V1414For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking [the city] which is to come.. The writer substantiates the call to go out to Him by pointing again at the aim of their pilgrimage. The Hebrews didn’t have to consider it as a loss when they turned their back on the earthly Jerusalem and the whole religion that was performed there. It had all come to an end because of the rejection of the Lord Jesus. Every desire for it was wrong. Jerusalem was not a permanent city. The city was soon to be destroyed (Lk 21:2020“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.). That was also the case with the temple (Mt 24:1-21Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.2And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”).
They should not look back, but had to look forward (Heb 11:15-1615And indeed if they had been thinking of that [country] from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.16But as it is, they desire a better [country], that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.). They were seeking the future city. That was what they continually had to look forward to wholeheartedly, even though it seemed so far away and even though the way was that difficult. If they would let themselves be distracted by what they left, they would go astray.
V1515Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.. When the writer has drawn their attention on the right aim again he gives them a wonderful exhortation. Were they thinking that their unbelieving fellow countrymen were better off with an offering service with literal offering animals? Then that thought had to be corrected. In fact it was a great privilege for them not to, just now and then with special occasions, bring offerings to God, but they were able to do that “continually”. And it had nothing to do with tangible offerings at all, but they were allowed to bring “praise to God”, that is “the fruit of lips”. That goes much deeper, it comes out of the heart and goes to the heart of God.
This is all because of Christ and His work. Through Him you also are able to praise and worship God. That doesn’t happen with outward appearance, but by speaking out about what you have found in the Lord Jesus. God loves to see you coming to Him to tell Him something about His Son. He loves it when you confess His Name to the people in the world, but it is an exceptional joy for His heart when you continually praise Him with the fruit of your lips which is meant for Him.
V1616And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.. God also loves it when you think of others. Beside spiritual offerings He also wants you to bring material offerings. You may bring the spiritual offerings to Him, the material offerings to others. “Doing good” is to provide somebody with something good, to do a good deed. That is not only giving goods, but it can also be a gesture or a word. “Sharing” has the meaning of sharing your goods with others who are in need of them.
It is actually doing good in a general sense and sharing everything with one another. You see that wonderfully in practice with the first Christians (Acts 2:4444And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;; 4:3434For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales). I am afraid that that state of mind is hardly to be found now, but God still finds pleasure in it. In that way earthly possessions get such a rich meaning and a deep satisfaction. If you are willing to do these sacrifices, you yourself will be refreshed (Pro 11:25b25The generous man will be prosperous;
And he who waters will himself be watered.
). God is a giving God. Isn’t it a privilege to follow Him, regarding this?
V1717Obey your leaders and submit [to them], for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.. Thus, with regard to giving, you may follow God. On earth there are people you should follow, that means whom you should obey. Those are the ones who lead you. Do you see that it is in plural sense? Therefore it is not about a pastor, a person who is theologically trained or somebody who makes himself a leader. It is about mature, spiritual believers who are taught and formed by God and whom He has given to His church. Those are the ones you should obey when they explain to you, based on God’s Word, how things should happen. Then they will not do their work “with grief”, but “with joy”. You are to submit yourself to them. Although this is not in line with the current world, it is fully biblical and it brings blessing.
Many Christian families are reflecting the spirit of this age. Children do not obey anymore and being submissive is out of the question. Instead of obeying, children are negotiating with the parents. That possibly delivers the child the result it had wanted, but it is an enormous loss for the parents. In most cases it also becomes clear in future that such a relationship with each other is an obstacle for a radical conversion of the child. On the contrary, the call to obey and to be submissive is actually not an order to exert rigid discipline.
Thank God for the brothers who lead you. That will make it easier for you to obey them. If you do not listen to them, it is “unprofitable” for you, and it will be harmful for you.
V1818Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.. Pray for leaders whom you know. They need your intercession. When those who rule ask for intercession, they can only do that when they are confident that they “have a good conscience”. For if they do not have a good conscience they cannot stand right before God and they can therefore be of no help to others. They must first take away the burden from their conscience. Regarding the writer, this was not the case.
