Summary: In Hebrews 13 we have a final list of exhortations reminding us of many basics of keeping the faith.
Love, Leadership and Last words.
Do you remember as a youngster, leaving home and getting the list on the way out the door?
Don’t forget to do this, be sure and do that, remember to take care of the other thing, be careful, watch out for the other guy, call when you get there, don’t take any wooden nickels, God bless you, etc.
Hebrews 13 changes from a systematic presentation on Christ to the final list of do’s and don’ts. No less than 15 categories are here in these 25 verses with at least 20 commands.
From love to hospitality to visitation to marriage to money matters to leadership to false doctrines to accepting abuse to praising in song to leaders again to a benediction to exhortation to greetings to grace… It starts with love and ends with grace! I like that.
If I were to go over each one of these in detail, we might be here till tonight.
But there are some real jewels in this final list that we will look at today, Lord willing, all beginning with the letter “L.” These are love, leadership and last words, and I hope you will take this message home with you and practice what this says.
This first verse of this chapter was a favorite quote of my mom when she caught my brothers and I fighting. We would usually just be wrestling around at first and then someone would push too many buttons at the same time and our attitudes changed. Does anyone here know what I’m talking about? Well, somewhere the line was crossed from teasing to target practice and the emotional atmosphere shifted from friendly horseplay to, “wait till I get my hands on you” stuff. The volume level would climb several decibels until a near deaf neighbor could understand what we were saying, only we would be saying it within a couple of feet of one another. Then mom would appear. We knew we were in trouble. And she’d quote Hebrews 13:1… let brotherly love continue! We would break it up and motherly love would take over from there.
Well, here in Hebrews 13 this admonishment to brotherly love is also a controlling statement. What follows is largely governed by whether or not this most important rule is in place. Think about it. How many times does the Bible tell us to love each other? In fact, most of the rest of the commands in scripture are commentary on how to apply God’s love to one another. Loving God is seen clearest when we apply that love toward others. In the verses that follow: 2-6, hospitality, care for prisoners, marriage faithfulness, and money matters are all directly associated with this command of brotherly love. By the way, look at the end of verse 5 and all of verse 6.
He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,"
6 so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT SHALL MAN DO TO ME?"
Wow! Isn’t that great! What a tremendous promise for us in Christ! And who is this for? This assurance of God’s presence and help is for those who are walking according to his command to love. Never will I forsake your or desert you! Who does that apply to? Not to those who forsake and desert God, but for those who follow him. How do I know that? Well first let’s go back to Deut. 31 where those words were spoken and see their context. Turn to Deut 31:5-8. (read it). In this passage Moses is passing the baton of leadership to Joshua. Soon after this Joshua was leading Israel into the promised land. In Joshua chapter 7 Israel sent an army against a small city called Ai. But they were defeated and Joshua cried out to God asking why. Hear God’s reply: In Joshua 8:11-12, the God who said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” says this.
11 "Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.
12 "Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst.
Wait a minute, Lord, you said, “Never will I leave you!” What’s going on here? God is showing us the condition of that promise! God never leaves those who are faithful to him. But He holds out no such promise to those who forsake him in disobedience.