Hebrews 12:25
See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
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(25) Refuse not.—In Hebrews 12:19 we have read that the Israelites entreated that they might no more hear the voice of God (literally, deprecated the speaking of more words). Twice in this verse the same word is used in the sense of declining to listen, with clear reference to the earlier verse.

Him that speaketh.—God speaking to us from heaven (Hebrews 1:1-2). See below.

For if they escaped not who refused.—Rather (according to the better reading of the Greek), For if they escaped not when they refused on earth Him that warned. The terrors which accompanied the giving of the Law were designed to impress all hearts with the fearful peril of disobedience. In shrinking from* the voice of Him that warned they could not escape the declaration of the Law or the terrible penalties which awaited all transgressors.

If we turn away.—Rather, who turn away from Him that (warneth) from heaven. The argument is similar to that of Hebrews 2:2-3, where the same word “escape” is found. He from whom they turned aside on earth is He who now speaks to us; but then His voice was heard amidst earthly terrors, now His revelation comes through His Son who is exalted in heaven. If we do not hearken to the word of life and promise that is ever coming to us from God through His Son, it will be because we deliberately “turn away,” for the excuse of the panic-stricken Israelites cannot be ours. The voice that speaks on earth fell on the outward ear, but He who speaks from heaven makes His voice heard in the inner conscience; the one may fail to be heard and understood, the other will find us out, and is neglected only through stubbornness of will. Much less, then, shall we escape if we turn away from Him who warns from heaven.



Hebrews 12:25THE writer has finished his great contrast of Judaism and Christianity as typified by the mounts Sinai and Zion. But the scene at the former still haunts his imagination and shapes this solemn warning. The multitude gathered there had shrunk from the divine voice, and ‘entreated that it might not be spoken to them any more.’ So may we do, standing before the better mount of a better revelation. The parallel between the two congregations at the two mountains is still more obvious if we remark that the word translated in my text ‘refuse’ is the same as has just been employed in a previous verse, describing the conduct of the Israelites, where it is rendered ‘entreated.’ It may seem strange that after so joyous and triumphant an enumeration of the glorious persons and things with whom we are brought into contact by faith, there should come the jarring note of solemn warning which seems to bring back the terrors of the ancient law. But, alas I the glories and blessedness into which faith introduces us are no guarantees against its decay; and they who are ‘come unto Mount Zion and the city of the living God,’ may turn their backs upon all the splendour, and wander away into the gaunt desert.

I. So we have here, first of all, the solemn possibility of refusal.

Now, to gain the whole force and solemnity of this .exhortation, it is very needful to remember that it is addressed to professing Christians, who have in so far exercised real faith, as that by it ‘they are come to Mount Zion, and to the city o£ the living God.’ We are to keep that clear, or we lose the whole force and meaning of this exhortation before us, which is addressed distinctly, emphatically, and, in its true application, exclusively to Christian men - ‘See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh.’

Then, again, it is to be noted that the refusal here spoken about, and against which we professing Christians are thus solemnly warned, is not necessarily entire intellectual rejection of the gospel and its message. For the Israelites, who made the original ‘refusal,’ to which that against which we are warned is paralleled, recognised the voice that they would not listen to as being God’s voice; and just because it was His voice, wanted to hear no more of it. And so, although we may permissibly extend the words before us to include more than is thereby originally meant, yet we must remember that the true and proper application of them is to the conduct of men who, recognising that God is speaking to them, do not want to hear anything more from Him. That is to say, this warning brings to us Christians the reminder that it is possible for us so to tamper with what we know to be the uttered will and expressed commandment of God, as that our conduct is tantamount to saying, ‘Be silent, O Lord! and let me not hear Thee speak any more to me.’ The reason for that refusal, which thus, in its deepest criminality and darkest sin, can only be made by men that recognise the voice to be God’s, lies just here, ‘they could not endure that which was commanded.’ So, then, the sum of the whole thing is this, that it is possible for Christian people so to cherish wills and purposes which they know to be in diametrical and flagrant contradiction to the win and purpose of God, that obstinately they prefer to stick by their own desires, and, if it may be, to stifle the voice of God.

