There has been a lot of discussion about “forsaking the assembly” and Hebrews 10:25 recently. A number of fine articles have been written that break down how to properly apply that teaching to our current situation. One thing that has not really been discussed is the phrase “as you see the day approaching”. In light of our situation, it has especially been on my mind. What exactly does that mean?
There are two predominant views of what “the day” is:
1. The second coming of Christ. The writer has already set this in the mind of his audience (9:28) and then again in this same chapter (10:38). The problem with this view comes from the phrase “as you see”. The Lord will return as a thief in the night, and will not leave signs to signal his return (2 Peter 3:10). However, there is a sense in which we are aware and we are not caught off guard like a thief in the night (1 Thess 5:4).
2. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. This was an event that would be preceded by very specific visual signs (Matt 24:3-34). The signs of that event were so clear that it is believed that not a single Christian was killed during that awful period. This view also, makes sense as he was writing to Jewish Christians and they would be especially targeted. I find this to be what the writer is most likely talking about.
No matter the interpretation, the same lesson can be taught. Either one of these events will put a damper on their ability to assemble.
If “the day” is the second coming of Christ, that’s it. They don’t have another chance to be faithful. They have forsaken the Lord, and they will spend an eternity in hell thinking about how flippant they were with their faithfulness (10:26-29).
If "the day" was the destruction of Jerusalem, they would need to scatter to the hills (Matt 24:16). In that situation, these Christians wouldn’t have the ability to meet the way they had been. They won’t have access to the encouragement, and ability to “stir one another up”. Without that, they have a greater chance of falling away.
So in either case, he is telling them not to waste their opportunity to assemble. He is telling them not take the ability to meet for granted, because they won't always have it.
With that in mind, we are in a unique position to appreciate this verse in a very special way. It has been two weeks without assembling here, and it has been the most challenging thing about this whole quarantine. Those little things that we sometimes take for granted like the handshakes and hugs have become a huge chasm. I have seen a couple preachers say things like, “I can’t wait to ask everyone to stand and sing”. This has been an amazing lesson on how much good worship has done for us that we weren’t even aware of. Not assembling together is the worst, and thankfully technology will never take its place. It can't.
Hopefully when all this mess passes, we will all have a greater appreciation for worship. Hopefully we will have learned just how much we need to assemble. Hopefully we have decided to be more faithful to our God and his family. Hopefully we will come back with a heart full of joy and praise and shout, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord!” – Psalm 122:1