The Book of Hebrews #63 chapter 12:12-17
The Book of Hebrews
Falling Short of the Grace of God
Hebrews 12:12-17
 
There are lots of ways to approach Bible study.  Certainly there is information to learn and doctrine to teach and life lessons to apply and benefit from.  But there is also a need for encouragement and exhortation. In reality, the whole Book of Hebrews is a word of exhortation.
 
Chapter 13:22
 
So what we have in the book of Hebrews is really at its core thirteen chapters of exhortation based on doctrine.  God's method for instruction is simple. Tell a person the moral and spiritual principles that are required.  Show him how to apply himself to those principles. Then motivate him to want to apply those principles. It’s information, how to apply that information, then the motivation to apply them.
 
And to a large degree that’s what you find everytime you see the word “therefore” or “whereas” or “forasmuch”.  Look behind that phrase and you find doctrinal, practical information.  Look ahead of it and you will find exhortation. Now with that in mind, notice how verse 12 begins.
 
Verses 12-17
 
While there are a few other wherefores and therefore scattered through the book, this one is the biggee.  This is the one that brings it all to a conclusion.  This is the big application of everything said up to this point.
He's been writing to these Jewish believers to come all the way to full belief and commitment to Christ.  Turn loose of Judaism and embrace Christianity.
 
For eleven chapters, he said, "There is a better covenant based on better promises with a better Priest who made a better sacrifice."  He then says, "Get in the race and run it with endurance and don't give up.  Give everything you've got to Christ. That's all you need. He is sufficient."
 
Donald G. Barnhouse used to say, "Hebrews was written to the Hebrews to tell the Hebrews they were no longer to be Hebrews."
 
So for eleven chapters we get information.  In the first 11 verse of chapter 12 we get application.  Then beginning at verse 12, we get exhortation.  Why should that do what he is encouraging them to do?
 
He gives them three exhortations. Now these three exhortations are given to believers, but they also have great significance to those who may be intellectually convinced, but have never made it personal.
 
So on the basis of all the sound doctrine and the fact that you should get in the race and run, he says, "Here's three things I want out of you.”
 
The first one is
 
1. Continuance
 
verses 12-13
 
The first thing he says is “don't get tired in the race." He goes back to his race metaphor.
 
Did you know the fountain of youth has been discovered?  In fact, it wasn’t hard to find at all.  It’s been right under our noses for a long, long time.  All we had to do was read our Bibles and there it was.
 
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “though our outward man is perishing, the inward man is renewed day by day."
 
You do realize the outward man is perishing don’t you? If you don't think so, just look around. There's a whole bunch of perishing going on around here tonight. Every one of us is in process.
 
But I want you to think about something.  As far as Christians are concerned, the oldest people you meet physically should be the youngest people you meet spiritually because they've had to the most years of being renewed inwardly in the Spirit of God.
 
 That's exactly what the writer of Hebrews is saying here. There's no reason to run out of gas now. You're renewed every day. Lift up your hanging arms. Pump those feeble knees.  If we put it in athletic terms, we might say, “Catch your second wind."  The outward man may be wearing out and growing weaker, tut, as Isaiah put it, “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint." That's the promise of God.
 
 
These poor Hebrew Christian had become tired and weary and they were under persecution. You ever meet a Christian like that? Everything is such a disaster. They’re out of gas and instead of exercising themselves unto Godliness, they’re just broken down and defeated.
 
We’ve already seen back in chapter 10:26 that many of them weren’t even coming to church anymore.  They were so tired and sick and feeble and they’re just about to drop out of the race completely.  And they desperately needed to be exhorted to continue.
 
So verse 12 simply says, “Strengthen the hands which hang down and the feeble knees."   Just continue.  Keep going.
 
There are going to be some days in the Christian life when your arms begin to droop and your knees begin to wobble and you don't know if you can get one in front of the other one again. Well, you don't look at your wobbly knees and drooping arms. Just  look at that finish line.
 
Verse 13 takes it a step further.
 
Verse 13
 
In other words, stay in your own lane. Don’t concentrate on what’s going on with other runners.  Don’t be looking at what’s going on over on the sidelines.  Don’t get to wishing you were in another lane because it’s smoother.  Just run and stay in your own lane.  That way you won’t be distracted and you won’t cause someone else to trip.  Make your path straight. Stay in your own lane. Run a smooth, clear, straight path.
Why is that so important?  That’s covered in the next verses with a series of potential consequences of not strengthening the drooping hand and feeble knees and not running in a straight path.
 
First of all, in verse 13, he talks about that which is lame being dislocated and not healed.
 
I believe the application here is to a man or a woman who is close to salvation, maybe knows the truth, who is sort of watching Christianity, and he's watching your life and if you don't run a straight path, maybe he'll conclude that Christianity isn't valid.  He is at a crossroads between choices, He may be healed or he may be dislocated and you have the opportunity to impact that decision. 
 
Now the writer to these Hebrews has continually drawn his evidence for his arguments from the Old Testament and the same is true in this case.  Let me show you what I mean with an Old Testament illustration from the book of 1 Kings 18.
 
The situation is Mount Carmel. Elijah the prophet is  tired of having Israel vacillate between God and Baal. They'd go out and live it up with the priestesses of Baal and then they'd come rolling into the temple on the Sabbath, and it just made Elijah sick. He could not stand superficial religion, and so he said, "I've had it. We're gonna go up there, and we're gonna find out who's God."
 
And what followed was that great showdown between the prophets of Ball and Elijah as they attempted to call down fire from heaven.
 
 
But notice verse 21
 
Notice the word “falter”.  If you’re reading from the KJV, you see the word “halt”.  How long halt you between two opinions?”
 
To be “halt” is to be crippled or lame.  In fact, the actual wording in that verse is translated by the very same word, lame, in Hebrews. It literally translates "How long will you go lame on both your hams?", the hams being the back part of the thigh. "
 
How long are you going to sit around lame?  When are you going to make a decision? When are you going to commit yourselves to God? And I think that's the parallel which this writer in Hebrews picks up to say to these Hebrews, "Christian, watch how you live, because one of those halting, limping, lame, professing individuals who's never really come to Christ is watching you and he needs to be able to make a choice based on the evidence he sees in you.”
 
In other words, he's liable to just pack it up and go back and say, "Man, I watched some Christians operate. If that's all there is to it, I don't need it."
 
And to these Christians, he is saying, "If you guys don't start running a straight path, those who are lame, instead of being healed and saved will be dislocated.”
 
That's an interesting word, dislocated.  It’s a medical term that means to be put out of joint. He's already limping. Don't permanently dislocate him. That's what it says.
That's a very vivid picture that reminds us we should run so straight, so upright that the halting, lame, limping, watching individual may see a clear, straight path, and be encouraged to follow and come to Christ himself and be healed.
 
So the first exhortation is continuance.  Strengthen the parts that are weak and run straight so those who are watching can be healed.
 
There are two other exhortations and we’ll see those in coming days.
 
Let’s pray.

 

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