Hebrews 10:36-38 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”
The author gives both a positive and negative motivation to the readers to stay strong through persecution and hardship. There is a thematic pattern in these verses:
V. 36 Positive motivation: doing God’s will and receiving the promise
V. 37 Reason for motivation: Jesus is coming again.
V. 38 Negative motivation: God will not be pleased with those who turn away from faith.
We must live with the constant awareness that Jesus is coming back again. I will be honest that I do not think about this every day. We need to build reminders into our lives. One of the easiest ways is through our worship times. The “divine drama” of salvation can be rehearsed through our corporate worship. I will be thinking about how to do that more in our church. In some settings, saying the creeds reminds people of this drama. Another way is Scripture reading. Many songs also remind us of the life, death, resurrection, exaltation, and coming again of Jesus. God’s promises are true and we must trust in them. One of the clear goals of Satan throughout the Bible is to cause God’s people to doubt God’s word and promises. Faith is what will help us with this. But it is difficult to do by ourselves. Gathering with other believers can renew our faith and keep us strong against persecution.
The author also gives a warning to the readers. The Pauline doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is balanced with the idea that we will be judged by our works. These “works” are our response to God’s promises. Do we follow through with God’s commands or do we shrink back in fear and doubt? To live by faith requires that we follow God’s promises. This recalls how Israel shrank back in doubt and disobedience at Kadesh Barnea and did not follow God’s promise of rest in the promised land discussed by the author in chapters 3 and 4. Our motivation for staying strong is that we will receive a reward (v. 35).
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