ENDURANCE CALL – STAY IN THE RIGHT RACE - Hebrews 12

Tehillim/Psalm 117 “Praise יהוה, all you nations! Extol Him, all you peoples! 2 For His kindness is mighty over us, and the truth of יהוה is everlasting. Praise Yah!

Shabbat Shalom – can you give יהוה praise! His Truth is everlasting and His kindness is mighty over us! Mighty over us – do you see His mighty kindness? This ought to cause us to be consumed with the joy of praising Him. How many of you though find that hard at times? Hard to be giving praise and giving thanks – especially when the battles around you seem to be raging like wild fires out of control and you feel caught right in the middle? Tonight I want us to be encouraged and strengthened – how many of you are facing some tough challenges and you feel drained with little or no fight left in you? Well then listen up for here is a call, a faith call to keep going and in a message tonight called, “Endurance Call – Stay In The Right Race”, may we all be encouraged as we read from Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12.  This is a power packed chapter, and I will be sharing with you a few other Scripture verses as well as some Greek definitions in order to equip you to stay in the running! Stay in the running of the right race and not the rat race, aměn!

(Read – Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12)

There is a race set before us – one that יהוה has clearly laid out for us, yet at the same time the enemy too has devised a counterfeit race in order to trap and enslave the “deaf” – those who are hard of hearing the truth – “the rat race” - that keeps you bound up in endless cycles of worry, struggle and despair as you keep running, so to speak, on the wheel inside a cage with no rest in sight. The right race or the rat race – which one are you running? The theme of Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 12 is of athletics and citizenship combined, and is very important for us in understanding that you can only participate in the ‘right race’ if you are a citizen! We, through the Blood of יהושע have been brought near to the Covenants of promise and are grafted in, becoming citizens of His kingdom – equipped to run as athletes in the right race set before us. The major theme here behind it all is endurance and is the encouragement call to us here tonight. The recipients of this letter were very discouraged and in great despair under the intense persecution of the Roman Empire and were in fact at a place of giving up so to speak and the intention of the writer of this letter was to encourage and strengthen their faith to pay attention to the Truth, hold on and keep running. A theme that is spread right through many letters:

Sha’ul in writing to the Philippians made it clear that he had certainly not arrived yet but continually pressed onward:

Pilipiyim/Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already received, or already been perfected, but I press on, to lay hold of that for which Messiah יהושע has also laid hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not count myself to have laid hold of it yet, but only this: forgetting what is behind and reaching out for what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of Elohim in Messiah יהושע.

This chapter in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews starts with reminding us of what the writer has just so eloquently described in the previous chapter – and that is the great examples of faith that we see in Scripture – well at least some of them as he said that he did not have time to write about all of them. Now since we have so many who have gone before us, so many witnesses – let us be encouraged by the true faith they displayed! The word for witness here is the Greek word μάρτυς - mártus (Strong’s G3144) from which we get our word for ‘martyr’, which is best described as, ‘a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to denounce an adherence to a belief, faith or profession’.

This cloud of witnesses does not mean we have a bunch of people watching us from heaven but rather it is speaking of the witness or testimony of their lives that bear witness to us today, as examples, to teach us to be able to also be equipped to run the right race.

We know that all Scripture is breathed of Elohim and is useful to teach us and the examples we have, as recorded in Scripture, of those men and women who endured in their race of faith ought to encourage us to be able to run with endurance the race set before us – the right race!

But in order to run one needs to make sure that you are not hindered in any way as this will only slow you down and cause you to become weary and even quit! The charge is to run – that is clear – but run free! There is so much that entangles and weighs down that if they are not put off will cause you to struggle in keeping fit for the race!

The Torah of Freedom as Sha’ul calls it – is what we are to run in as we fix our eyes upon יהושע Messiah – The Living Torah:

Ya’aqoḇ/James 1:25 “But he that looked into the perfect Torah, that of freedom, and continues in it, not becoming a hearer that forgets, but a doer of work, this one shall be blessed in his doing of the Torah.

