Wednesday, 1 May 2019
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, Hebrews 12:25
Here we have an exhortation which is tied directly to verse 12:19. There it said –
“…and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.”
The same word translated as “begged” there is now used twice in this verse and it is translated as “refuse.” The word signifies “to deprecate” or “to shun.” Those who were at Sinai begged for the voice to no longer speak to them, and they continued to do so implicitly throughout the entire time of the law, ignoring it, shunning it, and actively despising it. Now the author says, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.”
The word of God is given, it has revealed Christ, and we are not to refuse it. It must be remembered at this point that the book is written to the Hebrews. They had refused the word, and they continued to refuse the word. In the end times, they are now – through this epistle – being implored to not refuse this word. However, using the term “we” is not inappropriate.
The word is given to the whole world. It is given to believers and unbelievers, but in particular, the book of Hebrews is directed to the Hebrew people. However, it contains truths which are for all. As it is specifically to the Hebrews though, the next words make complete sense, “For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth.”
A contrast is made to the previous words, “Him who speaks.” This is obviously referring to the One in heaven because He is being set in contrast to “Him who spoke on earth.” It takes the reader all the way back to the beginning of the epistle –
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” Hebrews 1:1, 2
Therefore, the phrase, “Him who spoke on earth,” signifies the Law of Moses. First, it was spoken by God at Mount Sinai, a physical location. But afterward, it was spoken by God through Moses. In both, they refused Him who spoke on earth. Though the law is from God, it was transmitted in an earthly way, where the people could receive the word and act upon it as such. And yet, having this law received in this way, it availed them nothing.
They received judgment and punishment as is recorded from the incident of the golden calf, all the way through until the final words of the Old Testament. In this, “they did not escape.” Understanding this, the author then says, “much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven.”
This is speaking of Christ Jesus. He is the Man from heaven, and He is the Man who ascended again to heaven. His word established the New Covenant, and it is this which is to be received and acted upon.
The words, “turn away,” are a present participle and should say “turning away.” The thought is turning away from the New Covenant and back to Judaism, in whatever form – Torah observance, Talmud obedience, etc. The Hebrew people, in particular, are being addressed. But the truths extend to any who hear the Man from heaven and turn away from His voice.
The premise here is similar to that which has already been presented in Hebrews 2, where the same word, translated as “escape,” is used –
“For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” Hebrews 2:2-4
Life application: In the Bible, there seems to always be a sober reminder amidst the excitement. The last three verses have spoken of the heavenly Jerusalem, of joy in the future, and of the promise of being eternally with Jesus. However, this verse now reminds the Hebrew reader (and by extension all others) that this is not automatic. You may have been to a funeral at some point where the words, “He is in a better place now,” are spoken. It seems everyone in the box is “going to heaven” and everyone in the audience is a believer – but this isn’t so. Rather, we need to accept and not refuse God’s good purposes for us. Those who refused to obey after seeing the display at Mount Sinai “did not escape” and their bodies died in the wilderness. As Paul says elsewhere –
“…for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” Romans 2:13
Life with Christ also involves a commitment. If someone spends his entire life sitting in church listening to the message and never accepting Christ’s pardon, then all that time was wasted. As it says, those who heard the Law of Moses and rejected it did not escape. As this is so, “much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven.” Let us think better thoughts though. You have heard the word of Christ, you have understood His mission, and certainly you won’t reject His offer. Be wise and understanding now, while you have breath, to follow the One who loves you so very much.
Thank You Lord for the offer, thank you for the promises, and thank you for our salvation through receiving what Christ Jesus has done! We know it is by Your great and powerful arm that we have been redeemed, and so we will follow where You lead all of our days. Glory to You, O God. Amen.