When children finish high school, and they go off to college or to live on their own for the first time, those frenzied final weeks before leaving are usually a flurry of activities. To-do lists are checked off and then added to, last minute shopping trips become a daily occurrence, and packing everything needed seems an impossible task. Finally, the day arrives, and the slightly panicked parents are often confronted with this stark realization: did I prepare them sufficiently for the challenges they will face in life? And so ensues final reminders, gentle warnings, and many sentences starting with “Don’t forget,” or “Remember.” The parents want the best experience for their children at college and in life.
The writer of Hebrews also desires the best outcome for his dear readers, his spiritual children, as he finishes his letter. Of course, that best outcome is eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Thus, Hebrews 13 concludes with straightforward instruction to reach this prize.
Consider the direct instructions found in verses 1-7, and the reasons WHY these instructions are important.
- “Keep on loving each other as brothers”
- “Do not neglect hospitality to strangers—(WHY?)—”for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
- “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are badly treated—(WHY?) – since you yourselves also are in the body.”
- “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; – (WHY?) – for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.”
- “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; – (WHY?) – for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever abandon you.”
- “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; – (WHY?) – considering the result of their way of life, imitate their faith.”
Verse 17 goes hand in hand with verse 7. “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, – (WHY?) – because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
Hebrews 13:8 can be a stand-alone statement and beloved promise, easy to memorize (and it should be) and underlined in your Bible.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
What an assurance to us that Jesus has not changed and will not change—he is our Savior and coming King. Perhaps the writer felt a plain statement of our basic hope was warranted after his beginning list of directives.
Building on that simple reassurance, verse 9 warns the early Christians and us today, not to “be carried away by varied and strange teachings,” just as parents might advise their departing children—stay true to your foundation, the principles of your upbringing. It is firm, it is solid, it will keep you grounded.
Now, remember our reading from Hebrews 10 a few days ago.
“But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,waiting from that time onward until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:12-14)
Continuing in Hebrews 13, verses 15-16 should be OUR response for this sacrifice.
“Through Him then, let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips praising His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Our Salvation Gift from God:
Jesus—ONE SACRIFICE for all time
CONTINUAL SACRIFICE of
- Doing good
As the end of verse 16 says, “for with such SACRIFICES God is pleased.”
The writer concludes with a benediction or ending prayer in verses 20 and 21 that sums up his thoughts in this chapter.
“Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, that is, Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
This prayer serves as the perfect final reminder for young adults off to college, and for each one of us.