Hebrews 12:1-5
Heb 12:1 (KJB)
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Compassed about - Surrounded
A cloud - Figuratively a multitude or mass of people
Lay aside - Renounce or rid oneself of
Weight - Burden or an impediment
Run - Strive to advance or make progress
Building upon what was just written the writer tells these Hebrews that they were surrounded by a great amount of true witnesses. Those in the Old Testament who stood for God had suffered at the hands of their enemies, even those of their own home. David lived in the palace of King Saul and suffered persecution by Saul’s hand. All the prophets were persecuted such as Jeremiah who was thrown into prison for bringing the Word of God to Judah. We are to look at the lives of these witnesses and see their unwavering commitment to God. In light of their testimony, we are instructed to renounce all the burdens or sinful impediments which hinders our Christian growth. Many times, we continue to hang on to things which cause us to stunt our Christian growth, especially the pet sins which we do not want to give up. These sins easily ensnare us and sometimes lead to bigger sins in our lives. If we continue to hinder ourselves by holding on to things from the old life, we will never be able to run the Christian race. Each Christian runs a race and it is interesting that we are to run with patience. When we see a race between people, normally it is done at a fast pace and there is no patience in the run, just fast speeds. The Christian walk is to be a race with the fierceness of a competition, yet we are to incorporate patience in that race realizing that whenever we are providentially hindered or thrown off track by sin, then we are to patiently get ourselves back in the race and continue the run full speed ahead.
When the prophets of old were persecuted for their messages, they did not cease to continue bringing those messages because it was their calling. (Jer 20:9 KJV) Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. Jeremiah had wanted to cease speaking in God’s name because of all the opposition he received but the word of God burned in him and he was compelled to continue preaching the message. Sometimes we want to give up when we see no fruit or we have much opposition but we must always remember that God’s message must be preached because just when we are ready to quit, then comes the blessing. We must be like the prophets of old who remained consistent and never gave up.
Heb 12:2 (KJB)
Looking 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.
Author - Originator or the beginner
Finisher - Accomplisher
Despising - Scorned or to think slightly of
Shame - Disgrace
In the previous verse we were told that we are to run the race with patience. In this verse we are told that we must look unto Jesus, which means like those who run in a race, must keep their eye focused ahead and not back. If the Hebrews looked back all they would see is the Mosaic system and its inability to bring about salvation. They were to continue to look at Jesus who was not only the originator of salvation by grace but also the finisher, basically the Alpha and Omega. (Rev 1:8 KJV) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Jesus saw beyond the cross of what it was going to accomplish and therefore He was able to see the joy of the millions of believers on Him. Therefore since He experienced this joy, He was able to endure the pain and suffering of the cross. In fact, because He looked at the joy beyond the suffering, He thought slightly of the shame He would endure. In other words, in comparison to the results, the pain of the cross was minimal. Now He sits at the right hand of the Throne of God as our High Priest making intercession for all the believers He died for. In ministry, we need to look beyond the present suffering to hardship and realize the eternal joy one will have who became saved by God through our ministry.
Heb 12:3 (KJB)
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
For consider - Contemplate, take account of, or think upon
Contradiction - Speaking against or in opposition to
Based on the information in the previous verse, the Hebrew believers are now being commanded to take account of what the Lord Jesus Christ suffered. The words “for consider” are in the Imperative Mood making it a command. We are not to look to others or think on the testimony of others primarily but our minds must be firmly focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. Obviously, some of the Hebrew Christians wanted to revert to Judaism because they were facing some major opposition but the writer wants them to realize the opposition that the Lord Jesus Christ faced and within that realization he wants them to continue in the faith. Many times when opposition becomes the normal pattern in our lives is to want to run and get away from it. The writer is stating that if they contemplate on the Lord Jesus Christ, they will get a new perspective and will become renewed in their mind and in their commitment. I like the word “contradiction” that the King James translators used. The very sinners were reviling the very one who could bring them salvation, so in essence, they were contradicting the very salvation they sought by the Mosaic law, which looked forward to the very person they were reviling. Such is the convoluted mindset of the sinner.
Heb 12:4 (KJB)
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
Resisted - To stand face to face in opposition to
The second major martyr of the church was James and he was killed around 45 A.D. This verse may be a hint that the book of Hebrews was written before 45 A.D. making it one of the earliest of the New Testament books. While the Hebrew Christians had resisted the sin of unbelief because of their identification with the Lord Jesus Christ, yet at this time they had not given their lives as part of their testimony. However, in a few short years this would change as Rome would begin a series of ten major persecutions against the Christians. Jesus and the Old Testament Saints had been a reminder to these Hebrew Christians, and us today, that it is possible to endure persecution, even to the point of giving ones life. As had been stated before, we seek a heavenly city and not a place here on earth. The world is always going to be hostile to Christ and Christians until the last day when the Lord remakes the earth into a place of righteousness.
Heb 12:5 (KJB)
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
Ye have forgotten - Forgotten entirely
The chastening - Training or discipline
When thou art rebuked - Being reproved or refuted
(Prov 3:11-12 KJV) My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: {12} For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. The writer reminds these Hebrew Christians that they have completely forgotten the exhortation of Proverbs 3:11-12. He reminds them that when they are being chastised by the Lord, especially those who wanted to revert to Judaism because of the persecution, that God was not punishing them but in His love for them, He was chastening them, which means He was training them. He did not want them to become faint hearted because the Gospel had to go forth throughout the whole world and if they kept reverting to Judaism, then there would be no one to evangelize. So God was basically rebuking their attitudes of wanting to quit. God never chastises any of His children to the point of breaking their spirit but He does it to build them up and to make them realize that their calling is the highest in the world. God never empowers a Christian through the spiritual gifts for idleness. We are to use and continually cultivate the spiritual gifts which the Lord has given to us on the day of our salvation. Any time you feel like quitting just go to the Lord and speak with Him and ask Him for fresh perspective to help you shake the quitting blues.