Friday, 25 November 2022
“Let brotherly love continue.” -Hebrews 13:1
The author of the letter of Hebrews seeks to persuade his readers of the superiority of Christ over the Old Testament Patriarchs, going from one argument to another. But towards the end in Hebrews 12:28 he writes, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken…” and he turns the readers to a series of short principles on how to live a life in this Kingdom in chapter 13. He exhorts his readers to uphold certain values so that God would be pleased with them in their daily walk. The author maybe reminded of some of the incidents in Abraham’s life as he lays out the principles.
1. Brotherly Love: Let brotherly love continue (V1). In Genesis 13 we see that there was an argument between Lot’s people and Abraham’s people. Abraham didn’t want a fight and so he lets Lot choose first. “You first”—that is the brotherly love attitude. It is possible to be slack in this kind of love for our Christian brothers and sisters due to our selfishness or the pain we have incurred from close relationships. Within the family we need to learn to love fervently so that outside the family we will portray what Christian love is all about. In John 13:34 Jesus said, “Love one another even as I loved you.” Jesus doesn’t give us an option but a commandment: the culmination of whole Christian faith is LOVE.
2. Hospitality: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers (V2). Throughout the Old Testament, hospitality to strangers was of deep value. When Abraham was visited by three men, he insisted that they stay long enough for him to prepare a meal for them (Genesis 18) which meant making bread and the whole process of preparing a calf! The three men turned out to be the LORD Himself and two angels!
3. Remember those that suffer (V3): In Genesis 14 we read that Abraham rescued his nephew from the hands of the enemy, not only his nephew, he freed all of them who were with Lot (V.14). During a time of persecution, the church to which this letter is written saw some of their members imprisoned. They stood side by side with those who were mistreated; sympathized with those in prison (Heb.10:33-34). Now he commands them “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Heb.13:3). Paul has written in 1 Corinthians 12:26: "If one member suffers, all suffer together."
4. Honouring Marriage (V4): Marriage is God’s idea—the man and woman coming together are protected by a Covenant. Though Abraham went with Hagar, it wasn’t his idea. Abraham honoured his marriage with Sarah and he loved her. The Bible starts with a marriage in Genesis 2 and ends with a marriage in Rev 22. First miracle of Jesus happened at a marriage in Cana. God said, “I am married to you, Israel.” God uses marriage as an example in the Book of Hosea to speak of His love for Israel. The New Testament passages on marriage along with Vs.4 of our reading teaches three things:
· We are to honour marriage
· We are to keep our marriages pure
· God will punish sexual sin
5. Love not money (V5): Abraham was a rich man, but his joy and security was not in his wealth. He made the Lord Almighty his possession and portion. Abraham never served money but ran a race looking for a city that is eternal.
We have the security of God’s presence. Hebrews 13:8 is a gem that always encourages us: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Because Christ Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Think on it: So here is what it comes down to: the ultimate choice in life is between pleasing ourselves and pleasing God.– Greg Laurie