Hebrews 10:32, 33

“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.”

     We are encouraged in many scriptures to remember things. We are to remember the LORD and His afflictions, death, burial, and resurrection when we worship, “This do in remembrance of me.” Through his second epistle, Peter writes to help his readers to keep certain things in remembrance. Remembering God, Who He is, and what He has done is vital.

     The author of Hebrews tells his readers to call to remembrance their afflictions. This is not what we want to remember. We would rather forget them. In context, the writer wants them to recall where they had been in their lives. He was concerned that they were in danger of leaving their faith, and returning to previous beliefs. He tells them in verse 35, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.” They were in a position of confidence before God, and he didn’t want them to leave it behind. So, he told them to remember what they had endured when they first trusted in Christ.

     The author speaks of enduring a great fight of afflictions. This is more than snide remarks, but includes the full range of things Christians endure, including ridicule, shunning, torture, and even death. His readers had not yet endured death. But, they had endured a great fight of many other afflictions. The writer tells them that the reason they endured such things was because they were illuminated, or made to see. Using the same word, Paul told the Ephesians 1:18-20, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places…” Their illumination was in the things of God through Christ. And because of this they “…were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions…” and they “… became companions of them that were so used.”

     The term gazingstock has the idea of being on stage. Someone who is on stage is the center of attention. Every action they take is observed and noticed. Everything that happens to them is seen by the audience, and evokes emotion. The Hebrews were put in the position of being gazingstocks because they were followers of the LORD Jesus Christ. Because of their faith in Him, they endured reproaches and afflictions. And, as if they were on stage, everyone knew what they endured. Their situation was known by everyone that watched. And, it was all because they were followers of Jesus Christ.

     At the same time, because they were illuminated, they “…became companions of them that were so used.” The readers of this letter were not the only ones that were paying this price. Everywhere the gospel was preached those who believed endured the ridicule and disdain of those around them. This is true to this very day. In times of trial it is helpful to know that we are not alone. But there is more.

This was exactly what Jesus said would happen. In John 15:18 Jesus told His followers, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” And, in Matthew 5:11, 12, Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” There is reward for the things that are endured for the Lord by His people. The writer wanted his readers to realize that the things they endured would be for God’s glory, and to their eternal benefit.

But, the writer was warning his readers not to turn away from their standing before God through Jesus Christ. Their afflictions were because they were His, and they have the sure and certain hope of spending eternity with Him. Hebrews 10:34 continues, “… knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” God sees and knows what His people endure. Their reward will be great. Trust God!

Blessèd are they that for His sake

Are persecuted and reviled;

Our Savior’s love a Heav’n can make,

When storms of earth are fierce and wild.

O, thoughts of Him who bore the cross,

Should teach our hearts to bear with joy

Their burdens, tho’ in pain and loss,

Whatever ills of earth annoy!

Whatever ills of earth annoy!

Blessèd are they!
Blessèd are they!

 

Blessèd are they that for His sake

Are persecuted and reviled;

May nothing here our courage shake,

While on we bear His yoke so mild.

O, still be faithful to the last,

Untempted e’en amid despair!

Tho’, round the faithful, snares are cast,

Theirs is Heav’n’s kingdom, bright and fair.

Theirs is Heav’n’s kingdom, bright and fair.

Blessèd are they!
Blessèd are they! (George Cooper)

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