Sunday, 17 February 2019
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31
This takes the reader back to the previous verses. In verse 10:27, it speaks of “a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” who have willfully rejected the knowledge of the truth. In verse 10:30 while citing Scripture, it then said of those who have shamefully treated what God has done in Christ that “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And then in the same verse, again citing Scripture, “The Lord will judge His people.”
With these things still fresh off the author’s pen, he then says the words of this verse. It is “the living God” who is being referred to, and who the author has already mentioned in this way in Hebrews 3:12 –
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.”
It is the living God, who has sent Christ Jesus into the world to restore man to Himself. To reject what He has done leaves only assured condemnation. And this is what is being seen here in the words to the Hebrews. It is calling out to them as a nation, imploring them to not turn from what He has done. Should they presume to do so, only “a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation” will be left.
And this is what came about. Israel rejected Christ, and they went into their extended time of punishment for it. They did, in fact, shamefully treat what God had done in Christ. Now, they are being regathered in the land of Israel, and that same conduct is continuing. They have the witness of believing Jews there in Israel, just as they did in the early days of the faith, but the nation as a whole has rejected this.
In this, they will continue to fall into the hands of the living God. It will be the time known as the tribulation period, and it is prophesied in the book of Zechariah that two-thirds of the nation will perish – all because of their attitude towards Christ. As Vincent’s Word Studies says of this verse, “The living God, revealed in the living Christ, will not suffer his sacrificial gift and his covenant to be slighted and insulted with impunity.” Albert Barnes then explains what this means. He says–
“To fall into his hands, therefore, ‘for the purpose of punishment’ – which is the idea here – is fearful:
(1) because he has all power, and can inflict just what punishment he pleases;
(2) because he is strictly just, and will inflict the punishment which ought to be inflicted;
(3) because he lives forever, and can carry on his purpose of punishment to eternal ages; and
(4) because the actual inflictions of punishment which have occurred show what is to be dreaded.”
Life application: One thing is made perfectly clear in the Bible; there is one God and only one path to that God – Jesus Christ. Throughout history, man has made his god in his image rather than acknowledging that we are made in God’s image. How often people will openly claim “I believe all paths lead to God.” Such a statement shows:
1) a lack of understanding of the nature of God, and
2) a belief (or hidden hope) that they are of more value than they really are in the sight of infinite holiness.
As Jeremiah 10:10 says –
“But the Lord is the true God;
He is the living God and the everlasting King.
At His wrath the earth will tremble,
And the nations will not be able to endure His indignation.”
There is little point in trying to scare people into heaven by promising hell, but there is a place for warning people about the consequences of rejecting God. If “heaven” is real, then a place which isn’t heaven (namely hell) must also be real because the Bible speaks of both. The Bible would not speak of one as a reality and the other as a myth. If the cross has eternal significance for those who believe, then it must – by the very nature of what occurred – have eternal significance for those who reject it. Think it through. Truly, it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
O God, how can one stand in Your infinitely glorious presence and presume to claim a righteousness of his own? But praise be to You, O God, for giving us a righteousness not our own – that of Jesus – to cover over our stains. All praise and glory belong to You! Amen.