Then remember, too, that this refusal, which is reality is the rising up of the creature’s will, tastes, inclinations, desires, against the manifest and recognised will of God, may, and as a matter of fact often does, go along with a great deal of lip reverence and unconsciously hypocritical worship. These men, from whom the writer is drawing his warning in the wilderness there, said, ‘Do not let Him speak! We are willing to obey all that He has to command; only let it come to us through human lips, and not in these tremendous syllables that awe our spirits.’ They thought themselves to be perfectly willing to keep the commandments when they were given, and all that they wanted was some little accommodation to human weakness in the selection of the medium by which the word was brought. So we may be wrenching ourselves away from the voice of God, because we uncomfortably feel that it is against our resolves, and all the while may never know that we are unwilling to obey His commandments. The unconscious refusal is the formidable and the fatal One.

It comes by reason, as I have said, fundamentally of the rising up of our own determinations and wishes against His commandments; but it is also due to other causes operating along with this. How can you hear God’s voice if you are letting your own yelping dog-kennel of passions speak so loudly as they do? Will God’s voice be heard in a heart that is all echoing with earthly wishes, loudly clamant for their gratification, or with sensual desires passionately demanding their food to be flung to them? Will God’s voice be heard in a heart where the janglings of contending wishes and earthly inclinations are perpetually loud in their brawling? Will it be heard in a heart which has turned itself into a sounding-board for all the noises of the world and the voices of men? The voice of God is heard in silence, and not amidst the Babel of our own hearts. And they who, unconsciously, perhaps, of what they are doing, open their ears wide to hear what they themselves in the lower parts of their souls prescribe, or bow themselves in obedience to the precepts and maxims of men-round them, are really refusing to hear the voice of God.

It is not to be forgotten, howsoever, that whilst thus the true and proper application of these words is to Christian men, and the way by which we refuse to listen to that awful utterance is by withdrawing our lives from the control of His will, and dragging away our contemplations from meditation upon His word, yet there is a further form in which men may refuse that voice, which eminently threatened the persons to whom this warning was first directed. All through this letter we see that the writer is in fear that his correspondents should fall away into intellectual and complete rejection of Christianity. And the reason was mainly this, that the fall of the ancient and ramrod system of the old covenant might lead them to distrust all revelation from God, and to east aside the gospel message. So the exhortation of my text assumes a special closeness of application to us whose lot has been east in revolutionary times, as was theirs, and who have, in our measure, something of that same experience to go through which made the sharp trial of these Hebrew Christians. To them, solid and permanent as they had fancied them, ancient and God-appointed realities and ordinances were melting away; and it was natural that they should ask themselves, ‘Is there anything that will not melt, on which we can rest?’ And to us in this day much of the same sort of discipline is appointed; and we, too, have to see, both in the religious and in the social world, much evidently waxing old and ready to vanish away which our fathers thought to be permanent. And the question for us is, Is there anything that we can cling to? Yes! to the ‘voice that speaks from heaven’ in Jesus Christ. As long as that is sounding in our ears we can calmly look out on the evanescence of the evanescent, and confidently rely on the permanence of the permanent. And so, brother, though this, that, and the other of the externals of Christianity, in polity, in form, in mode, may he passing away, be sure of this, the solid core abides; and that core lies in the first word of this letter. ‘God... hath spoken unto us in His Son.’ See that no experience of mutation leads you to falter in your confidence in that voice, and ‘see that ye refuse not Him that speaketh.’

II. Again, note the sleepless vigilance necessary to counteract the tendency to refusal.

‘See that ye refuse not.’ A warning finger is, as it were, lifted. Take heed against the tendencies that lie in yourself and the temptations around you. The consciousness of the possibility of the danger is half the battle.

‘Blessed is the man that feareth always,’ says the psalm. ‘The confident’ - by which is meant the presumptuous, and not the trustful - ‘goeth on and is punished.’ The timid - by which I mean the self-distrustful - clings to God, because he knows his danger, and is safe. If we think that we are on the verge of falling, we are nearer standing than we ever are besides. To lay to heart the reality and the imminence and the gravity of the possibility that is disclosed here is an essential part of the means for preventing its becoming a reality. They who would say ‘I cannot turn away because I have come,’ have yet to learn the weakness of their own hearts and the strength of the world that draws them away. There is no security for us except in the continual temper of rooted self-distrust, for there is no motive that will drive us to the continual confidence in which alone is security but the persistent pressure of that sense that in ourselves we are nothing, and cannot but fall. I want no man to live in that selfish and anxious dread ‘which hath torment,’ but I am sure that the shortest road to the brave security which is certain of never being defeated is the clear and continual consciousness that ‘In ourselves we nothing can, Full soon were we down-ridden; But for us fights the proper Man, Whom God Himself hath bidden.’

