Hebrews 13 (Read the whole chapter for context—focus on vss. 1-16)
These final instructions sum up the warnings and encouragement throughout the letter with a final reminder of the object of our faith and worship. (Review how Jesus is “better” with table)
At the end of chapter 12, we are reminded that we have an unshakable kingdom which we are waiting for by faith. In the present time we should be worshipping the Lord with reverence and awe, knowing that we have an unshakable life in Him alone.
vs. 1-6 give some specific applications on what it looks like to give God acceptable service with reverence and awe.
—Love our brothers and sisters in Christ
—Be hospitable, knowing God has something to say to us in unexpected ways. “Angels” are messengers of God. This verse is referring to how we should always be teachable and that God is speaking to us and others in acts of generosity. Aside from that, it is just in the character of God to be hospitable.
—Remember those suffering for their faith—compassion, or feeling their pain.
—Keep pure in our relationships, especially marriage. This includes our definition of marriage and acceptable relations between men and women. They should not be together unless joined in marriage. This is a recognition of how marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church.
—Be content—don’t love material stuff. This is important, as Hebrews backs up this point with an allusion to Deuteronomy 31:6-8. The LORD was bringing His people into the land He promised them. He will be with them and lead them to victory. This is appropriate for the end of Hebrews, especially in the context of the previous chapter—the promise of an unshakeable kingdom. In light of what we will certainly receiving in Christ, we can let go of worldly possessions and desires.
—The next verse cited also backs up all these instructions thus far: “The LORD is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” Throughout Hebrews there is exhortation to endure, even in the face of temptation and external struggles. Our worries, concerns and mistreatment from people can keep us from our focus on the eternal, unshakeable kingdom and King Jesus—who helps us to love, be hospitable, feel compassion, stay pure, and be content. This verse cited is Psalm 118:6, which is a prophetic psalm looking forward to the Messiah. Another verse cited from this psalm in the New Testament is “the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (see Luke 20:17). This speaks to how Jesus was rejected by the Jewish leaders of His time.
—Verse 7-8 is an encouragement that we can indeed overcome given the examples of those who have led and taught in the name of Jesus. Because they overcame in the name of Jesus, who is “the same yesterday today and forever,” we will always be able to overcome.
—Verses 9-12. Jesus, and His message as the final, definitive word of and from God (see chapter1), will therefore never change. We need to take everything taught and weigh it against the truth of who He is. The temptation, like the Jews in this time, will be to succumb to pressures from outside, BUT ALSO INSIDE, the Church. There is nothing to add to who Jesus is: 1) God’s final Word; 2) The Son, and not merely a servant (like Moses), 3) The giver of final, true rest (better than Joshua), 4) The perfect High Priest (being sinless), 5) The perfect, final sacrifice, and 6) The bringer of a better covenant in which we have bold, open access to God again.
—Verse 13-16. Because of all these things, we can be confident in suffering with Him graciously and unselfishly, looking forward to “a lasting city” to come. If this current world is temporary, so are the sufferings and temptations! Life with the LORD in his kingdom is eternal.
JESUS IS ALL WE NEED TO ENDURE TO THE END. Vs. 17-25 back this up, with comforting imagery of our Shepherd who will equip us in everything as we seek His will.
Jesus gives a warning to His disciples with specific things to be ready for. These are the types of things which the writer of Hebrews was warning Christians about in their time—nearly 2,000 years ago. How much more should we pay attention who are closer to “the end!”
THE EXHORTATION: ENDURE TO THE END, MEANING 1) DON’T FALL AWAY FROM THE FAITH, 2) DON’T BETRAY OR HATE ONE ANOTHER, 3) DON’T BE MISLED, 4) DON’T LET LOVE GROW COLD, 5) PREACH THE GOSPEL. Stay active in your relationship with the Lord, fellowship with each other, and outreach to this world.
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!