V1919And I urge [you] all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.. He desired to meet the believers to whom he wrote this letter. He also knew the power of intercession, for he exhorts them to intercede abundantly, so that he may be able to be with them the sooner.
V2020Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, [even] Jesus our Lord,. The writer comes to his conclusion. He guides your attention to “the God of peace”. A wonderful, soothing expression: the God of peace. He has perfect peace and provides this peace anyone who trusts in Him. There is nothing that confuses Him. His peace can be your peace, He wants to give that to you (Phil 4:77And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.; Jn 14:2727Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.). Through the work of the Lord Jesus He is able to give peace to all who believe in His Son. That peace is everlasting. It is also the peace that will be all over the world in the millennial kingdom of peace. The letter was written with this kingdom of peace in prospect.
Here at the end of the letter you read once more about the basis of that kingdom. That basis is that God “brought up from the dead … the Lord Jesus”. In that way a new covenant could be made, which also is everlasting. It cannot possibly fail, because it is based on the blood of Christ, which eternally holds its value.
Isn’t it beautiful to read about the Lord that He is “the great Shepherd of the sheep? As ‘the great Shepherd’ He was raised from the dead and guides His flock through the world, on the way to that other world, where He already is. It has become His flock, because He has been for them “the good Shepherd”, Who gave His life for them (Jn 10:1111“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.). And when He comes to establish the millennial kingdom of peace, He will do that as the “chief Shepherd” (1Pet 5:44And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.).
Note that the writer speaks about the Lord Jesus as “our Lord Jesus”. Therein you taste his love for Him, a love that he also assumes to be with the readers by the word ‘our’.
V2121equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom [be] the glory forever and ever. Amen.. The wish of the writer is that the God of peace will “equip you [the believers] in every good thing to do His [this is God’s] will”. Nothing less will satisfy him because you cannot ascribe less to God. You are on earth to do good in such a way that nothing is lacking. That will be the case when you are executing God’s will. God’s will is that you are on earth to His honor. He wants you to be with Him in glory. On your way to that He wants you as a sheep of His flock to stay close to the flock and with the Shepherd.
In the light of the letter His will has got to do with bringing into practice what you have become, namely a son and a priest. He wants you to behave like a son and that you honor Him as priest.
I can imagine that you may ask yourself how to do that, for you will not succeed, will you? That’s how I feel too. God knows about that question. He also has the answer to it. That answer consists of the promise of His help. He is “working in us that which is pleasing in His sight” (cf. Phil 2:12-1312So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;13for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for [His] good pleasure.)! Therefore you only have to open yourself to Him and fill your heart with His Word. Then it will become full of Christ and He will work in you what is well pleasing in God’s sight. When everything of yourself has disappeared to the background in that way and God and Christ are great before you, you cannot but only shout: “To whom [be] the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
V2222But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.. In the light of that shout the remark of the writer is to be put, that he wrote “briefly”. Although the letter is quite a long one, he dealt with items that are inexhaustible. He could only touch lightly on all his items (cf. Heb 11:3232And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,). Only the essential ones were addressed, which was needed for the Hebrews and for us too. We may discover more and more in them.
The total of what he has written, has the form of an exhortation. He exhorts them or encourages them to bear with it. The bearing with the exhortation is important when you want to grow spiritually. It doesn’t mean that you just listen to it in a friendly way and then do nothing about it, but that you take the exhortation to heart.
V2323Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you.. The writer also has news about Timothy. He knew that they were interested in him and that they would be delighted if he would come together with him. It is nice to inform your brothers and sisters about other believers because you know that they are interested.
V2424Greet all of your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.. The bond of the writer with the company to whom he writes, also is expressed in his greetings. He asks his readers to greet the “leaders and all the saints”. The bond of the believers has no borders, but is international.
From Italy the believers greet their fellow believers in Israel through the writer. The connection is through the Lord Jesus; through Him all believers are a unity, a family.
V2525Grace be with you all.. The writer says goodbye with the wish that grace be with them all. Only by grace it is possible to finish the path of faith.
Now read Hebrews 13:14-25 again.
Reflection: What is the will of God for your life? How can you learn to know that will?