Girded for the Race
"Looking unto Jesus"
"Let us also, therefore, being compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which cloth so easily beset us; and let us run with steadfastness the race lying before us; looking away unto Jesus, the Leader and Perfecter of faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, having despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
These verses connect closely with the previous chapter. The great cloud of witnesses are those spoken of there: witnesses, not in the sense of being spectators (though in a certain sense we are running our race under the eyes of all who have gone before) but the record of their lives bearing witness to the truth and reality of all that God has promised, of His sustaining grace in the midst of every circumstance, and they bear witness to us of this. The effect of that upon us should be to stimulate us to run in the same path. The apostle here, as in Philippians, uses the familiar illustration of the race-course; only here he dwells more particularly upon what would hinder the saints.
We are to lay aside first the weights, and then the sin which so easily besets us. The weight is not necessarily a sin in itself, but that which hinders one in making progress. We often hear, alas, the question: What is the harm or the sin in my doing this or that thing; engaging in this business, or indulging in that pleasure? The question is answered just here. Is the thing a weight, or is it a wing? Is it that which speeds you on your course or does it hold you back? If it is a weight, it will lead inevitably to that which follows after.
Here again Lot gives us a sad example, as the other witnesses show a faith that presses forward. Morally speaking, Lot was separate from the wickedness by which he was surrounded; he vexed his righteous soul about it, but his business interests, the facilities for heaping up wealth, outweighed his pilgrim desire. What do you find as a result? Follow him a little further, and see him in that mountain cave all tarnished with unspeakable sin and corruption. There you see the sin which easily besets those who are held down by weights.
If a child of God is to be a racer, he has to lay aside what will hinder him in his race. Suppose a man has a real desire to run a race, and one should offer him an attractive garment to put on, or something pleasant to eat or drink as he was about starting, or a bag of gold and say, You may have this if you will carry it with you. If he desires to win the race, everything of that sort will be laid aside; not because it is inherently evil, but because it is injurious to him as a racer.
These weights are not necessarily external: they are first of all in the heart. We all have our duties in this life to fulfil, yet these are never weights. But the moment a thing gets a place in my heart and mind which is not in God's mind for me, it becomes a weight, no matter what it is; and the effect is soon manifest.
To illustrate further from Israel's history, — in the book of Deuteronomy Moses reminds the people of what Amalek did to them when they came out of Egypt. The host was being led forward by the pillar of cloud and of fire: we may be sure that divine guide — type of the Spirit — lingered not. But there were some who lagged behind; they were the stragglers, the camp followers — doubtless some of that mixture that had come out of Egypt. Amalek fell upon the rear — such attacks are always upon the rear — involving the whole of the children of Israel in a conflict which would have been unnecessary had all been pressing forward diligently.
That is an important spiritual lesson. Our heavenly Guide is leading us on. If, as the apostle says, we are "forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those which are before, we press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling," Amalek (the lusts of the flesh) will not overtake us. We may struggle against fleshly lusts; we may conquer, by the grace of God through Christ's intercession; but why should there be such a conflict? Does not the very fact of such conflict point unmistakably to the fact that we are lingering behind?
There is also a conflict in front, but it is not with the flesh and its lusts, dragging us back to Egypt. The enemy in front is the spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, who would hinder us from entering fully into our inheritance. To fight that enemy is the mark of genuine spiritual growth — a very different thing from struggling with the lusts of the flesh which war against the soul. The apostle Peter says, "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims" (that is, those who are running this race) abstain from these things which are behind — fleshly lusts, which assail you if you linger. If your eye and heart are in the world, if you linger there, the first thing you know you are engaged in a rear conflict, that brings nothing to your credit.
The sin "easily" besets us. Let us never forget that; nor think for a moment that we can get in a position in which sin will not be natural to the flesh, or where we do not need to be on our guard. Sin is as natural to the flesh as it is for an animal to breathe. And the moment the eye is taken off Christ, you have the certainty of the sin besetting you. It follows after, and we can only run away from it by pressing on in the race. Then you will distance fleshly lusts like wolves in the distance; as you speed on your way the shouts grow fainter, with less likelihood of your being overtaken.
