You Can Do This! A Devotional from Hebrews 10:32-39

Up to this point, the writer of Hebrews has been hitting hard on some who were once with these Jewish Christians but had since departed.  To get an idea of the context, the writer (some say Paul, others an associate of Paul) addressed Jews who had converted to Christ from Judaism and were spread out throughout the region.  Their dispersal was due to the persecution they experienced.

A reading of Hebrews makes it clear that there was a strong temptation to end the persecution by going back to the Law.  This is strongly discouraged by the writer and to do so is evidence, he asserted, that the person wasn't truly redeemed.  He demonstrated that Christ is far better than the prophets, angels, Moses, Joshua, Aaron and the priesthood.  Throughout the book are warnings interwoven with the general points of the epistle.  

Perhaps all of the negative talk on those who dispersed, led the author by the Spirit to want to assure his readers that they were not like those who departed.  In chapter ten, vs. 32-39, he gave them reasons to be encouraged that they too weren't likely to go that way as well as the motivation to keep on evidencing salvation by their perseverance despite suffering for being Christians.  

You can do this, the author encourages them.  My suggested outline is as follows:

You Can Do This – Just Look at Your Past Perseverance (32-34)

You Can Do this – In Spite of Your Current Crisis (35-36)

You Can Do This – Just Remember Your Approaching Award (37-39)

1) You Can Do This – Just Look at Your Past Perseverance (32-34)

32 But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.

They were to remember the early days (32).  Think of the illumination here as being like our "aha" or the light bulb that goes off above the cartoon character's head.  This refers to the time they trusted Christ and began their walk with Him.  From that moment, they endured a "great struggle" with sufferings. The struggle refers to an athletic exercise, like a marathon, which Paul uses as a metaphor of the Christian life. 

They were to remember the nature of their suffering (33).  Some suffered directly, with insult ("made a spectacle" and "reproaches") and injury (tribulations).  Others suffered indirectly as they rushed to the aid of those Christians who were thus treated.  In verse 34, the author makes it know that he means even imprisonment, where the conditions made it necessary for loved ones and friends to provide what we would consider necessities.  To assist in this way was to identify with the one being imprisoned and may result in further sanction directed at the aid-giver.  

They were to remember the nature of their faith (34).  One of the reasons that people suggest the authorship of Hebrew as being Pauline (i.e. the Apostle Paul) is v. 34.  As many of you know, Paul was imprisoned for his faith and even used that terminology "in chains."  Here, the author stated that the recipients provided him with relief ("had compassion on me in my chains").  They "joyfully accepted the plundering of their goods."  While this may be a further reference to the persecution they endured, the context may suggest that it instead means that they gave so generously so as to deprive themselves so that the author would have what he needed while in prison.  

Application:

In Christianity, there are plenty of those who believe they are in Christ but when a trial or a crisis (even persecution) comes, they depart. Their faith that appeared so real cannot withstand the "weeds" of the "cares of this world" and "the deceitfulness of riches." Seeing the recent statistics on youth leaving the church, one could also conclude that among them are many who were never truly in Christ in the first place.  Even Jesus warned there would be those who said, "Didn't we (fill in the blank) in Your name"?"  To which Jesus will reply, "Depart from Me . . . I never knew you."  

So, how does one know if you are truly in Christ?  

Jesus said it is by their fruits that you will know them (Mt. 7:15-20).  Over and over again throughout Scripture, we are told of the perseverance of the saints.  Revelation includes the phrase "those who endure unto the end shall be saved."  Just as you see above, your past perseverance since coming to Christ should encourage you as to your place in the family of God.  It is relevant to see too that Jesus declared a minority ("few") would go the right path (Mt. 7:13-14).  

Have you persevered though persecuted or as you have gone through a major crisis?  Do you have a heart of concern and compassion for those of your brothers and sisters in Christ who are so treated or who are going through trouble or trauma?  If so, these are evidences that you are truly in Christ.  

Later we will review the next point:  

You Can Do this – In Spite of Your Current Crisis (35-36)



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