‘Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away…’ Hebrews 2:1
When I was a teenager, our family rented a camp (our version of a chalet) on a lake for a week. I took the rowboat out fishing one afternoon and, when I came back, I nonchalantly tied a knot, mooring it to the dock.
A violent storm ensued that night while we slept, and in the morning the boat was gone. We circled the lake only to find it on the distant shore. Safe to say, I’ve never tied a casual knot since!
The book of Hebrews was addressed to Christians of Jewish heritage. The circumstances that swept them into the Kingdom were spectacular.
There were powerful outpourings of the Holy Spirit, thousands saved in a single day, extraordinary miracles, even occasional sightings of the Risen Christ. They were hot for God!
When troubles came, even ‘great struggles with sufferings’ (Hebrews 10:32), they were undaunted, even to the point of ‘joyfully accept[ing] the plundering’ of their possessions (Hebrews 10:34).
Over time, these same disciples discovered they could avoid lots of hassles and stress by hiding behind their Jewish cloaks. Although they still ‘believed’ in Jesus as their Messiah, their submission to Him as Lord teetered on the waves of near-constant storms of opposition.
They forsook regular gatherings with Christians, choosing rather to blend in with those who went to the synagogue. They no longer exhorted each other daily as before.
The writer warns these Hebrew Christians of floating away from Christ, using a Greek word that describes situations like what happened to my rowboat. The water’s incessant rocking exposed the weakness of my willy-nilly knot.
Similarly, relentless pressure unmoored these Jewish believers from their once steadfast anchoring to Jesus, leaving them adrift, and vulnerable.
In response, the writer employs yet another nautical term roughly translated into batten down the hatch, i.e. to be absolutely certain the sails are roped securely to stay the course.
Hebrews translates it as ‘hold fast, or steady’. The author uses it in Hebrews 3:6; 314; 4:14; and most famously in 10:23, ‘Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.’
We’ve all witnessed times when other believers have spiralled in spiritual decline. Former cell members, people who once stood on the stage, friends who had encouraged us to press into God – somewhere along the way, their zeal flagged, lethargy or distractions set in, and they became shipwrecked.
It’s a painful thing to watch. Maybe God is speaking to you even now about such a brother or sister? Maybe He will use you to throw him or her a lifeline before it’s too late.
If we’re honest, we may also see this same tendency in us. None of us is immune. No wonder David cried out, “Don’t let me wander from your commands!” (Psalm 119:10).
And how about these words from the classic hymn, ‘Come Thou Fount? O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.’
We’re all prone to wander. Sadly, many are unwilling to admit it.
Seek out times of fellowship with other God-fearing believers. Earnestly heed the things you’ve been taught, and hold fast, without wavering, lest one day you find your boat aimlessly adrift, or worse, marooned upon some distant and godforsaken shore.