I have a confession to make, and to those of you who know me best this will not come as a surprise. I am a nerd. I have always been a nerd and continue to be one today. I was on the Academic Team, MathCounts, Scholastic Team, and was Academic All-State (and yes, I do have an All-State jacket just like the football and basketball guys. Mine just has the lamp of knowledge on it). I also loved a series of Fantasy (like Lord of the Rings, not weird Romance stuff) novels by Robert Jordan as a kid. The series was completed this month, but before reading the last couple of books I decided to listen to the first eleven on audio book again first.
I tell you all of that to tell you that a number of the scenes in this book take place on royal castles. One character in particular is destined to be Queen someday and she is always talking about the portraits of former queens that hang around the palace. They remind her of the great queens of the past and make sure she doesn’t forget the legacy being passed down to her. They inspire her to pursue this kind of courage and leadership in her own life. At times, she feels she cannot go on, but the eyes of those queens of old, looking down on her refuse to let her fail. With an audience like that, she must have a courage worthy of those who went before her.
You can see why Hebrews 11 and 12 remind me of these stories. The writer of Hebrews very literally wants us to be inspired, motivated, encouraged and held accountable by this ancient Hebrew heroes. It’s also worth noting that the writer is claiming Israel’s ancient heroes as the heroes of the Christian community as well, which is interesting since they are not all Jewish. But chapter 12 begins with the idea that because we have an audience of heroes who are watching us, we should not waver in our faith but press on to the goal. We should have laser like focus on Jesus and refuse to be distracted from anything. I mean, think of what those heroes accomplished and think about what we can accomplish with Jesus today! So just recognize that when troubles come, God is working through those troubles to make us even better children.
And don’t let anything get in the way. Live in peace with one another so that conflict doesn’t tear us apart. Live pure lives so that sin doesn’t rip you away from the Gospel. Don’t let earthly desires tear away your true desire for what matters the most…that happened to Esau and look how that ended for him. Stay focused.
After all, Israel stood at a mountain where God gave them the law and they trembled with fear and anguish because what was on the mountain was terrifying. But we have come to a mountain of joy, a mountain of salvation, a mountain where God gives us a covenant of peace and love. How can anybody turn away from this mountain to go back to the mountain of terror? So worship our God…the God of the unshakable kingdom. And do not fall away!