36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul (Hebrews 10:36–39, NKJV).
The Hebrew Christians faced persecution for their faith (Heb. 10:32-34). These pressures and fears tempted some to drift back into the shadows of the first covenant, presumably, to avoid persecution (cf. Gal. 6:12). But such neglect and even willful rejection of Christ exposed them to God’s vengeance (Heb. 2:1-3; 10:26-31). God delivers His people from sin’s punishment of sin by faith (Heb. 10:37-38; Hab. 2:3-4). So, these Christians were encouraged to endure the present trials of faith and not shrink back to destruction (Heb. 10:39). Endurance is accomplished by doing the will of God and therefore receiving God’s promise of eternal life (Heb. 10:36). So, they needed to continue to be faithful through their present trials of faith. “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). Again, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). May we also hear and heed the inspired exhortation given to the Hebrew saints: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward (Heb. 10:35).”
28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’ 31 For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry (Luke 23:28–31, NKJV)?”
Jesus used the figure of green and dry wood to warn the daughters of Jerusalem to mourn the difficult, deadly days ahead for Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-30). Verse 30 quotes and applies Hosea 10:8, which spoke of God’s judgment and punishment that Samaria would not escape. (This reference is used in Revelation 6:15-16, depicting the sure and inescapable nature of divine judgment.) The “green wood” period was no doubt when the Messiah was with them. His words and works brought life to Israel like a green spout. Yet they rejected and killed Him. Since that is how they acted when things were good, imagine what they would do when God removed His blessing and brought His judgment upon the city. Terrible things would be done (Matt. 24:9-12). Historians record accounts of cannibalism and other atrocities in Jerusalem during its siege and destruction by Rome in A.D. 70. We ought to believe, obey, and rejoice in the blessings of Christ (Eph. 1:3). If not, we will undoubtedly mourn when God’s wrath punishes our disobedience (2 Cor. 10:6; 2 Thess. 1:8-9).
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13–14, NKJV).
We look for ways to make our lives easier, more convenient. Innovations in industry, transportation, technology, and communication produce greater efficiency for countless lives. However, striving for convenience can also have unintended consequences. It can lead to neglect and unrealistic expectations. A harmful entitlement mentality may develop, expecting and demanding comfort and convenience. Jesus uses the simple desire for things to be easy to teach a crucial spiritual truth. The broad path is easy, convenient, and desirable but leads to ruin and loss. Sin is easy, and its outcome is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). Many people walk this spiritual path. All of us have entered the wide gate at some point, for we have all sinned (Rom. 3:23). But we can choose a different path. The narrow gate opens to a path that is “difficult” (confined, like the walls of a narrow canyon) yet leads to life. Turning from sin, seeking, finding, and following Jesus is possible for all, but few choose this path (Matt. 11:28-30; Luke 13:23-24). Following Christ demands self-denial (Luke 9:23). The road to heaven is not lined with the pleasures of sin (1 John 2:15-17). Trials will come when we choose to follow Jesus. Convenience is not the motto of Christians. Faith is refined by trials, strengthening us as we live for heaven (1 Pet. 1:6-9).
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:37, NKJV).
Nebuchadnezzar was driven from his throne over Babylon to live as a wild animal because of his pride that praised his accomplishments while ignoring God (Dan. 4:22-33). Instead of praising the Most High God, who “rules in the kingdoms of men,” the king praised himself and his majesty (Dan. 4:25, 28-31). God has not abdicated His rule over the nations (Ps. 22:28; Acts 17:26). Those in power who honor the true and living God are blessed; those who pridefully dishonor Him face inevitable defeat (Ps. 33:10-22). “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect” (Ps. 33:10). And, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 33:12). Nebuchadnezzar learned God’s “works are truth, and His ways justice” (Dan. 4:37). God calls national leaders and all the earth’s inhabitants to humble themselves before Him. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” is true of individuals and nations (Prov. 16:18). Daniel’s counsel to the Babylonian king remains relevant: “Break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity” (Dan. 4:27).