He came to set the captives free – free from the rat races of man-made rules and traditions that only lead to lawless living and a weighed down lifestyle. Our true race is running with great freedom in the Torah – the Way!

To run free we must:

1 – LAY ASIDE EVERY WEIGHT AND SIN

Weight’ in the Greek here is ὄγκος - ogkos/ongkos (Strong’s G3591) and translates as a ‘weight/ mass/burden/impediment and a tumor’. It is from this Greek word that we get our English word, oncology, which is the ‘study of tumors’, or rather the ‘study of cancer’. Tumors kill you, Cancer kills you – you have to lay aside all that will kill you!

‘Sin’ in the Greek here is ἁμαρτία - hamartia (Strong’s G266) which is ‘sin/ or to miss the mark/ to miss or wander from the path of uprightness/to violate the law of Elohim in thought or in action

Lay aside the weights that kill and the sin that entangles – sin is lawlessness – that is to be without law! It is this ‘lawless’ mind-set that so easily entangles people, hindering their running of the right race – in fact the lawlessness of man-made dogmas and traditions are placed upon recipients as law – as binding rules – that only weigh down upon them a heavy yoke that is nothing less than cancerous and is killing so many! Let me ask you at this point – what ‘yokes of tradition’ or what weights of man-made rules, catechisms and oral laws or false grace teachings need to be stripped and removed from your life? What lawless thinking needs to be laid aside? In order to run effectively in the Torah of Freedom – we have to look intently into the Word and strip away those things that should not be there! So many today are caught in the ‘web’ of deception which is cleverly smoke screened by traditions - and very ‘feel-good’ traditions at that as well. Interestingly the writer here is referring to ‘the’ sin that easily entangles as he is clearly referring to unbelief – or better put for us today as faith without works! Many say that have faith – yet their lawless deeds expose them as faithless – that is those who do not do what the Word that builds faith tells them to do! It was this lawless faith that kept Yisra’ĕl from entering in to the Promised Land and will keep many today out of His Promises too! Belief/Faith is used 25 times in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 11 – that ought to tell you a whole lot – as the Word says “without faith we cannot please Elohim” – and that is speaking of a working faith – not just a saying of, “Oh I believe” yet do not do what the Word says – even the demons believe and they tremble and shudder! We are to be F.I.T. = Faith In Transit – that is that our active faith must be in motion – in transit, moving steadily forward and not a dead or stagnant faith! – Are you running F.I.T.?

So we need to throw off lawlessness – all that lawless teaching that has entangled us for centuries – there is a lot to unravel and get rid of – (it is kind of like a messed up ball of fabric that needs to be unravelled).

Lay aside lawless living and run in the perfect Torah, having thrown off all the cancerous weights – some of those weights or cancerous killers that need to be laid aside are:

A – WORRY – worries of life – such as anxieties, concerns, fear of failure, lack of peace, disturbed and agitated – come on how many of you find yourself worrying at times? Worry is a weight that must be let go of as you place your complete trust in יהושע Messiah. What does Scripture say concerning worry?

Mattithyahu/Matthew 6:25 “Because of this I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you shall eat or drink, or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than the food and the body more than the clothing?

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 12:25 “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes him glad.

Pilipiyim/Philippians 4:6 “Do not worry at all, but in every matter, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to Elohim.

Yoḥanan/John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you – My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

B – DISCOURAGEMENT – To be troubled as a result of being deprived of courage and confidence and dissuaded from doing the truth. King Sha’ul had an evil spirit trouble him when the Spirit of יהוה had left him (Shemuʼĕl Aleph/1 Samuel 16:14). In writing to the very discouraged believers in Galatia, Sha’ul asked them a pertinent question:

Galatiyim/Galatians 5:7 “You were running well, who held you back from obeying the truth?

That question is still relevant to many today – “You have been running well, who is holding you back from obedience to the Torah?” – Is it a friend or family member that is discouraging you from running the right race, simply because they refuse to? Discouragement is a killer and will cause you to stop running in the truth.

Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in יהוה, and whose trust is יהוה.

