I had departed from home for Church yesterday morning with an entirely different post in mind for today. Yet while sitting in a small group our attention was brought to this text from Hebrews 10:32-34. I will be using the original King James Version of the Bible because I had accidently brought it instead of my regular New King James Bible.
But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions: and partly, whilst ye became companion of that were so used. For ye had compassion on me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your good, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and enduring substance.
In the Newer translations, the word gazingstock is changed to spectacle and reads as follows: Partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations and partly while you became companions to those who were so treated.
Over the next 10 minutes or so, the discussion was quite lively as to what the author of Hebrews was trying to say. Several texts were read both before and after this passage to get a better feel for what was trying to be said. About the only real word that is changed between several different versions is the word Gazingstock to spectacle and I can truly understand why modern-day translators use spectacle over gazingstock.
Several years ago my oldest daughter and I made a visit to Williamsburg Virginia. We made the patriot tour of Williamsburg, James town and York Town. Spent a week there visiting as much as we could. One of the things that caught my attention in Williamsburg was the placing of the stocks near the center of town. It was the place prisoners and those who had committed a crime were brought and having been placed on the stocks they were then publicly humiliated, often having rotten food and other items thrown at them along with people shouting insults at them.
So when in the small group after having read this passage in the original Old King James, my mind went back to the trip to Williamsburg were I willingly placed myself in the stocks and had my picture taken. There was no rotten food thrown at me or jeers from the crowd that stood nearby. But I instantly felt humiliated and embarrassed and very uncomfortable.
The writer of Hebrews is saying, Remember those early days when you were first illuminated by the gospel message and for it you endured a great fight of emotions and afflictions on your souls. But you were also made a gazingstock, you were placed in a position by accepting the gospel that others failed to understand you and therefore made fun of you and humiliated you just if you had been placed in the Stocks ready to be led to the arena to be killed. And because of your association with the gospel and its message of light you became companions of those who had suffered also for the sake of the gospel. But you brought them in and fed them and housed them and cared for them and thus you and them gained strength and your endurance increased. You spent of your time and money to help those around you even those that humiliated you.
Therefore by your actions, your caring for those in similar condition as yourself and caring for those that humiliated you, you therefore have built up treasure not here on earth, but in heaven.
One would almost believe that it was a way to work your way to heaven, but that is not what the text is saying. This text in no way takes away the fact that we are saved by grace through faith, but shows that our faith is active in that we are performing acts of kindness as Christ did which shows we value that which is in heaven more than the things of this world.
None of us want to be placed in the Stocks and publicly humiliated but there will be times in our Christian experience that because we are Christian and being that our believes and actions are different from the world’s will cause us to be placed in the spot light. May our prayer be that we will remain strong, remembering the joy we had when we first became Christian remembering our focus should not be about the things of this world but instead we should reflect the character of Christ in all our actions.