Today’s readings.. (Job 6,7), (Micah 2), (Hebrews 12)
Hebrews ch, 12 provides a sequel to the challenging 11th chapter on faith which provoked our thoughts yesterday. It starts, “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance ….” The cloud of witnesses are those who were named as men and women of faith in chapter 11. None were perfect, but they grew in faith, they “were made strong out of weakness” [11 v.34]. As well as seeing their example, our ability to endure is made stronger by “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him endured …” [12v.2] The Gk word for “looking” is a special word, the NEB for e.g. renders it as “our eyes fixed on”. This attitude of mind is further emphasized in the next verse, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
Paul, assuming he is the author of Hebrews, then writes of the essential value of discipline and quotes Proverbs 3 v.11,12 in v.5 & 6, “ … do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves …” and then makes this inspiring point in v.10, “but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” Then he adds, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Think of Job: we are reading at the moment his words of distress and also his frustration with those who are classified as ‘friends’ – but as we complete this book this month we will marvel at its climax! Job achieves a wonderful insight in ‘knowing’ the Almighty as well as final and wonderful personal benefits.
Our Hebrews chapter draws to a close with a quotation we will soon read from the prophet Haggai. “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.” [v.26] So many scriptures indicate that a mighty earthquake is part of God’s final judgments. Consider Isaiah 29 v.6-8 and Zech. 14 v.4-9 while in Rev. 16 v.17-19 it is the sequel to Armageddon.
Extreme earthquakes have often included volcanic eruptions, so that the atmosphere is seriously affected. Some prefer to think it is only the political heavens that are shaken and destroyed. That maybe so, but we doubt it. Our Hebrews chapter ends, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” With an attitude of “reverence and awe” toward God we can have confidence and faith “that we may share his holiness.”