Sermon #87                                                       Hebrews Notes


     Title:            Help For The Weary, The Weak, and The Lame

     Text:            Hebrews 12:12-17

     Readings:     Buddy Daugherty & Bobbie Estes

     Subject:       Perseverance

     Date:            Tuesday Evening—July 16, 2002

     Tape #         X-12a



The title of my message tonight is Help for the Weary, the Weak and The Lame. Our text will be Hebrews 12:12-17.


The opening word of verse 12 connects this passage with all that has preceded it concerning our heavenly Father’s chastisements. – “Wherefore.” That is to say, This is the reason why your heavenly Father deals with you in such goodness, grace and love, when he chastens you.”


(Hebrews 12:12-17)  "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; (13) And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. (14) Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (15) Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (16) Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. (17) For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."


Proposition: The Lord our God chastens us that he might keep us in his grace, that he might keep us looking to Christ, that he might keep us from the apostasy by which multitudes have perished.


I ASKED the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.

[ 'Twas he who taught me thus to pray,
And he, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair. ]

I hoped that in some favoured hour,
At once he'd answer my request;
And, by his love's constraining power,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea, more, with his own hand he seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

"Lord, why is this?" I trembled cried;
"Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?"
"'Tis in this way," the Lord replied,
"I answer prayer for grace and faith."

"These inward trials I employ,
From self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou mayst seek thy all in me."

                                                                        John Newton

I. Are you weak? Are you weary? Are you often in such straights that you feel that you just cannot go on? If so, my first word is for you. In verses 12 and 13 the Spirit of God speaks distinctly to the weak, the helpless and the lame.


(Hebrews 12:12-13)  "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; (13) And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."


We all like to think we are strong, in good health, and fully capable of doing what we ought to do. But that is not the case. The fact is the Lord’s sheep are sheep. Weakness is common to sheep. They are easily exhausted. Often, they are lame, lame because the Good Shepherd graciously breaks their feet. When he breaks their feet, it is that he might carry them in his arms and teach them to follow him.


A. Verse 12 speaks of sluggishness, weariness and weakness.


(Hebrews 12:12)  "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;"


Remember, the passage before us speaks of believers as a people running a race. When a runner’s hands dangle at his side, when his knees begin to wobble, it is not likely that he will proceed much further. This is precisely the condition in which David found himself in Psalm 73.


(Psalms 73:1-3)  "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. (2) But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. (3) For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."


A. How weak our hands are! How feeble our knees!


How sluggish and inactive we are in prayer!—In hearing the Word of God!—In Worship!—In holding fast our profession!—In the performance of those things by which the gospel of Christ is to be adorned!


We are easily wearied and fatigued with weights and burdens of sins and afflictions. We are faint, fearful, and timorous, through distrust of God’s goodness, grace, love and the promises of his unfailing goodness, compassion, grace and care. Are we not?


This is the Lord’s word of exhortation to you and me.—"Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees!" He here calls for us to be active in every duty—courageous before every foe—and of good cheer in every woe. He is calling for us to patiently bear every burden he puts upon us, looking to him for help, and strength, and protection.


B. Particularly, this is a call for us to help one another in such times of need.


·        Eliphaz commended Job because God’s servant Job had been such a helper of his weak brethren (Job 4:3-4).


(Job 4:3-4)  "Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. (4) Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees."


·        I know that our text is primarily referring to and urging us to help one another because Hebrews 12:12 is a quotation from Isaiah 35:3, where the admonition cannot be mistaken.


(Isaiah 35:3-4)  "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. (4) Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you."


·        When our brethren are weak, when it appears that they are ready to quit the race, let us refresh and strengthen them with love, sympathizing with them, speaking comfortably to them, and by bearing their burdens.


(Galatians 6:1-3)  "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (2) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (3) For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself."


C. When one of God’s children appear to be lame, lame by their own foolishness, we are to make straight paths for their feet, that they may be healed (v. 13).


(Hebrews 12:13)  "And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."


The word "feet" refers to our walk, our manner of life, both in the church, and in the world—“How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O Prince’s daughter”(Song 7:1). There are straight paths made ready for our feet to walk in.


·        These paths are the old paths of Gospel truth.


(Jeremiah 6:16)  "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein."


·        The straight path in which we must walk is the path to the house and throne of our God.


(Psalms 122:1-4)  "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. (2) Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. (3) Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: (4) Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD."


·        The straight paths made for our feet are the paths of Holy Scripture.


(Psalms 119:41-48)  "Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word. (42) So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. (43) And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. (44) So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. (45) And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. (46) I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. (47) And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. (48) My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes."


·        We make the paths straight for ourselves and for one another by steadfastly refusing to add anything to the Word, ordinances, and worship of our God and by taking care not to neglect that which God has ordained for our souls’ good.—Make the paths straight for yourself!—Make the paths straight by example for one another!


