Hebrews 11 is all about our “fathers in the faith.” It speaks of Old Testament saints who trusted God and demonstrated it by their words and actions and serve as great examples to us of steadfast faith. Hebrews 12 speaks of another Father and gives instruction appropriate for all fathers. The chapter begins with an exhortation that admonishes the reader to be faithful to the Lord in life’s race and speaks again of those who have gone before us as examples. They are a “cloud of witnesses” for our learning and for our encouragement.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us
In the next verse, we are told how to run the race. We are to run with our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus endured the cross knowing that glory lay ahead and we can endure the trials, hardships, and challenges of our race because the “finish line” promises the joy of Heaven.
Loss of Focus
So what happens when we take our eyes off Jesus? It’s what happened to Peter when Jesus walked on water toward him and called him out of the boat. Peter stepped out onto the water, walking toward the Lord until he looked away and “saw the wind boisterous” (Matthew 14:29). When Peter’s focus moved from the “Author and Finisher” of his faith to the winds of the world, he began to sink. The same is true for us. When we take our eyes off of Jesus, we will stumble and fall…and sometimes sink. Understanding this, the lessons in Hebrews 12 should be an encouragement to us.
A Hebrews 12 Father
This chapter reveals a loving Father who will chasten (discipline) His children. Too often we think wrongly about discipline. We only think of it as punishment. But when God disciplines His children, it truly is a blessing. He does not want any of His children to stumble and fall. And when we “get out of the boat,” He wants us to “walk on water.” It is God’s desire to give us strength and directions, to shape and mold us, and to conform us to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). And so, as a Good Father, He corrects His children.
Hebrews 12:6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
Hebrews 12:10b-11 …He [chastens/disciplines] for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness … afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
While we might not welcome discipline and it might be painful for a time, reflecting on God’s discipline we see the blessings that God works in and through it. When God disciplines us, we should be quick to remember that He does so because He loves us, and it is always for our good and His glory.
God is the perfect Father of Hebrews 12, and He is the perfect example to fathers of all time. They should strive to be godly and to love their children enough to discipline them in order to direct them and grow them into faithful children of God.
Prov 3:12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
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