Hebrews 12: The Unshakeable Kingdom

How can we encourage ourselves to aggressively pursue God’s will for our lives?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Luke 14:26 “Any man who follows me must be willing to forsake father and mother, wife, brothers and sisters, and children. You must even be willing to give up your own life, or you cannot be my disciple.”
1 Corinthians 9:25 Athletes give their lives in strenuous training for a short-lived glory, but we strive for a reward that will last forever.
Philippians 3:13 Friends, I haven’t figured everything out yet, but I know one thing: the past needs to be forgotten so I can focus on doing better in the future.
Titus 3:9 Don’t get sucked into arguing over trivial questions, claims to righteousness in ancestry, or teaching that we should follow Jewish tradition. Those issues are a waste of time, profiting nothing.
Hebrews 12:1 Since so many people have witnessed God’s glory and the value of knowing him, we should throw off every burden and the pursuit of self-serving desires that hinder us. As the witnesses cheer us on, let’s patiently run the race that God lays before us.
James 4:8 Move closer to God, and he will move closer to you. Wash your hands of wrongdoing and purify your hearts with good motives. Don’t live a double life, but have a single focus upon what the Lord wants.
King James
Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
1 Corinthians 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Who are those who will cheer us on, and what influences exist to pull us back?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Hebrews 12:1 Since so many people have witnessed God’s glory and the value of knowing him, we should throw off every burden and the pursuit of self-serving desires that hinder us. As the witnesses cheer us on, let’s patiently run the race that God lays before us.
King James
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

What struggles might Jesus have had in completing the race set before him?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 26:39 He went a little farther, fell on his face, and prayed. “My Father, if possible, let me escape this suffering. Nevertheless, I want your will, not mine.”
Luke 6:12 One day, Jesus went up on a mountain and spent the whole night praying to God.
Hebrews 12:2 Consider Jesus, the giver and equipper of our faith, to keep running. He saw the value of finishing the grueling race set before him, joyfully enduring the pain of crucifixion, accepting the shame, and now he sits in the supreme position of divine authority.
King James
Matthew 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

How can opposition and persecution be an encouragement to us?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
John 15:20 “Remember what I said before. The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they had listened to me, they would listen to you.”
2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer for Christ’s sake, we will reign with him, but if we deny him, he will deny us.
Hebrews 12:3 Remember how much opposition and persecution Jesus endured from unbelievers, and be encouraged so adversity won’t cloud your vision of the goal.
King James
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
Hebrews 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

What must people do to win the battle with sinful desires?

Author’s Thoughts
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Hebrews 12:4 You have not yet put your life on the line, fully surrendering to God, which is evident because you are still battling sinful desires.
King James
Hebrews 12:4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

In what ways does God provide guidance for his children?

Author’s Thoughts
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John 16:13 “But when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own authority but will say only what he hears. He will reveal to you things to come.”
1 Corinthians 4:15–16 You might have ten thousand advisors telling you what Christ would have you do, but you don’t have many who care for you like a father loves his son. I am your spiritual father who brought the good news about Jesus. That’s why I urge you to follow my example.
Ephesians 5:2 Love even those who hate you, following Jesus’ example, for he loved so much that he sacrificed his own life, greatly pleasing God.
Philippians 3:17 My friends, look at what Christ has worked in me and others who walk with me. Follow our example.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God, important for teaching, correction, and discipline—for showing people how to live in righteousness.
Hebrews 12:5–7 You’ve forgotten the guidance that you knew as children: My son, don’t object to the Lord’s discipline. Never tire of his reproof. God is like a loving father, correcting his children and allowing them to endure hard times because he wants the best for them. As obedient children, endure the hard times, because no loving father will fail to train his children.
King James
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
1 Corinthians 4:15–16 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Hebrews 12:5–7 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

How do people alienate themselves from God and his family?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Jeremiah 1:16 I will punish my children for their misbehavior, for walking out on me and making sacrifices for other gods, worshiping their own achievements.
Matthew 19:21–22 “If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you own, and give the money to the poor. You will have treasure in Heaven and can follow me.” After hearing this, the young man walked away sad, because he was very wealthy.
Luke 15:13 “Before long, the young son collected all he had and went to a faraway country, where he wasted all his inheritance on the pursuit of pleasure.”
John 15:5–6 “I am the vine, and you are the branches. You will bear much fruit if you remain in me and I live in you, but without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is like a withered branch to be thrown away. Such branches are gathered, cast into the fire, and burned.”
Hebrews 12:8 But if you exempt yourselves from God’s direction, then you aren’t part of his family.
King James
Jeremiah 1:16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.
Matthew 19:21–22 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Luke 15:13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
John 15:5–6 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Hebrews 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

What greater reason do we have to respect God’s guidance and accept his discipline?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
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Proverbs 13:24 Parents who fail to discipline their children don’t love them. But those who love their children are careful to discipline them.
Matthew 18:3 “I tell you for sure, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Romans 2:8 But those who ignore the truth, seeking to please themselves, will follow an unrighteous path that ends with God’s wrath.
Hebrews 12:9–11 As children, we respected our father’s guidance, and we have an even greater reason to accept our heavenly Father’s discipline and live a more perfect life. Our human fathers pushed us to live according to what suited them, but God wants what he knows is best for us, to be holy even as he is holy. In the times of constraint, we may not enjoy the pain and suffering, but afterward we will enjoy the blessing of right standing with God, having done that which pleased him.
King James
Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Romans 2:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
Hebrews 12:9–11 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Where do we find strength to endure the hard times and do the work that pleases the Lord?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Psalm 18:2 God is my secure foundation, my protection in time of trouble, my deliverer. He is my strength in battle, one I can always trust to be at my side. He is my shield, my source of victory, my high tower that sees what is coming.
Philippians 4:13 In all situations, no matter how little or how much I have, I must depend on Christ for my strength and guidance.
Hebrews 12:12–13 Therefore, lift your hands to do the work God has for you, finding strength to stand on feeble knees. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, never wavering, healed from the weakness that would cause you to go astray.
King James
Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Hebrews 12:12–13 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

What is forgiveness? Why do we benefit from forgiveness, and what is the consequence if we don’t?

