Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Hebrews: The Superiority Of Christ To Errant Religions
Part VI: The Response Of Faith To Christ's Superiority, Hebrews 11:1-13:19
H. Living By Faith Applied, Hebrews 12:1-13:25
3. The Exhortation To Sensible Actions In Handling Trials Of Faith
(Hebrews 12:12-17)
  1. Introduction
    1. The trials of living by faith in God's Word can become so intense that, besides appreciating the need to be optimistic in such trials, we need practical advice on dealing with the trials themselves.
    2. Hebrews 12:12-17 provides wise, sensible advice on handling such trials (as follows):
  2. The Exhortation To Sensible Action In Handling Trials Of Faith, Hebrews 12:12-17.
    1. Believers in trials must (spiritually) strengthen their feeble arms and weak knees, Hebrews 12:12 NIV.
    2. To clarify, we note that Hebrews 12:13a NIV cites part of Proverbs 4:26 NIV, "Make level paths for your feet" with the result that the lame might not be disabled, but rather healed, Hebrews 12:13b NIV.
    3. Well, if we view the context of Proverbs 4:26, we note how Proverbs 4:22 addresses "health" and "healing" as products of applying God's wisdom, and Proverbs 4:23-27 deals with managing one's inner man for blessing, specifically by guarding his inner man, his emotions, motivation and spirit so that one can be productive instead of defeated in the midst of life's difficulties, Proverbs 4:23.
    4. One of the steps in guarding that inner man is offered in Proverbs 4:26 NIV, that of taking "level paths" that neither climb up too steeply to tire one out, nor run downhill that are too easy and unproductive, but rather are level, or, sensibly manageable and productive! Note how this applies in Proverbs 30:7-9 as the writer requests that he not gain too much goods lest he forget God, or gain too little lest he steal and sin!
    5. Thus, the author of Hebrews directed his readers to face formidable trials of living by faith by taking sensible, manageable steps in life that were nevertheless productive !
    6. Specifically, he offered the following practical steps in facing trials, Hebrews 12:14-17:
      1. The believer under trial must do his best to live at peace with all men while also living separate from sin before God, Hebrews 12:14. This call comprehensively guides the believer under stress as it keeps him from reacting to mistreatment from others by unproductively taking revenge while keeping himself in line for God's blessing in refusing to stoop to committing acts of sin!
      2. Above all, the believer under trial must not to veer away from obeying God's truth, the meaning of "root of bitterness," that refers to Deuteronomy 29:18 that calls a wayward apostate a "root . . . that produces . . . bitter poison,'" Hebrews 12:15; Bible Knowledge Commentary, N. T., p. 810.
      3. Specifically, we must watch out for spiritual immorality, compromising with false religious beliefs, or profaning the truth like Esau who sold his God-given birthright for a single meal just because he was under the trial of hunger at the time, Hebrews 12:16 with Genesis 25:29-34.
      4. Esau's failure under trial and God's resulting withdrawal of blessing is a powerful lesson to consider:
        1. When Esau later desired to inherit his father's blessing, though Isaac favored him over his younger brother, Jacob (Gen. 25:28), and though Isaac had planned to give him the elder son's preferred blessing (Gen. 27:1-4), Esau was rejected that blessing in God's permissive will, Hebrews 12:17a.
        2. Esau had earlier despised his birthright, so God did not allow him opportunity to get the blessing, thus allowing Jacob to deceive his father Isaac and thus steal the older son's blessing even though Esau later sought that blessing for himself with tears, Heb. 12:17b with Genesis 27:30-40.
      5. This lesson is especially applicable to the readers of the epistle to the Hebrews: they were tempted under persecution from Hebrew countrymen to forsake their "birthright", the Christian faith, by going back into dead Judaism (Heb. 13:10). However, that move, like Esau's profane rejection of his earthly birthright under the trial of hunger, would lead to great, irreversible loss of divine blessing and grief!
Lesson: To handle the pressures of facing trials of living by faith, God wants us to take sensibly manageable steps in doing our best to live peaceably with all men while staying righteous before Him. Above all, we must seek to stay aligned with God's truth without departing from it in belief or action!

Application: May we heed Hebrews 12:12-17 in sensibly managing the trials of faith that we face.