STUDY Hebrews 12:14-21
(click here for notes)
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.
You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned." The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear." (NIV)
Call to Holiness
Following his exhortation on God's discipline, the author of Hebrews issues his final warning against refusing the grace of God. "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy," he writes; "without holiness, not one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
1. Why will a person not see the Lord if he is not holy? (see also 1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 John 3:2-3; Romans 6:22)
2. How does one miss the grace of God (v.15)? (see 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2; Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 4:1)
3. Why would the author give such warnings to Christians? (see Matthew 13:3-6; 20-21)
4. What is a "bitter root" that could grow up and cause trouble and defilement? (see also Deuteronomy 29:18; Romans 3:14-18; Ephesians 4:31)
5. Why is abstaining from sexual immorality such an important concern in the life of a Christ-follower? (see 1 Corinthians 5:9, 18-20; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6; Genesis 1:27; 2:24; Revelation 21:2, 9)
Godless Like Esau
6. When Esau despised his birthright, what did he actually give up, defining him as "godless"? (see Genesis 25:29-34; 12:2-3; 15:1, 12-18)
7. What does it mean to be "godless like Esau"? (see Philippians 3:18-19; Romans 8:5-8; 16:17-18; Jude 11-13)
8. Why was Esau rejected when he sought his blessing with tears? (see 2 Corinthians 7:10-12)
Not a Mountain To Be Touched
9. The recipients of this epistle were Jews who had become Christians. What did verses 18-20 mean to them? (see Exodus 19:10-25; 20:18-19; Deuteronomy 4:11-12; 5:5,22-26; 9:19; 18:16)
10. Why do you think the Old Covenant was established in such fearful circumstances?
(see Romans 7:7-13; 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Galatians 3:10-14)
11. What is significant about the author's saying to these Christian Jews, "You have not come to a mountain that can be touched"?
12. Many of us grew up with tangible do's and don'ts relating to diet and behavior. How were those like a mountain that CAN be touched compared to your new life in Christ?
13. Do you have a "bitter root" growing somewhere in your heart? What is it?
14. How can you tell whether or not you are "holy" and will see the Lord?
15. In what area of your life do you feel "wooden" or not free and responsive?
16. What behavior or unresolved conflict is in your life that gets in the way of your living a holy life?
17. In what specific way(s) are you in danger of missing the grace of God?
18. Ask God to show you what needs to be healed in your life. Ask Jesus to bring back to you the memories of feelings or experiences which you have blocked from your mind but which cripple your emotions and your spirit. Give him your past and your present, and ask him to heal your wounds and integrate your forgotten memories with your reality today. Ask Jesus to bring to light what is hidden in the darkness of your heart, and open yourself to the Holy Spirit's healing and redeeming work in you. Let Him bring you out of the curse of the Old Covenant into the redemption of Christ's blood applied to your heart.
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised November 1, 2001.