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Hebrews chapter 12

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4Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
18For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 20(For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. 25See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29For our God is a consuming fire.

What does Hebrews chapter 12 mean?

Hebrews 12 begins by applying all of the details given in chapter 11. After explaining many heroic examples of faith, as well as instances of persecution, the writer refers to this collection of evidence as a "great cloud of witnesses." These facts of history should inspire Christians to endure persecution, as well as to struggle against sin. The ultimate example of this, of course, is Jesus, who endured horrific hardships. Through it all, He maintained His trust that God was working out all of those trials for a good purpose (Hebrews 12:1–3).

Another point made here is that most of the persecution a typical Christian faces is not as dire as what some have suffered. This doesn't make our experiences any less hurtful, but it helps us maintain perspective (Hebrews 12:4).

The suffering we experience, in truth, can come from two very different sources. Both, however, are reasons for us to trust in God, not to despair. When we fall short of God's will, we can expect Him to "discipline" us, the same way a loving father corrects a wayward child. That chastening is not a sign of hate—it's proof that the Father loves us enough to pull us back towards the right path. At the same time, a loving parent sometimes exposes a child to struggle for the sake of training, much as one would to develop an athlete (Hebrews 12:5–13).

Those who reject this idea, and who treat God's discipline as something restrictive, or unfair, or an excuse for bitterness, are like Esau, whose attitude cost him greatly (Hebrews 12:14–17).

The ultimate reward of enduring hardship and discipline folds back into the theme of the entire book of Hebrews: the superiority of the new covenant. Here, a comparison is made between the manner in which the old covenant was introduced, as opposed to how we perceive the new covenant. Unlike the "shock and awe" of Mount Sinai, which inspired reasonable fear, the new covenant offers us peace and security. While the fallen world, and even the earth itself, were rattled by the Word of God, and will one day be destroyed, the new covenant offers us grace; this is the only way we can be members of "a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Hebrews 12:18–29).

The following chapter is the last of the book of Hebrews, and it applies these ideas using some practical instructions for Christian living.
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