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February 9, 2012 / Daniel

Obey your leaders (Hebrews 13:17)

For our men’s Bible study at church, we have been studying Alexander Strauch’s book Biblical Eldership.  The book focuses on different passages in Scripture which address the subject of elders in the church.  So this morning I’ve been thinking about Hebrews 13:17, where the author challenges his audience to obey their leaders.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grumbling, for that would be of no advantage to you.

When I read this verse, I can’t help but think about the author’s words earlier in the book.  In chapters 3-4, the author reminds his audience of the failure of the wilderness generation to trust in God’s promises.   He compares the situation which faces his audience to the crisis which confronted the Israelites in the wilderness.

The wilderness generation stood between two great moments in Israel’s history.  They had experienced the Exodus, but they were still waiting to enter the Promise Land.  However, God destroyed this generation.  Why? Because they failed to trust God in a moment of crisis.   Instead they disobeyed Moses and grumbled against God’s provisions.    As a result, they missed out on the consumption of God’s promises.

The author of Hebrews argues that his audience faces a similar situation.  They have experienced the Exodus event (Jesus’ death and resurrection).  However, they were still looking forward to the Promise Land (Christ’s return).  Compare Heb. 9:28.  Although we have experienced the initial benefits of a relationship with Christ, we have not yet experienced the final consummation of God’s salvation (Heb. 6:4-6).  Salvation is an already but not yet reality.    We must persevere in our faith to receive the fulfillment of all God’s promises.

Here’s where Hebrews 13:17 comes in.  Our leaders watch over us.  They will give an account for us.  They will help us to persevere our faith.   They will help us to finish the race.   That’s why we must obey them.  We must submit to their authority.

If we don’t obey them, we are in dangerous territory.  Remember the wilderness generation.  They questioned Moses’ authority.  They grumbled against him.   The results were catastrophic.  So, obey your leaders.  They will help you receive the promises of God.



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