The dark underside of the triumphant confidence, which on its sunny side looks up to heaven and receives its light, is that self-distrust which says always to ourselves, ‘We have to take heed lest we refuse Him that speaketh.’

If there is any need to dwell upon specific methods by which this vigilance and continuous self-distrust may work out for us our security, one would say - by careful trying to reverse all these conditions which, as we have seen, lead us surely to the refusal. Silence the passions, the wishes, the voices of your own wills and tastes and inclinations and purposes. Bring them all into close touch with Him. Let there be no voice in your hearts till you know God’s will; and then with a leap let your hearts be eager to do it. Keep yourselves out of the babble of the world’s voices; and be accustomed to go by yourselves and let God speak. Nature seems to be silent to the busy traveller who never gets away from the thumping of the piston of the engine and the rattle of the wheels of the train.

Let him go and sit down by himself on the mountain top, and the silence becomes all vocal and full of noises. Go into the lone place of silent contemplation, and so get near God, and you will hear His voice. But you will not hear it unless you still the beating of your own heart. Even in such busy lives as most of us have to live it is possible to secure some space for such solitary communion and meditation if we seriously feel that we must, and are ready to cut off needless distractions. He who thus has the habit of going alone with God will be able to hear His voice piercing through the importunate noises of earth, which drown it for others. Do promptly, precisely, perfectly, all that you know He has said. That is the way to sharpen your ears for the more delicate intonations of His voice, and the closer manifestations of His will. If you do not, the voice will hush itself into silence. Thus bringing your lives habitually into contact with God’s word, and testing them all by it, you will not be in danger of ‘refusing Him that speaketh.’

III. Lastly, note the solemn motives by which this sleepless vigilance is enforced.

‘If they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth’ - or, perhaps, ‘who on earth refused Him that spake’ - ‘much more shall not we escape if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven.’ The clearness of the voice is the measure of the penalty of non-attention to it. The voice that spoke on earth had earthly penalties as the consequence of disobedience. The voice that speaks from heaven, by reason of its loftier majesty, and of the dearer utterances which are granted to us thereby, necessarily involves more severe and fatal issues from negligence to it.

Mark how the words of my text deepen and darken in their significance in the latter portion. In the first we had simply ‘refusal,’ or the desire not to hear the voice, and in the latter portion that has solidified and deepened itself into ‘turning away from Him.’ That is to say, when we once begin, as many professing Christians have begun, to be intolerant of God’s voice meddling with their lives, we are upon an inclined plane, which, with a sharp pitch and a very short descent, carries us down to the darker condition of ‘turning away from Him.’ The man who stops his ears will very soon turn his back and be in flight, so far as he can, from the voice. Do not tamper with God’s utterances. If you do, you have begun a course that ends in alienation from Him.

Then mark, again, the evils which fell upon these people who turned away from Him that speaketh on earth were their long wanderings in the wilderness, and their exclusion from the Land of Promise, and final deaths in the desert, where their bleaching bones lay white in the sunshine. And if you and I, dear friends, by continuous and increasing deafness to our Father’s voice, have turned away from Him, then all that assemblage of flashing glories and majestic persons and of reconciling blood to which we come by faith, will melt away, ‘and leave not a wrack behind.’ We shall be like men who, in a dream, have thought themselves in a king’s palace, surrounded by beauty and treasures, and awaken with a start and a shiver to find themselves alone in the desert. It will be loss enough if the fair city which hath foundations, and the palace-home of the king on the mountain, and the joyful assemblage of the angels, and the Church of the firstborn, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and the blood of sprinkling, all pass away from our vision, and instead of them there is nothing left but this mean, vulgar, fleeting world. They will pass if you do not listen to God, and that is why so many of you have so little conscious contact with the unseen and glorious realities to which faith gives access.

