Hebrews 10:36

Among the sad things that people have observed in this life is the maxim,

"Few great men finish well."

Some of the notable men in the Bible didn't finish well. King Saul is but one example. His reign started with such promise. He was so magnanimous with the men who grumbled against him when he first became king. Those troublemakers said, (1 Samuel 10:27, 11:12)

"How can this fellow save us?"

"Shall Saul reign over us?"

They despised him and didn't bring any gifts.

Later, when Saul had won a great victory over the Ammonites and saved the city of Jabesh Gilead, many of the people wanted to put the men who had despised Saul to death. But Saul said, (1 Samuel 11:13)

"No one shall be put to death today,
for this day the Lord has rescued Israel."

What a great start Saul made.

But what a horrible end. He later disobeyed the Lord and the Lord told him that He was going to take the kingdom from him. Saul became jealous of David and tried to kill him. He killed the priests of the Lord at Nob. At the beginning of his reign Saul wouldn't put the men who despised him to death, but later on he had no qualms about trying to kill David, who meant him no harm. He had no qualms about killing the Lord's priests. Still later Saul refused to seek counsel from the Lord and instead consulted the witch of Endor. Saul perished at the hands of the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. He was fatally wounded but still alive. He begged a foreigner to put an end to him. Later, when the Philistines found his body, they desecrated his body. They cut his head off and hung his body on the wall of Beth Shan. What an ignoble end.

King Asa was also like that. His reign began so well. 2 Chronicles 15 tells us he trusted in God did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He removed the detestable idols from the land and repaired the altar of the Lord. He led the people in renewing the covenant and encouraged them in the worship of the Lord. When Zerah the Cushite marched out against him with a great force, Asa asked the Lord for help and the Lord delivered him.

But the end of his reign wasn't like that. In the 36
th year of Asa's reign, Baasha, the king of Israel moved against him. Rather than relying on God, Asa took silver and gold from the Lord's treasuries and sent them to Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, asking him for help. When the Lord rebuked him through Hanani the seer, Asa put Hanani in prison. He then started oppressing the people. The Lord afflicted him with a disease in his feet. But even then he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from his doctors. What an dishonorable end.

King Joash was also like that. He became king when he was 7 years old. At first he was a great king. Under the direction of the priest Jehoiada he restored the temple of the Lord. It was a glorious time. But the sad thing about Joash was that he only followed the Lord why the priest Jehoiada was alive. 2 Chronicles 24:2 says

"Joash did what was right
in the eyes of the Lord
all the years of Jehoiada the priest."

The king who as faithful as long as Jehoiada lived. We read, (2 Chronicles 24:17–22)

"After the death of Jehoiada,
the officials of Judah came
and paid homage to the king,
and he listened to them.
They abandoned the temple of the Lord,
the God of their fathers,
and worshiped Asherah poles and idols.
Because of their guilt,
God's anger came
upon Judah and Jerusalem.
Although the Lord sent prophets
to the people to bring them back to him,
and though they testified against them,
they would not listen.
Then the Spirit of God
came upon Zechariah
son of Jehoiada the priest.
He stood before the people and said,
'This is what God says:
'Why do you disobey the Lord's commands?
You will not prosper.
Because you have forsaken the Lord,
he has forsaken you.'
But they plotted against him,
and by order of the king they stoned him
to death in the courtyard
of the Lord's temple.
King Joash did not remember
the kindness Zechariah's father Jehoiada
had shown him but killed his son,
who said as he lay dying,
'May the Lord see this
and call you to account."

Shortly after that the army of Aram came and attacked Judah. Although they only had a few men they defeated the men of Judah. King Joash was wounded and to placate the King of Aram he took all the sacred objects and gold in the temple of the Lord and gave them to Hazael, King of Aram. The Arameans withdrew. After that Joash's officials conspired against him and killed him in his bed. What an horrific end.

The great truth we see in our text is that

we need to persevere in the faith.

It's not enough to begin well. It's not enough to start well and continue well for many years—we must persevere in the Christian life. Our text says, (Hebrews 10:36)

"You need to persevere
so that when you have
done the will of God,
you will receive what he has promised."

The context here, verses 37-39 make it clear that we must persevere. It says,

"For in just a very little while,
'He who is coming will come
and will not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.'
But we are not of those
who shrink back and are destroyed,
but of those who believe and are saved."

Many other places in Scripture warn us that we have to persevere. In Matthew 10:22 Jesus said,

"All men will hate you because of me,
but he who stands firm to the end
will be saved."

And in Revelation 2:26 Jesus said to the church at Thyatira,

"To him who overcomes
and does my will to the end,
I will give authority over the nations"

We dare not be like the rocky soil or the soil among the thorns in the Parable of the Sower. Jesus said, (Matthew 13:5–8)

"Some fell on rocky places,
where it did not have much soil.
It sprang up quickly,
because the soil was shallow.
But when the sun came up,
the plants were scorched,
and they withered because they had no root.
Other seed fell among thorns,
which grew up and choked the plants."

