Hebrews sounds like a letter with concerns – the author is worried about where his readers are headed in their connection with Christ.
There’s double reason for concern. Christ is so great that it would be unthinkable to lose his benefits. And risky faith-behaviour is crazy to even consider.
So the writer warns and encourages. I was intrigued by the nature of the warnings, so I’ve tried to collect them all here, with verse reference in brackets.
Note, I tried not to ‘create’ errors by reversing exhortations – though it would be pastorally legitimate. For example, I did not make Take care warn about Not taking care.
- drift away (2:1)
- neglect salvation (2:3)
- harden our hearts (3:8, 13, 15; 4:7)
- put God to the test (3:9)
- go astray in heart (3:10)
- not know God’s ways (3:10)
- have an evil, unbelieving heart (3:12, 19)
- fall away (3:12)
- fail to reach God’s rest or grace (4:1; 12:15)
- disobey (4:6, 11)
- need help (4:16)
- be ignorant and wayward (5:2)
- sin (5:3)
- be dull of hearing (5:11)
- be retaught like a child (5:12-13)
- fall away (6:6, a different verb from 3:12)
- be sluggish (6:12)
- fail to persevere in the covenant (8:9)
- do dead works (9:14)
- waver (10:23)
- neglect to meet together (10:25)
- sin deliberately (10:26)
- set aside the law (10:28)
- spurn the Son of God (10:29)
- profane the blood of the covenant (10:29)
- outrage the Spirit (10:29)
- throw confidence away (10:35)
- shrink back (10:38)
- enjoy sin’s fleeting pleasures (11:25)
- let hindrance & sin stop us running the race (12:1)
- grow weary or faint-hearted (12:3)
- droop and be weak (12:12)
- be lame (12:13)
- let a bitter root cause trouble (12:16)
- become defiled (12:16)
- refuse the God who speaks (12:25)
- neglect hospitality (13:2)
- defile marriage, by immorality and adultery (13:4)
- love money (13:5)
- be led astray by strange teaching (13:9)
- neglect to do good and share (13:15)
So many of these negatives are unspectacular and mundane. They create the image of a slow drift, or a gradual loosening of a once-firm grip. They are, therefore, right on the money in describing how most people give up on God. Unbelief is more often a creeping disease than a sudden cataclysm. Beware!
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.