In the Tribulation, people must endure to the end to be saved, Matt 24:13, Heb 3:6, 14. In Heb 12:1-17, Paul lists several duties of Tribulation saints to help them endure to the end. We’ll study these duties of Tribulation saints today. Tribulation saints must:
Lay aside every weight and besetting sin, v.1.
Paul starts this passage in v.1, by instructing them to lay aside every weight and besetting sin. The Tribulation saints are going to have to “travel” light like the disciples did, Matt 24:16-18. They must lose their life to save it, Matt 16:24-26. Furthermore, they must lay aside the sins that beset (trouble and harass) them. It is essential that they “do” righteousness, as 1 Jn 3:7 says. Their salvation combines faith in Christ (faith like the great cloud of witnesses in Heb 11) with doing righteousness, Rev 14:12.
Run the race with patience, v.1.
Paul encourages the saints to run with patience the race that is set before them. It’s going to take a lot of patience to endure to the end everything they are going to face during the Tribulation. See Jas 5:7-11. They’ll be tempted to quit before the end.
Look unto Jesus, v.2-4.
So, Paul exhorts them to look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus endured the cross. He despised the shame. He endured the contradiction of sinners against himself. His example can help to keep them from becoming weary and from fainting in their minds.
Jesus “resisted unto blood”. He sweat “as it were great drops of blood” in Gethsemane, Lk 22:44. He was beaten bloody beyond recognition by the time he was crucified, Is 52:14. And yet Jesus didn’t quit until he could say, “It is finished”, Jn 19:30.
Likewise, Tribulation saints will have to resist the sin of denying Jesus, for example, even at the risk of shedding their own blood, Rev 6:9-10; Rev 2:10; 20:4. They cannot quit enduring when they are tried, 1 Pet 4:12-14. This is one of their main duties in the Tribulation.
Endure the chastening of the Lord, v.5-11.
Paul quotes Prov 3:11-12 to exhort the Tribulation saints to endure the Lord’s chastening. Like fathers chasten their sons because they love them, so the Lord rebukes and chastens his sons whom he loves. A person who is not chastened is not a son.
As an example the Lord’s chastening in the Tribulation, the Lord rebuked most of the churches in Rev 2 and 3. He said to the church of the Laodiceans, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”, Rev 3:19.
We reverenced our earthly fathers who chastened us. Much more we should be in subjection to God. Our earthly fathers chastened after their own pleasure; God chastens us for our profit, though chastening is grievous.
Tribulation saints must endure the chastening of the Lord, for it is intended to help them. Through chastening, they will partake of his holiness and chastening will help them yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness, v.10-11.
Help and love each other, v.12-14.
See 1 Jn 3:14-18. See Jas 2:13-17. They are commanded, like Jesus commanded his disciples, Jn 13:34-35, to love their brethren and to help them when they are in need. This is also one of the principal duties of Tribulation saints.
They must keep the lame from being turned out of the way. And they must follow peace and holiness with all men, or they won’t see the Lord, as in Matt 5:8. “See the Lord” is likely a reference to the rapture of the Tribulation saints, Rev 7:9-14.
Look out diligently for the following, v.15-17.
Failing from the grace of God. The grace of God will strengthen them so they can endure to the end. If they fail of the grace of God, they won’t be able to endure.
Letting a root of bitterness spring up. Bitterness could cause them to get mad at God for leaving them to endure such difficult things in the Tribulation and for not stopping their suffering. See Ps 44:9-26; 42:5-11. Many could be defiled by one person getting bitter. Others might be inclined to turn their back on God.
Losing their inheritance because of sin. They must resist sins like fornication and profanity by which they could lose eternal life. And they must suffer through hunger. Esau sold his birthright for one morsel of meat. Tribulation saints are going to be hungrier than that, Rev 7:16. But if they take the mark of the beast so they can buy and sell, Rev 13:16-17, and, therefore, eat, they will be rejected like Esau was. And, like Esau, there will be no place of repentance, Heb 6:4-6.