But then there are dark and real penalties to come in another life which the writer dimly shows to us. It is no part of my business to enlarge upon these solemn warnings. An inspired man may do it. I do not think that it is reverent for me to do it much. But at the same time, let me remind you that terror is a legitimate weapon to which to appeal, and unwelcome and unfashionable as its use is nowadays, it is one of the weapons in the armoury of the true preacher of God’s Word. I believe we Christian ministers would do more if we were less chary of speaking out ‘the terror of the Lord.’ And though I shrink from anything like vulgar and rhetorical and sensational appeals to that side of divine revelation, and to what answers to it in us, I consider that I should be a traitor to the truth if I did not declare the fact that such appeals are legitimate, and that such terror is a part of the divine revelation.

So, dear friends, though I dare not dwell upon these, I dare not burke them. I remind you - and I do no more - of the tone that runs through all this letter, of which you have such instances as these, ‘If the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression received its just recompense of reward, how shall We escape if we neglect so great salvation?’ and ‘Of how much sorer punishment, think you, shall they be thought worthy who have counted the blood of the Covenant wherewith they were sanctified a common thing?’ ‘See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh,’ for the clearer, the tenderer, the more stringent the beseechings of the love and the warnings of Christ’s voice, the more solemn the consequences if we stop our ears to it. Better to hear it now, when it warns and pleads and beseeches and comforts and hallows and quickens, than to hear it first when it rends the tombs and shakes the earth, and summons all to judgment, and condemns some to the outer darkness to which they had first condemned themselves

Hebrews 12:25. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh — (He alludes to his having just said that his blood speaketh;) namely, Christ, who speaks to you in the gospel, and by his Spirit and messengers, and whose speaking, even now, is a prelude to the final scene. In this command the apostle has respect to the double solemn charge given by God to his church to hear and obey his Son: the first, Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 18:19, The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet, unto him ye shall hearken, &c. A charge intended to prepare the church for their duty in the proper season. The other charge was given immediately from heaven, Matthew 17:5; This is my beloved Son, hear ye him. This is the foundation of all gospel faith and obedience, and the formal reason of the condemnation of all unbelievers. God hath commanded all men to hear; that is, to believe and obey his Son Jesus Christ. Hence he hath given command to others to preach the gospel to all individuals. They who believe them believe in Christ; and they who believe in Christ, through him, believe in God, (1 Peter 1:21,) so that their faith is ultimately resolved into the authority of God himself. And in like manner, they who refuse them, who hear them not, do thereby refuse Christ himself; and, by so doing, reject the authority of God, who hath given this command to hear him, and hath taken on himself to require it when it is neglected. For if they escaped not divine vengeance, who refused him that spake — Greek, χρηματιζοντα, literally, that gave forth oracles; (namely, Moses, who delivered the law by inspiration of God;) on earth — Who received his message on earth, and delivered it only from mount Sinai, and whose oracles and doctrines were but earthly and carnal, in comparison of Christ’s; much more shall we not escape — Still greater vengeance; if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven — Who received his message in the bosom of the Father, came down from heaven to deliver it to us, and now addresses us not only in the solemn discourses which he uttered in the days of his flesh, sealed with his blood, and confirmed by his resurrection and ascension; but speaks to us from heaven by his Spirit in his apostles, evangelists, and other faithful ministers, and (he might have added) manifests that he does so by the mighty signs and wonders which he enables many of them to perform; and by the success he gives to the word of his grace which proceeds from their lips. See on Hebrews 2:2-3; Hebrews 10:28.

