Let Brotherly Love Continue
We have arrived at the final chapter of the Preacher’s sermon to the Hebrews. In short, we have learned of our Lord’s high priestly ministry at the Father’s right hand, how he has gone into the true tent not made with hands with his own blood, and how he has done this not as an angel but as the Son of God who became the Son of Man while remaining the Son of God, and all for the purpose of offering himself on our behalf, the sinless one for the sinful ones. All of this was planned from the beginning, the Old Testament saints prophesying and looking forward to the eternal city which we shall one day share with them. In the meantime, they cheer us on the way; and we, with every reason to run the race set before us are called to persevere even in—and especially in—the face of persecution.
So as is customary and like others, the Preacher closes with a few words of exhortation. The first six verses may be included under the heading: Let brotherly love continue. And how is this realized? 1) Showing hospitality to strangers. Hospitality was a huge value in the ancient world among pagans as well as Christians, and one that I fear has fallen on hard times among Christians in our day. We must learn to be neighbors again. And, the Preacher adds, “Some have entertained angels unawares” (e.g., Abraham, Lot, and Samson’s parents, to name a few). 2) We are to remember those who are in prison and mistreated knowing full well that we may be there one day if persecution ever rears its ugly head in America. 3) We are never to defraud anyone by taking their spouse and defiling the marriage bed; it is a most egregious form of treachery and one that destroys the wrongdoers even more than the victims. The Preacher warns that God will judge such people, and that alone should be enough to send chills down one’s spine. 4) And finally we are to keep ourselves free from the love of money and be content. Those who love money cannot help but hurt others as they scrap for every penny they can find and then tighten their fist when others around them need their generosity. Instead, we are to remind ourselves that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Joshua 1:5), and that there is nothing man can do to us that will ultimately separate us from Him.
Hospitality, intercessory prayer and visitation, chastity, and generosity—these are forms of brotherly love that never go out of style and are sorely lacking today. “Is this not the fast I choose…to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house…Then shall your light break forth like the dawn” (Isaiah 58:6-12).