Friday, November 16, 2012

Hebrews 12

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Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith (v. 1-2)

Use all of these examples [from last chapter] as motivation to set aside sin and run this race with endurance.

I'm assuming the race we are running is our lives? Basically this is saying to be inspired by people of the past to be good people. That sounds pretty good.

Guzik agrees with me that the witnesses are the examples of faith from the previous chapter, that's nice.

v2 "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

I had a little trouble parsing that verse, so I figured I'd just post it here for discussion. It looks like Jesus had the right hand of the throne set before him, I think that is the joy that is mentioned. However, to get there, he had to die on the cross, and therefore he endured the cross. Apparently the fact that he endured the cross caused him shame and he despises that fact.

I'm not sure if I am understanding this verse correctly, but this is the only way I could make sense of it. For good measure I scanned through some other translations and this still is the best I can do. From this passage it seems that Jesus wanted that seat at the right hand of God and was willing to go through the same of dying on the cross, although it pissed him off. 

According to Guzik, the point of the shame is that many people are willing to do things for Christ as long as it won't cause them shame, but they should be willing to take some shame for Jesus. He does seem totally on board with the idea that Jesus is in this for the glory though.

Do Not Grow Weary (v. 3-17)

We all have to endure our struggle against sin, but this is just Jesus disciplining us. Discipline always sucks at the time, but through it we grow stronger. You should grow from your struggle against sin and be good always. Help other people with their struggle so that they can stay holy, don't let roots of bitterness spring up and cause trouble.

Basically saying your struggle with sin is for your own good. I guess this is essentially an attempt to answer the problem of evil. There is a logic to the idea, we grow stronger through struggle and pain, but of course it doesn't really solve the problem in a universe run by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God.

Guzik does seem to agree with my interpretation that this is an answer to the problem of evil. He says that God doesn't choose evil, but he allows it to happen as nothing happens outside of his purpose. So basically he's using the free will argument. This of course doesn't answer the question of horrible natural disasters, or man made things that are horrendous in scope, like the holocaust to pick the easy example. 

He does spend a lot of time talking about the other details of the section, that hardship is ultimately good as we learn from it and such. This I do agree with, depending on how hard the hardship is.

v16 "[see to it] that no one is sexually immoral..."

Seriously, why does sex always have to be bad in the bible?

A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken (v. 18-29)

Once again, I find this section thoroughly confusing, but I will do my best to summarize.

v18-21 seem to be describing a bad place, hell maybe? a blazing fire, a tempest, hearers who beg not to be further spoken to.

v22-24 seem to shift gears, they speak of mount zion, heavenly Jerusalem, angel gatherings.

They are talking about heaven? I'm guessing they are trying to contrast the 2 places? I don't know. I taught math, I never had to grade essays, I guess I can start now. F, see me.

Apparently we are trying to go up mount Zion instead of Mt Sinai like the Jews. I don't know how the hell I was supposed to tell that the first part was mount Sinai and the second was mount Zion.

v25-29 Do not refuse God, for those who did when he warned him on earth were unable to escape, so how can we escape now that he is warning us from heaven. He shook the earth and said he will once more shake the earth and heaven. He will shake heaven to remove things so that all that remains are things that can't be shaken, we should be grateful to receive a kingdom that can't be shaken.

Terrible. I can't even really figure out what this is trying to tell me. Basically listen to God is the bottom line I guess, but the actual words they are using to convey the message are garbage. If God shakes heaven to get rid of the undesirable stuff how can you follow that up by saying that it is unshakable? So it's saying that we got rid of the stuff that falls away so the remaining stuff is unshakable, but at the very least we are going there, so new stuff is coming in. That's it, I'm not doing more here, this is shit. F, seriously.

I guess things being shaken up is supposed to be God changing the rules. So he changed the rules once but he won't again. Fool me once...

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)


12:1 Use historical (and mythical) figures as inspiration to live good lives

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"


12:16 Sex is bad

"[see to it] that no one is sexually immoral..."


  1. Don't get too excited here, Hausdorff. You've got to remember that this was an epistle aimed for the Jews, and as such there are a lot of insider allusions to Jewish history. So this letter would have made immediate sense to them, just like if I wrote something to my fellow Americans including phrases like "you don't have to cross the Potomac to fight the Redcoats" and "you are getting representation for your taxation."

    That said, it still has some wrong twists on the history. Surprise! For example, check here to get the real story on Esau's blessing.

    And that bit about the mountain of fire comes from a key event in Jewish history, when Moses got the Commandments from God in Exodus 19-20. It seems foreign to you, as it should, but the Jews would have known exactly what he was referring to.

    Now about the shaking up part, usually in prophesy that shaking refers to changing countries, not changing rules. Imagine if you were playing Risk, and you suddenly shook the board, shuffling all the pieces around and shifting the balance of power. That's more of what it refers to. :-)

    1. I guess that is something I have to keep in mind, this makes sense to them, just not to me. It would be nice to have a heavily annotated bible that explains all of the references I guess. Still, I'm very glad tomorrow's reading of chapter 13 is the end of this book. The fact that I can't understand this so well is also a result of my decision to start with the new testament, although at the pace I set, by the time I got to this book Exodus would have been like 5 years ago, so who knows if I would have remembered anyway :)

      I sorta know the story of moses and the mountain, I can't believe I have never heard the part about God coming down on fire, that's awesome!

    2. I here you. I just got done writing my summary of Luke. What a treadmill. I'm looking forward to the variety in John next.

      That scene from Exodus is pretty cool, huh? :-) Some minority of scholars have suggested that this indicates the origin of Yahweh, that he was originally a god of volcanoes.

    3. That was supposed to be "hear", not "here." Doh!

    4. Just read your post on the story of Esau, great summary of a ridiculous story :) The funny thing is, I was listened to thomas and the bible somewhat recently, and I could have sworn that there was a story about a brother who sold his blessing (or birthright maybe?) for a single meal. When I read this chapter I assumed that was what was being referred to. I'm guessing that was a different set of brothers then? Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?

    5. I remember when I was going through luke, I was dying from boredom from the similarity to the previous ones too.

      I absolutely love the idea that yahweh was originally a god of volcanoes. He's come a long way, I need to get in touch with his career planner or something.

    6. No, you're thinking correctly. It was the same set of brothers, and the story comes from Genesis 25.

      The author of Hebrews seemingly conflates the two events in v16-17 here; the birthright and the blessing. But Esau first sold the birthright (inheritance) for a meal. Then blessing Esau lost (as you read) due to Jacob and his mom tricking his own father. The blessing wasn't rejected because he had sold the birthright. It was rejected due to treachery; a point which the author conveniently leaves out...

    7. That's hilarious that it is the same family, it's like a bad sitcom when they run out of ideas and just start recycling.


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