Jesus Christ is - The Wonderful One
To Him be the glory both now and forever.  Amen.

Hebrews Book Study



By Charlie Garret
and Sergio Voitenko
In Loving Memory of Rory Wilson

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth. Psalm 115:1

T
his page comprises the Daily Devotionals that I sent out while working through the book of Hebrews. If there's a particular passage in this book that you don't understand, scroll down to read the analysis. I hope what you find will bless you. I want to give my sincere appreciation to Sergio Voitenko who assisted in the publication of this material. I would also like to acknowledge my departed friend Rory without whom these pages would never have been compiled. Now that he is with the Lord, I have committed to continuing his good work... to the honor of the Lord.

Hebrews
Daily Bible Verse
By Charlie Garrett


In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, Hebrews 1:1

 

The book of Hebrews contains no initial greeting, and the final notes are vague about possible authorship; it’s not known who wrote it. It’s Pauline in nature, but may or may not have been written by Paul. Whoever wrote it though was an absolute master of literature; both his ability and the techniques he employs. If one term were to be used to describe the content and importance of the book, it would be “greater than.” Hebrews demonstrates again and again how Jesus and His work is “greater than” a whole host of biblical characters and issues. To fully understand it, one must be versed in the Old Testament and, in a large way, the book of Leviticus. The book begins with a set of verses which are entirely ignored by many and yet are of utmost importance. Today’s verse says, “In the past God spoke…” a phrase which tells us that God once dealt with us in a certain way, but He no longer does. When God spoke through these prophets of old, he did it in “various ways.” If we go to Job 33, we can determine several of them: 1) in a dream or vision of the night; 2) speaking in the ears; 3) through chastening on a bed of pain. Each of these aligns with what we read when God spoke to Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Nathan, Isaiah, or a host of other prophets of God. The words God spoke to them which were recorded have become our Bible – the sealed word of God. The Bible is set in size – 66 books, consisting of 1189 chapters. It’s also arranged in a specific order since New Testament times – 39 OT (Genesis – Malachi) and 27 NT (Matthew – Revelation). Be sure of this – GOD HAS SPOKEN. If you see a denomination which says, “God is still speaking, you’re just not listening” then there is already error – you need not enter its doors. The only acceptable answer to this is “God has spoken, but you’ve failed to listen.” God does not change and His word is sealed. Get ready for a fantastic 303-day adventure – the book which is Hebrews!

 

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for the words which you spoke in anticipation of Jesus Christ which were faithfully recorded for our benefit. Thank You also for the words of the Apostles who, through the Holy Spirit, were carried along as they wrote. These words confirm who Jesus is and the glorious deeds He wrought on our behalf. In His name we do pray! Amen.

 

 

…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. Hebrews 1:2

 

Though God once spoke to our forefathers in various ways, we see that now He has spoken to us by Jesus. Since the Pentecost after His ascension we have the Holy Spirit as the One who completed Scripture through the Apostles and who now illuminates those Scriptures to us. Does Jesus still speak to us directly – there are only two possible answers, “Yes” or “No.” If Jesus still speaks directly to us, then what we’re told would be on the same level as Scripture, something certain cults claim. The conservative answer is that Jesus does not speak to us during this dispensation. We live by faith and not by sight. If Jesus spoke to us, faith would be excluded. Some groups which claim such authority are the Mormons, the 7th Day Adventists, the Roman Catholic Church (who claims sole interpretive authority of the Bible and infallibility of certain proclamations), etc. Instead, we have the Bible which is God’s complete and sealed revelation to mankind. We can’t have it both ways – either we stand on the Bible alone or we don’t. In addition to God speaking through His Son, we learn in today’s verse that Jesus Christ is the heir of all things – no thing is excluded from this. He is the master of the entire created order and all things are subordinate to His authority. Lastly, today’s verse repeats the same claim made several other times in Scripture – that Jesus Christ is the Creator. He is the Word of God, not a created being who then created all other things, but the spoken Word of God Himself. If you could speak and make apples, the word would be the means of your creation. Although this isn’t possible for us, it is for God. “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” Psalm 33:9 This mystery – which is beyond our ability to fully comprehend – is the mystery of the Trinity. God the Father, through God the Son, created the universe. Amazing!

 

O God, truly we live by faith. We live by faith that the Holy Bible is Your word to us. We live by faith that it is sufficient for the conduct of our lives and also for our salvation. We also live by faith in the knowledge of the Trinity, despite not being able to fully understand it. Thank You that someday our faith will become sight. Until then, we praise You O God. Amen.

 

 

The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:3

 

If someone were to honestly sit down, without any presuppositions, and read the Bible from beginning to end, they’d come to the absolute conviction that the Bible claims Jesus is God. Whether they believe the Bible is an entirely different issue, but that it claims Jesus’ deity cannot be missed unless it is “trained out of you.” Today’s verse is one of countless verses which is so crystal clear, one must distort its meaning and intent to steer away from who Jesus really is. He is “the radiance of God’s glory.” In John 1:18 it says, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.” If God hasn’t been seen and yet Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory, then He must be God. Next it says that He is the “exact representation of his being.” Jesus Christ is the One who makes the invisible God visible, the unknowable God knowable. Jesus sustains “all things by his powerful word.” It’s certainly a delusional person who could claim that the One who sustains the entire created order is anyone but God. Jesus, the second member of the Trinity is the sustainer of creation. “After he had provided purification for sins” is referring to the cross. No man can atone for another man’s sins because all men inherited Adam’s sin nature; his blood would be insufficient. However, Jesus – the God/Man – did not inherit Adam’s sin nature and is therefore qualified to provide full and complete atonement for fallen humanity. To sit “down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” is not an indication of a separate physical position to the Majesty. Rather, it’s referring to the pre-eminent position of authority. The right hand position – again and again in the Bible – is referred to in this way. When one is at the right-hand position, they hold the full authority of the position. Every point in this verse is meant to clearly and completely point to the deity of Jesus Christ. Nothing less is intended or acceptable as an explanation.

 

God Almighty – I thank You for Your glory – reveled in the Person of Jesus Christ. Help me to fully comprehend this glorious concept of the Trinity and let me never waver when challenged on it as a fundamental precept of Your nature. In Jesus’ name I do pray! Amen.

 

 

So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. Hebrews 1:4

 

Today’s verse gives us the first “greater than” in a line of comparisons to Jesus. Jesus Christ became much superior to the angels. Does this mean there was a time when He wasn’t superior to the angels? As fully God, the answer is “no.” He created the angels and they are therefore subordinate to Him. However, in his incarnate state he took on flesh. His manhood was “a little lower than the angels” for a season. Just as Jesus was a servant to His fellow humans, He is also their Creator. Understandably, this is most difficult for us to get our minds around, but it’s what the Bible presents. Reading today’s verse, one has every reason to resist the doctrine of the JW’s who teach that Jesus is a created being and is in fact the Archangel Michael. This verse dispels that nonsense. He is “superior to the angels” and therefore cannot be an angel. He is the Creator – fully God. He is united with human flesh – fully Man. When it says “the name he has inherited is superior to theirs,” it’s indicating that His name alone is to be exalted. We are never to deify the angels, worship them, or pray to them. Instead we’re to give those honors to Jesus. There’s a church down the road from my home called “The Church of St. Michael the Archangel.” I’ve always wondered what man decided to grant sainthood to an angel. Also, Michael is not the one to be worshipped or remembered for a saintly life (as we do with our Christian fellows who have gone before us.) Instead, Michael is an aeviternal being – one having a beginning, but no ending. Be careful how you honor created beings, lest you rob Jesus of the majestic glory He alone is due. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

 

Glorious God – it is You who created all things and You alone are due our reverence and worship. Help us always to keep our hearts from the sin of idolatry, especially when it comes to areas which are so often used inappropriately, such as the worship of angels. Keep us from such error that we may be pleasing to You. In Jesus’ most magnificent name we pray! Amen.

 

 

For to which of the angels did God ever say,
   “You are my Son;
      today I have become your Father? Or again,
   “I will be his Father,
      and he will be my Son”?
Hebrews 1:5

 

Again today we see the fallibility of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” doctrine. These people are well trained and mishandle Scripture so smoothly that they can easily tear someone away from soundness in the word. The author asks the rhetorical question, “… to which of the angels did God ever say…” The question by its very nature calls out for a response of “none of them.” In other words, Jesus is not the Archangel Michael as they claim, nor is He any other angel. He is the eternal Son of God. Why does it say “today” then? It’s because Jesus is fully God and fully man. When one asks a question about Jesus, two answers are usually appropriate. Could Jesus weep? As God, no (God is impassionate), but as Man, yes. Could Jesus learn? As God, no (God is omnipotent), but as Man, yes (see Luke 2:40). Concerning Son-ship we read:

 

“concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:3, 4

 

This does not mean Jesus wasn’t God’s Son from time eternal. Rather, as Man he was known as a son through the flesh, but as God the declaration of Son-ship with power was made by His resurrection. He is eternally God’s Son; the resurrection proved it. Even the verses from the Old Testament confirm this dual nature. The first, “You are my son…” is being quoted from Psalm 2 and is speaking of the Divine nature of Jesus. The second, “I will be …” is from 2 Samuel 7:14 and is speaking of the human son of David whom the LORD claims, “I will be his father…” As complex as this may seem, it distinctly points to the God/Man and not a created being such as an angel. Beware of those who would deny the majestic glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus, I confess You as Lord and I accept with all my being that Your resurrection proclaims You are God. You alone are the link between fallen man and an infinitely holy God. I trust in You alone for my salvation. To the glory of God the Father – Amen.

 

 

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God's angels worship him.” Hebrews 1:6

 

As will occur many times in the book of Hebrews, the author repeats his message using another Old Testament verse. This would be similar to someone saying, “Lee is a really nice guy. My friend Lee is just a fantastic person.” We do this to stress how we feel about a matter and to ensure there’s no misunderstanding in the first sentence. This can be necessary when dealing with people who speak different languages or who may perceive what’s being said in the wrong light (who couldn’t see how nice Lee is!) Today’s verse is a quote from Deuteronomy 32:43. If your version reads differently, it’s because it’s based on the Masoretic Text which dates to about the 10th Century AD. However, the author is referring to the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint. This translation dates to about 250 BC. This version was confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls which were found in 1947 in a cave in Qumran, Israel. They date to a time prior to Jesus as well. The reason why this is important is because Deuteronomy 32 is “The Song of Moses” and is referring to the LORD (Jehovah or Yahweh).

 

I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
       Oh, praise the greatness of our God! Deuteronomy 32:3

 

If even the dullest mind couldn’t previously see the connection between Jesus and God, there can be no mistaking the intent today. A single verse masterfully equates Jesus with the LORD. If you need to defend your faith with one of those people who knocks on your door to argue that Jesus isn’t God, Hebrews is a great place to make your case! Let’s pray about this:

 

Heavenly Father, from time to time I face challenges to my faith in what Your word is proclaiming. When those times arise, give me the remembrance of verses like the one today which so clearly point to the salvation found in the name of Jesus, the second member of the Trinity. Thank you and in His name I pray. Amen.

 

 

In speaking of the angels he says,
   “He makes his angels winds,
      his servants flames of fire.”
Hebrews 1:7

 

In today’s verse, the author is quoting the Old Testament again, this time Psalm 104 –

 

He makes winds his messengers,
       flames of fire his servants. Psalm 104:4

 

The heavy reliance on the Old Testament to make each point is the author’s way of ensuring that the audience (first century Jews considering a return to Judaism) understands that Jesus is the very hope they have so long awaited. He’s making the point that the entire created order understands this and is therefore subordinate to Him. There is no higher way to serve God than to serve the Son, Jesus. This verse is referring to the created angelic host fulfilling the LORD’s purposes as He directs. Making the winds his messengers (or as the writer of Hebrews says, “angels winds”) and his “servants flames of fire” is equating them with other parts of creation such as being 1) not eternal, and 2) subordinate to the Creator. Winds can be light or strong, cold or hot, soothing or destructive, but they are transitory and are directed solely at God’s command. Such characteristics of the wind are similar to many of the biblical descriptions of angels. Fire can be intense or contained, it can be destructive and/or useful, but it needs a source of burnable material and it needs oxygen in order to continue. Again, the Bible describes angels in similar ways. They work to meet God’s purposes because they are subordinate to Him. They are also sustained by Him, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17 The angels, no matter how spectacular or powerful, are created by, subordinate to, and continuously sustained by the power of Jesus – Jesus our Lord.

 

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be…

 

 

But about the Son he says,
   “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever,
      and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.”
Hebrews 1:8

 

Yesterday’s verse spoke of the non-eternal nature of the angels, comparing them to wind and fire – part of the created order. Today’s verse contrasts that. “But” is the transition – angels are this, but the Son is this. The author quotes Psalm 45 verse 6 which is, in both quotations, referring to God. The Old Testament word is “elohim” and can also be translated in other ways, but the surrounding verses in the Psalm make it clear that it is the One true God who is being referred to. Equally clear is the term used in the New Testament, which is “Theos.” This word also means God and only God in the context in which it’s used. So let’s put it all together: 1) angels are created and temporary and subordinate to the Son; 2) the Son’s throne, meaning his position of power, is eternal; therefore, 3) the Son is not an angel – He is “greater than” the angels. The contrast is obvious; it just couldn’t be clearer – Jesus is God. The verse also says that “righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.” A scepter is the symbol of a king’s authority. Unlike earthly rulers whose rule is based on their feelings of the day, Jesus Christ’s nature is eternal and unchanging. There will never be a decision made that is not in complete and absolute righteousness. What a wonderful day it will be when He returns in glory to sit on His throne in Jerusalem! A note about Psalm 45 – The heading of the Psalm says that it is set to the tune of “The Lilies.” This comes from the Hebrew word Shoshannim. The singular of this word is Shoshanna, or “lily.” If you or a friend of yours is named Shoshanna, this is where the name comes from. Also, this Psalm is a Psalm of Love … don’t you just love Jesus! Let’s praise Him –

All hail the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
to crown him, crown him, crown him Lord of all!

Amen and Amen.

 

 

 “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
      therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
      by anointing you with the oil of joy.”
Hebrews 1:9

 

Yesterday’s verse was a quote of Psalm 45:6. Today quotes the next verse of the Psalm. Verse 6 spoke of the eternal nature of the Son’s throne and that it would be a rule of righteousness. Here the Son is commended for this – “therefore.” Because of the righteous nature of your reign and because you abhor wickedness, “therefore” your God has set you above your companions (all other human beings). By saying “God, your God” it’s stating that there is a hierarchy within the Godhead. As it says elsewhere:

 

Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28

 

That God may be all in all – God, Jesus Christ, has been set above His companions by the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This was confirmed by anointing Him with “the oil of joy.” The term Messiah is the Hebrew term for “Anointed One.” Likewise, Christ is the same word in Greek and carries the same meaning. Jesus Christ was anointed as the one to rule all humanity by God the Father.

 

Thank you, Almighty God, for reaching down to fallen man through Your anointed Servant, Jesus our Lord. He has bridged the gap – finite man is again in fellowship with the infinite God because of the Person of Jesus Christ. All praise and glory to You O God! Amen.

 

 

He also says,
   “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
      and the heavens are the work of your hands.”
Hebrews 1:10

 

Today and in the next two day’s verses Psalm 102 is quoted. Today is specifically verse 25 of the Psalm. Here, as has happened again and again already, the New Testament writer is attributing the deeds ascribed to both the LORD (Jehovah) specifically and God (elohim) in general of the Old Testament to the deeds of Jesus specifically in the New. As earlier mentioned, this is a way of solidifying to even the dullest mind that the author is equating Jesus with God. He’s been doing this by citing passage after passage from different Psalms and books of the Bible to ensure the message which is conveyed is beyond refutation in any reasonable dialogue. Jesus has been proclaimed superior to creation, including the angels; the master of creation; the sustainer of creation; and the inheritor of creation. “‘He’ also says” is referring to God. Therefore, God (the Father) says (to Jesus), “In the beginning O Lord (Jehovah), you laid the foundations of the earth and the heavens are the work of your hands.” And what does Genesis 1:1 state:

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 

Logically, philosophically, and scientifically there is only one beginning. If 1) God created the heavens and the earth, and 2) Jesus founded the earth and created the heavens, then there is only one reasonable, and intelligible explanation for this – Jesus Christ is God. The unseen God who existed before time, space, and matter spoke these into existence through His Word, Jesus Christ. The repetition may seem tedious… “Why does the author feel the necessity to say the same thing in another way?” It’s because we often need to hear the same thing presented in a variety of ways before the words sink in. Further, when the book is finished and memory is relied upon, we will have, with strong conviction, the truth necessary to defend our internal beliefs when they’re challenged until we can reconfirm them by referring back to the written word.

With surety we thank You, O God, for every word You have given us to lead us to sound doctrine. The repetition serves a wonderful purpose that, when we think about it, is for our benefit and to remind us of Your glory! Praises are in order – praises to You!  Amen.

 

 

They will perish, but you remain;
      they will all wear out like a garment.
  Hebrews 1:11

 

When someone gets a new car, it’s like their pride and joy. They vacuum it, wax it, park it where it won’t get scratched, and of course “no eating or drinking in my car.” But, after a while, little scratches show up, dirt gets smeared on the carpet during a rainstorm, Stacie sneaks in a candy bar and it gets all over the upholstery and … well, the car becomes something to simply get one around. The joy of “new car smell” is replaced with the odor of work boots or wet carpeting. Waxing becomes something we do at a gas station instead of at home with our own hands. The author uses terminology today that was equivalent to this – a garment. In his time, garments were of high value and showed status in a greater way than they do now. Although some people today spend as much on clothes as others do on all their bills combined, most people don’t notice the difference between a pair of $1000 shoes and something bought at a discount store. But back then people often only had one or two pair of clothes. As is says in Exodus 22:26, 27 –

 

If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, because his cloak is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.

 

But even the most precious garments wear out. Just as our cars and other possessions will eventually corrode, so the created order will also wear out. In the end, the only thing which is eternal and unchanging is God. The psalmist wrote this about the LORD in Psalm 102:26 and the author of Hebrews uses it to describe the unchanging nature of Jesus. Speaking of dirty garments, the Bible equates our lives as such. The sins we’ve committed have made us as useless as dirty rags, but Jesus offers to cover us in clean white linen if we only ask Him. Our sin for His righteousness; our filth for His white raiment – what a bargain! What are you waiting for?

 

O glorious, eternal, and unchanging God! We have nothing to offer You, but our sinful lives and garments of unrighteousness. But You, in Your great mercy, have offered us the glorious white robes of Jesus Christ in exchange for them. How can we do anything but accept Your gift. Thank you for our precious Lord Jesus! Amen.

 

 

You will roll them up like a robe;
      like a garment they will be changed.
   But you remain the same,
      and your years will never end.
Hebrews 1:12

 

This verse is a modification of Psalm 102:26, 27 and really touches on the magnificence and glory of Jesus Christ. All of the created order is subject to His power. As it says elsewhere –

 

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. Revelation 20:11

 

A similar description of rolling up creation is also to be found in Revelation 6:14… really impressive stuff! That the presence of God causes the physical world to recoil may seem allegorical, but I don’t think so. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that all of creation is subjected to frustration, bondage, and decay. Because of this, there’s no place for it in the presence of pure holiness. Instead it will all be changed to once again reflect the supreme glory of the Creator. What this display of renewal will be like is something we wait for in eager expectation (Romans 8:22, 23). In contrast to the temporary nature of what we now physically see and experience, Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be the same – His years will never end. How absolutely magnificent is our God! And on top of that, what an infinite honor it is to be called His son through adoption because of Jesus. Instead of destruction, we also will be changed to reflect His likeness. No wonder Paul proclaims in Ephesians “…in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” In the coming ages (eternity) we will ponder the incomparable riches of His grace!  Glory to God!

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee – How great Thou art.

 

 

To which of the angels did God ever say,
      “Sit at my right hand
   until I make your enemies
      a footstool for your feet”
Hebrews 1:13

 

This is a rhetorical question similar to verse 5. The expected answer is certainly “to none of them.” No angel sits at the right hand of God. Instead, that right belongs to the Son. The quoted verse is one of the most interesting in all of the Psalms. Jesus used it in defense of His ministry in Matthew 22 and it tells us 1) the Christ (the Messiah) is the son of David; 2) the Psalms are inspired by the Spirit of God (Matthew 22:43); and 3) that every single word of Scripture is authoritative. Jesus holds on to the single word of “Lord” as inspired in all it signifies –

 

The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Psalm 110:1

 

“LORD” is the English of YHWH (Jehovah). “Lord” is the Hebrew word “adonai” and refers to God. To understand this, read Judges 6. In verse 13, Gideon refers to the one he’s addressing as “adoni” which is translated “lord” and means “my master” when referring to man in a respectful way. However, once Gideon realizes he is speaking to the Angel of the LORD in verse 15, he uses the term “adonai” which means “my God;” it refers to God. What Jesus was arguing in Matthew 22 and which the author of Hebrews is stating today is that the title “adonai” is not meant for an angel or any other created being, but for God the Son. To understand “adonai” more fully, also read Isaiah 6:1. Quick Hebrew lesson – adon means “Mr.”; adoni means “my master and is translated “lord;” adonai means “my God” and is translated “Lord;” YHWH refers to the divine name of God (Jehovah) and is translated “LORD.”

Heavenly Father, I get the unmistakable hint that the first chapter of Hebrews ensures me that Jesus is the Son of God, not an angel, and is fully God. Who am I to stand against such certainty? Thank You for this clarification of the difficult doctrine of the Trinity. How spectacular is the glorious name of Jesus! Amen.

 

 

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:14

 

An in-depth study on angelology will reveal lots of information on these beings. They’re powerful, glorious, and serve their Creator. They have different abilities and limitations, and there’s a hierarchy within their ranks. They have complete authority to execute their orders from God and to carry them out with frightening efficiency. There are also vast multitudes of them. Medieval philosophers like Thomas Aquinas reasoned that they were created with “fully actualized potential.” Unlike man, who has the potential to become (age, learn, grow, etc), angels are created with a given potential which is immediately realized – there is no further ability to change. This is speculation, but makes sense based on philosophic reasoning. However, regardless of their qualities, abilities, and potential they all have one thing in common – they are all “ministering spirits” on behalf of the elect. They are not at our command and we are never to pray to, worship, or even idolize them. But God has ordained that they serve His chosen people. If you’re a Christian facing difficulties or troubles, this should be a comfort to you. You’re being ministered to by angels as God determines. I’d like to guess that based on this, the fallen angels or “demons” serve exactly the opposite purpose. They fight against those who will inherit salvation and on behalf of the wicked forces (both human and spiritual) that work in the world. Ezekiel 9, Daniel 10, and Ephesians 6 are good to read if you want to think on the spiritual forces and battles occurring around us. The book of Revelation also displays a lot of future angelic warfare. However, Hebrews is unique in its descriptions of angels, how they are subordinate to Christ, and what their specific purposes are. Above all, today’s passage should be a whopping comfort to each Christian who feels the devil or his demons afflicting them. Even if they are, there are angels there to fight against them and to serve the faithful believer.

