Hebrews – Chapter Twelve XLIII

by Ed Urzi

“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven” (Hebrews 12:25).

We may gain a deeper appreciation for this passage if we view this portion of Scripture from the perspective of our relationships with others. For instance, imagine a scenario where one person extends his or her hand to another person in an expression of greeting, friendship, or acceptance. If the second individual in our illustration dismisses that gesture, the first person is likely to be insulted by such disrespect.

In a sense, God has “extended His hand” to humanity in a gesture of reconciliation through Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf. In light of this, it is important that we respond appropriately to that gracious act of propitiation. To encourage his readers in this regard, the author of Hebrews returned to Israel’s experience at Mount Sinai for use as an illustration.

If thunder, lightning, an earthquake, and billowing clouds of thick smoke accompanied the Old Covenant when it was presented to the people of Israel, we must pay greater attention to the New Covenant that has been delivered by the One who speaks from heaven. This brings us back to the passage that opened the book of Hebrews…

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

So God continues to speak to us today through His Son; therefore, we must ensure that we do not refuse Him. Hebrews 12:15 underscores the critical nature of this directive with the expression, “See to it…” (NIV), a phrase that presents us with an imperative action. This represents more than just a suggestion or a good idea; it implies a mandatory response by the reader.

The author of Hebrews further emphasizes the crucial nature of that response with this reference to an escape. Our author will expand on this idea in the final verses of this chapter, but for now, we might ask, “escape from what?” The Gospel of John presents us with the answer to that question: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).