4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
I sat on the low concrete wall behind the church I serve this morning, waiting for the rustling under the table to subside. The table is a crude thing which stands outside the door into the kitchen. It was draped with towels and sheets and underneath it was a human being. His name is Eric. He had slept there the night before, under that table, and now was getting dressed to talk to me. Eric is neither a homeless teen nor some grizzled old hobo. He is a middle-aged fellow. His iPhone was plugged into the outlet near the table. He told me of children whose mother had moved away and which he wanted to see again.
I do not know his whole story, except that somewhere along the way, he never really grew up. One got the sense that he expected someone to take care of him. I am sure there are many reasons for this. People are complicated. But I wonder if someone just did not show him a measure of discipline when he was a young man. Did someone not care enough to help him learn to take care of himself and live productively?
The writer to the Hebrews asks us to consider our difficult days as another way that God is loving us. God disciplines the ones He loves. Discipline is never fun to experience when it happens, but loving parents and teachers know that discipline is necessary for someone to grow. Without it, a person never really matures. God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness (vs. 10).
It is important that we mature. We have not come to the terrible mountain where fire and smoke cause us to tremble, but to something even more awesome, to the heavenly Jerusalem where countless angels have gathered in holy assembly. (He is talking about the Lord’s Supper here and our own entrance into heaven on our last day.) But in coming to that assembly, we have also come to the judge of heaven and earth. We need character and backbone to stand up when that voice calls. It shakes not only the earth but the heavens too. Praise God for the discipline He has brought to you, all the days when you have been forced to rely on Him alone for strength, righteousness, and life. Such faith is not disappointed. It is ready to stand as a child of God on that last and great day.