Tuesday, 19 February 2019
…partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; Hebrews 10:33
The author now adds on to the previous thought which asked the reader to remember when they “endured a great struggle with sufferings.” He then describes that by saying, “partly while you were made a spectacle.” The words literally read, “being on display in the theater.” The verb is theatrizó, and it is only found here in the Bible. It means “to ridicule, making a public spectacle out of someone, putting them on exhibit for public jest and mockery” (HELPS Word Studies). That, in turn, is derived from the noun, theatron, meaning a theater, or a public exhibition.
That is seen three other times in the New Testament, in Acts and in 1 Corinthians. The Acts account is exactly the type of treatment the author speaks of when he says, “by reproaches and tribulations” –
“So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. 30 And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. 31 Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater.” Acts 19:29-31
Paul personally speaks of it as well in 1 Corinthians 4:9 –
“For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.”
The words of Paul here which said, “been made a spectacle,” are literally “been made a theater.” It is this same treatment that the author asks the Hebrews to remember concerning their early life in Christ. They had openly professed Christ, and they had openly and publicly suffered because of it, both by reproach, and by actual affliction. But he also continues with, “partly while you became companions of those who were so treated.”
The word “companions” does not convey the meaning. One can be a companion without suffering. The word signifies “a partner,” or “a sharer.” His audience partnered in the reproaches and tribulations of others, boldly aligning themselves with those who were treated shamefully. Instead of running away at such a time, they moved toward the danger, being willing to suffer reproach for the name of Christ, rather than to share in the pleasure of the world apart from Him.
Life application: How unfamiliar are these words to many of us today! Yes, Christian persecution is coming subtly through government intrusion into our lives. Also, the radical left of the world is becoming much more violent towards individual believers. But for the most part, Christians are still protected under the constitutions which establish our governments. Because of this, there’s a continuing and loud voice of those who claim wealth and prosperity in Jesus’ name. This is simply because they haven’t figured out that “friendship with the world is enmity with God.” As time progresses though, people will be divided between those who are truly willing to call on Jesus even during suffering – looking ahead to a greater hope – and those whose faith was merely in what they could obtain from God during this life. This was also the case with the early Jewish believers. They had suffered greatly during the establishment of the church –
“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” Acts 8:1
This continued as the Jewish leaders hounded the faithful. However, by the time Hebrews was written, their faith was waning. Persecution is a tiring thing on a person and it is natural to wonder where God is when you’re facing the loss of home, business, family, and even life. But this – not wealth and prosperity – is the condition that defines a faithful believer. What a mistake it is for people to think they deserve abundance when the aims and goals of Christ’s kingdom aren’t those of the world in which we live. When abundance is received, praise God! However, when it is lacking, even then… praise God!
Lord Jesus – You set the example for us when You came and lived among us in a humble and lowly state. You faced persecution, torture, and death. Help us to clearly see that if this is also our lot, we should be thankful for the honor. And if You provide us abundance, let us not be haughty or arrogant in the wealth that You alone provided. Thank You Lord. Amen.