Author’s Thoughts
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Matthew 6:14–15 “If you forgive others for the wrongs they have done, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you.”
Hebrews 12:14–15 In your heart, hold no malice toward anyone, because the unforgiving will never see the Lord. Seek God’s favor for everyone, keeping bitterness from rising in your hearts, which would separate you from God like so many others.
King James
Matthew 6:14–15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Hebrews 12:14–15 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

What motivated Esau to sell his birthright?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 25:32 “I am starving,” Esau said. “What good is my birthright if I die of starvation?”
Hebrews 12:16–17 Immoral and ungodly people are like Esau, who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. Afterward, he longed for the blessing of his inheritance, but what was lost could not be regained, even though he begged with many tears.
King James
Genesis 25:32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
Hebrews 12:16–17 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

What reasons do we have to fear God’s presence? What reasons do we have not to fear?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
John 3:36 “Everyone who believes in the Son will live forever. Those who reject him will never see life but will remain under God’s wrath.”
Romans 1:18 God’s wrath falls upon self-serving people, who manipulate and distort the truth in their pursuit of pleasures.
Romans 2:5–6 By refusing to repent, the hardness of people’s hearts will eventually bring God’s wrath. On the day when his righteous judgment is delivered, everyone will be judged according to what they have done.
2 Timothy 1:7 A spirit of fear is not from God, for in him we have power, love, and a sound mind.
Hebrews 12:18–23 You haven’t come to a physical place like the Israelites saw at Mount Sinai with storming dark clouds and fire. They heard a voice like a trumpet blast, so terrifying that they begged God to say no more. God’s command was unbearable. People or animals were not to touch the mountain, or they would die by the spear or from stoning. The sight was so terrifying that even Moses trembled in fear. But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem with countless angels, to the assembly of God’s firstborn children whose names are recorded in Heaven. You have come before God himself, who judges all things and have joined the spirits of the righteous who have now been made perfect.
King James
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Romans 2:5–6 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Hebrews 12:18–23 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

How does Abel’s sacrifice compare with what Jesus offered?

Author’s Thoughts
Author’s Insights Pending
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 23:35–36 “From the murder of Abel in the beginning to Zechariah who died between the altar and the Temple sanctuary, the righteous blood that has been shed on the earth will be charged against this generation.”
John 15:13 “There is no greater love than for a man to sacrifice his life for his friends.”
Romans 12:1 Therefore I beg you, all who have said they want to follow the Lord, make a total commitment to please him in all things, sacrificing everything you want so you may receive something better. Your reasonable service is giving 100 percent of yourself, more than just a tithe, a few worship songs, and verbal expressions of your love for him.
Ephesians 5:2 Love even those who hate you, following Jesus’ example, for he loved so much that he sacrificed his own life, greatly pleasing God.
Hebrews 11:4 Because of his faith, Abel offered a much better sacrifice than Cain did. God’s acceptance of the offering confirmed Abel’s righteousness. Although Abel is dead, his example still speaks to us today.
Hebrews 12:24 Here, Jesus mediates a new agreement through his blood that means so much more than Abel’s sacrifice in the beginning.
King James
Matthew 23:35–36 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

What reasons might people have to shun the Holy Spirit?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
John 3:19–20 “This is why God condemns people: Light has come into the world, but people love the darkness, not the light, because their deeds are evil. People who do evil hate the light and will not come near it for fear that the light will expose their sins.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18–22 No matter what the circumstances are, be thankful, because this is the attitude God wants you to have in Jesus Christ. Do not resist what the Holy Spirit wants to work in your lives. Don’t minimize the importance of voicing what God speaks to your hearts, but judge the truth of what you say, speaking only that which you know is right. Avoid even the appearance of evil.
Hebrews 12:25 Don’t shun the Holy Spirit, who is speaking to your hearts. If those who refused to listen did not escape God’s judgment when he spoke on Earth, we will surely not escape the voice who speaks from Heaven.
King James
John 3:19–20 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
1 Thessalonians 5:18–22 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Hebrews 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

How powerful is God’s voice?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 1:3 God said, “Let there be light,” and light exploded into existence.
John 1:10 Although the Word made the world, people in the world did not recognize him when he came.
Hebrews 12:26–27 God’s voice once shook Earth alone, but now he promises to shake both Heaven and Earth. All creation will be shaken so only that which cannot be shaken will remain.
King James
Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
Hebrews 12:26–27 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

What is God’s purpose in shaking the earth?

Author’s Thoughts
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Hebrews 12:27–29 All creation will be shaken so only that which cannot be shaken will remain. Since our Kingdom will be unshakeable, we should be thankful, serving God with great admiration and respect, for he is a consuming fire.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t slow in keeping his promise, not like some people think. He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, giving time for everyone to repent.
King James
Hebrews 12:27–29 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.