READ: Hebrews 12:1-2 

What are you waiting on this week? Maybe it’s a call from your doctor regarding some unexpected tests he asked you to take? Maybe you are anxious about the fact that you haven’t heard from your son or daughter in over a week. “Your soldier” is stationed in Afghanistan, and the absence of news makes you nervous. Perhaps you are waiting to see what the company headquarters will decide about the future of your department. You aren’t sure if you will survive another round of cutbacks. And the waiting can be maddening. How about you? What are you waiting on? 

The problem with waiting is that we think that God has gone to some other end of the universe, and has forgotten about our needs. Or we wonder why the Heavenly Father is taking so much time to accomplish what He said He was going to do. When those thoughts set up residence in our minds, we become discouraged, frustrated, and spiritually passive (something I wrote about in a previous post). What do we need to do when our waiting seems to be never ending?

I am assuming that you have read our text for the week. It was originally written in a time of waiting. We don’t know a whole lot about the early recipients of the letter, other than the fact that they were Jewish believers. When they first came to faith, they anticipated that Christ would return quickly to establish His earthly kingdom. Like believers in every generation they had hoped that pain, political oppression, sickness, heartache, and despair would be eliminated once and for all. But what they expected was not happening. And in their waiting, they became spiritually passive, and contemplated going back to their old way of life. In that context, the writer redirected their thinking to the majesty and supremacy of Jesus, the Messiah. In chapter after chapter evidence is piled upon even more evidence to show that staying faithful to King Jesus was the logical, reasonable thing to do. 

And that leads us to our text for the week, Hebrews 12:1-2. There is one primary command in these two verses. It is found at the end of verse 1. If you read the passage again you might be inclined to believe that there are several commands. Not so! There is only one, and it is the command to “run with endurance the race that lies before us.”  What’s the race? It is our journey towards heaven or towards the ultimate establishment of Christ’s Kingdom. It is not yet a complete reality in this life, but it is coming. And the Spirit-inspired writer tells us we need to move in the direction of that reality. Or to put it another way: UNTIL THE KINGDOM COMES, PERSEVERANCE MUST BE OUR PRIORITY! Until we are face-to-face with Jesus, endurance must be our lifestyle! 

Ok, what does perseverance look like? What would we be doing if we were persevering in a way that was pleasing to King Jesus? There are three participles in our text to help answer the question.
  1. If we are persevering, we will be aware of the fact that we are being watched (v. 1a). The writer constructs verse 1 in such a way that he implies that the action is constantly going on. That is, a “cloud of witnesses” constantly surrounds us. It is as if the saints of the past who also had to endure so much are cheering us on. They are saying, “Don’t quit. Keep going. The kingdom will come, but you must persevere!” 
  2. If we are persevering, we are also eliminating sinful, cumbersome things from our lives (v. 1b). This second participle implies that a life-changing decision has been made—a decision to separate ourselves from distracting sins. Whether it is pride, greed, anger, lust, or some other sin, we must make a decision in the power of the Holy Spirit to get rid of it. 
  3. And then finally, the writer implies that persevering requires that we continually focus our attention on Jesus. He is the founder of our faith and the source of power to live as God wants us to live (v. 2). He is also our example of what endurance is like in the midst of suffering. Better yet, He is seated at the right hand of God—the place of absolute sovereignty over all things. 

So what are you waiting on? The best answer to that question is…JESUS! Yes, we are waiting on our King to establish His kingdom and to make all things right! But until that happens, PERSEVERE! Persevere while you are being watched; persevere as you eliminate every sinful distraction from your life; and persevere with your eyes clearly focused on Jesus. Life might be hard, but perseverance must be our daily priority.

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