We don’t know exactly when the letter of Hebrews was written... most scholars believe it was written somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 to 75 AD... well after, of course, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ... and even after the events that are recorded in the Book of Acts regarding the early church were written down.
And that means... the faithful believers in Jerusalem, in that time, would have suffered years of persecution by time the Book of Hebrews was written. They would’ve suffered through an extended famine that’s recorded in the Book of Acts. And... they could’ve possibly even been there to witness the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 A.D. In other words... their lives were in turmoil... and their way of life was collapsing around them - everything was changing, and they were helpless to stop it... they were discouraged, and fearful.
And they were beginning to waver in their faith... beginning to question if Jesus really was the Messiah... beginning to wonder if they’d made a mistake in placing their trust in him.
Most attribute the book of Hebrews to Paul, but we don’t really know who wrote it...
Regardless... whoever wrote the letter, wrote the letter to encourage the church! To say to the church “don’t give up... hold fast to the faith... continue to meet together... continue to look for opportunities to care for, and to serve one another.”
I think you would agree with me that it’s a good word... an appropriate word... a relevant word... for us today! God’s Word, reminding us again, that we don’t just go to church... but that we are the church! No matter where we are, regardless to where God has placed us at the moment. We may be disbursed... scattered... we may not all be able to gather together at this moment... but we are still the church.
In verse 23, the author of this Epistle says hold unswervingly to the hope we profess!
“Unswervingly” - I like that word! “Unswervingly!” Of course, different translations use varying phrases that are just as good... “Hold-tight” or “Hold fast.” The point is, act now... live your life and faith with resolve.
I think the context of the letter allows us to say that there are two meanings at play here: One is to hold fast to the content of our faith. Hold fast to the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ! Cling to the promises of God is Christ... Hold-on to the grace of our Lord, that brings salvation... and hope... and assurance.
But at the same time I think that the author is also saying hold fast, or be resolved and unswerving when it comes to the practice of our faith! In other words, be resolved to practice the disciplines that allow us to grow in our understanding of the promises that our faith is built upon.
Hold fast to the practices of worship... meeting together (even if we have to meet together via Facebook Live or YouTube). Hold tightly to the spiritual disciplines of prayer, and meditation... the discipline of reading and reflecting on God’s Word.
Holdfast to the things that allow us to rest upon the promises of Christ - the Foundational Promises of our Faith... that strengthen our faith, and build our trust in the Lord... enabling us to live life more from Faith, and less from fear.
It all reminds me of Philippians 4:6-7, which encourages us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
We are the people of God, followers of Jesus Christ... and we’re called to be a less anxious presence in our world, our families, our community... in our circles of influence... as we live the hope we profess.
It doesn’t mean that you and I will live without fears... and without doubts... and troubles... and questions. We experience all of those things and MORE, don’t we?
It means, that you and I know where to turn... we know where to run... when life doesn’t make sense, and things seem to be falling apart. We turn to Christ. We run to the Rock of our Salvation.
Hold “unswervingly” - “hold tight” to the Hope we profess!
Hold resolutely to the promises of God... for He is faithful.
And that’s the key, isn’t it?
God is faithful! The word translated “Faithful” means that God is both devotedly affectionate AND constantly allegiant. In other words, when we say “God is faithful” we’re saying, that God is fully committed to you, and to me!
How comforting to KNOW and trust, that our God... who is a faithful... caring... ally... is for us, not against us! And His willingness to cling to us is FAR greater than our willingness, or ability, to cling to Him.
Of course, none of this is to say that because we are Christians that life is somehow easier for us... that problems and worries and fears are somehow less severe, or that we’re somehow protected and removed from the worries and stresses of this life... because we’re not!
But... we do have a “Faithful Ally” who is with us always - a Savior who never leaves us nor forsakes us. And we can holdfast to the promises that our ours in Christ...