When was the last time you took time to read Hebrews chapter 11? The author of Hebrews testifies that these people, who suffered in unimaginable ways, are those of whom the world is not worthy (Hebrews 11:38). They are the “cloud of witnesses” who surround us. They are the heroes who did not live to see the promise of God; the Messiah, who was first promised to Eve, come to earth. They simply believed what the Almighty said about Him in the same way that we believe that He is coming again… if you do believe that.
We live by faith that Messiah is returning again as King. Like Paul, we are his ambassadors. Though we live here, maybe in Everett, Washington, maybe somewhere else in this world, we are on assignment to our King. He will come again to earth, his throne will be on Mount Zion in Jerusalem just as he has said. Knowing this, how should we live? What does he expect of us?
If America and our constitution is precious to us because it defines us as a people of all nations, a people whose home and freedom were paid for with the blood of patriots, then the kingdom of God is even more precious. The Torah, known in English as the Law of God is Greater than the United States Constitution and the blood of those who refused to compromise the Word of God is even more precious than the blood of American patriots. Let that sink in, American patriots are honored because they paid for our freedom with their blood, they fought for our Constitutional rights because that freedom was greater to them than a lifetime of not being harassed by government powers. That is even more true of the blood of the saints (saints is from a Hebrew word that means “dedicated ones”), starting with those listed in Hebrews chapter 11, the cloud of witnesses, who gave their lives for a kingdom and a king they did not get to see in this world. If you are born again then he is your king and your life is about living for him. How do you do that? Today’s passage is about this life we are to dedicate ourselves to living.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
An “encumbrance” speaks of our body. It is about being in “fighting shape” as a soldier of Messiah. Staying fit, not eating the junk or drinking the trash that prevents you from going out into this world as a soldier-ambassador.
“Sin that entangles” can be as well hidden as your thought life or a subtle love of money, or as open as rebellion that has nothing to do with the holy rebellion against “the world and its prince”. Lay them aside. Those who spilled their blood so that you can have the life you are living are watching you to see what their blood bought, what the blood of our Messiah bought.
Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The author of our faith, not just the one who wrote our book, He IS the book, He lived it for us. He completed (as the perfecter) the race. You may think it ended on a cross, it did not end there, the cross was endured, it was shameful, but you are the Joy that gave Him the endurance to not give up, to suffer through that shame. You are why he is at the right hand of the throne of God. The right hand is the place of mercy.
Life can be difficult and sometimes it seems like we are being punished for things we do. How can I talk about mercy when we are subject to punishment? First of all, let me be clear, Jesus was the one who was punished for our sin, we did not spill our blood for our sin, he did.
Heb 12:4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;
What we are asked to endure is discipline. Discipline is to prepare you for endurance. Discipline is meant to conform our life to the example of our King. Discipline is how we know that we are legitimate children of God, it is what allows us live a life for God’s holiness. It is how we free ourselves from every encumbrance and get untangled from sin. Do not give up if you are under discipline. God cannot look upon sin. King David’s entire body became sick (Psalm 6) because he longed to once again see the face of God after he sinned. “…pursue … sanctification (living the life God saved you for) without which no one will see YHVH — the LORD”. Don’t give up. Do you feel as though God has turned his back on you? He has not! It is your sin he has turned his back on, Endure the discipline required to get back on The Way and you will soon enough see His face again! Don’t let the stress of this life cause you to trade a holy life for the need of the moment as Esau did. Embrace the discipline, endure. The reward is beyond amazing.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20
Mrs. Hagerty, October 14, 2015