12:18-29 Mount Sinai, on which the Jewish church state was formed, was a mount such as might be touched, though forbidden to be so, a place that could be felt; so the Mosaic dispensation was much in outward and earthly things. The gospel state is kind and condescending, suited to our weak frame. Under the gospel all may come with boldness to God's presence. But the most holy must despair, if judged by the holy law given from Sinai, without a Saviour. The gospel church is called Mount Zion; there believers have clearer views of heaven, and more heavenly tempers of soul. All the children of God are heirs, and every one has the privileges of the first-born. Let a soul be supposed to join that glorious assembly and church above, that is yet unacquainted with God, still carnally-minded, loving this present world and state of things, looking back to it with a lingering eye, full of pride and guile, filled with lusts; such a soul would seem to have mistaken its way, place, state, and company. It would be uneasy to itself and all about it. Christ is the Mediator of this new covenant, between God and man, to bring them together in this covenant; to keep them together; to plead with God for us, and to plead with us for God; and at length to bring God and his people together in heaven. This covenant is made firm by the blood of Christ sprinkled upon our consciences, as the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled upon the altar and the victim. This blood of Christ speaks in behalf of sinners; it pleads not for vengeance, but for mercy. See then that you refuse not his gracious call and offered salvation. See that you do not refuse Him who speaketh from heaven, with infinite tenderness and love; for how can those escape, who turn from God in unbelief or apostacy, while he so graciously beseeches them to be reconciled, and to receive his everlasting favour! God's dealing with men under the gospel, in a way of grace, assures us, that he will deal with the despisers of the gospel, in a way of judgment. We cannot worship God acceptably, unless we worship him with reverence and godly fear. Only the grace of God enables us to worship God aright. God is the same just and righteous God under the gospel as under the law. The inheritance of believers is secured to them; and all things pertaining to salvation are freely given in answer to prayer. Let us seek for grace, that we may serve God with reverence and godly fear.See that ye refuse not - That you do not reject or disregard.

Him that speaketh - That is, in the gospel. Do not turn away from him who has addressed you in the new dispensation, and called you to obey and serve him. The meaning is, that God had addressed "them" in the gospel as really as he had done the Hebrews on Mount Sinai, and that there was as much to be dreaded in disregarding his voice now as there was then. He does not speak, indeed, amidst lightnings, and thunders, and clouds, but he speaks by every message of mercy; by every invitation; by every tender appeal. He spake by his Son Hebrews 1:1; he speaks by the Holy Spirit, and by all his calls and warnings in the gospel.

For if they escaped not - If they who heard God under the old dispensation, who refused to obey him, were cut off; notes, Hebrews 10:28.

Who refused him that spake on earth - That is, Moses. The contrast here is between Moses and the Son of God - the head of the Jewish and the head of the Christian dispensation. Moses was a mere man, and spake as such, though in the name of God. The Son of God was from above, and spake as an inhabitant of heaven. "Much more," etc.; see the notes on Hebrews 2:2-3; Hebrews 10:29.

25. refuse not—through unbelief.

him that speaketh—God in Christ. As the blood of sprinkling is represented as speaking to God for us, Heb 12:24; so here God is represented as speaking to us (Heb 1:1, 2). His word now is the prelude of the last "shaking" of all things (Heb 12:27). The same word which is heard in the Gospel from heaven, will shake heaven and earth (Heb 12:26).

who refused him—Greek, "refusing as they did." Their seemingly submissive entreaty that the word should not be spoken to them by God any more (Heb 12:19), covered over refractory hearts, as their subsequent deeds showed (Heb 3:16).

that spake—revealing with oracular warnings His divine will: so the Greek.

if we turn away—Greek, "we who turn away." The word implies greater refractoriness than "refused," or "declined."

him that speaketh from heaven—God, by His Son in the Gospel, speaking from His heavenly throne. Hence, in Christ's preaching frequent mention is made of "the kingdom of the heavens" (Greek, Mt 3:2). In the giving of the law God spake on earth (namely, Mount Sinai) by angels (Heb 2:2; compare Heb 1:2). In Ex 20:22, when God says, "I talked with you from heaven," this passage in Hebrews shows that not the highest heavens, but the visible heavens, the clouds and darkness, are meant, out of which God by angels proclaimed the law on Sinai.

Here the Spirit closely applieth his former arguments for their pursuit of holiness, especially that of Christ’s speaking by his blood to them; by caution, Hebrews 12:25-27; by counsel, Hebrews 12:28,29.

See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: he introduceth this caution with: Look ye, or take ye heed; a term expressing the things said to be great and weighty, intimating that fear, solicitude, and watchfulness about this great and important concernment of their souls, Luke 12:15; that they see to it there be no aversion in their spirits to, no undervaluing or despising of, no dislike or apostacy from, but a hearing, believing, and obeying Jesus speaking by his blood all the gospel covenant to us; convincing them of sin and guilt that needed his blood, calling them to repentance and faith in his blood and satisfaction, declaring his intercession with God for pardon, holiness, and glory by it, and so importunes them to follow holiness, which would evidence all this to them.

