Main point summary
As you have before, persevere in faith and endure difficulties with joy so that you may receive what God has promised.
But recall the former days
when, after r you were enlightened,
you endured s a hard struggle with sufferings,
sometimes being t publicly exposed to reproach and affliction,
and sometimes being partners with those so treated.
For u you had compassion on those in prison,
and v you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property,
since you knew that you yourselves had w a better possession and an abiding one.
Therefore do not throw away your confidence,
which has x a great reward.
For y you have need of endurance,
so that z when you have done the will of God
you may a receive what is promised.
b “Yet a little while,
and c the coming one will come
and will not delay;
d but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those
who shrink back
and are destroyed,
but of those
who have faith
and preserve their souls.
Observations : "Recall the former days when...you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one." Sometimes trusting in Christ begins with great evidences of faith in someone's life but then begins to fade over time. There is great value to "recalling the former days." The exhortation here (or command) is to remember. Don't forget. Think about the real, genuine passion you have had for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't give that up because of increased difficulty! Don't lose your faith because of increased pressure. Recall the former days. Our faith can be strengthened by recalling our own stories of perseverance through difficulty or by even recalling others' stories of perseverance through difficulty (Heb 10:33). Often it is the faith of others in the midst of their difficult circumstances that strengthens us in the midst of ours. If others have made it, so can I by God's grace. If God's grace was sufficient for them, it can also be sufficient for me. This is the practical value of biographies or even books like Fox's Book of Martyrs . Heb 10:35 seems to be the center of this text, his reason for all of these exhortations, the reason he tells them to recall the former days: "do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward." Don't be short-sighted. Do not think that the sufferings of this present time is all there is. Perseverance comes with a great reward. While 35b seems at first to be merely explaining the "confidence" further, it seems that the point of the writer of Hebrews is to motivate his readers with the reality of the reward, much like Romans 8:18. So, the thought here is: "do not throw away your confidence because your faith comes with a great reward!" Heb 10:36 seems to support this, grounding v.35 in this truth: those who persevere, doing the will of God in this life, will "receive what is promised." The implication is that those who do not endure will not receive what is promised. He finishes with a series of Grounds, reasons for what he says in Heb 10:35-36. First, it's important not to throw away your confidence because Jesus is going to return soon (Heb 10:37-38). Second, it's important not to throw away your confidence because this is not who you are (Heb 10:39). There seems to be a relational component in this second "reason" given here. "Do not throw away your confidence...because we are not of those who shrink back but are of those who have faith." It's kind of like a father who, after seeing his son subtly trip someone on the soccer field, takes him off to the side and says, "Son, that's not the way we play the game. We play the game the right way. Tripping others on the field is not who we are." Brothers and sisters, we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve there souls. Don't give up! Don't lose heart! Press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14) because the sufferings of this present time aren't even worthy of being compared to the glories to be revealed to us (Rom 8:18). Applications : What in my life is causing me to question God and consider throwing away my confidence? What pressures am I experiencing? What disappointments are clouding my view of God? Jesus is coming back soon. And life is a vapor. These two truths can help me persevere to the end. Either I'm going to live a short life on this earth and then inherit my reward. Or, I'm going to live an even shorter life on this earth, and Jesus is going to return, ushering in my ultimate reward. God, let Jesus' return motivate me to press on through disappointments and trials. The first part of v.39 should give me a healthy fear: the end of those who shrink back is destruction. Falling away is not a small thing. Giving up my confidence does not put me on neutral ground; it puts me on the ground of the final phrase of v.38: "if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him." Believers prove through their lives and perseverance that trusting in God and following him is worth it, no matter what. They prove through their lives that heavenly treasures run deeper than earthly sorrows. They prove through their lives that the most joyful life that can be lived is one that is lived in light of what is unseen rather than merely in what is seen. What brothers and sisters do I know of right now who are in danger of "shrinking back"? Whom do I need to exhort to endure? Whom is in danger of losing their confidence? Who is suffering? God, give me eyes to see my brothers and sisters who need encouragement.