6. These men who led holy lives were joined by many other godly men who because of envy suffered insult and torture, but left us shining examples. Through envy, many women have received torture and unspeakable outrages. After completing their course of faith with strength, being weak in body, they received a glorious reward. Jealousy has estranged wives from their husbands and perverted what was said by our father Adam, “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Envy and strife have destroyed great cities and overturned mighty nations.

7. Beloved, we are writing these things to you not just to instruct you, but to remind ourselves. We are in the same arena and face the same conflict. Let’s give up our vain and empty cares and rise up to the glorious and honorable rule of our calling. Let’s think about the things that are noble, pleasing, and good to our Maker. Let’s look upon the blood of Christ and see how precious it is to the Father. Being poured out for our salvation, the entire world has received the gift of repentance. Let’s look at every past generation and see that in every age the Lord has given the opportunity for repentance to anyone willing to turn to him. Noah preached repentance, and those who listened to him were saved. Jonah told the Ninevites they would be destroyed, and they did penance for their sins. Their prayers pleased God, and they gained salvation even though they weren’t God’s people. 

8. Through the Holy Spirit, the ministers of God’s grace have made repentance known. The Lord of all has said with an oath, “As surely as I live, says the Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people, but want them to repent so they can live” (CEV). He also added a kind saying, “Turn from your sins people of Israel. Tell this to the children of my people, even if your sins stack from earth to heaven, and if they’re redder than scarlet and blacker than sackcloth, if you turn your whole heart to me and say, ‘Father!’ I will hear you as a holy people.” And in another place he says, “Wash and make yourself clean. Remove the evil from your souls that offends my eyes. Stop being evil, learn to do good. Strive for justice, help the oppressed, care for the orphans, and help the widows. Let’s come together and reason with each other, says the Lord, if your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. If they are red as crimson, I will make them like wool. If you will listen to me, you will eat the good fruit of the land, but if you are not willing and do not listen, you will be engulfed in war.” This is what the Lord said. 

9. So, let’s obey his magnificent and beautiful purpose, and let’s long for his mercy and loving kindness. Let’s bow down to him and leave behind the uselessness of trying to be good, our conflict and jealousy that leads to nothing but death. Let’s look at the people who have ministered so beautifully to God’s glory. Look at Enoch, who was righteous and obedient and who was taken into heaven without dying. Noah was faithful in doing his sacred duty and preached a renewal of the world. Through him, God saved every living creature that entered peacefully into the ark. 

10. Abraham was called God’s friend. He showed he was faithful and obedient to God’s word. He left his country, his relatives, and his father’s home. By turning his back on that small country, those weak relationships, and an unforgiving house he received the blessing promised by God. The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (NRSV) When he and Lot separated God said to him, “Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.” (NRSV) It is also said, God led Abraham out and told him, “Look at the heavens and count the stars. Your descendants will be as numerous as them.” Abraham believed what God said, and his trust made him righteous. Because of his faith and hospitality, God gave him a son in his old age. And because he was obedient, he was willing to offer his son as a sacrifice to God on the mountain God had pointed out. 

<Chapters 1-5 Chapters 11-15>

%d bloggers like this: