a lot of hills; the steeper the worse. I desired flat ones because it was much easier to keep a good pace and not as hard on the body, especially the ankles. What world long distance marathon is not run on long flat city streets and bridges? Wouldn't it be funny to see a long distance world marathon run a race like I did as a teenager; up and down step hills.
* "so that the lame may not be disabled" -This is actually a funny statement since the lame are already disabled; unable to run a race.
* The Greek races had been going on for a long time when the author wrote this letter. Interesting is that during this age racing and athletic events would not only remain but grow in popularity in the whole world to the point of becoming a new for of idol and self worship. A whole subject that perhaps goes beyond this passage.
III. Warning Against Refusing God (14-29)
>6. What two things are we told to do in verse 14? Why would this be hard for the Hebrew living in Israel at that time?
Hebrews 12:14 "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."
* At this point the author starts giving exhortations right into the next chapter.
* "to live a peace with all men" -The writing of this letter was before Rome put down the Jewish rebellion in 70 A.D. and destroyed Jerusalem. So the temple worship and religious leaders were still in full attack against those who confessed that Jesus was Messiah and LORD. It was a one sided attack. The followers of Jesus made every effort to keep the peace with them. Some today have lost this understanding. Ephesians 6:12 states, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
* "and to be holy" -Our struggle is against sin within us, not with sin the sin of others. Jesus taught, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matt. 7:3-5)
* "see the Lord" -Each one of us will see Jesus. He said, "For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" (Matt. 23:39)
* "without holiness" -2 Timothy 2:19 agrees with this, "Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."
>7. How could someone who called on Jesus become like Esau?
Hebrews 12:15-17 "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 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. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears."
* "see to it that no one misses the grace of God" -How? We must witness to them and teach the Bible, praying for others as Jesus did for us. "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:20-21)
* "no bitter root grows up" -Considering Jesus teaching about the soil and the seeds. Often our spiritual life is illustrated with plant growth. The bitter root is within us, not in the believers as a whole. A bitter root can kill a plant and the people who eat it.
* "sexually immoral" -One of the few things that the apostles and elders told the gentile believers to refrain from. Sexual immorality is a constant fault and mark of this age.
* "godless like Esau" -Esau's lifestyle is another constant mark in this age. Genesis 25:29-34 records this event. Esau had no appreciation for true values and was profane in his outlook on life. Philippians 3:18-19 states, "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things."
* "afterward" -We must make a decision while we have the chance. A time is coming when it will be to late.
>8. What mountain is verses 18-21 referring to? What was happening at the time described? What were they required to do before that?
Hebrews 12:18-21 "You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 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, because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned." The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear."
* This mountain event is recorded in Exodus 19:10-25, Deut. 4:11-13, and 5:22-26.
* After Moses was used by the LORD to bring Israel out of slavery in Egypt he was instructed to bring them to Mt. Sinai so that Israel could meet their God.
* Why did God appear this way to them? He later said he come to them this way so that they would fear him and thus not sin. It was to help them to be holy.
>9. What mountain does a believer in Jesus come to? What does the term "heavenly Jerusalem" further define it? What kind of assembly awaits us there? Who else is there?
Hebrews 12:22-24 "But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel."
* "Mount Zion" -Ancient Jerusalem was built on the south-west portion of Mount Zion.
* "to a heavenly Jerusalem" -The focus is not on the earthly Mount Zion or any other early location; but on the new Jerusalem that Jesus is preparing for us. Our home is in the new Jerusalem in heaven. Someday, after Jesus comes at the beginning of the Millennium Jesus will bring the new Jerusalem out of heaven and bring it to earth. We and all of God's people of the past will live there. Revelation and other places describe it.
* "the city of the living God" -Some in the past and present, including St. Augustine have called an earthly city and/or location the city of God.
* "in joyful assembly" -no earthly location has ever had this yet.
* "to the church" -Church in Greek is "ekklesia". Ekklesia is also translated "congregation, assembly, and synagogue". The authors who use this always refer to the organized local body of believers who constantly meet together in prayer, worship, and mutual benefit.
* "of the firstborn" -Jesus was the first physical born human of the new race to come. All believers in Jesus past and present will be in the new race. Jesus always existed since he was and is God. Yet when he was born as a baby, died, rose and received a resurrected body, he became the firstborn of the new race. That is why the author of Hebrews (and other writers) call Jesus our brother and each other brothers. (1 Cor. 15)
* "to the spirits of righteous men made perfect" -Jesus is the only one to receive the new glorious resurrection body. All those who believed now and in the past await the day we will receive a new body. (1 Cor. 15)
* "Jesus the mediator of a new covenant" -The author and discussed this earlier in the letter.
>10. Considering this letter so far, what have we been warned of over and over again? What will remain after God's soon to come shaking?
Hebrews 12:25 "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?"
* "him who speaks" -Jesus.
* "how much will we" -Believers in Jesus.
* "if we turn away" -The Hebrews who received this letter where doing this.
Hebrews 12:26-29 "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." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."
* "at that time his voice shook the earth" -Referring to verses 18-21 speaking of Mt. Sinai.
* "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." -When Jesus comes again.
* "will remain" -What remains? "Faith, hope and love." See quote earlier in this study.
* "since we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken" -I speak of God's kingdom and how faith, hope and love remains in my manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires.
* "God is a consuming fire" -Jesus teaches often about God's fire destroying all that sin and causes sin. So do the apostle's letters. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 "If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 states, "All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you." 2 Peter 3:10 states, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."