It is so easy to read verses like the ones shared in my last post. Verses like, “Let us encourage one another,” and “Let us draw near to God.”
But if we keep reading in Hebrews 10, the next bits of text aren’t exactly the things of Dayspring cards. But they are things that we need to read for the days when things get hard and we feel like giving up. Things like:
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for our sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” verses 26-27
“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” verse 31
“Remember those early days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.”
In today’s church we often skim over passages that remind us, in the American church, of this part of the call to discipleship. The Hebrews writer even reminds the people of that day of their life, “Back in the Day.” The suffering, the trials and persecution produced a joy for those mistreated for the sake of the name of our Savior, and they knew the consequence of falling into hands of the living God as an enemy rather than a friend. Things today’s western Christians are somewhat out of touch with.
In fact, we are often easily discouraged when things get even a little tough. We want to give up, give in and walk away. All reasons, I believe, the writer of Hebrews wrote these encouraging words:
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what He has promised.” verses 35-37
We serve a God who keeps His promises. Yet, we must remember that one of those promises is that we will suffer for the gospel. And even so, He reminds us, encourages us, and spurs us on to not give up.
“He who is coming WILL COME and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” verse 37-38
Then I absolutely LOVE how the chapter finishes with this powerful reminder of who are:
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” verse 39
And when this truth is firmly planted in my heart and soul, I know that I can face anything. For I am not of those who shrink back and are destroyed. I am of those who believe and are saved!
As I write this I am reminded of the Chris Tomlin song, “Whom Shall I Fear?” which says:
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.
With God at my side, I never need to shrink back again.