[dropcap3]M[/dropcap3]aintaining a biblical worldview is always a challenge. How tempted we are to view life from the perspective of our circumstances rather than through the lens of God’s revelation!
The first readers of the Book of Hebrews were losing their focus. These believers faced suffering (Heb. 11:32-39). Some of their group may have already been martyred (13:7). So, others were responding by minimizing their stand for Jesus, keeping a low profile, even staying away from the assembly of believers (Heb. 10:25).
Their wavering reminded the author of Hebrews of the Old Testament incident at Kadesh Barnea. There the children of Israel failed to trust God’s power and goodness and refused to advance into the Promised Land (Numbers 14; Psalm 95; Hebrews 3). The writer of Hebrews does not want to see this pattern repeated in his readers. In Hebrews 10:23 he warns: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
When the author reminds the Hebrews to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,” he recalls the basic content of their belief. God had saved them. Their confession of Jesus recognized Him as God come in the flesh. He had died to pay the penalty for their sin. His obedience had also involved suffering; “for the hope set before Him, He endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). Yet the pressures of the moment were blurring their confidence that the One who had provided salvation could meet their present needs.
But “holding fast” may be easier said than done. So to this command the author first attaches the theological truth: “He who promised is faithful.” Like the Israelites at Kadesh Barnea, the Hebrews were forgetting the character of God. God had redeemed them from Pharaoh, brought them through the Red Sea, met them at Sinai, directed them with a cloud, and provided for their needs. Yet the Israelites looked at the size of the people and the height of the walls, and they panicked. Current obstacles obstructed their vision of God’s faithfulness.
The Hebrews too were distracted by persecution. They were drifting away (Heb. 2:1) and hardening their hearts (3:7). What if, instead, they were to “fix their eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (12:2-3; 3:1)? What if they remembered the God who had appointed His Son “heir of all things; by whom also He made the universe” (1: 2), the God who had provided them salvation, the God who had sustained His servants throughout history (11)? “He who promised is faithful.”
But the instruction does not end there. The author paired the admonition to “hold fast” with the practical command to “consider how we can stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). God had placed the believers in a group to remind one another of “the confession of our hope” and the faithfulness of our God. The author had already mentioned this encouragement (3:13), so necessary to keep believers centered on God’s provision and His power in their lives.
The instruction becomes even more pointed. In order to “encourage one another to love and good deeds,” it was key that they “not forsake the assembling of themselves together.” Such “assembling” not only identified them with the people of God but involved lifting up the weak, praying for each another, and, most importantly, reminding one another of the promises and the power of their faithful God. “Assembling together” helped clear their view.
How dangerous if we were to follow the pattern of Kadesh Barnea or the path of some of the Hebrews, and forfeit God’s blessings! How sad if, through neglect of the Word, we were to lose the joy of our salvation! How difficult if the pressures of life were to rob us of the confidence that the God who met our greatest need will meet all our needs! How shallow if our interactions with other Christians were merely social, rather than concentrated on creatively, actively affirming other believers in their Christian walk! How empty if our church services reflect what pleases us, rather than emphasizing what God has promised! How critical if we allow other cares or interests to remove us from the encouragement that God has designed for our holding fast!
[framed_box]Dr. John Master is a professor in the School of Bible and Ministry. He has been at PBU since 1987, teaching and mentoring students. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.