The book of Hebrews is a book encouraging us to not give up on our journey with Jesus. We have a superior Son, a superior High Priest, a superior covenant, and a superior help to give us what we need for this walk with Jesus. The writer of Hebrews has called us to approach God with a sincere heart. Our motivation matters to God. Hypocrisy cannot exist as we come to God. God sees our hearts and knows our motives. We cannot go forward into the presence of God if we do not come with sincere, true hearts. The writer has then told us that we need to motivate each other to love and good works and to hold fast to our hope because if we choose to turn from God, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a fearful expectation of judgment. The writer will now spend verses 32-39 to give us five points for endurance. So we will look at this paragraph and consider how we can have endurance from the instructions provided by the Holy Spirit through the author of Hebrews.
Remember Your Past (10:32-34)
The first point of endurance is to remember your past. Notice in verses 32-33 that the writer reminds these Christians of all these had endured for the cause of Christ up to this point. They “endured a hard struggle with sufferings.” Sometimes they were exposed to public insults. Some experienced persecution. Some were put in prison and some endured the confiscation of their property. Some of these Christians showed love and courage by standing side by side with those who were treated this way. Why is the writer reminding them of what they went through in the past and how they handled it? The point is that you have endured in the past and you can continue to endure now. You showed love and compassion during those difficult times. They had a joyful response to what they experience. You did not give up when it was hard to be a Christian. You did not quit when the pressure was significant. Not only did you not give up, but you even rose to the challenge in how you handled the trials and how you helped others through the trial. We can endure when we remember how we have endured in the past.
You Know You Have A Better Possession (10:34-35)
The writer of Hebrews now points out why they were so successful at that moment of trial that they experienced in the past. The reason is that they knew they had something better. They knew that they had a better, lasting possession. They knew that these earthly possessions did not matter. All that mattered were the heavenly possessions. We must not forget that our earthly possessions are nothing. They are not valuable. They ultimately do not matter. It is so easy to have our eyes on the wrong possessions. The writer tells us that we have a possession that is eternal in its quality. There is nothing you have in your home that has an eternal quality. There is nothing that you own that has permanent value. Whatever was so valuable and so important when you bought it ten years ago does not have that value and importance now. The possessions that were so life changing to you ten years ago you probably do not own anymore. Not only do you not own it anymore, you probably threw it away because it was next to valueless. I thought I would test this out. I got on a website that buys back technology and I plugged in the iPad 3 which was released in 2012, 7 years ago. I enter the information as in pristine condition. Do you know what they offered me to buy it from me? They offered $5. The cheapest one you could buy at that time was $500 but it is now worth $5. This is true of our cars. This is true of every possession we have. Everything we have is temporary and becomes valueless with time. Yet we can focus on the wrong possessions. You know that you have a better, eternal possession. “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” We have to see that we have something so amazing that God is giving to us. You have a great reward — God himself. Do not throw away your confidence. Maintain your boldness.
You Need To Endure (10:36)
The third encouragement for endurance is in verse 36. The writer just simply tells us that we need to endure. Endurance is the call of life. Nothing about walking with God is ever pictured as easy or simplistic. Think about all the people who followed the Lord. Which of them had an easy life? Which of them had a comfortable life? Which of them did not have to endure for the sake of the Lord? Friends, the person we follow had to endure. Jesus showed great endurance through rejection, suffering, and even death. You need endurance. It is easy to become soft with God. I think Satan has done this to us with our prosperity so that when life becomes uncomfortable we will quit on God. But God has told us from the start of this journey that we will need endurance. We will need to persevere. In fact, recall what James said regarding trials. He opened his letter by telling us to count it all joy when we meet trials because the testing of our faith produces endurance or perseverance. God is telling us this is going to happen. Trials are going to happen. Suffering is going to happen. Life is going to be hard. We need endurance. Endurance has much to do with the mind. We can endure a lot when we mentally prepare ourselves for it, especially when we know that the reward will be worth the endurance. So the writer says that we need to endure so that we will receive what is promised.
Please notice something carefully in verse 36 before we leave it. “You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what is promised.” Suffering is not an excuse for not doing the will of God. We need to endure and continue to do the will of God so that we can receive our great reward. We cannot bail out during the difficulty. We must remain faithful through the difficulty to receive the promises of God. This is the point of the book. Endurance is easy when we are not suffering. Endurance is easy when life is comfortable. Endurance means that this are hard and we are called to hold on to our faith and maintain our faithfulness through the trials of life.
Jesus Is Coming (10:37)
The fourth point for endurance is knowing that God will come and he will do something about it. God does deal with evil. God does not stop evil from ever happening. But God does judge it. The context of this quotation comes from Habakkuk 2. In that prophecy God has declared that the worldly, wicked nation of Babylon would judge God’s people, the nation of Judah, for their sins. The prophet Habakkuk has a problem with this. His problem is that he knows Judah needs to be judged for its sins but Babylon is just as sinful if not worse. God’s answer is that he sees their evil and judge their sins too. God says, “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3). God would vindicate his people and judge Babylon. For these Christians in the first century who are receiving this sermon in the form of the book of Hebrews, God would vindicate them and judgment those who were persecuting them. The point is that God does bring justice. We simply need to wait for it.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17–21 ESV)
We can endure because we know that God is going to respond with justice. God will deal with the enemies. God will address our suffering. God will not forget us but will respond for us.
The Righteous Live By Faith (10:38)
The final point for endurance is to understand that the righteous live by faith. This is the rest of the quotation from Habakkuk 2. Endurance is persistence in this life of faith despite hardships and persecution. The life of faith is the life of endurance by relying on God. To state this another way: the righteous live by trusting in the Lord. This is everything. What we are doing is showing our trust in God. What other way do we show faith? What other way do we show our trust in God except when life is hard, continuing to be faithful in our righteous living to God? Think about this reality: if we do not endure, it means we do not have true faith. But listen to the rest of what God says in verse 38. If we shrink back God takes no pleasure in us. Salvation is by faith. So if we lose our faith and we shrink back, how can God take any pleasure in us? But let us think about this statement in the other direction. God takes pleasure in those who do not shrink back. God takes pleasure in you when you endure. When you go through hardships and you remain faithful and continue to show the love of Christ in all you do, God takes pleasure in you. There is not a better thought to encourage our continued endurance.
The writer ends with this encouragement in verse 39. “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and pressure their souls.” Again, the author presses us on and encourages to not lose heart or give up. The writer ends by telling us that we can do this. Good has not given us too much. Rather, God has given us the strategy for endurance. First, remember how you have endured through suffering in the past. You can get through this with God’s help. He has helped you before and he will help you again. Second, keep your eyes on the better, lasting possession and not the things of this earth. Holding on to this life makes no sense because we have personally experienced how everything here is temporary and diminishing. Third, it is the call of life to endure. Nobody said life was easy. No one said your job would be easy. No one said being married would be easy. No one said being a parent would be easy. No one said anything in life would be easy. God made life so that we would go through trials so that our endurance will grow. Fourth, we know that the Lord is coming and he will bring justice. We are not the ones who deal out justice and punish others. That role is left completely in the hands of God. So we trust God to take care of everything in this life as we believe in him. Finally, the righteous live by faith. Trusting God every day is the call of the righteous. We do not live any other way. Trials reveal faith. Faith is needed for endurance. The righteous live by faith.