Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more…
A note of time is struck here, and the context shows that the apostle makes use of this note as a stimulus to Christian earnestness in every department of the Christian life. The expression " day" is a very common one in the Bible. It is used, as other words are, in various senses. It is used to signify the natural day of four-and-twenty hours; it is used to signify the artificial day, the rising and the setting of the sun, which varies at different times and seasons, because of the obliquity of the sphere; it is used to signify the civil day, which varies in the manner of counting according to the habits of the various nations of the world. But the expression "day" is used in Scripture in a less direct manner than this, to signify an indefinite period of time. It is used to express the forty years during which the Jews were in the wilderness, called "the day of temptation," that is, the period of temptation. And in this larger sense we read in Scripture of a "day" of grace, a "day of vengeance," a "day of death," a "day of judgment." Let us consider these.
I. The apostle did not say to the Hebrews that their "DAY" Or GRACE WAS "APPROACHING," nor can I say so to you. Their day of grace had come, and so has yours. Your day of grace did not approach with this new year; you had it last year, you have had it all your years, you have it still — it has followed you into this new year. "Now is the accepted time, now is the clay of salvation." The gospel sun has risen upon you in all its light, in all its warmth, in all its privileges, in all its responsibilities. But there is a setting of the gospel sun as well as a rising. Of this the Hebrews are warned. The gospel is not always left in the same country, nor in the same part of the country; not always in the same town, nor in the same congregation in a town. Now, avail yourselves of these opportunities while you have them, and tell your neighbours to do the same. You are not all doing this as you ought.
II. But, then, secondly, in many places and in many persons, where a day of grace was long enjoyed, there has also succeeded a "DAY OF VENGEANCE." "God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"; and the reaping is often in this world as well as the sowing. The retribution is not always kept for eternity; there is retribution in time. Opportunities are put an end to; domestic circumstances occur, withdrawing men from means of grace, from the gospel; distances are enlarged, and prosperity is diminished; expenses cannot be incurred, and opportunities cannot be enjoyed, as before. There is a solemn calamity. Domestic judgments fall also upon families; I say not in anger, because of means abused, but as a matter of fact, whatever the motive may be in Him who brings them. Without presuming to scan His reasons, we are commanded to observe His doings; and these things He does. He brings, in various ways, domestic and relative and personal judgments, which cut short, or greatly diminish, the opportunities of grace. Now in other ways days of vengeance, putting an end to days of grace, are brought upon men, as in national calamities. A day is approaching which may shake every throne and every established church in Christendom. And what then? What should Christians be prepared for? We should all be prepared for storms. How do we prepare for natural storms? Why, we build a strong house and have it fortified against the tempest. We take care that the doors and windows are made capable of resisting the impetuosity of the gale. We seek a hiding-place from the tempest; and in a climate like this we should be considered mad if, with the means of having a house over our heads, we were to wait until the storm came to get a house. We prepare the house for the storm, and we prepare it with the more earnestness because we see the storm approaching. What is to be done here, then, as ye see a day approaching when your means of grace may be removed — a day when even our own favoured country, hitherto comparatively quiet, may be disturbed. Is there, then, no possibility of a day approaching? And where should Christians be found? We have a new and living way of access to God; we have a High Priest over the house of God. We should "hold fast our profession," for "He is faithful that promised." And we should "consider one another," have a friendly eye to things around, consider where failures are, kindly, but firmly, point them out, to "provoke unto love and to good works," and this "the more as ye see the day approaching."
III. Though no such day as I have imagined should approach our favoured nation within our time, yet is there another "day approaching" which calls for preparation — a day which no power can ward off, no riches bribe. It may come suddenly to many of us; to all it is approaching with gradual, but determined and decisive step. It is giving notes of warning as it comes in many of us. "WE HAVE THE SENTENCE OF DEATH IN OURSELVES." It was Dr. Watts who said to a friend that came to see him on his death-bed, "You come now to see an old friend; we have talked on many subjects of learning, and criticism, and controversy; now none of these things suit me; I must now take that view of the gospel which the poorest Christian in the town can take as well as I." And so he died, in simple reliance on Jesus. See, then, my brethren, that you realise this reliance, "so much the more as ye see the day approaching."
IV. "WE MUST ALL APPEAR BEFORE THE JUDGMENT-SEAT OF CHRIST." Every one of you "must give account of himself to God," where there will be no possibility of concealment, no doubtful examination of witnesses, no hesitation about facts, no cross-examination to ascertain what the facts were, but where all will be transparent to the Judge — all that we have done in the flesh, whether it were good, or whether it were bad. How shall we be ready for the " day" which is thus " approaching"? The answer is as before: no man shall stand in that judgment but the man who is in Christ Jesus. This is the only preparation for the judgment — "the day" of the judgment of God.
(H. McNeile. D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.