1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
This race of faith takes discipline. We must put aside our sins that keep us from growing in our relationship with God and stop making foolish choices. We also must choose to put aside things that are simply not beneficial and keep us from devoting greater time and attention to God. We have to focus on Jesus and He must be our main purpose. The finish line is eternity with Him.
2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Just as a runner has to focus on the finish line, we must focus on Jesus as our goal. He is the start and the finish of our race of faith. The joy that caused Christ to endure suffering and the shame of death on the cross, was the anticipation of the personal relationship he would have with each of us. His sacrifice bridged the gap that our sin created between God and his people.
3Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
5And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
The word discipline here is paideia in the Greek. It not only means correction or rebuke but also the positive traits of training and guiding. This is the kind of discipline a loving parent would use to guide a child into adulthood. The above verse warns about two ways which we may respond to this discipline. We may be insensitive or "make light" of it and shrug it off or we may be oversensitive and "give up". Either way, we are withdrawing from a loving God who wants to guide us. We are his children and we can be assured of his love.
6For the lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
7As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.9Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
10For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.11No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
In a sense, the above verses are God's way of letting us know, he is correcting us for our own good. If he didn't do so, it would be a sign that we are not near and dear to him or truly his children. He leads us and disciplines us with a purpose so that we can remain faithful. He wants to keep us in a right relationship with him.
12So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
I will be blunt here, the above verses basically say; Suck it up and take what God dishes out and keep on the course. By doing so, you will become stronger and be more able to endure.
A Call to Listen to God
14Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
To be Holy is to be morally pure, spiritually whole and separated from evil. You have to be dedicated to God and set apart for his purposes, We must focus on what God wants us to be and do.
15Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
Basically, don't let an attitude of resentment grow in your heart. That would have consequences for you and others. Bitterness can corrupt a person and make him unfit to approach God in prayer or be able to grow spiritually.
16Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. 17You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.
Godless is translated as being worldly or secular and unspiritual. It is the opposite of being devoted to God and holy. Esau had a desire for a temporary satisfaction over the long term spiritual blessing. We can not allow the temporary to cause us to go off course or become godless because we would forego the ultimate blessing from God through his Son, Jesus Christ.
18You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. 19For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. 20They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”
22No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. 23You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. 24You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.
25Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!
The old covenant law had many unattainable standards and penalties. As Christ followers, we do not have such a threatening covenant. But our consequences of turning away from the gospel are far greater than rejected the OT law. Receiving Christ is the only true way to a personal relationship with God and to turn away from Jesus is to reject God of Heaven.
26When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” 27This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.
28Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29For our God is a devouring fire.
God will one day bring down this world and shake the universe so to speak. The world will be destroyed by fire and replaced with a new heaven and a new earth. The only thing that will survive in it's current form will be God's Kingdom.