Jesus Tunnel Vision: Hebrews 10:32-12:17
You have probably read or at least heard of two famous passages from Hebrews Chapter 11: the Hall of Faith and Chapter 12:1-2. What if we are missing the real point behind these passages? This passage is so much more than a demonstration of the power of faith, but there is a much greater and often missed point here.
In order to understand this, we must go back to the context in Chapter 10. The author of Hebrews prompts his readers, Christians with a Hebrew heritage, to consider the struggles of their past brought about by persecution(Heb 10:32-35). The author tells his readers that they need to develop endurance. Once they have endurance to do God’s will, they will be able to receive their promised reward(10:35-36). He reminds his reader of a teaching from the prophet Habakkuk, the righteous will live by faith.
This point launches the famous “Hall of Faith”(10:39). Based off the understanding that the righteous live by faith, the author of Hebrew defines faith- hope in things not seen(11:1). He goes on to give examples of righteous acts done by faith done by: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Israel, Samson, Jephthah, David, Gideon, Barak and Samuel. Throughout the showcase, he emphasizes how all of them experienced struggles and none received what they were promised(11:6, 11:9, 11:13-15, 11:36-40). He lists torture, flogging, imprisonment, being sawed in half and stoning as means of their persecution. Backlash against them was so severe many wore goat and lamb skins to hide, while others hide in caves, mountains, deserts and pits in the Earth.
The author appeals to the examples of the past and creates a forward moving application. All sins and distractions from the pursuit Jesus Christ should be cast aside(12:1). He tells his readers to run the race with endurance by fixing their eyes on Jesus Christ. Since running a race was a Greek symbol for passionately chasing victory, it can mean to continue in life with endurance. Fixing eyes on Jesus literally means, to look away from everything else; in other words we should have tunnel vision focus for Jesus. The author of Hebrews tell his readers to intently and exclusively focus on Jesus Christ and the suffering that he had to endure(12:1-2). The author reminds the readers that most of them have not experience persecution that lead to bloodshed(12:3), but Jesus did experience this.
Finally, the author interprets an old Hebrew proverb written by Solomon: Don’t ignore the discipline of God, do not allow it to wear you down for it is done out of love. The author explains how only a father’s legitimate children receive his discipline, out of an intention of love. The author concludes his discussion on endurance and suffering by driving the point: struggles happen through God’s discipline. The whole point of Hebrews 10:32-12:12 is to encourage the reader to have endurance through their suffering. This passage is ended with instruction: don’t be worn down, be peaceful, be holy and sexually pure, set an example for the unbelievers. Read Hebrews 10:32-12:12 in light of the whole context. What can God teach you from this passage?