But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:39)
After completing his description of the greater high priesthood of Jesus Christ, beginning in verse 19 of chapter 10, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews issues concluding exhortations and warnings. After first exhorting the recipients of the letter to draw near (22), hold fast (23),and consider one another (24), he goes on to issue a stern warning of the danger of their final and full apostasy (26-31). The chilling reality was that some of those who sat among the assembly of God’s people, receiving the benefits of grace, might be eternally lost with the enemies of God on Judgement Day (27).
Following the stern warning, chapter 10 concludes with a call to endure in faith. This section serves as a prescription or antidote against apostasy. His prescribed antidote requires two doses: 1) a look back at how far they had come (32-34) and 2) a look forward, considering the reward that awaits those who endure (36-39). The summons to look backward at their former days as believers, the hard struggles, suffering, reproach, and affliction that they endured by faith, is meant to encourage them that what they had done before, they can do again. He writes, don’t throw away your confidence, which has great reward (35). He is goading them to not give up the fight – saying in essence, “you’ve endured so much already, you can do it again.” Along with the backward look, a look forward to the promise of eternal life, is likewise meant to rekindle a desire to finish the race with endurance. Pondering our eternal reward has transformative effects on our present lives. As we look for an eternal abode that is greater than our present existence, knowing that only those who endure to the end will make it there, it inspires us to not shrink back unto destruction, but instead to live by faith. For, those who have faith preserve their souls (39).
In a worldwide pandemic of apostasy that would even threaten our faith, this simple 2-dose vaccine: 1) look backward, 2) look forward, just may deliver you from destruction and preserve your soul in the faith. As we come to the highly anticipated chapter 11 of Hebrews, it serves us with proof of the efficacy of this antidote in the lives of many witnesses who endured in the faith.