January 28, 2007
"Looking diligently (1) lest any man fail of the grace of God;
(2) lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (3) lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright..." (Hebrews 12:15-16). Earlier we were told to "look unto Jesus," the Leader and Perfecter of faith, and also to "consider well Him," paying close attention to Him and how He ran the race. Now we are cautioned to "look diligently" and given three cautions how to avoid potholes in our paths which can disqualify runners.
To "fail of the grace of God" does not mean to "fall from grace." It means to fail to appropriate and appreciate God's gracious provisions. Israel's record gives examples of this failure. In the matter of the Manna they broke all the rules by keeping it overnight and going out to get it on the Sabbath day (Ex. 16). When encamped at Marah the water was unfit to drink. They "murmured against Moses" and despised God's chastening. They had no "peaceable fruits of righteousness" for the lesson was repeated at Massah and Meribah. This time it was worse for they accused Moses of trying to "kill them and their children with thirst" (Ex. 15:23; 17:1-7).
As to a "root of bitterness springing up," Moses had warned Israel "...lest there should be among you...a root that bears gall and wormwood..." (Dt. 29:18) and Amos scolded them later, "you have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock (bitterness)" (6:12).
Esau, Jacob's brother, being born first, had the privilege of birthright but bartered this greatest of all possessions for a "morsel of meat." For present ease he lost future treasure, supposing he would die without it. He further disqualified himself for God's blessing for "Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan (Hittites) pleased not Isaac his father...took...the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife" (Gen.27:46– 28:9). Those "in the flesh" cannot please God, then or now!
"No chastening for the present seems to be joyful, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet." We are to be a pattern to others. It was not pride but the assurance that he pleased God that led Paul to write, "walk...as ye have us for an example" (Phil. 3:18).
Ivan L. Burgener