C – LUSTto lust something is to have an intense desire or craving for something (especially for what is forbidden) for self and is flesh driven toward the need for attaining it no matter the cost. We are to put off the lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes and the pride of life:

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:16 “Because all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.

Running the right race must throw off that which is not of the Father!

Throw off every weight and all the sin/lawlessness and meditate on the rules of the race so that you will not grow weary or faint:

Yehoshua/Joshua 1:7-9 Only be strong and very courageous, to guard to do according to all the Torah which Mosheh My servant commanded you. Do not turn from it right or left, so that you act wisely wherever you go. 8 “Do not let this Book of the Torah depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you guard to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and act wisely. 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, nor be discouraged, for יהוה your Elohim is with you wherever you go.

2 – LOOKING TO THE PRINCE AND PERFECTER

Not turning to the right or to the left – that can only mean one thing – straight ahead – looking to the Prince and Perfecter of our belief!  “Eyes front!” In other words – almost a military type command that requires strict adherence to the instructions of the commanding officer.

Looking’ is the Greek word ἀφοράω - aphorao (Strong’s G872) and means ‘to look/ to turn eyes away from all other things and fix them on something’, metaphorically speaking it means ‘to fix the mind upon/ give full attention/ looking intently upon/ to take heed’.

Looking to/fixing eyes upon – giving full attention to – turning eyes away from ALL other things and fixing them on יהושע Messiah – The Prince and Perfecter of our faith – we cannot do that if there are cancerous weights and lawless style living going on in our lives!

The two words used here for our Messiah are:

Prince’ - ἀρχηγός  - archēgos (Strong’s G747) – translates as ‘prince, captain, chief leader and author’ and describes ‘one that takes the lead in anything and thus affords an example, a predecessor in a matter, pioneer’.

Perfecter’ - τελειωτής  - teleiōtēs (Strong’s G5051) – this is the only place this Greek word and denotes a ‘finisher, completer, perfecter’ and describes ‘one who has in his own person raised faith to its perfection and so set before us the highest example of faith’. This is a description given only to יהושע Messiah who has become the supreme model for us to follow – Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:6 “The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked.

He is the Way, the Truth and the Life – He is the one who we follow after and fix our eyes upon. Torah in its root form simply means ‘to aim in the right direction and move in that direction’ – so when we are ‘looking to the Prince and Perfecter of our belief’ we are in fact aiming to run in the Torah of Freedom, following His example – who endured the stake – the ultimate in endurance – and as we are looking to Him it is speaking of a continuous active faith – not a single act! יהושע knew that He would come out of the tomb alive – the joy that was set before Him – He fulfilled His purpose as He looked forward to the future hope that in Him is yes and aměn! There is a constant theme of future hope in the letter of Hebrews, as the writer was encouraging the believers to not look back, which they were prone to doing, but rather to look forward and follow יהושע, looking ahead by faith!

Having thrown off weights and sin and fixed eyes upon יהושע we must RUN THE RACE:

3 – LET US RUN

Run’ – the Greek Word – τρέχω - trechō (Strong’s G5143) – ‘run, exert oneself, strive hard, spend one’s strength in performing or attaining something’ and is a present continuous duty – that means it does not stop! You cannot say that you have now finished and reached your goal. This running is also a personal responsibility – you have to run your own race – nobody else can run it for you. This word for run/running also means to advance quickly in a military context and denotes the objective of our spiritual walk/race – which is to overcome obstacles for the sake of advancement unto spiritual maturity. Running with endurance is literally a persistent movement toward that spiritual maturity.

At this point let me ask you how you are doing in the race set before you? Are you growing in maturity or do you lack endurance as those weights and sin are slowing you down causing you to lose focus? Run the right race – stay in the race is the call to all believers!

As we look unto יהושע and have our eyes set on the future hope, what will cause us to ‘finish strong’? Well let’s briefly look at the “do’s and don’ts” for running well, bearing in mind that in the race there are rules and each runner will be disciplined if they step out of line and run not according to the rules – that is the very Torah of Elohim – The Father does this because He loves us and wants us to finish strong!

