“Consider him who endured …”

The writer of the Hebrews asks his readers to “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (12:3). The writer, almost certainly Paul is encouraging his fellow Jews “not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (verses 3-6).

We note Paul’s concluding appeal to them and how it could equally apply to nearly every aspect of our lives today – surrounded as we are with false values and godless behaviour. He warns, “God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’” (verse 4).

When did God say this? Where is Paul quoting from? It is a surprise to discover that he is quoting from the words of God to Joshua, spoken soon after the death of Moses. God was inspiring Joshua by telling him, “Just as I was with Moses so will I be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and very courageous … being careful to do according to all the law …” (Joshua 1:5-7).

God’s word is full of examples and exhortations to live according to the examples we read in the scriptures, to “consider” them and how they apply to situations that surround us today. The Bible Paul read inspired him – and he used it to inspire others – what an example to us of how to use God’s word and put what we read into practice. Paul’s next quotation is from Psalm 118:6, “So we can confidently say. ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (quoted in Hebrews 13:6), so let us “consider” the example of all those “who endured”.