3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3–4, NKJV)
It is a sad reality that many people scoff at the truth that a day of judgment is coming. Preferring to fulfill their selfish lusts, they forget that God sees and knows their every thought and action. This wicked person says in his heart, “God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see” (Psa. 10:11). But, God always sees (Heb. 4:13). The fact that judgment has not yet come does not mean it will not. Indeed, Peter charged such scoffers of his day with willfully forgetting God’s judgment of sin with the flood in the days of Noah (2 Pet. 3:5-6). Things have not continued “as they were from the beginning of creation.” Ignoring God and His judgment against sin will not make the day of judgment any less real, any less painful, or any less permanent in the finality of its condemnation of sin. The gospel pleads with us not to thumb our noses at God and His judgment of our sins. Jesus calls us to repentance and conversion to escape eternal death and to enter eternal life (Rom. 6:23). Do not scoff at God and His word; judgment is coming. Reward awaits the righteous, but “ungodly men” will be destroyed on that awesome day (2 Pet. 3:7-13; 2 Thess. 1:9-10).
13 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13–14, NKJV)
Evoking the wonders of the unknown, poet Robert Frost wrote of two divergent roads in a yellow wood. Taking “the one less traveled by” men, he sighed, made “all the difference” (The Road Not Taken). Yes, many are the roads of life. Like Frost’s traveler, their ends are often obscured from sight. Jesus used the metaphor of roads and paths long before Frost. More importantly, He told us exactly where they lead. Jesus depicted two gates and pathways with very different outcomes. Each of us choose one or the other. One has a wide, inviting gate that gives way to a spacious pathway. This road is smooth and unencumbered. Many choose it, for it is easy. But, it leads to the horrible destination of damnable destruction. The other path has a narrow access point with obstacles nearby. Travelers entering this gate traverse a confined corridor paved with difficulty, turmoil, and trouble. Few accept the challenge of walking this path, but when they do, it rewards them with life. Only after traveling his chosen path could Frost look back from experience and assess the path he chose. Thankfully, we need not experience sin to know it leads to eternal demise. Choosing the narrow gate and straitened way of discipleship will lead you to eternal life (Rom. 6:22). Follow Jesus. He makes “all the difference” (Jno. 14:6).
34 “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:34–35, NKJV)
Not everyone’s words can be trusted, including those who say they are telling us the truth. This is the sad and painful reality of sin. People lie, and by doing so they hurt themselves and others. There are also those whose word is honest and true. The integrity of their words marks them as trustworthy and dependable. Such are the words of Jesus. He is the Word who became flesh, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Jesus had just told his disciples the startling truth of the coming destruction the temple and Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-39; 24:1-33). He gave signs of the approaching demise which discerning Judean disciples could understand and “flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:15-18). That generation saw what Jesus predicted when the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70. We must never doubt the word of Jesus. He always speaks truth. His truth is eternal, unlike heaven and earth, which will pass away (2 Pet. 3:8-12). The certainty of His words compel our trust, without hesitation and reservation. Christ’s word is practical. The Judean saints escaped peril by believing and obeying His word. Like them, we must trust and obey Jesus. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46). Jesus speaks truth. When we believe Him, we obey Him, because our hearts are assured that His word will not pass away.
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:1–4, NKJV)
Then, as now, people want to know when Jesus will return. They want to know the designated time and occasion of this great event. Some even predict when Christ will return. All these predictions have failed, and all will continue to fail. Christians who trust the word of God do not fret about when the Lord will come. We know He will come unexpectedly. Just as a thief does not break into a home when the homeowner is watching, Jesus will return when least expected. His return will be sudden, without warning. Like the onset of labor pains from which there is no escape, we will not elude the sudden return of Jesus and the events that transpire on the day of the Lord. Christians remain ready for that day by living holy lives (2 Pet. 3:11, 14). Sinners are not ready, but the gospel calls sinners to repent and obey – to get ready for that day. Why? Because sudden destruction waits the unprepared. Are you ready?
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:15–18, NKJV)
The apostle continues his use of Scriptures to expose the nature and extent of sin. It is crucial to note that Paul is not offering us his opinions about sin. He is quoting Scripture and making an application of them to support his premise (stated in verse 9, “We have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin”). Sins of violence destroy lives and disrupt peace (verses 15-17). Paul uses an abbreviated reference to Isaiah 59:7-8 to reinforce the waste and injustice sin perpetuates. The underlying reason for sin, whether it displays itself through ignorance (v. 11), futility (v. 12), the tongue (v. 13-14), or violence (v. 15-17), is the failure to fear God (v. 18). Psalm 36:1 is used to affirm this observation, “An oracle within the heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.” Irreverence toward God denies His truth, rejects His will, and fights against His ways. All of us have done that at some point. Many continue to still. Our duty is to fear God and obey Him (Eccl. 12:13). Sin abandons respect for God. Rather than choosing the way of peace, sin chooses the way of darkness and death. What choice about sin will you make today?