The Do’s:

1 – STRENGTHEN (v12)

Verse 12 tells us to ‘strengthen’ the hands which hang down and the weak knees. This is a call to renew spiritual vitality! You want to run with endurance then you need to strengthen the weak!

Strengthen’ -  ἀνορθόω - anorthoō (Strong’s G461) – ‘to make straight or upright again, lift up, restore, strengthen’. It is time to make straight that which has been twisted and caused to become weakened!!! This is written in the ‘plural imperative’ which simply means that this requires a joint effort. We need to strengthen one another – our hands are to be raised in worship – Sha’ul tells us that he wants men everywhere to lift up their hands in praise – weakened hands are symbolic of burdened and heavy hands as the yoke of slavery to traditions and rat race dogmas has weighed them down and each one of us has a part to play in lifting each other up – strengthen the hands – strengthening the work of doing His Word with great joy! This wording used here makes me remember the account of Mosheh when his hands grew tired and heavy and Aharon and Ḥur held up his hands all day and Yehoshua won the battle against Amalĕq that day! (Shemoth/Exodus 17:1-12)

There is no place for ‘lone rangers’ in the body – we are to strengthen each other and realise that you cannot do it alone – you will need the strengthening of others! This concept of helping each other is right through Ibrim/Hebrews:

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 3:13 “but encourage one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened by the deceivableness of sin.

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us be concerned for one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging, and so much more as you see the Day coming near

2 – STRAIGHTEN YOUR PATH (V13)

Simply put this means what it says – make your paths straight – do not walk in crooked ways any longer –and stay in your lane! Watch out for the influence of others and at the same time do not be a stumbling block to others by walking ‘crooked paths’ of compromise and lawlessness! Make your way straight – that is to walk in the only straight way – the way of righteousness – which is to guard to do all that Elohim commands – and His commands are not heavy that they should weigh us down but are light that we can run in them! Our paths must be straight or else the ‘lame’ will be turned aside and affected – the lame need to be healed. Who are the lame? They are the ones, spiritually speaking, on the side-lines looking on – the ‘crippled or dislocated’ – their walk has been crippled by sin and heavy weights that has buckled them under pressure and they watch the straight! If our paths are crooked then they who are ‘lame’ in the Word are in great danger of continually tripping never having their knees strong enough or healed to walk and run in the race! Make your path straight – the lane of righteous living is straight according to the Word – do not turn to the left or right trying to compromise or take shortcuts – people are always watching you whether you like to believe it or not. Does your walk line up with your straight talk? Listen to a couple of Proverbs on the ‘straight way’:

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 2:21-22 “For the straight shall dwell in the earth, and the perfect be left in it; 22 But the wrong shall be cut off from the earth, and the treacherous ones plucked out of it.

Who is staying and who is going????

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 11:5-6 “The righteousness of the perfect Makes his way straight, but by his own wrongness the wrong one falls. 6 The righteousness of the straight ones delivers them, but the treacherous are caught by greed.

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 15:8 “The slaughtering of the wrong ones is an abomination to יהוה, but the prayer of the straight is His delight.

Mishlĕ/Proverbs 29:27 “An unrighteous man is an abomination to the righteous, and he who is straight in the way is an abomination to the wrong.

Just realise that walking a straight path goes against the world’s ways, against the rat race of the world, and know that by walking straight you will be an abomination to the wrong and at the same time their ways must also be an abomination to us or else our straight walk will be hindered!

3 – PURSUE PEACE AND APARTNESS

We are told that if at possible be at peace with all men (Rom 12:18), and this is not always possible as it is a two way street – however we must do what know to do as we walk in the straightway, walking in peace. Romiyim/Romans 14:17 tells us that the reign of Elohim is righteousness, peace and joy in the Set-Apart Spirit. True peace is the result of righteous living under the reign of our Master – when we walk straight we have peace with Elohim and this brings forth great joy that strengthens us to continue – the peace we are to have is not a ‘hippie feeling’ – it is a result of righteous living, knowing that in Messiah we have peace with Elohim – now let us walk in it and pursue it with our all. We are also to pursue apartness – that is to be set-apart as He is set-apart. Without apartness we will not see the Master!!!