We are to run this race with patience, or endurance. The Galatians began to run well. Their faith was so bright, it was as though everything was enacted before their eyes; and their love so fervent that they would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to the apostle. But look how they began to falter. Questions come in as to the law — teachers subvert them from the gospel of Christ — and those who were running so well have been hindered. It is not enough that we have run up to the present time; until we reach the goal we are to press on. Where Christ is, is our goal; and until we are there with Him, we will never have finished our race.
It is an appointed race. Every step of this course has been marked out for us. We know not how long it is, but God knows every step that each of us has to take. It is one race that all the people of God have to run — from the cross up to the glory. Those are the two termini. You begin at the cross, when, as a poor sinner with nothing in your hands but your sin, you come to Christ. The other terminus is the goal, where He is, at the right hand of God.
Those are the general marks of the race course, but each of us has a specially appointed race answering to his life down here. Some of us live longer, some a short length of time. Some have passed through outward persecution, others have had very little of that; whatever the course may be, it is the race set before us. Our blessed Lord has gone the whole way before us; He has marked out the appointed course for His people. We are never called upon to take a single step where we do not find His footprints ahead of us to show us the way.
Thus in running the race set before us, it is "looking unto Jesus." Looking off unto Him — for that is the force of the word. Looking off first from the weights and the sin, — on to Jesus; for that which gives power to discard the weights is to catch the eye of the One on high. We will then insensibly drop everything that is not consistent with the perfect will of that blessed Master.
But there is more even than that, I think. We have had a whole chapter of witnesses, from Abel onward. We can look at them and thank God for them; but in the race we are to look away even from them. We are not so much to think of Abel, as of the sacrifice he brought; not of Abraham and his circumstances, but of the living God in whom he trusted; not of Moses and the Egypt which he gave up, but rather of Christ and the power of His riches to detach from the world. In other words, we are not to be entirely occupied by any of the examples of faith, whether past or present, but to look off from them all unto Him who is the Leader and the Perfecter of faith.
The word Author is the same as in the second chapter — the "Captain" of our salvation. It is the Prince, the Master, the One who has completed His course and perfectly exemplified what faith is. As I have said, in different individuals you have partial examples of faith; but in Christ, blessed be His name, you have the perfect example. We could trace with delight and worship His whole course as it is marked for us in the four Gospels. He is the Leader, the Captain of faith.
But I think there must be something more than that suggested in the expression. It is not merely that Christ is the Chief one who has walked in this path of faith, but He is the source of power for His people. He is the Captain leading His people; and He gives them power to follow. He is the Originator of the life of faith, not merely in our souls, but in our walk also.
He is also the Perfecter of faith — the one who has brought it to full completion; He has run His course and finished it with joy. He has gone on high, and just as surely as He is there, we will finish our course too. As the psalmist says, "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me." Or, as the apostle says, "Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun the good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ." He is the Alpha and Omega of everything He undertakes — in salvation, in accomplishing the purposes of God, and in bringing His people, as we are now seeing, through their appointed course.
What was the joy that was set before Him? He was a stranger to earthly joy, though He did not check it where it was of a proper character; but wherever He went, whether it was at the marriage supper in Cana of Galilee, or at the tomb of Lazarus, whether it was joy or sorrow, everyone who saw Him felt that His springs of supply were elsewhere than in this world. His source of joy was the sense of His Father's presence and the accomplishment of His Father's will.
But He had a joy that was set before Him. In the sixteenth psalm He says, In Thy presence is fulness of joy." He was going to be in the Father's presence, not merely as at the beginning, when, before the world was, He sported (as the word is in the original) as One brought up in the Father's family, Object of His Father's love and joy. His joy, while a Man down here, was that He was going to be there after He had accomplished redemption. "He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied." His joy was that when He got back to His Father He was to have others with Him. He was going to bring many sons to glory.
Oh, who can describe what was ever beckoning our Lord on His way! He knew that when He had finished His course and had sat down at the right hand of that throne, every hindrance would be removed that had prevented His people from being associated with Him.
