Looking forwards, not backwards

Heb. 12:7-17   The author urges the believers to live a godly life and to be at peace with everyone. He warns them not to be immoral or godless like Esau, who sold his rights as the elder son for a single meal (see Genesis 25:29-34).

Heb. 12:18-24 He encourages them not to wander back to the old ways of Judaism – like the people of Israel wandering in the desert who were terrified of God at Mount Sinai (see Exodus 19:16-22 & 20:18-21).

Instead, they should look forward to taking part in the joyful family gathering of resurrected Christian believers, rejoicing in the presence of God their father on Mount Zion in the re-born New Jerusalem (see Revelation 21:1-4).

Heb. 12:25-29 Believers should be careful, therefore, to listen for God speaking from heaven. For in the ‘end times’, God’s voice will shake both the heavens and the earth (see Haggai 2:6).

Heb. 13:1-7    The author closes his letter with some practical advice for Christian living.

 

Practical advice for Christian living

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews closes his letter by offering some practical advice for those who want to live according to Christ’s teachings.

Believers should be hospitable and welcome strangers into their homes, as they may be entertaining angels (God’s messengers) without knowing it (see Genesis 18:1-8 & 19:1-3). They should support those who are in prison, and offer assistance to those who are suffering. Christians should work hard at building happy marriages, and husbands and wives must be faithful to each other.

Believers should get their priorities right, and shouldn’t be so greedy that they get ensnared by the urge to create more wealth. They should be satisfied with what they have, and not be concerned with making more and more money. They should imitate their Christian leaders, remember their teaching and copy their faith.

 

Warnings against false teachings

Heb. 13:8-9     The author warns against strange ideas and false teachings, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Heb. 13:10-16 He warns them against keeping the strict Jewish food regulations and reminds them that the only valid sacrifice for sin was made when Jesus died on the cross outside the walls of Jerusalem.

 

Jesus on the cross

Jesus died on the cross because of our sin

 

So, “let us always offer to God our sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15) – a suitable offering for those who state openly that Jesus is Lord.

Heb. 13:17-19 The author asks the believers to obey their Christian leaders, and to keep on praying for them. He asks them to pray that God will enable him to return and be with them soon.

 

A blessing and a postscript

Heb. 13:20-21 He finishes with a benediction: “I pray that the God of peace will give you every good thing you need so you can do what he wants” (Hebrews 13:20).

Heb. 13:22-25 A postscript, added at the end, sends greetings from some of the believers from Italy, and relays the news that Timothy has been released from prison.

Other letters tell us that Paul left Timothy to take charge of the church in Ephesus between 63 and 66 AD (see 1 Timothy 1:3) and later, in c.67AD, urged Timothy to visit him in Rome (see 2 Timothy 4:21).

As a result, Timothy may well have been imprisoned in Rome during the persecution of Jewish Christians by the Roman emperor Nero following the outbreak of the Romano-Jewish War in 66AD. Unlike Paul, however, he was later released.

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