As we learned earlier in this series, there are several warning passages scattered throughout the book of Hebrews. These are serious admonitions which caution readers about the dangers of certain behaviors. They have differing applications to Christians and non-Christians, and must always be understood in a manner consistent with the broader, well-established Biblical doctrine known as “the eternal security of the believer”.
It has been some time since we encountered one of these warning passages. The extensive teaching about Jesus’ priesthood and sacrifice in chapters 7-10, arguably the main part of this book, has dominated our discussion for the past several weeks. However, as we draw this section of Hebrews to a close, we find yet another warning passage. We haven’t seen one since way back in chapter 6, so let’s take a moment to review…
The first warning passage was found in chapter 2, verses 1-4. It was a warning against drifting away from the truth of the gospel. The second warning was given in chapter 3, verses 12-19. It gave notice that doubting would prevent us from entering God’s rest. The third warning passage was found in chapter 4, verses 11-13. It advised us not to disobey because God sees and knows everything. The fourth was issued in chapter 6, verses 1-8, and it cautioned against departing from the faith because renewal would be impossible.
This morning’s message will focus on the fifth warning passage of Hebrews. It serves as another alarm to prevent us from wandering away from the Lord. These warnings are not intended to scare or intimidate, but rather to lovingly protect us from harm. The name of the sermon is “Don’t Disregard”.
I. RESPECT THE LORD (v26-31)
This warning is directed toward those who “go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth”. These are people who have an intellectual knowledge of who Jesus is, but not a heart knowledge. They know of Him, but don’t know Him personally. They are still unsaved sinners who continue to practice iniquity and live in darkness despite having heard the glorious gospel message. For them, the atoning “sacrifice” of Jesus is of no effect, and all that remains is “a terrifying expectation of judgement”. They will experience the “fury” of God’s consuming fire as described in Isaiah 26:11 and elsewhere.
Under the Old Covenant, those who committed a capital offense could be given the death penalty based on the testimony of 2 or 3 witness. Under the New Covenant, which is far greater, those who reject Christ are held personally responsible for His death and face a much more serious consequence. They “deserve” a “serverer punishment” because they “trample under foot” the Son of God, they regard His blood as “unclean”, and they “insult” the Holy Spirit (see Matt. 12:31). Such crimes against God will surely incur His wrath.
The LORD is a vengeful God. He will exact retribution upon those who disrespect and rebel against Him. This is reinforced with excerpts from Deuteronomy 32:35, 36, & 41. These Old Testament verses are a part of “The Song of Moses” which assures the children of Israel that God will, in His time, repay those who mistreat and abuse them. Those who align themselves against God should be very afraid, because His wrath is terrible beyond imagination.
II. REMEMBER YOUR PAST (v32-34)
The Hebrews were urged to remember their “former days”, after they had first heard and pursued the gospel message. Because of their decision to follow Jesus, they had and continued to endure a “great conflict of sufferings”. This persecution wasn’t hidden or done in secret. It was a “public spectacle” in which many leading Christians faced “reproaches and tribulations” of various sorts. Others shared in this misery by sympathizing for the “prisoners” who had been taken and by “joyfully” accepting the seizure of their own property.
The Hebrews were willing to forfeit their earthy things because they had a “better” and “lasting” possession to come. As they thought about the pain and oppression they’d already endured, they were challenged to become even more resolute in their stance for Christ. If they were to abandon Him now, all of these difficulties would have been for naught. To go a step further, if they were to walk away from Jesus it would reveal that they never truly knew Him to begin with.
III. RECEIVE HIS PROMISES (v35-39)
There is “a great reward” waiting for those who have trusted in Jesus for salvation. Therefore, Christians should not “throw away” their confidence in Him. On the contrary, they should “endure” persecution by faithfully doing “the will of God” until receiving that which was “promised”. Believers should find assurance in the prophecy of Habakkuk 2:3 which states that the Lord is “coming” again soon and “will not delay.”
Jesus is the LORD’s “righteous One”. Though He faced unspeakable scorn and suffering, He refused to forsake the mission of redemption that God had called Him to. Had He done so, the Father would have taken “no pleasure in Him”. By remaining faithful, Jesus forever conquered sin and death, made forgiveness for mankind possible, and set an example for all Christians to follow. True believers will never “shrink back to destruction”, but instead will stand firm in the faith that preserves their souls.
I recently heard about a large private company that sold products to the public. Over time, it received several reports from customers that these products were harmful. In response to these complaints, the company conducted some internal research and discovered that their product was indeed defective and potentially dangerous. Fearing that they’d be sued and lose a tremendous amount of profit, they company ignored and even hid their findings.
Eventually, after several more incidents, a class-action lawsuit was brought against the company by those who had been adversely affected by the product. During the trial it was revealed that the company had known the truth for some time, yet had failed to act upon it. The jury was appalled by the company’s indifference, and found it guilty of committing a criminal offense. In the end, the company was forced to pay a staggering sum in damages and soon went out of business altogether.
This story vividly demonstrates the danger of a blatant or reckless disregard for the truth. In like manner, when a person hears the message of Christ - which is undeniably true and right, but willfully chooses to ignore it and continue in their sinful ways, they can and should expect to be judged accordingly. While God’s justice may not be immediate, it will come soon and without mercy. This is why sinners should repent today, while the opportunity still remains...
Jesus is the divine Son of God who died on the cross and then rose from the grave in order to save fallen humanity. He alone offers forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life. This is the truth. Acknowledge it, embrace it, receive it, and be transformed by it - but whatever you do, don’t disregard it.