As He thought of that great joy, there looms up the cross between Him and the goal. That awful cross! — not merely bodily suffering, nor the reproach of man, but as its dark shadow loomed up before Him, He saw the blackness of divine wrath; God Himself dealing in judgment with Him about sin. Will He swerve from His appointed course because of that cross? Is the joy of doing His Father's will and of having us with Him sufficient to lead Him up to that cross? Yes! for the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross. His disciples are amazed as they follow Him up to Jerusalem, for they see one who had set His face like a flint and will not be turned aside from His appointed course. Thus He endured the cross.
And then the shame. Think of the Lord of glory, the Possessor of all things, being treated with contempt by His poor wretched creatures. Think of the spitting, of the buffeting, all of that! What does it say about the shame? Did He shrink from it? How is it with us if some point the finger at us? If men sneer, if they but smile at what they call our peculiarities, how do we feel as to this little bit of shame? Does it say that the Lord Jesus endured the shame? No, He despised the shame. It does not say that He despised the cross. We know that was an awful reality — He could not despise that. But for the shame, the reproach, the ignominy, He did not think of it for a moment, in comparison with the joy of having us with Him there.
Now He is the One that is before us, and we are to look off to Him, not merely for strength, or power to run our race, but also for the example which He gives us so perfectly. The apostle applies that in what we have next.
"For consider well him who endured so great contradiction from sinners against himself, that ye be not weary, fainting in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, wrestling against sin."
Are you sometimes tempted and discouraged? Do you feel as if your cup of bitterness was a little fuller than that of your brethren; that your trials are a little more difficult to bear? Look away from your brother's cup, at the cup which the Lord drank. Are we not ashamed, then, to talk about our little bit of suffering and reproach as compared with His who could say, "Reproach hath broken My heart? "
And then someone says, Where is the limit to patience; how long must I suffer? He tells you here: "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin." There is the limit. When the cross had done its whole work and they had cast Him out of this world, that was our blessed Lord's only limit; and the apostle bids us to fix our eyes upon Him, and follow Him. As long as He was here He was a sufferer at the hands of man. Even when they had nailed Him to the cross, they still mocked at Him. But when He said, "It is finished," there is no longer any reproach that can fall upon Him; we do not even hear of any being offered after the wanton malice of the spear-thrust. Hands of love take Him down from the cross, and wrap up that visage which had been "so marred more than any man's, and His form more than the sons of men:" it is wrapped up with the precious spices that speak of how fragrant to God all that suffering was, and laid away for a little season in a new tomb. His humiliation and sufferings are over.
So will it be with us. "If ye are reproached for the name of Christ happy are ye;" it is only for a little while; the limit of it is your brief life. But remember, do not set any other limit; do not say, I will wait a month, a year, and if this persecution continues, I will have to do something to make it stop. Say rather, I will resist unto blood striving against sin. "The sin" is that to which the Hebrews were in special danger — the one that eclipses everything else. It is the sin of denying or giving up Christ.
"And have ye quite forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto sons, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when reproved by him, for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth? It is for chastening that ye endure. God dealeth with you as with sons; for who is the son that the father chasteneth not? But if ye are without chastening, of which all are made partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons. Moreover, we have had fathers of our flesh who chastened us, and we reverenced them. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? For they indeed chastened for a few days, after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now, no chastening at the time seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; but afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those that are exercised thereby."
While we are thus to set ourselves for the race to the end, it has a most sanctifying effect, a chastening effect upon our daily life. In view of the tendencies of our nature, how needful to keep it in check. He says, If you are a child you must expect chastening. "He that spareth the rod, hateth his own son." In very love God is pledged to chasten us. His rod we are to receive as a part of the proof of that love which gave His own precious Son for us.
It is very interesting to notice the character of these chastisements. They are — persecution, scorn, hatred, the reproach of man. You say, if God would only lay me on a bed of sickness, I could stand it. If it were God who had done these things, but it is just the wretched malice of man. I cannot see Him in it. Well, faith sees God in it. Whom did the Lord Jesus see in all that He passed through — which was not, I need hardly say, for His discipline, for He needed neither correction nor prevention? If He could say of the bitterest part of the cup, "The cup which My Father hath given Me to drink, shall I not drink it," He could say it of everything else. These things which we bear, no matter how much they seem to come from malignity, envy, or hatred, we know they also come from a Father's heart who permits them for our blessing.
Look at Job, for instance: Satan was let loose upon him. He took away his property and his family. He afflicted him with grievous sickness. And then the wife of his bosom, unconsciously lends herself as an emissary of Satan. She says, "Curse God and die." See his noble answer: "Shall we receive good at the hands of God, and shall we not receive evil?" — he will not receive it from the hands of Satan. Ah no; we do not even read that Job knew it was Satan who was acting in it all; whatever the chastening might be, it was the chastening of God. Oh for faith to look past the poor tools that Satan may use — whether it be the world or the flesh in fellow Christians — to look past all second causes, into the Father's loving heart.
Now that is not an easy thing to do: for, as he says further, "No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous." Do you know what we all have a desire for? It is a kind of chastening that does not hurt — that might be a pleasure to go through. But that would be no chastening. It must be grievous in order to be a chastening.
Then he reminds us of the effect of this. We have had earthly parents who corrected us according to their pleasure. A father smote us with the rod, rebuked us with his lips, cut off some pleasure, or did something that showed his desire to deliver us from evil; and the effect of it was that we gave him respect, and reverence. But now he says, Shall we not much rather, if our Father sends affliction, bow to Him? It is not for a few days with Him, but forever. Earthly parents have done the best they could for our temporal profit, but He, that we might be partakers of His holiness.
Notice that expression: not merely partakers of holiness; but there are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, whereby we might be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1) — brought to the place where we can drink from the fountain-source of holiness, the divine nature itself. God chastens us in order that we may partake of His nature, that we may drink that in, as it were, and have the fruits of holiness in our outward life as the result. After the chastening come the peaceable fruits of righteousness to those who are exercised thereby.
You will notice here that there are three ways in which we can be affected by chastening. We can despise the chastening of the Lord — we may think it a trifle, and throw it off. We have been speaking about reproach and scorn. A man may say, I don't care for people's opinion — that is nothing to me: he may brave it out, in his own strength. He is "despising" the chastening of the Lord. He does not have to go to God about it. It cannot be a severe chastening that does not bring us to God. Then, on the other hand, there are those who "faint" when they are rebuked of Him. They are overwhelmed, and the hands hang down, they are discouraged.
These are the two extremes — neither of which is faith; but now we have: "To those who are exercised thereby." We are to be exercised by what we pass through, not to despise it, not to faint under it, but to learn the lessons which God would teach us, to go to Him for comfort, succor and guidance, to lay hold upon His grace and mercy.
"Wherefore lift up the bands that hang down, and the failing knees; and make straight paths for your feet, that that which is lame may not be turned aside, but rather it may be healed, Pursue peace with all, and holiness, without which none shall see the Lord: watching lest there be any one who lacketh the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and many be defiled by it; lest there be any fornicator or profane person, as Esau, who for one meal sold his birthright; for ye know that also afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he he was rejected (for he found no place for repentance) although he sought it earnestly with tears."
We are encouraged thus to lift up the hands, and to stiffen the knees, to stand steadfastly, and to run steadily. Then there is a word for our conscience. We are to make a straight path for our feet. We will make a straight path if we are looking unto Jesus and running with patience; but if not, it is not only that we have turned aside from the appointed course, but that which is lame will also be turned out of the way. God keep us from turning any of His lame ones out of the way. Oh for the faith that, instead of turning others away, or stumbling the feeblest, shall heal those who would be tempted to wander.
Then He goes on to say, "Follow peace with all men." God does not wish us to be men of strife. He wants us both to have and to promote peace with the saints, and peace in the world as far as we can; but notice one thing that goes with the peace: "and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." "Peace and holiness" must go together. If they are separated, it is a false peace indeed.
The word for "looking diligently" does not mean looking at ourselves lest we should fail. We are to be overseers. Cain insolently asked, "Am I my brother's keeper?" and we can answer, "Yes." We are to see that no one of our brethren fails or is lacking in the grace of God. Notice that the object of oversight is not primarily the walk or the details of the life, but its source. It may be necessary to take knowledge of a brother's walk, to deal faithfully with such as have turned away from the Lord or dishonored Him, but the primary object of brotherly oversight is to see that no one is lacking in the grace of God. If you see a tendency in any to lose the sense of God's grace, if the free grace and love of God cease to have a charm for the soul, that is the danger sign for us. And oftentimes we would be of the greatest help to one another if we guarded against this.
