Summary: Are you suffering? Everything is right on schedule as God disciplines and scourges every son He loves!
I want to start off today’s study with a question from a Psalm:
LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? 4How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? (Ps. 94:3).
This problem the Hebrews were facing wasn’t a new one; it’d been asked many times from long before, and just as the question hasn’t changed, neither has the answer:
Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; 13That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked. 14For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance (Ps. 94:12-14).
Do you see how this works? God’s sons are chastened and taught righteousness that they may rest from the days of adversity. This knowledge gives them endurance until the Lord returns: “until the pit be digged for the wicked.” It gives us endurance to persevere because we know that God won’t cast us off or forsake us.
Now, this theme is pretty common in Scripture:
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth (Prov. 3:11-12).
I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. 19Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. 20Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD (Jer. 31:18-20).
Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. 67Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. 68Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes (Ps. 119:66-68).
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world (I Cor. 11:26-32).
Here in Hebrews 12 we find this theme addressed once again and we find how Christ is glorified in it: let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking 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…
3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Does this seem rough to you? Reflect on the fact that Jesus suffered at the hands of sinners as well: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. 23But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. 24The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household” (Matt. 10:22-25).
The apostles rejoiced when they were persecuted because they knew they had been counted worthy to suffer shame for His name; they knew they had been named with their Master! So, instead of being faint and weary they rejoiced and were glad.
I like the word “faint” right here. The Greek means to dissolve or be loose. Set your minds on Christ and see that He suffered and prevailed or you might get distressed and dissolve in your minds. Don’t relax or be exhausted; be encouraged! This comes up again in verse 12 when he tells them to “lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”