Are We 'Forsaking The Assembly'?
We just passed the third Sunday of what may be a 13-week stretch of not assembling. This is an extreme rarity in all of American history. Even during the Spanish flu of 1918, there was not such a global prohibition of all assemblies, including those in houses of worship. Congregational worship is so ingrained in the faithful that its absence is disorienting and distressing. But is this present hiatus “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” as per Heb. 10:25?
Here is just one way to look at this issue. Consider the broader context of Hebrews and ask yourself if it matches our current situation:
1. “We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. ... How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” – 2:1, 3
2. “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’” – 3:7-8 (repeated in 3:15 and 4:7)
3. “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily ... lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” – 3:12-13
4. “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.” – 3:19-4:1
5. “Let us hold fast our confession.” – 4:14
6. “You need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” – 5:12
7. “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” – 6:11-12
8. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” – 10:23
9. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – 10:25
10. “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” – 10:29
11. “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.” – 10:35
12. “‘If anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” – 10:38-39
Due to persecution (Heb. 10:32-34; 12:3-4), these Hebrew Christians were consciously choosing to forsake the Lord. They considered commitment to Him not worth the price they were paying. One sign of their weakened faith was absenting themselves from worship assemblies.
If your conscience is distressed about the prolonged layoff we are currently experiencing, that itself is evidence that you are not violating Heb. 10:25. The Hebrew brethren were looking for reasons to absent themselves from assembling. Their situation and ours are not parallel.