"For you have need of endurance,
so that when you have done the will of God,
you may receive what was promised.
'For yet in a very little while,
He who is coming will come,
and will not delay.
But My righteous one shall live by faith;
And if he shrinks back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.'
But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction,
but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul."
Goal: preserving of the soul.
The Means: don't shrink back--have faith.
Requirements: doing the will of God.
I have need of endurance. Do you?
Are you enduring your endurance? Are you doing the will of God?
Do you hold onto the promises? Does God have pleasure in you?
What exactly does that mean, does it feel like to know God has pleasure in you?
My need for patience is nothing like these Hebrew Christians. I imagine the author of this epistle is dropping tears on the parchment that he writes upon as he beseeches them to hold on. I imagine the emotion of those listening when this letter is read to them. Did they take this message to those imprisoned for their faith? (as "companions of them hat were so used."--verse 34)
Matthew wrote in 24:13, "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved."
Paul wrote to Timothy (II Timothy 2:3),
"Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus."
Then he went on to say in verses 11-12...
"For if we died with Him,
we will also live with Him;
If we endure,
we will also reign with Him..."
Then he writes in II Thessalonians 1:4,
"therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you
among the churches of God
for your perseverance (steadfastness) and faith
in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions
In I Corinthians 13:4, 7 he says,
"Love is patient...bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things."
That last passage from the Love Chapter, I've always thought of with the mushy, valentine-ish, marriage-advice-ism, not thinking of it in a broader sense, that this patience could mean something substantially more difficult to apply, patience due to love for our Redeemer, that means we must endure all things.
"That, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."
Remember the Lord's prayer Jesus taught to His disciples?
"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
This is supposed to be our prayer too.
The will is the center of control. Christ cannot reign in your life if this will is not surrendered to His will. Not only that, but we are to be busy doing His will, not to earn our salvation, but as a natural result of our salvation. This is what gives God pleasure, not the shrinker-backers. Then we will receive the promise which John Wesley defines as "Perfect love, eternal life."
The carrot here, the goal of the endurance is "He who is coming, will come." Guaranteed! We believe that "where He is, there we will be also," in eternity. For some it will be when He comes back again on His white horse to rescue His bride, the Church. For others, it will be when our appointed time in His books says it is time for a reunion in heaven. Nevertheless, it is in Him we hope, have put our every groan of endurance to be with Him.
There's something here about perseverance, endurance, patience, steadfastness. We don't like to do it alone. We don't have to. The Comforter has come! Our six year old twiny was sick with strep throat. Here's what her mom wrote about it...
"Come give me a kiss on the lips, Mom!
That way you can be sick like me,
and we can spend more time together."
Later her mom asked her, "Why are your so red?"
She said, "I don't know, maybe because I have a fever
or maybe cuz I'm in love."
Then as she was laying on my bed at 3:00 in the morning with a fever,
"Mom is this why being a mom is so much fun?
Cuz you get to cuddle us in your bed when we're sick?"
Fun stuff, all right! But, don't we as God's children, even when all is not quite right cuz we are enduring, want--desire, His presence? Not only that, but we long for His pleasure in being with us? Oh, the beauty of God sending His Son like us in the flesh to be with us to bring healing to our soul sickness.
"The just shall live by faith;
and if he draw back,
My soul hath no pleasure in him.
But we are not them who draw back
to perdition (eternal damnation),
but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."
John Wesley says, "The justified person, shall live--in God's favour, a spiritual and holy life, by faith--as long as he retains that gift of God. 'But if he draw back'--If he make shipwreck of his faith, 'My soul hath no pleasure in him'--That is, I abhor him, I cast him off."
This is in the category of Hebrews 10:26,
"For when we sin willfully after having received the knowledge of the truth,"
look out for judgment!
This is another warning to the shrinker-backers.
Adam Clarke says, "The word signifies, not only to draw back,
but to slink away and hide through fear.
As dastards and cowards are hated by all men,
so those that slink away from Christ, and His cause,
for fear of persecution or secular loss,
God must despise;
in them He cannot delight;
and His Spirit, grieved with their conduct,
must desert their hearts,
and lead them to darkness and hardness."
So how many years did it take Israel to get back her homeland?
Has she been able to keep it? Hasn't she faced the world's constant persecution?
Okay, it's time to look at this through bi-focal lenses, down to the history lesson of the past, and up to see the future as we are still waiting by faith for His coming.
Adam Clarke says, as to the immediate destruction coming as Jesus prophesized, "It is very remarkable, and I have more than once called the reader's attention to it, that not one Christian life was lost in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.) Every Jew perished or was taken captive; all those who had apostalized, and slunk away from Christianity, perished with them: all the genuine Christians escaped with their lives. This very important information...manifests the grace and providence of God in a very conspicuous way, (and he quotes early writers Eusebius and Epiphanius, ) 'When the whole congregation of the Church in Jerusalem, according o an oracle given by revelation to the approved persons among them before the war were commanded to depart from the city, and inhabit a certain city which they call Pella, beyond the Jordan, to which, when all those who believed in Christ had removed from Jerusalem, and when the saints had totally abandoned the royal city which is the metropolis of the Jews; then the Divine vengeance seized them who had dealt so wickedly with Christ and His apostles, and utterly destroyed that wicked and abominable generation.'"
It's talking about a choice here: perdition or believe to the saving of the soul.
Hmm. What shall it be? The Jewish Christian saw it applied in their lifetime with the destruction of Jerusalem, but by being obedient were saved. The warning still applies to us.
As a kid growing up camping in Colorado, my dad took us on paths that I wouldn't dream of allowing my kids on! I'm talking about walking on shale slopes at 10,000 feet, slipping and sliding. If we did not make progress forward, the alternative--which was not hard to imagine--was to slide down, down, down, going faster and faster in a landslide and falling off a cliff. We carefully walked in the path our dad set for us trying not to look down. Yet, it took us to exciting places, like discovering a gold mine shaft on the cliff, or gaining the mountain tops at 12,000 to 13,000 feet, above timberline where the view was worth it all.
Do you see the parallel? Don' shrink or slink back. Keep going forward no matter the difficulty. Have faith to the preserving of your soul.