Expectation of Judgment
“..and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, AND THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.” Heb. 10:24-27
In our text for today, we have another example (like the previous bulletin article) of an allusion to an Old Testament passage. As noted previously, the Hebrews would recognize the language and word context as that of an Old Testament passage. The Holy Spirit has deftly assisted the writer to insert these allusions knowing they would provide the necessary instruction and exhortation needed for the faithful Hebrews who had converted to Christ to stand firm, and to stand together. The context to which the inspired writer alludes is found in Isaiah 26:11. It reads: “O LORD, Thy hand is lifted up yet they do not see it. They see Thy zeal for the people and are put to shame; indeed, fire will devour Thine enemies.”
Written for our example and instruction
Throughout the Old Testament, the LORD used fire as a means of judgment to devour His adversaries; Sodom and Gomorrah being the most well known. However, consuming fire was also the means that brought about the end of those among His people who stood in opposition to His will. Here’s two examples from the exodus out of Egypt to the Promised land written for our example and instruction.
Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron had received the knowledge of the truth concerning the acceptable offering of incense to the LORD. Yet, they decided to try it their way by offering strange fire. The result? “..fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them.” (Lev. 10:2)
Then there’s the infamous rebellion of Korah and his allies seeking to seize the priesthood. Moses had told all Israel that Aaron and his sons were ordained by the LORD to serve as priests at the Tabernacle. Not good enough for Korah and the gang, they wanted a piece of the action. In their decision to contend against Moses, Aaron and the LORD, Korah and his family were swallowed up by the earth while the 250 men who aligned themselves with Korah attempting to offer incense in opposition to the will of God received their due penalty: “Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.” (Num. 16:35)
We need to know this history, brethren, of God’s covenant people, those who willfully opted to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth and their outcome.
The quote from Isaiah in chapter 26 comes in the chapters of the book (24-27) that deal with general judgments prophesied by the LORD. In the midst of these described judgments is a prophesy of the church (metaphorically called a mountain) found in Isaiah 25:6-12. Chapter 26 then offers the hymn of Isaiah regarding the faithful remnant who trust in the LORD, those who have walls and ramparts for salvation, are kept in perfect peace, and trust in the everlasting Rock who will lay low all His enemies (Isa. 26:1-6). This faithful remnant understands and rightly appraises the LORD’s judgments knowing they provide a smooth and level path for their life (vs7). They patiently wait for God to perform His judgments upon the rebellious, knowing they are designed to turn the unruly to righteousness, to appreciate from whence all their earthly blessings come-through His favor. If the LORD allowed them free reign to run unchecked, they would never truly appreciate the majesty, provision and power of the LORD. (Vss 9-10) Upon these verses the prophet appends his utterance found in our text today to which the writer of Hebrews alludes. Even though God’s hand is ready to strike in judgment, many times the wicked fail to discern it. How are the remnant sustained as they too ride out these judgments? By His memory and His name. Hear the prophet: “Indeed, while following the way of Thy judgments, O LORD, we have waited for Thee eagerly; Thy name, even Thy memory, is the desire of our souls.” (Vs 8)
Stimulated or smoked up
The writer, through the Spirit, had made reference to Israel’s history of disobedience and rebellion almost immediately after the covenant had been inaugurated between them and the LORD in chapters two through four. In chapters 8-10 of the Hebrew letter, the Spirit has moved the writer to focus on the superior blessings and promises those in Christ receive as a participant in the New Covenant inaugurated by the blood of Christ. Here’s the lesson in our text. We’ve received the knowledge of the truth in the gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ. Don’t fall into a lax attitude forgetting how we’ve been delivered from bondage to sin (spiritual Egypt) and are now on the journey to the true Promised Land of heaven through His favor in Christ. The Lord’s day assemblies are centered around the breaking of bread and sharing of the cup, a memorial to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sound familiar to Isaiah’s exhortation? It is where we are reminded of God’s zeal for His covenant people by the offering of Christ to save us with the concomitant promise of His return, that day when God will judge the world in righteousness by the proof of having raised Christ from the dead, the demonstration of His majesty and power! Brethren, the assemblies equip, motivate, stimulate, and sustain us. A surefire way (no pun intended) to avoid being smoked up by falling back into willful sinning and to be delivered from judgment, the fury of a fire, is to make the assemblies of the LORD a priority. It’s His will! Amen?