Hebrews 12 provides a sequel to yesterday’s challenging chapter on faith. It starts, “Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance …”. The cloud of witnesses are the men and women of faith in chapter 11. None were perfect, but they grew in faith, they “were made strong out of weakness” (11:34). As well as seeing their example, our ability to endure is strengthened by “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him endured …” (12:2). The Greek word for “looking” is a special word; the NEB translates it as “our eyes fixed on”. This attitude of mind is emphasized in the next verse, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted”.

The author of Hebrews then writes of the value of discipline, and quotes Proverbs 3:11,12 in verses 5,6, “… do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves …” and then makes this inspiring point in verse 10, “but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness … For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”.

Think of Job: he has words of distress and frustration his ‘friends’ as we complete the we will marvel at its climax! Job achieves a wonderful insight in ‘knowing’ the Almighty as well as final and wonderful personal benefits. Our Hebrews chapter concludes with a quotation from Haggai. “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens” (Hebrews 12:26). Many scriptures indicate that a mighty earthquake is part of God’s final judgments (Isaiah 29:6-8 and Zechariah 14:4-9; while in Revelation 16:17-19 it is the sequel to Armageddon).

Extreme earthquakes have often included volcanic eruptions, so that the atmosphere is affected. Some prefer to think it is only the political heavens that are shaken and destroyed. That maybe so, but we doubt it. Our Hebrews chapter ends, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire”. With an attitude of “reverence and awe” toward God we can have confidence and faith “that we may share his holiness”.