Hebrews 13:7-8 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
There is so much good in this last chapter of Hebrews that I really had to get quiet before the Lord to know what part of it He wanted to speak to me this morning. Verse seven gives the clear implication that the leaders spoken of are already dead. This is something we all need to be at peace with. A couple of days ago I mentioned the high percentage of pastors who feel that Christ will return within their natural lifetime, but we aren’t to demand or presume that. Right now the news is filled with reports of people who died because of COVID-19, but they aren’t mentioning the many more people who died of other causes. I’m reminded of the report I saw yesterday that actually put quotes around the word “unexpected” for someone who died at 94! We need to live in the awareness that our time here is temporary, so that we will make the use God intends of every day, every minute. The people referred to in verse seven were clearly faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, so their reward was sure. As verse eight says, if God could bring such people to a good end, He can do so for us as well, because Jesus Christ doesn’t change. Actually, He has changed a great deal in appearance, as John discovered on Patmos as recorded in Revelation 1, but His essence, who and what He is, doesn’t change because it is eternal, from the Creation on through eternity. It is not at all bad to have an expectation of Christ’s imminent return, but we must never use that as an excuse for not dealing with the task at hand. If that task involves physical danger, so be it. Our departure is in God’s hands, whether it is today or long in the future. Some of our “seniors in faith” lived very long physical lives, like the Apostle John and Billy Graham, and some were martyred almost immediately upon their profession of faith, but the length of their service isn’t the issue. Our focus should be on being faithful to the end, whenever and whatever that end might be.
I have thought about this off and on over the years, and I’ll confess that I think about it a little more often now that I’m in my 70s. At the same time, I remember that Moses entered his major ministry at age 80, and there have been various statements that the fulfillment of our church vision, of Omura again becoming the foremost Christian city in Japan, being in the near future. I can’t begin to imagine how that would come about, but I know that nothing is impossible for God. I am to remember those who have gone before me, including my parents, and not demand a specific schedule of God, but rather keep myself fully available for however He wants to use me – or not use me, if that is His choice. I know that the criterion for my reward will be my faithfulness with whatever He has placed in my hands.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the stir about the virus to make more people think about their own mortality. I ask for wisdom and clear guidance as to how I am to serve You in this time, from now until the end, so that all of Your purposes may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!