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Hebrews 12:12–13

“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”

Hebrews 12 uses the metaphor of a footrace for the Christian life, calling us to run with endurance, setting our faces on Jesus so that we cross the finish line (vv. 1–2). In the context of this metaphor, the notion of God’s discipline of His people should be viewed both as His correction of sin and as His training us so that we can run the race with excellence (vv. 3–11). In today’s passage, the author of Hebrews looks to our part in this training, reminding us that we have a role to play in our perseverance even though the Lord ultimately preserves us by His sovereign grace (see John 10:27–29; Phil. 2:12–13).

To finish a footrace, we must not let our hands droop and we must work so that our knees are strengthened and able to endure the wear and tear that running puts on them (Heb. 12:12). This athletic metaphor recalls the words of Isaiah 35:3: “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.” In context, Isaiah refers to the coming of the Lord God to save His people, to ransom them from their enemies and from their exile (vv. 4, 10). This connection to the coming of the Lord reveals that lifting hands and strengthening weak knees, spiritually speaking, happens by remembering and believing the promises of God to save His people. This, of course, is in keeping with the commendations in Hebrews 11 of the men and women under the old covenant who trusted in the Lord, taking Him at His word of promise and looking for their final inheritance in glory. Spiritual strength comes not from our own resources but from the Lord, and that unfailing strength is the possession of those who believe in God’s coming to save His people in the advent, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of the Son of God.

Hebrews 12:13 exhorts us to make “straight paths” for our feet. Runners have an easier time gathering and sustaining speed on straight paths than on circuitous racing routes that include many twists and turns. Since the path of a race is external to the runner, the focus here may be on looking for ways to arrange our external circumstances such that we are encouraged to keep on pressing forward. Practically speaking, this could involve such things as coming up with a regular schedule of devotions, making it a priority to attend corporate worship, and building friendships with believers who will cheer us on in the Christian life.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

There is much that we can do to improve our running the race of faith that is the Christian life. The most important is making sure that we attend corporate worship regularly, week in and week out. Seeking to worship and rest on Sunday, scheduling our jobs so that we get Sundays off, and other such things make it easier for us to not miss worship and thus not to miss the means of grace.


For Further Study
  • Psalm 10:17
  • Ezekiel 34:16
  • Acts 15:40–41
  • 2 Timothy 2:1

Temporary Pain, Enduring Fruit

Our Need of Peace and Holiness

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From the August 2020 Issue
Aug 2020 Issue