Christians have a race to run, of service and sufferings, a course of active and passive obedience, in all of which they need to keep their eyes fixed upon the Lord Jesus. The best of God’s children may need chastisement, but afflictions rightly endured, though they be the fruits of God’s displeasure are yet proofs of His paternal love and designed to fit us better for His service and to bring us closer into His fellowship.
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)
22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
29 For our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12:1-2 – J. Vernon McGee
Hebrews 12:3-5 – J. Vernon McGee
Hebrews 12:6-8 – J. Vernon McGee
Hebrews 12:9-10 – J. Vernon McGee
Hebrews 12:11-14 – J. Vernon McGee
Hebrews 12:15-17 – J. Vernon McGee
Hebrews 12:18-21 – J. Vernon McGee
Hebrews 12:22 – J. Vernon McGee
Hebrews 12:23-24 – J. Vernon McGee
Hebrews 12:25-29 – J. Vernon McGee
Hebrews 12:1-8 – Persistently Press Forward
In one of Raphael’s pictures the clouds, when looked at minutely, are seen to be composed of little cherub-faces; and those who have already witnessed and suffered for God gather around us as a great cloud, like the crowded amphitheaters in the old Olympian games. We are still in the arena; probably every blow and sigh are beheld and heard by the general assembly and church of the firstborn. What an incentive to lay aside all “cumbrances”; that is, whatever in your life may be a hindrance, though hardly a sin! But above all, we must put away the sin of unbelief, which we can best do by looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).
Jesus began and finished His life-career by the same faith—“the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20)—which each of His children has to exercise. The light beyond the Cross beckoned to Him and so enamored Him that he counted no cost too dear, if only He might realize the possibilities that gleamed before His vision, of an elect church and a transformed world. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Hebrews 12:2 – To know the Lord Jesus is the only cure for worldliness. (Mark Guy Pearse)
Hebrews 12:2 – Despising the shame
And how is that to be done? In two ways. Go up the mountain, and the things in the plain will look very small; the higher you rise, the more insignificant they will seem. Hold fellowship with God, and live up beside your Master, and the threatening foes here will seem very, very unformidable.
Another way is—pull up the curtain and gaze on what is behind it. The low foot-hills that lie at the base of some Alpine country may look high when seen from the plain, as long as the snowy summits are wrapped in mist, but when a little puff of wind comes and clears away the fog from the lofty peaks, nobody looks at the little green hills in front. So the world’s hindrances and the world’s difficulties and cares, look very lofty till the cloud lifts. But when we see the great white summits, everything lower does not seem so very high after all. Look to Jesus and that will dwarf the difficulties. (Maclaren)
Hebrews 12:3 – One thing which contributed to make Caesar’s soldiers invincible, was their seeing him always ready to take his share in danger, and never desire any exemption from labor and fatigue. We have a far higher incentive in the war for truth and goodness when we consider Him Who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself. (Spurgeon)
Hebrews 12:6 – Lawns which we would keep in the best condition are very frequently mown; the grass has scarcely any respite from the scythe. Out in the meadows there is no such frequent cutting, they are mown but once or twice in the year. Even thus the nearer we are to God, and the more regard He has for us, the more frequent will be our adversities. To be very dear to God involves no small degree of chastisement. (Spurgeon)
Hebrews 12:6 – As a father in a sunny garden stoops down to kiss a child the shadow of his body falls upon it; so many of the dark misfortunes of our life are not God going away from us, but our Heavenly Father stooping down to give us the kiss of His infInite and everlasting love. (Talmage)
Hebrews 12:9-17 – Endure Chastening; Seek Holiness
If we are God’s children, we will not look on suffering as a punishment. Chastening it may be, but not the penalty of sin. It is administered by our Father. Don’t look at the intermediary links in the chain, but remember that Satan could not go beyond the Father’s limit in the case of Balaam or Job (Numbers 22:31; Job 2:6). It is only for the present; it will soon be over; it is intended to free us of dross and is therefore to profit; it will yield peace, and righteousness, and true holiness. Look on and up—the harvest will repay.