For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth: he enforceth his caution by a rational motive of the danger of their refusal, arguing from the less to the greater; that is, their ancestors escaped not the vengeance of God when they refused to hear, believe, and obey the legal covenant, which he spake on earth from Mount Sinai, and wrote on tables of stones, and delivered to Moses on the mount, and by him communicated it to them, Hebrews 2:2 10:28,30,31 Deu 33:1,4 Ac 7:51,53 1 Corinthians 10:1-10.

Much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven; much more and greater sinners are all such who turn aside scornfully from Jesus, and receive not his voice and the revelation of God’s gospel covenant by it, who is God’s only begotten Son, and brought it down from the Father’s bosom in heaven, Hebrews 1:2 John 1:14,16-18 3:13, and ratified it with his own blood on earth: and as the sin is beyond compare greater, so will the punishment be, and the certainty of its infliction both for time and eternity, Matthew 11:24 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 Hebrews 10:26-31; there remaining no more sacrifice for such sin and sinners.

See that ye refuse not him that speaketh,.... Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, whose blood speaks better things than Abel, or than his blood and sacrifice: he was the speaker in the council and covenant of grace, that spoke for the elect; in the creation of all things out of nothing, that said, and it was done; in giving the law to the Israelites, in the wilderness, for he is the angel which spake to Moses in Mount Sinai, he spoke to God for the Old Testament saints, and was the angel of God's presence to them; he spoke in his own person, as the prophet of the church, in the days of his flesh; and he now speaks in heaven, by appearing in the presence of God for his people, and by presenting his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; he speaks by his Spirit, in and to the hearts of his saints; and by his ministers in the Gospel, and the ordinances of it: nor should he be refused, as he is, when his Gospel is made light of, and neglected; when men excuse themselves from an attendance on it; when they will not hear it; or, when they do, and contradict and blaspheme, despise and reproach it, or leave off hearing it. Care should be taken that Christ is not refused in the ministry of the word; which may be enforced from the greatness and excellency of the person speaking, who is God, and not a mere man; from the excellency of the matter spoken, the great salvation: and the rather diligent heed should be had unto him, since there is a backwardness to everything that is spiritual and heavenly; and since Satan is vigilant and industrious to put off persons from hearing the Gospel, or to steal the word from them:

for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth: the Ethiopic version renders it, "who appeared to them on the mount"; that is, on Mount Sinai; meaning either God himself, who descended on the mount, and spoke the ten commandments to the children of Israel; or Christ, the Angel that spoke to Moses in it; or rather Moses himself, who was on the earth, and of the earth, earthly; who spake from God to the people, being their mediator; him the Jews refused, would not obey him, but thrust him away, Acts 7:39, though they promised to hear and do all that was said to them; wherefore they did not escape divine vengeance and punishment; their carcasses fell in the wilderness at several times, in great numbers, and were not suffered to enter into Canaan's land: much more

shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven; that is, Christ, who came from heaven originally; is the Lord from heaven; whose doctrine is from heaven; and who, having done his work, is gone to heaven; where he now is, and from whence he speaks; and from hence he will come a second time, as Judge of all. There have been, and are some, that turn away from him; from a profession of him, and his Gospel and ordinances, and draw back unto perdition; such shall not escape divine wrath and vengeance; the sorest punishment shall be inflicted on them; see Hebrews 10:29.

{13} See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

(13) The applying of the former comparison: If it were not lawful to condemn his word which was spoken on the earth, how much less his voice which is from heaven?

Hebrews 12:25. The author has but just now, Hebrews 12:18-24, in order to enforce with reasoning his exhortation to the ἁγιασμός, Hebrews 12:14 ff., described, in a comparison of the Old Covenant with the New, the exalted nature of the communion into which the readers had entered by the reception of Christianity. As a conclusion therefrom, he warns them against falling away again from Christianity through laxity of morals (comp. also Hebrews 12:28 f.), in pointing out, similarly as Hebrews 2:2 ff., Hebrews 10:28 ff., that if the Israelites in old time incurred punishment by disobedience to the O. T. revelation of God, an incomparably severer judgment would overtake those Christians who should turn back again from the N. T. revelation of God.

