John decided to return home to his family. Already disappointed hearts sunk in fear. Others had already left the small house church but John had been part of the core group. His attendance had been sporadic lately. He seemed distant and weary. But they thought he was just busier than normal. If he quit, who could stand up under the growing, spreading persecution? No one in their group was a stranger to the public taunts, social and economic isolation, and suspicion of their family and friends (Hebrews 10:33). In the past such treatment had pulled them together. They were proud to be identified as followers of Christ (Hebrews 10:33). Suffering was part of the call. They thought back to the times they had publicly associated with others who were imprisoned (Hebrews 10:32-34). Even the loss of their possessions did not dissuade them from their newfound faith (Hebrews 10:34). Though encouraging one another with words and deeds was increasingly difficult, they had not quit (Hebrews 6:10). But each day brought challenges that made perseverance more excruciating.
Why did life have to be so hard? Didn't they serve the God of the Universe? Couldn't He see what was happening to His children? Maybe John and all the others were right. Maybe it was time to give up and go back to life before Christ.
What counsel would you give to these discouraged Hebrew Christians? What if you knew their circumstances would not improve and that the persecution was spreading?
Have you ever longed for what was? Wishing you could go back to a happier day? Perhaps your happier day is actually a fantasy, what you imagine would make you content with your life.
These Hebrew Christians wanted to go back to what was. The fires of persecution were heating up and though none of them had died for their faith, others had and rumors of martyrdom were growing closer and hotter.
The purpose of the letter to the Hebrews was to exhort these believers to persevere in the journey marked out by God for them (Hebrews 12:1-4). The writer did not cover his readers with clichés; he told them why God could be trusted. They needed a macro-worldview that saw the purposes, promises, and character of God through a spiritual wide-angle lens. They needed to understand Biblical faith.
I can relate to these Hebrew Christians because I wanted to give up when our sixteen-year-old son and his friend died in a car accident. I wanted to go back to what was, that perfect moment when all was right with the world. Hebrews was written for people like me - and maybe you.
The writer of Hebrews seems to know the questions people like us ask when darkness covers our souls:
Question: “God, where are You? Why won’t You speak to me?”
Answer: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.” Hebrews 1:1-2
In other words, God has spoken through the prophets (His Word) and the sacrifice of His son. He has said everything that needs to be said. Hear Him!
Question: “My life is a mess. I’m so afraid of today, let alone the future. Can I really trust God?”
Answer: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word….” Hebrews 1:3a
In other words, Jesus sustains the universe with one word; can He not also sustain you? God is sovereign and you can trust Him.
Throughout the rest of the book, the writer reminds his readers that God has already kept His promise of redemption by sending His Son, Jesus. We can trust Him to keep all of His promises, just as He said.
And in this messy world, when we want to quit our journey of faith, to give up because the heat of life is scorching our souls, like these broken believers, we need to revisit our worldview, the grid through which we view all of life. And the place to start is simple:
God is sovereign. You can trust Him. Will you?
Why God Can be Trusted by Dr. Chuck Betters is used by permission of MARK INC MINISTRIES
Dr. Chuck Betters is pastor/teacher of MARK INC Ministries (www.MARKINC.org). This article is adapted from his book, Treasures of Faith, Living Boldly in View of God’s Promises. It is a Bible study of Hebrews 11. For ordering information, visit (www.MARKINC.org).