Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near – Hebrews 10:24-25.
Together to Encourage
Togetherness—for the purpose of encouragement—is a directive of Scripture. In many of the passages he penned, Paul the Apostle speaks of the spiritual gifts and purposes of the church which train up and equip the body of Christ. But here, in verses 24-25 he pushes the point of encouragement for the purposes of sharing love, spiring good deeds, and holding fast to our faith. Verses 26-31 go on to speak of what not holding fast (abandoning) our faith will look like in the coming day of God’s judgement upon the earth. Evidently, some who have heard the Truth, seemingly receiving it, will continue to blatantly sin, taking advantage of grace. These, we are told, will face God’s fierce and terrible wrath.
But from the passage above, encouragement will be important to the body of Christ in the days ahead as we see the day drawing near.
We’ll talk about the day in a moment, but first, let’s look at what the assembling together actually refers to. Some have used these verses to imply that we must be seated, like spectators, in a church pew every Sunday. Considering the context of this chapter in Hebrews, I don’t think this is what Paul had in mind.
Let me explain. If Paul wanted to encourage a body of believers, he only had two earth-bound options. There were no phones, no texting, no internet, no gmail accounts, no zoom meetings. The only way he could communicate with others was to either meet face-to-face or by handwritten letter delivered via human traveler.
A letter written by Paul (and laboriously hand copied once it arrived) couldn’t be blasted to everyone in the church via individual email accounts.
That’s not the case today. Technology allows the assembling together to look very different than it did in Paul’s day.
As well, the historic and budding church of the New Testament operated very differently than most churches today.
In its beginnings, the church was dynamic, never a slave to buildings or debt.
It’s also interesting to note that the original churches were identified by the name of a city or region comprised of the Christian residents of said city or area. Granted, the number of Christians were fewer in those days, but all the Believers within a city were considered to be part of the same body of Christ, so the places and times of meetings were likely fluid, allowing spirited movement within the body. Homes, gardens, and even cemeteries were the locations the church would gather.
Because of restrictions, the body of Christ has new opportunity for spirited movement. We’ve seen evidence of this as the recent pandemic has obliterated the notion that a building constitutes the church. Believers all around the world have been forced to gather in innovative ways. As buildings locked down, smaller groups formed in coffee shops, parks, and online.
I’m totally cool with the new church models developing. As I seek community in new ways, I’ve discovered a world of Christians looking for like-hearted communion and encouragement. For me, denominational rules and regulations have been replaced with a global, Bible-loving community that recognize the sovereign hand of God upon the world, not just the building at the street corner.
Our Take the Hill and other online groups are an example of this. We have women in diverse geographical locations praying for and encouraging each other. This is biblical. Each of us is to fill the role of priest. As Peter writes, the body—both men and women—are royal priests serving and proclaiming the king.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9 ESV
As to his reference about the day, I find it exciting that Paul tells his readers to step up the encouragement as they see the day coming. As has already been discussed, we know the 25th verse speaks of God’s judgement, so the day is a reference to the time when Christ arrives as the Lion of Judah, bringing judgement upon the whole earth. Of course, I believe the rapture of the body of Christ will happen before the second coming, but there’s not doubt, a time of judgement is on approach. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not rejoicing that judgement comes or that humanity has fallen into complete depravity. I’m excited that in His grace and mercy, it’s been made clear—we shall see the prophetic signs of the times promised in both the Old and New Testaments. Paul doesn’t write if you see the day, but when you see the day. It’s understood that Believers will be biblically literate enough to understand the times and to recognize the season of Christ’s return.
Do you see it?
Though no one knows the day or hour of rapture, we can know and see the moment is near.
Again, do you see it?
Then let’s encourage one another all the more. Testify. Sing. Share Scripture. Spir each other on in our services to the King in these last of the last days.
None of this will be easy. We’ll be censored, mocked, and tempted to withdraw from the spotlight of persecution coming upon all who truly follow Christ.
Each of us will need to be courageous—be brave.
Is you scabbard strapped to your hip? Is your sword sharpened?
I am thankful for you.
If I perish, I perish,