Hebrews 12 Reading Guide
v1-3 - The grand finale begins with one of the coolest words in the whole Bible; in fact it's so cool, it's only used one other place (1 Th 4:8). Although in English it's translated into the rather mundane word 'therefore,' it's a compound word which literally means NOW LISTEN UP - PAY ATTENTION - BECAUSE OF WHAT'S PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED - NOW THEREFORE: HERE'S HOW YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO LIVE. I think what comes next is probably going to be important. Underline or make a list of the imperatives (instructions you are told to follow) in this chapter. I'll help you get started (these are just from the first 3 verses):
v1 - throw off everything that hinders and entangles you
v1 - run the race marked out for you
v2 - fix your eyes on Jesus
v3 - consider Jesus (literally: talk about Him over and over, both in your mind and with others)
v4-13 - We have negative associations with the word 'discipline;' it's what happens after we get caught doing something wrong. Certainly there are times where hardship is the result of God disciplining / punishing / correcting us, and we are told to endure those hardships (v7-11). But v12 presents discipline in another sense: strengthen up / straighten out your weaknesses. This is exactly why we call these skills we've been working on this year - especially daily Bible reading & prayer - Spiritual Disciplines. They are not punishments, but they do take hard work to develop. In fact, as v14 goes on to say, you must 'make every effort.'
v14-17 - As the author begins his conclusion of this letter (which may have been an early sermon), he gives a warning that Christians must make every effort to keep yourself holy and free from sin (v14). What efforts will you make in regard to that today?
v18-29 - Today's final passage demonstrates how much has changed because of Jesus. When God descended upon Mt. Sinai to deliver His covenant commandments, the people were absolutely terrified (v18-21). But now, because you've been sprinkled in the atoning blood of Christ (v24), there's no reason for you to fear God, because through Him you are now "the righteous made perfect (v23)." Don't fall into the trap of thinking that it's God who's changed, who's presence on the mountain has gone from terrifying to joyful. God hasn't changed. What's changed is your status, because your sin which necessitated that you be kept separate from the holy God has been paid for. In this regard, v28 sums up not only this chapter, but the entire Bible: "Since you've received an unshakable kingdom
because our God is a consuming fire."
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Be reminded of how terrifying it was for God's covenant people to experience His presence on Mt. Sinai has He thundered the commandments to them. Exodus 20 is of course famous for containing those commandments, but read v18-21 to see how the people reacted to their holy God.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: There are two phrases in this chapter that are repeated elsewhere in Hebrews. What are they? (Bonus: one of them is repeated multiple times in the New Testament. See if you can find how many times)
Earlier you were asked to underline or make a list of the imperatives in this chapter. How many did you come up with? Which one sticks out the most to you today?
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The living God (v22), the judge of all (v23) who is a consuming fire (v29 / Deut. 4:24).
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Fix your eyes on Jesus (v2) & worship God acceptably with reverence and awe (v28).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: