Most people read this chapter as separate in theme from the previous one. As if it is an added addendum with a bunch of random instructions and a farewell tagged on the end. But it is not written that way at all. It is a description of the unshakeable eternal Kingdom we have become members of. Herein this chapter, are the highest virtues of Christ’s Kingdom from an earthly perspective. Brethren must be loved (Heb 13:1); Strangers must be received (13:2); the Persecuted must be supported (13:3); Spouses in Christ must be honored (13:4). The context of one of the greatest promises in the Bible, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” is covetousness. Insecurity promotes a perverted attraction to material things. “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”, v16. Covetousness and all other insecurities are overcome by faith in God’s power to keep his promises, with God as our ally, and Jesus as our King of kings (Mat. 28:18, Rev. 17:14, 1st Tim. 1:17) we have nothing to fear from men (13:6). Why? Because God has proved Himself over and over again as being omnipotent against sin, death and all the weapons of the evil one. Do you believe this? Joshua had the same promise made from our God and He kept it powerfully! Joshua 1:5.
Go With Him Outside the Camp, v7-14
This must be one of the tallest orders God ever gave a Christian. But we will never be expected to Go alone, the word “WITH” is very important. Under the old law on the Day of Atonement, the high priest could not participate in the sacrifice after the sin offering was made (Lev 16). These sacrifices had to be taken outside the camp and burned. In a similar way, Jesus was taken outside the camp (gates of Jerusalem) and crucified. He suffered outside the city/camp in order to sanctify humanity through His own blood, the blood of the Lamb of God. So therefore, we too must go outside the camp and bear His reproach (1 Pet. 4:13). This is a spiritual exercise, that we can do within our hearts in the communion on Sunday, (this could be the “altar” he refers to in v10), or we can do it whenever we feel we are being mistreated, mocked or even persecuted, in our minds when we pray. Who do you pray through when you’re in a trial? Who is the intercessor when you’re tempted?
Listening, Obeying & Submitting to our Leaders, v7, 17 & 24. Those who are speaking this faith to us in the first place are leading us in the path of glory & grace, and it is their faith we should imitate, not necessarily their every action or deed. The “outcome” of their way of life in faith, which is what is important for us to keep in mind & heart. Praying for our Leaders is a command for us to obey, not just for our civil leaders, but for our spiritual leaders too, 1st Timothy 2:1-2. For this congregation, that is Dennis & Ralph. For me personally it is my mom & step-dad David & Loretta Armstrong and brothers like Joe Nisbet & Frank Worgan who taught me God’s word in numerous Bible classes. Who is this passage telling you to pray for personally? Who is this passage telling us to pray for as a congregation? Who spoke the word of God to you in truth from the beginning of your Christian walk of faith? In 1st Timothy 5:17, it was Paul telling Timothy to honor his Elders, even though Paul himself considered himself to be like a spiritual father to him. So your leaders may change throughout your life, but we should always keep them in our prayers! Those prayers will be answered, and you will be blessed beyond your expectations!