“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.Hebrews 13:6
What can mere mortals do to me?”
Man is a social animal. Good or bad, we need people around us to support our ideas and actions. Similarly, we expect God to support us in the exact way we expect support from the people around us.
Support extended by people gives us a secure feeling and acceptance in the society. When we are sick, we seek a doctor, when we need legal counsel, we seek a lawyer’s guidance and when we need protection, we go to the cops.
All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines, and whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service.1 Samuel 14:52
We admire our imaginary superheroes from our favorite movie franchise and in a similar way, we may be using the below verse, inadvertently comparing Jesus to our imaginary caped crusaders.
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”Hebrews 13:6
For people who approach God only on a need-to-need basis, this verse appears as a challenge given to their enemies, treating Jesus as a superhero with an assumption that He will protect them from the hands of their enemies.
To derive the exact meaning, we should read this verse in its context by including the previous five verses and the following ten verses. The author motivates his readers to show brotherly love, to entertain strangers and to bear the burden of people who are suffering.
After that, he asks his readers to stay away from sexual immorality and advises them not to love money. He encourages his readers by reminding them that God is with them and He will neither leave them nor forsake them in all their endeavors including their desire to get away from the above mentioned transgressions.
In Hebrew 13:9 the author warns his readers not to get into wrong teachings about eating ceremonial food but emphasized that they should strengthen their hearts every day in His grace. In Hebrews 13:7, he asks them to keenly observe the life of their mentors, who brought them to the truth and realize what their faith was able to achieve and suggests to emulate their mentor’s way of living.
He also assured them that Jesus Christ is the same God who led their forefathers, who is giving grace to their mentors, and the one who will lead the next generation in His grace forever.
Hebrews 13:6 is taken from Psalm 118:6, an Egyptian Hallel Psalm sung by the huge congregation assembled during the Passover Festival as a Praise (Hallel) Psalm to our God (Yahweh). The word Hallelujah is coined by putting together these two Hebrew words ‘Hallel’ and ‘Yahweh’.
This Psalm was sung as a thanksgiving song by the people of Israel, reminding them of all the great battles which God had won for them. However, God’s divine protection was not always guaranteed to them. God’s people were even persecuted for their loyalty to Him. The Psalmist proclaims that no matter what anyone does to him, his life would remain in God’s control.
Verse 6 is a confession of a believer and not a proclamation against his enemies. We must not think that God will destroy our enemies but rather, He will give us the heart, just like His, to love one another, entertain strangers and feel the pain of people who are suffering.
If Jesus would have quoted this verse in the Garden of Gethsemane, what would He have meant? Definitely this verse would have made His incomparable love known to His persecutors.
We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.Hebrews 13:10
Without a personal encounter with Jesus, remaining in a Church and serving Him, stops us from absorbing the word to sustain our spiritual life. We should be ready to face the emerging challenges by following His standards.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.Matthew 5:44-48
When we stand firm against such challenges, we will understand the seriousness of the punishment levied on Jesus, who did not commit any sin. He died for sinners like us, our friends and our enemies. While we ask God to protect us from our enemies, we should not fail to remember that He is the one who is going to protect them too.
But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.Genesis 4:15
No one can harm us because the God who loves us, loves the people who intend to harm us too and no one can stand against His love. We may fail in showing love to our enemies but God is able to love our enemies to the extent of transforming their darkest lives into a light shining for the Truth.