The Way - Day 159 (Hebrews 12)

Daily Reading:
Hebrews 12
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
What are some ways you need to more fully give yourself to your relationship to God in light of His sacrifices? What are some ways you need to more fully give yourself to relationships with others?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 67:1-2
OPTION 2: Proverbs 20:1
OPTION 3: Matthew 6:19-21
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Hebrews 12 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Hebrews 12:1-2
We must understand the next two verses in conjunction with Hebrews 11. In the preceding verses, the writer has listed many names of Old Testament saints who believed in the promises of God and evidenced genuine faith in His power. Through each example, the writer of Hebrews is displaying a model of faith for the reader and challenging them to also live a life of faith. Hebrews 12:1 begins with therefore which urges the reader to look back at these great examples of faith, but it also requires a response about knowing this to be true. We are "surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses" who are not spectators, but rather examples to be followed. Our response should be in three ways. First, we must "lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us." Keep in mind that the writer is speaking to Hebrews who had not really made up their mind about Christ and had not yet come to salvation. So, when he tells them to "lay aside every weight" he is referring to the Levitical system of worship. He goes on say that they should also lay aside the "sin which easily ensnares." I don't believe the writer is referencing one particular sin, but the ultimate sin, unbelief. In context with the book of Hebrews, unbelief is specifically a failure to acknowledge and trust in Jesus Christ as the perfect sacrifice for sin. Secondly, the author tells his readers to "run with endurance the race that is set before us." After they would come to faith in Christ, the writer desires them not to quit. The race is symbolic of life and we should persevere through trials and temptations. Last, the writer challenges the Hebrews to look to "Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." Jesus Christ was to be the focus of their faith. Being the author of faith, He perfectly exemplifies it. Being the finisher, He will make sure it is brought to completion. Is Jesus Christ the object of your faith today? If He is, have you been enduring the difficult journey of life by faith?

Hebrews 12:3-11
As the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 had become examples of those who had lived lives of faith, we should also be challenged by their lives of obedience and follow in their footsteps (12:1-3). Although living a life of faith would possibly bring persecution and trials, the writer of Hebrews calls believers to remember the example of Jesus Christ, who went all the way to the cross (12:3-5) and suffered the ultimate persecution - death. The writer of Hebrews reminds his readers that they had not yet experienced death, so they should continue being faithful to God and His ways. Trials and persecution have a way of teaching believers and guiding them in the right direction, so he urges believers to "not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him" because "whom the Lord loves He chastens." Some of the Hebrews were being persecuted because they had rejected the Levitical system of worship, but they were not to lose heart! Trials are not just a result of doing right, they are sometimes a result of sin and we are encouraged to "endure chastening" because "God deals with you as sons." Earthly fathers discipline their children and we still respect them (12:9a), so how much more should we respect God when He disciplines us (12:9b). God's discipline in our life is "for our profit" so that "we may be partakers of His holiness." Although experiencing God's discipline is never joyful, it results in a righteous life (12:10-11a). The writer desired that his readers would respond to God's discipline with the right heart attitude because it would ultimately lead to a righteous life. We must regularly examine our life and respond to any discipline we are experiencing knowing that the right response (submission to God) will lead to holiness!

Hebrews 12:12-29
Returning to the illustration of a race (12:1-30), the writer challenges the believers to "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." Although many of his readers had experienced persecution and trials from not following the Levitical system of worship (Judaism), he knew that they could endure and finish the race (12:12). He knew they could do it! As they are running this race, they must "pursue peace with all people, and holiness" because through their examples unbelievers will see the characteristics by which Christians live their lives (12:14). Believers must be careful about the way they live their lives because others are watching. In verses 15-17 the writer of Hebrews specifically addresses those readers who still have not made a heart commitment to Jesus Christ by warning them about continuing hardness the grows in a heart when a person continually rejects the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for sin. He points to Esau (see Genesis 25:29-34; 27:1-39) who wanted God's blessing, but did not want God Himself. Although Esau cried out for the blessing, he was rejected because of the hardness of his heart (12:16-17). Verses 18-29 provide another illustration of those who have exposure to the truth of God, but reject Him with their heart. As Moses was about to be given the law on Mt. Sinai, the people experienced the presence of God beginning with thunderings and lightnings as He was welcomed in with a blasting of a trumpet. The people feared and trembled (Exodus 19:16-19) at His presence, but now the Hebrews were being given the opportunity to approach God through the perfect blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. There was no need to fear being in the presence of God based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross which permanently removed sin. The writer of Hebrews warns his readers not to be like Esau or the nation of Israel, but rather turn to Jesus Christ and avoid the punishment on those who reject His sacrifice. In these verses the author of Hebrews addresses two groups of people. First, he challenges the believers to endure trials and persecution; however, he invites those who have not made up their mind about Jesus Christ to strongly consider Him as the only sacrifice for sin!

Dear God, help me to endure trials and also pray for those who need to decide to follow You.