If grace is lacking, some bitter root of self-will is bound to come up. The bitter root is in the flesh and it is only grace that can keep it down. When it springs up and troubles us, how many does a bitter root defile! Achan did not suffer alone; and the rebellion of Korah was accompanied by widespread murmuring. May the Lord enable us to judge everything that is contrary to His grace. Let us be established in grace, and the bitter roots, the self-will of sin will not have opportunity to spring up and defile.
This is further illustrated in the case of an open outbreak of sin. If grace is neglected, immorality, or profanity as with Esau, may come in. This is in line with what we have already seen was the special temptation of these Hebrew saints, and therefore he particularly warns against anything like apostasy. There came a time when Esau desired repentance on the part of his father; he desired to change Isaac's mind, but he found no place for it though he sought it carefully with tears. He said, "Bless me, even me also, O my father;" but he could not change his father's mind, for his father had expressed the mind of God in the matter.
"For ye have not come to the mount that might be touched, that burned with fire, and to obscurity, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of the trumpet, and the voice of words, which they that heard entreated that the word should not be uttered to them any more: (for they were not able to bear that which was enjoined: and if a beast should touch the mountain it shall be stoned; and so fearful was the sight that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake)."
The mount was a mount which could be touched, and yet which they were forbidden to approach. Sinai was all afire; darkness, blackness, smoke and tempest were upon its summit — an impressive, solemn sight connected with the giving of the law. God was speaking, and men entreated that they should not hear His voice again. They could not endure that which was commanded; the lawgiver himself said, "I exeeedingly fear and quake." What a figure of the effect of the law making demands upon man, by a holy and righteous God, — demands which man cannot meet.
The people withdraw to a great distance, but the effect is not to produce righteousness. We next see them making an idol and dancing around the golden calf, with Sinai's awful summit but a little way off. Hardened by the very proximity of that dread law which did not appeal to their hearts, which did not reveal the love of God, but only made a claim upon them which they could never fulfil. Now, thanks be to God, we have a contrast to all that.
"But ye have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, a heavenly Jerusalem; and to myriads of angels, the universal gathering; and to the assembly of the first-born ones who are registered in heaven; and to God, the Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant; and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than Abel."
There are here eight things. Eight suggests a new beginning; it is the number of the new creation, therefore; the basis whereon grace rests, and the atmosphere in which the new-born soul lives and delights. We have not come to Sinai, the law and its judgment; but we have come to Mount Zion, the mountain of God's grace. You will remember that Mount Zion is contrasted even with Shiloh where the Tabernacle was first set up — the last stage, we might say, of the wilderness journey of the children of Israel. It represented mingled law and grace; it was not pure grace, and the result was that even the ark of God was carried into the Philistine's land. When it was brought back, it was put away at Kirjath-Jearim, the city of the woods, where it was lost sight of, and the people had no divine centre.
When God began to work in grace again, when He chose out — not king Saul, who was the people's choice, the man who was excellent according to the flesh — but chose David, the youngest of eight sons (significantly the eighth) from following the sheep to set him as leader of His people, it was in perfect grace. He chose Mount Zion and put His name there, and said, "This is My rest forever, Here will I dwell for I have desired it." "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion," on the sides even of the north, dark and forbidding naturally as it is. Mount Zion, well protected on every side, the enemies that come up against her flee away. "They are confounded, fear and trembling take hold of them." Mount Zion then, speaks of the perfect grace of God, a grace which shall be exhibited in connection with Israel during the millennium, and I would add, on through eternity. For us it is the great principle of grace as contrasted with the law. But how significant it is that we have come even to these earthly blessings; not that we are to be citizens of the earthly Zion, but we have come to all the blessing which will be given to Israel from Zion. We have it in a spiritual sense even now, as we enjoy the blessings of the new covenant. During the millennium and throughout eternity in our better inheritance, we will still have the joy of being associated with Christ in dominion over the whole world in connection with Mount Zion His earthly centre.