The simple βλέπετε, without the addition of οὖν, renders the warning so much the more powerful. Entirely mistaken, Delitzsch: οὖν is not added, in order that one may not suppose the warning to attach itself to οὐ γὰρ προσεληλύθατεἀλλὰ προσεληλύθατε …, but, on the contrary, it should be manifest that the author thinks of the One speaking, against the refusing of whom he warns, as in most intimate connection with the speaking blood of the Mediator of the Covenant which has just been mentioned.

βλέπετε μὴ παραιτήσησθε τὸν λαλοῦντα] take heed that ye do not beg off from Him that speaketh (to you), that ye turn not away from Him and despise Him. ὁ λαλῶν is not Christ (Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Vatablus, Böhme, Kuinoel, Ebrard, Bloomfield, al.), but that God who still continues to speak to the readers by means of the Christian facts of salvation. For by τὸν λαλοῦντα the same person must be designated, as subsequently by τὸν ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν, sc. χρηματίζοντα. By the latter, however, can be meant, on account of the οὗ referring back to it at Hebrews 12:26, and by reason of the ἐπήγγελται there occurring (comp. also Hebrews 12:29), only God. From this it follows, too, that by ἐπὶ γῆς ὁ χρηματίζων is meant, not Moses (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Carpzov, and others), but likewise God,[122] so that there is not an insisting upon a diversity of persons in connection with the O. T. and the N. T. revelation, and thence a difference of degree inferred; but the diversity of the mode of revelation is accentuated, and thereby the higher value of the one revelation above the other on the one hand is marked, and on the other the higher culpability of apostasy from the one than from the other. To the Jews God spake upon the palpable earthly mountain Sinai, choosing as His interpreter an earthly man, Moses; to the Christians, on the other hand, He speaks from heaven, in sending to them His own Son from heaven as His interpreter.

οὐκ ἐξέφυγον] did not escape, did not evade the divine punishment. Comp. Hebrews 2:3. Wrongly Delitzsch, even because the πολὺ μᾶλλον ἡμεῖς κ.τ.λ. does not harmonize therewith: were not able to withdraw, but were obliged to stand fast.

ἐπὶ γῆς τὸν χρηματίζοντα] the One speaking upon earth words of revelation. Belongs together, in that ἐπὶ γῆς was placed on account of the greater emphasis before the article. Similarly the post-posing of ἵνα, Galatians 2:10, and the like.

ΠΟΛῪ ΜᾶΛΛΟΝ ἩΜΕῖς] sc. οὐκ ἐκφευξόμεθΑ.

ἈΠΟΣΤΡΈΦΕΣΘΑΊ ΤΙΝΑ] to turn away from any one, reject his fellowship.

[122] Ebrard will have us think of Christ as the second person of the Godhead!

Hebrews 12:25-29. A final appeal. The readers are warned against being deaf to God’s final revelation, for if even the revelation at Sinai could not with impunity be disregarded, much less can the revelation which has reached them and which discloses to them things eternal and God in His essential majesty.

25. him that speaketh] Not Moses, as Chrysostom supposed, but God. The speaker is the same under both dispensations, different as they are. God spoke alike from Sinai and from heaven. The difference of the places whence they spoke involves the whole difference of their tone and revelations. Perhaps the writer regarded Christ as the speaker alike from Sinai as from Heaven, for even the Jews represented the Voice at Sinai as being the Voice of Michael, who was sometimes identified with “the Shechinah,” or the Angel of the Presence. The verb for “speaketh” is χρηματίζοντα, as in Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 11:7.

if they escaped not] Hebrews 2:2-3, Hebrews 3:17, Hebrews 10:28-29.

much more] On this proportional method of statement, characteristic of the writer, as also of Philo, see Hebrews 1:4, Hebrews 3:3, Hebrews 7:20, Hebrews 8:6.

