Partly, whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
— Hebrews 10:33
Have you ever taken a stand of faith that made you the biggest joke in your church, among your friends, in your city, or in your state? When people heard what you believed that God told you, did they laugh? Did they find the dream God gave you to be one of the most amusing things they had ever heard, endlessly joking about it at your expense? Did you find their response humiliating and hurtful, or were you able to shove it aside and keep marching forward with the orders Jesus gave you?
When the writer of Hebrews wrote his letter, the Jewish believers to whom he was writing had been walking by faith for many years. He reminded them of how people first responded when they started their walk of faith. He said, “Partly, whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used” (Hebrews 10:33).
Do you see the word “gazing stock” in this verse? It comes from the Greek word theatron, from which we get the word theater. It means to observe, to watch, to study, to scrutinize, or to bring upon the stage for all to see. It is a picture of spectators taking their seats in the theater to watch how the play goes, all the way through Act I, Act II, Act III, and Act IV. However, if we look at this word in the context of this verse, we can see that this audience isn’t watching to see how good the show is; they are watching in order to catch the players making a mistake!
This crowd is on the edge of their seats, anticipating the first time one of the actors makes a mistake or forgets a line so they can laugh at him, scorn him, ridicule him, and make fun of him. In fact, one expositor says the Greek word theatron in this verse means to bring on to the stage in order to scorn, to scoff at, to shame, to sneer at, and to publicly humiliate.
It is so important that this word was used here, for the Holy Spirit is alerting us to the fact that whether you and I like it or not, when we take a step of faith or a new stand on the Word of God, it almost always puts us “center stage”! We may not be known by thousands, but our faith confession or our announced plans will become the dinner conversation among friends, family, associates, and foes. Everyone will seem to develop an opinion as to whether we are overstepping our boundaries by taking on something too big for us, or whether we will be able to fulfill our dream.
You’ll be amazed at how many of the people you thought would believe in you and support you instead buy a ticket to the show with everyone else, taking a seat in the theater to watch how well you fare with your new grand announcement! It’s just a fact that there will always be spectators who stand by, eagerly anticipating the moment they can laugh at you or say, “We told you so!” when you make your first mistake in your walk of faith. Unfortunately, many times these spectators are not unbelievers, but believers!
Because the word theatron is used in this verse, an expanded translation of this verse could read this way:
“You were made a theater.…”
“You became a spectacle of entertainment.…”
“On account of your faith, you became the best show in town….”
Hebrews 10:33 also uses two other very important words that are key for you to understand. These are the words “reproaches” and “afflictions.” The word “reproach” is the Greek word oneidismos, and it refers to insults hurled at you from other people. This is precisely what they did to Jesus when He was on the Cross. That Cross literally put Jesus on the center stage of the universe. Rather than applauding Him for what He was doing for mankind, the people “reproached” Him. In other words, they threw insults and slanderous accusations at Him.
When you take a strong stand by faith or when the Holy Spirit convicts you about staying true to a principle in God’s Word, Satan will do everything within his power to coax you to move off that stance of faith. He’ll use family members, friends, associates, and even circumstances to thwart the plan of God for your life. The devil will use people you know and love to say things that simply shock you! This is his attempt to get you to back off the promise you have received. But if you are certain you are doing what God told you to do, don’t budge an inch, no matter how much verbal opposition you encounter!
But Paul says that in addition to the verbal abuse that people may hurl at you, the devil will also try to use “afflictions” to stop you! The word “afflictions” is from the Greek word thlipsis, which refers to a tight squeeze or terrible pressure. This describes how the devil will try to use circumstances and events in life to put you under so much pressure that you eventually break, throwing in the towel and giving up. This word thlipsis indicates that the devil may try to use everything around you to shut you down when you step out in faith to obey what God has instructed you to do.
Satan doesn’t hide in the closet and pop out at night to personally attack us while we’re sleeping! Because he is the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), he uses the world to do battle with us. In other words, he uses people, events, situations, circumstances, and difficult dilemmas to obstruct us from reaching our goals.
But regardless of what weapon the enemy uses or how he attempts to combat you and me, we have a faith that overrides and supersedes any organization, any event, any circumstance, or any difficult dilemma Satan would try to employ against us. He may be the “god of this world,” but we have a weapon so powerful that we can shoot him down every time he shows up uninvited!
So when you find yourself on center stage in front of people who are watching your walk of faith as if it were the newest show in town, don’t let this situation take you by surprise or throw you off track from your assignment. Ignore it. And if problems emerge as you step out in faith, don’t let that shake you either. You shouldn’t automatically assume that problems are indicators you are doing something wrong. They may be indicators that you are doing something right and that Satan hates it!
Ask the Spirit of God to help you stay on track. Don’t budge an inch, and refuse to yield or give any territory to the devil. It’s time for you to stay put, ignore the opposition, and hold tight!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, help me keep my eyes and ears fixed on You and not on what I see and hear coming from people and circumstances around me. I believe that Your Word is true; therefore, I am standing firm on Your promise to me. Regardless of what people say or do, I choose to follow You! Please help me to stay put and to ignore other people’s verbal accusations as I hold tightly to Your Word.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I boldly declare that I will not move from the promise Jesus made to me! His Word is true, and His timing is right. Therefore, I am staying put until I see the manifestation of what I have believed! Although the devil tries to use people and circumstances to move me, I refuse to be moved from what Jesus has promised me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you think of a time when you took a step of faith that put you on center stage in most people’s minds? Did you feel like everyone bought a ticket to the show and took their seats to watch, to scrutinize, and to criticize?
2. As you sincerely review your own past, can you think of a time in your life when you became the cynic and critic of someone who took a step of faith? If your answer is yes, is it possible that you are now reaping what you sowed and that you need to repent for being critical in the past of others who took similar steps of faith?
3. Do you have a faith-filled circle of friends who are standing with you and who are supporting you as you take this step of faith? Can you name those friends who are standing with you?