Persevering commitment to the race of life
You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.” Hebrews 12:18-21 NLT
Several times in our devotional series in the Book of Hebrews, the metaphor of a long-distance running describing the nature of our life-long pursuit of spiritual maturity in the Christian life has been used. God’s Word provides us wisdom that this pursuit of growth involves spiritual disciplines. Basics in running that produces success includes perseverance, removing sins that entangle, and having a single focus on Jesus who is the Author and Perfecter of faith. Runners are also instructed to be on guard on matters that can derail them in staying on the lane that was set by God for their lives. Running a long-distance race involves difficult challenges. This is what the writer of Hebrews was discussing from the text. The Jewish believers were jeered by those who were critical about their spiritual conversion when they trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. These group includes religious leaders, family, and friends. They were shouting that these believers are heading on to the wrong direction. When the law was given to the Israelites in the Old Testament, there was a glorious display of God’s power. Included was the deafening trumpet blast that reduced everyone to trembling (see Exodus 19). The sight was spectacular and the sound of the trumpet blast was heard by millions of people. The people were shaken for God’s holiness and majesty were in full display. Moses explained why such phenomenon was experienced. “Don’t be afraid for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!” (Exodus 20:20). The writer of Hebrews in using this story from the Old Testament, was pointing to the fact that obeying the commandments to the letter was not the way to salvation. Though keeping the law instilled fear among the Israelites but their actions were inconsistent. Instead of realizing that keeping the letter of the law was an impossibility, they continued to trust their abilities to do them. They ended up disappointed because they cannot keep the law and others became self-righteous. The Jewish Christians on the other hand, realized that it is not by keeping the law that a person gets saved but by trusting Jesus who fulfilled the Law. The writer of Hebrews admonished the Jewish Christians to not listen, though the sound is deafening, to run with perseverance ignoring the scathing criticisms. It is not by keeping a list of what laws we were able to obey that we get saved. It is not by keeping the list of laws that God elevates our soul but by surrendering our lives to Him as our Lord and Savior.