 

Lord God, what a huge comfort today’s verse is. You’ve ordained that angels minister to us in accordance with our salvation.  Because of this, the devil and his demons are hamstrung to afflict us except as You allow them to for our spiritual growth. Thank you for this unseen world of spiritual protection. In Jesus’ name we are grateful! Amen.

 

 

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1

 

Remember the rule about “therefore.” When you see one in the Bible, always ask what it’s there for.  In this case, he’s referring back to everything he’s said in the previous chapter. God once spoke prophetically in various ways, but now he has spoken through Jesus, therefore… Jesus is the creator, the sustainer, and the exact representation of God’s glory, therefore… Jesus sits at the right hand of the majesty, therefore… Jesus is superior to the angels, therefore… Jesus is proclaimed the Son of the Father, therefore… Jesus being above the angels receives their worship, therefore… Jesus’ throne will last for ever and will be a rule of righteousness, therefore… Jesus is the Anointed One, therefore… Again and again, the majesty, the glory, the power, the splendor, the eternality, and the authority of Jesus were proclaimed by the author in order to ensure that the reader fully understands the importance of not drifting away from the message. To return to temple worship and all that it encompassed was simply to reject the greater, more superior worship which is found in Jesus. If the angels know this and worship Him, then how much man who was created “a little lower than the angels” and also in the image of God. There will be difficult verses in the chapters to come which can be construed as the ability to lose one’s salvation if they drift away. Each verse will be dealt with as it comes, but be assured that this is not possible. If one has come to Jesus Christ in faith, his salvation is sure. However, to drift away or depart from proper doctrine will leave that person with a life of little meaning. As one drifts aimlessly in a raft on a vast ocean, so will our lives be aimless if we depart from the “greater than” worship of the Lord Jesus – our hope, our Savior, our joy.

Heavenly Father, keep our hearts and souls steadfast in the pursuit of Jesus. May we not drift away as we’ve seen, time and again, in people who once held Him so near and dear. In all things, help us. On our own we simply fail, but through Your Spirit we will prevail! Amen.

 

 

For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, Hebrews 2:2

 

The verse today and that of tomorrow are set in the rabbinic style of argumentation, from a matter of lesser import to a greater one. Remember that yesterday highlighted the need to not “drift away” from the words which tell of Jesus and His ministry because of what will now be said. “For” is the matter of lesser importance and is speaking of the Law of Moses which has been the standard of moral society for over 3500 years now. The Law, received at Mount Sinai, was spoken by angels as God’s mediators in conveying this law. Its words were given as absolute directives which carried heavy penalties for disobedience, for example:

Or if anyone has a stone in his hand that could kill, and he strikes someone so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. Numbers 35:17

 

When Achan disobeyed God’s commandment in Joshua 7, not only he, but everyone in his house was judged for his sin - Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. … and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

 

We look to this law as binding, of the greatest importance, and something not to be trifled with. However, despite its immense effect on society today, it pales in comparison to the message found in that of Jesus Christ and His work on our behalf.

 

Lord, when we read the words of the Old Testament, they reflect back on us and on the deeds we’ve done which would condemn us without Your great mercy. Every infraction has a penalty, many of them most severe. And yet, here we are alive and able to praise you because of Jesus. Thank You for reaching down and delivering us by His blood. Amen.

 

 

…how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.  Hebrews 2:3

 

The great unanswerable – that’s the question which is asked today. If Jesus Christ’s message is ignored and never acted upon, there is no hope of salvation in the presence of pure holiness. In our fallen state there is no thing that we can do to draw us near to God. So much for religious pluralism! Not all paths lead to God, not all trails lead up the same spiritual mountain. There is no “enlightenment” in the human soul without first dealing with the sin and the nature which is marred by the sin. And the sin must be dealt with by a perfectly holy substitute. This salvation, the author states, “…was first announced by the Lord…” Jesus made the exclusive claim in John 14:6 –

 

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

Since the ministry of the Lord we’re left with only one source of spiritual knowledge about Jesus Christ, the Holy Bible. This was “confirmed to us by those who heard him” and it’s illuminated through the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26, while speaking to His apostles, Jesus assured them that they would complete His word by reminding them of everything He had taught them. It’s by the word of God, related through the apostles by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that we receive the glorious message of our salvation. Be firm and fixed in your acceptance of His message. Truly, how shall we otherwise escape?

 

Thank You, O God, that You haven’t left us adrift on an ocean of doubt. Instead, we can hold fast to the word of truth, Your glorious gospel. Blessed assurance belongs to all who have called on the precious name of Jesus – trusting Him alone for their salvation! Amen.

 

 

God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2:4

 

God confirmed Jesus and his apostles in a unique way through “signs, wonders, and miracles.” These words, coming from Greek, are occasionally used interchangeably. Dunamis (miracles) is where the word dynamite is from – it’s something which is powerful and supernatural in nature. Teras (wonders) indicates a prodigy that amazed those who saw the occurrence. Semeion (signs) point to their source for their authority. “Signs” is used in an important way throughout the book of John to prove Jesus as the long awaited Messiah; He accomplished 7 signs particular to the messianic ministry, after which He accomplished an eighth wondrous sign in the resurrection. These words are used together three other times in the New Testament – in Acts 2, 2 Corinthians 12, and 2 Thessalonians 2. In Acts, it’s used by Peter while speaking in the Temple on Pentecost to show that Jesus was the Messiah who had come. In 2 Corinthians, Paul uses these words to indicate apostolic authority granted by Jesus; the deeds they accomplished confirmed the words they spoke which testified to Jesus. Because of this, we are 1) assured of the reliability of their words as recorded in the Bible, and 2) can reject anyone who claims apostolic authority since then. The Bible was sealed as God’s authoritative word and nothing can be added to it or held in equal authority. Finally, in 2 Thessalonians these words are again used to tell us that the ministry of the antichrist “will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.” In other words, we can accept the signs, wonders, and miracles of Jesus and His apostles, or we can accept the counterfeit version by which Satan will deceive the world.

 

Heavenly Father – You clearly demonstrated who Jesus is and You confirmed His ministry through signs, miracles, and wonders. Then You granted the same to Your chosen apostles to confirm their words. Thank You for the surety we have in the pages of the Bible which tell us of the wonderful story which reconciles us to You through Jesus. Amen!

 

 

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.  Hebrews 2:5

 

Volumes in one sentence! The “world” to come is from the Greek oikoumenēn, and has different possible translations so we can’t get too dogmatic about what Paul is saying, however, I agree with the words of the Wycliffe Bible Commentary on this one – “The future world, the inhabited earth of the future; the world future to the generation receiving this epistle and also future to us. This world will not be subject to angels, but it will be subject to Christ in its totality, and also to the redeemed. An entirely new condition will prevail, as Christ, with the saints, will rule in harmony heretofore unknown.” This “world to come” which I agree is the future world of Christ’s kingdom is exactly that – Christ’s kingdom. Angels will be excluded from authority in it. This is because in an earlier verse we were told that all angels were “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.” There will first be a millennial reign of Christ and his redeemed who will be “kings and priests.” After this 1000-year reign, only the redeemed will be left. The final judgment will separate all the unredeemed of mankind from those who found salvation in Christ. As far as “serving those who will inherit salvation” the angels will be out of business. It will be as is described in Revelation 21:22-27 – “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.”

 

O God, we look with longing to that glorious time when all the world will be illuminated by the light of God through the Lamb, Your lamp! A time when the redeemed of all ages will again have complete and unrestricted fellowship with You. May that day be soon! Amen.

 

 

But there is a place where someone has testified:
   "What is man that you are mindful of him,
      the son of man that you care for him?
Hebrews 2:6

 

Today the author quotes Psalm 8:4. Verse 3 which immediately precedes this says:

 

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
         The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

 

When David wrote these words, he marveled at the majesty of the heavens – the deep blue skies, the beautiful sun which reflects a thousand colors on the morning and evening expanse, the intricate way in which the moon and stars were placed, and how they precisely move to “serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.” All of this demonstrates intelligence and wisdom infinitely superior to ours. He wondered how God could be mindful of us. How could the One who determined the movement of the heavenly objects so precisely that we can count the days until sowing or harvesting be even remotely concerned with us? And not only is He mindful of us, but He cares for us – how could this be? Later, in Psalm 139, David also reflected on man’s make-up: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And surely this is so. Harvard scientists who are engaged in mapping the human brain have declared it the “most complex structure in the universe.” In fact, it’s said to be more complex than the universe itself. If God tended to our creation in such a marvelous way, then it becomes understandable why He is mindful of us and why He cares for us. We’ve been created in His image and for His glory. David understood this as did the author of Hebrews. We then should also should reflect on our majestic makeup and praise God for how He made us and tends to us. Each person is unique and bears the image of the Creator of all things. Tend carefully to that special person in the mirror.

 

Lord God, because of my makeup – designed by You and for a wonderful purpose – I can only raise my hands and exalt You. May my voice resonate harmonious sounds of praise for Your majestic splendor. May You alone be glorified through the life I lead. Amen.

 

 

You made him a little lower than the angels;
      you crowned him with glory and honor…
Hebrews 2:7

 

This is a continuation of the quote from Psalm 8. Today it’s verse 5. These verses, including the ones in the next couple days can get confusing if you don’t understand where the author is going. The OT psalm is speaking of man and his position in the created order. The NT author of Hebrews is also speaking of man, but will refer to Jesus as well. It’s important to understand that man was created in God’s image and as the steward of God’s creation. However, Adam (which means “man”) failed to fulfill the intended purposes for which he was created. Because of this, there was a need for a second Man, a second Adam –

 

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:45-47

 

When God created man, his position was “lower than the angels” in position, but he is in no way inglorious because of this. Rather, because we bear God’s image, we are in fact “crowned with glory and honor.” We’ve been given mandates to fill the earth, subdue the earth while protecting it, etc. In essence we, as humans, have been granted dominion over the earth. Understanding this will help us to understand the next few verses. Remember today though that you are unique and glorious just as you are. You bear the image of God, marred as it may be. Because of this, it’s important that you tend to yourself and your fellow man in that light. Let’s pray about this:

 

Lord, I often fail to remember that I was created in Your image and for Your glory. The things I do, the thoughts I think, the words I speak – they are all often unclean and certainly bring discredit upon You. Forgive me for these un-thoughtful transgressions and help me to always reflect You and Your glory in the life I lead. To the honor of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

…and put everything under his feet. In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. Hebrews 2:8

 

The author quotes Psalm 8:6 here:

 

You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.

 

However, you can see he skipped the first part, “You made him ruler over the works of your hands.” Man was created to be ruler over the earth. As it says, there is “nothing that is not subject to him.” However, despite this being the original intent, such is not the case today. The earth itself rebels against man’s authority. Animals attack, diseases kill, harmony is missing in countless ways. God put “everything under his feet” and yet we have all these woes to contend with, many arising from what should be subject to us. This is the result of Adam’s failure to accept the leadership position granted him. Instead, he disobeyed God and God cursed the earth:  “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.” Genesis 3:17 At the end of Psalm 8, David proclaims “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” David knew the wickedness which reigns in our hearts and wrote this psalm as a proclamation of God’s majesty, man’s depravity, and also as a question as to why – in our fallen state – God would still look on us and care for us. Here is man, created for the purpose of tending to God’s spectacular garden and yet we can’t even tend to our own affairs. David’s family life was a shambles, he was hemmed in by enemies, and he made extremely bad choices in some very important matters during his life. If he, the King of Israel, was such a mess then how could God have allowed us even partial dominion over His creation? If you wonder why God has granted man such awesome authority, remember that you bear His image and He has great hope that you will bring honor to him by tending to this world which He made for us.

What an awesome responsibility we have, O God, to tend to this precious blue world spinning in the heavens. You’ve granted us authority over it and we need to be exceedingly careful to ensure that we don’t misuse or destroy it. Give us wisdom to tend to this, our home. Amen.

 

 

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

 

If you remember the comparison made two days ago, you can now fully understand what the author of Hebrews was intimating. Adam (Adam meaning “man”) was given authority over the earth – everything in submission to him. But due to his sin, man lost control of that right. Since then, the entire creation is “subjected to frustration.” But the glorious news is revealed in today’s verse. The word “but” indicates the contrast of yesterday’s statement which said, “Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.” But we see Jesus (!) “now crowned with glory and honor…” Where Adam failed and lost control of the world, Jesus prevailed and has the authority to regain that control. As Revelation 5:5 majestically proclaims:

 

See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."

 

The scroll is the title deed to the earth. Jesus has, through his death, regained all of the authority which Adam lost. And even more incredible are the ramifications of the second half of the verse – “so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” God promised Adam that he would die if he failed to do as instructed. And through “Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22), but “in Christ all will be made alive.” And it goes on to say “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” I hope you see the absolute majesty of what’s involved in these past few verses. Jesus Christ has prevailed! Let’s proclaim praises to Him:

 

Higher than every king, more glorious than the beaming sun,

Jesus Christ – our majestic Lord, through Him the battle is won.

Death ended – life restored to Adam’s race,

All because of Jesus – His mercy, love and grace. Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Hebrews 2:10

 

If this isn’t the most exciting thing you’ve ever read, then you don’t comprehend the enormity of the verse! Man was brought to dishonor through his rebellion to God. So intense is the depravity of man, that the very first person ever born in human history was a murderer. Our rebellion caused an upheaval which affected all of creation. This is the same creation that exists for God’s pleasure and is sustained, even at this moment, by Him.

 

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

 

The One who created and sustains all things chose to unite with human flesh to restore “many sons to glory.” He is the Author of our salvation. An author initiates a book, writes the book, and completes the book. Every aspect of authorship belongs to the author and likewise, every aspect of our salvation is credited to Jesus. He was made “perfect through suffering.” This is in no way implying a progression from imperfection to perfection. Instead, it’s referring to the process by which life is restored to man – through the death of Jesus. We sinned, were condemned, and died; He lived perfectly, suffered, and died without sin. The process is perfect because we may now accept His suffering and cross in exchange for our sin and disobedience – death for life. He is the Author of our salvation, a story which was written before creation – “…in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8 As enormous as it seems, the Creator chose to redeem us in this manner before we even existed. By doing so, He has brought “many sons to glory.” How can you do anything but raise your hands and proclaim WORTHY! WORTHY IS THE LAMB WHO WAS SLAIN!

O God, no words can accurately describe the honor that You are due. In Your eternal mind’s eye, You saw the consequences of our sin. Despite the absolute enormity of the costs, You chose to redeem us through Jesus’ suffering and death on a Roman cross. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! Amen.

 

 

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.  Hebrews 2:11

 

Oh man – analysis of verses, digging in to “literal meanings of words,” and debating over minutia all fall to the wayside when we realize the enormity of what God accomplished on our behalf in Christ Jesus! “Both the one who makes holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.” Try to imagine how immense this statement is. We’re united to Jesus Christ, who makes men holy, in the bonds of a familial relationship! As it says elsewhere:

 

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10

Through Jesus Christ, believers are united in a single family. Please understand that those who have not called on Jesus are excluded from this relationship and God’s wrath remains on them. However, those who have accepted the lordship of Jesus Christ are united with Him as brothers; we are now sons of the Father in every respect. No matter what your level of faith, Jesus unashamedly proclaims that you are his brother. Just think about how glorious this is! Our Creator is also our Redeemer; He is our Friend; He is our Savior; He is our joy, our peace, and our love; He is our Brother. Jesus Christ is all in all to those who have come to Him merely by faith. If this doesn’t just make you want to jump up and shout, then you need to get off the cough syrup! Jesus is! Jesus is! Jesus is! He is our majesty! Praise God for Jesus!

 

O God! How absolutely amazing is the story of Jesus! When we contemplate what You have done on our behalf through Him, how can we do anything but praise Your glory. We’re free from sin, death, and condemnation through Him. And even more, we’re called Your sons and His brothers.  How unworthy we are of this highest honor. Praise be to You, Amen.

 

 

He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.” Hebrews 2:12

 

Today the author is quoting Psalm 22:22. This isn’t referring to us proclaiming Jesus’ name to our fellow Christians or that we are praising Jesus in the congregation. Rather, it is an honor bestowed by Jesus on us. Imagine that – Jesus says He will proclaim the Father to His brethren – us!  We’re called His brothers openly and unashamedly when it was He who came from the Father, who lived perfectly, and who died on Calvary’s Cross for us. All we did was help hammer in the nails. But in His infinite love, He turns our scorn and misdeeds into a demonstration of the greatest love ever know He calls us His brothers if we simply come to Him in faith and ask forgiveness. Have you confessed Jesus as Lord? Imagine being called a son of God and a brother to the Lord Jesus after the life you’ve lived? But it can happen if you just acknowledge Him. The verse goes on to indicate that Jesus will sing praises to the Father in the congregation. There is nothing hidden, nothing shied away from. Jesus sings the praises of His Father in the midst of all of us, and so in turn we sing praises to Him:

 

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
      the One who is and who was,
   because you have taken your great power
      and have begun to reign. Revelation 11:17

 

Are you seeing the wonder of Jesus in the book of Hebrews? The treasures contained here are so rich in the majesty of God’s salvation through Him that it simply takes my breath away. Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! How precious, how sweet, how glorious is the Name of Jesus!

 

O Lord, how can it be that you would stand in the midst of fallen humanity and call us Your brothers? There is simply no greater honor in heaven or on earth than to know that we are accepted because of You. It is Your deeds, Your perfection, You life which grants new life to us! Worthy is Your name – Your glorious name! Jesus! Amen.

 

 

And again,
   “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says,
   “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
Hebrews 2:13

 

Today the author cites Isaiah 8:17, 18. Again and again he repeats his thoughts by going back to the Old Testament to clearly prove to the 1st Century Jews that Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the promises of the prophets, feasts, and ideas which permeate Scripture. All of them point to Jesus and His work. Isaiah was probably the most well known of the prophets and his is the longest prophetic book of the Old Testament. If Jesus can be found in this verse, then certainly He can be found throughout Isaiah’s writings. Today’s verse, like yesterdays, is referring to Jesus words – “I (Jesus) will put my trust in Him (the LORD).” This is the human side of Jesus trusting in God. And then, “Here am I (Jesus), and the children God has given me.” This shows the absolute unity of believers in Jesus Christ to Him. We aren’t only His brothers as yesterday’s verse states, but we’re also His children. Brother fellowships with brother in a unique way; children look to and are tended to their father in a different way. Our relationship to Jesus is utterly unique in all ways. We are His brothers and we are His children. When we need a helping hand, our brother is there to share the burden. And when we need comfort and nurturing, our Father is there to provide it.  How wonderful is the glory which God has blessed us with in the Person of Jesus! Are you having troubles today? Call on Jesus as your caring Father who will comfort you through the sickness and stresses you face. Are you overburdened with life, work, or family? Call on Jesus as your brother. Simply speak to Him as you would to your brother. We are never alone and we’re not crazy to converse with our unseen Lord. Instead, He is ever with us. He cares for you, so trust in Him as you go about your day.

 

O God, thank you for the ever-present, ever-comforting assurance of Jesus. Though we can’t see Him, we know He is present because You’ve blessed us with Your Holy Spirit who testifies to Him in our lives. Thank you for the wonderful assurance we have in Him. Amen.

 

 

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— Hebrews 2:14

 

We, God’s children (in the broader sense – see Acts 17:28), are held under the bondage of sin and death by the devil. This is made clear throughout the Bible. Man is fallen and is under the devil’s power. Our flesh is corrupted because of Adam’s transgression and there is nothing that we can do about it; we’re spiritually dead from birth. But God, knowing this even before creation, had a glorious plan laid out for our redemption. He would unite with humanity in the Person of Jesus Christ. By doing this and not sinning, He would prevail where Adam failed, thus destroying “him who holds the power of death.” This is the reason for Christ’s coming. All else Jesus Christ did was to meet this purpose on our behalf. The apostle John makes this clear:

 

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8

 

I mentioned that it is by His perfect life (by not sinning) that Jesus would prevail. However, something more was needed than merely not sinning to redeem us. His perfect life would result in only His eternal life and victory. But, by dying on the cross, He paid the sin-debt for the rest of us who are found with sin. It is His death – His cross – that destroyed the devil’s work entirely. O, and glory to God – “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” Acts 2:24 It was “impossible” for death to hold Him, because He didn’t sin. He lived for us, He died for us, and He rose again because of His perfection – for us. Nix one devil…for eternity! Amen!

 

Hallelujah and Amen – Jesus died and is risen again! Thank You, O God, for the victory of Jesus Christ and His cross. Thank You that we share in that victory, not because we deserve it, but because of Your great mercy. Nothing else matters in this life when compared to the glory of our Lord. May You ever be praised because of His glorious deeds! Amen.

 

 

…and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:15

 

Yesterday I cited Acts 2:24 – that it was impossible for death to hold Jesus because He did nothing deserving of death – He prevailed over death. By doing so, He tasted death once for all people. This doesn’t mean we won’t die physically. Each and every one of us will taste physical death with the exception of those who are alive when He comes at the rapture. However, no person who is positioned in Christ will ever face the separation from God which is the result of spiritual death. Spiritual death is not something in the future – it’s present for all humans. It’s the condition we’re born into. Spiritual life comes with being “born again” as is noted in John 3:3. When one is born again of the Spirit, they can never die spiritually again. For this reason, we are free from the bonds of slavery which is our “fear of death.” We have the absolute guarantee that God, who cannot lie, has given us eternal life. Our physical death is part of the process of being renewed. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians:

 

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Vs 42-44

 

When we plant a Christian family member or friend in the ground at death, we’re planting a seed which will be raised to eternal life – to the glory of God and through the power of Jesus’ resurrection. Truly, death is swallowed up in victory. We have the blessed assurance of Jesus Christ. Let’s praise –

 

Thank You, O God, for the assurance of eternal life through Jesus Christ. He freed us from the slavery of the fear of death and we can confidently trust that we shall be raised again – to Your glory – imperishable and free from the stain of sin. We love and praise You! Amen.

 

 

For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. Hebrews 2:16

 

Taken alone, today’s verse may appear to favor only the blood line which runs from Abraham. It can be inaccurately used to show that God favors this blood line and that belonging to Jesus is through being related to Abraham by blood. The Jews are descended from Abraham through Isaac, but so are the Arabs, through Ishmael. Hence, they both claim God’s favor. But during Jesus’ ministry He said, directly to the Jewish leaders: “I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.” John 8:37 He went on to tell them their true father was the devil. However, Scripture also makes it perfectly clear in Romans 9 that the blessing went through Isaac, not Ishmael (the father of Muslims). Are you confused yet? Paul, writing in Galatians, equates the Law of Moses with bondage and that those who adhere to it are spiritually children of the slave woman (Hagar Ishmael’s mother) –

 

Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. Galatians 4:31

 

So who are the descendants that are truly in favor and pleasing to God? Paul spends much of the book of Galatians discussing this. It’s through faith in Jesus Christ, and this alone, that we’re released from bondage and brought into Abraham’s family. Just as we’re accounted as sons of Jesus through faith and move away from the headship of Adam, so it is that we’re spiritually moved into the line of Abraham; there to receive the blessings that accompany such genealogy. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29. Take time to read Galatians. You’ll see that it is Jesus who was the true son of Abraham and through Him we become Jesus’ children and thus, sons of Abraham.

 

Lord God, the mystery of our relationship to Jesus, and thus to Abraham, seems complex at first, but now I see that it is simply by faith in Jesus that I become Abraham’s child. Thank you for the simplicity of this adoption – faith in Jesus’ works! I praise you, O God, for the wonderful blessing of being a part of this marvelous family!!!! Amen.

 

 

For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17

 

Today is the first time we read about Jesus as our high priest. This theme will be dealt with many times in later chapters and will take us back to the Old Testament books of Genesis and Leviticus in a way that is exciting and wonderful. Today it says He was “made like his brothers.” Jesus is not a created being. God fashioned, or made, His physical human body exactly like ours in Mary’s womb – even though He had no earthly father. He is thus fully human and fully God. This was done so that He could “in every way” empathize with us, His creation. He understands fully that it hurts when we stub our toe and that we might shout out a bad word in response. He understands that when we get tired our stress levels change. He understands that when we’re hungry we get cranky and irritable. He can empathize with us in all of our human state. This doesn’t mean He approves of these things when we err, but He felt the same physical limitations we did. The Bible says He got tired, He wept, He was hungry, He was angry, He was grieved, etc. By being able to “feel our pain” He was able to be merciful to us in a human and tender way when He approached the heavenly mercy seat to make atonement for our sins. Remember that atonement carries the idea of “covering” our sins. When atonement is made on our behalf, God no longer sees our sin, but instead He looks at Christ’s perfect righteousness. It is the precious blood of Jesus that was offered on our behalf. Nothing else is needed to cover even the vilest of sins. His death was an all sufficient atonement for us. There’s nothing we need to do except ask for and receive His perfect gift – poured out abundantly for us on the rugged Cross at Calvary. Thank you Jesus!

 

Glory to You, O God that we have a faithful High Priest who can empathize with our fallen state! Jesus can show mercy on us because He knows what we’ve been through, what we’re going through, and what we will go through. No sin, past, present, or future can keep us separated from God when it’s covered by Jesus’ precious blood! Thank You O God! Amen.

 

 

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18

 

Jesus wasn’t just tempted, as is often noted, but He also suffered in His temptation. We learn in Matthew 4:2 that when he fasted he was hungry. There’s no reason at all to doubt that he suffered in every temptation He faced, just as each of us does. Later in Hebrews we’ll see that He “has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” Being “tempted in every way” is all-inclusive and shows His full humanity. He was exposed to human limitations and external attack, but in all this He never sinned. He has set the example for each of us to follow, but more importantly, He “is able to help those who are being tempted.” He didn’t leave us alone, but gave us the Holy Spirit to be with us, to reassure us and to help us through our trials. We also have His sure word, the Holy Bible, which testifies to His victory and which is both a guide and a comfort for us during times of temptation. One other glorious gift we have in our weakness is the fellowship of other members of the Body of Christ. Can you think of times when you were facing sickness, distress, personal troubles, or some other difficulty and you thought you just couldn’t make it alone? During those times, did you reach out to a pastor or a friend for words of comfort and strengthening? Remember then to thank God for those He’s placed in your path to help you through those times. Remember also to thank God – every day – for His word which is so readily available in the world today. Don’t forget to thank Him for the gift of His Holy Spirit also – He who is with you in the most intimate relationship we could know. And finally, remember each day to thank God for Jesus. He is our Lord, our sin-bearer, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Friend, and so much more. How wonderful is our blessed life when we remember the great gifts which came from the Father’s open hand to each of us.

 

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, for His life, His cross, His victory – for all this, I thank You. I also thank you for Your Holy Spirit, given to me as a Source of all-comfort in times of need. And for Your word, I am also grateful – the word which tells me of Your great love for us. Finally thank You for the fellowship of other believers. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. Hebrews 3:1

 

Remember Bible 101 – when you see a “therefore” look to see what it’s there for. Today chapter 3 starts with “therefore” and reminds us to look back at what was submitted for consideration in the preceding verses. The first “therefore” had us look back on Jesus’ superiority to the angels. This one now reminds us to consider Jesus lowering Himself to the position of a human and then being exalted to the highest human position by defeating the devil and his work. Notably, this is the only time in Scripture that Jesus is called an “apostle.” He was sent to complete the work set before Him. Through His death, He tasted death for all and has brought us out of the fear of that death and the slavery involved in the fear of it. Further, because of His humanity, He’s able to empathize with our failings and stand as a faithful and merciful High Priest on our behalf. The verse today reminds the addressees that they “share in the heavenly calling.” Again, as always in the Bible, this gives the assurance of eternal salvation. We have no reason to rely on ourselves or our abilities to be saved, but are already positioned in the calling of Christ. The next words compare to those coming up in Hebrews 12:2 which state, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” Today’s verse tells us to “fix your thoughts on Jesus.” In the Old Testament it says:

 

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Deuteronomy 11:18

 

Today’s verse then is a subtle but sure indication of Jesus’ deity. If we are to fix the Lord’s words in our minds and yet we’re to fix out thoughts on Jesus, then the two must be comparable. Jesus is the Word of God and we’re to fix our minds and thoughts on Him!

 

Yes Lord Jesus! Our hearts and minds, our thoughts and eyes are to be ever-directed to You. We confess that you are our faithful Apostle and High Priest and we look to You for mediation on our behalf before an infinitely Holy God. May Your offering cover us that we may be acceptable in His sight. Amen.

 

 

He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. Hebrews 3:2

 

Today starts a new comparison. Moses was “faithful in all God’s house” and likewise Jesus was faithful in His appointment. God, from before the creation of the world, appointed Jesus to walk as the appointed representative in bringing complete redemption to mankind. Moses foreshadowed Jesus’ work by bringing the Israelites out of the land of Egypt. He also was the one to introduce the covenant between God and His people. Likewise, Jesus has led His people out of sin and death and has introduced the better covenant by which we have complete and full access to God – not through a sacrificial system and a tabernacle built with human hands, but we have the ultimate Sacrifice of Jesus. This is a once-for-all-time sacrifice that thoroughly cleanses us from our sins and leads us to the true tabernacle, not built with human hands. This will be explained more fully as we progress through the book, but the comparison has been initiated by the author, just as the previous comparison was made between Jesus and the angels. By the time the author is done, we’ll see the absolute superiority of Jesus over Moses and the New Covenant over the Old. This was necessary because the 1st Century Jews were considering returning to the Law of Moses and its system, a system vastly inferior to that of Jesus and His ministry. The high priests were fallible men who, when they had completed their service, returned to the dust. But Jesus, our superior High Priest, lives forever – faithfully interceding on behalf of His people. When you feel the weight of sin at the end of your day, you don’t need to go to a priest and confess it. Rather, you have direct access to God through your eternal High Priest, Jesus. If you belong to a denomination which has priests, confessionals, and acts of contrition, you can put those things away and find complete forgiveness by confessing your sins to Jesus.

 

Lord God, I’ve often failed to come to You through Jesus when I’ve sinned. You know I’ve sinned by omission, commission, thought, word, and deed. When I fall short and transgress Your laws, remind me that I have Jesus, my Lord, to confess to and through whom I receive complete forgiveness. What an honor for which I am ever-grateful. Amen.

 

 

Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. Hebrews 3:3

 

This is the second “greater than” of the book of Hebrews. Jesus was found “greater than” the angels, thus disproving any notion of Him being a created being, such as the Archangel Michael. It also set aside any notion of worshipping angels (Revelation 22:9 for example), but instead directs our attention to the worship of Jesus. Today’s verse says Jesus is “of greater honor than Moses.” Observant Jews held tightly to the “Law of Moses” and the covenant which he established for the nation. This was particularly important to them, because the last prophetic book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi, ends on an admonition to be faithful to this law:

 

Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. Malachi 4:4

 

Even the gospel accounts mention the “Law of Moses” either directly from Jesus’ own words or those of the writers when confirming Jesus ministry under this law. However, Jesus established a new covenant and thus a new order in the house of God. Jesus is the Founder, the Cornerstone, and the Capstone of this house. He is also its Builder. In all ways, the house which Jesus has built is far superior to, and of greater honor than the house of Moses. He is the one who, even now, is building His temple, of which you, O faithful Christian, are a stone. “…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5.

 

How great is our Lord – the builder of our House. He is the Chief Cornerstone, He is the Capstone, He is its Builder and grand Architect…He is Jesus! O God, how glorious is the workmanship of Your hands, that You could take broken and burnt stones like us, and use us to build Your beautiful temple. All honor belongs to You! In Jesus’ name we do pray. Amen.

 

 

For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Hebrews 3:4

 

Another allusion to Jesus’ divinity is made in today’s verse. The past two refer to Jesus as compared to Moses and how the builder of a house is worthy of greater honor than the house itself. In essence, Jesus is worthy of greater honor than Moses because He is the builder. Then today the comparison is made to all houses having a builder but God is the original builder of everything. The logic is impeccable and it really amazes me how people step right over such links in order to deny the obvious connection between Jesus and God. The intentional mincing of words to downplay what the author of Hebrews intends, again and again, is simply inexcusable. From Genesis 1:1 to John 1:1 the link is made that God created everything and that Jesus also created everything. Likewise, Jesus is the builder of the house and God is the builder of the house. The frustration over groups such as the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” which go to extraordinary lengths to deny these truths is immense. It shows how truly blinded people are without the gospel of truth. Should we be angry at this? Should we pity these people? Should we pray for them? The answer to all three questions is, “Yes.” We should never let the sun go down on our anger over bad doctrine. Instead, we should hold it closely lest we get lax in our own souls at fighting for the word of truth. However, we should also show pity on these people because we’ve all been bound under sin that God might show mercy on us as well. None of us is free from a past of rebellion and disobedience. And finally, when we encounter these people, we need to remember them in our prayers. Prayer may be our only weapon against them because of the blindness they have to our words of reason. Remember that if God can build all things, then all things are under His control and will be handled according to His glory.

Thank You Lord for having opened my eyes to the truth of Jesus and His gospel of peace! Never let me forget that I too was once lost and in need of Your favor so that when I encounter others in the same state, I’ll act responsibly as Your representative. Amen.

 

 

Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future.  Hebrews 3:5

 

One wonderful key to remember when reading the Bible is this – “How does this point to Jesus Christ?” Every single word of the Bible has meaning and every letter and thought is precious. This is because every part does, in fact, point to the work of Jesus Christ. Today’s verse tells us that Moses was faithful as God’s servant. He executed his duties while leading the Israelites in a faithful and honorable fashion, having only erred in the matter of bringing water from the rock in the Wilderness of Zin. But today’s passage tells us that Moses and what he did actually looked forward “to what would be said in the future.” All the accounts recorded in the Old Testament are real – real people, real places, and real situations. Each of them was selected by God for inclusion in the Bible to look forward and to serve as a foreshadowing of Jesus. Paul says as much when he speaks to the Corinthians:

 

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4

 

Paul explains that everything which occurred prefigured Christ and His work. Not everything that occurred is recorded, but that which is was specifically selected by God because it fit a pattern which would be repeated in Christ. Moses and his faithful work as a servant was such a pattern.

 

How wonderful to peer into the pages of time past as recorded in Your word and to see images of the coming Christ and His glorious work! O God, the wisdom You display in the Holy Bible is glorious. How grateful our hearts are to receive Your word and to learn about Your wonderful work of redemption on behalf of fallen man! Amen.

 

 

But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. Hebrews 3:6

 

The mystery of the trinity is involved here. The author has, again and again, equated Jesus with God and then today He is called God’s Son. At the same time as filling one role, He never ceases filling the other. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the one who is faithfully in charge of God’s house. As cited a couple days ago, Peter calls us “living stones” in this house. How amazing that God would choose to build a temple using us! The Old Testament temple was made with stones and it housed the Ark of the Covenant. This was where God met with man. However, it was only a picture of the work of Christ to come. Even now, He is taking us and making an eternal temple in which He is the point where God and man meet. As it says in Revelation –

 

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:22, 23

 

This depiction is in eternity future and shows us that we will be living in the very presence of God which is illuminated through Jesus. This is just what was prefigured by the cloud of the glory of God which filled the temple of Israel. “And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.” 1 Kings 8:11. The difference is that in the future we will be able to behold the glory which was previously not viewable. Praise be to Jesus for revealing the glory of God to His redeemed!

Lord God, what a wonderful promise that we have! We look forward to the future when all evil will be swept away and Your redeemed will walk in the light of Your glory. Praise be to You, O God, for the majesty which is Jesus and the blessing we have because of His great work! In His spectacular name we pray! Amen.

 

 

So, as the Holy Spirit says:
   "Today, if you hear his voice,…
Hebrews 3:7

 

Today’s verse is the beginning of a series of verses quoting Psalm 95. This same verse will be repeated again in Chapter 4, but don’t get disheartened by the repetition. Sometimes things need to be repeated in order to have them sink in. Sometimes things need to be repeated in order to have them sink in. The author will employ this technique several times in the book of Hebrews when he’s determined that you comprehend what’s being spoken of. Today he says, “as the Holy Spirit says.” This is such an important statement for the authenticity and inspiration of the Bible and yet it’s so easy to overlook. The psalm being referred to has no author credited to it as some do, but it’s believed to have been written for use during the period of the second temple in Jerusalem. It was probably sung on the Sabbath along with others in its series (Psalms 95-100). What’s of such importance today though is that the psalm, despite being written by a man, is credited to the Holy Spirit. In other words, as in all of Scripture as testified to by Jesus and the apostles, the Holy Spirit is the divine inspiration for what’s being said. God’s Spirit uttered these words through a human in order to reveal His exact intentions for those who would receive it. The psalm is stating that if you hear “God’s” voice (see Psalm 95:7); but the author of Hebrews quotes this and is certainly referring to Jesus who is the nearest antecedent in verse 6, “But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” God is mentioned in the verse, but not as the subject of the verse. In other words – again – Jesus is being equated in today’s verse as the God of the Old Testament. And not only that, but the author is stating that the Holy Spirit proclaims this. Isn’t this wonderful! By studying Hebrews, you’re being fully prepared to show those who deny the deity of Christ the error of their message!

 

O Lord, as I read your word, the Holy Bible, speak to me in my soul. Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things in Your law. And Lord, give me the ability to understand them, retain them, and be able to turn and teach them to others as well. To Your honor; to Your glory; and to Your greatness! Thank You for Your wonderful word! Amen.

 

 

…do not harden your hearts
   as you did in the rebellion,
      during the time of testing in the desert,
Hebrews 3:8

 

We continue with the quoting of Psalm 95 today. The psalm says: “do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert,” (vs 8) The word Meribah means “quarrelling” and the word Massah means “testing.”  These names were given to specific places where the Israelites had gone while in the wilderness. Exodus 17 records the account of “Meribah and Massah” and Numbers 20 records the story of “the waters of Meribah.” In the Exodus account, the Israelites rebelled and complained at the lack of provision in the arid land. At that time, Moses was instructed to “strike the rock” and water would pour from it. He did so and out poured water. The second time this occurred was much later in their wanderings and Moses was told to “speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.” However, Moses disobeyed on this second occasion and struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it. Because of his disobedience God said –

 

“Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” Numbers 20:12

 

Remember the symbolism mentioned a few days ago by Paul when he said “and that Rock was Christ.” The first instance of “striking the rock” can be equated with the strict edicts of the law. The second instance (that of speaking to the rock) can be equated with grace found in the New Covenant. It is by hearing the spoken word and trusting in it that we are saved. Adding human effort to the Law of Christ only ends in futility. Do not harden your hearts…we have Christ.

 

O Lord, Moses’ hard-earned lesson and subsequent punishment surely shows us that You are a Holy God and that our hearts are to trust and believe. Help us to understand the simplicity of Your gospel – that it is by faith and not our effort by which we are saved. Forgive us for ever-adding to the message and thus demonstrating a faith which needs strengthening. Amen.

 

 

…where your fathers tested and tried me
      and for forty years saw what I did.
Hebrews 3:9

 

It’s easy to look back on the Old Testament and think, “How stupid could those people have been?” On one page we see them being delivered from bondage and led through the sea with a wall of water on both sides and dry ground beneath their feet. But on the next page, they’re complaining about a lack of food and water and ignoring the power of the very same God who created these things. Later we see them receiving the law at Mt. Sinai but right afterwards they’re rebelling against Moses who received this very same law. And on and on it goes – it seems as though these folks would see one display of power and then immediately turn and rebel against that same Source. The same is true with them after they enter the Promised Land. The pattern doesn’t change and the people receive their just punishment for rebellion – what a bunch of faithless people! But is this any different than us – particularly in the US? The United States was founded on the Christian message, but time and again, we’ve turned from it. In September 2001, we received another chastisement for our faithlessness –

 

When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it? Amos 3:6

 

And yet within a few short years we’ve once again thrown our hopes and desires behind wickedness and short-term gain. We elect politicians based on what they can do for us financially even though they’re the same ones who actively promote immorality, abortion, and work tirelessly to remove any vestige of Christianity from our society. They’re quick to judgment against right and slow to judge iniquity. O faithless people, judgment awaits.

 

O God, we are utterly faithless. External piety aside, our hearts and souls return to evil like a dog returns to its vomit. We faithfully search after easy gain at the expense of morals which were established by You and for Your glory. All we can say on the day of Your visitation is, “In wrath, remember mercy” lest we utterly perish in our iniquity. Amen.

 

 

That is why I was angry with that generation,
      and I said, “Their hearts are always going astray,
      and they have not known my ways.”
 Hebrews 3:10

 

As you read this and its surrounding verses, remember that he’s citing a psalm (psalm 95) from hundreds of years earlier which is citing a real life occurrence (the wilderness wanderings) which occurred a thousand years before that. Because the Israelites “hardened their hearts” and rebelled against God, even after demonstrating awesome power in His miracles, He was “angry with that generation.” The accounts of His wrath are clearly recorded and many people were destroyed during these times of rebellion. But even this didn’t change the people’s attitudes. God sends correction on nations and people in order to change their hearts toward Him and to turn them to the proper path. However, there is a time when He decides that complete destruction is what’s necessary. People look at God’s corrective measures and proclaim, “How can He be a loving God to allow this?” when, in fact, such correction is a demonstration of His mercy. Eventually though, there is no remedy and God pronounces a sentence of destruction. What else is He to do when, “Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways?” The same God who led the Israelites through the wilderness and who pronounced judgment on them then, during the destruction by Babylon, and during the destruction by the Romans is also the same God who watches over nations today.

 

The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. Jeremiah 18:7-10

 

Heavenly Father, You have sent Your mighty hand of correction on our homeland, but we have failed to awaken from our slumber. O God, turn our hearts to You before we are utterly destroyed in our transgressions. We are at Your mercy because we have utterly failed to exalt Your high and glorious name. Amen.

 

 

So I declared on oath in my anger,
      “They shall never enter my rest.”
Hebrews 3:11

 

This is an exact quote of Psalm 95:11 – word for word. God is credited with this statement in the psalms, but the Holy Spirit is credited with it by the author of Hebrews…obvious connection – the Holy Spirit is God, not some “active force” as the Jehovah’s witnesses claim. In just the past 6 verses we’ve been clearly presented with God, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each has made statements and claims that only the God of the Old Testament made in the quoted verses. Concerning God’s anger, it’s important to understand that God is impassionate – He doesn’t change from “not angry” to “angry” as we think of it. Rather, we move from a right position with God to a wrong one based on His unchanging nature. When we violate His nature, we move from a happy position to an unhappy one. Once the Israelites had moved to this unhappy position, God determined on oath that they would never enter “His rest.” In this case, we think of entering the Promised Land, Canaan. However, there is more to it than that as we’ll discover in chapter 4. God’s rest is a deep and complex issue which the author of Hebrews will go to great lengths to explain. What’s really important about the statement today is that God’s oath is fixed and unchanging. When He swore in Numbers 14:21, 22 that they would never enter His rest then the words could never change… their fate was sealed. As the Bible elsewhere proclaims –

 

God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. Hebrews 6:18

 

God does not lie and an oath by God is absolutely sure to come to pass. Therefore, when God says that Jesus is the only way to come to God, then that must also be true. God’s rest then, is a result of the work of Jesus Christ. We’ll explore this in the days to come and I implore you to think now on whether you are right with God or not. He is unchanging and eternal. He has spoken, and His word to us is Jesus.

 

Heavenly Father, may we never fail to enter Your rest because of unbelief or disobedience. Rather, help us to look to Your word as absolute truth. It is this word which tells us of Jesus and therefore it is this word we must accept as complete truth. To Your glory! Amen.

 

 

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  Hebrews 3:12

 

In looking at the previous passages, the author has spoken in terms of the nation of Israel on a corporate level, and we equated that with our nation of today. In other words, God will deal with a nation in similar fashion as He dealt with Israel. This is not a stretch of thought. Rather it is a constant theme in the Bible. When speaking of Nineveh’s planned destruction –

 

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:10

 

From dealing with nations, the verse today leads into dealing with individuals. The author reminds the readers that each of us is personally responsible for our own salvation. There is no corporate salvation based on heritage, race, nation, denomination, or anything else. We alone will face God based on what we do with Jesus Christ. Recently the heretic Katherine Jefferts Schori, presiding “Bishop” of the Episcopal domination stated that it was a “heresy” to believe that an individual can be saved through personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ as acknowledged in a prayer of repentance. In the pattern of all wickedness and ungodliness of the unregenerate, she has constantly defied the precepts of Scripture and her religion has no relationship to the truth of Christianity; she is self-condemned. But worse, as Jesus Himself said –

 

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Matthew 23:15 In her apostasy, she is leading precious souls on the procession to hell.

 

Lord God, there are so many false teachers and apostates in the world that we can only trust in You to send us the truth as is given to us in Your sure word, the Holy Bible. May you protect us from the evil wolves of heresy and deception that we may be found pleasing in Your sight. We make this petition in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen.

 

 

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13

 

The author first mentioned “Today” in verse 7. He repeats it again here and the translators have rightly highlighted the importance of the word by capitalizing it. “Today” will be mentioned again in this chapter and then will be discussed in exacting detail in chapter 4. If you have time, read through Hebrews 3:7 - 4:11 to help you understand what the author is commenting on and to which the translators felt necessitated the capitalization of the word. The subject is an important one for understanding Christ’s ministry. Until we get to chapter 4 though, we’ll take our verses as they come. “Today” is a time of importance in the believer’s life because it’s where we reside – here and now. The past has slipped away from us and the future is unknown – and without guarantee of ever coming. Most of us have known someone who died all too early or who squandered Today in the pursuit of disappearing vapor. It’s always heartbreaking for a saved believer to see a fellow soul depart Today without the surety of salvation which comes through Christ alone. Equally saddening is for us to see a person saved by God’s grace through faith in the works of Jesus who then squanders this great gift by turning again to unhealthy living. As with all of Paul’s writings to and about such people, he never questioned their salvation. However, he did warn of loss in the life to come. In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul describes the life a saved person can live – either building with gold, silver, or costly stones or with wood, hay, or straw.  The first three indicate a person who has understood his salvation and built upon it to the glory of God. The second person built his life after salvation haphazardly and in a self-gratifying way. For one such as this –

 

If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

 

Lord God – You sent us Your precious Son to save us and many of us have accepted that infinitely glorious gift only to turn again to our own selfish ways…we’ve been faithless servants in Your presence. Help each of us to honor You by encouraging others to build their future on gold, silver, and costly stones – to the glory of Jesus Christ! Amen.

 

 

We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.   Hebrews 3:14

 

This verse, among others, has led to a belief that one can lose their salvation. “If we hold firmly till the end” is the key thought and a misunderstanding of the intent of the verse can naturally lead to this assumption. Remember, the author has been discussing the failure of the Israelites to enter God’s rest because of unbelief. The question is, “did they not believe in God?” That can only be answered as, “of course they did.” They had seen His glory, received the law, beheld His miracles, etc. What they failed to do was to continue to believe His promises to them and that He would faithfully carry them out. Did these people not continue to receive God’s provision even after He swore on oath that they would never enter the Promised Land? Yes, they did. God sustained them and carried them gently and tenderly even after their rebellion –

 

During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. Deuteronomy 29:5

 

What is being said by the author in today’s verse cannot be a loss of God’s favor nor of His salvation. Rather it speaks of sharing in the understanding of Christ’s blessings in our lives as we hold to our confidence. If we have a major setback, such as the loss of a job, one who holds faithfully to his confidence will see God’s hand in the occasion and remain joyful despite what occurred. A person who “has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins” and thus has lost his confidence in Christ will react to the same loss in a much different manner. Sharing in Christ is a continuous state of joy, not a way of maintaining one’s salvation.

 

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay. Amen.

(Edward Mote, 1834)

 

 

As has just been said:
   “Today, if you hear his voice,
      do not harden your hearts
   as you did in the rebellion.”
Hebrews 3:15

 

As stated before, you’ll see repetition in the book of Hebrews. Today as in verse 7 and 8, the author cites Psalm 95:7, 8. The previous time these verses were mentioned they were cited in reference to the time of the psalmist which was looking back on the rebellion in the wilderness and he was equating it with the his present time (when the psalm was written). However, today’s verse is cited in reference to the time since Christ’s advent as is mentioned in verse 14. If this seems confusing, remember that the psalmist was under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit (verse 7) whose job is to testify to the person and work of Jesus –

 

When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. John 15:6

 

In other words, even in the Old Testament, the primary function of the Holy Spirit of God is to point to Jesus Christ; the Old Testament prefigures His Person and work. Because of this, the sharing in Christ mentioned in verse 14 is contingent upon our not hardening our hearts as the Israelites did in the rebellion. If you’ve never made a commitment to Jesus Christ and yet you’re studying His word, going to church, or contemplating His ministry then be assured that He is speaking to you through these different avenues. You’re hearing His voice, but like the sounds on a city street, the more accustomed you become to them, the less effect they have on you until you finally don’t notice them at all. Likewise, as you hear and don’t respond to the voice of the Lord, the harder your heart becomes to it. Eventually, you simply stop listening and all that’s left is a mental knowledge of the truth which lacks any heart-changing salvation. Don’t let this happen to you, but rather respond now to His friendly call.

 

Jesus, may our hearts never harden to the glorious sound of Your voice – neither through a failure to accept Your gracious offer of salvation, nor in becoming dull to the salvation we once received. Help us to daily respond to Your tender words of love.  We thank You and praise You for the blessing of Your voice. Amen.

 

 

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?  Hebrews 3:16

 

Today the author reminds the Jewish people, who were the original recipients of this letter, that it was their own forefathers who God saved out of bondage in Egypt and yet rebelled against Him. No sooner had they been rescued than they started to grumble and complain about their situation. However, God faithfully met their needs and, after 45 days, brought them to Mt. Sinai. Shortly after that, on the 50th day, God spoke to them the words of the law, the Ten Commandments, from the top of Mt. Sinai. They heard the voice of God and yet they later rebelled against Him after the 12 spies returned from searching out the land of Canaan. God’s response:

 

Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times-not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. Numbers 14:20-22

 

This same pattern was repeated 1500 years later. Jesus brought them out of the slavery to sin by His crucifixion. Then, exactly 50 days later, God poured out His Holy Spirit on the believers who had gathered at the temple. They spoke God’s words in the languages of all who were there as confirmation of the divine Source of the message. The author of Hebrews is using this pattern, without explicitly mentioning the dates, to show us that Jesus is clearly God and a disbelieving heart against Him and His message will carry the same heavy consequences that it carried so many years before. And the message still rings true today – we have His sure word in the pages of the Holy Bible which tell us of God’s mighty hand in our lives. Don’t hear and then turn and be rebellious, but rather believe and enter His rest.

 

Yes Lord, how easy it is for us to see Your glory displayed in our lives and then to turn and forget how You have blessed us. Forgive us for so easily moving on to other things when it is You, O God, who are worthy of all of our attention and worship. Praise be to You for ever-forgiving us because of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

 

 

And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? Hebrews 3:17

 

Yesterday’s verse asked, “Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?” Today the author follows the same line of thought. 1) Someone rebelled after hearing God’s word; 2) God led the Israelites out of Egypt; 3) God was angry with certain people forty years; 4) The same people He was angry with were those who sinned and their bodies fell in the desert. He will finish the pattern tomorrow, but for now we can see that he’s making a logical defense of why God’s rest was not granted to those who heard His word spoken in the desert and what the cause of that judgment was. When it says God was “angry for forty years” it’s rounding the number up to include the entire time the Israelites were in the desert. Actually, God’s oath of judgment was made after 1 year and 2 months of time in the desert. This time was spent receiving the law and then building the Tabernacle for the Ark of the Covenant. In other words, even in His wrath, He was merciful. He could have started the punishment from the day of the rebellion, but He didn’t. This can help us to understand what “God’s wrath” means. As I’ve said before, God is impassionate; He doesn’t “get” angry like we do. Rather His anger as we perceive it is based on our relationship to Him. If you think of a pole with the words “happiness” on one side and “anger” on the other side you can get an idea of what it’s like. When we obey God, we are on the “happy” side. However, when we disobey God, we are on the “anger” side. Because of their rebellion, the Israelites moved from the “happiness” to the “anger” side. It is the same with us, but we are always on the “anger” side until we come to Jesus. This is because we are sinful by nature. In Jesus’ own words: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.” John 3:36

 

O God, sometimes we fail to contemplate all the words of Jesus, instead we focus on those parts which make us feel good, but He was clear about Your wrath and how it is appeased… through Jesus alone. Help us to be bold and tell others the truth of Your message – that there is forgiveness through His blood. Amen.

 

 

And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?  Hebrews 3:18

 

This is the fifth question in three verses which form a logical series of steps pointing to the author’s conclusion (tomorrow’s verse).  He reiterates the point made earlier in verse 11 – that the Israelites who disobeyed in the wilderness would never enter God’s rest. God’s divine will for these people was that they be placed in a high and exalted position – not because they deserved it, but because of faithfulness to His promises to their forefathers –

 

The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Deuteronomy 7:7, 8

 

Despite this being His divine will, His permissive will allowed them (and each of us today) to exercise their own free will. As 2 Peter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” God faithfully keeps His promises and patiently waits on each of us to turn to Him. However, there is a time when He knows we will never turn to Him in faith. This is the time of our being cast from any future possibility of “entering His rest.” When He who controls the life and breath of each man takes that breath away, his fate is sealed. Each of these Israelites died in the wilderness, never receiving the rest that He intended for them. Let it not be so for you. Today, choose life – the life which is granted graciously through Jesus Christ.

 

Lord Jesus thank You for the gift of salvation which came through Your death, burial, and resurrection – because of Your death, our sin-debt is paid; because of Your burial, You tasted death and punishment for all of us; and because of Your resurrection, we have the hope of eternal life. Glory be to You, O Lord, for the mighty work you accomplished for us. Amen.

 

 

So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

 

We’re already at the end of Chapter 3 today!!! After the series of direct questions which came in the preceding verses, the author states his conclusion – the Israelites who wandered in the desert – who beheld God’s miracles, who received “bread from heaven” in the form of manna, whose clothes didn’t wear out as they traveled, who received the law and actually beheld His glory overshadowing Mount Sinai, who heard His majestic voice – these same Israelites were not able to enter into God’s rest because of unbelief. If there is any concept in the Bible which is more poignant than this, I can’t think of what it is! It is by faith in what God has done and by no other thing that we are accepted into His rest. As Paul so clearly proclaims concerning faith –

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8, 9

 

And again –

 

We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

 

We can have all the head-knowledge in the world, we can behold God’s miraculous hand in the healing of a beloved family member dying of cancer, we can contemplate the absolute majesty of the created order and ponder the cosmos which so clearly tell of God’s wonderful power, but without simple faith in Him, in who He is, and that His word is true, we can never enter God’s rest. Today God calls to you from the pages of the Holy Bible; He asks for your simple faith that He has a plan and a purpose for you. Respond to the call, today… call on Jesus.

 

Heavenly Father, You created the universe, You have displayed Your glory in the created order, You have given us Your word which tells us of Jesus and the precious salvation found in Him. Give us believing hearts that we may be saved and enter Your glorious rest. In Jesus’ name this prayer is made… Amen.

 

 

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.  Hebrews 4:1

 

Throughout much of the last chapter and for the next 11 verses, God’s rest is the main subject of discussion. The author has indicated that the Israelites who rebelled were told on oath that they would never enter God’s rest. But Caleb, Joshua, and all those who were nineteen years old or younger when God made this oath did enter the Promised Land. Despite this, hundreds of years later the psalmist, under divine inspiration, said “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion…” God’s rest then is an ongoing concept in human history. If God promised rest to His people, then swore on oath that they would never enter His rest, and then the psalmist uses the term “Today” which is used again by the author of Hebrews, then we can see that “Today” is an immensely important term concerning God’s rest. The term “since the promise of entering his rest still stands…” is talking about the present time in the believer’s life. God’s rest must, therefore, be an on-going concept in the continuum of time, which, like space and matter, was created by God. However, we’ll see in a couple days that it is simply a state of being to God. There is no forward progress of time to Him, but rather everything is laid open before Him at once. This may seem incredible, but it’s evident from both an analysis of the nature of God and also by predictive prophecy which is given in the Bible. Revelation is written as a completed event even though its events haven’t happened yet. God’s promise of rest, therefore, still stands for us, but is complete in Him. We need to make the best of “Today” then, so that we aren’t “found to have fallen short” of obtaining His eternal rest. As Paul says it in 2 Corinthians 6:2 – “I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.”

 

Lord God, You have established “Today” in the believer’s life. It is through the present only that we can respond to You. Help us to make the most of “Today” that we may not be found to have fallen short of Your great Day of rest. Give us wisdom to seize the moment of Your favor. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Hebrews 4:2

 

There is only one way to be saved. The author’s message today is completely consistent with the main theme of all of Paul’s writings… faith alone is what reconciles us to God. To spend one’s life faithfully going to church, planting flowers out front of the chapel, cooking for lines of hungry people, traveling to foreign countries to “evangelize the heathen,” or surrendering your “body to the flames” can do nothing for your lost state without simple faith. John Wesley, the great 18th Century evangelist and founder of the Methodist denomination faced this truth. On a return voyage from a missionary trip to America, he wrote –

 

“I went to America to convert the Indians, but, O! who shall convert me? who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil 'heart of unbelief ? I have a fair summer religion; I can talk well, nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near; but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled. Nor can I say, to die is gain . . . I show my faith by my works, by staking my all upon it. I would do so again and again a thousand times, if the choice were still to make. Whoever sees me sees I would be a Christian .... But in a storm I think, What if the Gospel be not true ? . . . O who will deliver me from this fear of death ? . . . Where shall I fly from it?"

 

Despite attempting to fulfill a life of faith demonstrated by works, he fell short of what was truly necessary, faith alone. It wasn’t until later that he realized that no works could ever justify him. Instead, faith in God’s gracious offer alone can reconcile our troubled souls to Him. Let’s pray about this –

 

O Most Holy and Fearsome Creator, we spend our lives in the futile attempt of trying to reconcile ourselves to You, when You’ve already done all that’s necessary by giving us Your Son; by giving us Jesus. Forgive us for trying to add to Your gift. Open our hearts to understand that it is faith in Him, and faith alone, which can restore us to You. Amen.

 

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. Hebrews 4:3

 

Today’s verse, above any other in the Bible, confirms that Christians need not celebrate a weekly Sabbath. Rather Christians meet for a day (or two or three or seven) of worship. Traditionally, Christians have their day of worship on Sunday to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. But there is another reason as well. God spent 6 days creating the heavens and the earth and then He rested on the 7th day. If you look at Genesis 1, each day’s account ends with “And there was evening, and there was morning—the Xth day.”  However, the 7th day doesn’t say this; it is an eternal day, a day of rest. He worked and rested and called the 7th day holy. When He did this, He mandated that the Israelites should follow in this program:

 

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

 

The Israelites followed this to acknowledge God’s handiwork in creation – six days of work followed by a day of rest. This also matches their place in redemptive history – looking forward to Jesus Christ. Enter Jesus… He completed the work of redemption set out by God on man’s behalf. Now, by faith in Him we enter God’s rest. Rather than working 6 days and then resting, we rest on the first day and then work, looking back on the mighty deliverance He wrought on our behalf. If you’re in a denomination that mandates a 7th day Saturday Sabbath, you’re efforts fail to recognize that Jesus Christ is our Rest; you have fallen from grace. Next week as you go to Sunday worship, remember Jesus Christ and thank Him for the rest He has provided us!

 

Thank You Lord Jesus for the glorious blessing of living every moment of our lives in Your rest. Forgive us for always striving to earn the favor that You have already bestowed upon us. Glory, wonderment, and majesty – Yes! All these belong to You. Amen.

 

 

For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” Hebrews 4:4

 

Yesterday we looked at God’s rest, that it is an eternal day of rest. This must be so because even without all the other arguments made about it, creation was complete on the 6th day. After this term of creative splendor the authors says “he has spoken” about His rest. When God spoke about His rest, it was a divine fiat which simply is. No thing can be added to creation outside of this marvelous decree and nothing can override the rest He has declared. Jesus, during His earthly ministry, made a statement which upset the rulers of His day concerning His Father –

 

Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." John 5:17

 

And the rulers reaction –

 

For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. vs 18.

 

There is no contradiction in Jesus’ words. First, nothing is being added to the six days of creation, but God does sustain what has been created as is recorded in Colossians 1:17. Secondly, God’s redemptive plan for mankind is an ongoing process in the continuum of time. What God sees as complete from His perspective is being actively worked out in history from ours. God’s rest is found at any point in this continuum when the believer lays aside himself and accepts, by faith, that which is already complete – even from the founding of the world.

 

O God, today I pray for anyone who would reject Your word without first looking at it in complete contemplation. What has been penned is simply so logical, reasonable, and sure that its claims could not be otherwise; it “is” and could be no other way. Forgive those who would so easily dismiss the truths it contains; convert their lost souls to Your truth. Amen.

 

 

And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” Hebrews 4:5

 

This is now the 5th time the author has spoken directly about entering God’s rest and he will mention it two more times in the book of Hebrews. A good way to view passages or concepts in the Bible is that if something is mentioned, you need to pay attention to it; if it’s mentioned twice  you need to take special note of it; and if it’s mentioned more than twice you need to study the matter carefully. We’ve been analyzing God’s rest and I hope you’re seeing how God’s hand is immanent in creation and yet He is outside of it in a state of eternal rest. Each day we go about our business, doing whatever comes to our hands. We struggle against nature as storms, earthquakes, varying temperatures, etc fight back. We have conflicts with family, friends, and people we don’t even know. We face stress because of emotional and physical demands that wear us down and tire us out. As Paul puts it –

 

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 1 Corinthians 5:1-4

 

This “heavenly dwelling” is the indestructible body God has promised to every believer in the work of Jesus Christ; this is our Father’s rest which is promised to us when we receive it by faith alone. Can you state with 100% surety that you will enter God’s rest? If you have accepted Jesus’ work, then you will also be able to accept Jesus’ rest. Don’t miss out by attempting to earn that which is freely given!

 

O God, how we long to be clothed, not in our own garments of unrighteousness which lead to death, but in Christ’s perfect righteousness which leads to eternal life. This life is hard, this walk is difficult, but we know there is a Day of Rest for us when we have trusted in Jesus Christ – what a sure promise from our Creator. Thank You! Amen.

 

 

It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.  Hebrews 4:6

 

In verse 3 the author told us that “we who have believed enter that rest.” He then went back in time to refer to those who were banned from entering God’s rest even though it was available from the time of creation. Think about it – 1) God’s rest has been available since the completion of creation; 2) It was available to the Israelites; 3) It was, on oath, denied them. Today it says, “It still remains that some will enter that rest…” God’s rest is available to anyone if it can be determined how to obtain it. The question is, “How?” These people, selected by God for redemption, did not obtain it, but God’s rest is open still. It now goes on to say, “…who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in…” The gospel is the “good news” and yet they were denied entry because of “their disobedience.” Did they follow Moses into the wilderness? Did they stand and see God’s glory on the mountain and then accept God’s covenant?

 

Go near and listen to all that the LORD our God says. Then tell us whatever the LORD our God tells you. We will listen and obey. Deuteronomy 5:27

 

Did they not build the Tabernacle and see God’s glory again when His presence entered it? The answer to all of these questions is, “Yes.” So why were they denied God’s promised rest? It was denied because they failed to believe. It’s that simple. They had all the head knowledge in the world – more than we will ever have this side of glory. What we haven’t seen, they saw. What we haven’t heard, they heard. But their sight wasn’t accompanied by faith. This was so in Jesus’ time as well. People heard His word, saw His glory, and yet failed to believe His simple message. But Paul says it is different with those who trust Jesus – “We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7. Have faith and enter God’s rest. Let’s pray about this –

 

O God let our hearts believe the message of Rest – that we who believe in the Gospel of Jesus will enter simply by faith. And Lord, those of us who have believed, let us not return again to works without faith in an attempt to add to Your gospel. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:
   “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Hebrews 4:7

 

In Chapter 3 we analyzed this particular passage from Psalm 95:7, 8 and said that no author was named for it. However, today’s verse credits the Psalm to David. This happens many times in the New Testament – things that weren’t explained in the Old are revealed in the New. Many such points come during the larger speeches made in the book of Acts, but they are also scattered throughout the epistles. This demonstrates a unity which simply can’t be overlooked. It also shows us that both Testaments work together to reveal a picture of redemptive history which would be incomplete if either were lacking. If you notice in today’s verse, because no rest was given to those who disbelieved God’s promises, David was used by God to show that His rest is eternal in nature. By calling the time of the psalms “Today” and then looking back at the time of the wanderings of Israel, you can see that Today is on-going and not a specific point in time. Again, the author of Hebrews looks back to the time of David (who is looking back to the wanderings) and repeats that “Today” is the day being referred to. But he said in verse 3 that “we who have believed enter that rest.” When he said this, he was speaking of Jesus’ work which had already occurred. Because this is point on which “Today” is focused, it must be the most important point in all of human history. Everything centers on the cross –

 

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8

 

From the foundation of the world, there was the cross; Today we look to the cross; and for all eternity we will look to the cross. Thank God for eternal rest because of the cross.

 

Jesus, Your cross allows us access to God’s eternal day. Today we live in that Day because of our faith in what You did. We’ll never leave Today because of it, but instead we’ll be eternally in Your presence and resting in Your glory. What a marvelous gift…the gift of Today. Amen.

 

 

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.  Hebrews 4:8

 

Depending on the translation you use, this verse will either say “Joshua” or “Jesus.” This may be confusing to someone who’s been following along and then sees a different name here than in their own Bible. However, the names Joshua and Jesus in Greek are the same – “Iesous.” Some translators chose to interpret the name as Jesus, indicating that it is Jesus who grants rest and He withheld that rest from the disobedient Israelites. Other translators look at the successor of Moses, who led the children into the Promised Land, as the natural choice for this translation. He led them in, but they did not enter God’s rest because of disobedience. Whichever name is chosen, the concept remains the same. The Israelites were not given the anticipated rest God spoke of because of their disobedience. This resulted in God speaking “later about another day” where rest would be granted. As we saw in yesterday’s chart, God’s rest has been waiting since the 7th day of creation and encompasses all of the time since then. However, the Israelites didn’t enter that rest which allows for the claim of psalm 95 – “Today if you hear His voice…” Because of this, it allows the same claim for the author of Hebrews. In essence –

 

1) The rest is denied; 2) the rest is promised again; 3) the rest must be another “day” because of a specific occurrence; and as is now revealed, 4) the rest is in Jesus’ work.

 

As stated before, the repetition may seem tedious, but because of the importance of the subject, it is appropriate. The author has approached this matter from many angles to establish beyond a doubt that it is Jesus who grants rest and it is by faith in His work alone that we enter into it.

 

I am resting in Jesus, my Redeemer and Friend,
And the peace of His kingdom shall endure without end;
Oh, my soul is transported in His favor divine,
And there’s music, sweet music in this bosom of mine.

Daniel S. Warner

 

 

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; Hebrews 4:9

 

Remember verse 3, “Now we who have believed enter that rest…” Believers in Christ have entered God’s rest. Today’s verse is hearkening back to the time of David when God set another day, calling it “Today.” That day arrived for all human beings when Jesus completed His work on our behalf. The Sabbath-rest for the people of God is fully realized in Him and negates a weekly “Sabbath” for those who believe. Our lives rest in Him at all times because through faith we are the “people of God.” Has God, therefore, rejected His people Israel? Has the church replaced Israel? The answer to this is a resounding, “No.” Paul asks the same question at the beginning of Romans 11 and then spends the next 30 verses explaining what occurred with the nation of Israel and what will occur with them at the end of this dispensation of grace. Paul asks the rhetorical question –

 

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

 

Paul states that because the Jews’ rejected Jesus as their Lord, reconciliation came to the rest of the world; the gentiles have been grafted in to the family of faith. And when the nation again turns to God by accepting Him, what will be the result? Life from the dead! I believe this to be far more than a spiritual application (Israel becoming revitalized as a people, no longer dead in sin) but also a literal one – the resurrection of the dead will occur at this time in the rapture of the church. Once the church is taken out of the picture, the nation of Israel will again be the center of God’s attention, leading to Armageddon and the eventual return of Christ to rescue His people.

 

O Lord, we rest in You even in our daily stresses and distresses. Our eyes are turned to You in anticipation of the great Day when You will descend to call us home. May that day be soon when we sit at Your table and see You face to face. Until that day, we will press on in Your guiding hand. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.

 

 

…for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.  Hebrews 4:10

 

If anyone reading the past few day’s verses has thought, “the logic seems dubious about why we don’t celebrate a Sabbath day anymore” today’s verse should clear it up. If you remember verse 3 (which has been brought up a couple of times) it says, “Now we who have believed enter that rest…” At that time, I mentioned that this is probably the most certain verse in all of Scripture to justify no more “Sabbath days” and instead having a day of “worship.” Today’s verse simply confirms that. We have entered God’s rest and, therefore also rest from our own work. What work are we talking about? Are we talking about labor in the physical sense? How can someone who believes, and thus enter their rest, stop physical labor? We still need to eat; we still need to maintain our houses lest the roofs cave in, etc. As Jesus said, His father is still working to this day. He sustains the created order and works within the continuum of time towards man’s final redemption. So what work are we resting from? It is the work of being restored to God. The Old Testament looked forward to Jesus and had a sacrificial system of appeasement for wrath against sin. They had offerings, sacrifices, tithes, Sabbaths, etc. All of which were a works-based system. Despite this, it was faith then as it is now which ultimately brought felicity with God. But these works were mandated by the law. However the New Testament, again and again, says that we have no works to reconcile us to the Creator. Why? It is because Jesus’ works completed the picture of these “works-based” mandates. Now we live solely by faith in what He did –

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8, 9

 

Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Grace and faith are, together, a gift of God that we may believe and be saved. Our works are excluded from our salvation…there is no thing that we can do to add to the work of Jesus. When we enter heaven’s gate, we will only be able to proclaim “worthy is the Lamb.” No flesh will boast before God!

Thank you Jesus – the glory is from you, for you, and to you alone! Amen.

 

 

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.  Hebrews 4:11

 

This is the second of 12 times the author uses the term “let us” in Hebrews. The gift of our faith saves us, but we need to actively participate in exercising our free will in accepting the gift. We also need to participate in each step of our sanctification. As stated before, Jesus is the one who did all the work on our behalf and it is He who will carry us through until the last day. However, we’re expected to respond to His calling and His leading. There is no contradiction in this. If someone prepares a trip for you and your family, does all the work including paying for the tickets, arranging the trip, ensuring food is supplied, etc. (including every minute detail) the trip will never happen unless you accept what has been done for you. The author of Hebrews acknowledges this. He’s already said that our rest comes from Jesus’ work and it alone, but now he tells us that we need to “make every effort to enter that rest.” “Effort” in this case includes proper belief. If someone has incorrect beliefs, they alone will be held accountable for the inaccuracy. Our faith to believe comes from Jesus, but its exercise can be misdirected. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. have faith but their faith is improperly placed… they’ve missed the mark. We’re asked to believe that 1) Jesus was born of a virgin and is, therefore; 2) fully God and fully Man; 3) His blood is all sufficient for the atonement of our sins; 4) He rose again, bodily, from the tomb to everlasting life; 5) He will return again to judge the living and the dead. Don’t follow the example of disobedience of those who failed to enter God’s rest. They saw God’s hand displayed and yet they failed to believe the message – that He is all sufficient. Have faith, exercise that faith properly, and trust in the mighty risen Lord, Jesus!

 

Lord Jesus, I confess You as the One who can carry me through to the end. Because of my trust in You, I have entered Your promised rest and I long to see its fulfillment on the day You return to take me home with You! O glorious day – What a Lord! What a Savior! Amen.

 

 

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

 

What a wonderful verse! People have held fast to these words for 2000 years, and we know that God’s word is as alive and vibrant today as it was when it was penned. Man’s problems are the same in every generation and in every culture on earth. As Paul says elsewhere:

 

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man. 1 Corinthians 10:13

 

Just as there are no uncommon temptations, there are also no uncommon trials, ills, woes, or miseries. We’re all in the same ship and though someone may have greater trials in one area, they will have less in another. But the word of God stands as a testament to answer the questions which arise during these times. It penetrates, divides, and judges. It also comforts, prepares, strengthens, enlightens, provides wisdom, and edifies. When someone is lacking wisdom, they need only ask God to provide it and then read the pages of His word. A request in faith will be granted and the pages will open up with wisdom from the Creator. When one is down, reading the Bible will lift them up. When facing a life-altering decision, one need not go to a secular source for counseling, but rather to the pages of the Bible. The Bible also penetrates our soul, rooting out the source of evil in our lives. It convicts us of sins of the flesh and sins of the heart. It tells us of sin’s penalty and the means to be freed from it. Above all, it tells of God’s eternal and unchanging nature – of his holiness, righteousness, justice, mercy, grace, truth, and love. All of which were reconciled through the cross of His Son, Jesus. Do you cherish this word of love?

 

Thy Word is like a garden, Lord, with flowers bright and fair;

And every one who seeks may pluck a lovely cluster there.

Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare

Are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there. Edwin Hodder

 

 

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  Hebrews 4:13

 

Too often we don’t give thought to the truth contained in this verse. Each person understands that there is a God and though we attempt to deny Him, the knowledge of Him can’t be hidden from even the most determined soul. And, the very nature of God – the One who created all things from nothing – tells us that He is not only transcendent above His creation, but He is also immanent in it. He is all-present. Paul, while speaking at the Aeropagus stated –

 

For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28

 

Every breath we take and every thought we think is “laid bare” before Him. And yet we try our very best to hide our sin from Him. No wonder people claim to be atheists! Such knowledge is so horrifying that, without a remedy, we simply stand condemned in His glorious presence. And so we run from Him; we make images that we hope will pacify our nagging thoughts about Him; we deny, fight against, and struggle with Him. And yet, there is a remedy. Jesus’ life was also laid bare before the Father, and yet He was without sin in thought, word, or deed. In exchange for His perfect life, God washes away our transgressions – forgiven and free. If we continue in sin after receiving His gift – and we will from time to time – we will have to give an account of it before Him. Not an account for condemnation, but one for receiving loss. Let us make every attempt to please our God by living each day in His Spirit that we may be found faultless and instead receive reward.

 

Lord, surely we must tremble at the thought of Your ever-present and all-watching eye. Give us the wisdom to accept Jesus as our Savior and then the ability to please you all our days by living in Your Spirit. This we pray because in our own selves we are utterly corrupt…and You know that all too well. Amen.

 

 

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. Hebrews 4:14

 

In later chapters, the author is going to get very detailed in Jesus’ ministry as High Priest. It won’t be easy to not tap that source for today’s verse because it’s such a wonderful and splendid office that it calls to be shouted out in its entirety. But for today, we need to be restrained and stick to the verse at hand! Remember the proper way to view the word “therefore.” When we see it, we need to determine what it’s there for. For the past 10 or so verses, the author has been speaking of God’s rest and our rest. Then he stated that God’s Word is a penetrating instrument in this fallen world and it shows us of our fallen state and our need for reconciliation with God. Then he let us know that God is all-present and His watchful eyes see everything we do; nothing is hidden from Him. Even the motivations behind our actions are laid bare before Him, and we’re accountable for these intents and actions. “Therefore” we need to rely on our Great High Priest for mediation between this infinitely glorious Creator and us. An earthly High Priest would be insufficient to accomplish this because he is also a fallen man. He can only sacrifice for his own sins in a manner similar to the sacrifices he makes on behalf of his flock. But Jesus has “gone through the heavens” because he is the Son of God – fully God and fully man. He is able to mediate in a much more perfect way on our behalf. And even now, 2000 years after the cross, He is still there – at the right hand of the Father – mediating on our behalf. Again today, the author says, “let us.” We need to actively and firmly hold to the faith we profess. We also need to have faith that Jesus is fully capable of being our Great High Priest. There is no lack in the empathy He can feel for us and there is no lack in the mercy He obtains on our behalf! Glory!

 

Thanks be to God who ever watches us in our fallen state, that He also has sent us Jesus to mediate on our behalf. Were we to face our Creator on our own, we would be utterly consumed in our sin. But Jesus, our Great High Priest stands in the gap on our behalf! Thank You Jesus! Amen.

 

 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Hebrews 4:15

 

The author of Hebrews has an incredible way of comforting his audience even while introducing deep theological points and truths. Today’s verse contains the deepest theological truth known to humankind – that God veiled Himself in human flesh and became a man. In so doing, He faced every possible temptation that any other human faces – He faced anger, and did not sin; He faced whatever addiction was common in His day, and did not sin; He sat with women, talked with them, and traveled with them; and yet He did not sin in His relations with them; He faced physical limitations – maybe He stubbed His toe – and yet He never uttered a word which could be found at fault. The list is all inclusive, He “has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”  Because Jesus is fully God and fully Man, when pondering questions about Him, each question must have two possible answers.

Could Jesus suffer?  As God, no; as Man, yes.

Could Jesus die? As God no; as man, yes.

Could Jesus sin? As God no; as man, yes; though He did not.

 

The majestic part about this is that now, because He was so tempted, He can sympathize with our weaknesses. Have you felt unworthy of God because you’ve fallen too far? Jesus can sympathize. Have you once trusted in Christ only to let Him down time and again? Jesus can sympathize. Are you, even now, failing your God in one of a million ways? Call on Jesus, He can sympathize. Jesus is our faithful High Priest who will mediate between you and God.

 

Too often – far too often – O God, I’ve failed You. When I consider Your splendor, I tremble because of these failings. But then, I fix my eyes on Jesus and my fears fly away. He can sympathize, He can mediate, He can restore. O God! Thank You for Jesus, my great High Priest. Thank You, for all eternity, thank You! Amen.

 

 

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

 

This is the fourth time the author uses the term “let us.” When we have needs or want to remember others, we need to be active in our prayer life. Jesus and the apostles spoke a lot about prayer. Today’s verse, however, is a concept not realized until after the resurrection. Before this, prayers were offered along with sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem. Petitions on behalf of the citizens were also brought to Jerusalem – to the king or later to the Sanhedrin. However, Jesus opened the way for us to enter the presence of God directly. As Jesus fills the role of Prophet, Priest, and King our petitions are made directly to Him as both our Mediator for prayers to God and as our Federal Head in petitions concerning church matters. Something needs to be made clear though. It says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence (or boldly)… This does not indicate that when we get there we’re to make our requests as commands, but with humility – not as if they will be accomplished merely because we ask. Far too often, prayers include the term “claim” in them. “I claim healing in Jesus’ name...” for example. This lacks humility. No subject approaches his leader, king, president, or otherwise and demands anything. They may have certain “access” privileges such as those who are working in the leadership office, but never does a subordinate demand of his superior. God is the Creator, we are the creation. God’s word is authoritative and we obey it. God is our Head, we are His subjects. Be extremely careful how you make your requests and petitions in the presence of the King –

 

“For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” Malachi 1:14

 

O God, forgive us for making claims and demands when in prayer to You. Help us remember our position as Your creatures and that we are, in fact, subject to You. Help us to be obedient to You just as Jesus in His earthly ministry was obedient. In His name we pray! Amen.

 

 

Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Hebrews 5:1

 

From the first High Priest of Israel, Aaron, all the way down to the last – the eternal High Priest – Jesus, each one of them was selected by God to meet His predetermined purposes for His plan. There are times, in both testaments of the Bible and in ancient literature, that the High Priest was a failure as an individual in one way or another. Some of them were utterly corrupt. But God chose them at that point in history to fulfill His good purposes. People often question, “If God is all good, how can He allow evil.” The question would be even more relevant in the High Priest of Israel. However, it’s important to remember that God is neither the author of evil, nor does He condone it. Understanding this, we still need to remember that God has given us free will. If He were to take that away, then we wouldn’t be free to do right as well as to do wrong; our worship of Him would also be in vain. But God allows us to make free-will choices which He knew we would make and then works within that framework for His glory. Any evil that does exist is not an indication of an unloving, uncaring, or bad Creator. Instead it reflects His infinite mercy in that He doesn’t destroy us in our sin – something He has every right to do. Keeping that in mind, God promises us complete restoration and a day when there will no longer be sin, evil, death, or anything which brings sadness. Instead He will give His people everlasting joy. In the meantime though, our Great High Priest, Jesus, will continue to mediate on our behalf. His cross was the final and ultimate sacrifice and, through Him, our gifts of good works and prayers to the Father are offered. Jesus was, is, and ever will be our Great High Priest.

 

O God! Unlike Israel of old, we don’t have a fallible High Priest who needed to first sacrifice for his own sins. Instead we have the Great High Priest who is perfect in glory and complete in majesty. He attends to our every need and never fails to care for His flock! What a joy! Amen.

 

 

He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.  Hebrews 5:2

 

This is speaking of the High Priest of Israel. Because the High Priest was also a man and faced the same temptations as those he served, he was familiar with the failings of his flock. He faced the same weaknesses, trials, temptations, limitations, etc. that his people faced. He was also trained in the laws of the Lord and the proper conduct in worship, sacrifice, offering, and any other aspect of the temple service. Whereas his people may have been farmers, carpenters, brick-layers, potters, or any other job in Israel during his tenure. They would be much less informed, or even ignorant of the duties surrounding temple worship, even though they were required to participate in them. Further, without a constant involvement in reading the laws of the day, they would be expected to more easily go astray than those who served directly in Jerusalem. In all of their shortcomings, the High Priest would be able to empathize directly because he “himself is subject to weakness.” This is the reason Jesus also came as a man – to share in our humanity and be able to empathize with us. Pastors and Bible teachers of today have a similar responsibility. They must be able to empathize with their people and understand that not everyone is a Bible scholar. Instead, they face the challenges of their own profession. No one expects a pastor to know how to operate in a surgery or how to treat water for public use. Instead, he focuses on his duties and shares his knowledge with the people under his care. A pastor who fails to empathize with his congregation has lost the common touch that he should always possess. We all have our own specialties, gifts, and occupations. The job of a pastor is of great importance for the spiritual health of his people, but the job of a bread maker is of great importance to the physical health of them. Each has his own good place and none is without merit!

 

Thank You for recognizing our place in Your service O God. Whether we are plumbers, carpenters, bankers, or car salesmen, each of us has a special place in society. And thank You for a caring pastor who can sympathize with me and my shortcomings. Thank You for his knowledge of the Bible and please take care of him in his duties. To Your glory! Amen.

 

 

This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.  Hebrews 5:3

 

Yesterday we talked about how the high priests of Israel were fallen men, just as each of us is – including our pastors and leaders. Because these high priests we sinful, they had to first offer sacrifices for themselves before they could offer them for their people. Around the hem of the high priest’s garments were woven pomegranates and bells. The bells are believed to have been there so that the sound of his movements could be heard outside of the Holy of Holies where he offered sacrifices. If the bells stopped moving, they could assume that the high priest had died in the presence of God for not first atoning properly for his own sins. If this occurred, he was dragged out by a rope as no other person was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. This procedure is not outlined in the Bible, but is from extra-biblical contemplation. However, it shows the level of care the high priest needed to have when approaching the Throne of God. Every move that the high priest made behind the veil which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was carefully detailed in Leviticus 16. One a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest followed this important procedure. Today, we no longer have the temple services and later chapters of the book of Hebrews will explain why, but for now it’s good to remember that even the high priest was bound by very strict procedures when dealing with God. He was never to flippantly tend to his duties and when he carried them out they included a means of atoning for his own sins prior to atoning for those of the nation. This should have been an ever-present reminder that he was fulfilling his duties from the same position of sinfulness as the people he served. However, as is far too often the case, the high priests of the Bible were often known to be arrogant and unfaithful in their duties. May we exercise humility when we come before the Throne of Grace.

 

Before the throne of grace I come
Humble and repentant one
With sorrow for the deeds I've done
Before the throne of grace I come

Scott Krippayne and Tony Wood

 

 

No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.  Hebrews 5:4

 

From the first High Priest, Aaron, down to the last – the Eternal and Great High Priest, Jesus – all of these were called by God for the office they held. Two of Aaron’s sons died when they brought unauthorized fire before the Lord. Eli and both his sons died on the same day because Eli failed to restrain them from their wicked ways. Some faithfully carried out their duties all their days, while others like Caiaphas and Annas were completely corrupt. One High Priest of note is Jehoiada. He served faithfully, even protecting and sustaining the Davidic line at a time when only one son, Joash, remained alive.

As long as Jehoiada lived, burnt offerings were presented continually in the temple of the LORD.  Now Jehoiada was old and full of years, and he died at the age of a hundred and thirty. He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple. 2 Chronicles 24:14-16

He was such a faithful high priest that he was honored with burial alongside Israel’s kings. All of these high priests, whether faithful in all their duties; average as leaders; or completely corrupt or inept were chosen by God at exactly the right time to protect His covenant people as He preordained. When a faithful priest was needed, God provided one. When the people turned away from Him, he gave them the leader they deserved. In the end though, He gave the world Jesus. He is an eternal High Priest for those who live for God. Thanks be to God for His complete faithfulness in the Person of Jesus Christ!

Glory to God for our Mediator and High Priest, Jesus! He never fails us and He stands in the Presence of the Majesty on High ever-interceding for us. Truly, the heavenly mercy-seat is open to the people of God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.

 

 

So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
   “You are my Son;
      today I have become your Father.”
 Hebrews 5:5

 

As is often the case, arguments against Jesus’ divinity will come from the very verses which support it. The argument might be made that Jesus was selected by God to become high priest and therefore he isn’t God. But the very tone of the verse and nature of what’s being proclaimed shouts out divinity. God can only beget God – the pattern of one thing begetting another goes back to the first chapter of the Bible. God prepared a body for His own Son in the most perfect way to meet His needs, but this does nothing to diminish His deity. Jesus’ manhood had a beginning but His divine nature is eternal. The two concepts complement each other in His Person. As John Calvin noted, because Jesus is the chosen Christ of God, He fills the roles of Prophet, Priest, and King. In His role as Priest He is there to mediate between His Father and fallen man. He also is there to offer a sacrifice of atonement and to instruct His people in the expectations of God the Father. He fulfilled and continues to fulfill these and many other duties perfectly as He intercedes for us before the Father. The only possible way this could be is for Him to be both fully God and fully man. He is the One who bridges the infinite gap between us. As Job asked for so many years ago –

He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Job 9-32-34

Thank You, O God, for the One who arbitrates between us and You – the Lord Jesus. What was once missing in the line of humanity came in Him. Now Your terrible rod is removed from us and Your terror no longer frightens us. Instead, we have wholeness and peace because of His great work! Amen and thank You!

 

 

And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”  Hebrews 5:6

 

Today Melchizedek is introduced. He is an enigmatic figure mentioned 10 times in the Bible and 8 of those times are in the book of Hebrews. Therefore the significance of this character concerning New Testament theology cannot be overstated. The first time he’s mentioned is in the book of Genesis. Today’s verse quotes Psalm 100:4 which David wrote in anticipation of the coming Christ. David understood that the Christ would fill not only the role of the greater David mentioned in 1 Chronicles 22:10, but also the role of God’s High Priest. At the time he wrote this, there was a complete separation between the royal kingly line and the line of the high priest. In fact, when King Uzziah attempted to offer incense before God in the temple in violation of this mandate, the priests confronted him with his disobedience and the following resulted –

 

Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him. 2 Chronicles 26:19, 20

 

This leprosy remained with him for the rest of his life and he had to live completely isolated while his son reigned in his place. In addition, he was excluded from temple of the Lord, and as a final disgrace, he was buried separately from the other kings because of his disease. Therefore a claim that one man would fulfill the role as King and High Priest could only mean this person is the Christ of God with an eternal priesthood in the order of Melchizedek. We will discover what the significance of being compared to Melchizedek really means in the days ahead.

 

What an absolute honor we have – to look into the intricacies of the Bible and discover the many roles of Jesus – our Great High Priest! O God, how splendid is your plan that reaches back to the most ancient of history and which looks forward to eternity future. Glory be to You, O God, for the majesty which is displayed in the Person of Jesus our Lord! Amen.

 

 

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Hebrews 5:7

 

This verse is a wonderful display of Jesus’ humanity for all to see. He prayed to the Father and he cried and wept to Him as a man would. Jesus was completely in submission to the Father during his earthly ministry and was perfectly obedient to Him. Because of this, His cries and petitions were heard – He became the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Likewise, when you’re struggling with difficulties, heartaches, or even the prospect of death due to cancer or some other affliction, submit to the will of God through your trials and you also will be heard. When you commit your life to Jesus Christ, you have the absolute assurance of eternal life through Him. Your love for, and submission to Him, is the only thing you can do to please the Father and receive that assurance –

 

If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.

 

The reason why is because Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God.  He is the exact representation of God in human form. It is simply impossible to say that you love God and yet don’t love Jesus Christ, because they are one in the same. The Father is expressed in the Person of Jesus. As He says elsewhere

 

If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. John 14:7

 

Jesus, Brightness of the Father,
Life and Strength of all who live,
For creating guardian angels
Glory to Thy Name we give

Rhabanus Maurus, AD856

 

 

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered… Hebrews 5:8

 

The question is, how could Jesus “learn obedience” if He is fully God. It’s a legitimate question and people deserve answers that we are obligated to provide. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us that when we’re questioned we need to always be ready with sound answers. It would be arrogant to simply ignore someone who asks a question like this or to attempt to work around it. The answer is the same as was brought up previously. When asking a question about Jesus, two answers need to be given. Could Jesus weep? As man, yes; as God, no; Could Jesus sin? As man, yes (though He did not); as God, no. Likewise, could Jesus learn? As man, yes; as God, no –

 

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52

 

Being fully man, Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, and He learned obedience in His suffering. His example then is one for all faithful Christians to follow. As Paul says in Romans –

 

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3, 4

 

One fun part of this particular verse is the play on words in the original Greek. He learned (emathen) from what He suffered (epathen.) This linguistic quirk is lost in the English, but is a wonderful twist of rhyme in the Greek of this proverb.

 

O God, the thought of suffering in order to be perfected often seems hard for us to understand, but if our suffering causes us to increase in perseverance, character, and hope, then may our sufferings for Christ be to Your glory. Give us the ability to endure any trial set before us that we may be pleasing in Your sight! In the spectacular name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

 

…and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…  Hebrews 5:9

 

Again as before, don’t think that Jesus was lacking anything in His deity when reading this verse. As fully God, He lacks nothing, but as fully man, He grew, learned, developed, and matured in every way that other men do. He, unlike Adam though, was fully obedient to the Father and He was found with no fault in His person. Adam was tainted by his own sin and all who followed after him received his fallen state. However, Jesus inherited none of Adam’s sin nature – having been born of a virgin and of God. Therefore, His test as fully man was no different than Adam. By passing the test and never sinning, He prevailed and assumed the right to be the sin-bearer on behalf of all men who, by faith, move from the line of Adam to the line of Christ. His perfection was not lacking at His birth or anytime in His development, but rather “made perfect” is alluding to the state which continued to exist from His birth even to His death. As an example, think of a tree waiting to be used as lumber. The wood exists in the tree all the time, but it is complete and ready when it reaches the determined size. Jesus was perfect, but his test was complete when He had reached His goal for satisfaction of the law; He was “made perfect” at His crucifixion. By satisfactorily meeting all that was predetermined for Him by the Father, He prevailed over sin and death. Now all who obey him can obtain eternal salvation through Him. We move from Adam to Jesus, never to be condemned again. The DBV has always held to the eternal salvation of the believer because this is the proper reading of this concept in the Bible. A saved believer can never lose his salvation – it is eternal and complete in Jesus Christ. If you’re lacking clarity on this tenet, do a study on it. The Bible is very clear in this matter.

 

Lord God, how absolutely glorious is Your promise of eternal salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus! Now, by faith in Him and His work we are eternally secure and free from condemnation. All glory, honor, and majesty belong to You, O God! In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

 

 

…and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:10

 

Today’s verse actually is the completion of the thought of the last two days:  Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

 

The importance of the Melchizedek connection isn’t explained by the author here and it really doesn’t’ come until Chapter 7. By introducing him here though, the author brings to mind the eternality of Melchizedek’s priesthood as stated in the Psalms. The importance of this eternal priesthood is to assure the wary believer that if the priesthood is eternal, then so is the salvation – the two go hand in hand. Remember who is being addressed in the original letter – first century Jews who were considering going back to the temple rituals. These rituals contained continual sacrifices of animals and also priests who would grow old and die. Even the temple itself was a temporary structure requiring maintenance and which had, at the time of this letter, already been destroyed once. The only thing eternal about the temple rituals was the source of the worship and petition – God. However, everything else was temporary and identified with a temporary covering. In other words, sacrifices were on-going and the Day of Atonement came around each year. If it was an eternal atonement, it would have been a one-time event. I hope you’re beginning to see the importance of an eternal priesthood in the order of Melchizedek. When chapter 7 arrives, it will become much clearer. Until then, just understand that the salvation because of Jesus’ learning, obedience, and suffering, is eternal.

 

One time for all eternity Christ came and suffered on our behalf.

His life in exchange for ours – what an awesome trade!

Now we have comfort from His rod and His staff.

And in this life our salvation is eternally made.

Glory to God, Hallelujah, and Amen!

 

 

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. Hebrews 5:11

 

The author of Hebrews doesn’t pull any punches,,, does he! It always amuses me to read this verse. In one of the most theologically intense books of the Bible he downplays the amount of information he can actually provide to his readers. Hebrews reaches back to the heart of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament and explains in minute detail how it is fulfilled in Christ. He also alludes to characters almost completely passed over by the other writers and yet he goes into great depth when discussing only one or two verses about them. Additionally, his analysis is still not fully comprehended after 2000 years of investigation. He discusses bibliology (the study of the Bible); theology proper – including the trinity; angelology (the study of angels), Christology (the study of Christ); pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit); anthropology (the study of man); hamartiology (the study of sin); soteriology (the study of salvation); ecclesiology (the study of the church body); and eschatology (the study of “last things”) – in essence, all ten of the major biblical doctrines of study. There is a profound overall structure to Hebrews which points to an author who is the complete master of himself and what he pens. And then – within this main frame – are breakdowns which initiate, discuss, and then complete ideas which demonstrate complete confidence in and mastery over the subject in discussion. By the time the author is finished with this book, there is no doubt about the Person of Jesus Christ and only a heretic could come away from it finding anything but the eternal, unchanging, and all sufficient Trinitarian God of orthodox Christianity. The author will move forward in these deeper subjects, but it’s clear he believes he has, thus far, kept things on a very basic level. If this is so, imagine the infinite riches of information he passed over for our benefit. Truly – how great is our God!

 

And age to age He stands, and time is in His Hands
Beginning and the End,
The Godhead, three in one - Father, Spirit, Son

The Lion and the Lamb,
Chris Tomlin

 

 

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Hebrews 5:12

 

The author uses a familiar New Testament term today when comparing milk to the simple gospel. Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians and Peter uses it in his first epistle as well. Paul equates milk with only minimal development in understanding the word as does the author today. Peter uses the term “pure spiritual milk” to refer to the purity of the gospel; a gospel without any defilement. However, even Peter ensures that growth in the pure gospel is necessary. In other words, the simple and pure gospel is what saves a person – you are saved by grace through faith and not of works. It is by calling on Jesus in faith, and that alone, which will save a person. Unfortunately, most people stay at this basic level of knowledge about the things of God; they treat their salvation as all that is necessary in life. This is hugely unfortunate because the Bible is the deepest well of knowledge open to human beings in the matters that it teaches. It contains the very mind of God towards humanity and is an inexhaustible resource that one can study for a lifetime without obtaining all the information it contains. In fact, new discoveries are found in it often – even after thousands of years of added knowledge. Like those who never dig into the Bible beyond their salvation, some spend all their time studying only the New Testament or maybe only the Gospels. However, the apostles – when using the term “the word of God” or some other term referring to the Bible – are speaking of the Old Testament. In other words, the New Testament reveals Jesus, but the Old Testament is also “…given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16

 

Thy Word is like a garden, Lord, with flowers bright and fair;

And every one who seeks may pluck a lovely cluster there.

Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare

Are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there. Edwin Hodder

 

 

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. Hebrews 5:13

 

As mentioned in an earlier verse, the author intentionally kept his thoughts in the previous chapters on a level his readers could understand because they needed “milk, not solid food.” Today he tells us that the teachings about righteousness are included in the “solid food.” In other words, we have the simple gospel which saves – we sinned and are condemned; Jesus didn’t and in Him is life; He traded His life for ours; by faith in His work we also can be saved. This is the gospel which Paul preaches and which anyone can understand, from a young child to an old person; from a businessman to a farmer; from a Tibetan herdsman to a Polynesian fisherman – all can understand this news and be saved. But salvation is merely the first step (or should be) in Christian maturity. From this point we should move forward into righteousness, which leads to sanctification. Sanctification is an on-going process whereby we are conformed to the likeness of Christ. Eventually we will be glorified and become like Him in a way we now can’t comprehend. Paul, in Romans, states this process in the past tense. In other words, it’s a done deal for all believers, but from our perspective it is future.

 

And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:30

 

We can come to salvation and yet stubbornly refuse to mature. This will lead to a loss of rewards in our eternal home, but it will never affect our salvation which comes through being justified. Nor will it hinder our ultimate glorification. But what a loss in this life to remain on milk when there is the glorious solid food which we can pursue through His word! Let’s pray about this –

 

Lord God – let us not squander the time You have given us from the moment we first believed. Instead, prompt our hearts on to increasing in the knowledge of who You are and how You have worked in human history to restore us to You through our Lord Jesus Christ. May You be the one who is glorified as we eagerly pursue You! Amen.

 

 

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  Hebrews 5:14

 

Yesterday the author equated the teaching of righteousness as growing in maturity. When one moves from the simple gospel (which is like baby’s milk) to deeper teachings such as righteousness, a person learns to “distinguish good from evil.” Notice that he states this is done by “constant use.” We can’t simply hear a sermon on Sunday morning and spend the rest of the week neglecting such instruction. We need to apply it to our daily lives – morning, noon, and night, seven days a week. As the book of Deuteronomy says –

 

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. Deuteronomy 11:18-21

 

Although observant Jews take this literally and walk around with phylacteries on their heads and bindings on their arms which contain Scripture, the intent is that we never depart from thinking about these things and contemplating them at all times. By doing this, we move from the basic knowledge of salvation to the deeper truths of living wholesome, Christ-honoring lives. In the day ahead, think on this as you drive you car, shop at the store, or go for a walk. Remember the Lord, his commandments, and His great love for you in everything you do.

 

O glorious God! Help me to move to Christian maturity by constantly thinking on and training myself in your word that I may be able to distinguish good from evil. By doing so, may my life be a living sacrifice to You and to Your glory. I pray this in the awesome name of Jesus my Lord. Amen!

 

 

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, Hebrews 6:1

 

Welcome to chapter 6! Remember that when you see “therefore” you need to go back and determine what it’s there for. In today’s case, the author is referring back to chapter 5, where he stated the desire to move on from “milk” to “solid food.” He then tells us some of what he considers mere milk – today’s verse includes discussions on repentance and on faith. Surprisingly, much of the New Testament deals with these very subjects and yet he considers them only basic teachings. The Bible is filled with countless other subjects. They weave into a book which leads a person with the most limited knowledge of God – “I’ve sinned, am condemned, need a Savior, will accept Jesus, and will be saved.” – to a lifetime of growth in subjects which pry the depths – from human suffering all the way to final human redemption and what it will be like in the presence of God. Some of the most intellectual people in all of history have come to the Bible in either skepticism or downright disbelief and yet have humbled themselves at the foot of the cross because its words pierced their souls. St. Augustine found God in its pages through its teachings on immorality. Simon Greenleaf, the 19th century lawyer, found salvation when coming at its pages by attempting to disprove them on a legal basis. He became the forerunner in legal or “judicial apologetics.” More recently, Lee Strobel, a once avowed atheist, followed in Simon Greenleaf’s footsteps and has become a modern creationist and Christian apologist. These are only three of countless multitudes who, through the Christian era have left “the elementary teachings about Christ” and gone on to Christian maturity… ever striving to know, understand, and tell others about Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus – Your word implores us to move on from basic teachings to those which are deeper and which lead us to a fuller understanding of You, Your plan for us, and the glory displayed in this plan. Give us wisdom to use our time rightly that we will have our priorities properly laid out to achieve this goal. Thank You for Your guidance in this petition. Amen.

 

 

…instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:2

 

Today’s verse continues what are “elementary teachings about Christ.” The list today includes 1) Baptism – if this is such an “elementary teaching” how can there be such a divide concerning the circumstances in which it’s performed? The answer is because, as Jesus said, people “have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” The term baptism comes from a Greek word meaning full immersion. Further, baptism in the Bible is always accompanied by faith in Jesus. It is a voluntary choice by an individual and was never intended for infants. 2) The laying on of hands – there are three specific instances in the New Testament where this is mentioned. One is for the sick, one is for receiving the Holy Spirit or a gift of the Spirit, and the third is for ordination of deacons and elders. The first and/or second are probably what are being referred to. The problem with this surely stems from a lack of understanding that laying hands does not guarantee healing or the reception of a gift. The practice is subject to God’s divine will and people had probably begun to make claims in the name of God which implied that God’s will was subservient to the claim being made. Not all people are healed and not all people receive a particular gift by the laying on of hands. To claim either shows a lack of maturity in understanding God’s sovereign nature. 3) The resurrection of the dead – this is explained in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4, and is referred to in Revelation. Unfortunately, rather than following the biblical writings, people were probably making things up out of their own heads and spreading their babblings. 4) Eternal judgment – surely then as now people spoke less harshly about the judgment to come than the Bible states in order to appease their audiences. But the Bible is very specific that all who fail to come to Christ will be judged and condemned.

 

Lord, help us to follow Your word alone and not the “traditions of men” when teaching and preaching Your word to others. May our doctrine be pure so that at Your coming we will be found acceptable in what our lips have uttered. To Your glory alone O Christ!  Amen!

 

 

 

And God permitting, we will do so. Hebrews 6:3

 

Remember the last two days the author has been talking about and naming the doctrine which leads to Christian maturity. He wants to move his audience from “milk” to “solid food” by having them move to the deeper truths of God. In order to do this, they need to lay aside their ease in living with the simple gospel alone – the gospel which brings salvation. From this springboard, they are to learn “the teaching about righteousness.” This, as has been demonstrated, is a deep well and one which we will spend our lives drinking from if we only are willing. As stated, this teaching is also known as sanctification – a process of becoming more Christ-like until we are glorified at His coming. Today’s verse is almost a prayer. In essence, the author combines all the thought of the preceding six verses into one overall petition – “We will do these things, God willing.” This idea reminds me of what James says in his epistle –

 

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:15

 

James was saying that when we make a claim that we will do something, we need to include God’s providence in that decision. To do otherwise is to make the claim that we are sufficient for the task without His help. In the matter of today’s verse, how absolutely important is it that we include God in the very process of what we are pursing – a better understanding of Him and how to grow in Him! I hope and trust that in the days ahead, we’ll learn to use this phrase in every aspect of our lives. It’s not easy, but like all things, it will come through practice. Instead of saying, “We’ll be going to Disney world next week.” We can say, “We’ll be going to Disney World next week, the Lord willing.” How much better is the latter!

 

Lord Jesus, help me to always include You in my plans. I hope that by doing so, they will always be according to Your will and pleasing to You. In all things, may You be the one glorified through the life I lead! Amen.

 

 



For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if 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. Hebrews 6:4-6


To understand what is stated here, the context must be considered. The letter is written to Hebrew Christians, not to the Gentile-led church. The letters of Paul which form the dispensation of grace are found from Romans to Philemon. Secondly, the temple was standing at the time of the letter to the Hebrews as can be determined from other verses within the letter. Thirdly, the layout of the Bible shows that the placing of Hebrews where it is, it is actually showing that it is specifically directed to the Hebrews of the end-times, after the church age. The letters of Hebrews, James, and Peter all come after Paul’s letters, and are specifically directed to end times Jews. The study is long, but when seen laid out, it does become clear. With this understanding, the words of this verse do not apply to the dispensation of grace. Paul’s letters clearly and definitively show that one cannot lose their salvation. As nothing in Scripture can contradict another passage, then the context must be understood to show what is being relayed. With this knowledge at hand, the words can then be properly evaluated.


6:4 – “For it is impossible.” The words themselves call to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:26, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Some things are, in fact, impossible with God. He cannot violate one of His own attributes. He is righteous, and He cannot therefore commit unrighteousness. Such is the case with all of His attributes. What Jesus was referring to were things which are not logically or morally impossible for God. Such is the case with spiritual matters like salvation. Man cannot save himself through his own merits, but man can be saved through the merits of Christ.


“…for those who were once enlightened.” This is a metaphor which is again used in Hebrews 10:32. There it applies in a general manner to all who are addressed. Here it is speaking of a certain group who have been enlightened. From this, the words will explain what that enlightenment means.


“…and having tasted the heavenly gift.” There is a parallelism with the words here, and the words of chapter 2. In verse 3, it speaks of salvation and in verse 4 is speaks of gifts of the Holy Spirit. The heavenly gifts, those of the Holy Spirit, are the proof of salvation. These were imparted to the Jews of Acts 2. In verse 2:38, Peter, while still speaking to the Jews of Israel (not the Gentile-led church) promised that they would likewise receive the gift of the Holy Spirit by repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus. This is something that occurred differently (in order and in requirement) in Acts 8 with the Samaritans, and in Acts 10 with the Gentiles in Caesarea. The author of Hebrews is writing to this same group of people, the Hebrews, to instruct them in how to properly understand what reception of this gift then necessitates in their lives. To “taste” something in Scripture is to experience or understand that thing. In Hebrews 2:9, Jesus “tasted” death for everyone. He experienced death, but it was also something that was, at least in the case of believers, something that could be tasted vicariously. Some will never taste death, because He did it for us (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17).


“…and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit.” They tasted of the gifts of the Spirit, because they had partaken of the Holy Spirit. It can only mean a true believer. When we partake of something, we participate in that thing. The Holy Spirit is the Gift, and the gift itself is what bears the heavenly quality.


6:5 – “…and have tasted the good word of God.” Again, to taste is to experience. The good word of God is the gospel message of Jesus, the Messiah of the Hebrews, and all of the sound doctrine which pertains to this word. It is an acceptance of the truth of Jesus the Messiah as Scripture testifies to. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The language here speaks of a believer.


“…and the powers of the age to come.” The wording here is different than in Hebrews 2:5, though some translations make them the same in the English by saying “the world to come.” Hebrews 2:5 speaks of the inhabited world; here it is speaking of a cycle of time, and thus an age. In the end, they are both looking forward to the same thing, a taste of which was given to the Hebrews at Pentecost, and which will also be the case after the rapture of the church during the tribulation period. There will be notable gifts of the Spirit then as there was at the beginning. Charles Ellicott states, they “were as truly anticipations of a future age of glory as was the ‘heavenly gift’ an anticipation of the ‘heavenly fatherland.’” These Hebrews had experienced these “powers of the age to come.”


6:6 – “…if they fall away.” There is no “if” in the Greek. This insert is based on a presupposition that the entire thought is hypothetical, but one which could not be expected to occur in reality. The words say, “and (then, or having) fallen away.” The verb is in the aorist tense. At a specific time, there was a falling away. Despite having tasted and participated in what was offered through the Holy Spirit (through gift and word – the word of God comes through the Holy Spirit as well (2 Peter 1:21) ), they fell away. However, though the wording is not hypothetical in the sense that there is no “if,” Albert Barnes insightfully notes the following -


“The word rendered ‘fall away’ means properly ‘to fall near by anyone;’ ‘to fall in with or meet;’ and thus to fall aside from, to swerve or deviate from; and here means undoubtedly to ‘apostatize from,’ and implies an entire renunciation of Christianity, or a going back to a state of Judaism, paganism, or sin. The Greek word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is material to remark here that the apostle does not say that any true Christian ever had fallen away. He makes a statement of what would occur on the supposition that such a thing should happen – but a statement may be made of what would occur on the supposition that a certain thing should take place, and yet it be morally certain that the event never would happen. It would be easy to suppose what would happen if the ocean should overflow a continent, or if the sun should cease to rise, and still there be entire certainty that such an event never would occur.”


“…to renew them again to repentance.” The “repentance” speaks of turning the mind of the person once again to what they had already turned their minds to. They had turned away from their false belief in (or about) Christ, and they had directed their mind to Him. They had been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, etc. To be renewed, in fact, implies they they had once been renewed; they were followers of the Messiah. The verb here for renew is now in the active voice. What this is telling us that it is impossible for men. However, as seen from Jesus’ words of Matthew 19:26, what is impossible with men is not impossible for God. There can be no contradiction in Scripture, and so this must be considered. Nothing that a man does to renew this person will be possible. But the truth is that nothing any person does can bring a person to salvation in the first place. Apart from m God’s specific revelation of Himself, salvation is not possible. God has brought man to salvation through Christ. A man cannot save himself. The same is true with this verse here. As Vincent’s Word Studies notes -


“He merely puts his own hypothetical case, and says that, in the nature of such a case, the ordinary considerations and means which are applied to induce men to embrace the gospel no longer appeal to the subjects supposed. He contemplates nothing beyond such agencies, and asserts that these are powerless because the man has brought himself into a condition where they can no longer exert any power. Whether God will ever reclaim by ways of his own is a point which is not even touched. Destruction of the faculty of spiritual discernment is the natural outcome of deliberate and persistent sin, and the instrument of its punishment.”


It should be noted that Scripture never shuts the door on forgiveness to anyone who repents. Therefore, when such a falling away occurs, as long as the condition lasts, a renewal is impossible. The words in no way mean that such a renewal is impossible, but that it cannot occur while the person is living under and old economy which has found its fulfillment in Christ. As Cambridge notes, “There can, he implies, be no second ‘Second Birth.’ The sternness of the passage is in exact accordance with Hebrews 10:26-29 (comp. 1 Peter 2:20-21); but ‘the impossibility lies merely within the limits of the hypothesis itself.’”


“…since they crucify again.” The Greek more closely reads as is translated by the Berean Study Bible, “and then having fallen away--to restore them again to repentance, crucifying in themselves the Son of God and subjecting Him to open shame.” It does not say “again” twice. Rather it is only used once in relation to “repentance.” As far as the word “crucify,” the verb is a present participle and thus the Berean Study Bible is correct in saying “crucifying.” It has the intent of “crucifying as they are doing.” It does not imply an absolute apostasy, but one which is continuous. The tense of the verbs went from past to present.


The temple was standing; a future temple will stand. To observe temple rites, and then to come to Jesus who is the fulfillment of all of those types and shadows, and then to return to the same temple rites which only prefigured Him, would be to reject what God has done in Christ. He died for the sins of the world. Therefore, the cross of Chris is no longer available to them because it no longer has the meaning they once assigned to it.


“…for themselves.” This is a reflexive pronoun, dative, third, person, plural. The term should read “in themselves,” or “to themselves.” As Cambridge notes, “This is what is called ‘the dative of disadvantage’ – ‘to their own destruction.’” There is no human remedy for sin forgiveness, and the temple rites which looked forward to Christ are, in fact a human remedy to this person. Only God can forgive, and that through Christ. Who is “… the Son of God.” To take this course of action would then lead to the final words of the verses, “…and put Him to open shame.” What is the purpose of Christ’s cross if one retreats to what the cross only looked forward to? It is a shameful act which would, in turn, bring shame upon the Lord who voluntarily took on the very sin which the temple rites could not expiate.


What is here is a revealed possibility within the teaching of the church, not of God’s omnipotence which saved and sealed a person in the first place. God does not make mistakes. It is a lesson of warning. As Cambridge states -


“In the face of sin—above all of deliberate wretchlessness—we must remember that ‘God is not mocked’ (Galatians 6:7), and that our human remedies are then exhausted. On the other hand to close the gate of repentance against any contrite sinner is to contradict all the Gospels and all the Epistles alike, as well as the Law and the Prophets.”


In other words, there is no finality revealed in these three verses. Everything in Scripture testifies to the forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ which is by grace through faith. The author’s warning is that for one to assume that going back to the temple rites will make that person holy (or more holy) or bring them nearer to God is completely contradictory to the work of Christ itself. Further, the words of the author in verse 9 actually presuppose that this is, in fact, a hypothetical situation which is being spoken of, and thus it is a doctrinal treatise for the church to read and learn from.

 

 

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. Hebrews 6:7

 

Today the author uses agricultural terms to make a spiritual application. This is something that occurs quite often in the Bible. He is equating people who hear the word of Jesus and accept it with crops. The “rain often falling” would be hearing the word of God and absorbing it for what it is – life giving water. This theme hearkens back to Isaiah 55:1 among many other verses –

 

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; …

 

The useful crop is the fruit which develops in one’s life from receiving and applying the word. This theme also permeates the Bible such as in the words of the apostles.  Even Jesus Himself uses this terminology –

 

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

 

It is those people who hear the word, apply it to their lives, and bear fruit for the kingdom that will receive “the blessing of God.” If you go to church, read daily devotionals, or feel “religious” in some sense and yet have never accepted God’s word as authoritative in your life, you will be unable to produce a crop which is useful. All of our actions in life are meant to bring glory to God. It is only by living in this manner that you can expect to receive His blessings. Think on this and apply the teachings of Scripture that you receive.

 

Lord God, I gratefully receive the life-giving waters you provide and ask that they produce a rich and abundant crop in my life, a crop which will be useful to You and bring the honor and glory to You that You alone are due. I pray this in the name of Jesus my Lord. Amen!

 

 

But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Hebrews 6:8

 

Today is contrasting what was said in yesterday’s verse which said, “Land that drinks in the rain…” The rain was likened to the word of God. Today’s land receives the same rain but it doesn’t drink it in. The soil is bad – whether rocky, full of clay or full of sand – it simply doesn’t absorb it. And so it is with people who hear the word and don’t apply it to life. Jesus said –

 

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. John 15:6

 

The author uses Jesus’ terminology here about the land which, like unfruitful people, “is worthless and in danger of being cursed.” Having stood in both Bethsaida and Capernaum, which Jesus cursed in Matthew 11, I assure you that when the land is cursed, it’s time is through. Even 2000 years later, both of those cities stand in ruins. Likewise, those people who failed to accept Jesus as their Messiah were destroyed or exiled in 70AD when the Romans reduced the land to rubble – exactly as He said would occur in Matthew 24. “In the end it will be burned” is not a term then to be taken lightly. Rather, it is of the utmost importance that we make the right choice while we still can. That great Day of Judgment is coming:

 

If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15

 

Make the right choice today, while you still can. Bear fruit worthy of a blessing and not a curse.

Thank you Jesus that you have given us the chance to bear fruit for You. What we deserve is destruction, but you graciously took our sin and nailed it to the cross, if we only believe. Help us to make that choice and then to glorify you through changed lives all our days. Amen.

 

 

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. Hebrews 6:9

 

Verses 4 through 6 spoke of those who heard the word and failed to receive it. By turning away from it and back to temple worship, they were re-crucifying Christ. The result of this was explained in verse 8 – the prospect of destruction. But today the author draws back from those harsh words to acknowledge that better things were in store for the recipients of his letter – “things that accompany salvation.” This, again, speaks of eternal salvation. By hearing and receiving the word, they are marked with the Holy Spirit. And this is what the author anticipates is the case of those he is addressing. If you think about it clearly, you can see that this is another example of the power of receiving the truth and accepting it. The very verses which people confuse with a possible loss of salvation, when looked at properly, speak of the impossibility of it. By simply hearing the word which tells of Jesus and accepting it we receive salvation. Paul couldn’t be any clearer:

 

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,… Ephesians 1:13

 

Isn’t it wonderful to know that our salvation, after coming to Christ, isn’t up to us! When we hear the word of truth and believe (that’s it!) we are marked in Him with a seal – the promised Holy Spirit. Our salvation is no longer up to us maintaining a proper testimony. If it were, every single person – EVER – would be lost again. We all fall, we all sin, and we all fail our Lord. O! But He is ever faithful to keep us from ourselves. Hallelujah and amen!

 

Glory to God in the highest for His ever-faithful and ever-strong hand of salvation! We look to You in awe for Your ability to keep us, even from ourselves. Thank you Lord Jesus for the work You accomplished and for the eternal security You provide! Again, glory to God in the highest! Amen.

 

 

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6:10

 

The author now turns onto the works-highway for the next three verses. Remember in advance though the words of Paul:

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8, 9

 

There is no thing that we can do to earn God’s favor leading to salvation except to receive Jesus’ work which was accomplished by Him on our behalf. This is because we are by nature unholy and nothing unclean can enter God’s presence. By receiving Christ, we are covered by His blood and are declared righteous in the presence of God. This is in no way intended to mean that we can sit idly by and not accomplish righteous works for His glory. We were bought at a high price – the price of the cross – and therefore should naturally desire to glorify God by helping his people. What works are acceptable then? Other than a few instances in the New Testament, nothing specific is given, but we can be inventive in our desire to bring glory to God. Ultimately, any deed which will lead sinners to repentance should be considered first. To feed the hungry without introducing the gospel is pointless; the “social gospel” is no gospel at all. When venturing out to do good deeds, the glory of Jesus needs to be included or nothing of lasting value has been accomplished. Remember this as we enter this New Year and look with longing for Jesus to be glorified through what we do!

 

Help us O Lord to accomplish those deeds which will lead others to know You and see Your glory. Let our actions never be for our own glory or to exalt a particular ministry. Rather, let our hearts and souls be filled with longing to lead others to the salvation provided by the Cross of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. Hebrews 6:11

 

The author is not implying that good works are necessary to continue in salvation. Rather he’s stating that if someone fails to show diligence to the end it may reflect that the person wasn’t saved in the first place. This is a really fine line and not one to get into arguments over, but some people link doing good works with proof of salvation. This leads to high-handedness and often arrogance towards people who never do good things for others or work to promote the goals of the church. Despite this, it’s simply not possible to tell if a person is or isn’t saved based on some dubious standard of good deeds. The entire book of 1 Corinthians is written to a bunch of people who were immature believers, caught up in bad living, etc. There’s very little to reflect the notion that these people were saved and yet Paul never questions their salvation – even a person who was engaged in gross immorality. Rather, he firmly held that if these people made a profession of faith and believed in their hearts the gospel message, they were saved. He was unwavering in this stand and we should be likewise. To go around questioning the salvation of others is the most immature behavior one can be involved in. It is God, not us, who judges the hearts and minds of our fellow humans. Instead of attempting to do this then, we need to show diligence in our own works and attempt by doing so to induce others to accomplish them as well. In the end though, the ultimate task we can accomplish is trusting in Christ and His great deeds. Everything else pales in comparison to that and it is this trust and faith which is the greatest thing we can ever participate in on a personal level.  It is this, and this alone, which leads to salvation.

 

Lord, let us never be ashamed of the doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus’ work alone. Help us to turn from any works-based system which is nothing more than what all false religions have to offer. Instead, the work of Christ alone is what restores us to You. Thank You for this wonderful gift. In Jesus’ name we pray! Amen.

 

 

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:12

 

We’re going to see some of the faithful referred to in today’s verse when we get to chapter 11. It’s an exciting list of people throughout the ages of the Bible. But since that time, there have been many, many more faithful – patiently waiting on the return of their Lord. It is those who persevere in faith and good works that will receive the greater blessing on that day. All who have come to saving faith in Jesus, the redeemed of the ages, will be there. However, there will certainly be different rewards and many losses based on what we do in this life. And you should never feel that your contribution is insignificant compared to great scholars, evangelists, or theologians. Paul gives a list of gifts that we can exercise in the church –

 

If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

 

Although there is a surely a ranking within the gifts, it doesn’t necessarily mean the reward for exercising a lesser gift will be less than that of exercising a greater gift. If a person who has a greater gift doesn’t exercise it to his utmost, can he expect greater rewards than someone who cheerfully and humbly exercises his lesser gift? Each person is given a gift and the ability to exercise it to the glory of the Risen Lord. Let us ever strive to do so to the utmost of our ability!

 

Thank you O God, for the gift that I have been given and help me to know it, exercise it to my utmost, and do it in a manner which brings glory to You and not to me. May I never look down on, or in envy of, another as they pursue the exercise of their gift. Glory to You! Amen.

 

 

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself… Hebrews 6:13

 

As God created time, space, and matter everything about Him simply is. There is no change in God of any kind – such as growth or progression. He is before all things and all things are held together by Him. He is of infinite worth and His word is. In other words, it is truth in the ultimate sense. At one point in the stream of human history, God chose to speak to one man a promise of blessing that would be to all peoples through his seed. This became known as the Abrahamic covenant. Like other covenants God has made, they simply are. When the promise is made, it can never change and never be added to or subtracted from. Some of the other covenants we look to in redemptive history are the Edenic (Eden) Covenant; the Adamic (to Adam) Covenant; the Noahic (to Noah) Covenant; the Mosaic (to Moses) Covenant; the Land (particular to the land and people Israel) Covenant; the Davidic (to David) Covenant; and the New Covenant (which came through Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary). These often came with conditions – such as obedience on the part of the recipient, but some came unconditionally. However, no matter whether conditional or unconditional, when God speaks, He will fulfill His part of the bargain. It is man who can, and often does, fail to meet their part of the agreement. In the case of the Abrahamic covenant, no conditions were made for man’s obedience. God swore a promise that was unbreakable –

 

I swear by myself, declares the LORD… Genesis 22:16

 

The author uses this promise to establish God’s nature and complete the thought which is coming in the rest of the chapter.

One thing we can do, even in our weakness, O God, is to trust that your promises are true. Your very nature assures us and reassures us that every word spoken will come to fruition. For this, we thank you and praise You, O King of the ages. Amen.

 

 

…saying, "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” Hebrews 6:14

 

For whatever reason God chose Abraham, He knew he was the exact person in that particular place and time who would best suit His plan to 1) preserve the godly line which led to the Messiah, Jesus, and 2) to establish a people that would not only bring in the Messiah, but also who would fulfill His purposes in history in other ways. Abraham became the father of the Jewish people as well as the father of the modern Islamic state. It was through Isaac that the blessing was reckoned, but Ishmael was also blessed (Genesis 17:10) and became the father of 12 tribes, just as Isaac – through Jacob – became the father of the 12 sons of Israel. In a greater sense though, Abraham has become the father of all the faithful who have been adopted as sons through Jesus. It is, therefore, through Jesus that the promise of “many descendants” is truly fulfilled. All nations on earth are blessed through Abraham because of Him. In essence, like all things, the blessing comes from God and is fulfilled by God though Jesus. As it says elsewhere –

 

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:36

 

God initiates all good things, they proceed through Him, and they are for Him. Nothing is apart from His glorious plan and in the end all people will glorify Him for what He has done in human history. In the coming days, great battles and sorrows will come to the sons of Abraham who are sons through the flesh only and not through the acceptance of Jesus. This time of trouble will result in a world of great distress, but Jesus will return to rule and weed out all unrighteousness. Until this time of trouble comes though, it is the duty of all Christians to lead the natural sons of Abraham to an understanding of his greatest Son, Jesus. Let us not waiver in our duty.

 

Lord God, You promised to bless Abraham and give him “many descendants” but no one could have imagined the world full of people – both through the flesh and through adoption –who would become his sons. Just as we have been adopted into the family of faith, help us to teach the natural sons of Abraham about his greatest Son, our Lord Jesus. Amen.

 

 

And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. Hebrews 6:15

 

The “promise” is, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” Abraham and his wife Sarah went many long years without bearing children. In Genesis 12, at the age of 75, God promised him that He would bless him and make his name great. At God’s word, Abraham set out for the land of Canaan in order to accept what God had promised. In Genesis 15, which was some time later, God appeared again to Abraham and reminded him of the promise. In fact, God cut a covenant with Abraham in a manner which signified the absolute surety of the promise. This is recorded in Genesis 15:9-21. In Genesis 17, God initiated the covenant of circumcision with Abraham and his entire household. This occurred at about the age of 100 and his wife was about 90. In Genesis 21, the son of promise – Isaac – was born to Abraham and Sarah. This child came at an age that childbirth was unthinkable, but God was ever-faithful to Abraham and, as today’s verse says, “after waiting patiently” the son came. This one son was to be the one through whom “many descendants” would come. However, in the next chapter – chapter 22 – God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his own son as an offering of devotion to God. How could the promise of “many descendants” come through Isaac if he was to be sacrificed? The author of Hebrews explains Abraham’s thought processes later, but one thing was sure – Abraham never failed to accept God at His word and was ever-patient in waiting on the promise. Because of his faithfulness, Abraham is used to this very day as the model of faith. If your life seems to be at a standstill, understand that Abraham waited 25 years for the promise. God is not slow in keeping his promises or inattentive in His care for His people. We simply need to accept God’s timing and His perfect wisdom in all things.

O God, help remind us of Your faithfulness as we wait upon You. We’re bound by time and therefore it’s so hard for us to be patient, but this is what Father Abraham was commended for. Help us to receive that same commendation. To Your glory and in Jesus’ name… Amen.

 

 

For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Hebrews 6:16

This is an obvious truth which the author brings up – it is something universal to humanity. Every person in every culture and every society follows this precept. When someone wants to confirm their word, they will make an oath and then swear by something greater than themselves in order to make the oath binding. A citizen of Rome would swear by Caesar. A Hindu may swear by Krishna. A person who was known to have loved his mother may swear by his mother’s grave. Someone may swear by their bank account. Whatever it is that is the testimony for the vow, it is always something of great value to the one swearing and it is a confirmation of their word. The idea is that if the word spoken is untrue, then they are holding themselves under the wrath of Caesar, Krishna, their dead mother’s honor and memory, or the loss of their treasured money. It is important for the Christian though to realize that we are not to make vows on any part of creation. Here are Jesus’ words on the matter – “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one (Matthew 5:33-37).” You see, the Christian is to be taken at his word. If people don’t see a person of integrity, they will expect an oath, but Jesus says it is not to be this way. Instead we are to be wholly trustworthy in our dealings with our vows. Having said that, to vow on anything less than the name of the Lord is a form of idolatry and is a violation of several of the Ten Commandments. To swear on anything in creation is to then elevate that to the highest value, thus diminishing the name of the Lord. For this reason, the Bible offers this directive – “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name (Deuteronomy 6:13).” This is not a contradiction of Jesus’ words. Rather, when an oath is required by another then that oath is to be made in the name of the Lord only. Nothing less is acceptable because nothing else is eternal and unchanging.

Oh God, help me to be a right and upstanding Christian who is so faithful to you that others will accept my vows by a simple “Yes” or “No.” If it is necessary because of a legal matter to make an oath, remind me that I can only do so in Your name. When my hand is upon Your Holy Bible, remind me of the importance of the matter I am testifying to. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

 

 

Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath,… Hebrews 6:17

 

Immutable is a big word that simply means “unable to change.” In the case of God, He simply is. There is no learning in God, there is no development of any kind, and in fact there is not even any potential for it. For example, our prayers don’t change God’s mind. Rather, God knew our prayers before we prayed them. Does this mean we don’t need to pray? On the contrary, if we withhold our prayers, God knew before we did so that no prayer would be offered and no response is forthcoming. From our perspective then, prayers have an effect. Likewise, God’s plan and purpose for the redemption of man was known, in its fullness, to God before the creation of the world. Abraham was selected before he ever existed for the covenant particular to him. Nothing could change that. However, from Abraham’s perspective God’s oath confirmed God’s words to him.  This oath then showed Abraham “more abundantly” the immutability of His words. Understand this – the oath was an added bonus to what was already decided. Take all of this in the context of your own personal situation now. God has spoken. His word is recorded for us in the pages of the Bible and what He has said simply is. There is every assurance that the Bible is the word of God and therefore we can completely rest in its promises for us. Therefore, just as God credited righteousness to Abraham for simply hearing and believing, we can have the exact same blessing from God by simply hearing His word and trusting it. For this reason, it’s worthwhile to quote Romans 10:13 – “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” God doesn’t ask you to know every detail of the Bible to be saved, nor does he ask something complicated. He simply says, “Trust what I’ve done through my Son Jesus and the work He did on your behalf.”

 

Yes Lord! Thank you for the simplicity of the gospel. Thank You that we don’t need to rely on some dubious and unknowable amount of good deeds, but that we simply please You by accepting what You have already done. What an immense and awesome bargain! Amen.

 

 

God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. Hebrews 6:18

 

This verse confirms what we can logically deduce about God – that He cannot lie. As we’ve discussed, because He is before all things, everything about Him simply is. When God speaks, it is always absolute truth because His nature is absolutely truthful. However, to encourage Abraham, and in turn us, God not only spoke, but spoke on oath of that which He said would come to pass. From God’s eternal perspective, this is unnecessary. But for us, the oath is given to help our hope stand strong in the presence of our limitations, such as time (patience), life (stresses and challenges), etc.  Because we know intuitively that God can’t lie, and because this is confirmed on oath as well as in Scripture, each of us needs to “take hold of the hope offered” to us. When you’re facing life’s battles, where do you go for refuge? A bottle, a sexual relationship, television…? None of these things will satisfy and all will fall short of the true encouragement we need. The encouragement which greatly encourages is that which is found in the pages of the Bible. This is because, as God’s word, it reflects His very nature, the nature which is eternal and unchanging. The promises He’s made in time are recorded there. Many of them have been fulfilled, proving that those which are yet promised will turn out exactly as they say. In other words, we have absolute assurance of ultimate victory over sin, death, and Satan. When the Bible says Jesus will descend and call us to Himself in the twinkling of an eye, it will happen. If you’re hesitant about your future, or if you’re facing a future of pain or sadness, look beyond those things to the promises of the Bible - promises which will surely come to pass because of the absolute truthfulness of God.

 

Lord, despite the troubles of today, we can read the final pages of the book of Revelation and stand in joyous hope of a time when all wrongs will be righted, all pains will be gone, and all joy will fill our very souls. Thank you for these wonderful promises! Thank you and Amen.

 

 

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,… Hebrews 6:19

 

The “hope” mentioned is the sure and unchanging word of God – where every word is life and a guarantee because of His complete truthfulness. The author poetically describes it as an “anchor for the soul.” An anchor is what holds a ship fast to the stability of earth, even in a raging sea. The rope is the only thing which keeps the two joined, and yet if it’s strong enough, the boat remains safely moored. And so it is with our lives in Christ. The anchor is the Bible which is held fast by the immutable promises of God which it contains. Even in life’s trials and storms, our faith joins us to the word which testifies of God’s promises through Jesus. The anchor is said to “enter the inner sanctuary behind the curtain…” This is referring back to the temple described in the Old Testament. The “inner sanctuary” is the “Holy of holies” where no person was ever allowed to enter, except the High Priest and then only once a year. He also never entered without blood lest he die in his sin for not providing atonement for himself. These things were a shadow of the work of Jesus who entered into the true temple in heaven, passing behind the curtain, and presenting His own perfect and sinless blood to secure our eternal salvation. This will be fully explained later in Hebrews. For now, be assured that Jesus accomplished everything necessary for our salvation. We need to do nothing but accept His work by faith. Because of His magnificence, how absolutely sure is our anchor. If you are in one of life’s storms right now and unsure about how it will turn out, don’t fret or be dismayed. Rather trust – simply trust – that all will be safe and calm when the storm is over. Your faith, no matter how weak, is strong enough to hold you to the anchor of your salvation.

 

Troubles almost ’whelm the soul; Griefs like billows o’er me roll;
Tempters seek to lure astray; Storms obscure the light of day:
But in Christ I can be bold, I’ve an anchor that shall hold.

William C. Martin

 

 

…where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:20

 

The author reintroduces Melchizedek today. This is the third time this figure has been brought up and today’s mentioning of him serves as a lead-in to Chapter 7. Remember yesterday’s verse which said that our hope is an anchor that “enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” It is Jesus who entered this sanctuary when he passed behind the curtain. In chapter 10, the author says that the curtain is His body. As in all things, Jesus is the center of focus. He is our hope, therefore He is our anchor. He went behind the curtain, but the curtain is his body. It is His blood that obtained access into the sanctuary, and yet He is the sanctuary. In all things, Christ is the beginning and the end, the first and the last. He is the entire point of our faith and in Him all things consist. We read that because of His work, he “has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” However, He is not only the High Priest who offers the sacrifice, but He is also the sacrifice. His blood eternally secures believers and His priesthood is an eternal one. The deity of Jesus is shouted out in every concept. Everything concerning the temple points to Him and yet the temple is there to exalt God. If the deity of Christ isn’t resonating in your mind by the continuous stream of shadows, figures, types, and fulfillments the author is presenting, then you’re missing the very foundational point of what’s being related to us. There is simply no excuse in heaven or on earth for rejecting the tenet that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. It is such a vital tenet that if you reject it, there can be no salvation for your soul; eternal condemnation waits. Be absolutely sure of what you believe and why!

 

O God, despite not fully understanding the incarnation or the Trinity, these are tenets which your word clearly proclaims. Help me in my inability to fully grasp these things and help my foundation to be sure, both in Your word and in the deity of Christ Jesus which Your word proclaims. And it is in His perfect name I pray. Amen.

