Wednesday, 20 February 2019
…for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Hebrews 10:34
There is a dispute about the correct rendering of the first clause of this verse. The addition of mou (my) in some texts causes there to be a change in intent –
For you showed sympathy to the prisoners (NASB)
…for you had compassion on me in my chains (NKJV)
The correct reading is argued, but it doesn’t change the fact that the audience had compassion on one or more in prison. However, simply for the sake of consistency, the words are probably speaking of the plural, prisoners. That would then be in line with Hebrews 13:3, and also the tenor of the rest of the clauses.
Going with that as the true rendering, it shows that when other believers were persecuted, they not only would become companions with them (see previous verse), but they also would sympathize with their state, bringing them food, clothing, or whatever else they could. And not only that, but they also “joyfully accepted the plundering” of their goods.
Being plundered for one’s faith is something which has occurred throughout the church age, and it was common at the time of the writing of Hebrews as well. But the author’s words don’t just say that people came in and took what the believers possessed against their will. Rather, the faithful joyfully accepted what was occurring – “Go ahead! Take it! This is just stuff. What I possess in Christ cannot be taken from me!” It is in line with Jesus’ own words concerning the things of this life –
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:32-34
Surely remembering the words of the Lord, they knew that they had “a better and an enduring possession” awaiting them. Again, there is a dispute concerning whether the words “in heaven” are in the original or not –
…knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. NASB
…knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. NKJV
Either way, the promise stands. A better and enduring possession lies ahead. It is a lasting one because it is a heavenly one. With this knowledge, the things of this world, then, hold far less value. The author is calling these things to remembrance, asking them to hold fast to that same assurance, and to not be caught up in the temporary things which perish, and which can so easily distract their attention from faithful obedience to the Lord.
Life application: Have you ever heard of Robert Morris, one of the US Founding Fathers? Read the following quote about him by Robert G. Ferris in his book about the signers of the US Constitution –
“Merchant Robert Morris was a man of many distinctions. One of the wealthiest individuals in the Colonies and an economic wizard, he won the accolade ‘Financier of the Revolution,’ yet died penniless and forgotten. He and Roger Sherman were the only signers of all three of the Nation’s basic documents: the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution. Morris… also served as a Senator in the First Congress…”
Mr. Morris literally gave all of his worldly wealth in order to help finance a cause in which he believed. Except for a few history buffs, he’s been entirely forgotten by the nation he helped to forge. Now, think about the innumerable people who have given their lives for an infinitely greater cause – that of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unmarked graves swell the soil of distant lands, filled with those who have found eternal life; men and women have died in poverty, and yet have attained eternal wealth; causes which seemed hopeless have turned into everlasting joy, all because of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. What are you willing to give up in order that you might secure everlasting life, riches, and happiness? Think on this today, the consequences of your decision will span the ages, even for eternity.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17
Lord Jesus, open our hearts and minds to see the eternal and not the temporary. Keep us from squandering those riches which are true riches. And Lord, never let us forget to look back to the torturous cross in order to inspire us to move – ever forward – in the pursuit of Your heavenly kingdom. Amen.