“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” Heb. 10:36-38
The inspired writer of the Hebrew letter has moved the reader step by step to this point preparing them to stand and persevere through the trials of rejecting the Old Covenant system which had been taken away in the eyes of God through the offering of the His body (Heb. 10:9) and His blood, and was now ready to disappear physically (Heb. 8:13) as had been prophesied by Jesus Christ (Matt 24).
He has reminded them yet again that Jesus had inaugurated the superior second, or New Covenant, in accordance with prophesy (Heb. 10:16; c. f. Jer. 31: ). This New Covenant was designed not only to bring forgiveness, but to develop confidence to draw near to God with full assurance of faith in Him, helping “us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (Heb. 10:23a) whenever we should undergo or have to endure “a great conflict of sufferings” (Heb. 10:32) for remaining faithful. The writer is moved by the Spirit to strategically cap off this section of the letter by quoting from the prophet Habakkuk as found in chapter two, verses three and four. The NAS translation reads: “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay. Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.” The context of this section of the book of Habakkuk deals with him receiving God’s answer on how He intends to work His plan concerning the judgment of the wickedness and violence occurring in Judah where “justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted.” (Hab. 1:4) Now take a look at the preceding context of Hebrews 10:32-34 and you’ll see Christians were maligned, jailed and had their property confiscated through a perverted justice system. Don’t we see that still today among ungodly governments in the world? Of course! The LORD told Habakkuk He intended to execute His judgment upon the situation in Judah. Habakkuk’s problem was the timing ( “How long, O LORD?” Hab. 1:2a) and the means, the Chaldeans (Hab. 1:5-6). After imploring the LORD that he didn’t understand the Almighty’s plans, Habakkuk said, “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved.” (Hab. 2:1) The LORD then delivers His reply (Hab. 2:2-4) which includes the quoted passages cited by the writer of the Hebrew letter as well as the command to “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.” (Hab. 2:2) The principal here should be obvious. The LORD provides a written record of His intentions that we can test and determine with certainty that He follows through on His promises. This provides the confidence to run with endurance the race of faith. Most commentators view God’s response to Habakkuk to be one pointing to the coming Messiah and associated Messianic age, including the ultimate judgment of God. The point is that God is working His agenda and His plan, not man’s. The faithful one can be sure that the LORD’s goal will be reached, the deliverance of His faithful people, but on His time schedule, not man’s. The letter to the Hebrews makes the same fundamental point. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, has come, the Messianic age has been inaugurated, and now what the righteous one is patiently looking to is His coming again in judgment. In the meantime, we execute the will of God (as Habakkuk did) in the face of pervasive violence, wickedness and perverted justice looking to receive what was promised, the hope of eternal glory in our resurrected bodies. Peter was moved to write, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) Be patient, don’t shrink back, the Father has fixed the day for Jesus to come again. “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” (Heb. 10:35) Run with endurance on the record of His word! Amen.