Five exhortations of Hebrews

Hebrews contains five exhortations which cover the book from chapter two to chapter 12.

The first calls attention to the possibility of drifting (Hebrews 2:1-4). What was true of Israel after its deliverance from slavery is true of Christians today: If we’re not careful, we will begin to drift away from the things we’ve been taught. Our faithfulness must do more than just continue. It must strengthen each day.

The next exhortation is designed to keep us from falling victim to doubting the word (Hebrews 3:7-4:13). The sin of unbelief is the same as disobedience, since unbelief always precedes disobedience and causes it. In our day, a refusal to believe in the necessity of preaching is causing the church to preach less, creating more unbelief and more disobedience.

Hebrews 5:31-6:20 instructs us to avoid dullness toward God’s word. If we refuse to keep open ears and an open heart, we can fall prey to the devil’s temptation to become dull of hearing. The writer of Hebrews wanted to share more and deeper facts with his readers, but they had become dull to God’s word. The idea of dullness, in the original language of the New Testament means “no push in the hearing,” as if there wasn’t enough “brain power” to push the message from the ears to the head where it would do the most good.

Now that we’ve taken care of the problem of dullness, we need to be exhorted to avoid despising the word of God (Hebrews 10:26-39). What we Christians have been given is great, and we hold a solemn responsibility not to allow ourselves to fall back into sin since we have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. Under the old law, a person could be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much sorer punishment can we expect, since we have received so much?

Our last exhortation is that we should be careful not to defy the word of God (Hebrews 12:14-29). In this final exhortation, the writer of Hebrews launches into one of the greatest contrasts in the Bible: the contrast is between the physical nation of Israel, and the kingdom with which we have been blessed with now. Our Master’s kingdom is so much more than a physical territory, it is a spiritual one. Why is it that even today many people cannot understand this? The contrast begins in verse 22 of this chapter. BUT, we have come to the real deal, the real thing. This is not earthly; this is where God himself dwells. We have come to three places. First, we have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God. We have come to the Lord’s church, the general assembly of the firstborn, the protokos, whose names are written in heaven. And, we have come to Jesus, the mediator of the New Testament, God the son, himself. So, we should be careful not to defy this, to defy him. If we do, where else is there to go?