Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us
Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us
And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us
Fixing our eyes on JESUS, the author and perfecter of faith
Who for the joy set before HIM endured the cross, despising the shame
And has sat down at the right hand of the throne of GOD
For consider HIM who has endured such hostility by sinners against HIMSELF
So that you will not grow weary and lose heart
In this second part of our study in Hebrews 12:1-3, we will define what encumbrances are. We will also examine those who held onto encumbrances versus those who trusted GOD.
What is an encumbrance? An encumbrance is defined as anything that hinders our progress, by weighing us down. An encumbrance is any kind of burden we carry, that causes our obedience to and trust in GOD, to be stalled, obstructed, or restrained.
Are there specific examples of encumbrances? Yes, we will look at four: fear, impatience, self-pity and worry
Fear is to be in dread, to be afraid, or to feel alarmed.
The Israelites from twenty years old and upward, whom GOD delivered out of Egypt, held onto their fear from the shore of the Red Sea, to the border of the promised land (Num 14:28-33, Exd 14:8-12, Num 13:1-33, Num 14:1-4). Though our Beloved LORD GOD had performed miracle after miracle in bringing the nation of Israel out of the cruel bondage in Egypt (Exd chptrs 7-12, Psa 78:40-51), and throughout the wilderness (Psa 78:9-39). The nation of Israel did not believe in HIM (Exd 6:9, Deu 1:30-33, Psa 78:21-22), nor HIS WORD to bring them into the Promised Land (Exd 6:6-8). Their continual unbelief in HIM and rejection of HIS WORD caused them to die in the wilderness (Heb 3:15-19).
Gideon was too afraid to obey The LORD’s commandments by day, so he carried them out at night (Jdg 6:25-27). Gideon knew he had seen the angel of The LORD (Jdg 6:11-22), and trusted in HIS Words (Jdg 6:14-16 Jdg 6:23-24), so though he was afraid, disobedience was not an option. When Gideon felt uneasy about going into battle with enemies that were as numerous as locusts (Jdg 7:12), he did not refuse to obey, instead he asked for confirmation of GOD’s WORD (Jdg 6:36-40). On the eve of battle with 300 men and no weapons (Jdg 7:9-23), Gideon again felt afraid and our Beloved LORD GOD encouraged him to go down with his servant to hear what was being said (Jdg 7:7-15). Gideon’s faith in our Beloved LORD GOD and HIS WORDS was greater than his fear of defeat/death. Our GOD used 301 men, a trumpet, an empty pitcher, and a torch to defeat a mighty army (Jdg 7:16-25). Gideon’s testimony among many other testimonies (Exd 14:13-30, 1 Sam 14:1-23, 1 Chr 14:13-15, 2 Chr 14:2-15, 2 Chr 20:1-30), teaches us why we should not be afraid to obey GOD’s will. And theses testimonies reminds us, that our Beloved LORD GOD ways are not our ways (Isa 55:8). And HE works beyond our understanding (Pro 3:5) so that no man would boast except in HIM (1 Cor 1:26-31).
Impatience is the inability to wait calmly for something desired; incapable of enduring difficult circumstances without complaining.
Aaron did not patiently wait for Moses return as instructed (Exd 24:12-18). Even though he, his sons Nadab, Abihu and 70 elders of Israel had seen and fellowshipped with our Living GOD, and knew that GOD indeed existed (Exd 24:9-11); Aaron not only failed to wait for the return of Moses, nor stand firm against the people’s sinful desires (Exd 32:1), but it was he who personally made the golden calf and an altar to worship it (Exd 32:2-5, Deu 9:20).
King David had many enemies who sought to kill him, but he patiently waited for GOD’s deliverance (Psa 3:1-8, Psa 40:1-4). King Saul and his army hunted him to kill him, yet he did not seek to kill our LORD’s anointed King, he waited for our Beloved LORD’s deliverance (1 Sam 24:1-22, 1 Sam 26:1-25). And when news came that his enemy had been killed (1 Sam 31:1-6), he did not rejoice, instead he mourned (2 Sam 1:1-16, Pro 24:17-18). King David had a heart after GOD, which meant he was obedient to our Beloved LORD GOD’s WORD, and trusted completely in HIM (Act 13:22). As a result, he was never disappointed or ashamed because he believed and patiently waited on our GOD (Psa 25:3, Psa 22:1-5).
Self-pity is to feel sorry for one’s self; be depressed about one’s situation; or resentful about how one is treated. Even those in ministry or those who think they are doing the right thing can be subject to self-pity.
The threat by Jezebel against Elijah the prophet, caused him to flee in fear (1 Kin 19:1-4). Though our Beloved LORD GOD had just used Elijah to do a great work in Israel (1 Kin 18:17-40), Jezebel’s threat to kill Elijah by the next day, caused him to flee to the wilderness in fear, which turned into self-pity (1 Kin 19:1-4). Even still, our compassionate GOD did not condemn him for his self-pity, rather, HE sent HIS angel to strengthen him so he could endure a long journey to the mountain of GOD (1 Kin 19:5-8). Upon Elijah’s arrival at the mountain, our LORD asked him twice “what are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kin 19:8-14). Our Beloved LORD GOD didn’t question Elijah because HE needed information. Being GOD, HE knows everything (Pro 15:3, Heb 4:13). Rather, HIS question to Elijah was to provide an opportunity for Elijah to voice the reason he wanted to die (1 Kin 19:4). And in HIS mercy HE visibly demonstrated to HIS prophet he was not alone. Truly HIS presence and the demonstration of HIS power can be found in awesome and powerful manifestations (1 Kin 19:11-12, Exd 19:18, Eze 1:4-28), but HIS faithful servants will also find HIS gentle voice in quiet places (1 Kin 19:12-13, Isa 30:15, Isa 30:21, Mat 10:27).
The older brother of the prodigal son felt resentful about his perceived treatment. His anger and self-pity about not being thrown a party by his father, completely blinded him to the mercy and grace being extended by a loving father to a lost and hurting son (Luk 15:25-32). I have often wondered, since the older brother was aware that his little brother had devoured his father’s wealth with prostitutes (Luk 15:30), why did he not know about the dire situation his little brother was living in (Luk 15:14-16). The older brother’s reaction is a reminder of our Beloved LORD GOD’s WORD in 1 John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from GOD; and everyone who loves is born of GOD and knows GOD. The one who does not love does not know GOD, for GOD is love.”
Worry is to feel uneasy, anxious, or nervous.
After the departure from Egypt, the Israelites constantly worried about physical needs (Exd 15:22-25, Exd 16:1-8). Despite GOD’s constant provision for them (Neh 9:20-21), their incessant focus on themselves, did not bring dependence on GOD or gratefulness for HIS provisions (Deu 29:5-6, Psa 118:28-29, 1 Ths 5:18). Instead they had lack of reverence for, nor belief in HIM (Num 14:11). The Israelites, did not cease to grumble, and complain against our Beloved LORD GOD and HIS leaders (Num 14:27, Num 11:1-6).
The righteous who trust GOD are not afraid of men nor circumstances. The attack of men do not make them afraid or uneasy (Psa 56:1-11, Act 4:18-31), nor do circumstances make them nervous (Jer 17:7-8) or anxious (Psa 91:1-9, Psa 94:17-19, 2 Cor 12:7-10, Php 4:10-14).
Cast your burden upon The LORD
And HE will sustain you;
HE will never allow the righteous to be shaken