Qorintiyim Bet/2 Corinthians 7:1 “Having, then, these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and spirit, perfecting set-apartness in the fear of Elohim.

Are you pursuing peace with all, and apartness? Or is your race lacking effort and pure hunger for righteousness as the things of the world have your attention and drawn your eyes away from the Master?

Strengthen, straighten and pursue – the do’s of the race!

The Don’ts

1 – DON’T FALL SHORT OF HIS FAVOUR

In fact we all have a responsibility – to see to it that no one falls short of the favour – this word for ‘see to it’ is the same word used for overseer, yet here it is speaking not only of some but all of us must look out for each other – as we all run together side by side, lane by lane! Don’t fall short of His favour by purposefully sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth – warn each other and encourage each other – lift each other up – hold each other up in prayer!

2 – DON’T LET BITTERNESS DEVELOP

Harbouring unforgiveness will cause the root of bitterness to rise up and so we cannot hold grudges – forgive those who have wronged you – if you don’t you will not run well!

3 – DON’T DESPISE THE THINGS OF ELOHIM

Esau was a fornicator and profane – that is he whored after the world, and despised the righteousness of Elohim and brought profane worship before Elohim. Profane worship – that is strange fire or mixed worship. We see this so much today and this is a big “don’t” in the running of the right race! Esau wanted the blessing, even sought it with tears yet would not repent of his adulteries and profanity. Those who refuse to come out of Babylon – who refuse to come out of Christianity with all its profane worship styles – may even seek the blessings with much tears – but what they do not realise is that they are selling their birth right – that is to become children of the Most High Elohim – for a ‘single meal’. How many today will you find being sold out to a single meal of a tickling ear message of a false grace and prosperity message? It is killing them yet they fornicate themselves with the twisted lies of profane worship as they despise the Torah of the Living Elohim – Do not despise the things of Elohim!

Many believers today are no different to the world, as they lie, cheat, steal and are bitter, grumble and moan just as the world does – and they think they are running a good race – how about you?

Christianity as well as many other man-made religions in all its forms is simply worldliness dressed in a muddied robe of presumed righteousness, and worldliness is a preoccupation with ease and elevates comfort to the point of idolatry. Worldliness seeks only after self – chasing the large salaries and comfortable lifestyles that become the argued necessities of life.

Worldliness is reading all the latest gossip magazines of the rich and famous and aspiring to be like them – how about simply reading Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 11 and desire to be like them!!! Worldliness despises the things of Elohim – do not get trapped into worldliness!

Our Elohim is a consuming fire – may we truly take heed of the instructions and commands written herein so that we can be found to be running with endurance the right race set before us and escape the rat race of destruction!

Are there weights you need to get rid of – lawless living that you need to lay aside? Do it right now - Do it and start running with eyes front, not looking back and allow the love of the Father to discipline you when necessary that we bear the fruit of righteous living having been trained by His instructions as to how to run the right race. This is an endurance all – it is not time to sigh or give up – but stand up, be strengthened, make straight your paths and run – run like you have never run before and do not stop -  run with all you can – and stay in the race.

What race have you been running – the Right Race or a rat race of sorts?

Our Prince and Perfecter has given us the straight and narrow way – few find it – praise יהוה that He has caused us to find it – let’s run in it together – side by side – for His kindness is mighty over us and His truth everlasting, now serve Him pleasingly with reverence and awe – praise יהוה!

He has equipped us with the ‘right’ gear to run the ‘right’ race unhindered – Now RUN WILL YOU! This here tonight in a sense may be a kind of ‘pit stop’ of sorts in order to be refuelled in your faith – So now will you get up and run and run the right race – this is an endurance call – do you hear it? We are not of those who shrink back – but rather we keep on keeping on – in the Truth in the right race of the narrow way – running in the Torah of Freedom with our eyes fixed on the Perfecter and Prince of our faith – keep running…

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and give you favour; יהוה lift up his face toward you and give you peace…

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