We are bidden (Hebrews 12:14-17) to watch each other’s interests and to stay the first speck of corruption in the fruit, lest it spread. The corrupt soul infects all in its neighborhood. There are irrevocable acts in life. We cannot undo them, but we may be forgiven. Esau received all that this world could give and became a prince, but he never got back his spiritual leadership. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Hebrews 12:11 – There are 3 ways of meeting divine chastening. We may “despise” it (v. 2), as something commonplace—something that may happen to any one; we do not see the hand of God in it. Again, we may “faint” under it (v. 3), as something too heavy for us to bear—something entirely beyond endurance; we do not see the Father’s heart in it, or recognize His gracious object in it, namely to make us partakers of His holiness. Lastly, we may he “exercised’ by it (v. 11). This is the way to reap “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” afterward. Every stroke of His rod is a proof of His love. (C.H. McIntosh)
Hebrews 12:11 – Why should I start at the plough of my Lord that maketh deep furrows on my soul? I know He is no idle husbandman, He purposeth a crop. (Rutherford)
Hebrews 12:11 – God wants iron saints; and since there is no way of imparting iron to the moral nature other than by letting His people suffer, He lets them suffer. The iron crown of suffering precedes the golden crown of glory. (F.B. Meyer)
Hebrews 12:14 – Holiness, which is the dress of heaven, is ready to fall, like Elijah’s mantle, from the hand of Him Who hath said—”Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you” (Proverbs 1:23). (Chalmers)
Hebrews 12:18-29 – Hearken to God’s Latest Word
Sinai rocked with earthquake and burned with fire. None might touch it without incurring the death penalty. How much better our Christian heritage! Not a lonely mountain, but a city and commonwealth of holy souls. Not bands of worshipers gathered from the land of Canaan, but hosts of angels, the spirits of just men; and our blessed Lord Himself. For the blood of animals, the blood of Jesus; for the Old Covenant, the New; for Abel’s death beside his altar, the Savior’s death on the cross.
Notice the writer does not say that we shall, but that we are come (v. 22). Already, in our holiest moments, we are part of that great throng to which so many of our beloved have gone. Around us the most stable structures are being tested and some are crumbling to the ground. As they fall they show that their service was transient. But as the scaffolding is taken down, the true building—the City of God—emerges. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Hebrews 12:22—Ye are come unto Mount Sion.
These poor Hebrew Christians, outcast from their Temple, and soon to see their beloved city vanish from the earth, were sore at heart. What a contrast was presented by the bare room in which they celebrated the simple supper and the splendid Temple with its magnificent rites! What a tiny rill their hymns were, compared with the mighty torrent of Temple psalmody! What a handful of worshippers, compared with the multitudes that congregated from all the world! Sometimes it seemed as though the contrast were unbearable.
Then said the Holy Ghost, lift up your eyes and see. Ye are not the lonely, isolated handful ye suppose. Every time you offer your prayer and sing your hymms ye are joining with the spirits of the perfected just, with numberless holy angels, and with vast multitudes in heaven and on earth who are ever adoring Christ. You climb the temple of Worship, of which the steps are prayers and the gates praise, and as you do so, on either hand go myriads of happy and holy spirits; and those surely are specially near whom you “have loved long since and lost awhile.”
What special blessing these thoughts will bring to the bedridden, who for many years have not entered the courts of God’s house; to the aged, and lonely, and exiled! We never worship God alone. As soon as we begin to pray, we say, Our Father which art in heaven, forgive our sins; give us our daily bread. We need not die to pass within thy gates.
O Jerusalem, city of God! Already we tread thy golden pavement, and hear the music of the waters of life, and press to our wounds the leaves of thy tree. —Our Daily Homily