This past weekend I traveled to CA, attended various meetings & gatherings and to assist Miss Kay. On Friday night and Saturday morning, she spoke at a conference hosted by Friends Church where over 1200 women (and a few men) attended. Right from the get go, she challenged us by asking: "Do you really want God to speak to you or do you want to bury your head in the sand?" Then, went right into the idiom of the ostrich burying its head in the sand...making its very large back side a very large target! Oh yeah....I've definitely resembled that remark!
Yes, I did really want God to speak and speak He did. Our handout was Chapters 1-4, 11 & 12 of Hebrews and boy did I learn alot. I was also reminded in a fresh and powerful way of why studying the Bible inductively is the ONLY way to study! I have "read" Hebrews so many times. While doing other inductive studies, I've even studied certain chapters in Hebrews. But, it's only in CAREFULLY observing the WHOLE book did I get the WHOLE picture.
For instance, as I read through Hebrews, I circled every reference to you which made the details about the people being written to JUMP OFF THE PAGE. You know what I found out from doing this? These folks were:
...Working for the Lord
...Ministering to the saints (6:10)
...Had endured a great conflict of suffering (10:32)
...Been made a public spectacle through reproaches & tribulation (10:33)
...Shown sympathy to prisioners
...Had their property seized (10:34)
BUT, I also learned they were in danger! They were in danger of:
...Drifting away (2:1)
...Falling away from the living God (3:12)
Boy, did that ever get my attention. How is this possible? Well, asking the 5 W's & H questions once again showed me. They
...Had become dull of hearing (5:11)
...Ought to be teachers/mature but needed milk; couldn't handle solid food (5:12-14)
...Had need of endurance (10:36)
Wow - details so easily missed. Had I not been reading asking who are these people and how are they were described, I'm absolutely convinced that once again I would have missed these very important facts.
Now, I really get Hebrews 11 - the faith chapter. Because they were in danger, they needed to be encouraged to keep the faith and to hold fast until the end. Now, I understand why the author went into such detail about Jesus as our high priest. They needed to be reminded that not only did Jesus understand but He symphatized. AND, they could draw near with confidence to the throne of grace and mercy and find help in their time of need.
Oh my - listen to this....because their attention was no longer on Jesus but on their situations and circumstances, they weren't growing spiritually. They were in danger of falling away. If that happened, it would prove that the word they had heard (the gospel) had not been united by faith. That's just plain scary.
It was REALLY interesting and attention getting to note that the author kept reminding them of what they had heard, were hearing and the importance of what they did with what they heard - how they responded to what they had heard. HERE'S THE BOTTOM LINE:
They heard the word. Week after week I hear the word. They....me....will respond in one of two ways.
...Harden my heart (do not believe by faith)
...Accept by faith = live by faith
These truths became so clear to me. So simple. So black and white. And, they cut right to my heart! Just like the author of Hebrews says...."the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hurts so good!
You know what? If they were in danger then I am too. Fixing my eyes on Jesus...
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross..." Hebrews 12:1-2