Hebrews 12:25. Βλέπετε, see) An admonition which is sharpened by the omission of the particle, οὖν, then.—μὴ παραιτήσησθε, that ye refuse not) through unbelief.—τὸν λαλοῦντα, Him that speaketh) namely, GOD; whose word, now present, is of such a kind that it is (as to be) the prelude of the last ‘shaking’ of all things (Hebrews 12:27) The same word, which is heard in the gospel from heaven, will shake heaven and earth. The blood speaks to God, Hebrews 12:24; but in Hebrews 12:25 there is a speaking, which is made to us: λαλοῦντι, Hebrews 12:24, is neuter, agreeing with αἷμα; λαλοῦντα is masculine. The apostle returns to that with which he set out, ch. Hebrews 1:1.—οὐκ ἔφυγον, they did not escape) They could not withdraw themselves from hearing, nay, they rushed on their punishment.—παραιτησάμενοι, who refused) Hebrews 12:19.—χρηματίζοντα, Him who spake oracles, warnings, precepts) He means God Himself: Hebrews 12:26 at the beginning.—πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἡμεῖς, much more we) namely, shall not escape.—τὸν ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν) namely, χρηματίζοντα, Him who gives oracles, etc., from the heavens. Mount Sinai on earth reached to the lowest region of heaven; but from the heavens, and therefore from the very heaven of glory, has the Son brought both His blessedness and His preaching, in consequence of which very frequent mention of the kingdom of the heavens is made in His discourses: and to all this the Father has superadded His testimony: and now in His word (speaking) He represents (presents vividly to us) the shaking of heaven, of which Hebrews 12:26.—ἀποστρεφόμενοι, if we turn away) This word signifies greater obstinacy than παραιτησάμενοι, they who refused.

Verse 25. - See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not, refusing him that spake (rather, warned; the word here used is not λαλοῦντα, as before, but χρηματίζοντα, expressive of a Divine admonition or warning. In the passive it is translated "warned of God," "admonished of God," Matthew 2:12, 22; Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 11:7; cf. Acts 10:22, ἐχρηματίσθη ὑπὸ ἀγγέλου ἁγίου) on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh (or, warneth) from heaven. Here the warning begins. "Him that speaketh (τὸν λαλοῦντα)," is suggested by λαλοῦντι in the preceding verse. But the subject is changed: it is God, not the "blood of sprinkling," that is now regarded as speaking to us from heaven. It was God also that warned on earth; not, as some take it, Moses, whom the word χρηματίζοντα does not suit: of him it is said, κεκρημάτισται (Hebrews 8:5). The allusion is to the voice heard from the earthly Sinai, which the people entreated (supra, ver. 19, παρητήσαντο ( τηε same word as is used here) should be heard no more. But they escaped not the hearing of that voice, or the consequences of disregarding its warning (cf. Hebrews 2:2; Hebrews 3:10). Hebrews 12:25See - refuse (βλέπετε - παραιτήσησθε)

For βλέπετε see see on Hebrews 3:12. For παραιτήσησθε refuse, see on 1 Timothy 4:7.

Him that speaketh (τὸν λαλοῦντα)

Through his blood. Rend. "that is speaking," the participle denoting something that is going on.

They (ἐκεῖνοι)

The people of the Exodus. See Hebrews 4:2. The words from for if they to the end of the verse are parenthetical.

That spake on earth (ἐπὶ γῆς τὸν χρηματίζοντα)

For spake rend. warned, and see on Hebrews 8:5. Ἑπὶ upon earth should not be construed with refused nor warned, but with the whole clause. "If on earth they escaped not, refusing him that warned."

If we turn away (ἀποστρεφομενοι)

Lit. turning away. The present participle, possibly with reference to the relapse into Judaism as already in progress.

From him that speaketh from heaven (τὸν ἀπ' οὐρανῶν)

Lit. from him from the heavens. Supply as A.V. that speaketh Ὁ ἀπ' οὐρανοῦ or οὐρανῶν does not occur in N.T. elsewhere. Wherever ἀπ' οὐρ. appears, some act or thing is always named which proceeds from heaven. See Matthew 24:29; Mark 8:11; Luke 9:54; Luke 17:29; Luke 21:11; Luke 22:43; John 6:38; 1 Thessalonians 1:7. The speaker from heaven is still God, but speaking through his Son. The thought connects itself with that of Christ carrying his blood into the heavenly sanctuary, from which he exerts his power on behalf of men. See Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:24. This will be the clearer if we throw out the idea of Christ presenting his blood to an angry God as a propitiation, and interceding with him to pardon sin. See note on Hebrews 7:26.

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