“26 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrew Christians were persecuted by their previously close Jewish brothers and sisters. They were despised, kicked out of fellowship, and barred from the Jewish synagogues, where they had likely spent their whole lives. They were completely shunned and needed fellowship and support. The word used for “forsaking” in the original language is severe, indicating early Christians were completely eschewing their fellow Christians.
The Holy Spirit tells them not to pull back, not to hide, but instead to lean on each other in love and service. They needed the benefits of fellowship and unification.
One of the best illustrations of this is an often-quoted story, “The Silent Sermon.” It goes like this:
A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, suddenly stopped coming to church. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to pay him a visit.
The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for the pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning log. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone.
Then he sat back in the chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As one lone ember’s flame flicked and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon, it was cold and lifeless. The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave; he slowly stood up. Picked up the cold dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”
Hebrews 26 talks about the coming Day. The day referred to is the second coming of Jesus. His second coming will be preceded by the Day of the Lord, a time of extreme tribulation on the earth. As we see this time coming we are not to shrink back, but instead unite in love and good works.
Just as the fiery ember shining when together with other embers in the fire, we are to come together all the more often, strengthened in our love for one another and our God. It’s time to be strengthened and shining together, the Day of His coming is nearly here.