Warning Against Rejecting God’s Grace
Open Your Bible
Hebrews 12:14-29, Genesis 4:8-13, Isaiah 62:6-12
BY Guest Writer
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:14-29, Genesis 4:8-13, Isaiah 62:6-12
“You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”
We’ve all heard this old adage, or perhaps even experienced the painful truth of it at some point in our own lives. But it’s not really a case of not actually knowing what you had, is it? It’s more a matter of not appreciating that thing, that someone, that blessing—until it’s no longer yours. Maybe you never appreciated it because you never imagined a world in which you’d have to live without it.
Such is the case with Esau and the oh-so unwise forfeiting of his birthright to his twin brother for the immediate comfort of a home-cooked meal. Whether he truly “despised” his birthright or was merely indifferent to it, Esau did not place great enough importance on his blessing as Isaac’s firstborn son—the blessing that promised both divine protection and authority over other nations (Genesis 25:27–34; 27:29).
While the Christians the writer of Hebrews was addressing weren’t merely fighting off hunger pangs, in the face of severe persecution they were tempted to forego their faith in Christ, exchanging the promises of the new covenant for the supposed comfort and familiarity of the old covenant. And so the writer of the book of Hebrews reminds the readers of what’s at stake, comparing the Israelites’ relationship to God at Mt. Sinai under the old covenant of the law (Exodus 19), with the blessings of salvation in Jesus Christ under the new covenant.
The comparison is a stark one. Their encounter with God at Mt. Sinai left the Israelites, and even Moses, shaken to the core (Hebrews 12:18–21). But that’s not the case for the Hebrew Christians, or for anyone whose faith is in Jesus Christ.
“Instead, [we] have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God… to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all… and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…” (vv.22–24).
The old covenant instilled a holy fear in the hearts of God’s people, putting a safe distance between them and God’s holiness. But the new covenant has torn away the veil separating us from God. Christ, our perfect Mediator and Judge (1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:8), put on skin and came down to endure the judgment of our sin. He eliminated the distance between God and His people, bringing us squarely into right and redeemed relationship with Him. “Our God is a consuming fire,” and His sacrificial love for us should should incite awe and reverence in our hearts, not indifference (Hebrews 12:29).
To know Christ is to be wrapped up in His grace—a hard-won grace that cost us nothing but did not come cheaply. It cost Jesus His life, the agony of bearing the weight of sin for all of humanity for all time and, for the first and only time in history, separation from the Father (Matthew 27:46). The writer of Hebrews is warning readers, cautioning us to not become hardened by persecution or indifferent to Jesus’s sacrifice, to the grace and salvation that can only be found in Him. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful” (Hebrews 12:28).
Kara Gause is an editor for She Reads Truth and happily resides in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s married to one swell fella, and mama to a set of delightfully spirited twin girls. Sunsets, snow cones, and cinema are near and dear to her heart, as is anything or anyone who reminds her of God’s goodness.