Saturday, February 24, 2018

10. Run the Race (12:1-29)

C. Endure God's Discipline (12:1-29)
     1. The Cloud of Witnesses (12:1-2)
  • 12:1. "Therefore," connects these verses with the examples of Hebrews 11. Given the examples of Hebrews 11, the audience should run with patience the race set before them.
  • If you are running a race, you do not want any extra weight. Sin weighs a person down as they run. The sin the author primarily has in mind is the sin of doubt and lack of faith about the promises of God.
  • 12:2. Jesus is an example of faith for the audience (cf. 5:7). He was the pioneer of such faith and his faith became complete in his suffering on the cross.
  • Jesus disregarded the shame, another example of honor-shame language in Hebrews. 
  • Jesus' sitting at God's right hand is another allusion to Psalm 110:1.
     2. Endure God's Discipline (12:3-13)
  • 12:3. Jesus endured hostility from sinners. So should the audience.
  • 12:4. And they have not yet shed blood in their current crisis. William Lane argued that this comment precluded previous deaths but probably not. 13:7 probably indicates that some of their previous leaders had died in a previous persecution.
  • 12:5-11 use the analogy of a parent disciplining a child as what God is doing to the audience. God, as the audience's father, is disciplining them. They need to learn from the discipline.
  • Discipline can have a couple senses. It can be punishment but it can also be training.
  • There does seem to be at least a little sense of punishment here, given the quote of Proverbs 3:12.
  • 12:9. God is the Father of spirits. Although this statement is an allusion to Numbers 27:16, it is consistent with the dualistic language throughout Hebrews.
  • 12:10. There is a hint here that parents sometimes are not good in their discipline, but God the Father is. He disciplines the audience for their good. Perhaps then there is the sense of discipline to the word here.
  • 12:11. Here the training sense of discipline is crystal clear. Those who train bear the fruit of righteousness.
  • 12:12-13. What is the take-away from the metaphor? The audience needs to lift its drooping hands and strengthen its weak knees.
     3. The Consuming Fire (12:14-29)
  • The last part of the chapter climaxes with the judgment while also presenting the great hope of those who are faithful.
  • 12:14. The audience is urged to pursue peace with everyone with whom they can be at peace.
  • The admonition to pursue holiness, "without which no one will see the Lord," is a classic holiness text. The author is urging them in yet another way not to sin.
  • 12:15 is yet another way of saying not to give up. They should not fail to obtain the grace of God. They must not let a "root of bitterness" spring up. 
  • 12:16-17. This is the third warning passage and in some ways the most striking of the three.
  • 12:16. Esau sold his birthright for a single morsel. Given 13:9, we wonder if there is something involving food that is going on in the audience's environment. It is threatening their "sonship."
  • Esau is said to have been sexually immoral and godless. What is important with such Old Testament references is the point Hebrews is making, not whether it is using contextual interpretation.
  • 12:17. After he lost his birthright, Esau wanted to get the blessing of a son back but he could not find a place of repentance. He did not find a place to turn, even though he sought it diligently with tears.
  • There is some debate about what "it" is that Esau could not find. Both the word blessing and the word repentance match the feminine gender of the word "it" here. Repentance is closer and so is the most likely thing that Esau could not find.
  • 12:18-24. This paragraph contrasts the mountain of the first covenant with the mountain of the second.
  • 12:18-21 presents Mt. Sinai. Even Moses was afraid. In keeping with the holiness of the mountain, any stray animal that touched it must be stoned. This was a physical mountain--it could be touched, another hint of the sermon's dualism.
  • 12:22-24. This is the other mountain, the heavenly Jerusalem and the true Mt. Zion of the living God. The phrase "living God" has appeared now four times (3:12, 9:14, and 10:31).  
  • They "have arrived" at this mountain. The perfect tense is used. It is probably proleptic, meaning that it is a future destination to which their arrival is certain if they only remain faithful.
  • 12:23. Again, the "spirits" of the righteous who have been perfected, another instance of the dualism of the letter.
  • 12:25-29. Here is the judgment, the shaking of both skies and earth. Probably the created skies are in view rather than the highest heaven where God dwells. This is quote from Haggai 2:6.
  • 12:27. The removal of what is shaken, since it has been created, sounds like the removal of the created realm. This would be quite an unprecedented comment, that only heaven would be left after the judgment, even though it at first glance seems to be what is being said and it fits with the dualism of the sermon. The word can also mean "transformation."
  • 12:28. The kingdom that is coming will be an unshakable kingdom.
  • 12:29. God is a consuming fire, perhaps an allusion to the mode of the created realm's "removal" (cf. 2 Pet. 3:12).

I. Sermon Introduction (1:1-2:18)
     A. Exordium (1:1-4)
     B. Celebration of the Enthroned Son (1:5-14)
     C. Background of Salvation (2:1-18)

II. The Argument (3:1-10:18)
     A. Enter into God's Rest (3:1-4:13)

     B. The High Priestly Argument (4:14-10:18)
          1. A Superior Priest (4:14-7:28)
               a. Hold Fast (4:14-16)
               b. Appointed High Priest (5:1-10)
               c. Central Exhortation (5:11-6:20)
               d. The Order of Melchizedek (7:1-28)
               e. Superior Sanctuary and Sacrifice (8:1-10:18)

III. The Application (10:19-12:29)
     A. You Need Endurance (10:19-39)
     B. Witnesses of Faith (11:1-40)

No comments: