The Book of Hebrews – Commentary

The Epistle to the Hebrews

The Epistle to the Hebrews is a foundational book that demonstrates Jesus’s authority, deity and equality with the Father.  Hebrews is a biblical book that demonstrates and clarifies to the reader exactly Jesus’s Deity.  The following verses also mention Christ’s Deity.  John, Peter, Thomas and Paul all emphatically stated and demonstrated the Deity of Christ and went to their grave and or suffered torture resting in this knowledge.  Even the staunchest CIA/FBI agents crack under extreme torture and pressure, yet the disciples suffered and died willingly with joy in their hearts with 100% certainty that Jesus is Deity.  John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Philippians 2:5-11 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. 9Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Colossians 1:15-20 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.  19For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”

These verses cannot be any clearer as to the Sovereignty of our Lord, Jesus.  Even though Christ Deity can not be reproved Christ centered Christians are outnumbered globally.  The world census reports that there are a little over 6.3 billion people on the planet.  According to the census borough there are 1.8 billion that confess Christ is their Lord and Savior.  The point I am trying to make in this is that Christ centered born again Christian’s are outnumbered and everyday the number of separation is getting larger and larger.  We need to be vigilant to spread the Good News and look for opportunities to share the Gospel with all who the Lord brings our way.  What does the cult do with these verses?  How do they explain away the Deity of Christ?  The lines are being drawn and the distinction between Christ centered Christianity and all other forms of so-called “Christianity” are getting further apart from one another.  The gray area is getting smaller, increasingly becoming black and white.  Those who appose Christ are doing so more openly and forcefully while those caught in the middle are being pulled one way or the other.  What proof does the skeptic have?  What objections can be intellectually discussed as valid?  None!  Christ silenced the skeptic when He fulfilled 312 exact prophecies spoken of Him 400-2000 years before He was even born.  Christ crushed all intellectual objections when he solidified His message by returning from the dead, living for 40 days among the living and ascending into Heaven.  Jesus said, (Luke 11:23) 23He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”  Speaking of scattering, any person, individuals, or group of people whether they be organized or unorganized, slave or free.  They are false teachers and the truth is not in them if they lower Jesus from anything other than God.  Jesus is God, and He demonstrated that by dying on the cross and on the third day rising from the dead.  The Jehovah witness believes that Jesus is the physical form of Michael the Archangel.  What do they do with the book of Hebrews?  The Mormons believe that Christ is a Cherub a brother to Lucifer.  They believe their was this sibling rivalry in heaven where God asked both Jesus and Lucifer to bring Him their version of a plan for mankind and God chose Jesus’s plan over Lucifer’s.  This in turn ticked Lucifer off and he came down on earth to try and thwart Jesus plan for mankind.  You know, to elevate Lucifer into any category that is close to God is ludicrous.  People think that there is this good vs. evil and the two are equal in power.  It is not true.  Satan is a created being a Cherub and God is Supreme Being who only in the interest of being a pawn in the Hand of God, Lucifer would be dust.  The only comparison for Satan is Michael the Archangel.  Two times Satan and Michael sort of duel it out.  One, such battle was over the body of Moses and the other was in response to Daniels prayer where Satan hindered Michael’s delivery of the answered prayer.  Islam teaches that Jesus as a wonderful prophet much like Mohammed.  Thus they can quote Jesus and sound as if they are believers in the Deity of Jesus.  They are the most appealing of false teachers because they have within their Koran the power to pick and choose what they want to believe out of the Bible.  If there is any doctrine in the Bible that does not match their own they can throw it out as mistranslated or interpreted incorrectly.  I have debated with a Muslim and I have learned to not focus on any doctrine other than Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection.  When you are talking to a Muslim they can sound very much like a Christian and can even trick the believer.  Right away if you are talking with someone about the Lord, establish their belief as to, “Who do men say that I am.” (Mark 8:27) 27Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”  28So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.  29He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”

 

Truth is being smudged over with doubt and controversy; both Christian and non-Christian are swallowing it. Take an issue today like abortion, it is accepted among some because of a lie.  The lie that made abortions accepted; was that abortions were being accepted.  The authors who propagated the abortion movement began their movement by fabricating false numbers of abortions that were performed in America to make it seem common.  In turn, if Americans thought it was common then they would be more apt to accept that it is ok.  The same is happening in our culture today, we are seeing the “tolerance” culture.  “Tolerance!” is being screamed from every direction so that no matter what you do or how reprobate you become, culture is supposed to tolerate you.  “Hate literatures,” or “Hate statements,” are thrown at any person who uses scripture to back truth and morality.  40 years ago if you told someone that homosexuality would be celebrated in the streets as a parade they would have laughed you out of town.  Yet, today in the name of “tolerance,” it is being displayed openly and fervently.  An adult having consensual sex with a child seem scandalous to you?  Their is a 15 yr old and his teacher who were intimately in a relationship and the parents of the 15 yr old thought that this relationship was the best thing that ever happened to their child; and allowed the 30 something yr old teacher and child to sleep together in the child’s bedroom.  There is a movement among the homosexual activists to legalize consensual sex between children and adults and propagating that it is healthy for the child to engage in such things.  Minute by minute we are given glimpses of our Lord and we need to build on those glimpses.  As Christians today it is vital that we take time and choose each day which side we are on.  Will we be pleasers of man or pleasers of God?  We need to choose each day to adhere to the purest form of Love and guard our hearts through the washing of the Word against false “tolerance.”

There were convincing critics during the time of Christ who felt that the Disciples had fabricated the whole message of Christ.  To rebuttal the critics, the writer of Hebrews (who is of unknown origin) seems to be reassuring the Hebrew listeners to “Rest Assured,” that Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end.  That Christ is above all forms of religiosity.  Just a little background, the Hebrews were Christian Jews who were living in Jerusalem and had very close proximity to the Temple.  Now, being they were Christ believing Jews they had to be careful not to get absorbed into the traditions of religiosity that had been hammered into them all their lives.  The writer of this book has to sort of dispel critics about Christ and keep the Hebrew believers from falling back into the trap of religiosity.  The Letter to the Hebrews was dispelling myths about Christ, reaffirming, and establishing His worthiness of our worship, devotion, and more importantly our whole life.  One of the main critics of Christianity was a second century man known as Celsus.  Concerning the Christ, Celsus, was quoted as saying, “Is it only now after such a long age that God has remembered to judge the life of men? Did he not care before?”  The writer of Hebrews begins by securing the fact that God did speak in times past.  Let’s look into the book of Hebrews and extract all that Jesus wants to say to us.

 

Hebrews 1

There is an outline to the book of Hebrews.  Chapter 1 discusses Christ’s authority over every aspect of Church from the angels, prophets, the law, and Moses.  Then from Chapter 2 on, Hebrews demonstrates Christ’s authority over everything else in everyday life.  Now lets go through verse by verse through Hebrews 1.

1God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, What a wonderful way to begin the book by addressing it’s true author, God.  God’s message is perfect, but humanity as the instrument for the message is not perfect.  God’s speaking is clear and concise, but humanities understanding are muddled and confused.  God’s desire for us to live peacefully, joyously and righteously has been marred; by those who were to deliver the message.  God’s plan was that He would come down at an appointed time, deliver the single most important message to all of creation in person, and then place His stamp of approval on it by raising Himself up from the dead.  Jews believed that angelic beings were the course by which Moses had received the Law.  God spoke sometimes through angels or audibly.  God has spoken through the Priests, Patriarchs, Prophets, Kings, through the writing on the wall and even a donkey, signs, dreams and through creation around us.  Our God has a message to speak and by in large it is, “hey, know Me, love Me, look to Me, get to know Me, talk to Me, His desire is that we just love Him.  Throughout the Old Testament God used any means necessary get that message across.  But He has always given us the choice, whether we would listen or not.  God has never forced Himself on anyone who does not desire Him.  So, the apologetics that Hebrews makes is that God has always spoken to us.  He has never been a distant God that we would have to wake up, or cut ourselves to get His attention; He never sleeps nor slumbers and His faithfulness is unsearchable.  He is a God that cares so much for us and Psalms 139:17 “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.”  Our God has never left us from times past even to the end of the age. Jesus declared in Matthew 28:20 “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  We, have a direct word from our God that He is always with us and He is no further than a whisper on your tongue or a page in your Bible.

2has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, Jesus, is the fullness of God reduced to the shell of His own creation.  He has spoken.  He has completed the work.  There is no more need for the Father to communicate in any other way other than through the power of the Holy Spirit bringing to mind the very heart and words of Christ.  There will never be a, “new revelation.”  There will never be another revelation or discovered set of tablets that teach more than what Christ has already spoken.  In Luke 24:27 “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”  All of scripture was written to explain, demonstrate and glorify Christ.  Something my pastor Jon Courson has taught me is that when we read through the Old Testament we need to wear our Christ glasses and look for Christ in the passages.  This has helped greatly in understanding the nature of the Father in the Old Testament.  When we read passages of the Old Testament that seem cold hearted, uncaring or harsh; just factor in Jesus and the scripture will demonstrate what it was recorded for.  “Why doesn’t God speak to me,” you might ask?  The answer is, He has and does through His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.  Do you seek a new revelation?  Do you seek the Lord for further depths of His riches and wisdom?  You do not have to look any further than your Bible and within the pages you will find riches and depths of the Lord that no man could ever fully understand.  1 Corinthians 13:12-13 “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.  13And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  Rest assured, dear saint, for one day we will see Him clearly without the hindrances of daily living.  Now, I am saying that everything that God had to say was spoken through Jesus and now there is nothing left that needs to be said.  Why didn’t God just send Jesus right away?  Why speak through conscious, prophets, priests, and the law if they were all shortcoming or literally fell short of the full message?  Adam sinned, then boom!  Jesus is on the scene.  Why didn’t He just send Jesus right away?  I suggest to you because of our pride.  I suggest to you that it is our now sin nature that we would have said, “O’Lord, You did not have to send Your Son Jesus.”  We would have figured You out, Lord You could just send a prophet or an angel certainly would have done it.  We would have got the message.”  The Lord almost has to let us play out our own failures before we realize that we are dumb sinners who need clarification and His completed work.  We have to find ourselves stuck in the mud of sin, wallowing in failures before we surrender to His perfect plan.  God demonstrated His patients, grace and mercy throughout the Old Testament and through the lens of Jesus we will see its clear message.

 

 

Seven Characteristics of Christ

 

  1. Christ is Inheritor:

whom He has appointed heir of all things (V2),  Christ has purchased the title deed of the earth through the shedding of His blood.  When God Created the earth He handed it over to Adam.  When Adam chose sin, he passed the title over to the devil.  Christ’s work on the cross was a purchasing of that title deed.  Now in purchasing that title deed with His blood the scripture tells us that the meek shall inherit the earth.  It is of my opinion that the meek are those who in humility and meekness choose to surrender their life over to Christ, give up searching for riches on earth and as they abandon all, turn to Jesus then they shall inherit the earth.  God has appointed Christ heir, we through Him are joint heirs as children.  Jesus told a parable in Matthew 13 about a man who walked through a field, found a treasure, and bought the field so that he could own the treasure.  Jesus spoke earlier in that same chapter and told us that the field is the world.  Jesus bought the world with His own blood.  Did He do it because He wanted the world?  No, He wanted the treasure that is in the world; you and I.  Galatians 3:29 “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”  What is important to know concerning Christ being heir of all things is that our position in Him is based on a promise the Father had made to Abraham some thousands of years ago.  The Lord told Abraham that His promise would be an everlasting covenant and He has kept His Word to Abraham.  This is reassuring to me and provides application to me practically in that as I look around this dump of a world I can rest assured that I have a place waiting for me in heaven.  I am very thankful that God is steadfast in His promises.  The devil would like us to think that he is in control of our ultimate destiny.  But even he is a pawn in the grander scheme of Gods ultimate plan for all of Creation.  Christ is heir of all things and we; joint heirs.

 

  1. Christ is Creator:

Through whom also He made the worlds(V2), The word “worlds” in our text has a double meaning.  It speaks not only of the expansion of the physical universe around us but it speaks of creating through the expansion of time.  It is speaking of the physical universe and the intangible span of time.  John 1:3-5 says that “3All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  Christ not only was in the initial creation, but was creating from eternity past and will create through eternity future.  In fact, one of the last things that Christ said to us before He ascended to heaven was that He had to ascend so that He could prepare a place for us.  Christ not only created in the original creation of our physical world and universe today, but continues His creating preparing for a place for us in Heaven.  Christ is Creator.  The Father is Spirit and through the audible voice of Christ He spoke the universe into existence.  Genesis 1:1-3 when God created the heavens and earth it says that the earth was without form and void; darkness was on the face of the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.  But then in verse 3 God said, “Let their be light, and there was light.”  That voice according to Hebrews would have been the voice of Christ and the same is true in our own life.  In the statement of “Let their be light,” we can interject Jesus as the light that He is speaking of.  Since humanity is separated from the presence of God and we are void and without form then Christ comes in and says “Let their be light,”.  Once we receive Christ into our lives there is light in our life and the void has been dealt with.  Those who do not know the Lord are like the original creation void and without form.  This is true through the beginning of creation and it is true in our lives today.  Without Christ, all are without form and void.  The void that men have in their heart can only be satisfied with Christ, until Christ is alive in the heart of a man they will attempt to fill it with anything other than Christ.  Individuals can use a lifetime searching for the One, and because they will not invite in the Light they will die in their void-ness.  Men toil and spin in their everyday lives in a state of void-ness until Christ comes in and says, “Let there be light.”  To conclude the meaning of the word used in this verse.  Christ has created and continues to create both the physical and the supernatural; both in eternity past and in eternity future.

 

  1. Christ is Illuminator:

3who being the brightness of His glory(V3),  I like this verse in the Bible because many people think that Christ is like a reflector.  Their perception is that Christ is reflecting the light from the Father to us.  Much like the moon reflects our sun’s light.  This verse clarifies that thought and points out that Christ is not a reflector, but in fact he is the radiator of or the source of His Light.  Christ is the Light that there is no need of a light source in Heaven, for Christ is the radiator and our source of Light.  Men hate the light because it makes the secret things known.  Christ is both the radiation source of God’s light and the effect of the light.  He is both the brightness and the heat both illuminating our steps and giving us energy.  Talk to any science scholar and ask them the devastation the world would go through if the suns light and energy were blocked from reaching the face of the earth.  The same is true of Christ’s illumination, take the illumination of Christ away from mans conscience and there will be darkness and devastation.  Christ is also the illuminator in our life.  Daniel 2:22 “He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.”  How is it that Christ admonishes us?  Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  Jesus is the Light of Life.  Allowing Him to be the illuminator in our life will naturally bring Him glory.  How can His illumination in our life bring Him glory?  Look into the headlights of a car, what do you see?  Do you see the car?  No, you see the light coming from the car.  The same is true in that the brighter He is able to radiate the Father through us the lesser in comparison to that light we become.  Paul said it correctly when he stated that He must increase and I must decrease.  Let His Light shine through you today.

 

 

 

  1. Christ is God’s Character:

and the express image of His person (V3),  the words express image are the Greek word (charakteôr) from which we get our word character which is an engraving or exact copy.  Christ is the character of God.  That is why when we read the Old Testament it is so important to filter the scripture through the lens of Christ.  For a season in my Christian walk, I thought that the God of the Old Testament was cold, stiff and uncaring.  Then Christ came on the scene and was compassionate, kind and caring.  Sort of a good cop, bad cop duo.  Now that I understand that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that Christ is the exact copy of the Father I realized I was looking at the Old Testament improperly and now I see the compassionate God of the Old Testament.  As Christ dwells in our lives we will naturally venerate His character.  Jesus prayed for us in John 17:20-23 20“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”  The Lord prayed that as we were in Him and the Father in Christ that we would be made perfect in one.  Jesus is praying for the character of the Father should be bestowed upon us.  That is why as Christians we live in complete freedom.  From the moment that we accept Him as Lord and Savior I believe this prayer of Jesus is being put in place in our lives and as the Character of God is being shown us through Christ’s example to us and that is changing our wicked heart for His righteous one.  From the moment of conversion a true Christian knows the areas in their life that they need to rectify.  The freedom for me is that I do not have to try and change people.  All I am called to do is bring people the good news of Christ in their life and let Him make the change.  Now, having said that I must confess that there is a time when a Christian needs to be admonished by another Christian and it would be wrong for one to totally ignore the others continual habitual sin.  But, in the interest of Love we have to confront them in Love and not judging, knowing that we could fall into the same sin.  What I am saying is that Christ will work out those flaws in the Christian given they spend time loving the Lord and obeying His commandments.  That is freedom to accept all who are in the body of Christ and love them as I would Christ Himself.  That is the Character of God

 

  1. Christ is Sustainer:

and upholding all things by the word of His power,  I like this verse in that science even today cannot explain even the most basic building blocks of all matter; the Atom.  According to mans understanding of the “Laws of Nature,” the atom defies those laws in its very structure.  The natural scientist cannot explain the phenomenon of what is holding the atom together.  The spiritual scientist who knows this scripture understands fully that it is not what, but who is holding the universe together.  God spoke the universe into existence, the scripture does not say that he wished it into existence, stewed it into existence, and exploded it into existence.  He did not send down an alien seed that sort of stewed and grew into everything we see around us today.  With the word of His power He created and with the word of His power He sustains or upholds.  Jesus told us in Matthew 24 that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”  There is a great importance placed upon His word and the Bible is protected by such a great word.  We should have a complete confidence in the validity and accuracy of Gods word above any other form of thought.  There is power in the word, the very awesome, unmatched power of God.  What is going to hold your world together?  What is going to hold your marriage together?  What is going to establish your steps in righteousness?   What is going to hold your sanity together when all worldly wisdom is gone?  Jesus.  Do you see the incredible application in our life personally and practically in Christ being the sustainer?  Now, if Christ can sustain all things by the word of His power, why do I get apprehensive when bills are piling up?  Why do I sort of stress a bit when things at work aren’t going smoothly?  Why when I am in tribulation do I begin to doubt the work of Christ in my life?  The answer to all of these is because I simply take my eyes off of the Lord.  How can I have such little faith that I can trust He holds the universe together with complete confidence, but when it comes to my life and the issues I face, my trust in Him drops.  I must realize that if He can hold this universe together, my life and its troubles are nothing.  What happens to an atom when it is released or split?  Just ask the people of Japan.  Now imagine how much force it takes to hold that atom together.  Christ is upholding all things by the word of His power.  Dear saint, trust in the Lord.  Know that He cares for you individually and will hold your word together, just get into His word.  Jesus said, “if you love me you will obey my commandments.”

 

  1. Christ is Purifier: When He had by Himself purged our sins
  2. Christ is Ruler: Sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high

This is a demonstration of not only Christ’s Kingship and stature as God and deserving High position as God the Fathers Right Hand.  The words, “He had by Himself” purged our sins would have brought to their memory of the High Priest’s duty to slaughter the bull and sacrifice it over the alter and singularly go into the Holy of Holies and offer a sacrifice to the Lord for the sins of the people.  This scripture demonstrates the finished work and finality of Christ offering His own blood before the throne of God to provide a sacrifice of our sins the accomplished work of God.  Jesus, before He ascended into Heaven explained to the disciples that in the world they would have tribulation and that they had a long road ahead of them of sharing the Good News to every nation, even to the ends of the earth.  Yet, in this verse Christ sits down?  Yes, He cried while He was hanging on the cross, “It is finished.”  We have won the game; Christ can sit back and relax because the work is finished.  I think of watching a sports team where it is a close game, the clock is winding down and the anticipation is high; is there any who could sit down?  I am usually standing in anticipation.  Now, if I was watching a recording of the game and already knew the outcome I would not be so apprehensive.  Usually people are standing when they are anxiously watching something.  Not so with our Lord, as we go through our daily struggles and offsets it is not surprising to Him.  He knows the outcome.  The scripture makes no mistake as to the order in which this was given.  First, we are told that, “He had by Himself purged our sins.”  Secondly we are told, “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”  First, He completes the work then He sits down in its completion.  Much like the creation and the seventh day God rested.  I can see the same process-taking place during creation.  The first six days God is creating and masterfully crafting by the works of His hands.  Then, when the seventh day comes He sits down at the right hand of the Majesty on High.  This has great application in our daily life in that we can live radical lives for the Lord knowing that He has completed the work of salvation “Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.”  The evidence of Christ sitting down at the right hand of the Majesty on high was prophesied through Daniel 7:9 ““I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire.”  This passage was interpreted by R. Akiba as implying that one throne was set for God, and the other for the Messiah.

4having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

         5For to which of the angels did He ever say:

(Psalm 2:7) “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: (2Samuel 7:14)“I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”? 6But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: (Deuteronomy 32:43)“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

 

 7And of the angels He says: (Psalm 104:4)“Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.”

 

 8But to the Son He says: (Psalm 45:6, 7)“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.  9You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”   Hebrews 12:2 “2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  John 15:11 11“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”  Nobody argued with Jesus and said, “What joy?”  Jesus was God and as God He demonstrated to us the “oil of gladness”  I wonder if the Pharisees and Saducees stumbled because of the joy that Jesus had in His heart?  I am sure that they were men of stature and somber minded.  Then here comes this wonderful man, claiming to be God and yet He has joy, laughter and love even for the sinner.  Rather than rejoice in His wonderful mercy and grace, they hardened their heart.  Hmm.  This is a word of warning for us not to forget His mercy, grace and love even to the gravest of sinners.  And we need to learn to take a whole lot more things a whole lot less seriously.  Why can Christians have joy in tragedy?  How can there be a foundational heart of joy for the Christian in grave circumstances?  Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith.  You see a God, who for the joy of having His creation live eternally with Him endure the most agonizing death on earth.

 

10And: (Psalm 102:25-27)“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.  11They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment;  12Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed.  But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.”  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  Jesus is the Word and this world is as a garment compared to the Word.  The world will perish, but His Word will remain.  All we have to do is just get into it.  all we have to do is place ourselves in Him through the power of His Word.  Our founding fathers knew this scripture very well and when they laid their lives down for God to serve Him in creating a Declaration of Independence.  They knew the importance that the Declaration of Independence would never fail as long as we lost dependence in man and his abilities but stayed dependent upon God.  They knew the minute that this country lost sight of our dependence and providence upon God then our Declaration of Independence would fail.  It would not fail because it was outdated or written improperly, it would fail because it was written that a people would be independent from Government and dependent upon the Creator.

 

 13But to which of the angels has He ever said: (Psalm 110:1)“Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”14Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

 

Angels are no more than ministering spirits that God sends forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation.  There is way to much talk about angels in the Christian scene.  It should not be a surprise that angels are as much of a reality as we are.  Their role is in subjection to Christ and as subjects to Christ they are ministers of His will.  The last verses of Hebrews the author gives us a few examples in the scripture to drive home Christ’s prophetic and rightful elevation as being a third of the Trinity of God.  He demonstrates to us using the Old Testament scriptures; the validity of Christ.  The idea of Salvation through Jesus was God’s plan from eternity past.  Know with full assurance that this man Jesus is the Christ and is now sitting at the Right Hand of the Majesty on High.  Do not be ashamed of the gospel of God, for it is the power of God unto salvation.  Jesus is the Christ, and as Christ, let us worship Him as Christ and rest in His promises.

 

 

Hebrews 2

 

 

1Therefore  Let us pause to take into an account of the “Therefore,” in this passage.  Chapter two is a continuing argument brought over from Chapter one.  In Chapter one the author argued the superiority of Christ over angels.  Angels were thought by the Jews to be the source of the Law due to the Deuteronomy account and Chapter one focused on Christ’s superiority.  Now as we get into chapter two the author is going to demonstrate Christ’s authority in humanity and in word.  The author is reminding the Hebrew Christians that since they highly esteemed God’s message to them sent by Angels, how much more are they to give heed to the Word given directly from God Himself. 

We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.  Christ’s message is the final message from God to man.  Throughout the Old Testament God was speaking in various ways, through different means at different times.  Sometimes there was a course of 400 years between when God would speak to his people.  But in Christ, through the teachings and life of Jesus we have the culmination of completed speech from the Father.  On the day of Jesus baptismal the Father spoke, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear Him.”  Listen to Him, take heed to what He has to say because this is the last time you will hear Me speak audibly until that chosen day of the rapture.  “Lest we drift away,” in this passage is not a drifting away as if one was going to lose salvation, but rather their drifting away was the lure back into the Law.

Even though the Hebrew Christians had converted to Jesus and still had their churches and meetings their were Jews who did not convert and they were still active in the old practices of the Law and it was a real threat to the Christian Jews to be lured back into their tradition practices.  The same holds true to us today.  One day you hear the message and God tugs on your heart to respond to the invitation to accept Jesus.  So you do, you raise your hand, go forward, or stand up and say that day, Lord come in me, Lord I want you as my Savior; live in my life today Jesus and take away my filthy sins.  Oh yes, your saved.  But now you have been given a new life 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  Galatians even narrows it down closer to what our Hebrew brethren were dealing with 6:15 “15For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”

Now all things become new but as you look at your life there will naturally be things that you did as a non-believer that you will not want to do as a believer.  One example is hanging out with your friends getting drunk or partying, as I liked to call it.  As a believer, there is a real tendency to be pulled back to that lifestyle.  Sometimes you go back to your friends with the hopes of witnessing to them; but instead they end up pulling you into your old lifestyle.  This does not mean that you are losing your salvation, but that you drifted away from the new creation that you are in Christ.  We need to pay a more earnest heed to the things we have heard Jesus say, lest we drift away.  There was another witness to the benefit of taking heed to what Christ said, Mary his mother.  In John 2 at the wedding when the master of the house had run out of wine for the guests Mary instinctively went to Jesus with their concern.  She turned to the master of the house and said, “Whatever he tells you to do, do it.”  In Matthew 17:5 God said, “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear Him!”  I admonish you to set aside some time of your day to give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard.

 

2For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation,  The Laws and precepts of the Old Testament were accepted among the Jews as the Word spoken to them from God through angels.  They accepted and adhered to the teachings of the Old Testament.  The Law was given to them, and they adhered to every letter of the word because the just reward for their disobedience through the law was death.  Since the Law was a physical set of rules that were strictly enforced, transgressing that law meant a physical death.  Galatians tells us that the wages of sin is death.  Now through our Lord we are given a higher word, a more steadfast word, a literal fulfillment of the law, that if not headed then the reward for disobedience is a spiritual death.  Since death was the wage of sin in the Law Jesus had to die on our behalf to free us from that law and take upon Himself the wages of death.  Since Christ rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father, we too through Christ are victors over death.

Now, in Christ the death that is being spoken of here is a spiritual deadening.  Since God is the source of the Spirit, if we transgress, then what fellowship does light have with darkness?  Having said that let me say that this is not intended for the repentant heart, but rather the non-repentant heart.  Because of Christ absorbing our just reward how could we neglect so great a salvation?  Why does this scripture refer to salvation being great?  God lowered Himself to the form of man, lived among us and was tempted in every way as we are yet, remains sinless.  He willingly laid down His life at the foot of the cross and absorbed the wages of sin upon Himself.  The very law that condemned us in the Old Testament was fulfilled in Him.  That way the law was not abolished, but fulfilled and now we are free from the law.  As if that wasn’t enough, we hare so helpless that without His help we wouldn’t be able to find our way to Him.  He is the one who pulls us out of the sin we ensnare ourselves in.  He is the one who knocks on the door of our heart.  He is the one who makes intercession on behalf of us.  And all we have to do is let Him in.  All we have to do is surrender our lives over to a Master.  The Master Creator is now running the show.  He gives us peace, joy, hope and love just to name a few and His grace and mercy are endless.  All we have to do is confess He is Lord.  He secures us and in John 10 He tells us that No one can snatch us out of the Fathers Hands.  Salvation is the Greatest Thing.

which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.  How did God confirm salvation to us?  He took a group of men whose qualifications to be Disciples were zero and taught them in both words and in what he did.  He imparted to them the words which would turn the world upside down.  Yet, even up to the day He died they were fickle and afraid for their own life.  They went into hiding for fear that they would be hunted down and suffer the same fate as their teacher.  Jesus rose again and presented himself to the disciples as living flesh.  They were able to touch Him, eat with Him and talk to Him.  But they were still afraid for their lives, but Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and then they would perform signs and wonders.  After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them; they no longer regarded their body as something to protect and were not afraid to be put to death for the gospel.  These men went from afraid to knowing only the fear of the Lord.  Their lives were turned around and they lived in reckless abandonment.  This is how God confirms salvation to us.  He makes it real in our lives.  Romans 8:38-39 “38For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

4God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?  I think there is a huge application to the order in which these scripture is written and acted out.  In the previous verse, first, the word was taught then signs and wonders came after the teaching of the word.  There are believers who are looking for the signs and wonders and setting aside the Lord speaking to them through the word.  They get together and their whole service is based on the signs and wonders.   They have very loud services where the focus is anything dealing with signs and wonders; healings, dancing, and just an excitement.  Yet, their teachings are based on their signs and wonders.  They claim to be recipients of these signs and wonders, but one thing they didn’t take into account is that the Lord gives them according to His own will and not at our command.  We cannot choose which gifts we are given.  As the Disciples went forth teaching the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; God confirmed their teachings with signs and various miracles.  God was only confirming His Son Jesus to the hearer of the Gospel.  God was not doing signs and wonders for hire; He did them bearing witness of Himself.  We need to get in His word and allow the gifts to follow.  It is easy for me to get caught up in the excitement and start focusing on the various miracles, but we are to stay focused on the word and its application and every now and then look up just enough to see what God is doing.

5For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6But one  (That one was King David Psalms 8:4-6) testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him?  7You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands.     8You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”  For in that He put all in subjection under(means underneath, below) him, He left nothing that is not put under (means “unsubdued, that is, insubordinate (in fact or temper):—disobedient, that is not put under, unruly) him.  It is interesting to note that the two words under in this verse have different roots and meanings.  The verse could be rendered, for in that He put all in subjection underneath him.  The Father has given man the works of His hands.  That is God, in the original creation has been given over to humanity.  The stars are the works of His fingers.  The creation is the work of His hands.  We are held in His arms.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam handed over the title deed to the earth over to Satan.  But now we do not yet see all things put under him.  Jesus tells a story of a farmer who sowed wheat in his field.  But when the wheat was sprouting, the servants noticed that tares had grown in among the wheat.  The servants asked the farmer if he wanted them to separate the wheat from the tares.   Jesus tells us that the farmer told the servants to allow the wheat and the tares to grow together lest they should tear up the wheat while trying to dispose of the tares.  So, when harvest time came, the servants went out, separated the wheat from the tares, and threw the tares into the fire to be burned.  We have a wonderfully patient God that is rich in mercy.  Some people get caught up in their issues as if the only hope for political correctness is their effort of campaigning, debating or energy.  I think the lesson to be learned is that everything is put under His sovereign authority.  Yes we are to be involved in social issues that face our generation for the sake of our posterity, but not as if we are the final word.  Jesus, when he as being tried before Pontius Pilot said that it was not Pontius Pilot who had authority to take his life, but Jesus laid down his own life.  Jesus demonstrated that even the men who were instrumental in crucifying Christ did not have authority, but were insubordinate to Him.  The worldly mind thinks it was their ability that brought them success in life, but it is God’s mercy, grace and love. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.  Even though everything is insubordinate to Jesus, we see Him willingly lower Himself to humanities level that He might taste death on behalf of us demonstrating the graciousness of God.  Psalms 8:4-6 is quoted in this verse and the application can easily go two ways.  The first is that thought of mans humility.  In comparison to God we are insignificant.  I am sure that King David was looking out at the vast night sky and with complete awe of the vastness of the universe thought this scripture.  How could God even have a thought about us pathetic human beings in comparison to the vastness of the universe which is spanned in the palm of His Hand?  And that view is correct, but to that, I bring up this train of thought.  Psalm 8:3 tells us that when God created the universe he did it by the works of his fingers.  Yet, it is Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  He may have made the stars with His fingers but God holds us in His arms.  We are so important to Him that the scripture mentions that He protects us with His arms, not just a flick of His fingers.  The this view is correct to say that David meant that since the fall we are separated from God; but since we were created in His image He holds us in high esteem.  Think of humanity, as like sleeping beauty.  As long as the curse is on her, she is dead and a rotting corps.  But when the Son has come, and places a kiss on her, thus releasing the power of the curse, now she is restored to beauty.  Before the poisoned apple; beauty lived.  Then upon taking a bite the curse was activated and she died, but her beauty was still within waiting for the kiss.

With a kiss, Christ comes and redeems His bride rescuing her from death and restoring her beauty.  In the original creation, man was made in the likeness of God and that was lost in “The Fall,” shattering Gods intention.  But “the fall” did not shake Gods love.  God had a plan through our kinsman redeemer Jesus Christ to restore us to our original beauty.  All things are in subjection to Jesus.  Yes, you, I and all of humanity and creation fall in this category.  Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, that Jesus is Lord.  It would be awesome if they would say it on this side of heaven when it counts most.  I often would like to tell people that I am sharing the good news with that they might as well just surrender their lives over to Him now, because they are going to do it anyway.  They might as well do it when it counts towards eternity.  This part of scripture begins to inform us about Christ’s authority over humanity as being a part of humanity yet, maker of humanity.  It is interesting that the scripture informs us that we cant see everything that is put under His subjection but suffices to say that, we see Jesus.  Jesus, being made a little lower than angels for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor.  If Christ came as an angel then it would lesson His ministry.  Because Jesus was man he would taste death with the full knowledge of mans perspective.  The life application in this is the subjection to Christ.  We are all going to confess Jesus is Lord.  We might as well learn to do it in a time when it counts towards eternity.

 

 

10For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. The phrase “for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things,” is a phrase used by the Stoic to describe the Supreme God, but the idea fit Jewish thought about God and divine Wisdom and was widely used by Diaspora Jewish writers, including Paul (1 Cor 8:6).  The term , translated “author” (NASB, NIV) or “captain” (KJV), means “pioneer” (NRSV), “leader” or “champion.” The term was used for both human and divine heroes, founders of schools or those who cut a path forward for their followers and whose exploits for humanity were rewarded by exaltation.  This verse makes it clear that God in bringing many sons to glory (Believers in Christ) made the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.  The Father didn’t look down from Heaven and say, “good luck down there.”  No, He came down, demonstrated Himself to us, and suffered as we do and yet, remains sinless.  Now, the question might arise, and rightfully so.  Is Christ made perfect through sufferings as though He was first imperfect?  The next verses will address this, but suffice it to say that the perfection spoken of in this verse was not so much of an increase in holiness type of perfection, but rather He is the most perfect captain, leader, author and champion deserving of our faith.

11For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, Jesus the sanctifier prays on behalf of us and one such prayer was recorded for us in the book of John 17:11b “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.”   The word sanctifies here does not merely mean to make holy, but to make atonement and reconciliation to God.  John 17:19 “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”  This would have been significant to the Hebrew believers in reference to sanctification of sin in Exodus 29:33-36.  for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,  Why would He not be ashamed to call us brethren?  Not because of our charisma, not because of our intelligence or anything that we posses of ourselves.  As Jesus sanctifies us, His sanctification is without remorse or repentance.  The Lord sanctifies and it is done.  He rescued us with the touch of His hand, another captive free again, who else in heaven could do this but you.  Romans 9:8, Philippians 2:15, 1John 3:1 “behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called Children of God.”  Jesus goes a step further and says not only are we children but He calls us brethren.  He is not ashamed to call us brethren because the righteousness that He has bestowed upon us is equal to His own.  So too, as Christ is complete before the Father, so are we who are sanctified by Christ.  12saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”  13And again: “I will put My trust in Him.”  And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”   Jesus in John 17 spoke to the Father and discussed the fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalms 22:22 concerning Himself.  John 17:6-8 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.”

 

14Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood; He Himself likewise shared in the same, Christ as God could not die.  Christ had to become flesh and blood to redeem his creation.  He had to lower himself and become in the state of flesh and blood.  He did this for us, on behalf of us, to bring salvation to us.  That through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, By His stripes we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5  “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”  Through death, Christ destroyed him who had the power of death.  Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as an offering for the propitiation of our stench He has crushed the one who had the power of death.  That by the merit of his own death, making atonement for sin, and procuring the almighty energy of the Holy Spirit, he might counterwork, or render useless and ineffectual, all the operations of him who had the power, êñáôïò, or influence, to bring death into the world; so that death, which was intended by him who was a murderer from the beginning to be the final ruin of mankind, becomes the instrument of their exaltation and endless glory; and thus the death brought in by Satan is counterworked and rendered ineffectual by the death of Christ.

15and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.  Jesus set us free from the fear of death.  Past, present and future sins have been washed away and Christ announces us righteous.  1 Corinthians 15:51-55  “51Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  55“O Death, where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?”  Hosea 13:14 “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.  O Death, I will be your plagues!  O Grave, I will be your destruction!”

16For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Moreover, he does not at all take hold of angels; but of the seed of Abraham. Jesus Christ, intending not to redeem angels, but to redeem man, did not assume the angelic nature, but was made man, coming directly by the seed or posterity of Abraham, with whom the original covenant was made, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed; and it is on this account that the apostle mentioned the seed of Abraham, and not the seed of Adam.  The word itself signifies not only to take hold of, but to help, succor, save from sinking.  Man was falling from heaven, and Jesus caught hold of his falling creation, and prevented its endless ruin. In this respect, he prefers men to angels, and probably for this simple reason, that the human nature was more excellent than the angelic.  God created man in His image and it is suitable to him to regard all the works of his hands in proportion to the dignity or excellence with which he has endowed to them.  There are angels who have fallen and chose to separate themselves from the presence of God.  But His aid is given to the seed of Abraham.  Does this mean that humanity possesses anything worthy of praise as if we are deserving of this gift?  Quite the contrary, Jesus told the Apostle Paul that God’s grace would be sufficient for him.  It is of my humble opinion that we are the recipients of Gods amazing grace.

17Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  Jesus chose to become a man, he literally had to shed his righteous perfection and put on man.  It is a far cry, but would we be willing to put on someone else’s underwear after they were wearing them for about two weeks.  That is what our Lord did for us.  Not only did he put on our underwear but he cleaned them out as well.  Why would an Awesome God, mighty in power, eternally sufficient put on our underwear?  So that He could turn around and say to us, “I know what you’re going through.  “I feel your pain.”  It is the Fathers desire to be personable with His creation and Jesus is our perfect leader and He knows what it is like to be one of us.  He knows the pressures of life.  He understands the demands of day-to-day living.  He feels your pain when a loved one passes on.  He has felt the deep pain of rejection, slander and betrayal.  He understands your pain and all this He has the power to heal.  Isn’t that wonderful, our God knows what it is like to suffer and holds the keys of healing.  We do not worship a God that has no idea what it is like to live a life on this planet.  We worship a God who knows firsthand the trials of everyday life.  The bonus is that He does know what it is like and He can emphatically answer our prayers.  18For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.  The word “aid” is also strengthened.  The suffering wasn’t his drawing, intrigued or enamored with temptation but the suffering was being tempted it pained Him.  If you put a hot fudge sundae in front of me, it will draw and tempt me and pull me in.  if you took me to the sewage treatment plant and told me to stand there and observe the sewage I would suffer.  But my suffering would not be the same as a hot fudge sundae.  I submit to you that Christ had suffered as it pained Him to see us live in the sewage.  Christ was put in the sewage of our sin and has suffered; He has suffered our sin and lived among our sewage world.  Our Lord knows full well the ramifications of our choosing to sin.  He hears the silent cries of the babies who are being butchered.  He alone can feel the heart of a child who is in extreme pain from the actions of another person.  He feels our pain that he might be able to give aid and strengthen those who are being tempted.

 

Gang, we serve a personal God that cares deeply about the affairs of our everyday lives.  God is a God of the everyday, mundane and ritualistic and it is His desire to lift you up into a radical relationship with Him.  It is His desire to aid and strengthen your pained or broken heart.  Christ is higher than the angels and has elevated us to the stature of joint heirs with Him.  He is a personable God that is available, forgiving, full of mercy, wisdom and so much more…

 

 


 

Hebrews 3

 

 

1Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, Have you ever heard of the saying, “you are so heavenly minded that your no earthly good?”  Well, I say to you that, “your no earthly good until your heavenly minded.”  That is to say, that we cannot have an effective ministry here on earth unless we first take our eyes off of our own selves and place them on the Lord.  We can’t possibly know what to pray, what to say, or how to help someone unless we first look to our commander, Jesus Christ and follow His example.  This verse is our reminder that we are partakers of the heavenly calling and it should be out joy to stay our minds on things above.  Practically speaking and making my point, the writer of Hebrews takes a pause to classify the believer in their new relationship with Christ.  First, we are Holy that is to be ceremonially consecrated, and (or) a saint.  Second, the word Brethren is from the Greek word adelphos, which means “the womb.”  Jesus said that we had to be born again to enter the Kingdom.  First, we are born of the water, which is through the womb and through the womb, we have earthly brothers; then born of the Spirit, which is receiving the new life in Christ as a new creation.  Being born into the same Spirit to the same God makes us closer than any physical brother could ever be.  Next is Partakers, which is to say participant, sharer, or associate.  Heavenly by definition is the sky as the abode of God or Gospel.  Through Christ’s Calling, this is His invintation.  Another rendering of this verse, not more accurate just another way of saying it would be.  Therefore, you who have been ceremonially consecrated brothers, participants of the Gospel through Christ’s invitation.  Do not let any man put you down as anything less than a participant, sharer of heaven.  Jesus said, 20Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  This is the only requirement for ministry.  God classifies you as ceremonially consecrated from the womb a participant of and sharer of heaven.  There is no higher reason for living; there is no further cause.  This is huge for our psyche in that we have no reason to be depressed.  There is no reason under heaven by which I can subject myself to depression.  We need to everyday realize who we are in Christ.  We need to then realize the opposite effect of not knowing Christ and looking at the alternative (hell) puts things into perspective.  I work in an ER and one day a person asked me casually, “how I was doing?”  I replied, I am doing fine, thank you.”  And the persons reply was, “you must be doing fine because you are not one of them (pointing to our patients).”  Compared to those people who are laying on an ER gurney, I could comparatively have not been anything other than, great.  That analogy put this verse into perspective.  Yes, we go through hell, yes, there are pains and real dangers that we face everyday, but no amount of pain here on earth will compare with the glory of being in Heaven.  Keep your eyes stayed on heaven.  Jesus said, “Blessed are you when men persecute you and spitefully use you for my names sake.”  Again, yes, we go through pain.  Again, yes, we suffer persecution.  Again, yes, we sometimes cry out in our frustration and pain, but God.  Regardless of our pain here on earth because of our new birth, our pain stops here and this tiny life on earth will not even compare to the Awesomeness of Eternity with God.  This wonderful truth is given fully to us simply by believing in our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is so simple that a child can grasp it.

Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,  Reading through this verse I must confess that at first the word Apostle seemed strange to me.  Jesus described as an Apostle?  How could it be that Jesus would be classified as an Apostle?  Further study then opened up my ignorance to the meaning of the word and the implication of this word in our text.  The word Apostle is apostolos, which means a delegate, or he that is sent with miraculous powers.  Oh, now the verse makes sense.  The verse is asking us to consider Jesus and then classifies Jesus as the Apostle and High Priest.  Clarifying our text, Moses was definitely an apostle to the Jews as being sent by God to deliver them out of the hand of Pharaoh with miraculous powers.  The comparison that the writer of Hebrews is pointing to is Jesus’ superiority over Moses.  Although Moses was an apostle, he was not the high priest.  Moses’ brother Aaron was appointed the high priest position.   These positions appointed to Christ were through great design and with pinpoint accuracy of all that He is.  As the Apostle of our profession, the prime minister of the gospel, a messenger sent of God to men; the great revealer of that faith which we profess to hold and of that hope which we profess to have.  Not only the Apostle, but the high Priest too, of our profession, the chief officer of the Old Testament as well as the New, He is the head of the church in every state, and under each generation, upon whose satisfaction and intercession we profess to depend on for pardon of sin, and acceptance with God.  As Christ, the Messiah anointed and qualified for the office both of Apostle and High Priest.  As Jesus, our Savior, our healer, the great physician of souls, typified by the brazen serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness, that those who were stung by the fiery serpents might look to him, and be saved.  The author of Hebrews had no doubt that the readers would understand fully and completely the typification.  Imagine, now that Christ is our Apostle and High Priest we no longer have to go through man to receive from God.  The Jewish people when they wanted to communicate with God had to go through Aaron and Moses.  Aaron, provided forgiveness of sin and Moses could speak directly to God.  Christ has become our mediator and through Him, we have direct access to the Holy and Magnificent God.  Through Christ we have redemption of sin and through Him we have complete communication with God.  When I have done something that I know is offensive to God, it is a real tendency for me to ignore God as though I had to clean myself up before I can approach Him.  Well, Jesus did that for us so now He is our High Priest that has dealt with our sin in such a radical way that this scarlet sinner has been turned whiter than snow.  Go to the Father, confess your sin, repent of transgressions and do not allow the garbage of this world entice you to be separated from the only thing that is good, right, pure, love, mercy, kindness and hope in this world.  Last but not least, I almost forgot the key word in this verse, Consider.  Consider is to observe fully, to behold and discover.  I like these meanings and it is no mistake that God included this in the verse, we are asked to behold, observe, and discover Jesus.  Moses ministered to an earthly people whose calling and promises were primarily focused on this land.  Christ is the Apostle to a heavenly people who are strangers and pilgrims of this land.  Moses sinned whereas Christ remained sinless.  All the more reason to keep oneself stayed on Him or to discover Him.

 

2who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 3For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house.  4For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.  The vote would have been overwhelming and the Jews would have overwhelmingly, voted Moses TIME magazine’s most influential person.  Moses was extremely important to the Jewish families and here the author is going to elevate Christ to the superior level of not even being equated with a man.  As Creator, Jesus would not even be in the same classification of that which He Created.  The writer does not argue Moses faithfulness to His house that Is Gods House.  For the amount of esteem given to the wonderful works that Moses did for the kingdom of God, they do not compare with one thing that Christ did for us let alone the many things that Christ does for us on a daily basis.  Christ came and lived among us and lived a perfect life, giving us the perfect example for how we are to behave and providing Himself a Lamb.  Christ lived among us demonstrating to us how to talk, pray and teach.  He died on behalf of us in our place of judgment then when He rose again and ascended into Heaven; He ever lives to make intercession to the Father on our behalf.  Moses could not do that.  Moses could ask the Father to spare the children of Israel and often God would listen to Moses but Christ does not have to ask the Father to forgive our sins, for through Christ there is no sin.  It is interesting how the writer of Hebrews brings home the doctrine of the ‘Household of Faith.”  For you see we are the children of God and all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ though we live in different dispensations, though we are a different outwardly, inwardly we are all of the same God therefore we are of the “Household of Faith.”  Now, man could never have made up the whole idea of a “Household of Faith,” because it would have centered on man and died out after a few generations.  It is interesting that the figure of the house is used for the congregation of the people of God.  We are told in the New Testament that the “church” is the building of God.  We are the “royal priesthood.”  The idea being that the house of God is the “church,” Gods people, where God dwells.  The wonderful thing to me is that God desires to dwell with His people.  He could dwell anywhere in the universe but He chooses to live among His people and build His house.  As we lift our hands and worship Him, it is an awesome thing to realize that He is there in the midst of the praise and worship of His house.  The idea of a house standing erect demands an architect.  For if, I tried to sell you into the idea that a house just appeared or all the raw material to make a house just oozed together and formed it.  The idea is ludicrous, how could there be a house if there isn’t a builder?  The same holds true in our world and universe that surrounds it.  How could anything be that has order, unless God made it so?   

5And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.  Moses testimony is just that, a testimony among brethren.  Moses was the manager of the house and spoke relaying the message that God had said to Him.  Moses was faithful; he gave to us the laws of God.  He was a servant and he declared unot us the commandments, the judgments, the statutes, the worship, the ordinances; which were all a shadow of Jesus Christ.  Christ is the substance of all that Moses proclaimed.  If you look back at the ordinances that Moses gave, they were all pointing to Jesus, pictures of Jesus, and are fulfilled in Jesus.  The phrase “firm to the end,” is not in the original text and was added for clarification.  I cannot doubt the solidarity of the scriptures but the scripture here does not need clarifying.  “But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope.”  Is there an end to rejoicing of the hope?  I say, hold fast in confidence, rejoice in the hope of heaven.  For in this verse we have the exhortation towards perseverance.  During the Gulf War their was a real revival among my circle of influence and it was our prayer and desire that every one of us would hold fast to our relationship with the Lord upon returning to the states.  Coming back to the states for some meant freedom, toys, and the easy life.  For the circle of influence, it meant the possibility of bondage again into our old lifestyles.  That is the exhortation here for the Hebrew believers; they are exhorted in the fulfillment of Christ over the old system of Judaism.

7Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, 8Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness,  9Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years.  10Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’  11So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest.’”    Here the writer brings us to Psalm 95 to point out the superiority of Jesus over Moses.  For Moses represented the Law and God made it clear that the Law could not bring salvation, because none could fulfill the Law, “for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”  So Moses could not lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land, he could not lead them into the rest.  They came to the wilderness of Meribah and they cried unto Moses and said, “You brought us out here to die.  We have no water.  We’re going to perish.  It would have been better to have stayed in Egypt.”  Moses had heard the complaints for forty years and he had all he could take.  He went before God and said he was tired of their complaining.  God replied to Moses, “Moses, their thirsty.  They need water.  You go speak to the rock that it might bring forth water.”  Moses was angry at the Israelites and smote the rock in anger saying, “You bunch of hypocrites, always murmering and complaining.  Must I take my rod and smite this rock again to give you water.”  He hit the rock, water did come forth, and the people drank.  But God, seeing Moses had hit the rock came up alongside Moses and said, “Moses didn’t I tell you to speak to the rock?”  Moses you are My representative, I was not angry with them.  Moses you are my representative before the people.  They look to you to understand me.  Moses you misrepresented me and because you failed to represent me, you cannot go into the land.”  Though Moses beseeched the Lord, the Lord would not let Moses lead them into the Promised Land.  He could not take them into the rest.  Moses was a representative of the “law” through Israel’s history and it is interesting to observe that the “law” can never bring you into the place of rest in the Lord.  Now is Moses excluded from Heaven because he was excluded from the rest?  Certainly not, Moses is enjoying the fullness of Heaven.

 

12Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.  The provocation here is this.  If Jesus is presented to you, do not harden your heart.  Learn from experience; just don’t make it your own.  Learn from the children of Israel and what happens when you harden your heart.  The issue was not the deliverance from sin, the issue was entering into the fullness that God had for them.  Many people have peace with God, because they are in Christ.  Delivered from darkness into the kingdom of Light, but they don’t have the peace of God.  They have not entered into the “rest.”  They have not entered into that full, rich, abundant life of the Spirit that God has promised us.  Their Christian experience is a “wilderness experience.”  They wander through the wilderness not really having joy in their walk with the Lord.  God desires us to come into the fullness of His rest and experience victory through the Spirit of God within your life.  “While it is said, today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the day of rebellion.”  Unbelief has been mans plague and unbelief will keep us from experiencing the fullness that God desires for us.  Believe in Him, turn your life over to Him, trust in the completeness of Jesus.  Do not let unbelief keep you from enjoying all that the Father has for you.  Like Noah, when he was adrift aboard the Ark he sent out a dove the symbol of the Holy Spirit.  Noah looked out and the dove just hovered over him and would not come down, but once Noah reached out his hand and with uplifted hands the dove descended upon Noah.  Like Noah, we need to stretch out our hands and ask the Holy Spirit to descend upon us.  Like Jesus, when He came out of the baptismal water the Spirit descended upon Him.  Do not harden your heart, do not trust in words alone, but put your trust in Him through the descending of the Spirit upon you.  The Father desires to take us into His rest, right here, right now and carry us in His rest until the day He comes back for us.

 

 

 

Hebrews 4

 

 

1Therefore, Since Christ’s authority is superior to angels, Moses and the Abrahamic Covenant.  Therefore, since Christ is our High Priest and we have access to God through Christ the promise of “rest” is fulfilled through Christ.  since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. What is this “Promise of Rest,” spoken of in this verse and why should we fear lest we fall short?  There is a direct correlation between the Israelites crossing into the Cannon and into Gods promise of rest; and their unbelief or falling short of believing.  The consequence of their unbelief was a falling short of the full promise, instead of directly entering in, they wandered for 40 years in a desert until the day they died.  The consequence for them was not entering into the Cannon, which was a type; picture and a demonstration of humanities opportunity too enter into Christ’s rest.  Looking back to that time, only Moses, Joshua and Caleb believed God’s Word and were willing to enter into “His Rest” even though there were some real obstacles in their way.  But again, even this “rest into Cannon” experienced by Joshua was not the full promise of God’s Eternal Rest; but a picture of the “rest” that all believers experience “today” in Christ.  God promised rest for the Israelites, but there was still work to be done, there was still land to conquer, Amalikites that needed to be run out of town. God’s promise to Israel of deliverance remains and one day that promise will be fulfilled in them, I believe it will be very soon.  For all of humanity this admonition is given that we do not stop shy of the fullness of Christ.  But once we are in, we can’t let our guard down in that there are plenty of those around us who will not enter in, because of unbelief.  First, the admonition is to get into His Rest, through the promise of Christ.  Second, through our awe in Him not as a cowering dog who fears or cowers under a demanding owner, but fears response to a personal relationship with our Creator, Counselor, Mighty God bring the good news to those who are not under the promise of rest.  An example of fearing lest any of you have fallen short is a time was brought to my attention when few people came down to get saved and baptized after our Sunday church service.  On average, there are anywhere from 25-50 people who come forward to get saved and baptized.  On this particular Sunday there were very few who came down.  Jon Courson’s reaction to this was one of fear.  After praying for the New Believers who did come forward, he spoke to the congregation to go out and bring people in.  He admonished us that day, that just because we had entered into “His Rest,” does not mean that our work is over.  Moreover, now that we are in “His Rest,” our work has now begun.  Our fear is not based on the consequence of our sin as if our sin is going to keep us out of “His Rest.”  Because our sin has been dealt with on the cross, the obstacle has been cleared for us.  Christ has completed the work, He has gone before us and cleared out the Amalikites and the Amorites and the Jebucites.  All we have to do is enter in.  Then, during a time that only the Father knows, He will sound the Trump of God and we shall be ushered into “His final Rest.”   2For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. Some people think that we have it easy today because we have the completion of the Bible.  We have the fullness of scripture at our fingertips with commentaries, expositions and each person can have a translation of the Bible in their language and written at their reading level.  Jesus’s showing up on the scene should not have been a surprise to the Saducees and Pharisees.  The same gospel preached today was the same gospel preached to them.  They should have put the illustrations of their traditions and heritage and witnessed its fulfillment in the life of the one they called Jesus of Nazareth.  They were without excuse then and we are without excuse today.  There are groups of pseudo-Christians who hear the gospel preached but it profits them not; because the complete mixture for spirituality is the word mixed with faith.  The Israelites heard Moses proclaim Gods promise of bringing them into the Promised Land and yet they did not have faith.  There is a danger in some Pentecostal churches that they try to experience faith.  They center their service on what they consider the work of the spirit and exercise a great amount of faith, but their faith is not mixed with the word. Through their false feelings of happiness they express it in dancing, flopping around and for them the best church service is one where the pastor doesn’t even get a chance to preach.  They rejoice in craziness and think that the Spirit is moving through them as they flop around and scream during their services.  It is my personal conviction that they are falling short of true Spirituality.  The truth of God will never come to us through our feelings; true Spirituality will only come to us and be fostered in us through Gods Word in a spirit of faith and love.  You want to be Spiritual and grow in the knowledge of true Spirituality?  It is found in the pages of your Bible mixed with the changes He is making in your heart through it.  One will never experience Spirituality aside from the direct revelation of Gods Word.   Now I must say that I am not propagating a sedentary lifestyle of no dancing or happiness.  Quite the contrary I believe that like King David as he had revelation of God’s Word he would often rejoice and dance, because of a revelation of God Himself.  Nor am I propagating that we are to simply sit back in our easy chair and “rest,” in the Lord.  Quite the contrary we are to go into the entire world and preach the good news.  With fear, lest the word preached does not profit and that the listener falls short of the message.  The key to understanding the word “rest” in our text is looking at it from the viewpoint of an inheritance.  The Israeli’s inheritance was promised to them and is a type of and picture of what Christ offers them and us, our eternal Inheritance.  Just like a son who knows that he is the inheritor of his fathers wealth does not slack and kick back and “eat, drink and be merry.”  For if the son is a slacker then the father might pass on the inheritance to a younger sibling or even a faithful servant.  In a type and picture, we are the lucky servant who benefited from the falling short of Israel.  Now the promise is still theirs and the fullness, but God in His mercy and grace extended the inheritance to us until a time period known as the “fullness of the gentiles” spoken in Romans 11:25.  Am I making any sense?  Lord, help.

 

3For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”  6Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.”  It is tragic that hell is going to be populated with people who will say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” To which Jesus will reply, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:22-23; Luke 13:26-27). Their knowledge and their work was not united with faith. Jews prided themselves on the fact that they had God’s law and God’s ordinances and God’s rituals. They were especially proud to be descendants of Abraham. But Jesus warned that true children of Abraham believed and acted as Abraham did (John 8:39). Paul reminded his fellow Jews that “He is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is, that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” (Rom. 2:29). Spiritually, an unbelieving Jew is a contradiction in terms.  If you run a red light and a policeman pulls you over and starts to give you a ticket, you do not show him your copy of the state driving laws as your defense. You do not try to establish your innocence by telling him you have read the booklet many times and know most of the regulations by heart. Far from making you innocent, this would make you all the more responsible for living up to the laws and all the more guilty for breaking them. Knowing the law is an advantage only if we obey it. “For indeed circumcision is of value, if you practice the Law,” Paul says, “but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision” (Rom. 2:25).  Being a true Jew under the Old Covenant was not a matter of having the law but of obeying it. Being a true Christian under the New Covenant is not a matter of knowing the gospel but of trusting in it. Having a Bible, reading it, knowing it, taking it to Church on Sunday, and even teaching from it do not make us Christians. Only giving your life over to the One to whom it testifies makes us Christians. “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life,” Jesus warned, “and it is these that bear witness of Me” (John 5:39). The issue is not knowledge or work, but faith. Paul was happy and thankful for the Thessalonian Christians not simply because they accepted the gospel as the Word of God, but because they believed it (1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Thess. 2:13). This signifies whole life commitment to the Lordship of Christ.

 

8For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.  If the “Final Rest (Heaven)” was to be offered through Joshua then God would not have spoken of “another day.”  This initial “rest” was to be a picture or type of the Final Rest that God was intending through Jesus.  The word “rest” in verse 8 is peace or a settling down whereas the word “rest” used in verse 9 means Sabbath Rest or a type of Heaven.  There are great practicalities in this.  I know it to be true and I have heard others preach that, “even if everything in the Bible was false, even if they died and found out there is no God,” they would not regret living their life as a Christian.  I am under the same understanding because the teachings of the Bible are so perfect and following His statutes produces fruitfulness of “rest.”  The “rest” that Joshua offered the children of Israel was a type or picture of our life as a Christian.  We cannot lose site of this.  The realization that what we see around us is not our final destination is a great comfort to me and provides me with the substance of things hoped for.  Although, Christians are perfectly forgiven we are not perfect, so it is our duty and honor to draw near to Jesus in the here and now, but understand that we are here to labor for the kingdom.  The admonishing is that we would not set back in our easy chairs once we have entered into the Christian life.  Like the Israelites as they entered into the “Promised Land,” that is when the real work began.  When I was in boot camp for the Unites States Marine Corps we would do a lot of physical training and a lot of it was done in stages.  When I would finish a stage and still have energy enough to continue on to the next stage my DI would yell at me.  His training taught him that if I still had energy after the initial stage then I didn’t give it my all.  The concept of giving it your all through the stages would cause failures at first.  I would tire out but eventually I was able to go through all the stages with complete stamina with maximum endurance.  The DI knew what it took to build endurance and it was their responsibility to prepare us for war, they would often say, “the more you sweat in peacetime the less you’ll sweat in wartime.”  In other words, before we can run the race with endurance we need to build that endurance up.  This concept should not be foreign to us.  The author of Hebrews in Chapter 12 will discuss this idea “and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  The idea works for our Christian living.  In everything you do, do it all to the Glory of the Father and if you still have energy then you didn’t give it your all.  We will have failures, we will get tired, we will fall short of the temporary goal; but if we continue to pour out our all, over time we will build up our endurance and when we reach the “Final Rest” we will look back and know that we gave it our all.  Enter in dear saint.    I am not a physical fitness trainer but I have experienced the rewards of building up endurance both physically and spiritually.  We cannot run the race with endurance without first building our endurance.  The Christian faith is the same; we are admonished to run the race with endurance.  Dear Christian build your endurance, give it your all in each stage and if your too tired for the next stage then you know you gave it your all in the last one.  Live, breath and have your being in the Lord; reflect His love towards others because there “remains therefore a rest for the people of God.”

 

10For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.  Great is the mystery that God, should lay aside His completeness, oneness in the Trinity, take on the form of His creation, and become man, that He might provide salvation.  Amazing Grace!  God, Jesus the Christ; we are shown in John 13:4 Jesus rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”  Jesus went on to explain that what He was doing the Disciples would understand after.  If you are like me and enjoy typology (if there is such a word), then we could have a field day with what Jesus did.  He laid aside His garments is a type of Him laying aside His Heavenly Garments.  Girded Himself represents His need to be covered by the Holy Spirit and after that He was able to pour the water which is a type of washing with the Word.  “Christ washed his disciples’ feet that he might signify to them the value of spiritual washing, and the cleansing of the soul from the pollutions of sin. Our Lord Jesus does many things of which even his own disciples do not for the present know the meaning, but they shall know afterward. And it is not humility, but unbelief, to put away the offers of the gospel as if too good news to be true. All those, and those only, who are spiritually washed by Christ, have a part in Christ. All whom Christ owns and saves, he justifies and sanctifies. Peter more than submits; he begs to be washed by Christ. How earnest he is for the purifying grace of the Lord Jesus, and the full effect of it, even upon his hands and head! Those who truly desire to be sanctified, desire to be sanctified throughout, to have the whole man, with all its parts and powers, made pure. The true believer is thus washed when he receives Christ for his salvation.”[1]  I think Mathew Henry said it well.  For all who have entered into the fellowship of the Holy Spirit must cease from our own works, lay aside our earthen garments and put on Christ and wash feet.

11Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.  We are warned to enter His rest with diligence lest we end up like the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness because of their disobedience.  The word diligence is the opposite of drifting, for we are not to drift in our Christianity.  Be diligent!  Thankfully, the writer gives us the antidote for entering into “that rest;” which is found in the Word of God.  Modern psychology describes an “attitude” as a disposition or tendency to respond. Attitudes are always linked to behavior. To say a person has a critical attitude implies that in many situations he will tend to criticize rather than appreciate others. The rebellious attitude exhibited by the men and women Moses led out of slavery had behavioral consequences. When God spoke to them, their tendency was, first, to fail to trust His word, and second, to disobey.  In Scripture these two characteristics, trust and obedience, are always linked. Trust in God leads us to believe that what He says to us is prompted by love. This attitude is critical to the kind of obedience that God desires. A person who does not trust, but fears, might outwardly conform to the orders of a tyrant But only trust and love enable us to make a willing, inner commitment to follow the instructions of our Heavenly Father. When we trust God, we are freed to obey God from the heart.  Thus the writer tells us to make every effort to enter God’s rest He does not tell us to struggle to obey God, for this would be useless. But if we make every effort to love God and develop that attitude of simple trust, then when we hear His voice in our “today,” we will obey. And in this kind of obedience, we will find rest.[2]

 

 12For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  Some see these words as a threat, as though God were described examining them, eager to highlight every hidden fault But this is not the point at all! The writer has just explained rest. That rest goes back, beyond the promise of Palestine to Israel. God’s rest is a rest of the soul and spirit through Jesus, a rest of thought and attitude. The inner person is to be at rest as well. And we can rest, for nothing is hidden from God’s gaze. He knows our deepest, most secret needs. And through His Word, we hear His voice in our “today,” and as we respond, He guides us to His solutions for our needs.

 

14Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  “Then,” refers back to the subject of the High Priesthood of Christ in Ch. 2:17-3:6.  “We have,” demonstrates our possession, not as though it is an impossibility to grasp but rather more than within our grasp, He is provided to us and even more longs for us.  In the Old Testament, the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies through the courts and the veils to enter into the Most Holy Place.  Whereas, our High Priest Jesus has passed through the heavens and sits in the very presence of God, at His Right Hand (1:3).    The “object” is to show that Christians have a great High Priest as really as the Jews had; to show wherein he surpassed the Levitical priesthood; to show how all that was said of the Aaronic priesthood, and all the types pertaining to that priesthood, were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus; and to state and illustrate the nature of the consolations which Christians might derive from the fact that they had such an High Priest. One of the things on which the Jews most valued their religion, was the fact that it had such a minister of religion as their high priest—the most elevated functionary of that dispensation. It came therefore to be of the utmost importance to show that Christianity was not inferior to the Jewish religion in this respect, and that the High Priest of the Christian profession would not suffer in point of dignity, and in the value of the blood with which he would approach God, and in the efficacy of his intercession, when compared with the Jewish high priest.  Moreover, it was a doctrine of Christianity that the Jewish ritual was to pass away; and its temple services cease to be observed. It was, therefore, of vast importance to show “why” they passed away, and how they were superseded. To do this, the apostle is led into this long discussion respecting their nature. He shows that they were designed to be typical. He proves that they could not purify the heart, and give peace to the conscience. He proves that they were all intended to point to something future, and to introduce the Messiah to the world; and that when this object was accomplished, their great end was secured, and they were thus all fulfilled. In no part of the Bible can there be found so full an account of the design of the Mosaic institutions, as in Heb. 5–10 of this Epistle; and were it not for this, the volume of inspiration would be incomplete. We should be left in the dark on some of the most important subjects in revelation; we should ask questions for which we could find no certain answer.  The phrase “great high priest” here is used with reference to a known usage among the Jews. In the time of the apostle the name high priest pertained not only to him who actually held the office, and who had the right to enter into the holy of holies, but to his deputy, and to those who had held the office but who had retired from it, and perhaps also the name was given to the head of each one of the twenty-four courses or classes into which the priests were divided; compare Luke 1:5 note; Matt. 26:3 note. The name “great high priest” would designate him who actually held the office, and was at the head of all the other priests; and the idea here is, not merely that the Lord Jesus was “a priest,” but that he was at the head of all: in the Christian economy he sustained a rank that not only corresponded with but supercedes that of the great high priest in the Jewish.

“Let us hold fast our confession” it is sometimes difficult and can be awkward, but it is the power of God unto salvation.  By not holding fast to my confession I do not want to be the one to cause a stumbling block between Jesus and a non-believer.  History is filled with Christians who went to a cruel grave, holding fast to their confession because they knew deep within themselves that despite the pain of torture or death, nothing can take away the reality of Christ in their life.  Holding fast to our confession will be a natural response to Christ’s indwelling within.  “Sympathize,” means to “suffer with,” and expresses the feelings of one who has entered sufferings.  Jesus sympathizes or suffers with us with a full knowledge of our sufferings because He felt them too.  Being tempted with sin is not a sin.  The temptation in and of itself is not the sin.  Following through with the temptation is the sin.  Because Jesus is both God and Man, He is an adequate link between us and the Father.  “let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  When we fail, stumble and are ashamed or if when we are overwhelmed and are in desperate need of help, we never need draw back from Jesus.  For Jesus, human like us will understand and Jesus, God will be able to provide forgiveness, restoration and justification.  When we hear the voice of God calling us, and we see ourselves in our inadequacies, it is then that we need to turn to Jesus as our High Priest and realize that He is able to do for us.  It is important to understand the mystery that God would allow us to have an unstoppable direct connection to Him.

It is the cry of Satan in your ear when your sin or inadequacies cause you to withdraw from Heavens throne of Grace.  I have been there, done that.  Don’t you do it, at the moment of observation of sins allure, draw near to His throne of Grace.  It is there you will find peace and rest.  There is a great practicality in these verses in that God does not expect us to live out the remainder of our lives without making a mistake.  It would be nice, but the reality is that in my flesh dwells no good thing and as long as I am in my flesh I will battle over choosing right or wrong, good or evil and God not only understands this but He has provided Himself a Lamb, unspotted from the temptations of the world that He might be blameless for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 5

1For every high priest taken from among men This may be the author pointing out the inferiority of the Aaronic priestly lineage in comparison to The Messiah.  The Aaronic priests were mere men, stained with sin and under its yoke.  Or it could be that Christ’s position as The High Priest was that he had to be born from among men, but that does not mean He cannot at the same time, be Divinity.  There is almost a reiteration of Jesus’s comment to Nicodemus (John 3), that in order to be saved a man has to be born of water and Spirit.  The water signifies the process of natural child delivery.  In other words if you are born then you, meet half the criteria to enter into Heaven, the next is found in the Life of Jesus.  The verse here is more than simply being born of water, it is referencing God’s requirements of who would be selected as priest.  For every high priest had to come from the Aaronic lineage through the tribe of Levi.  There is great practicality in the idea here that the priest must be taken from among men.  You see, everyone loves a leader that rises up from among the people.  There is a comradery and deep-rooted understanding of the cultures history within the risen leader and more often than not, they represent their people more effectively.  is appointed for men The idea here is that first, every high priest is selected from men, but their ministry is on behalf of man.  They were not to serve themselves and their position was not to be thought of as lofty or used for their personal benefit.  They were to lay aside all their personal ambitions and dreams for the appointing of service for their fellow man.  in things pertaining to God, The main function of the priestly ministry was to represent spirituality to the people, they were not to get involved in political matters.  Once the priest was involved in political matters their was an heir of self-serving.  Unfortunately, throughout time starting with Aaron on to the time of Christ until 70 A.D. some lost sight of their duty and used the priestly position in political matters. that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.  What an awesome responsibility it must have been to witness a miracle of God in someone’s life and be in the position to receive their offerings of thanksgiving on their behalf to the Lord.  Jesus kept this to the letter in that when He performed a miracle in someone’s life He always asked him or her to present themselves to the priest.  The priests, no doubt were flooded with miracles and overworked with gift offerings.  There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus didn’t have to present Himself to them personally for the priests to know the name of Jesus.  In every town or province wherever He traveled, Jesus would heal and perform miracles, the priests must have had to work overtime.  The on-call priest could never take in a theatre show without being called away to offer up a gift of thanksgiving to the Lord.  When Jesus did visit the temple and found that the people He had sent were being robbed no wonder He overturned the moneychanger’s tables.   Concerning sacrifices for sins the priests could only offer sacrifices for sins as a temporary means.  Each year there had to be a renewing of sacrifices for the years previous sin.  The priestly position was given to the Jews practically and to us historically to demonstrate to us Christ’s superiority and fulfillment of the Priestly Position.  2He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness.  3Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.  The criteria here listed opens up the door to our being able to go to Jesus in our time of trouble.  We don’t run to a God that doesn’t already know our pain.  The amazing thing is that when depression sets in there is a tendency for me to withdraw from the Lord with the mindset that He wouldn’t understand.  The criteria of the priests was ultimately to please the Lord, but from the perspective of mankind.  God experienced our weakness and established the priestly lineage beforehand so that there would be that understanding that our priest will know what we are going through.  We really do serve a merciful, longsuffering God that is so awesome that He can complete His Plan in spite of created men who have been created in His image with freedom of choice.  Is there any doubt that Christ is the completeness of these requirements?  He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since He was Himself subject to weakness.  I find it interesting though that the compassion is towards those who sin ignorantly.  We sure live in a day when there is an increased ignorance among mankind towards the things of God.  It is that more important for us to pour out compassion.  Throughout history, the majority of it is filled with people having an intimate knowledge of Jesus and The Word of God.  I can’t say that they always acted on the best understanding of scripture but for the most part people understood the Word of God.  The Ten Commandments were solid even in our country until 1963.  There are generations that are being raised today, that truly are ignorant to the teachings of the Lord.  Oh, they know there is a God.  Scripture makes that very clear that we do not have to proclaim the reality of a Creator.  But we do have to make known His precepts and have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray.  I used to pray that God would confuse the mind of any who stood in opposition to His Truth i.e. pro-choice activists, homosexuals, evolutionists but one day the Lord revealed to me the error of that prayer.  See, they were already confused; their minds were already being lied to by Satan and their minds eye was blocked in ignorance.  Now, I pray that the Lord would open their eyes and make them see clearly their error with a spirit of a humbled heart that they might respond to His Truth and turn their life over to Jesus.  Jesus constantly demonstrated the compassion of the Lord to those who were ignorant and going astray.  Paul the Apostle was one such a person that received His compassion in the midst ignorance.  It is with the understanding that we ourselves are subject to weakness that we can demonstrate compassion on our fellow man.  The difference between the priests and Christ is that they could only offer a sacrifice to God for sins, but Christ in His perfection through suffering was the sacrifice offering for sin.  The priests could only offer, yet Christ was.

 

4And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.  In John 10 it is recorded that Christ declared that He was the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep.  But a hireling is one who does not own the sheep but when he sees a wolf coming the hireling flees the sheep.  The hireling was a hired hand, not the shepherd.  The hireling was looking out for himself and does not take regard for the sheep.  But Jesus is our God Shepherd who lays His life down for the sheep.  Later on in that chapter the priests come to Jesus and ask for Him to tell them plainly if He is the Christ.  His response to them was, “The works that I do in my Fathers name, they bear witness of Me.”  Jesus could have brought Himself honor and declared His Divinity to them but He always referred back to the Father, that what He does is because the Father commanded it.  Jesus always pointed to the Father as His source of honor and glory.

 5So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.”  6As He also says in another place: “You are a priest for ever According to the order of Melchizedek”;   Observe here, Though Christ reckoned it his glory to be made a high priest, yet he would not assume that glory to himself. He could truly say, “I seek not my own glory”, (John. 8:50). Considered as God, he was not capable of any additional glory, but as man and Mediator he did not run without being sent; and, if he did not, surely we should be afraid to do it.  The apostle prefers Christ to Aaron, both in the manner of his call and in the holiness of his person. First, the manner of his call, in which God said unto him, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. 2:7), referring to his eternal generation as God, his wonderful conception as man, and his perfect qualification as Mediator.  God solemnly declared his dear affection to Christ, his authoritative appointment of him to the office of a Mediator, his installment and approval of him, his acceptance of him, and of all he had done or should do in practice. Now, God never said this to Aaron. Another expression that God used in the call of Christ we have in Ps. 110:4, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec,”  God the Father appointed him a priest of a higher order than that of Aaron. The priesthood of Aaron was to be but temporary; the priesthood of Christ was to be perpetual: the priesthood of Aaron was to descend from the fathers to the children; the priesthood of Christ, was to be personal, and the Great High Priest immortal, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, as we will discover in the seventh chapter.  Other priests were to offer up sacrifices, as for the “sins of others, so for themselves,” But Christ needed not to offer for sins for himself, “for he had done no violence,” neither was there “any deceit in his mouth,” Isa. 53:9.

 

 7who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.  “Lord, why do I suffer so much?  Father, why is there pain in the world?  Jesus, why does bad things happen to good people?  Lord, why do I struggle with this perpetual body of death?  Father, why?”  Is there a rough road ahead of you?  Take courage, for God has gone before you and was victorious so that now He can carry you through it.  Our Lord Jesus defeated the very kingdom of death so what do we have to fear regarding sufferings?  The answer to those questions above is because people even though they are suffering; they do not learn obedience in their suffering.  So the pain continues, it grows and spreads like a infectious disease.  This scripture really demonstrates the humanity of Christ.  As a man our Lord had to learn obedience.  He had to learn to decipher the voice of the Holy Spirit.  He had to work through His choices through His relationship to the Father.  Who do I think I am, if I do not even more so follow after His practice?  If in the form of His own creation, He had to learn obedience how much the more shall I.

9And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,  “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the Right Hand of God” (Hebrews 12:2).  James 1 tells us not to despise the perfecting of our faith but take it with joy; knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  The New American Standard Bible expresses this verse like this, “and having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”  The Greek rendering of the words “been made perfect” is to bring to a complete end.  The word “eternal” (aionios in the Greek) is perpetual as in past, present and future.  The word “source” (aitios in the Greek) means to be responsible for.  Spread all that out and you have Jesus the completed end, who has become the past, present and future author who is responsible for those who heed or conform to Him.  Jesus became perfect to a completed end that He could become responsible for us.  Think of the concept, He is responsible for me.  If I go down, He goes down with me.  Amazing, that our Lord completed the work of delivering us into the Throne of God but does not stop there, now He takes on the responsibility of perfecting us, grooming us.  What an Awesome LORD we serve who doesn’t leave us after perfecting us.  10called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” 11of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.  The author begins to admonish the Hebrew Christians in that they keep returning to the fundamentals of Christianity instead of pressing in as we will see in the next Chapter.  But here the author wants to open up the doors of Heaven and explain the deep mysteries of Jesus as High Priest but has to withdraw to a lower explanation for they had become sluggish or lazy in their Christianity.  I am reminded of the Disney movie Aladdin, where the genie was all powerful, mighty in mysteries, yet confined to a tiny little lamp.  God is all powerful and mighty in mysteries and yet we are sometimes happy to stay confined in our tiny little lamp.  Lets bust out of the lamp and grow in intimacy towards Jesus.  12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, 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.  As sad as this sounds to me I must confess that I am guilty of needing the milk of the word.  Here the author is preparing them for the meat that is to follow in the next chapter, but he takes some time here to admonish them to push forward in their faith.  By this time in the growth of the early church there were those who were false teachers who tried to draw the Hebrew Christians back into the Levitical Law and its practices.  So the author does something that someone did to me.  During my tour in the Gulf War, I was a very young Christian and there arose in our group a false doctrine.  Being a baby Christian I opted to just listen to their discussion of this doctrine.  When someone asked me what I thought about this new doctrine.  My reply was to pass it on because I was a new Christian.  My fellow Christian Marines admonished me to press on, study and know the word of God for it is solid food.  Just ask George Washington Carver.  As the discoverer of over 300 uses of the peanut in our everyday lives the only source of scientific material that was ever introduced into his lab was the word of God.  Here a great scientist who saved the crops of the south, enhanced our lives even to this day with his discoveries never once took another type of science book into his lab with Him.  Now that is solid food.  13For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. The baby does not regress to need milk but is born with the need for milk as key to its survival.  Yet, the Hebrew Christians here had to regress, they were mature adults regressing back to childhood.  The author is not saying that partaking of milk as a baby Christian is bad, he is saying that regressing back to needing milk after you should have pressed on to more in-depth studies.  A spiritual infant is “unskilled” to deeper truths.  He cannot digest them, any more than a physical infant can digest a steak.  The idea is that of being inexperienced, unskillful, and therefore unprepared and incapable.  The spiritual senses like the physical has to grow in order to handle that which is more difficult.  A child can get something of of looking at a picture, but nothing out of looking at a textbook.  A spiritual child could get some meaning out of the pictures and types of the Old Testament but not out of the “word of righteousness” of the gospel.  14But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  The contrast the author is making is; the one who continues to feed only on God’s elementary revelations is not going to grow, not going to have any discernment.  A small child will stick almost anything into his mouth, touch anything within reach and go anywhere his body will take him.  All with no concept of what is good for him from that which is bad or from what is helpful from that which is dangerous.  The mature adult, on the other hand, has developed considerable discernment.  He is careful about what he eats, does and where he goes.  This same principle operates in the spiritual realm.  The author will go on in chapter 7 to explain the significance of the order of Melchizedek, it seems that he expects his audience to mature spiritually before they read this part of the message.  His message in the meantime is “leave Judaism and in the instant of salvation, grow up.”  Judaism is the infancy that they are to leave behind and mature out of if they are to see by faith in the New Covenant, the Messiah.  You know, this passage explains something to me regarding the depravity of the day in which we live.  We have learned that like our physical senses the spiritual senses need to be discerned and learned.  Since the word of God is that venue for discerning both good and evil it is no wonder our society is upside down.  We have rejected His word and the end result is a society that is not able to determine the difference between that which is good and that, which is evil.  We need to be that light that is set on the lamppost.  We need to mature in our Christianity and exercise our discernment between good and evil.

 

“In the early stages of our Christian experience we are inclined to hunt in an over plus of delight for the commandments of our Lord in order to obey them out of our love for him, but when that conscious obedience is assimilated and we begin to mature in our life with God, we obey his commandments unconsciously, until in the maturest stage of all we are simply children of God through whom God does his will, for the most part unconsciously to us.”  Oswald Chambers (1874–1917)

 

 

 

 Hebrews 6

 

 

1Therefore, really quick, going over what the therefore is there for.  In Chapter 5 the author just encouraged us to develop our spiritual senses of discerning right from wrong, good from bad and truth from false doctrine by taking in the meat of God’s Word.  He explained to us the superiority of Christ over the Aaronic priestly line.  It is imperative to read chapter 6 in light of chapter 5.  Leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3And this we will do if God permits.  We must leave these basic principles and press on towards perfection.  Why do I go to church?  Why do I read my Bible?  Why do I talk to my Lord?  More often than I like, I do these things out of my wanting to get something from my Heavenly Father.  Usually, the time that I come to prayer is during pain, confusion, or shortsightedness on my part so I come to the Father expecting His Revelation.  I am realizing through this scripture that coming to Him solely in times of trouble is an elementary principle of Christianity.  When I first became saved as a baby Christian I needed to learn of God’s watchful eye.  While serving in the Military I would pray, “oh Lord, please grant me a good MRE.”  MRE is a Meal-Ready-Eat.  I would actually ask God to intervene on my behalf to benefit me with a good meal.  Or whenever there was difficulty I would pray to the Lord and ask for deliverance.  He always came through for me and I learned to trust in Him, but it is time for me to leave the elementary principles of leaning on Him solely in times of trouble and “press on.”

We need to know that He is going to take care of a situation.  Yes, I turn to Him in trouble and always will, but that is not my focus.  My focus now is to move beyond that phase of spiritual infancy into a relationship phase where I know; He is taking care of those things, now I can talk about new and exciting things.  “Lord, You know the difficult road ahead of me, but lets talk about Your Son, Jesus.  Lord, show me more of Your Son.  Lord, show me how I can glorify Him in this situation.  Lord, thank You for what You are going to do.”  “Well Lyn, are you saying that I am an infant Christian if I turn to the Lord with my troubles?  No, the word tells us to “cast our cares upon Him,” it is a mandate.  What I am saying is lets move on in our relationship with the Lord, where the only time we talk to the Lord isn’t when we are in trouble.  Let’s develop that relationship where we move on to knowing Him more and allowing Him to enrich our lives through pressing deeper in Him.  Lets move into a relationship where we come to Him because we want to just talk with the Lord.  The same is true regarding His word.  Do we read only to get a question answered or withdraw an uplifting promise?  Or do we read His word because it is the doorway by which we can enter into the Heavenly Kingdom and press in closer to knowing our Lord and then taking that intimate knowledge and sharing with others.  In my infant days as a Christian I read my Bible to know the general contents.  For the most part I have a pretty good idea of the contents.  Now it is time for me to press in, move deeper and see the wonders of my Lord.  Why don’t we read through our Bible once, get the basic idea and stop reading?  Because we would miss out on the real reason for the Word, knowing our Lord.  We would miss out on the changes that the word makes on our hearts each time it pierces into our soul and allowing it to work out the dross in our lives.  Now that I know the contents it is time for me to press in and this is the exciting part, I discover more and more of my Lord, Jesus and grow in Him.  If Bible reading, Church or Prayer ever becomes anything less than pressing in or pressing on Jesus then we need to re-evaluate and make changes in our life so that we are pressing in towards the Lord.  Today should be more spiritual than yesterday, but less spiritual than tomorrow.  Having said that I feel that I need to mention that our walk with the Lord is going to have peaks and valleys.  We are naturally going to have good and bad days.  Those peaks and valleys are not the fruits of spirituality.  Spirituality is what you do when you are in a peak or valley.  Going through a valley may seem as if there is nothing-spiritual happening, but in reality the valley may be the most fruitful.  In contrast, in the peak I may feel on top of the world but be living a depraved life.  By pressing in to the Lord we will learn to press in all the more during the peaks and trust more that He is carrying us through the valley.

4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.  Here we have reached a passage in scripture, in which there has arisen a great debate.  It is going to be interesting to see how the Lord is going to work this one out.  I have come across four main arguments, all which have been expressed and worked through.  The first argument is that these verses speak of Jews who had professed Christ but stopped short of true faith of giving Him their life.  The second is that this verse refers to believers who have fallen into sin, and will lose their reward.  The third argument is that this verse refers to believers who have slipped back into unbelief and will lose their salvation.  To dispel this third theory of a believer throwing away their salvation, no rendering of this Greek rooted term “fall away” is there any hint to the believer’s utter rejection of their salvation.  The fourth is that this verse is a warning to the Hebrew Jews not to get caught up in the annual sacrifice mentality; and is a hypothetical case used to demonstrate the foolishness of a panic which insists “hold on” to the old system when Christians should instead “go on.”    This is the second instance of the term “fall away” in the Bible.  “Fall away” is from the Greek word “parapipto,” which is derived from the combination of two other Greek words “para” which means “by the side” or “beside” and “pipto” which means “to fall.” Looking at the root meaning of this word it is construed to mean that the fall was beside or “by the side of” as if the person were not rejecting their salvation but fell by the wayside.  Did Jesus mention that some seed would fall by the wayside?  Reading Matt 13:3-4  “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell (pipto) by the wayside (para); and the birds came and devoured them.”  The words “fall away” in verse 6 are the combination of these words spoken by Jesus.  Based on this information I would have to conclude that the ones spoken of in this verse are the Hebrews who were enlightened, but quickly the false teachers crept in and caused them to withdraw into the old Levitical Law.  Christ went on to say in v18-19, “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside (para).”

 

It is my personal interpretation that the author of Hebrews is instructing a group of Hebrew Jewish Christians on the concept that Christ died “once” for all sins, they should not go back to their old ways of the annual sacrifice offerings for sin.  The author is explaining how much better the Christian in Christ is over even the High Priest living the Levitical Law.  In the Levitical Law they were constantly being brought back to sacrifice, it was a constant reminder, an annual undertaking of the importance of the remission of sin.  And it would be natural for these early Hebrew Christians to have the tendency to rely upon that system as a means of working through failure.  The rituals in the Levitical Law they had left behind were “lifeless” ones, incapable of imparting the experiences of life they had found in Christ.  The author implied that they should not return to these “dead works” (Levitical practices) in any form since to do so would be to suggest that Christ would have to be sacrificed annually.  The author wants to take them to the Sacrificial Lamb and hear Him say, “it is finished,” once the Blood of Jesus covers you it is final, Jesus died once for sins so do not keep living as though He has to be crucified for every sin thereafter, but instead “press on.”  Can I take a moment and discuss why it is of MY OPINION; that this verse is not talking about a Christian losing their salvation?  Well, I am going to anyway.  I want to talk about one important verse the rest I will list for your reference.  John 10: 27-29  “27My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”  Do you have power to snatch yourself out of the Fathers hand?  Heaven is going to be a place chalk full of surprises.  One of them is the realization of who actually made it into Heaven.  I don’t care how many times someone denies Christ after conversion it is my full conviction that you will kneel before Him in Heaven as He allows you to enter into His rest, based on His Mercy and Grace extended to the one who once tasted and partook of His goodness.  It is our pride that tells us otherwise.  We can be like the servant that Jesus spoke about (Matt 20:1-16) who worked in the field all day and received the same wage as the one whom only worked for one hour.  We think the extension of His Love toward us must be greater because we worked harder or longer.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  His salvation is the same yesterday, today and forever what makes us think that we can spit in His face and that is enough to change Him.  He doesn’t change.

Granted, I am totally of the mind that those who are born-again, but have chosen to live for themselves to one degree or the other will not receive a crown or depth of Heaven.  Paul (1Corinth 15:41) talked about how the stars in the sky had different brightness, so would we in Heaven.  My old-pastor Jon Courson talked about the Heaven experience as related to being filled.  Everyone will be filled completely full in Heaven; it is just that some who are deep will be like a wine barrel full whereas others will be filled but the amount of a communion cup.  Both are filled with the completeness of Heaven, it is just that one is brighter than the other.

For further reading on Eternal Salvation: (Rom 5:10/8:35,38-39 1Pet 1:4-5 Titus 3:5 Gal 2:6 2Tim 1:9 Isaiah 32:17)

 

 

7For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.  Here the author uses an illustration from nature to drive home his thought of fruitfulness as a result of pressing in.  Whenever the rain soaked ground receives the blessing it produces fruit worthy of the blessings of God.  Here the writer compared the spiritual privileges he had just enumerated to a heavenly rain descending on the life of the Christian.  The effect should be a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed.  Perhaps this is a reference to the blessings that can be received from fruitful believers.  The contrast is the same soil and water producing thorns and briers worthy of rejection.   Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven liken unto a man who sowed good seed in his field, but his enemy sowed tares then went his way.  The landowner allowed the wheat and tares to grow together, both receiving sunlight, water and the good soil.  Then at harvest time the tares were separated from the wheat and thrown into the fire.  Take heed, that God’s longsuffering and mercy towards us is great but the day is coming that our soul will be required of us and it is then that fruitfulness will be measured.  Beware that you “press in” that you might be cultivated and receive blessing from the Lord.

9But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.  Although the author warns the Hebrew listeners he does not feel that they are in the “tares” category. 10For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love, which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.  We serve a just God who will remember even the secret insignificant things that were done in labor or love.  Jesus said in Mark 9:41 “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” 11And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.  The Apostle Paul said to Timothy in 2Tim 4:6-7 “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  One thing about the Lord is that he is in the business of training us up through faith to the inheritance that He has promised.  We are to be imitators or followers.  The New American Standard Bible renders this verse “so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promise.”  Paul proclaimed in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”  Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”  Often I hear the voice of Jesus in the faith of a child, or in the Christian next to me in the pew or from my pastor up on the pulpit.  But because I know my masters voice I hope I have discernment to know when He speaks to me through unconventional ways.  However the Lord speaks to you it will always bring you increased faith and patience towards the inherited promise.  anything that attempts to pull you any other way is a hireling and is not from our true Shepherd.  Say Bill Gates was writing his will and put a notice up on the bulitan board at work that read, “I am going to put one person from the company in my will.”  I bet everyone in the company would be diligently working trying to earn Bills favor.  They would take shorter breaks, work longer hours, increase production.  But now lets say that Bill comes up to you and says, “your it, you’re the one I am putting in my will.”  Wouldn’t you take a sigh of relief and sort of slack off a bit, kick back in your chair at work, take longer breaks because your in.  you don’t have to earn Bills favor anymore.  Well sometimes I think we as Christians do the same thing.  We kick back and forget that there are countless numbers of people, including our loved ones who do not know Christ and do not have the inherited promise.  I am guilty of this and I pray that this word sink in for me, as well for you.

13For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” 15And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.  I think I read somewhere that Abraham had to wait 25 or 35 years to see just the fulfillment of the promise of a son.  And he never saw in his lifetime the fulfillment of the multiplication of his offspring.  Take courage that the Lord will see you through. 16For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. 17Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  19This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.  The writer here speaks of Jesus going into the Holy of Holies and presenting Himself the Lamb to be slain on our behalf “where the forerunner has entered for us.”  And the author solidifies Christ as the fulfilled High Priest according to Melchizedek.  Notice in verse 19 “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul.”  Could it meant that our hope lies in the fact that our soul is anchored in Christ?  The word “soul” is the same word for spirit or breath.  The Holy Spirit came upon the Disciples like a breath or mighty wind in Acts 2.  Praise goes to Jesus.  He is the way, the truth and the life.

 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father I come before you now and ask you that the Holy Spirit enter into the hearts and minds of Christians and non-Christians.  Father I pray that the Christians would be emboldened and strengthened to go forth proclaiming You to all generations.  That you would take them from glory to greater glory.  For the non-Christians that they would have their eyes opened to see Your Son Jesus the Christ, the Redeemer, the Way.  And as they see Christ for who he is may their hearts be softened by the work of the Holy Spirit to stop everything and open up their life to You and allow You to enter their life and have fellowship.  Forgive sin, grant healing and continue to do works of rightness through your little ones, Lord in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 7

Jesus, Melchizedek and the Levitical Priesthood

 

As we enter into chapter 7 of Hebrews; we have come to a portion of scripture that is foundational in describing the position of our Lord Jesus as far superior of that of the Levitical Priests and the importance of Jesus global ministry through the order of Melchizedek.  I have found chapter 7 to be wonderfully enlightening and impacting in my life in understanding my Lord according to Old Testament prophecy in relationship to the mystery of Melchizedek.  Who is this Melchizedek and why is it important to my understanding of Christ?  These questions will be addressed, whether they are answered is up to you.  We will gain a deeper understanding of Melchizedek’s significance to the Jews conversion and the completeness of Gods plan for Jews and Gentiles regarding the “order of Melchizedek.”  The author first introduced Melchizedek in chapter 5, but before he could explain the significance of this ancient priest-king, he gave the warning to immature Jews who could not bring themselves to accept Christ as their Savior (5:11—6:20). Jesus again is said to be “a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (6:20). The accounts of Melchizedek in scriptural history are of the divine inspiration of the unity of Scripture. Along that thought the whole concept of Melchizedek is an amazing insight into the fact that God wrote the Bible.  Genesis 14 we have three verses about Melchizedek.  A thousand years later King David makes a brief mention of him in Psalms 110:4 that declares for the first time that Messiah’s priesthood would be like Melchizedek’s.  Another thousand years or so the writer of Hebrews tells us even more of Melchizedek’s significance.  The author of Hebrews reveals things about Melchizedek that even Abraham did not know (or if he did know he did not record) and of which David only had a glimpse.  So if we reason together that the God who wrote the book of Hebrews is the same God of Genesis and Psalm 110 and how much more the rest of scripture.  It is humanly impossible for men to conjure up a story of Melchizedek that lines up completely perfect with the global picture of God’s plan for all of humanity in the time span of approximately 2000 years by three different authors.  In order to prevent the most accurate and informative account of the Chapter at hand I feel obligated to discuss at length the Levitical Priesthood  and the order of Melchizedek.  Then take the information provided and demonstrate how it applies to Christ.  So before we look at Melchizedek’s priesthood lets first look at the Levitical Priesthood.

The Levitical Priesthood

Discussing the tribe of Levi the Lord states in Genesis 49:7b “I will divide them in Jacob, I will scatter them in Israel.”  Then in Exodus 32:26 While Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord the tribe of Levi withheld themselves from worshiping the golden image (v26 “whoever is on the Lord’s side come to me!”) When God divided up the Promised Land He granted the tribe of Levi a portion among Israel, for they were to be the priestly tribe divided among Jacob and scattered in Israel, Numbers 1:49-50b  “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor take a census of them among the children of Israel.  But you shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of Testimony.”  God dedicated the entire tribe of Levi for religious service. Although all priests were Levites, not all Levites were priests. All priests, in fact, not only had to be a descendant from Levi but also from Aaron, Moses’ brother. The non-priestly Levites served as helpers to the priests. First, the priesthood was strictly national, strictly Jewish. Israel recognized God as Creator over all of Creation, including the Gentiles.  Yet, when it came to spiritual matters God belonged to Israel alone (Jonah).  Second, the Levites were subject to the king just as much as were the other tribes. Their priestly functions were not under the control of the king, but in all other matters they were ordinary subjects. They were in no way to use their Levitical Priesthood as a ruling class. A Levite, in fact, could not be king. They were set aside to God for special priestly service (Num. 8:14-16). Third, the priestly sacrifices, including the one by the high priest on the Day of Atonement, were not permanent. They had to be repeated and repeated and repeated—continually. They had no permanence. They provided no permanent forgiveness, no permanent righteousness, no permanent peace.  They could only provide a temporary band-aid on behalf of the people from the Father.  Fourth, the Levitical priesthood was hereditary. A man who served as a priest did so because he was born into the right family, not because he lived a right life. Fifth, just as the effects of the sacrifices were temporary, so was the time of priestly service. A priest served from the age of 25 until the age of 50, after which his ministry was over (Num. 8:24-25).  Looking at the Levitical Priesthood gives us a picture of the services that Jesus is going to provide on our behalf, but because the Levitical Priests main focus as to the ministry toward Israel alone this Priesthood was not perfect for a God to use as redemption for all of humanity.

 

1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” The author in verses 1-2 gives us a summary of the Genesis 14 account and reminds us that Melchizedek was the “King of Salem” (ancient for Jerusalem) and that he “was a priest of the Most High God” verses 1-2 are essentially a summary of the Genesis 14 account. The author gives us a reminder that Melchizedek was the king of Salem (Jerusalem) and that he was a priest of the Most High God.  That Melchizedek blessed Abraham after he defeated the King Chedorlaomer.  Let us look at the superiorities of Melchizedek over that of the Levitical Priesthood.  3without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. 4Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. 5And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; 6but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. 8Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. 9Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, 10for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. 

Chapter 6 ended with Ps. 110:4, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” This chapter is as a sermon upon that text; here the apostle sets before them some of the strong meat he had spoken of before, hoping they would be better prepared to digest it.  The question that must first be answered is, Who was this Melchizedek? All the account we have of him in the Old Testament is in Genesis 14 and in Psalms 110:4. God has seen fit to keep the order of Melchizedek much like a parable that Jesus offered to the surrounding crowds.  To him who has ears to hear, let him hear.  In the next segment we will look at some observations of Melchizedek’s priesthood compared to the Levitical priesthood and how the order of Melchizedek is fulfilled in our Lord, Savior and Messiah, Jesus the Christ and how the character Melchizedek is essential to Christians whether they are Jew or Gentile.

MELCHIZEDEK’S PRIESTHOOD WAS UNIVERSAL, NOT NATIONAL

Israel took the name of God as Jehovah or Yahweh.  But Jews would not utter this name of God.  To them it was too holy to pronounce and as an extension of or fear of breaking the commandment “thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”  The name Jehovah or Yahweh was uniquely related to God’s covenant with Israel.  The Levitical priests were exclusively set aside as priests of Jehovah towards Israel.  The Israelites were Jehovah’s people and the Levites were Jehovah’s priests.  But the Levitical priests could only minister to Israel and only on behalf of Jehovah.  Melchizedek, however, was superior to Abraham and according to Genesis he was priest-king of the Most High God, which through him Christ is God as possessor of heaven and earth.  God as above all national or dispensational distinctions the Most High God is over both Jew and Gentile.  Jesus is not just the Messiah of Israel, but Messiah of the world.  His priesthood is universal, the fulfillment of Melchizedek’s.  This is an extremely important truth for Jews who had come to Christ and it really opened up my eyes to see although dimly, a clearer picture of Gods plan through Melchizedek.  To the Hebrews of the author’s day and throughout Israel’s history there was no other priesthood established by the true God but the Levitical, which was restricted to Israel.  So here they are reminded that their father Abraham, the first Jew, offered tithes to another type of priest.  This priest served the one true God, and he lived hundreds of years before the Levitical priesthood came into existence.  Then Abraham (Gen 14:22) spoke to the king of Sodom and addressed Melchizedek as “the LORD God Most High” applying both universal and supreme names for God.  This Melchizedek that presents himself to Abraham is the personify of Christ.  The idea of Melchizedek being Christ should not be a hard truth to grasp and when we view Melchizedek through the lens of Christ I think we get a little closer to understanding how Gentiles could be part of the covenant.  And this would be vital information to the Jewish community to our authors day.

 

 

MELCHIZEDEK’S PRIESTHOOD WAS ROYAL

Melchizedek was himself a king. Four times in two verses (7:1-2) he is referred to as a king. Ruler ship of any sort was totally foreign to the Levitical priesthood. Melchizedek’s universal priesthood and his royal office beautifully typify Jesus’ Savior and Lordship, as perfect Priest and perfect King. Though never known in Israel, her prophets predicted the double role of priest-king. Speaking of the Messiah, Zechariah writes, “Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices” (Zech. 6:13). In his Psalm that mentions Melchizedek, David also looks forward to the Messiah who will be both Priest and King (110:1, 4).  Because Salem was an ancient name for Jerusalem, Melchizedek ruled over God’s special city, His holy city that was always close to His heart. “For the Lord has chosen Zion (Jerusalem); He has desired it for His habitation. This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:13-14). We are not told when God first considered Jerusalem to be His holy city, but He had a faithful king who was a faithful priest there even in the time of Abraham—many centuries before Israel’s priests ministered there or Israel’s kings ruled there.  God chose the Jews as His special people, His very unique and cherished people. But Scripture is equally clear that Israel continually misunderstood her unique relation to God. They, for example, recognized Him as absolute Creator of heaven and earth and as sovereign over His world. But they had a very difficult time understanding Him as Redeemer of the world. As Creator and Sustainer, He was the world’s; but as Savior and Lord, He was theirs alone. They could hardly conceive of another divine covenant and another divine priesthood, especially one that was royal and superior to their own. Yet they are told that the covenant in Christ, though called new, not only has superseded theirs but, in type, actually preceded theirs.

 

MELCHIZEDK’S PRIESTHOOD WAS RIGHTEOUS AND PEACEFUL

The Levitical priesthood through Aaron had no permanent righteousness or peace.  Continually, the Aaronic priests had to offer sacrifices for only a temporal righteousness and they did not gain peace.  Many times throughout the Old Testament we hear the prophets, judges, priests, cry out for their redeemer.  They looked forward to the cross for redemption and placed their hope in the Father providing deliverance, while we look back at the cross.  Their Levitical system went through the motions, but could never provide them with total righteousness, which always precedes peace.  However, Melchizedek was king both of righteousness and of peace.  His name means “king of righteousness.”  The purpose of the Aaronic priesthood was to obtain righteousness for the people.  The sacrifices were made to restore the people to a right relationship to God, but they never succeeded in a permanent way.  God honored their sacrifices, He had, after all, ordered them.  But they were never meant to remove sin.  They were only as a picture or type of “The One” perfect sacrifice that could, did and continues to remove sin.  The Aaronic priesthood symbolized the sacrifices that make men righteous; but they themselves could not make men righteous or give men peace.  The Aaronic priesthood could not bring men to God and they were never meant to.  Melchizedek, though king of righteousness and of peace, could not make men righteous or give them peace.  His priesthood was a picture of Christ’s application to all of humanity as Priest to the Most High God.  Only the Divine Priest gives righteousness and peace.  “Therefore having been justified (counted righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1).  That is the necessary order, first righteousness then secondly peace.  Christ gives us peace by imputing righteousness.  “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever” (Isa 32:17)  What the blood of bulls and goats could not do, the Blood of Jesus Christ will continually do.  The Levitical sacrifices lasted only until the person sinned again.  Jesus’ sacrifice lasts through eternity.  Once reconciled to God through Christ, we will never be counted as sinful, but as righteous.  Christ is the true King of Righteousness.  David, that man after God’s own heart declared, that in the Lord “righteousness and peace have kissed each other” Psalm 85:10).  Christ came to give us His righteousness that we might be at peace with God.  Melchizedek pictured that.

 

MELCHIZEDEK’S PRIESTHOOD WAS PERSONAL, NOT HEREDITARY

Now we look at the personal aspect of comparing the Levitical priesthood with that of Melchizedek.  The Levitical priesthood was entirely hereditary, through Aaron.  From the beginning of the Aaronic priesthood personal qualifications meant nothing.  If you descended from Aaron, you could serve; but if you did not, then you could not serve.  Consequently throughout the ages the priest became more concerned with their lineage than they were with living a holy life.  During the time of Christ the scribes and priests would often talk to Jesus and make reference to their link to God through their lineage.  I think this was a real hang up for them that Christ did not come through the order of the Levitical priesthood but through the order of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek is said to have been “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life” does not mean that he came from nowhere.  It simply means that the door has been opened for God to be the Priest to not only the Jew but also the Gentile.  It is interesting that the single Greek word “without genealogy” (agenealogetos) is found nowhere else in Scripture.  Maybe Scripture would have had no other use for it because it wouldn’t have made sense in application to anybody else.  The point here is that Melchizedek is a Priest who serves the Most High God and yet, Melchizedek has broken the link of genealogies through mans lineage.  Melchizedek is directly from God in service towards those who belong to God whether they are Jew or Gentile.  Melchizedek’s link directly to the Father provides Him with the power to be personal and yet Holy, set apart for ministry.  To be sure, Jesus’ royal genealogy is important.  Jesus genealogy is given in detail by both Matthew and Luke in their gospels.  Jesus genealogy does go through the proper lineage to provide Him with the right “pedigree” for the Jew, but since Joseph was not instrumental in providing the seed for Jesus’s insemination the genealogy chain is broken and there is the final Priest.  Since Christ there is no true lineage of the Levitical priesthood.  Think about the effect it must have on Jews today, to know that their true priestly lineage is broken.  The only thing they are left with is looking to Christ to be their Priest.  Melchizedek’s separation from the Levitical priesthood provided the pathway for Christ to be our personal High Priest.

 

MELCHIZEDEK’S PRIESTHOOD IS ETERNAL

Individually, a Levitical priest served only from the time he was 25 until he was 50. No priest, no matter how faithful, could serve more than 25 years.  It began in the wilderness, when the covenant with Moses was made and the law was given. It ended when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in a.d. 70. The Levitical priesthood was for the Old Covenant and only for the Old Covenant, the covenant of law.  Melchizedek’s priesthood, however, had no such time or dispensational bounds. He abides a priest perpetually. It is not that he lived forever, but that Christ through the order of priesthood in which he ministered was forever. The fact that we have no biblical or other record of the beginning or end of Melchizedek’s personal priesthood simply symbolizes the eternality of his priestly order. It is a type of Christ’s truly eternal priesthood. Christ, “because He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:24-25).  The Scripture speaks of Melchizedek and provides us with a likeness of Jesus, but it is this likeness that is so powerful that I am left with the conclusion that Melchizedek was an apiphany of Jesus.  That God knowing Christ’s eternal Priesthood set up precursors, markers, events and times that remind us of His overall plan.  There is no way that God could just sit down in one sitting and spell out to us His entire plan.  We wouldn’t get it.  We would confuse it.  God had established His Aaronic priesthood to be a picture of Himself but in the same respects God cannot be confined to one system.  That system worked great for the Jews but what about the Gentiles?  Melchizedek as a mysterious, yet worshiped figure provides God a loop hole by which He masterfully plans and operates under the tiniest jot of His Word.  Jesus like Melchizedek His priesthood is universal, royal, righteous and peaceful, personal, and eternal.

 

What information do we have that provides us with reliability of how much the Jewish community respected this mysterious Melchizedek?  Three things to take note of Melchizedek’s superiorities; First, Abraham gave him a tithe; Second, Melchizedek blessed Abraham, and Lastly, Melchizedek’s priesthood is eternal.  Abraham as the father of the Jewish people, gave tithes of his war spoils, his choicest selection to Melchizedek.  Though Melchizedek was a king, he had not fought with Abraham against Chedorlaomer.  Also, there doesn’t seem to be any record of Melchizedek providing Abraham with any priestly service.  All we are given is that Abraham simply recognized Melchizedek as a priest of the God Most High and consequently gave him tithe from the best of the spoils.  It was a voluntary act from Abraham, revealing his thanks to God.  Under grace we are free of the demands of the law.  The New Testament specifies no definite amount or proportion of our money that we are to give to God.  But this does not mean that our giving is optional, or that it should depend on our whim or personal feeling.  Our giving should be out of a response of His first loving us and giving His life on our behalf.  Out of my response to His love I am inclined to give all that is mine.  Just as Melchizedek’s priesthood is a personify of the Priesthood of our Lord Jesus the Christ, so Abraham’s giving to Melchizedek is a personify of what our giving to the Lord should be.  The Jewish community understood this concept and understanding Melchizedek would make their conversion to Christ an understandable proposition.  The Levites, as the priestly tribe received no inheritance of land.  They were to be supported by a tithe from their brother Israelites.  All the tribes of course were descendants of Abraham through Jacob.  Under the Old Covenant, one group of Abraham’s descendants tithed to another.  The point of Hebrews 7:4-10 is that because Abraham had paid tithes to Melchizedek, even the Levites, also paid tithes “in advance,” to Melchizedek.  Even before they existed, those to whom tithes were paid had themselves paid a tithe to another priesthood, proving that this priesthood was superior to theirs.  So Abraham’s act legitimized the superiority of Melchizedek, which in turn would legitimize Christ.  Not that Christ needed Melchizedek to be legitimate, but in my opinion the two were one in the same.

The second issue that Melchizedek blessed Abraham confirms his superiority over the Levitical priesthood.  One of the first things we learn in Scripture about Abraham is that through him and his descendants the entire world was to be blessed.  It was staggering, awesome, and an awesome promise, especially because it was made before Abraham had any descendants and when it seemed impossible that he ever would.  “Without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater,” as the one doing the blessing, Melchizedek was superior to Abraham.  If Melchizedek was superior to Abraham then he must be superior to the Levites, Abraham’s descendants.  The irony that from Genesis 12 through the Bible to Malachi, all of the Old Testament is the story of Abraham’s descendants either directly or indirectly.  Yet this priest-king Melchizedek is mentioned in both Testaments in only a handful of verses and is greater than Abraham, because he blessed Abraham.  God operated in Melchizedek’s life because of personal qualification and he was higher than Abraham in those qualifications.  Therefore, he was chosen to bless Abraham and chosen to bless anything that came from Abraham.  Jesus is exalted and blesses us because He is higher than us based on His own personal qualification.  Earlier we learned that Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered.  He is qualified to be our Lord and since He is incomparably higher than us, He alone can bless us.  Without Christ, I am nothing and I am so thankful to Jesus for learning obedience.  Now Jesus grafts me in  through His accomplishments.  How much the more, am I, in need of learning obedience.

 

Melchizedek’s Priesthood Is Eternal

 

The third issue is that Melchizedek’s priesthood is eternal.  “And in this case mortal men receive tithes, but in case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on (7:8)”  Looking at the Levitical priests requirements to stop serving at fifty years of age, even if they were to continue serving after fifty they would still have to stop ministering once they died.  Their priesthood was temporary and as such the Jews paid tithes to priests who all died.  Abraham paid tithes to a priest who, “lives on.”  Since no death is recorded of Melchizedek, his priesthood is considered to be eternal, clearly superior to Aaron.  Jesus our Lord, in reality is the true Priest who is eternal of whom Melchizedek is either a picture of or in my opinion personifies.  Jesus is the only Priest who is alive forevermore.  He is a greater priest because He is a living priest, never dying.  Christ is Priest of a better priesthood than Aaron’s.  He is the Priest of the only priesthood that can bring God to men and men to God.  This was a great word of assurance to those Jews who had come to Jesus Christ and it sure reigns true in our hearts today.

 

MELCHIZEDEK RECEIVED WORSHIP

Abraham’s giving of his tithe was a form of worship and every heavenly character who presents themselves before man has consistently renounced any form of worship that was directed towards them individually.  The only exception is Jesus and Melchizedek.

11Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12For the priesthood being changed, Christianity is not an elevation or continuation of Judaism; Christianity is completely separate from Judaism.  Putting a Honda decal on my Oldsmobile does not make it a Honda.  Worshipping Christ through the practices of the Levitical Law does not make me a Christian.  The ceremonial practices of the Levitical system were in place to be a symbol of Christ, but it does not make them Christ.  Now that we have Christ, we need to put symbols away.  of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.  14For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest. (this Greek word for another means another of a different kind (heteros).  The Greek word another (allos) means an additional one of the same kind.  This word in our text is the Greek word heteros, which means a completely different kind.  For example, if I traded an imported car for another imported car it would be allos, of the same kind.  But if I bought American brand car instead that would be heteros, of a different kind.  The Levitical system their were many priests, allos; but under Jesus there is but one Priest and He is heteros.)    Both verses 11 & 15 speak of another priest arising.  But in verse 15, “arise (anistemi) is in the Greek as translated, “another priest arises by Himself.”  Christ did not come on the scene and begin his ministry in contrary to the already established Levitical system.  In fact, Jesus complimented them by telling those who were healed to present themselves to the priests as the law commanded to complete their healing.  Did the recipient of healing from Jesus need to present themselves to the priests to complete their healing?  No, when God heals it is a done deal.  So my thought is that Jesus had a couple things in mind.  One, He wanted them to be filled with reminders of Him.  All day long the priests would be inundated with people coming to offer thanksgiving.  Testimony after testimony of people saying, “I was blind, but now I see.”  The second reason is to demonstrate His taking over of the established system.  In reality, with Christ on the scene the only need for sacrifice was to lay ones life at His feet and worship Him.  God the almighty Creator was in their presence, walked among them, gave instruction to them, the Levitical system was given to get them through by keeping them busy until He arrived.  But they were so caught up in their system and dependant upon their perceived normality that they missed the greatest miracle of all eternity.  That God would make Himself in the form of His own Creation.  The word “arise” with the meaning of arises by Himself is used by Luke in Acts 2:32 in reference to Christ’s resurrection.

16who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17For He testifies: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”  The reference here, “according to the law of fleshly commandment,” is speaking of the Levitical standard that priests had to be without physical blemish.  The Levitical priesthood was not established through holiness or a spiritual life but their physical qualifications.  First, they had to be pure descendants of Aaron.  Secondly, they could not have physical deficiencies any one of one hundred physical blemishes or deficiencies could disqualify them from service.  But not one qualification was based on their moral or spiritual conduct.  Jesus ministry had nothing to do with His physical appearance but everything to do with holiness, morality and spiritual qualifications.  Our Jesus arises by Himself that day after fasting for forty days and is able to cast Satan behind Him, because of His eternal power, spirituality, holiness in character and personality.  For Jesus the priesthood is an inner reality of imputing holiness.  Peter goes on to tell us to “Be Holy, for He is Holy.”  How could I be Holy?  Only through Jesus’s Holiness coming in and sanctifying me.  Jesus Christ can do, does and will do what Aaron and the entire host of priests could never do.  Jesus brings us into the presence of God and anchors us there eternally.  “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us (Heb 6:19).”

18For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.   As if we haven’t camped enough this summer, are you ready to camp here for the night?  We have come to the point of the text.  The point is that Christ is replacing the Levitical system.  The term, “setting aside” (athetesis) is pertaining to doing away with something.  It has to do with stopping a treaty, law or regulation.  The whole Levitical ceremony was canceled and done away with entirely.  Jesus warned them and God assured its end in 70 A.D. when He allowed the Temple to be destroyed.  Lets look at the old system a little.  It served as a taskmaster to demonstrate that we could not obtain holiness aside from direct intervention from God.  The old system could reveal sin and it liked to shove it down your throat.  But it could never remove sin and thus it needed to be removed.  The old system gave no peace or security of salvation.  A person’s conscience could never fully be cleared.  But through our Lord and Savior Jesus The Christ we have been brought directly to God and given eternal access to His Holiness.  Peter mentions, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look (1 Pet 1:10-12).”  Basically, the Old Testament saints were looking forward to the cross much like us today who look back to the cross.  Their only hope was to put their hope directly in the Hand of God to provide Himself a Lamb.  The point is to encourage the wavering Jews to break with the old system and come to Jesus Christ. This was not an easy thing for Jews to understand or accept. Despite the many prophecies of the Messiah and of the new order He would bring, most Jews could not imagine that the Levitical system was temporary, inadequate, defective and unable to bring perfection. The very idea was incomprehensible to the pious Jew. All their lives they had assumed that God instituted the Levitical system, and that it was perfect, sufficient, and permanent. They were correct only in the first part. It was indeed instituted by God. But it was never intended or declared by Him to be perfect, eternally sufficient, or permanent.  How is the applicable to us?  Come on, Lyn all this information is not applicable; or is it?  Some Christians seem to look at Jesus only as a means to salvation and personal happiness.  If they believe they are saved and are fairly happy with their circumstances, they consider their lives fulfilled.  All it is they are looking for is happiness and security.  They find these in Christ and feel satisfied.  Others see their Christian lives as a continuing, growing relationship to God through study of and obedience to His Word.  This view of the Christian life is much more mature than the first.  But the key to the Christian life is drawing near to God.  The fullest expression of faith is to enter into the presence of God in His heavenly Holy of Holies and to fellowship with Him.  Draw near to God, talk to Him when your cooking, listen to Him when your driving, fellowship with Him in your comings and goings.

 

20And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath 21(for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: “The Lord has sworn And will not relent,You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek’”),  Nowhere did God ever swear an oath of an eternal priesthood through Aaron.  God never suggested to Aaron or anyone else that his priesthood would be anything but temporary.  Many Israelites thought that it would be permanent, but their belief had no basis in Scripture.  But with Christ He swore an eternal priesthood, as David had written in Psalm 110:4, “The Lord has sworn and will not relent,”  He will not change His mind.  God’s making an oath here does not foreshadow his mere Word, but signifies His eternal emphasis.  Christ’s priesthood is also based on an oath of God, and is thereby shown to be eternal and unchangeable.   22by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.  The idea of the oath is a guaranteeing much like the story of Judah becoming surety for Benjamin both to Jacob and Joseph.  When Judah and his brothers were on their way back to Egypt for a second time they were told (unbeknown to them by Joseph, their brother) not to come unless they brought their brother Benjamin.  Hearing the news Jacob would not let Benjamin go unless Judah became surety for his brother, guaranteeing his safe return.  After collecting their goods and finding Joseph’s silver cup among Benjamin’s sack of food Judah became surety to Joseph.  Realizing his pledge to his father and the heartache his father would experience, Judah offered himself to Joseph as a slave instead of Benjamin.  Judah illustrated the idea of Christ’s being the guarantee for the New Covenant.  Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and in this has provided us with eternal life.  But He does more than mediate the covenant.  He also guarantees it.  Jesus has become surety for it.  All of God’s promises in the New Covenant are provided through Jesus and He paid all debts that our sins have incurred, or ever will incur.23Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing.  The author drives home the point of the Levitical priests temporary status through the fact that their ministry ended in their death.  24But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. To illustrate the fact of the Levitical priesthood never being able to bring salvation, God demonstrated it in Num 20:23-29.  When Aaron, the first high priest was about to die, God commanded Moses to bring Aaron and his son, Eleazar, to Mount Hor.  In view of all the people God reminded Moses that Aaron, like Moses would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.  The human giver of the law and the human progenitor of the priesthood would both die before Israel entered the Promised Land.  Aaron’s priesthood was never intended to bring them into the Promised Land.  Jesus on the other hand, because He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently.  Jesus is the superior High Priest because He needs no successor.  Jesus Priestly ministry started and continues through eternity.  If you really think about it, Jesus ministry has been going on since the dawn of Creation.  Jesus ministry and Priesthood is without beginning or end.  So there is no way that the Aaronic priesthood would ever supercede over Jesus’s Priesthood.

 

25Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.   Amen, and Thank You Lord.  Another word of uttermost is forever or (panteles).  Although the meaning in the context of this verse can be that of eternal, the basic idea of the word is that of completeness or perfection.  Thus the translation of uttermost is accurate and significant.  Jesus priesthood is not halfway.  Jesus is able to save both eternally and completely.

 

26For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.  In keeping with the flow the Levitical priests were sinful and they had to offer sacrifices for themselves before they could offer them for the people.  This is not so with our High Priest, His is holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners (yet comfortable around them), and exalted above the heavens.  Lets look at Jesus attributes as holy, harmless, undefiled, separate and exalted.  First, harmless toward men, Jesus injured no man.  He lived for others, He went about always doing good to others, feeding them, healing them, cleansing them from iniquity, casting out demons, building their esteem, comforting the weak hearted.  Jesus was undefiled, free from any moral or spiritual blemish or sin.  For 33 years Jesus Christ was in the world, mingling with sinners and being tempted continually by Satan.  Yet He never took on even the least form of sin or defilement.  Jesus came into the most direct and personal contact with our adversary, Satan and left spotless as before they met.  Jesus was separated from sinners.  Obviously, He was not separated from sinners in the sense of never coming into contact with them or He would have had to live a solitary life locked away from mankind.  Instead, all the people Jesus encountered were sinful and yet He ate with them, traveled with them, worked with them, fished with them, worshiped with them.  But His nature was totally separate, totally different, from theirs and from ours.  For this, we give the highest thanks to God or else He could not have been our Savior.  Finally, He is exalted above the heavens.  He is exalted because of all the other things just mentioned.  Because He is holy, innocent, undefiled and separated from sinners, He is therefore worthy of our exalting Him.  Eternally the 24 elders fall down before Him and cast their crowns before Him and say, “You are worthy O’ Lord, to receive glory, honor and power, For You Created all things and by Your will they exist and were created.”  Exalted because He is able.

 

Prayer:

Lord, I pray the effectual prayer of Your word having its way in my heart today.  Lord, may I be available to you for changing, reproofing, instructing in Your word.  Lord, change my heart.  Let me see Jesus in Your word, O’ Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 8

 

 

1Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,  Take note that in the Levitical system the priest never sat down for sitting is a form of completion or rest, where the earthly practices of sacrifice had to be repeated daily and annually the priests could truly never rest.  Whereas our Christ, “is seated at the right hand of the throne” signifying the completion of His providing salvation.  This truth should have been the most fantastic news to the Jews because Christ had finished the work, no more sacrifices, now they get to rest in His finished work.  Today, our concept of sitting at the right hand really has no special significance.  To the Jews and Gentiles of these days standing at the right hand meant honor, but to sit at the right hand meant supreme honor.  There is no place of a higher authority.  Another, interesting fact of history concerning the Roman-Jewish Court system in relation to where they were seated when being judged.  Even under Roman rule, the Sanhedrin was allowed to preside in their court system.  When the members sat in judgment, a scribe sat on either side of the presiding judge.  The scribe on the left was responsible for writing condemnations, while the one on the right was responsible for writing acquittals.  Jesus said that He came into the world not to condemn but to save in John 3:17.  As High Priest, He sits in the place of supreme honor, but also of mercy, making intercession, writing acquittals.

2a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.  3For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.  Notice the theme of Hebrews is presenting Christ as the completed fullness of every law, ordinance or prophecy ever given, spoken or written previously to His arrival.  Take all of the previous Levitical practices and teachings and place them all in the completed work of the Cross.  What is the point that God wants to make?  I would have to say, “look to Jesus, listen to Jesus, trust in Jesus, worship Jesus, give thanks to Jesus, pray to Jesus, get salvation from Jesus, ask Jesus into your heart and live your life expecting Jesus to return at any second.  What more does God have to do to emphasize the importance of Jesus in our lives?  He has done away with every ordinance or physical practice that could cause man to fall short of fully surrendering thier life over to Him.  We are left with only one conclusion now that the old system is fulfilled in Christ and that is to surrender our lives over to Him.  This is our reasonable service.  Take into an account of what He has done on our behalf and continues to do on our behalf everyday; and the conclusion to the account is my prostrating myself before Him and declaring His worthiness of all Praise and Glory.  To any organization or individual who presents Jesus Christ as anything less than God in the flesh should be understood as wrong.  I have to be dogmatic on this issue.  The conclusion, Christ is Lord, God.

7For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—9not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. 10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”  13In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

 

DC Talk rapped the lyrics, “God is doing a new th-ang.”  I agree God is doing a new thing, but the new thing He is doing was not a new idea.  Jeremiah 31:31-34 is the quoted passage of scripture that the author draws from to solidify this point.  It is important for us to realize that what Jesus did in abolishing the practices of the law, was not a new concept.  God did not decide one day to do this wonderful act of grace towards humanity, it was planned out from the foundations of the world.  So it is intelligent history that draws us to the conclusion that Christ is the fulfillment of God’s plan throughout scripture.  Yes, what God did was radically new, yet very refreshing.  Looking at the comparison of Aaron and Christ in their effect one has to conclude that Christ’s is far superior to that of Aaron’s.  The law not only made all subject to it, condemned for the guilt of sin, but also the law was unable to remove that guilt, and clear the conscience from it.  Yet, by the shedding of His blood, Christ provided complete remission of sin, past, present and future; so that God would remember them no more.  “As far as the east is from the west, David declared in Psalms 103:12.  Psalm 103:17 says that, “But mercy from the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, on those who fear Him.”  Aaron’s ministry at best provided remission from sin up to the day of sacrifice, but more sacrifices had to be made for new sins.

 

Matthew Henry said, “God once wrote His laws to His people, now He will write His laws in His people.  He will give them understanding to know and to believe his laws; he will give them memories to retain them; he will give them hearts to love them, courage to profess them, and power to put them in practice.  This is the foundation of the covenant; and when this is laid, duty will be done wisely, sincerely, readily, easily, resolutely, constantly, and with comfort.  A plentiful outpouring of the Spirit of God will make the ministration of the gospel so effectual, that there shall be a mighty increase and spreading of Christian knowledge…”  God providing forgiveness of sins past, present and future provides mercy which gives freedom to the believer.  Freedom, to the believer from Gods mercy in forgiving sin in turn brings us back to Him in worship, adoration and spreading the “Good News.”  This provides us with the foundation to freely worship our wonderful Lord, directly.  We do not need to go through another man to relay our message to God, we come boldly, directly to Him and make our requests known to Him.  This is not religion; this is not about living a set of rules; this is not about listening to and conforming to another man’s interpretations of scripture; this is about knowing God personally and individually discovering Him in His word then getting together to confirm through a pastor what God is already speaking to your heart.  Ever wonder how it is that the pastor can speak words that directly relate to your situation?  Church is not because we have to, church is because we want to.  Doing the things that God has spoken in His word is not because those actions will gain us eternity, but because He said it and I believe it.  My prayer is not because I will gain crowns in heaven, prayer is because I want to bring the cares of this world to heaven and leave them there.

 

Understanding Hebrews 8 is to understand Christ as our High Priest and the fulfillment of Old Testament law.  Jesus is worthy to receive all praise and glory.  Let’s live our life as though we know this to be true; because He has already paved the way all we have to do is ask and receive.

 

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 9

 

 

1Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.  “Even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service.”  Looking at this text, I find it interesting that the author points out the similarities between the two covenants as it relates to human involvement.  Both had “ordinances of divine service” is making a reference to the worship that ensued through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  “earthly sanctuary,” literally means “mundane” or “corrupt.”  The picture that is painted in my mind is the distinction between the two covenants being divinely inspired and yet flawed when man enters the picture.  God in His nature, takes us from glory to greater glory and we will see in the upcoming verses that despite the humanly flawed aspect of the New Covenant, Christ has overcome, once and for all.  That by Him our earthly corrupt sanctuary is divinely perfect through His shedding of His blood.  It is amazing to me, how God can take a group of people with all their insufficiencies and be manifested even glorified through them.  We truly serve such an Awesome God, worthy of our full worship, simply because of who He is, let alone how much more because of what He continues to do on our behalf.

 

2For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lamp stand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.  6Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;  The main point that the author is making here is the fact that the high priest performing the service, required his own sins to be forgiven before he could offer sacrifices for the peoples sins.  I would like to take the time to draw your attention to some of the steps that the priest would perform before the Lord and attempted to provide forgiveness of sins.  On the Day of Atonement, the priest arrayed in his high priestly robes would sacrifice a bull on the brass altar in the courtyard as a dedicatory offering.  Then he would take off his priestly cloths and put on his linen garments, covered with a tunic and sash he would sacrifice another bull as a sin offering for himself.  Two goats are chosen by casting lots, and a red scarlet cord would be tied around one, signifying it was the sacrificial goat.  The other goat, the scapegoat, would be carried into the wilderness.  The two goats signify our sins as not only forgiven, but also forgotten, separated as far as the east from the west (Ps 103:12).  The priest would then take the coals from the outside altar with two handfuls of incense into the Holy Place.  And as he put them on the altar of incense, a cloud of smoke would fill the room.  Going to the brass altar he would carry the blood, which had drained from the bull back into the Holy Place.  This time he would go through the veil into the Holy of Holies, where he would sprinkle the blood seven times on the ground and seven times on the mercy seat.  After that, he would sacrifice the sacrificial goat and take its blood back into the Holy of Holies, where he would sprinkle it again seven times on the ground and seven times on the mercy seat.  Finally after sacrificing the bull and going into the Holy of Holies, after sacrificing the goat and going into the Holy of Holies, he would come back out and place his hand upon the living goat, saying, ‘Bear and be gone.’ In other words, ‘Bear the sin and take it away.’  Then, finally, the priest would stand before the people and with both hands, he would pronounce, “Forgiven,” and the people would begin to dance, cheer and celebrate.  The people always waited to celebrate until they saw the whites of the priests eyes and hear him declare, “forgiven,” because if the priest entered the Holy of Holies presumptuously, he would die and the people would not be forgiven.

There are two things to note concerning this ritual as it relates to our Lord Jesus.  First, seven times blood was sprinkled on the floor and on the mercy seat.  Christ as our High Priest sprinkled His blood from seven places.  He bled from His face, brow, head, hands, feet, side and back.  He bled from his brow as He anguished over the events that were going to transpire.  He bled from his face as the Roman soldiers beat Him and ripped out His beard.  He bled from His head as they smashed a crown of thorns upon His head.  He bled from His hands as they pounded nails through Him pinning Him to the cross.  He bled from His feet as they pounded nails through His feet to the cross.  He bled from His back as they ripped his back into hamburger with a flagellum.  He bled from His side when they pierced Him with a spear.  Secondly, as they placed Him in the tomb, the Holy of Holies certainly there would have been blood where His body had laid and the gospels speak of angels sitting on either side of Him a perfect picture of the Mercy seat.  Then, the third day came with the Resurrection and the surety of our forgiveness with the rising of the Son.

 

8the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.  Through the Old Testament Temple practices the Holy Spirit is teaching us three things.  First, that worship of God was limited under the Law.  There was no access to God.  The people, and even the high priest, could not come into the presence of God.  Second, the Spirit wanted to demonstrate the imperfection in being forgiven and cleansed through the sacrifices.  The people never fully grasped forgiveness.  The scapegoat that was sent out to be lost in the wilderness, could have found its way back into the camp.  They didn’t enjoy freedom of conscience or assurance of cleansing through salvation.  Third, the Spirit wants to make sure that the Old Covenant was limited, imperfect, and temporary.  It may seem strange to us that God would authorize or demand such an imperfect system.  Why would God make these people go through all of those legalistic practices just to remain in their sin?  It is human nature to try and do everything under our own power.  We want so badly to get to heaven on our own merits.  God instituted the Old Covenant to sort of let us “do it” our own way for a while.  I tell my kids constantly, “learn from mistakes, but they don’t have to be your mistakes that you learn from.”  The Old Covenant was to make people realize that they needed redemption, they needed God, “to provide Himself a Lamb” for salvation.  Glory goes to God in that the New Covenant covers the past, present and future sin.  The Old Covenant practices were a picture of Christ is in the New Covenant.  The Holy Spirit confirming this in that today the Holy Spirit enters us, lives in us, seals us and provides us with the fruit of salvation.  The Old Testament folks did not have that constant freeness of the Holy Spirit, they could only experience it like a gust of wind blowing by them.

 9It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—10concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.  Bear in mind that the author is writing to a group of Hebrew Christians who were tempted with going back into the Levitical practices.  In an attempt to keep these early Christians from falling back into those empty practices, the author explains that those practices were given for a season until the “reformation” or “restoration.”  2 Corinthians 5:17-19 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”  I chose to quote this verse because it reiterates the point of the term “reformation” in our text.  Reformation in context to our verse is referring to restoration.  The Jews were to concern themselves with foods and drinks, various washings and fleshly ordinances until the time of restoration, or atonement or Divine favor.  Now, in Christ all things are lawful (but be careful because Paul points out that) not all things are beneficial.  Jesus, how could He walk through a field of grain and enjoy it right off the stock without first performing the ceremonial washing?  The Old practices had become so instilled upon the Jewish generations that the practices became in essence their Christ.  They were only concerned with fulfilling the exacting of the word, over and above their conscience.  In the New Covenant today we are freed from religiosity practices and we can listen to God speak to our hearts.  But God, knowing our hearts easily swayed in the message received, God gave us His word.  Yes, listen to your heart, follow your heart, only if you first love Jesus and then line it up with His word.  King David gave us a glimpse of the New Covenant’s guiding in Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall grant you the desires of your heart.”

 

11But Christ came as High Priest of the good things (Literally; that have come) to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  Look back at verse 7 the Levitical priests could only provide forgiveness toward ignorant sins.  They couldn’t cover the sins of the internal dimension of man.  David when he sinned with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, cried before the Lord, “For you do not desire sacrifice; or else I would give it: you delight not in the burnt offering,” (Ps 51:16).  To paraphrase, there’s no sacrifice, no burnt offering that I can give for my sin because my sin was intentional.  The reality is that every year during the Day of Atonement, the people were going through the motions, demonstrating the joy and excellence that we have in Christ.  Side note, Day of Atonement, think of it as at-one-ment, for through the Day of Atonement of Christ we are at one with Christ.  Which, leads us into our next verse.  15And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.  16For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  In case this verse is confusing to you, as it was to me.  The word “testament” in the Greek is understood to be “a will.”  Oh, now I get it.  Through the reading of Jesus’s advanced directive or will, He declared “forgiven.”  Not only did Jesus declare in His will that we were forgiven, He seated Himself down as our advocate.  First, He died and willed our salvation then to see the fulfilling of His will, He sits as our defense attorney who declares before the court, “forgiven.”  Every time our enemy points his fingers in condemnation, Jesus steps in and declares “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  17For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.

 

18Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you (Ex 24:8).” 21Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. 22And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.  Blood, everything is sprinkled with blood in the old Levitical system, why?  In what other way could God demonstrate to us the dangers or severity of humanities sin?  The Levitical sacrifice was a bloody proposition.  No doubt, the Levitical priest would get blood all over his cloths, hands and all over the workplace.  Why is God so deadly serious about sin?  Is it because He is a prude who doesn’t like watching violence or sexual explicit material?  No, it is because He knows the dangers involved with our participation in such activities.  It is because He knows that sin is a merciless killer.  It kills happiness, joy, peace, health and life.  It kills our kids, families, societies and cultures.  Sin isn’t bad for us because God forbids it, God forbids it because it is bad for us.  What else could God do to demonstrate the dangers and bloodiness of sin?  That’s why the only way there can be forgiveness is by the shedding of blood.

 

23Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—26He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  In some “Christian” arenas there is a mistaken philosophy where there is a continual sacrifice-taking place where Christ is perpetually suffering; each time the mass is celebrated and the Eucharist is served.  No, Scripture is clear that Christ suffered once, offered His Body once.  Our receiving of His body and blood is not causing Him to suffer perpetually, but it is our commemorating our Lord and our act of receiving what He laid down freely.  Luke 22:19-20 “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  20Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”  The Eucharist, ah there is life in the Eucharist.  This is an area that I need to practice what I teach.  But the Eucharist should be celebrated in our homes, either by ourselves or even better with our families.  The Eucharist shouldn’t be a once every bi-monthly or even monthly.  For Jesus tells us that His blood and body are life.  We need to welcome that life into ours even daily.  John 6:53-58 “Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”  Looking to our own body, where is the life?  Its in the blood.  Our own blood provides nourishment to our cells in the form of oxygen, nutrients, sodium, potassium and a few other things.  Within our blood there is the power to fight off bacteria and viruses.  There are White blood cells and T-cells that carry the DNA of known viruses and can mass-produce them to fight diseases when called upon.  Not only does the blood bring to the cells it also acts as a garbage truck, emptying the waste products used up by our cells.  It delivers it to our kidneys, which have an exact amount of pressure to allow the urea to flow out of the blood but keep the plasma and red cells from exiting.  Then it exchanges life-sustaining oxygen with the expended waste product CO2 in our lungs.  What can wash away my sin, what can make me whole again; nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 

 27And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, this verse is given for those out there who might propagate reincarnation.  When Elijah and Moses appeared before Peter, John and James; Jesus presented them as Moses and Elijah.  He didn’t say, “meet Rajneesh and Meshack,” they were still Moses and Elijah.   The word, “appointed” in the scripture is important to point out because it denotes a Divine selection.  This term does not speak of humanity as a whole because there have been and there will be a group of people who will not die, but be changed.  First, Enoch and Elijah did not die.  Second, those who are caught up with Jesus at the sound of the Trump of God; will not die but, be changed.

28so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.  When Christ returns, it will not be to save souls.  His return will be in Righteousness by which He will be wearing a Crown as our King Deliverer, delivering those who are His.  Oh, how our heart longs for the day in which He will call us up to be with Him.  Everyday draws us closer to Him.

 

LynS

 

 

Hebrews 10

 

 

1For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.  The author again drives home the reality that the blood of bulls and goats could never satisfy salvations demand.  He reiterates how the sacrificial system was a reminder to them, every year they had to cover their sin.  It could be explained like this.  Take an insulin dependent diabetic person.  Injecting themselves with insulin saves their life, yet each time giving the shot reminds them of their disease.  I will paraphrase v.4, “it is absurd to think that the blood of bulls and goats could provide eternal salvation.”  The application for us today is that we need to check our own sacrificial system of measure.  “How long did I pray today?  How many chapters of my Bible did I read?  What did I do to earn God’s favor today?”  Our tendency is to seek good standing with God through good deeds, but He will continually remind me of my failures, issues and sin to let me know that my little rituals, rules and regulations cannot save me.  The price has been paid, His blood was shed and the work is done.  5Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: (Psalm 40:6-8) “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.  Jesus body was unique in that He is the only man to be born of a virgin.  There are four ways God Creates bodies. The first is out of clay, as with Adam.  The second, is out of man, as with Eve.  The third, is out of woman through the seed of man.  The fourth is out of woman without man, as with the birth of Christ.  Jesus Christ came in a prepared body, a body that was not seeded in sin.  Though He felt all the sinless infirmities of the flesh, hunger, pain, weakness and death and temptations of the flesh, He never shared in or indulged the sinful weakness of the flesh.  If Christ did not have a sinless nature then He could not be the Savior of the world.  Another understanding or translation of the phrase, “But a body You have prepared for Me” is “My ears You have opened” (Ex. 21:1-6 and Isa. 50:5).  The concept is that Christ’s ears had to be opened to hear instruction from the Father.  Jesus learned to obey, and listen to God in times of temptation.  As man He was susceptible to sins grasps, but as God, deliverer He had to be sinless, pure and undefiled.  Also take note that the birth of Christ was “written in the book.”  Genesis 3:15, where God announced that the “seed of the woman” not the man, (speaking of the virgin birth) would defeat the seed of Satan.  Then later God announced to Abraham that the Savior would come through the Jews and again later He revealed Christ would come through the tribe of Judah.  Isaiah 7:14 announced the virgin birth and Micah 5:2 spoke of Bethlehem as the birthplace.

 

6In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.   7Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of MeTo do You r will, O God.’”  8Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God. (omit: O God) He takes away the first that He may establish the second.  Kind David wrote these prophetic words during a time of great depression and anguish over his own mistakes and sinful decisions.  Just having been confronted by Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12), David desires so badly to be redeemed, forgiven, washed of his sin.  David realizes that his sin effected his fellow man was ultimately a sin against the Lord.  David, the man after God’s own heart; is broken before the Lord and here he cries out to God, “O God, how I wish I could sacrifice a bull to feel redemption.”  How is it that David could be considered a man after God’s own heart and yet have sinned so dastardly?  I can only speculate that David aligned Himself with God’s desire for true redemption, salvation and remission of sins; that humanity can finally dwell in the presence of God with a clean conscience.  What?  Lyn, are you saying that God desires redemption, salvation and remission of sins?  Yes, even though the sacrificial system was bloody, distasteful and it didn’t please God that the death of an animal was the fruit of our pride and arrogance.  But God desired and does desire for everyone to walk with Him, wherever they are, right now.  Today is the day of salvation.  David looked forward to Jesus and we look back at Jesus.  “Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book, it is written of Me.”  Here, David writes out of anguish, the awesome truth that there is no separation between the Old Testament and the New Testament.  All of the Old and New Testaments are written of Christ, pointing toward Christ, looking back at Christ.  I love that verse, because it is so liberating to me now that I understand to fully understand the Old Testament I have to read it through the lens of the Son.  Reading the Old Testament takes on a whole new significance when it is understood to be Glorifying Christ.  Now when I read about Noah and the Ark I see Christ.  When I read God’s reaction to Adam for his sin, I don’t hear a wild and angry voice, I hear a patient and understanding voice.  Now when I read about Ehud thrusting his dagger into the fat belly of Eglon the King of Moab.  I understand the picture of rendering the old man dead(Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22, Colossians 3:9).  When I read about Jeal turning Sisera into her tent and taking a tent peg and nailing his head to the ground.  I draw the picture of sin’s old nature in my life, needing to be nailed down.  Jesus absorbed the nails so that I could absorb Him.   You see both of these men were enslaving the Israelite people, coming into Israel and ruling her; both men were cruel and domineering.  A picture of sin in my life they had to be dealt with.  Sin had to be nailed so that through it, humanity can find redemption.  “Christ takes away the first (sin nature) that He may establish the second (His nature).”

 

10By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  11And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.  It is going to happen, Christ’s enemies will be made His footstool.  The idea is that they will be in a place of inferiority with subjection in bowing before Him.  Oh, they are subject to Him and obey His commands but soon they will bow before Him.  Christ’s superiority is so far above anything else it would be incomprehensible to measure it.  Christ’s sacrifice was effective in placing His enemies at this footstool.  The old system of sacrifice did nothing to stop Satan.  The Levitical priests could never sit down on the job, whereas the author brings up the point that Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.  Now He is waiting for Satan and his diabolical demons to bow before Him.  14For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.  The Scriptures cannot reiterate enough of the ongoing, never stopping perfecting of humanity by the one time offering.  Christ, suffered once for our sins and yet we are perfect through His one time sacrifice.  That brings us into the next verse; yes we are perfected forever through the witness of the Holy Spirit.  15But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,  16“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”   Oh, the wonderful Grace of God that He should remember my sins no more.  That He separates Himself as far as the “east from the west.”  That He drops them into the deepest depths of the ocean.  Humanity will probably never fully understand the concept of forgive and forget, this side of heaven.  Oh, my wife, children, mother and co-worker may forgive my sin but they will never forget them.  I wonder if God has this sort of confused look on His face when I bring up my past failures?  I think that Jesus wants us to move on and run the race with endurance.  Imagine if He said that He would forgive sins, but still remember them and harbor them; what a depressing state that would be.  But no, our God who is rich and mighty in Mercy and Grace forgets our failures.  I have to admit that I cannot fully understand this attribute of God, but I am very appreciative of it.  Because, like the woman who was caught in adultery that day, I too have been caught in adultery, oh, maybe not physically but mentally.  Like the woman who had an issue for seven years, I too have issues for lengths of time, but Glory to Jesus that He forgives and then forgets.  “Go and sin, no more” He told her that day; not that she would never ever in her whole life sin again but that He wouldn’t remember it.  Oh, mighty is His Grace.  Mighty is His tender Mercies for they are new each morning.  Thank you Jesus for your forgetting my sin, I confess I don’t fully understand it but I am thankful for it.

 

18Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.  If your sin is dealt with once and for all then it is pointless to continue the old sacrificial system.  19Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,  it is because the veil was torn that we have access to the Holy of Holies.  There in the Holy of Holies stands the arc containing the ten commandments, which we have broken; Aaron’s rod, which budded as a sign to a people who chafed under God’s leadership; a pot of manna given to people who grumble about His provision.  In the ark were reminders of our failure but covering the ark hiding the broken commandments, the rod of rebellion, the manna of unthankfulness is the mercy seat.  It is at the mercy seat where God meets us. 21and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart notice the statement here of a “true” heart.  The NKJV renders this verse with a sincere heart.  God wants us to draw near to Him and be real.  Be real with God, so often when I am not pleased in myself for failures or attitudes that I have.  I find that nasty little voice telling me that I have to get my act together before I can draw near to God.  I have to pray for one hour or read through the Old Testament and that voice tells me that I am not doing enough.  The scripture here is telling us to stifle that voice and regardless of whether you’ve got your act together or not, you go to God, now, with a true heart.  “Lord, I have not drawn near to you lately, I have not been what I should be in Christ, forgive me, Lord.”  “Jesus, teach me to draw near to you with every breath that I take.”  Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  2 Peter 3:9  “9The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

 

We are entering into a portion of scripture that in my opinion demonstrates the fruitfulness of our salvation and drawing near to God.  A sure measurement of my drawing near to God is my reaction to His people.  Am I beating people down or am I lifting them up?  Every time that I have spent time with the Lord, whether it is for a moment or a day I always walk away with love towards people.  The following verses are a list of things that demonstrate things we are told to do towards our brethren, but this list is only confirmation of what we already knew in our hearts, from drawing near to Him.

24And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, “let us consider,” means that we should take note of.  I work in the healthcare and whenever the doctor starts to bark out orders that he wants on a patient we have a scribe who is writing everything down.  Whenever someone says anything that is really important that we don’t want to forget we bust out our notepads and write it down.  The idea of this verse is that we should take note of one another.  Notice the results; stir up love and good works.  Christian, how long has it been since you looked someone in the eye when you talked to them?  The general populace of humanity isn’t looking for others to constantly pat them on the back, encourage them in all that they are doing right.  But when any person takes the time to genuinely take note of others, the natural response is going to be love and good works.  They did a study of rats, I am sure you heard about this.  As long as the rats had their own space they were civil to each other.  But when large populations of rats were confined and their numbers were growing they began to kill and eat each other.  Ever see in person or on the television a bunch of people walking on a big city sidewalk?  They all have somber looks on their faces and with eyes fixed forward they walk, not noticing each other.  The result is isolation, even though they are mixed in with hundreds, thousands or millions of others.  This is what the author is warning us against.  He says, “look, you need to think about or take note of one another because the result is going to be a continuation of love and good works.”  The idea is not that we should live our lives in the minds of others, constantly wondering what “people might think?”  this is not a commandment, it is a rule of thumb (if you will).

25not 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.  “Not forsaking” connotes an air of negativity, rejection or to leave behind.  This term is not speaking of missing church from time to time because of illnesses or unforeseen circumstances.  The idea is that we have given up on or abandoned the gathering together.  History is full of divisions and branches of Christianity because of this idea of leaving behind the “assembling of ourselves together” and the author was watching it take place as the Hebrew Christians withdrew from the body to go back into the Levitical practices.  Now, I am not saying that just because you started out in one particular style of believers that you are stuck there.  Feel free to move about, travel and explore churches and when you settle on the church that follows the Acts example then don’t forsake the assembling.  But rather we are to “exhort” one another.  The idea here is implore, beg, to make an appeal in comforting each other even more “as you see the Day approaching.”  Do I have to expound on what the meaning of “The Day” the scripture is talking about?  I will say this, I personally know that as I read through the scriptures and compare Biblical prophecy of “end days” with what I am seeing globally, lets just say that “The Day” is approaching fast.  What is the practicality of having the attitude of sticking to it in regards to church?  The church, in all of its errors and idiosyncrasies is one avenue by which we learn to draw near to Jesus and are forced to either live a lie in our hearts or face up to our problems and deal with them.  I know our Founding Fathers understood the idea of the churches ability to make mistakes and provided a gulf of separation between government and the church, NOT that we separate the two, but that the government can’t step in to the churches affairs and sort of slap us around a bit.  The Founding Fathers understood that any government that is run aside from Biblical wisdom and Divine Providence governing the hearts and minds of its elected officials would be (what we are seeing today) chaos.

 

26For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  28Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29Of 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? We have come to a portion of scripture that like so many others has caused debates and separation regarding its meaning.  The meaning of this verse lies within this verse and it really is simple.  For it is referring to the Christian Hebrews who were trying to mix the old Levitical practices with the New Covenant.  The sacrifice for sins no longer remains if they go back under the law.  The warning is this: If you return to the Temple to offer sacrifices for your sins, you are missing it totally.  The price was paid completely when Jesus died in your place.  There are no more sacrifices which can be, need be, should be offered.  Jesus has opened The Way.  Jesus has completed the Work.  Going to confession, getting re-baptized, making a promise or signing a pledge; neither will make you right with God.  The verse here is not so much a warning against backsliding as it is against turning you back on Jesus in totality and going back into the legalistic mentality.  Surely, this has to be what the author is meaning because every one of us has shortcomings and has failings and in fact the closer we get to understanding even a scratch of God the more we are made aware of our sin.  Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15 declares, “I am the chiefest of sinners.”  Jesus died not only for our sins, but for the sins of the completed humanity from beginning to end, from Adam until the last human born, Jesus blood covers their sin.  How dare we, then, say that what He did on the Cross is insufficient or inadequate?  Such is why the author says that you want to tick off the Father, then trample underfoot Jesus nail pierced hands; declaring it is not enough.  The warning that the author is giving is not to go back to self-efforts or religious activities to try and earn His favor.  Just celebrate your salvation in Jesus in the freeness of the Spirit.  There is no more sacrifice for sins Jesus cover them all.

 

30For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  Do you want to try and make it into Heaven based on your own goodness?  Then you will find yourself falling into the hands of the living God.  And He will repay you for your efforts.  The word “judge” in this verse speaks of condemnation in judgement.  This is a one sided judgment where those who fit this criteria are going to cause tears for the ones who do not fit this criteria.  Being in Jesus we do not fit this example.  The word, “His people,” is speaking in general of humanity in general not specifically the chosen believers.  God is so awesome and His faithfulness, grace and love extends to the stubborn and stiff necked and as their Creator whether they see it or not, even the lost are His.  You think that you can buy your way into Heaven on your own efforts, Ok, “I will repay,” says the Lord.

 

32But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.  One of the reasons that the early Hebrew Christians were returning to the Old Covenant is so that they wouldn’t be separated from their community.  The author here admonishes them that they are already marked so why go back to the old system?  Why after suffering so much, would you return to the system from which this punishment came.  Come on and hold on, endure tribulation knowing that He is preparing a place for you in Heaven; that where “I am you may be also (John 14:3).”

 

35Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:  37         “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.  38        Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”  39But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.  This message has great practicalities for us today.  Hold on Christian!  The word, “perdition” means waste.  What a waste to draw back into the system of leaning upon your own efforts in reaching God.  What a waste to withdraw from a relationship with Christ to pursue self-help and self-effort.  Press on beloved of God and dearest to His Heart.  Press on and press In.  You have come this far what is another ten, twenty, thirty, forty or fifty more years in comparison to eternity?

 

LynS

 

 

Hebrews 11

 

Now the Author of Hebrews is taking us from doctrine of our position in Christ and what He has done for us to the doctrine of practical Christian living in exercising faith.  Before we get into the scriptures I would like to mention that faith is not measured by how much we have or our worthiness.  Faith is measured solely on the One whom we have faith in.  It is not how strong our faith is, it’s how strong the One we believe in is.  Faith’s success does not lie within our ability to exercise it; it lies within the One who has the ability to act on behalf of it.  Looking at the list below, I am encouraged greatly because these are mere men/women listed.  They all had failures, they all had struggles, they all made mistakes and wrong decisions and this encourages me in that the “Hall of Faith Group” is not an unobtainable achievement.  The “Hall of Faith Group” is not baseball’s Hall of Fame, something that I will never achieve.  Gang, we all exercise faith everyday.  Just driving down the road takes a great amount of faith.  Buying food in the supermarket takes faith.  Walking in a building takes faith.  Our faith in these things is not our ability to subdue or overcome.  But our faith lies in the car manufacturer, the driver in the other lane, the food manufacturer and the engineer of the building.  Faith lies in the Father and it says, “I can act because I believe You, Lord.”

 

1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  The importance of this verse can sometimes be overlooked.  For salvation is dependant upon faith and here we have the only Biblical explanation of what faith is.  “Now faith is the (assurance) of things (expected) for, the (proof) of things not seen.”  “God said it, I believe it.”  2For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  Through Christ, Christians today exercise their faith in the assurance of the expectation of Heaven.  We have received Christ and we walk in His Grace and Mercy of a life that celebrates its liberation from sins grip.  Paul exhorted to the Philippians 1:21 that, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”  The Old Testament elders did not have that luxury.  Their faith was their Grace.  By faith the elders understood that God would fulfill His promise to deliver their souls from death.  By faith the elders lived, moved and operated their life with the expectation of salvation being provided to them by God Himself.  Their “good testimony” is their trusting God to provide, “Himself a Lamb” on their behalf.

 

3By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.  This verse is one of those verses by which we can point to it and say, “yes!”  How else except through direct Divine direction could the Author have spoken such an astounding statement two thousand years before it’s time.  We now know that everything we see is made out of Atoms, which we cannot see.  Think of the scandal of this verse that the things, which we see, touch, taste, smell and hear are made out of things that are invisible.  The people of the Authors day must have been scratching their head, but by faith they accepted it.  You might be thinking that with the invention of the electron microscope which allows us to see the Atom makes this verse of no effect; but look closer at the Atom through that microscope and the very molecules that form the Atom are energy, which can not be seen.  This verse in its structure of the Scripture was thrown in as an example of what the Author was explaining to us about the definition of faith.  Yet, with Divine precision all Scripture is God breathed and thus we have evidence that the Creator Himself is penning these words.  For there is no way that a man could have had knowledge concerning the formation of matter, let alone that visible items would be made of invisible energy.  A close comparison is the people of Noah’s day not believing that it the sky was going to have water falling from it.

4By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.  What made Abel’s offering more excellent?  Why was God pleased with Abel and not with Cain?  The answer is Jesus.  Abel’s offering was a demonstration of Salvation and Grace that would be provided through the Blood of the Lamb of God (Heb 12:24).  Cain’s offering was unacceptable because rather than pointing to the Lamb of God, it spoke of his own effort.  Cain did not offer his sacrifice by faith.  The Author here mentions this for those of us who have a tendency to trust in our own works to please God.  The Hebrew Christians of the Authors time took great pride in their ceremonies, traditions and attempts to achieve their own spirituality.

5By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  I guess I shouldn’t be so amazed at the intense complexity and yet at the same time incredible simplicity of the Scriptures; but I am.  Post Tribulation believers use Noah as proof positive that we will not be raptured until after the Tribulation.  But Noah’s protection in the ark while wrath was poured out is a picture of the Jewish people going through the Tribulation (Rev 7) and be saved in it.  The Church is a picture of Enoch and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  “Taken away” in our text means to be removed body and all from one place to another; to be raptured.  The sequence of the Biblical events is significant Enoch was taken away first, then Noah went through judgment protected in the ark.  Another noticeable set of scripture in our text is “that he pleased God.”  How do we please God?  What have you tried to do to please God?  I have a few things that I do in which I sort of pat myself on the back.  There is only one way to please God and that is through faith in His Son.  They asked Jesus that day, “what must we do to do the works of God?”  He answered, “that you believe on Him whom the Father has sent.”  We please God through believing the Son and diligently seek Him.  The key here is that we do not become complacent in our relationship with the Lord.  “You believe in God, believe also in Me (John 14:1).”  Believe, dear saint; that Christ desires to be our God.  Oh, I am not talking about our Supreme Being, Creator, separated from our everyday lives.  Jesus wants to be the one we cry out to, walk with, seek diligently, pray to, draw strength from, run to for guidance and find fulfillment in.  You believe that “He is” there is no doubt about that; now exercise your faith by seeking Him diligently.

 

7By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.  By faith or in seeking Him Noah moved with godly fear.  God warned Noah and even though Noah didn’t fully understand the “why” he pressed in and acted according to the knowledge of intimacy with the Lord.  Noah knew God and heard revelation from God so he didn’t need to understand the why.  He just believed it because God said it.  It is of my conviction that when we sense the warning that we will move.  According to Scripture, Christ could return at any moment and we need to move with godly fear and prepare.  8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  God is calling each of us to take steps of faith.  He brings us to the edge and says ok step off and I will part the waters.  We say, “ok part the waters and I will step off.”  Why am I going through this depression?  Why am I being pulled a different direction?  Why am I being fired from my job?  It is all about eternity.  Everything we do while alive on earth is about preparing us for eternity.  God wants us to step off the edge and exercise our faith because it builds up our confidence in Him.  Take eternity out of the equation of life and suddenly nothing makes sense.  But once you understand that this whole life on earth is to train and stretch, develop and mature you for heaven; then you start looking at everything in that way.  “Ok, Lord You want me to step off, its uncomfortable, its challenging, its scary but I am going because, I trust You.”

 

9By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, The “American Dream,” a nice house, two cars, two and a half children, plenty of money, lots of toys, apple pies, baseball games and Christmas at grandma’s.  Are you dwelling in your land of promise?  Have you reached the pinnacle of all that is labeled as success?  Abraham grasped the Devine promise, the “American Dream” and yet he knew that any lifestyle this side of Heaven is only temporary.  Really, think about the comparison of the time we live out our lives on earth with eternity.  There is no comparison between the two, is there?  Please do not live your life striving for the “American Dream” because in the end you will have nothing.  Jesus told us that whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for His sake will find it.  I am not telling you to stop working, sell the house, and don’t go to grandma’s for Christmas.  Be thankful for what God has blessed you with and be faithful to His Word by being responsible with what He has entrusted to you.  All I am saying is do not make “keeping up with the Jones family” your lives ambition.

dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.    Ephesians 2:19-22 ”Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”  This should be the “American Dream” that each of us is living and working for.  “Being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

11By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.  13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.  The sooner we get it in our thinking the sooner we can start living a fruitful spiritual life.  You might be asking, “get what into our thinking?”  We need to understand that THIS WORLD IS NOT WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT!!!  Granted, our time on this world counts in the arena of faith in that this is where we get to learn of Jesus and have faith in trusting, obeying, walking, leaning and growing in knowing our God.  This side of Heaven is very important in that we get to exercise our faith and this is our only chance.  When we get to Heaven, everyone is going to believe in God because He is going to be ever before them.  Then He is going to separate the wheat from the chaff and we will see who knew Him when it counted; here on earth.  But when I say that this world is not what it is all about, I mean that our lives should not be focused on how many toys we die with.  Living for pleasures here and now in regards to our focus only increases stress and frustration that can and science agrees that it leads to physical ailments.  Every time I find myself getting depressed, angry or bitter I quickly realize that I lost sight of my Heavenly goal.  Living for Heaven will keep you on the right path.  Living for Heaven will guide your steps along “the way.”  In other words, living for Heaven will keep you walking closely to Jesus.

Look at the Biblical characters listed in this verse.  They embraced God’s promises even though they understood that they would never be eyewitnesses to the fulfillment of them on this side of Heaven.  This teaching has great practicalities in our Christian walk.  And that is why I say that the sooner we understand that we are living for Heaven; the sooner we are free to enjoy and appreciate the many blessings that God provides for us while we are on our journey as sojourners.  Is depression setting in?  Do you find yourself frustrated?  Is the stress causing you to have stomach ulcers?  Are the cares of this world closing in on you, overpowering and clouding your mind?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then I pray you would seriously think about who or what you’re living for.  Jesus said, “seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.”  David wrote in Psalms 23 “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the path of Righteousness, for His name’s sake.”  Then notice the effect of this living for Heaven in the next verses.  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.”  Yes you are living on this planet, but do not make it your final destination.  Our most Awesome God is preparing a place for You individually.  He loves you so much that He is taking the time to build a special place that is just to your liking.  Here is an interesting bit of His-story.  Jesus was a carpenter, and I heard that he produced yokes.  Yokes are the harnesses placed on an ox and then the cart or whatever the oxen is pulling is attached to the yoke.  Because oxen’s all vary in size and shape, one could not mix yokes.  Misfit-ting a yoke would cause a rub, infection and could kill the oxen.  So Jesus hand crafted each yoke to the exact shape and size of each ox and therefore alleviated the stress on the ox and saved the farmers from losing oxen to infection.  Does the scripture, “Do not be unequally yoked, (2 Corinth 6:14)” make more sense now?  Or how about, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Mt 11:29)” Don’t allow life to rub you down because if your in Jesus, saved by His precious Blood then you are being hand crafted into an Eternal Home which will be so awesome that we wont even remember our life on this earth.  Faith cries out, “Live for Heaven!!!”

 

Sometimes in our thinking we make a differentiation between the Old and the New Testaments.  Just because it is called the Old Testament does not mean that it is irrelevant or not applicable.  The Old Testament believers much like us today understood what it was to live by faith.  In fact, they had to have even more faith than we do today.  You see we know through the historical evidence that Jesus is who He said He was and that He died and rose again.  Our salvation is secure in His acts; even though they were 2,000 years ago we have historical evidence of His life.  The Old Testament believers didn’t have historical evidence, they trusted completely in the Word of God.  God said it so they believed it.  Now the Author draws a connection between the Old and the New Testament.  The Author is driving home the point that living by faith is not a new thing.  Trusting in God’s Word for our future hope is not a new thing. We are given some real life examples and practicalities of living by faith for Heaven.  I would like to reiterate a point I made earlier.  The point is that the examples given here are achievable.  There are everyday ordinary people listed who all had their quarks.  They all achieved the status of being “Hall of Faith-ers” through trusting in God’s Word irrelevant of their failures and faults.  In other words each of us has a shot at making the updated list.

17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.  20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.  21By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.  22By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.  23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.  24By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.  Isaiah 51:7-8  “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My law: Do not fear the reproach of men, Nor be afraid of their insults.  For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; But My righteousness will be forever, And My salvation from generation to generation.”

 

 

27By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.  Egypt is a type or picture of the world.  Egypt in Biblical typology has always represented the world’s pull towards achieving whatever the world has to offer, riches and splendor.  Forsaking Egypt for Moses is no different from us rejecting or refusing to succumb to the lure of our world’s riches and splendor.  But even more than just saying no to the call of living selfishly, Moses’ not only said no thank you, but he exposed the evilness of living selfishly.  Forsaking Egypt could very well mean that he rejected their lifestyle.  Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, the three Hebrews who refused to bow to the image, Moses’ life was on the line here.  Joshua steps before the congregation and asks them, “Choose, this day whom you will serve.” “He endured as seeing Him.” John 20: 24-29 “24Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  26And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  28And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  29Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Until now I always thought that Jesus was speaking of Christians of today.  But Jesus is speaking of the believers of the Old Testament as much as He was the believer’s since His coming.

28By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.  29By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.  30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.  32And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon (Judg. 6:1-8:35) and Barak (Judg. 4:1-5:31) and Samson (Judg. 13:1-16:31) and Jephthah, (Judg. 11:1-12:7) also of David(1 Sam. 16:1, 13, 17:1-18:30; Acts 2:29-31, 13:22-36) and Samuel (1 Sam. 1:20, 2:11, 18, 3:1-12:25, 28:3-25; Psa. 99:6; Jer. 15:1; Acts 3:24; Acts 13:20) and the prophets(Matt. 5:12; Luke 13:28, 16:31; Acts 10:43; James 5:10; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Pet. 3:2): 33who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained(Heb. 6:12-15, 10:36; 2 Sam. 7:11-17; Gal. 3:16)  promises, stopped(Judg. 14:5, 6; 1 Sam. 17:33-36; Psa. 91:13; Dan. 6:20-23; 2 Tim. 4:17; 1 Pet. 5:8) the mouths of lions, 34quenched (Psa. 66:12; Isa. 43:2; Dan. 3:19-28; 1 Pet. 4:12) the violence of fire, escaped (1 Sam. 20:1; 2 Sam. 21:16, 17; 1 Kings 19:3; 2 Kings 6:16-18, 32; Job 5:20; Psa. 144:10; Jer. 26:24 )the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35Women (1 Kings 17:22-24; 2 Kings 4:27-37; Luke 7:12-16; John 11:40-45; Acts 9:41) received their dead raised to life again.  Others were tortured(Acts 22:24, 25, 29), not accepting(Acts 4:19)  deliverance, that they  (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 14:14, 20:36; John 5:29; Acts 23:6, 24:15; 1 Cor. 15:54; Phil. 3:11) might obtain a better resurrection. 36Still others had trial of mockings (Judg. 16:25; 2 Kings 2:23; 2 Chr. 30:10, 36:16; Jer. 20:7; Matt. 20:19; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:32, 23:11, 36) and scourgings(1 Kings 22:24; Jer. 20:2, 37:15; Matt. 21:35, 23:34, 27:26; Acts 5:40, 16:22, 23; 2 Cor. 11:24, 25), yes, and of chains(Heb. 10:34; Gen. 39:20; 1 Kings 22:27; 2 Chr. 16:10; Psa. 105:17, 18; Jer. 20:2, 29:26; Jer. 32:2, 3, 8, 36:6, 37:15-21, 38:6-13, 28, 39:15; Lam. 3:52-55; Acts 4:3; Acts 5:18, 8:3, 12:4-19, 16:24-40, 21:33, 24:27; 2 Cor. 11:23; Eph. 3:1, 4:1; 2 Tim. 1:16, 2:9; Rev. 2:10)  and imprisonment. 37They were stoned(1 Kings 21:10,13-15; 2 Chr. 24:21; Matt. 21:35, 23:37; Luke 13:34; John 10:31-33; Acts 7:58, 59, 14:19; 2 Cor. 11:25), they were sawn in two (reference is to Isaiah, but I think it is unconfirmed), were tempted, were slain(1 Sam. 22:17-19; 1 Kings 18:4, 13, 19:1, 10,14; Jer. 2:30, 26:23; Lam. 4:13, 14; Matt. 23:35-37; Luke 11:51-54; Acts 7:52, 12:2, 3) with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins (2 Kings 1:8; Matt. 3:4; Rev. 11:3) and goatskins, being destitute (Heb. 12:1-3; Zech. 13:9; Matt. 8:20; 1 Cor. 4:9-13; 2 Cor. 11:23-27, 12:10; James 5:10,11), afflicted, tormented—38of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered(1 Sam. 22:1, 23:15, 19, 23, 24:1-3, 26:1; 1 Kings 17:3, 18:4, 13, 19:9; Psa. 142:1, 2-7) in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.  39And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith True faith has the courage to count on salvation. These faithful saints had to live in hope. They knew very little about the nature or the time or the means of God’s salvation. But they knew it was coming, and this was the basis of their trust. They had abiding confidence that one day God would do the necessary thing to redeem them and reward them. What happened to them before that time was not consequential, did not receive the promise, 40God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.  Their faith was not in some immediate fulfillment, but in the ultimate fulfillment of the promises. Here is where faith is most tested and where it most matters.  The ultimate promise was of a redeemer, the Messiah, and of His covenant that would bring righteousness before God. “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow” (1 Pet. 1:10-11). All these, from Enoch through the prophets, had that courageous faith which counts, without reservation, on final salvation.  Many of them never received the land. Sometimes they had earthly victory; sometimes they did not. Sometimes their faith saved them from death; sometimes it brought them death. No matter. They knew that God had provided something better.  God has provided this “something better” for us, that is for those under the New Covenant, which is why apart from us they should not be made perfect. That is, not until our time, the time of Christianity, could their salvation be completed, made perfect. Until Jesus’ atoning work on the cross was accomplished, no salvation was complete, no matter how great the faith a believer may have had. Their salvation was based on what Christ would do; ours is based on what Christ has done. Their faith looked forward to promise; ours looks back to historical fact.

 

 

This has been a very practical chapter for me and I pray the Lord, that His Word is fulfilled in our hearts to the extent that we are drawn closer to Him and are encouraged to take our faith and storm the gates of hell, grab the un-redeemed and bring them out.  God Bless you.

 

LynS

 

 

Hebrews 12

 

 

 

1Therefore The Author continues his discussion from the previous verse and in order to understand the following verses we need to look at them in light of the previous verse.  Heb 11:40 “God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”  Christ is the culmination of all generations.  All who ever were, are and who ever will be Believers in God’s Redemption through the giving of Himself are lumped into One God, Savior and as thus; we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, Many commentaries have reiterated that this verse does not mean that Believers who have passed on are set about watching us, as if we were on stage and they the audience.  The reference of being “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” is the Author’s bringing us all together under the same umbrella.  The Author points to the Old Testament Believers and says look, “they did it, so can you.”  This is an encouraging thought for the believer in that we often operate under the mindset of the “woe is me” mentality.  We may feel as though our situation is isolated, “well she left me for another man,” “I have a debilitating disease,” or “everyone is mean to me.”  Talk to Hosea, Job and Elijah; The Author first looks to our fellow hero’s and exhorts us to let us lay aside every weight, Never underestimate the weight of sins grasp upon your life.  “Oh, I can stop after just one more.” To get us inline with what the Author is talking about the “weight” of sin.  Imagine, a bench press with the weight of 500 lbs on it.  Now take that weight and put it on the chest of a dead person and they are not going to care; but you put that same 500 lbs weight on our chest and we are going to feel the weight.  Romans 6:23 teaches that the “wages of sin is death.”  So lets cast off every weight, anything that might bring about sin in our life is weight, dragging us down and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, have you ever been in a “relay for life” program?  They are usually set up where from a starting time to a finishing time, people volunteer for a small segment of time.  Even though the relay may be several days the individual participants are only engaged for short segments.  This is not the case for Christians, we are not in this for the short-term, temporary race.  We may come into knowledge of the Lord through motives that are for personal gain, but real repentance in a persons life should produce the desire to continue; not because of personal gain, but because of what Jesus has done for us personally.  None of us would ever consider running a long distance race without having the proper endurance and supplies.  What are some practical lessons we can learn from these verses?  Knowing Jesus and growing in Him is an endurance race that has a starting point and continues until we are in His presence (where we will be changed).  The first thing that any runner does is to make sure that they have the proper attire for long distance.  First, get that excess weight off.  The only way we can keep the weight of sin off is by keeping in the Word of God, Psalm 119:11 “Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.”  Paul told 2Timothy 2:3 “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 1:4 “so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer.”

The message that I have personally absorbed from this scripture is the importance of my exercising my Christian walk with the Lord.  We cannot get complacent in our walk.  Whoever you are, wherever you are, it doesn’t matter how wealthy you are or how often you go to church or how “good” you have been.  In order to run with endurance we all need to first get the weight off, only through Jesus, then build endurance through God’s Word and finally get in the race by demonstrating your life in Christ to a Christ rejecting world.  I know a wonderful missionary named Ralph Porter whom the Lord has used mightily.  Yes, Ralph has done his time overseas, but most of the power of his ministry has been to our military personnel right here in the United States.  He has laid aside every weight of sin, built up his endurance through the Word of God and now he is enduring the race lifting Jesus up to the military personnel at Twenty-Nine Palms, CA.  Whether he pours Jesus to our service members in the clubs, on the streets or in Bible studies in all accounts he is in the race.  Gang, oh how God could turn this present age upside down if Christians would run the race, right now, right where God has you.  Are you a tax consultant?  Are you a department manager?  Are you a lawyer?  Are you a military service member?  Are you a stay at home mom?  Are you a shoe salesman?  Are you a carpenter?  Are you a parent, brother, sister, aunt, mother, father, cousin, son or daughter?  God isn’t asking us to stop what we are doing and join a crusade, travel the world, although that would be nice.  He put us where we are or He is moving us to a new destination because He wants to use us right there, right now to lift Jesus up.  Jesus said in John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”  That’s all we have to do is lift Him up to whomever He has put in our path.  Wherever you are, whoever you are understand that you are a part of a great “cloud of witnesses,” they have done it, men and women are doing it today and if we run the race our progeny will do it after us.  I really believe that the power of God can transform lives, bring nations to repentance and restore morality if Christians would cast off the weight of sin, stay in His Word and get in the race.

 

For those of you who’ve been in the race for a while and getting tired?  Are you weary from the race and thinking of throwing in the towel because circumstances are too rough?  The Author understands that our fire will burn out, our energy will fizzle and so he brings us into a reminder of our Captain, Then 2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Now the Author drives home the nail and brings us to a point of looking to Jesus who is our author, finisher, who has gone before us.  He says, look at all the Old Testament examples and as great as they are here is something immensely better, Jesus, God in the flesh.  Jesus, our example to follow “endured the cross.”  Jesus had full knowledge of the steps He was going to be making towards Golgotha.  Knowing all that He would have to suffer Jesus asked God to relieve Him if possible; but ultimately He knew all that He was going to suffer and chose to “endure.”  That is Jesus chose to suffer patiently.  The word “endured” means that Christ in His foreknowledge knew exactly what was going to happen to Him.  It is not as though He was going into it blind.  Our Lord didn’t just go through the torture as if He was captured unwillingly; our Lord came that He might freely give of Himself.  There is a healthy tendency in the Christian community to constantly be worried that we are where the Lord wants us to be.  Whether it is our occupation, church, mission, family or lifestyle some of us agonize and fret over what is our place in this world?  Although, that can be healthy in granting us a desire to grow spiritually I think that we lose sight of Jesus as our author and finisher of our faith.  Do you want to be sure that where you are is where God wants you?  Then turn to Jesus, listen to Jesus, read His Word and delight yourself in the Lord and He shall grant you the desires of your heart (Ps 37).  It is that simple.  All we have to do is focus on Jesus and if your heart tells you to raise a family, start a business, work in the church, go on a mission, pray everyday, talk to your neighbor, change vocations; all these things we can do an much, much more effectively if we simply look to Jesus and trust Him as our author and finisher.

 

3For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. Are you beat, weary or downcast in your souls then the answer for you is to think about Jesus.  Often, I find my soul becoming downcast.  Sometimes I am being chocked by the cares of this world, that is when I must look to Jesus, and see His overcoming the cares of the world.  The word, “consider” speaks of deep contemplation and application.  I could drive around all day and think the name of Jesus and not build my spirituality, but when I consider Him and apply Him to my life then I am able to withstand hostility and I get mentally encouraged.  Ever noticed how when your driving somewhere and your just in the limbo state of oblivion and your soul begins to become downcast?  But as soon as you throw on some Christian tunes of worship or just start talking to the Lord and praying to Him; notice how your soul is encouraged?  This is exactly what the Saints of Old did (figuratively speaking) to encourage themselves in the Lord.  When they were downcast they would often just begin to think about and apply God’s Word to their life and worship His awesomeness, peace and love.

 

4You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.  Many of our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord had to endure intense opposition to the teaching or living the Truth of God.  And yet through it all they were able to keep their focus on Him and maintain a high level of relationship.  The author is saying, look these people kept their faith in severe opposition even to the point of death.  Be encouraged Christian, because our assurance is so strong today because we have the wonderful privilege of knowing Jesus, knowing the Father through Jesus and experiencing His power through the Holy Spirit.  Hebrews 4:16 “Let us come boldly before the throne of Grace, that we may obtain Mercy and find Grace in a time of need.”  We have an open invitation from God Himself.  There is no room for my being downcast or sorrowful.  Looking to Jesus as our Author and Finisher of our faith, He truly is our confidant.  In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus foreknew the events that would be unfolding in short order.  He began to pray with an immense intensity that the capillaries in His forehead bursted and poured fourth blood.  He came to a decision to either back out or go on, “Not My will, but Yours be done,” he cried that day and perhaps His struggle with this decision could have been more burdensome to Him than the Cross?

5And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”  Who doesn’t know what it is like to be rebuked by the Lord, raise your hands?  You people need to except Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  As our Author and Finisher, Jesus takes it upon Himself to be sure and discipline us when we need it.  My kids don’t come to me and say, “daddy, can you discipline me today?”  I take it upon myself to observe my children’s behavior and discipline accordingly.  You know one of the most effective forms of discipline, (at least for now) is separation.  If I separate my children and isolate them from myself or especially other siblings they really don’t like that.  And sometimes when I am not behaving properly, I find the Lord withdrawing from me and that is enough for me to repent.  Now, having said that I must explain that each of us receives His chastisement according to His understanding of us, personally.  There is no pat-answer to God’s dealing with and disciplining His children.  Just like how my own children are unique and each requires a punishment that will bring the right results, Repentance.  So understand that if you are being chastised in a certain way, it is because God not only knows you personally and intimately, but He formed you and made you while you were in the-whomb.  In fact, I think the opposite is true and it scares me in my life when I get away with stuff that I know is wrong, I can sometimes have thoughts that, “maybe I’m not His child” or “maybe I wasn’t saved.”  Take courage when you receive chastisement with a soft and pliable heart becauseà  7If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.  I think a large-scale example of this is going to be played out in the lives of the Jewish community.  For 1900 years they have received their chastening, but there is coming a day that it will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.  Revelations tells us about that great day when Israel will be restored to the Lord and 144,000 that will be set apart to be His witnesses during the time of the Tribulation.  The implication of this scripture is that chastening is going to have two effects, either you’re a Christian and chastening is going to bring the righteous fruit of repentance or drive you further into sin.  To be individually practical none of us enjoys chastening but the outcome cannot be denied.  Proverbs tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Hebrews us building on that verse to go further and say that those who understand the purpose of chastening are going to embrace it, learn from it and go further in their relationship with the Lord.

 

12Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.  Therefore, since we have endured the chastening of the Lord, the message is for us to go back and make straight paths and heal the wounds that may have incurred during our time of disobedience.  Although the verbiage used in this verse is not exact I think taking a look at John 15.  Jesus comes out and says that He is the Vine and the Father is the Vinedresser and the Father prunes those who are producing fruit that they may produce even more fruit.  The words “hands which hang down” come from the Greek word “meaning to set strait, set up, set upright or straight again.  Which we get our word “ortho” or orthopedist and what do they do?  They take broken or out of joint bones and set them straight again.  That is the idea here in this verse.  Gang, we are perfected in Jesus but while we are in this body we are going to break something.  Mistakes are going to be made and tempers are going to flare words will be exchanged and attitudes are going to happen.  It is each of our responsibilities to come along side our dear one and strengthen the hands which hang down.  Verse 13 speaks of the lameness caused by a broken bone that is not set right.  If we break a bone and it is not set right the result is going to be a lame limb, chronic dislocation.  The word here is look, something is broken take courage and set it straight again.  Is there anything in our lives today that could be construed as out of joint, dislocated or broken?  Please take the time and energy to set it straight, if you cant work it out between you and the Lord the encouragement is to talk to a Christian of the same gender for help.

 

14Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:  Therefore, since we have endured the chastening of the Lord the peaceable fruit of righteousness says that we should Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.  Good for you, you have chosen the better thing.  You have chosen to be trained by the Lord, strengthen the feeble knees and now pursue peace with all people.  The fruit of a Christian is to share Jesus with all.  Because we ourselves have endured the chastening of the Lord, let us wield its fruits toward mankind.  It is my fundamental belief that this verse is instrumental in our lives in developing many charitable organizations that we have today.  Looking into history we see governments, hospitals, schools and various organizations having their foundation built upon the fruit of Godly men and women first being chastened by the Lord and then taking the commission to make the crooked things straight and pursue peace with all people.  Know Jesus, Know Peace; No Jesus, No Peace!

 

15looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; A paraphrase of this verse is; looking diligently lest any man fail because of the grace of God.  There is a real tendency for us to constantly compare ourselves with others.   “I am more spiritual than they are or I never fall into that sin.”  And when God is Blessing those that we might consider to be lesser there is a real threat of allowing bitterness to spring up.  This verse is warning us not to allow bitterness towards our fellow man because God is blessing them even though they “don’t deserve it.”  The truth is none of us deserve nor could any of us earn His Grace.  Freely, He gives according to His riches in Christ Jesus.  The Lord causes it to fall on the just and the unjust.  Bitterness is very subtle like a small seed slowly growing into a large tree.  Signs of bitterness are jealousy, dissention, immorality, anger, jumping to conclusions and attacking a persons character.  The dangerous thing about bitterness is that we view it as someone else’s problem, so it goes unchecked.  Bitterness is always viewed as something they have done or they have wronged me and so I live in a perpetual finger pointing lifestyle. Bitterness is very much an internal struggle and healing within can only come when one takes ownership of these feelings.  Healing from bitterness begins with first looking within ourselves for signs of bitterness, getting on our knees before the Lord in repentance and restoring our relationship with Jesus.

16lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.  Genesis 25:23 “The elder, Esau, shall serve the younger, Jacob.”  Perhaps this very prophecy brought about bitterness in Esau?  Scripture isn’t clear on that point but it is clear on the dangers of bitterness.  Instead of accepting his lot he allowed bitterness to overcome him.  There is a tendency for us to say, why should I live godly if those guys are getting blessed anyway?  If they are getting blessed then why even live a holy life?  Verse 15 starts off as a warning to the Christian to be diligent, guard against and watch earnestly, lest anyone fall short of the Grace of God.  It is each Christian’s responsibility to not only guard themselves but also each other against this path to destruction.  Looking at verse 17 it is delivered to sober our minds that the consequences of living a life of bitterness.  Although, Esau sought after repentance and did not find it is not a picture of salvation.  The word in its context means that Esau sought a reversal of Isaac’s decision.  Not that Esau repented of his sin to God, but that he wanted his dad to take back the blessing from Jacob and give it to himself.

18For you have not come to the mountain (Deut 4:11) that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness (Deut 5:22) and tempest, 19and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore (Ex 20:18-26).  20(For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 21And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)  Verses 18-24 the Author is going to contrast Zion with Sinai.  The message here and its application is don’t try to achieve anything through observing the Law.  Mt. Sinai is where God demonstrated His power and the mount was palpable, the darkness and tempest on the mountain itself was adapted to “shock and awe” the soul.  For through the Law the tangible blessings cannot be touched or received, the same is true of Mt. Sinai.  The people were not allowed to touch the mountain, to me a picture of the awesomeness of the Law and yet it’s a picture of the Law’s inability to save souls.  Mt. Sinai represents the palpable yet unreachable Law and Mt. Zion isn’t palpable (yet) and yet it is the means for salvation and welcomes us with open arms.  Like Esau you can try to gain God’s blessing with tears, striving for perfection by trying to keep the Law given on Mt. Sinai or you can go to Mt. Zion the heavenly mountain and enter into the New Covenant.  22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  This is a very interesting verse.  For if we look at Genesis 4:10 the account of Cain killing Abel and we find that Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground.  What do you suppose did Abel’s blood cry out for?  The blood of Abel probably cried out for revenge, justice and judgment.  What does the Blood of Jesus cry out for?  It most certainly cries out, “Grace, not revenge Mercy, not judgment and Forgiveness, not justice.”  Through the blood of Jesus, he makes our birthright sure.

25See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Earlier in Haggai the Lord informs him that He is going to shake the inhabitants of heaven and earth.  This shaking is going to be the introduction of the Savior to the earth.  Haggai 2:6-9 “For thus says the LORD of hosts: “Once more I will shake the earth, the sea, the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with the glory; says the LORD of hosts.  The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, says the LORD of hosts.  The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts.  And in this place I will give peace, says the LORD of hosts.”  The shaking of the earth refers to the preparation of the kingdoms and peoples preparing the way for Messiah.  The Roman Empire was used by the Lord to establish a connection between peoples that might not have been there before.  The shaking of “heaven” could very well be the awestruck heavenly inhabitants shaken by the Son of God coming down being born as His own creation and living, dying and resurrecting.  So often in our lives it isn’t until we are stripped of comfort, stripped of dignity or stripped of blessing that we listen or are available to the Lord.  Knowing this as being a human tendency the Lord shakes our world.  Is your world being shaken up?  Are you rattled in the brain?  It is very likely that the Lord is talking to you, trying to get your attention.  We are so prone to put our trust in things, which cannot be proven trustworthy; God shakes our world as surely as He shook Mt. Sinai.  God realizes that if year after year we continue to lean on our own strength or trust in that person or live for him or her you will shrink, spiritually.  He loves you so He shakes it to remove it that we might lean on Him.

28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom, which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29For our God is a consuming fire.  The Author here takes the opportunity to take Hebrew Christians who have a tendency to rely upon traditions, priests and sacrifices and points them to Grace.  Pointing them back to the wonderful work of the cross, to the New Covenant.  Our God is a consuming fire that is preparing you for Heaven by burning off anything might distract you from your walk with Him.  Any person who fully grasps the fullness of His Grace will by response want to serve God acceptably.  Do you want to please Him?  Do you want to do what is acceptable and pleasing in His sight?  Then go to the Throne of Grace, present yourself before Him and live acceptably.

 

LynS

 

 

My personal beliefs regarding the message behind Hebrews 12:14

14Pursue peace with all people, and holiness (sanctified), without which no one will see the Lord:  Looking at the Strong’s, and the New American Standard Concordances and the Scriptures contextual comparisons on this verse it has become my personal conviction that this verse is not simply telling us to live a holy and peaceful life.  Again, I want to clarify that this teaching is my personal conviction based on personal research of the scriptures.  Personally I have come to the conclusion in regards to this verse that it can have two simultaneously correct conclusions.  One says that we should live peaceably with all men.  And if we live holy lives, hopefully our example will bring them to holiness.  The other (which I feel is more accurate) says that we need to chase down all people and join them with Holiness (Jesus) because without it no one will see the Lord.  Looking at each word in their Greek meaning and see what we come up with.  Pursueà dioôkoô;(put to flight); to put to flight, pursue, to persecute.  Peaceà; (to join).  With all people (men)à ; all, every.  Holinessà ; consecration, sanctification.  “Without which no one will see the Lord.”  By what means will anyone see the Lord?  This verse is telling us to seek out and join all people with sanctification, because without it nobody will see the Lord.  In other words it is a commission for us to be motivated to lift Jesus up to all people.  How else will they see the Lord?

 

To substantiate my argument lets look at the two meanings of the main word in our verse, “peace.”  The argument that says we should live peaceably with all men has to gain its credibility in the meaning of the word Peace in our verse.  There is a distinct scriptural difference between the Greek words for peaceable(G1518) and the word peace (G1515-to join, set at one again) used in V14.  Lets look at the Greek word Peace G1518à ; pacificatory, that is, peaceable:—peacemaker and G1517 which means to “make peace.”  First, lets go to Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers (G1518) for they shall be called the children of God.”  Now, Mark 9:50 “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace (G1518) with one another.”  Next verse, Romans 12:18 “if it be possible, as much as within you, live peaceably (G1518) with all men.”  Just a couple more examples, 2 Corinthians 13:11 “Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”  Finally, 1 Thessalonians 5:13 “…And be at peace (G1518) among yourselves.”  Clearly these verses do command us to go out of our way to live peaceably with all men.

 

Now lets look at the Greek word for Peace as it relates to our verse.  Peace (G1515-to Join, set at one again) in v.14 of our text as it is used throughout scripture.  To begin there are a large number of references to this word for peace and most of them come in the New Testament from Authors as a beginning benediction and an ending declaration of God’s Peace upon you.  The authors use this form of peace as a benediction to be placed on or left with their parishioners.  Peace (1515) Ephesians 6:15 “and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (G1515).”   Mathew 10:32-34 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.  “Do not think that I came to bring peace (G1515) on earth. I did not come to bring peace (G1515) but a sword.”  à(This is taken from Micah. 7:6. Christ did not here mean to say that the object of his coming was to produce discord and contention, for he was the Prince of Peace, Isaiah. 9:6; 11:6; Luke 2:14; but he means to say that such would be one of the effects of his coming. One part of a family that was opposed to Him would set themselves against those who believed in him. The wickedness of men, and not the religion of the gospel, is the cause of this hostility. It is unnecessary to say that no prophecy has been more strikingly fulfilled; and it will continue to be fulfilled until all unite in obeying his commandments. Then HIS religion will produce universal peace.)  Mark 5:34, Luke 7:50, Luke 8:48 are all verses where the word is used by Jesus after He healed someone and forgave their sins; He departed them in Peace (G1515).  Luke 10:5 “But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.”  Luke 19:42 “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace (G1515)! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”  John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”  I want to look at Luke 19:42.  Jesus draws near to Jerusalem in His triumphal visit according to the prophecy in Daniel.  Jesus fulfills this prophecy exactingly and yet the scribes Pharisees and religiously inept totally miss it.  This day should have been Israel’s greatest celebration and yet instead it is passed by and even His elect missed the full significance.  Jesus weeps over Jerusalem’s ignorance in understanding the things for their peace.  Is Jesus talking about a peace by which Israel would live peaceably with their neighbors?  Yes, as a byproduct of first knowing His Peace.  The peace they missed was the joining and set at oneness with Himself; the Savior, their personal Messiah.  There is a direct correlation in the Peace of G1515 and Jesus providing it, declaring it, giving it to all who would believe in Him.  This Peace is a set at oneness, a joining or prosperity.

 

If we always tiptoed around the gospel and never “lovingly” confronted or presented people to Jesus.  If we live our life trying to never make anybody mad at us then we will be living our lives in other people’s head.  If this verse simply said, “pursue peace with all men and holiness. (Period)” Then I could hold to that doctrine, but it doesn’t.  The Author throws the kicker “without which no one will see the Lord.”  If you live as if this verse was telling you not to make any ripples or presenting holiness then we wouldn’t have to be sanctified through Jesus to get to Heaven.  To gain entrance into Heaven, all we would have to do is live our life never ticking anybody off.  But since we know that the only way to see the Lord is by being sanctified through Him then the first part of this verse could only be a commission to present Jesus to others.  The second half of this verse is clarifying the first.  The question we have to ask ourselves is without what; no one will see the Lord?  We know that in order to see the Lord we need to be sanctified through Him.  So without being sanctified by the Lord, no one will see Him.  If you are one who says, “Yes, but in order for us to be effective in sharing Jesus we must have peace and holiness in our life.”  Yes, that is right.  Don’t think that you can share Jesus, if you are in a bar brawl.  In order for us to be effective in sharing Jesus we must be peaceable and residing in His Holiness.  Context, context, context it is critical to balance scripture with scripture.  Looking at the previous chapter down to verse 13 this verse fits inline with this teaching.  V.1 we have confirmation of the witnesses around us not to fall into snare of sin and run with endurance.  V.2 we are told to look to Jesus as The Author of our faith; a solid foundation indeed.  V.3 If your downcast then again look to Jesus, for He has conquered for us.  V.4 our struggle against sin has not brought us persecution nor shedding of innocent blood.  V.5-6 whom the Lord loves, the Lord rebukes.  V.7-11 taste the correction of the Lord as a Father to His child, always for the child’s good.  V. 12-13 now here is what you do, uplift the broken bones, make straight the crooked paths and be healed.  V. 14 because you have tasted His goodness chase down and join all people with sanctification; otherwise they won’t see the Lord.  V.15 keeping a diligent eye on the non-believers lest any should fall through the cracks and miss out on the Grace of God and do not let bitterness set in; like it did for the brother of the prodigal son Luke 15:32.

 

Having said that let me balance it out with this.  Please listen: 

We need balance and consistency in our presenting Christ.  I am not propagating cramming Jesus down people’s throats to the point of their utter offensiveness.  We need to exercise the gifts of the Spirit when presenting Christ.  In order to be effective in sharing Christ we must be in the Spirit which is to say that we need to demonstrate Galatians 5:22 Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.  2 John 1:4-6 “I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love; that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.”  Please do not take my previous statements to mean that you can be the in your face, beat you with a Bible type and still be representing Jesus; because if your like that you wont be representing Jesus but in fact, your own ego.  Yes, the previous verse exhorts us to seek after presenting Christ, but to do it we must do it in the manner that best represents Him.  We need to understand that non-believers are watching the Christian population and in order for us to be effective in ministry we must be consistent in living what we speak.  I know that the phrase, “Christians should be seen and not heard” is a popular saying, but lately I have been thinking about that verse in its application directly in my life and my conclusion is that this phrase is a great suggestion but poorly thought through implication.  1 Thessalonians 2:4-9  “4But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. 5For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. 6Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 8So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”  ßThis is what it is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 13

 

 

Chapter 11 demonstrated the walk of faith; in Chapter 12, the wisdom of hope.  Here the Author finalizes Hebrews with a proverbial style list of Christian morals showing us the way of love.  This list that the Author presents are not needed for salvation, but they are fruits of salvation.  I would like to take you back to the book of Mathew 25.  Jesus very lovingly yet, sternly explains to us evidence of a life that is overwhelmed with His Grace and Love through Salvation.  Matthew 25:31-46 31“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying,  ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ 41“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’  44“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

The description Jesus gives us is not saying that in order to be saved we must perform good deeds.  Take note that the sheep entering into the Kingdom of Heaven did not even know when they had performed the acts of kindness.  Salvation is not dependant upon good deeds, but good deeds are dependant upon salvation.  The Author understands our tendency to dive into our own lives and get so caught up in our own affairs that he provides this reminder to the Hebrew Christians not to neglect their fellow man.  According to the requirements of the Law the Hebrew was basically focused on himself.  Brotherly love was an aspect of the Law that was not a focal point of the Levitical practices because of its not having a direct effect upon their salvation.  But they failed to realize that the fruits of their salvation would have been kind acts of Brotherly love.  To love the Lord, your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself was the summation of the Law, but without Christ’s regenerating my soul I know that I would not of had any idea of how to perform the brotherly love aspect.  It is my struggle and prayer for us that we do not get wrapped up in our own life that we forget our neighbor to Hell.  The Jew was known by his external rites, by his uniqueness of dress, the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, etc. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and special badge by which they were known. But in the case of Christians they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honors; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other.  I did a tour of duty in the Marine Corps in Somalia.  The interesting thing about that tour was the Somali people would often use Christianity, as the reason why I should give them whatever it was they were asking for.  From their perspective America is a Christian nation and therefore each service member must be Christians.  Now I was full aware of the Christians in my unit and I assure you we were outnumbered.  It was interesting to me that the Somali people used Christianity as a reason why we should give them supplies.  Dear Christian, understand that if each one of us individually and independently put Hebrews 13 into practice.  The impact upon our society would be so great Jesus would be magnified and glorified in our lives and the fruit of His love would know no boundary.  His love would break down the gates of Hell, His hands would heal, His Spirit would bring life, and His will would be done.

 

In the next seven verses we are going to find 7 forms of love that will bring love into the application of our life.

1Let brotherly love continue.

  1. Love flows among the saints. John 13:34 34”A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  This was to overcome all differences of country, of color, of rank, of office, of sect, and of cast.  Among the redeemed we are to feel that we are on an equal level, that we have common wants, the same sacred blood redeems us, and we’re going to the same Heaven. Take care of each other in trials; be careful of each other’s feelings and reputation; deny yourself to promote each other’s welfare. 1 John 3:23; 1 Thes 4:9; 1 Pet. 1:22; 2 Thes 1:3; Gal. 6:2; 2 Pet. 1:7. In all these places the command of Jesus is repeated or referred to, and it shows that the first disciples considered this indeed as the special law of Christ. This command or law was, moreover, new in regard to the extent to which this love was to be carried; for he immediately adds, “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Jesus love for us is strong, continued, unremitting, and he showed his love for us in death. John 15:13: “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So in 1 John 3:16 it is said, “we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren.” This was a new expression of love; and it showed the strength of attachment, which we ought to have for each other, and how ready we should be to endure hardships, to encounter dangers, and to practice self-denial, to benefit those for whom the Son of God laid down his life.  Brotherly love is used and it is my personal conviction that brotherly love refers to that unconditional love relationship between two members of the same family.  We are of the same family in the family of God and are called His children.

 

2Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

  1. Love shows itself to strangers. Galatians 6:6; Romans 15:27; Philippians 4:15; 1 Timothy 6:18.  Extending an open invitation to someone in need is a wonderful way to reach out with the Love of Christ, but it must be done in a manner that both blesses the receiver and protects the sender.  The marks of the Christian is the realization and practice that material possessions are temporal and in reality have been entrusted to us from the Lord.  I so want to teach the use of caution on this one, I mean lets be real there are some very frightening strangers out there.  What happens if someone comes to our door and we let them in only to be beat up, raped, robbed, killed or left for dead?  Are we to take this literally as letting any stranger into our house?  Lot and Abraham are two examples and in both instances they invited the strangers in.  in both instances Abraham and Lot realized that there were supernatural and divine attributes about their strangers.  I am not one to say that we should pick up every hitchhiker and bring them home.  I think there are some practical things we can do to help a stranger and still protect our family from harm.  Get them to a gospel mission or a hotel.  Personally, I really struggle with this one.  I make it a rule never to just give out cash to random people.  For me I see it more practical to try and fulfill the persons need food, water, warmth.  But I think the One thing we have to offer that is going to make the greatest impact upon their lives is Jesus.  This verse is to entertain strangers I don’t think it implies bringing hitchhikers into your home.  The word “entertain” is hospitable.  Something to consider when you feel led to entertain strangers.  Any angel who presents before you is going to demonstrate Godly attributes.  For light and darkness cannot co-exist.

 

3Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.

  1. Love cares about suffering. I do not want to rain on any prison ministry because they are very effective and needed.  In fact, many state funded prisons are going to a faith-based course of rehabilitation.  But this particular verse is implying Christian prisoners.  In the Jesus Freaks book there is a statement from a Chinese pastor named Kim who although he spends most of his time in prison for teaching Christianity; he sees Christians of free societies as prisoners to their lifestyle.  Please do not think even for one minute that this verse does not apply to us today.  There are thousands probably millions of Christians today that are faced with persecution, imprisonment, torture, dismemberment and death for their faith in Jesus Christ.  Remember them in prayer as if you are with them.  In fact, lets pray now.  Lord, Jesus we lift up our brothers and sisters in bondage and persecution.  We pray for miracles, Lord.  Father, watch over them and place a hedge of protection around them as they carry out Your will to all that You wish to reach.  Lord give them a touch of Yourself, peace, grace, joy, hope and love.  Father we pray even now that You give them the words to speak and the boldness to present Christ to others.  We ask all of this in Jesus Name.

 

 

4Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

  1. Love clings to one’s spouse. Ok, after reading this verse what is your take on the social battle we face today of legalizing homosexual marriages?  Here the Author defends the Divinely Instituted communion of marriage.  This is another testament to the timelessness of God’s Word.  Even today the sanctity of marriage is being torn apart by our culture.  Now to the point that God has established the marriage relationship as a sanctuary where two individuals can openly express their relationship and need upon each other.  Some may find clinginess a bother, but in the marriage relationship I see clinginess as a must.  The man must leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife.  The relationship must be a sanctuary where

5Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”  5.  Love brings satisfaction.  First, let us understand that covetousness means to be greedy.  The power for our lack of covetousness comes to us through the promises of verse 8.  To the degree that we realize that God is with us, guiding us, providing for us is the degree that we can let go of worldly possessions and live contently.  The impact in our society of not coveting would end the horrendous cycle of “keeping up with the Jones.”  Market prices would fall because of the decreased demand and technology would slow down to a pace that we could keep up with it.  Just imagine getting something because it fulfills a need, not because it is the latest and greatest.  Here we find another testament that God is the Author of scripture.  There is no way that man would or even could dream this up.  Conducting yourself without covetousness is totally against our fallen nature.  My fallen nature says, “hoard everything.”  Those who have a full grasp of the powerful provision by The Father will naturally be without covetousness.  To the degree that you feel you have to make it on your own efforts is the degree that you will live covetously.  Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.”  There is  great comfort and beauty living under the pretense that “The Lord is my helper.”

 

7Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 6.  Love is seen in submission.  How is it that our children are going to consider the outcome of their conduct, respect the rule we have been given over them?  The only way is to teach them the scriptures.  Don’t just tell them what to do, but why.  As a father, early on in my parenting experience I pondered family devotions and my dilemma was ‘how am I to know what to teach about?’  Then the answer presented itself when I noticed my children misbehaving or arguing.  Ah, every day as my children are growing up they are faced decisions, they are learning right from wrong, every choice they make I have an opportunity to share with them the scriptures either solidifying their choices or showing them in the scriptures how to make the right ones.  In fact, when this caused me to look closer at my children; I found that there is no lack of topics to teach on.  J  Everyday almost from moment to moment there are opportunities for us to share scriptures with our children.  It is amazing how scripture comes to remembrance when I take the time to use them to guide my children.  2 John 1:4 “I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.”

8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  7.  Love’s source is Jesus.  All of the previous six loves are timeless and perfect for our life because they have their source from Jesus; as the source, He will never change.  1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.”  There is a danger in time and that is change.  The changing opinions, styles and culture are reflective of our fallen state in that we naturally have a tendency to sway from the Truth.  The Old-Testament saints exhibited it and we see it in our culture today.  Just ask the average American 40 years ago if homosexuality would be celebrated in streets.  The danger in change manifested itself to the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jesus day to the degree that when their appointed day had arrived they totally missed it.  In fact, the very Creator that they passionately thought they served was manifested before them in Jesus and because of their changed view of Him they viewed Jesus as a heretic.  Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  For if Christ lives in you and He is the same yesterday, today and forever then one of the greatest aspect of His Grace is that our view of Christ should never be different from His view of Himself.  That is why John would write in his letters that anybody who says that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God 1John 5:1.  Precious Saint, understand that a great promise has been given to us; that since Christ is the same that we have full assurance of salvation in Him.  And the mark of sound doctrine and not fables is the fact that what is written in the Bible will stand the test of time.  Some “religions” exist because their false doctrines change every time someone exposes a loophole in their doctrine.  Take the Mormons for example, if you read today’s version of the book of Mormon compared to oh, 40 years ago there will be doctrinal differences.  Even Catholicism has in its catechism a doctrine that changes as their leadership sees fit (www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c3a6.htm#1563).  Christianity, like Jesus should be timeless and practical for generations and cultures of people.  Jesus is universal.  A Christian can go anywhere in the world and find brotherhood where Christianity exists.   Since, Jesus is the same forever it only stands to reason that His people would not sway in their doctrine or practices of Him.  Thus, our next verse goes into that.

 

9Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.  How is it that any person can guard against being “carried about with various and strange doctrines?”  First realize that Jesus is the same today and tomorrow as He was when He walked the earth.  Second, learn of Him study Jesus’ in totality of Scriptures which does not start in the New Testament.  The complete History of knowing Jesus begins in Genesis.  There are many false teachers right there in your hometown propagating everything under the sun.  They preach to be slain in the spirit, name it and claim it, salvation through worksWhen Jesus was on the Cross He cried out, “it is finished.”  The work of salvation was completed, the voice of God had spoken and anything that takes away from or adds to Him is not to be accepted.  1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.  1 John 5:1 “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.”  “The heart be established by grace,” The heart should be established with the love of God, with pure religion, and then we shall love the truth, and love it in the right manner. If we are convinced of salvation in the head only, the consequence is bigotry, pride, and narrow-mindedness. If the belief of the truth has its seat in the heart, it will be accompanied with charity, kindness, and good will to all people. In such a belief of the truth it is a good thing to have the heart established. It will produce: firmness and stability of character; charity and kindness to others; consolation and support in trials and temptations.  When a man is thrown into trials and temptations, he ought to have some settled principles on which he can rely; some fixed points of belief that will sustain his soul.  The only solid fixed point that will stand the test of time is explained to us in v. 8, Jesus.

 

10We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. Leviticus 6:25-26; Numbers 18:9-10 It was the priests Levitical right to partake of a portion of the sacrifice offered at the altar.  The Author points out that “we have an altar” points to the Cross of Christ but the priests have no right to take a portion from us.  Jesus is wholly ours, freely given Salvation cost Him His life and we do not depend on others for it, nor is He partitioned out.  The Christian has a higher sacrifice the final sacrifice, “once for all sin.”  11For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp (Lev 4:12).  12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Jesus fulfilled the Levitical requirement of the Day of Atonement for the cleansing of leprosy, and for the consecration of the priesthood were to be offered outside the city.  Jesus left the Temple and left all the traditions, regulations and rituals to a hill called Calvary.  13Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.  Here the Author admonishes us to get out of the camp.  Get out of rules and regulations of religion.  Get away from self-help teachings.  Leave your efforts at striving for heaven at the gate and go to the hill of Calvary.  Go to Jesus outside of rules outside of religion and walk by faith and not by sight.  “Bearing His reproach,” Jesus was not popular to the mainstream way of thinking.  To the Romans Jesus was a threat politically; to the Priests He was a heretic.  Often, the Christian is viewed as narrow-minded, bigoted and intolerant.  These are pushed by forces that are unseen and often accepted among the mainstream media.  Knowing Jesus is the only thing in my life that has made a difference and God willing I will go to my grave with His name on my lips.

14For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.  Ah, the Heavenly City of God.  Abraham searched for a city whose Builder and Maker is God.  Truly Heaven is not just our reward to look forward to but our sustainer providing us energy, strength and motivation to combat every evil thing.  Every time depression drops in on me I combat it with the reality of Heaven.  Heaven sustains me.  15Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  Driving from 29 Palms California to San Clemente California I asked the Lord to teach me patience.  Soon I was in the middle of a 5-lane freeway traffic jam moving 5 mph with a very low tank of gas.  That was the last time I asked the Lord to teach me patience.  But that should have been the moment that I learned what it was to offer a sacrifice of praise.  I should have instead sung the Hallelujah chorus because the Lord answered my prayer.  Are you in a dry season spiritually?  Then offer a sacrifice of praise.  Not that the sacrifice of praise is going to bring you out of your dry season, but because this dry season is teaching you perseverance and steadfastness.  It is in times of tribulation that our praises are a sacrifice offered to Him.  Anyone who is experiencing springtime spiritually can praise the Lord and mean it, but like Peter in prison singing worship to God amongst stripes and tribulation is going to be a sacrifice of praise to Him.  The key lesson is that we should never allow for temporal or even seeming permanent situations sway us from singing praise to our Lord.  A death in the family may seem permanent, but if that family member knows Jesus then we will see them again.  And our time on earth will pale in comparison to our experience in Heaven.  Dear Christian we are going to go through seasons of spirituality.  We are going to experience spring, a time of new understandings and fresh growth.  Springtime leads to summertime where we just enjoy the Lord in those warm and wonderful days.  Summertime leads to fall when the winds blow and life begins to get shaky.  The fall leads to winter a cold silencing of the Lord.  The Lord allows us to go through regular seasons of wintertime to strengthen our relationship with Him; ‘Are you going to walk by the state of your emotions, or by the promises of My Word?’

16But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.  Sometimes just opening our mouth to share a word of encouragement is a sacrifice to the Lord.  When all I want to do is sulk in my misery and sin, sometimes I am placed in front of someone who is in real need of a good word from the Lord and it is a sweet, well pleasing sight for God if I set aside my own misery to extend His Word to another.  Jesus did this so well and I often read of His testimonies as though I were in the crowd watching and thinking, ‘what would my reaction have been.’  The woman at the well, the woman caught in the act of adultery, the lifting up of Peter after he failed the Lord by denying Him three times are all wonderful testaments of God’s desire and pleasure of lifting us up.  John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  The key to doing good is very simple and yet profound.  Abide in the Vine and it will give you by natural osmosis the supplied need for your situation.

 

17Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.  James 3:1 “1My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”  Acts 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”  The dynamics between the pastor/teacher and the congregation is a testament to God’s authorship of scripture.  If men who by nature are power hungry wrote the scriptures, they would have demanded submission without accountability.  God says, “you shepherd My flock and teach what I put upon your heart, their change is up to Me.”  A mark of a good pastor is one who cares about your physical ailments and is willing to lay hands and pray for your pain.  But more importantly a shepherd will be concerned with the wounds of your spirit.  Where are you at spiritually?  What are stumbling blocks that are holding you back from soaring like an Eagle?  Is your name written in the Lambs Book of Life?  The Christian individually is accountable to God and God alone.  I think that the best way for a teacher/pastor to continue their ministry with joy would be to stay away from deep counseling with the congregation.  It is not the pastor’s job to counsel every congregant.  I am not taking away from the need of a counseling ministry.  That is where associate pastors, elders, deacons and professional counselors come in; let them counsel.  The pastor should be freed up to prepare what God is speaking on his heart.  How many times have you been sitting in the midst of the congregation feeling as though the pastor was speaking directly to you, specifically labeling your situation or sin?  Tell me was that because the pastor actually was speaking to you or the Holy Spirit through the pastor?  I do not know my pastor intimately; we have never hung out together.  But we have prayed together, worshiped together and more importantly, his devotion to focus his time on preparing what God was laying on his heart and because I took heed to his words, we have grown together.   Be careful of a pastor/teacher who seeks to rule over your everyday life.  It is a very natural desire for a pastor to want in on all the details of his congregants and yet it is a dangerous position.  I have heard my pastor respond when people put him in counseling positions by pushing the person to seek the Lord for the answer and pray with them.  See we have a Heavenly Father who greatly cares about our everyday life, and Jesus reiterates this by saying, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).”  Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  You see it is flattering to the pastor when people come to them for help, but how much more a testimony that congregants go directly to Jesus and then listen to His voice through the pastor.  I am not saying that there is never a time for seeking advice from your pastor because scripture teaches us that iron sharpens iron.  But iron-sharpening iron can come from an equipped brother, seasoned elder or deacon.  What a joy it is to know that the message God prepared in their heart and sent from their lips had a profound impact.  I greatly respect my pastor’s advice and sometimes I need to hear his guidance on an issue.  My answer is to, “buy the tape.”

 

18Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.  What a fitting prayer for a pastor/teacher.  I am not a pastor but even recently as I have written this application to Hebrews I have discovered my own lack in the scriptures.  And I find myself faced inwardly in situations that I have often spoken about.  What a conscience destroyer when I fail to live the very words I just got through speaking about.  There is something about talking openly to an unknown number of people, backgrounds, occupations that keeps one from speaking frivolously.

19But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.  His specific prayer was to be able to teach them face to face.

20Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  Then the Author puts his teaching to practice by doing the very thing he was requesting.  This is a Spirit breathed prayer for the reality of Jesus to manifest itself through the lives of the Hebrew believers.

 

22And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. 23Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.  24Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.  25Grace be with you all. Amen.

 

The Author asks for their patients in listening to the word of exhortation.  In other words listen to what I have written and put them into practice.  The final benediction demonstrates the heart of the Author to keep the Hebrews from isolating themselves from the full body of believers.  The oneness that we have in Christ stretches across language, culture and generations.

 

Christ be with you,

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[1] Quote from Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible John 13:1-17

[2] Quote from the Victor Bible Background Commentary on Hebrews 4

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