But we mount higher. We have also come in point of blessing (already in anticipation, and soon actually there) unto the city of the living God, the new Jerusalem. Mount Zion is the city of the great King, but the city of the living God is the heavenly Jerusalem. The earthly Jerusalem is a type of the heavenly, and we know that during the millennium the communication between earth and heaven will be intimate and constant. The kings of the earth will bring their glory and their honor unto that heavenly city. There is our home, dear brethren; even now we are linked with it.
But we have come also to an innumerable company, to the general gathering of the angels. We have been seeing in this epistle that angels are inferior to Christ, and that man is a little lower than the angels; but grace sets aside all distinctions and we have been brought in the grace of God into association with the innumerable host of the angels. Think of the host of the angels, of the various orders of which the apostle speaks when he says, of whom every family in heaven and earth is named — angels, and archangels, principalities, powers, dominions, and every name that is named. We know but little of the powers of the heavenly hosts, but their number is stupendous. They are myriads of myriads, — and we have come to that universal gathering. We know we are not angels, and never will be; we have no desire to be, our place is nearer and dearer than that; but we are brought into association and companionship with all the heavenly host.
Our place is next given: "the Church of the first-born which are written in heaven." Just as Israel is the firstborn upon earth, the Church is the first-born in heaven; our names are written in the Lamb's book of life. In this Epistle the apostle does not go into the truth of the Church as the Body of Christ, or His Bride. Here we have the simple declaration that its place is up there. The first-born have their abode in the new Jerusalem.
And then you have "God the Judge of all." We are brought to Him, the One who will judge the ungodly, but who will never condemn His people, though He judges their ways. We have come to Him; we no longer shrink from Him, as Israel at Sinai did.
Then there are "the spirits of just men made perfect" — those just men of whom we were reading in the eleventh chapter. We will share companionship with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; we can converse with Abel about his sacrifice; we can talk with Enoch about his walk with God; we can speak with Jacob of the manifold chastenings of God; with Moses of his path; we can converse with these just men, who will be made perfect when we are made perfect; but meanwhile their spirits rest. in the presence of the Lord.
Then, blessed forever be His name, we have come to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, who is better than angels, Moses, Joshua, Aaron, and the whole line of faithful men. We have come to One through whom every blessing is secured for us, whose precious blood "speaketh better things than that of Abel." Abel's blood cried from the ground for vengeance upon the guilty Cain, but the blood of Jesus speaks peace before the very throne of God; by it, righteousness is manifested in the pardon of guilty sinners.
Think of the effect the enumeration of these things would have upon the Hebrew Christians. How unseen things would be seen to outweigh all earthly advantages; what force it gives the closing exhortation in the light of eternal realities.
"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they did not escape who refused him who uttered oracles on earth, much more shall not we escape who turn away from him who speaketh from heaven; whose voice then shook the earth, but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once I will shake not only the earth, but also heaven. Now this, Yet once, signifieth the removing of that which is shaken, as that which is made, that that which is not shaken may remain. Wherefore let us, receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and fear; for our God is even a consuming fire."
Refuse not the One who puts all this blessedness before you; "for if they escaped not who refused him that spake upon earth, much more shall not we" (anyone, no matter who he may be, the apostle can associate himself with them all) "escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven." All this truth that we have had in Hebrews is heavenly truth, as contrasted with Sinai. It is the gospel of grace as distinguished from law. He says, How shall we escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven; reminding us of the question in the second chapter, "how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation." He is the one who shook Sinai. But He says, Yet once more will I shake not the earth only, but heaven also; and you read in Revelation how the very stars of heaven are shaken from their places like the droppings of untimely figs shaken from a fig-tree in time of storm. The time is coming when God will shake heaven and earth, the sea and the dry land; everything will be shaken but the Kingdom which cannot be moved, the Kingdom of divine grace, the Kingdom of Christ into which we have been brought. This can never be moved, and as we have received this Kingdom, He says, let us have grace; for grace alone can enable for His service, and it is "exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." Let us have grace, then, whereby we may serve our God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire (not merely as is sometimes said, that "God out of Christ is a consuming fire;") He will indeed not spare the adversaries, and will also judge His people's ways, both here and at the judgment-seat of Christ,