Ezekiel 31:1-18; Hebrews 12:14-24; Psalms 111:5-10; Proverbs 24:9-10
NT: “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord. Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many. And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal. For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, even though he sought it with tears, because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance. For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm, to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words… Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:14-19a, 22-24 CSB)
The goal and the expectation of our race of faith is to pursue peace with all men, and holiness before the Lord. That would also be a benefit of remaining in the race, and not giving up when things get hard. It is interesting that Christ was made our Great High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means king of righteousness, and the title given to Melchizedek was King of Salem (peace). Jesus fulfilled all righteousness and provides peace with God and peace with one another. Through Him we are made holy and righteous before God. As we run our race, we are able to pursue peace with everyone and holiness before God by primarily pursuing Jesus. The only way to truly live at peace with everyone and live a life of holiness before God is by grace. Grace comes through faith as we keep our eyes on Jesus who is both the author and the finisher of our faith.
Winning the prize is possible, but it is only possible by grace – which is why the writer of Hebrews exhorted the reader to make sure they didn’t fall short of the grace of God. God’s grace doesn’t fail, but we can fail to take full advantage of it. How do we fail to take advantage of it? The writer used Esau as an example. This particular translation of the Bible says that Esau was an immoral and irreverent man. The Greek word for immoral is ‘pornos,’ where we get the word pornography. The word for irreverent refers to being godless and profane. Basically, Esau had no desire for godliness. He was ruled by the desires and appetites of his flesh. He had no regard for the promises of God and did not respect his role of being the elder son and heir, and responsibility that role brought. He was willing to sell his birthright and the honor of carrying the promise of God to the next generation for a bowl of stew. He wanted the benefits of his birthright without the responsibility. When he realized his loss, he was upset – but only because it was a loss to him and what he could get. Instead of humbling himself and acknowledging his mistake, he became angry and bitter. All of those are things that can cause us to fall short of God’s grace. When we choose to pursue lesser things than the upward call of Christ, we can fall short of the grace of God. When we allow our lives to become defiled by unconfessed and unrepented sin, we can fall short of the grace of God. When we allow our lives to become consumed with bitterness, either against other people or against God, we can fall short of the grace of God. When we treat the things of God casually or treat Christ’s sacrifice as a common thing, we can fall short of the grace of God.
Unlike the children of Israel who stood at the food of Mount Sinai, we have been given the privilege of coming before the spiritual and true Mount Zion, the dwelling place of God. We are no longer relegated to approaching a physical temple to offer insufficient sacrifices. We can now boldly enter the very throne room of God through the once-and-for-all perfect and sufficient sacrifice of Christ. What we have now pales in comparison to what was available in the first covenant. Let us ascribe to all that Christ has accomplished, the worth that it is due. Let us not treat what we have been provided with casual disdain and entitlement, but instead pursue them it all our lives and reap the benefits of the manifold grace of God.
Psalms: “He has provided food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works by giving them the inheritance of the nations. The works of his hands are truth and justice; all his instructions are trustworthy. They are established forever and ever, enacted in truth and in uprightness. He has sent redemption to his people. He has ordained his covenant forever. His name is holy and awe-inspiring. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.” (Psalms 111:5-10 CSB)
This phrase, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” could be translated in this way: Wisdom is the first fruits of appropriately respecting and revering the Lord God… implying that more good things will come as you continue pursuing the Lord in faith. Following His instructions and obeying His commands gives us good understanding and insight. Esau fell short in both categories (fearing the Lord and obeying His words), therefore he fell short of the blessing and grace of God. When you love what God loves and give Him the glory that is due His name, you get what He has and get to experience the goodness of who He is.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the grace that is available to me through faith in You. It is by no means a common thing. Help me to not become so familiar with Your abundant grace that I begin to take it for granted and not give it the worth it is due. Help me to not fall short in anything You have provided as I lay aside the weight and sin, and follow You completely. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.