Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 12

People who cannot benefit from God’s kindness

Hebrews 12:15

Hebrews 12:15-16 mentions three groups of people who cannot benefit from God’s kindness. Each person should examine his own heart and mind to make sure that he does not belong to these groups.

The first group is people who ‘fail’ to obtain God’s kind gifts. The author used the word for ‘fail’ before in Hebrews 4:1. Then, the author had just described the people whom Moses led through the desert (Hebrews 3:16-19). God had promised to give the country called Canaan to those people. But they failed to complete their journey. They all died in the desert, before they reached Canaan.

That happened because of their unbelief. In other words, they refused to believe God, and they refused to trust him.

The same thing can happen to people today. God has made promises in the Bible, and they could benefit from those promises. But they refuse to believe God, and they refuse to trust him. And for those reasons, they cannot benefit from his promises.

The author describes the second group as a ‘bitter root’. By ‘bitter’, he means ‘poison’. He is referring to Deuteronomy 29:18. That passage describes people who are not loyal to God. In particular, it describes people who want to serve false gods. Like a poisonous root in a field, their wrong desire is originally secret. But a farmer must remove any such roots as soon as they start to grow. Otherwise, the poisonous plants will produce seeds. They will spread across the field and they will ruin the harvest.

In the same way, someone who is not loyal to God can cause trouble for many people. He can persuade other people to have the same wrong attitudes. The result can be that none of them benefit from God’s kindness.

The last group is people who allow evil desires to rule their lives; we will discuss them in our next study.

Next part: How Esau sold his right to have a relationship with God (Hebrews 12:16)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.