For, ‘In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.’ And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’ But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved (Heb. 10: 37-39).
The writer concluded his magnificent case for the superiority of Jesus over all the people and systems of the Old Covenant with two quotes from Habakkuk:
‘He who is coming will come and will not delay.’ (Hab. 2: 3). And
‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’ (Hab. 2: 4)
The first quote should read: For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
What was the writer’s point? To understand, we need to back up to his whole concluding argument. Having proved without a doubt the superiority of Jesus’s high priesthood and sacrifice over the Levitical system, he issued a serious warning that, to go back the Judaism was to trash Jesus, His blood and the work of the Holy Spirit, to remove themselves from God’s grace and to put themselves under judgment because, outside of Christ, there is no forgiveness of sin.
For those who “shrink back”, judgment is coming, as surely as it was for the Israelites who shrank back from believing God’s promise and refused to enter the Promised Land. Judgment came to the people of Judah in the form of the Babylonian captivity as God prophesied through Habakkuk because the Jews failed to trust God by obeying Him and walking in His ways. Jesus is coming soon to bring judgment on those who shrink back from following Him because the price is too high.
The second quote was an encouragement to persevere in spite of the circumstances. Judgment would surely fall on those who went back, to dodge persecution but, for those who kept trusting God in spite of suffering, there was a rich reward. God’s pleasure rests on those who put their trust in Him and obey His word, regardless of the cost.
These readers had started off well by paying the price for their faith and suffering joyfully all the indignities heaped on them by both unbelieving Jews and the officials of the pagan government of Rome. The danger was that they were becoming weary of this way, and they were seeking an easier way to make life a little more comfortable, not realising the implications of drawing back.
Faith is only true faith when it perseveres through the difficulties which make faith legitimate. Faith has no value when it has no need to be exercised. God has no pleasure in “fair-weather” believers whose faith is radiant when there is no need to trust Him. The true value of faith lies in the confidence one has in the faithfulness of God when the wind blows and the storm rages and the world is utterly dark.
The entire message of the Bible is that there is limitless grace for those who return from their own way to follow God’s way. His mercy is extended to anyone who repents of sin and trusts in Him for His provision of forgiveness through the blood of His Son. But, on the other hand, there is no mercy for those who reject His offer of salvation and choose their way over His way. Why should He have mercy on those who trample the blood of Jesus underfoot? God paid the highest possible price for our salvation. There is nothing more He can do.
The writer concluded his warning with a word of encouragement. The history of his readers proved that they were once sincere believers and followers of Jesus, the Messiah. His reassurance and confidence was that they would not give it up but continue to press on in spite of their hardships, and would eventually receive the end result of their perseverance, the eternal salvation which no one could take from them.
Faith and perseverance – two non-negotiables on this journey into life. Shrink back, and you lose it all; persevere and you will receive your reward – a place in God’s forever family and everything He promised as your inheritance.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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