May 18, 2011

Thursday after the Third Sunday after Easter


Lectionary

Morning – Ps. 91, Ex. 32:21-24,30-34, Heb. 10:26
Evening – Ps. 97, 98, Is. 49:1-12, Eph. 2:11

Commentary

Having taught us of the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ, the book of Hebrews turns again to an exhortation to faithfully trust and obey Him fully and forever.  The exhortation begins with a dire warning, found in Hebrews 10:26-31.  Commenting on Hebrews 6:4-8 I wrote that I hope these verses cause you to fear (May 8, 2011).  I have the same hope for this passage.  I say this because these verses teach the terrible consequences of falling away from Christ. Sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth (10:26) does not refer to the constant failures and sins we commit in our daily battle to conquer sin and live for Christ.  The sin of verse 26 is willfully deserting the faith.  It is turning away from Christ and returning to the life of self-indulgence and self-direction.  It is to remove Christ from the throne of your life, and to re-enthrone yourself as king and god of yourself.  It is to live in unrepentant rebellion against God. It is, to draw back from Christ and return to perdition (10:39). What happens to a person who has professed Christ, but now has turned away from Him?  Is that person “saved?”  No.  Hebrews 10:26 says such a person now has no sacrifice for sin.  That person has rejected the only sufficient sacrifice, the only one that can cleanse the soul and make him acceptable unto God.  That person, therefore, has no way to atone for his sins.  He will stand before God in his sins, and for his sins he will be lost.  Thus verse 27 says he has only a certain, fearful expectation of judgment.  “Certain,” in this verse, means absolute.  There is no question about it. It will happen as surely as God exists.  Verses 28 & 29 prove this by the Old Testament, which records that people perished for disobeying the law that was given through Moses.  If disobeying that law was a grievous crime, surely the rejection of Christ, Immanuel, God with us, is more heinous and more worthy of wrath.  Such a person has trodden underfoot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant (the blood Christ shed on the cross) as unholy.  He counts the blood of Christ as not the blood of the Most High given for our sins, but as common and defiled and without value. Verse 30 quotes the words of Deuteronomy 32:35 and applies them to the one who has treated the Son of God so despicably.   Verse 31 concludes the warning; it is a fearful thing for such people to fall into the hands of the living God.

Now the passage moves into a word of encouragement.  It is based on the confidence of 10:39, “we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”  The heart of this passage is verse 35, “cast not away therefore your confidence.”  We could restate this verse as, hold fast to Christ in faith.  The original recipients of this epistle had faced serious opposition and persecution when they became Christians (32-34).  This opposition came from family and friends as well as the larger community. Yet they did not desert Christ.  Nor did they desert the Apostle Paul, who was often in chains and prison for his faith in Christ (Heb 10: 34).  Just as they stood firm in the faith then, they are encouraged to stand firm now, that they may receive their reward.

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