What does it mean to persevere?

The Greek word used here refers to, ("ὑπομονή," BDAG, 1039)

"the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty…"

In our text perseverance, endurance is contrasted with shrinking back. R.C.H. Lenski says that perseverance is, (Hebrews and James, p. 368)

"bravely remaining under a load and holding out. That is exactly what the readers need; having this virtue, they will not let continued affliction induce them to throw away their assurance and to think of turning from Christ because of persecution in order to seek ease and safety in the old Judaism."

Years ago I used to watch the TV show 24. But one of the things I quickly tired of were situations where someone good in the show was forced to do something wrong because the bad guys had kidnapped someone close to them. It was a theme of the show. The bad guys could force good people to do evil, at least for a little while. If my memory is correct, the show knew nothing about continuing to do good no matter what the circumstances.

The Holy Spirit here tells us that we need to stand firm, hold our ground on matter—in the face of great suffering, in the face of insults and persecution, in face of the loss of your property. You are to persevere even if you are threatened with death. In Revelation 2:10 Jesus said to the church in Smyrna,

"Do not be afraid of what
you are about to suffer.
I tell you,
the devil will put some of you
in prison to test you, and you
will suffer persecution for ten days.
Be faithful,
even to the point of death,
and I will give you the crown of life."

Just a few verses later He said to the church in Pergamum, (Revelation 2:13)

"I know where you live—
where Satan has his throne.
Yet you remain true to my name.
You did not renounce your faith in me,
even in the days of Antipas,
my faithful witness,
who was put to death in your city—
where Satan lives."

Perseverance is to be practiced even in the most extreme circumstances. There is no excuse for not persevering.

There are three particular things that our text teaches us about perseverance.

The first is that if you are going to persevere

you must hold on to your confidence.

Verse 35 says,

"So do not throw away your confidence;
it will be richly rewarded."

The idea here is, ("παρρησία," BDAG, 781)

"of boldness and confidence, courage, confidence, boldness, fearlessness,"

In the book of Acts we see that Christians were bold in proclaiming the gospel, bold in continuing to proclaim in even when they were threatened, beaten and faced death.

If you analyze some of the times when Christians have sinned you'll find that sometimes fear played a factor. I think it was a factor in Peter's denials of Jesus. Jesus doesn't want us to be afraid. In Matthew 10:28 He said,

"Do not be afraid of those
who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul."

Instead of fear, we need confidence, boldness. We need to be absolutely convinced that we can stand. In his commentary on Hebrews R. Kent Hughes writes, (Hebrews Volume 2: Crossway Books, 1993), 54-55)

"We have all heard of the famous high-wire aerialists the Flying Wallendas, and about the tragic death of their leader, the great Karl Wallenda, in 1978. Shortly after the great Wallenda fell to his death (traversing a seventy-five-foot high-wire in downtown San Juan, Puerto Rico), his wife, also an aerialist, discussed that fateful San Juan walk. She recalled: 'All Karl thought about for three straight months prior to it was falling. It was the first time he'd ever thought about that, and it seemed to me that he put all his energies into not falling rather than walking the tightrope.' Mrs. Wallenda added that her husband even went so far as to personally supervise the installation of the tightrope, making certain the guy wires were secure, 'something he had never even thought of doing before.' Wallenda's loss of confidence portended and even contributed to his death, though his past performances gave him every reason to be confident.Spiritually, no true Christian has to surrender to the 'Wallenda factor' because our confidence rests not on ourselves but on God."

Secondly, our text shows us that

perseverance is that is tied to doing the will of God.

There is a close relationship in our text between perseverance and obedience. Our text says,

"You need to persevere
so that when you have
done the will of God,
you will receive what he has promised."

Perseverance, by it's very definition in our text, means doing the will of God. If you stop obeying God, by definition you have stopped persevering. William L. Lane, Hebrews 9–13, WBC 47B; p. 302)

"The necessity for ὑπομονή is linked to the accomplishment of the will of God. This suggests that the measure of endurance is obedience to God."

One of the characteristics of our age is that some professing Christians have stopped doing the will of God. They have redefined sin and embraced some behaviors that God's Word calls sin. They are not persevering. They have abandoned the faith. They deny that. But that's the reality. As the apostle Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16,

"Watch your life and doctrine closely.
Persevere in them,
because if you do,
you will save both yourself
and your hearers."

Paul told Timothy he had to watch his doctrine or teaching. If Timothy didn't persevere in the teaching that was handed down to him he would not be saved.


The reward for perseverance is great.

Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Baker New Testament Commentary; (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1984), 302.

"The expression promise is a key word in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It stands for forgiveness of sins, in terms of the new covenant, but especially for complete salvation in Jesus Christ."

Don't lose heart. Don't be afraid of the opposition.