Hebrews

Hebrews 12:12-17 Birthright By Grace.

Running our individual races, does not mean we leave our true brothers and sisters behind. We need to “strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths” for all. Some are weaker than others, the lame need healing, and for some the way does not appear as clear as it does to others. Those who are strong in the faith need to help the weak, and show them a clear way forward from the word (vv. 12-13 Cf. Job 4:3-4). From our author’s perspective, this is what was required for this time of visitation from the Lord of Glory, and the last days of vengeance of our God (Is. 35:1-4).

However, for us, we are called to “pursue peace with all people” (v. 14a Cf. Dt. 32:35; Ps. 34:14; Mt. 5:9; Rom. 12:19-21). Again, as true sons, it is also the Lord’s will that we pursue “holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (v. 14b). Again, we do not do this in our own strength, but it is the Lord working in and through us, “that we may be partakers of His holiness” (v. 10b). In fact, we must be watchful for any who would seek to take pride in their own works, rather than giving thanks for God’s grace (v. 15a). We must also guard against bitterness, which springs up when we compare ourselves to others, which is idolatry (v. 15b Cf. Dt. 29:18).

We must also guard against and warn any who are guilty of being fornicators (Cf. I Cor. 6:13-18), or profane persons, “like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright” (v. 16 Cf. Gen. 25:33). This is what had happened to the subjects of the lawsuit contained in this letter. They, through their own sinful pride, made out of the old covenant administrations of the one covenant of grace, a covenant of works, which they, in their pride, claimed to keep. They exchanged the birthright of justification by grace through faith, for a religion of works that no man, other than the Son, has ever kept (Cf. 4:1).

This example of Esau is meant to both serve as a warning to our author’s audience, but also as an example of the subjects of the lawsuit contained in this letter. In selling his birthright, the blessing of the sons of the covenant, Esau called upon himself the curses of the covenant, just like the apostates who regarded the blood of the new covenant an unclean thing (Mt. 27:25). As he approaches the last section of the lawsuit, he will make the point that the blessing of mercy and grace will not be the possession of those who have rejected the gospel, because like Esau they refused to repent, even if they, like Esau, pleaded with tears (v. 17 Cf. Gen. 27:30-40).

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