Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Dear God, it’s interesting to go back and take these last two verses about faith and put them into the context of the words that came before. This is all about suffering for you and having faith that the “possessions” I have in you are worth losing my earthly possessions.
You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
See, the problem is, however, that I really don’t know what it is to suffer at the hands of others. Outside of some occasional bullying in my life, I’ve never been persecuted. I’ve had loss. I’ve had trials, but I haven’t suffered the kinds of persecution the author is referring to here. That kind of “faith” is something with which I cannot empathize.
I think that lack of empathy is what those who are angry about things like those who protest by kneeling during the national anthem are experiencing. I understand those who are angry about it thinking that those who are doing it are being ungrateful, but it’s likely they have never experienced the persecution that minorities experience. They haven’t experienced the same America the minority has experienced.
So Father, help me to have the faith I need to accomplish what you need me to accomplish. Help me to have empathy for others and to stand beside them as they need faith to go through the trials before them. And help me to be who you need me to be to be a bridge builder between so many who are currently divided.
In Jesus’s name I pray,