D. Look at verse 13 again.—How tenderly the Lord urges us to this business of caring for one another!


Lest that which is lame be turned out of the way”—The word “lame” is a very strong word. It means that which is twisted and broken. Who would not pity a man fallen in the streets, whose legs had been twisted and broken?


How much more we ought to pity a lame member of Christ’s body! How much more we ought to pity a lame member of our family!


·        Lame because his nature is corrupt!

·        Lame because he has behaved foolishly!

·        Lame by his own neglect!


But let it rather be healed.”—“Let the fallen believer be restored, the weak brother be confirmed, the halting professor be strengthened, and everyone be built up and established upon the most holy faith, and in the pure ways of the Gospel” (Gill).


E. Shall we not, my brothers and sisters, do for one another what our God does for us?


(Micah 4:6-8)  "In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; (7) And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. (8) And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem."


(Zephaniah 3:19-20)  "Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. (20) At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD."


How can we heed this admonition? How can we strengthen our own hands and one another’s? How can we strengthen our own feeble knees and each other’s? How can we make straight paths for our own broken legs and one another’s? Read verse 14, and you will see.


(Hebrews 12:14)  "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:"


II. If we would serve the souls of men, if we would do one another good, and serve the interests of our own souls, we must set our hearts continually upon Christ.


A. Children of God, ever follow the path of peace with all men.


As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”—In Society—In Your Home—In The House of God!


Brethren, "follow peace," be in eager pursuit of peace! Use every means God gives you to live in peace. Spare no energy, no sacrifice, no cost to promote peace.


·        Our God is the God of peace.

·        Our Savior is the Prince of peace.

·        The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of peace.

·        The Gospel we profess to believe is the gospel of peace.


B. If we would serve the souls of men and serve our own souls, if we would help the fallen and heal the broken, we must incessantly pursue that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.


1.     Let us ever seek to live in all holiness and godliness; but that is not the holiness here spoken of.

2.     Let us constantly observe and faithfully keep the holy ordinances of divine worship; but that is not the holiness here spoken of.

3.     That holiness without which no man shall ever see God is the holiness that is found only in Christ!

4.     The only way we shall ever see God and live, and the only way we can help one another along the way, is to set our hearts upon the pursuit of Christ and constantly urge one another to do the same.


(Philippians 3)  "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. (2) Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. (3) For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (4) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; (6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (16) Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. (17) Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (18) (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: (19) Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (20) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."


There can be no doubt that the holiness spoken of in verse 14, that holiness we must constantly pursue is Christ. Not only is that the only interpretation consistent with the message of Holy Scripture, the illustration used in verses 15-17 is given to verify it.


III. Here we warned that the turning of our hearts away from Christ and the gospel of the grace of God is sure to end in our everlasting ruin.


(Hebrews 12:15)  "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;"


·        The grace of God cannot and shall not fail!

·        But multitudes fail of the grace of God, multitudes are turned from the gospel of the grace of God (Gal. 5:1-4).


(Hebrews 12:16)  "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright."


·        Those who fail of the grace of God are those who, like Esau, sell Christ for the world.


(Colossians 3:1-3)  "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."


(Matthew 6:31-33)  "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (32) (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. (33) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."


(Ecclesiastes 3:10-11)  "I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. (11) He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."


(Hebrews 12:17)  "For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."


Hear me, my friends. God help you to hear me. Esau is in hell today because he sold Christ for the gratification of his lusts, because he sold Christ for the world. Let us not be so foolish!


“Those who are so foolish as to allow anything in this life to cause them to renounce their faith and duty as children of the living God will, like Esau, some day weep with bitter tears, when it is beyond their power to recover what is lost! Guard against fleshly appetites and apostasy; guard against neglecting spiritual blessings and privileges lest you come, at last, to mourn bitterly your foolishness and wickedness.


We have entered a race. The prize goes to those who finish (Heb. 10:35-39). There will be difficult times, perhaps heavy trials; and along the way there will be tempting pastures of pleasures which appeal to our flesh. We must go on! We may proceed rapidly or slowly; we may even stumble and fall, but looking to Christ, we continue! I have a responsibility to the doctrines of Christ, my Lord. Neither the frowns nor smiles of men will cause me to surrender them. I have a responsibility to the church of the Lord Jesus. I have a responsibility to my family, to keep it together, to set a godly example in worship, integrity and faithfulness. I must not lay down this trust nor fail to see it through. I have a responsibility to the Captain of my soul! He loves me and I love him.


‘Must Jesus bear the cross alone

And all the world go free?

No, there's a cross for everyone,

And there's a cross for me.

The consecrated cross I'll bear

Till death shall set me free,

And then go home, my crown to wear,

For there's a crown for me.’”

              (Pastor Henry Mahan—A Bible Class Commentary)