Post 59 / The Next Language
September 27, 2021
Verb Tenses in Hebrews
It is generally agreed that Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians near the end of the second Jewish Temple era- AD 70. In that apocalyptic environment I think it is instructive to pay attention to the verb tenses. For all we know we might be just as close to the end of our country as were those Jerusalem believers.
First we learn from the past tense that history matters.
[Heb 1:1-3 KJV] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
What God has spoken through His prophets and His Son was purposeful and complete and good. Because the past matters the present is affected.
[Heb 2:1 KJV] Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip.
[Heb 3:7-8, 13, 15 KJV] Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: … But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. … While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
Notice that the focus is on today. Of course today’s consequences affect the future but to me it is of note that the focus and injunction to believers was on faith today — not the future. I think that is as God intends it. In contrast, the average Christian perspective after experiencing sins forgiven is to focus on heaven. This is amplified in a lot of our scripts and is something I think we need to be sensitive to. Overall, in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, there is a lot more attention given to how we should live and think today rather than where we will spend the future.
[Heb 4:3, 11 CSB] For we who have believed enter the rest, in keeping with what he has said, So I swore in my anger, “They will not enter my rest,” even though his works have been finished since the foundation of the world. … Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.
(I have heard it taught that the “rest” is the promised land or heaven. Clearly the repeated use of “today” indicates a faith reward experienced now — not later.)
[Heb 5:12-14 CSB] Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature – for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.
[Heb 6:1, 7-12, 19 CSB] Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God, … For the ground that drinks the rain that often falls on it and that produces vegetation useful to those for whom it is cultivated receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and about to be cursed, and at the end will be burned. Even though we are speaking this way, dearly loved friends, in your case we are confident of things that are better and that pertain to salvation. For God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for his name by serving the saints – and by continuing to serve them. Now we desire each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the full assurance of your hope until the end, so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance. … We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.
[Heb 10:19-27, 35-36, 38-39 CSB] Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus – he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh) – and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching. For if we deliberately go on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries. … So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. … But my righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him. But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and are saved.
[Heb 12:1, 9-16, 25, 29 CSB] Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, … Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead. Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness – without it no one will see the Lord. Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many. And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal. … See to it that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven. … for our God is a consuming fire.
[Heb 13:1-5, 7-10, 13, 15-17 CSB] Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it. Remember those in prison, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily. Marriage is to be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers. Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you. … Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by food regulations, since those who observe them have not benefited. We have an altar from which those who worship at the tabernacle do not have a right to eat. … Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing his disgrace. … Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
I am not denying the hope, the glory, and the reward. But let us today pay attention to the walk. The walk that ends in glory will include reaching the lost and living out righteousness in the Spirit of Christ.
Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director
Global Recordings Network USA
If you are interested in learning how to share links on social media that will promote use of our recordings and the Gospel in general, please phone Roland Heck at 951-216-9985.