 

 

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, Hebrews 7:1

 

There’s an amazing amount of theology bound up in this single verse and the author is really going to break it down in the time ahead. In fact, he’s going to go into so much detail that it’s hard to take this verse and work on it without treading on what’s coming. We can say though that Melchizedek was a special person in a special position – both in his physical location and in his duties. All things recorded in the Bible are there for the reason of leading us to understand Christ Jesus and how God is working, in history, on the plan of redemption for mankind. In the case of Melchizedek, he is a person who prefigures the work of Jesus in that he is both a king and a high priest. In Israel, these two jobs were separate and distinct. Kings couldn’t serve as priests, and priests didn’t belong to the kingly line of Judah. However, like Melchizedek, Jesus fills the role of both King and High Priest. Melchizedek lived during the time of Abraham, before the covenant of Moses was established, and only three verses record anything about him. However, he is one of the most discussed people in Hebrews. Therefore, when you’re reading the Genesis account, read slowly over the passage and think on the great significance he holds in history. Like him, no person recorded anywhere in Scripture, even if only his name is mentioned, is unimportant. Now take this same thought and apply it to yourself. Regardless of your personal evaluation of yourself, you are special and unique – filling an important spot in the history of mankind. You may think your life and actions are trivial and of no value, but God, who has written you into his redemptive plan, looks at you as a wonderful creature that is of great value.

Lord, help us to see our value as you see it. If You were willing to come and unite with human flesh to restore us to the Father, then certainly we have great value in Your sight. However, we often don’t feel this way about ourselves, so help us in our insecurities and failings. To Your glory we pray this. Amen.

 

 

…and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Hebrews 7:2

 

As I said yesterday, the author is going to go into great depth concerning Melchizedek’s account in Genesis, despite the fact that it’s only three verses long. This person was most unusual in all ways. His name Melchizedek comes from two Hebrew words – “melekh” which means “king” and “tsedaqah” meaning “righteousness.” His title is Melekh Shalem or King of Peace. However, Shalem is also an early name for what later became Jerusalem. Maybe you’re getting a picture in your mind of someone else who fills these titles and positions....   In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. Again, in Isaiah 32:1 – speaking of the Messiah who will reign it says –

 

See, a king will reign in righteousness
       and rulers will rule with justice.

 

And this king would reign in Jerusalem as is testified to many, many times in the Bible. In other words, this man, Melchizedek, is a prefiguring of the Messiah to come, Jesus. Therefore, the importance of what transpires between Abraham and Melchizedek is of great significance to believers in all dispensations. Some scholars actually believe that the appearance of Melchizedek is a Christophany, or an appearance of the eternal Christ in the Old Testament. This may or may not be the case and the stand is debatable, but it is certain that at least he prefigures the work of the coming Christ. The explanations to come are most rewarding…stay tuned!

 

How wonderfully exciting is Your word O God! The treasures it contains are simply astonishing in how they point, time and again, to the final work of Jesus on our behalf. Thank you for the joy of allowing us to peer into history and see His glory hinted at in the people who came before Him. Amen.

 

 

Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. Hebrews 7:3

 

Today the author makes interesting claims about Melchizedek. Be certain that he is not literally stating Melchizedek had no parents or other genealogy. Nor is he claiming that Melchizedek is actually an eternal being. Instead, he’s making the point that the author of Genesis (God, through Moses) specifically left these points out in order to establish a connection to Jesus in this regard. Why is he doing this? To confirm what David said in Psalm 110:4 –

 

The LORD has sworn
       and will not change his mind:
       "You are a priest forever,
       in the order of Melchizedek."

 

David was intimating that the Messiah to come would be both God (by using the term Adonai (Lord) in verse 1 of the referenced psalm) and therefore eternal as confirmed in verse 4 and that He would also be High Priest. The author of Hebrews builds on this by referring back to the account of Melchizedek in Genesis. He’s basically saying that because Melchizedek is the “King of Righteousness,” the “King of Peace,” and also because nothing else is recorded about him such as a genealogy or life-record, he is a proto-type of Christ to come. This is because Christ is the true King of Righteousness, King of Peace, and the eternal and undying Creator God.

O God! How absolutely glorious to know that you have chosen real figures in history to point us to the eternal truths about Jesus our Lord! The words recorded in the Bible demonstrate Your marvelous wisdom in ways we can’t fully comprehend or imagine. Thank You, O Lord, for opening our eyes to the beauty of Your glorious word. Amen.

 

 

Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Hebrews 7:4

 

Understood by every person in Israel was the concept of tithing. The specific guidelines as were practiced by the people are explained fully in Deuteronomy 14:22-29, with many other references to this Old Testament practice scattered throughout the Books of Moses and elsewhere. The people were to set aside 1/10th of everything they accumulated each year. For the first two years they were to enjoy that 10th themselves in the Lord’s presence – eating, drinking, and rejoicing in His provision. The third year, they were to “bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” Deuteronomy 14:28, 29.  This tithe was then further divided (as is mentioned in Leviticus 27) and a 10th of that was given to the priests who ministered at the temple. This was the sacred portion for the Lord’s service and the best of all that was gathered. Tithes and all offerings are like praise – from the lesser to the greater. The common people tithed to the Levites and the Levites to the priests – in ascending order. In the days ahead though, we’re going to see a most interesting reason why the author proclaims the greatness of Melchizedek. Yes, Abraham gave a tenth to him, but this signifies something even more interesting and which we will get to soon. One other note from today’s verse, Abraham is called a “patriarch.” This title is given to him, the 12 sons of Israel, and David. We can infer it also applies to Isaac and Jacob. The term comes from “pater” meaning father and “arche” meaning first or greater.

 

Yes Lord! What a fun thing to look into the times of Abraham and draw out the wonderful mysteries of what transpired between him and the enigmatic figure name Melchizedek. By learning about them, we learn more about Jesus… and that’s what it’s all about! Am

 

Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, their brothers—even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. Hebrews 7:5

 

As is recorded in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the author today explains that even though the tribe of Levi descended from Abraham, just as all the other tribes of Israel (their brothers), they were to receive a tenth of the produce of the land. As stated yesterday, this tenth was mandated in each third year. But even in the other two years when the tithe was eaten by the one tithing, the people were told “And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.” Deuteronomy 14:27.  If the Levite’s portion during the third year of tithing wasn’t enough to sustain him for the full three years, he would suffer. So even during the other two years, the people were instructed to tend to the needs of the Levites. This is because their job was to minister to the people, assist in matters of the law, etc. Because of this, they wouldn’t have been able to conduct the normal pattern of business, such as tending to land and fields that the rest of the people would’ve had time for. There’s an important application here for us today. Tithing is not a New Testament standard, but rather “let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper…” 1 Corinthians 16:2. We set our offerings aside to pay for the salary of our pastors and missionaries and also to keep the church functioning properly. There’s obviously a lot of money in some Christian circles, such as televangelists, and sometimes pastors have it far better than their congregants. However, many pastors – particularly in small churches – eke out a living and are totally dependent on the goodness of the people they minister to. They’ve set their hearts, minds, and lives on Jesus and they should be taken care of by those they tend to. So don’t forget them when you give and also don’t forget them during the week with your prayers and assistance if they need it.

Lord, you’ve been so good to give us caring pastors and preachers. Help us to remember them in giving of our offerings – both of money and of the abilities we have that can benefit them. Their service is so much appreciated. Help us to remember to let them know it. Amen.

 

 

This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Hebrews 7:6

 

“This man” is speaking of Melchizedek. In order to show his greatness, he is being contrasted with Abraham – a figure known in history as the man of great faith, the father of the Hebrew nation, and the example of patience and perseverance in the face of testing. Despite holding such high esteem among the faithful of Israel, the author says that Melchizedek – who in the previous verse received a tenth of the spoils – wasn’t descended from Levi and yet he received a tenth of all that Abraham obtained in battle. This, on the surface, appears to be placing the horse in front of the cart…Levi descended from Abraham, not the other way around. However, we’ll see the impeccable logic of what the author is intending in the days ahead. In addition to receiving the tenth of the spoils, it was Abraham, not Melchizedek who received the promises from God and yet is was Melchizedek who blessed Abraham. On the surface, this may seem appropriate – after all, Abraham was the one with the promise of blessing from God. However, the author will use the same type of impeccable logic concerning the blessing from Melchizedek in the verses ahead. What we think is backwards or unrealistic is actually something which contains truths which are inescapable when presented from God’s perspective. It’s for this and similar reasons that we study the Bible not just once, but for an entire lifetime. Colleges and seminaries are devoted to the Word of God because it is an inexhaustible resource. We can’t simply ignore it, neglect Bible study and Sunday sermons, and expect to be able to comprehend all that the Bible contains. Instead, we need to read, study, listen, contemplate, pray over, and cherish the Bible each and every day. If we fail in this regard, we can never grow from milk to solid food.

 

Thy Word, a wondrous guiding star, On pilgrim hearts doth rise,
Leads those to God who dwell afar, And makes the simple wise.
Let not its light e’er sink in night, But in each spirit shine,
That none may miss Heaven’s final bliss, Led by Thy light divine.
Carl B. Garve

 

 

And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. Hebrews 7:7

 

The author here states a simple truth of both the Bible and life in general. The position or person who is greater bestows a blessing on the lesser. This isn’t the same meaning as when we say “Bless the Lord.” Rather that is a form of praise from the lesser to the greater. Instead the author is speaking of a blessing in the sense of something that can be bestowed upon another person. Think of a graduate from college, the certificate is bestowed by the dean or some other important official. If someone is named “worker of the year” this blessing is given by someone high in the company’s ranks, etc. Interestingly, in the account of Isaac meeting Pharaoh in Egypt, it twice says that Isaac blessed Pharaoh. The same word is used in both occasions and can also be interpreted to “greet”, but it appears the author of Genesis was indicating the greatness of Isaac over Pharaoh. Likewise, Melchizedek is the one who blessed Abraham, not the other way around. In other words, the “lesser” person is Abraham. The man who had received the promise from God was considered lesser than Melchizedek! For those of us who’ve been instructed in the greatness of Abraham, including his name being mentioned again and again in Scripture such as in the genealogies of Jesus, this seems rather incredible. But the author states this is the case in order to draw the obvious and amazing parallel of Melchizedek to the Person of Jesus. The greatness of Melchizedek in redemptive history, then, is one of great importance. There is still a great deal of information that the author of Hebrews is going to draw out of this one short meeting between these two great men. A meeting which consists of only three short verses in the Bible. The author of Hebrews, under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is providing us with eternal truths about the nature of Jesus’ ministry which are simply astonishing!

Lord God, it simply can’t be more exciting to peer into the recesses of our history and see the Light of Christ shining through. His superiority over all of history is glorious and all we can do is praise the immense wisdom which You’ve displayed in the pages of Scripture!  Amen.

 

 

In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. Hebrews 7:8

 

Again the author brings in the eternality of Melchizedek’s priesthood. As I said, this doesn’t mean Melchizedek is an eternal being (unless he is actually Christ in His pre-incarnate state) but because no information is provided on him, he is a pattern of Jesus’ eternal ministry. Here the verse first mentions “men who die.” These are the Levites who collected the tithe from the people of Israel. This offering was because the Levites were set apart for the service of God and the temple; their position was an exalted one, despite the fact that they were mortal and eventually died. More importantly is David’s allusion to the coming Messiah who is a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” By making this statement Melchizedek is “declared to be living.” He collected Abraham’s tenth of the plunder which in the next two verses will be analyzed from a most unique perspective and one which shows the immense greatness of Melchizedek in the eyes of the author. While thinking on what the author is saying, understand that Abraham is mentioned well over 200 times in the Bible while Melchizedek is mentioned just 10 and yet the author intimates that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham! This would have shocked the Jewish people who read this considering their great admiration and esteem for this noted Patriarch –

 

“Abraham is our father,” they answered. John 8:39

 

O Lord, just as the Israelites depended on their genealogy more than a personal relationship with You, so we often do the same. We boast of our family relationships, our notable friends, how much we make, or how much we have. Rather than this, Your word tells us – “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” Help us to boast only in You! Amen.

 

 

One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. Hebrews 7:9, 10

 

We need to evaluate verses 9 and 10 together as they’re really one complete idea. Notice carefully what the author is saying today because it has implications in other areas of theology. He’s making the case that because Levi descended from Abraham so the tenth that Abraham paid to Melchizedek actually included the sacred portion from Levi who was yet unborn. Abraham is the father of Isaac, the father of Jacob, the father of Levi. So when Melchizedek received the tenth from Abraham, Levi is considered in this offering. If the Israelites paid their tenth to the Levites who were set apart to God, and the Levites through Abraham paid a tenth to Melchizedek, then it demonstrates the superiority of the Melchizedekian priesthood over that of Levi! If then the Messiah’s priesthood is in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110), this means that His priesthood is also superior to that of Levi. The logic is impeccable and proves the superiority of Messiah’s work. Therefore, the New Covenant must be superior to the Old Covenant. This was a critically important point for the Hebrew recipients of this letter who were considering a return to temple sacrifices. Surely Jesus’ priesthood is greater than that of the Levites and a return would be from the greater to the lesser. As stated, this same logic can be used in other areas of theology. Just as Adam is our first father, and we were potentially and seminally in him when he was created, then we are also legally in him as well. This is the reason why all people are born in sin and under God’s wrath. We are, as Jesus said to Nicodemus, “condemned already” and need to do nothing to be sent to hell. Rather, we need Jesus to be born again and go to heaven. Make sure you understand this… it affects your eternal destiny!

O God! How great is the priesthood of Jesus that His work supersedes that of Levi! How great is the life of Jesus that His work supersedes that of our father Adam! How great is the Person of Jesus! He is truly our All in all and it is to Him that we must turn. Praise, glory, and honor belong to You alone O wise and eternal God! Amen.

 

 

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? Hebrews 7:11

 

Based on what we’ve read, the author asks the obvious, “If the Law of Moses established the Levitical priesthood and this law was sufficient to bring perfection, why would David proclaim another priest was coming in the order of Melchizedek?” Melchizedek wasn’t of the tribe of Levi, nor was he descended from Aaron. In fact he was alive long before Levi was conceived. However, David said another priest in the same order as him was to come. It’s simply unfathomable that David would prophesy something like this, based on three passing lines of Scripture which pre-date the establishment of the Levitical priesthood, unless God’s Spirit was directing him to an eternal truth about something greater; something which would bring the perfection lacking in the temple worship. This is despite the fact that David himself was instrumental in helping arrange the Levite divisions for service in the temple. But none of this could attain perfection, nor could it make the people perfect. This is because the high priest himself was descended from Aaron, who was descended from Adam. He inherited Adam’s sin-nature as was discussed in yesterday’s verse. His imperfection and sin-nature required him to sacrifice for his own sins before he could sacrifice for the people. Melchizedek, having no genealogy recorded in Genesis, was a pattern of the Messiah to come. Despite Jesus having a recorded genealogy on His human side, He had none on His divine side; He is the eternal Son of God bearing none of Adam’s sin nature. The virgin birth provides the answer for all the theological dilemma’s that appeared to be looming when David prophesied of the One to come.

We thank you today O Lord for the wonderful blessings You’ve given us. Help us to appreciate the sun, the rain, the fluffy white clouds, and the beautiful green trees. Above all, help us to appreciate Your word which points us to Jesus… our Great High Priest. Praise to You! Amen.

 

 

For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. Hebrews 7:12

 

Despite being a rather obvious statement, this verse holds the single most profound truth for the Old Testament sacrificial system. David prophesied that One would come who would be a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” If this is a true prophecy, then it necessarily means that a new law must be built around the new priesthood. Moses received the law which centered on the book of Leviticus – the priestly duties specified for worship. Jeremiah also prophesied –

 

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD,
       “when I will make a new covenant
       with the house of Israel
       and with the house of Judah.” Jeremiah 31:31

 

This New Covenant is centered on the new priesthood and its new High Priest, who is Jesus. This truth simply cannot be dismissed while holding to the truthfulness of Scripture. Just as a new constitution was established upon America’s break from England which inaugurated her new government, the New Covenant breaks entirely with the Old. As Paul clearly proclaimed –

 

Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. Galatians 3:25

 

Therefore, the Old Covenant, in its entirety, is abolished; nailed to the cross. Those mandates which are in the Old and repeated in the New are to be followed, but those which are not, such as the Sabbath requirement, are set aside in Christ. If you can understand this, then you have truly entered the Gospel of Grace granted through Christ’s priesthood.

How blessed we are, O God, to be living in this Dispensation of Grace which frees us from the strict and unattainable edicts of the law which only Jesus could fulfill. It is His work, and not ours, which restores us to a happy relationship with You! Praise His name! Amen.

 

 

He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.  Hebrews 7:13

 

The author is speaking of the one whom Melchizedek foreshadowed. Tomorrow he’ll be more specific and we’ll deal with that when it comes. Today we’ll just acknowledge that the priests of Israel during the times of Temple worship were Levites. This was in accordance with the Law of Moses and the entire book of Leviticus (plus parts of other books) details the temple layout, the priest’s lineage, and the duties of these priests. However, the Messiah wasn’t from the tribe of Levi. This means there’s a problem which needs to be resolved. If the Messiah wasn’t from the tribe of Levi, he couldn’t participate in the temple rituals. As stated yesterday, it necessarily means that a new law must be built around the new Priest and His priesthood. Not only is this the case, but the very temple itself is no longer a sufficient point of worship for the people. A new temple is required for this new Priest. That temple is under construction even now –

 

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-23

 

Now, the people of God are “living stones” in the temple of God and Jesus is our High Priest. Are you seeing the majesty of what God is doing in redemptive history! All things of the Old Testament foreshadow something so much greater which is revealed in Christ Jesus!

 

Thank You O God for allowing even me to be a living stone in Your glorious eternal temple. How precious it is to be considered as a part of Your handiwork and may my life be used to Your glory until I find my glorification some splendid day yet to come. This I pray to the honor of Jesus my Lord! Amen.

 

 

For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. Hebrews 7:14

 

Yesterday’s verse said the coming one would be from a different tribe and that “no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.” Today he notes that this One of whom Melchizedek prefigured would be from Judah. However, in a later account – after the time of David – a king from the tribe of Judah attempted to offer the sacrifices of the priests and not only failed, but was punished by God for doing so –

 

Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD's temple, leprosy  broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him. 2 Chronicles 26:19-20

 

Clearly then, it wasn’t just any king who was prophesied, but it must be a specific person at a specific time. As the author has already noted, the temple and all of its rituals was specifically set aside for the priests who were Levites – and this was mandated by the law itself. By necessity then all of these things must be set aside or abolished to establish a new priesthood. None of the Old could remain if the New was to be in effect. As the genealogies of Jesus clearly record, He descended from Judah and yet He is now our High Priest. It logically follows then that the Old Testament is set aside to make way for the New. If you’re participating in a Christian denomination that mingles these two covenants, it would behoove you to study this truth further.

Yes Lord! We look to You alone and Your work, accomplished on our behalf, for our reconciliation. Help us to see the clear distinction between covenants and to understand what is for our edification only and what is for doctrine in this dispensation! Thank You and Amen.

 

 

And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears,… Hebrews 7:15

 

For the past two days we’ve been discussing the replacement of the Old Covenant with the New. This is necessarily true because there’s a change in priesthood, not only in a minor sense but in the complete sense. This new High Priest, selected by God, descended from the tribe of Judah in the flesh, but is “like Melchizedek” in the sense that He is also without genealogy – having no beginning or end of days. It would be unheard of for a descendant of Judah to minister in the temple because it would violate the law which Moses received directly from God. But even if a descendant of Judah were to somehow work his way into this position, it wouldn’t be nearly as difficult to imagine as would one on the order of Melchizedek. Why? As stated before, because Melchizedek was before the time of Levi. Being before Levi means that the Levitical priesthood actually would have superseded the priesthood of Melchizedek unless by one thing – that it was eternal; without beginning or end. If this is the case, and Genesis clearly records that it is, then the Levitical priesthood cannot supersede it. Rather, the Law was introduced “so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.” (Romans 7:13). The Law of Moses with the temple worship could in no way save, but only point us to our desperate need for an even greater law with a greater and more complete sacrifice. And that priest like Melchizedek did appear! He is, even now, interceding on our behalf to the Father. Jesus is a “priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” When you sin or err as a Christian, you already know how utterly sinful sin is…  it necessitated the death of our Lord Jesus. Think on this always and remember that our actions required a most precious and eternal payment.

 

Jesus, what You have done for us is greater than we can imagine. It is simply the splendid work of an infinitely wise and loving Creator. To You we bow, to You we confess, to You we sing our praises, O mighty and glorious God! Amen.

 

 

…one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.  Hebrews 7:16

 

For the past 17 verses we’ve been looking into the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus over that of the Levites. Melchizedek was shown to be greater than Abraham because he bestowed the blessing rather than Abraham. Further, Abraham gave a tenth of his spoils to Melchizedek. Thirdly, David looked back on the priesthood of Melchizedek and said that a new priesthood was coming in the order of Melchizedek’s. All of these points have been used by the author to prove that his priesthood was superior to that of Levi. Jesus’ New Covenant priesthood, being on the same order as Melchizedek’s, then supersedes that of the Old Covenant. Today we see another point which demonstrates this “greater than” theme. Jesus, because of the resurrection, has an indestructible life. As will be explained further in verses to come, the Levites filled a position in time and then died. For this reason, there were many High Priests throughout the ages. But Jesus is a High Priest forever. He prevailed over death because of His sinless nature. As Peter proclaims in his Pentecost speech to the people of Israel –

 

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:
    “I saw the Lord always before me.
      Because he is at my right hand,
      I will not be shaken.” Acts 2:24, 25

 

Death could not hold Jesus and can never touch Him again. He is “a Priest forever.” Hallelujah!

Lord, sadness must have come upon the ancient faithful as they saw their high priests die and return to the dust. Each new high priest was an uncertain entity and a fallible man, but glory to You O God that we have an eternal High Priest. One who never fails, never tires, never disappoints. We have Jesus! Amen!!!

 

 

For it is declared:
   “You are a priest forever,
      in the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 7:17

 

The author repeats this same verse that he’s quoted several times, which is Psalm 110:4.  Today he says it in the context of “For it is declared.” David was speaking by the Holy Spirit as he penned these words and they looked forward to the coming work of Jesus. As was quoted yesterday, this priesthood is eternal because it’s based “not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.” How absolutely unimaginable it must have been to the Sanhedrin that the One they accused and condemned as worthy of death would supersede their order by an indestructible life! As Paul says it in Romans 1:2-4 –

 

…the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

It is by the power of the resurrection that Jesus proved He was fully God, eternal, and a “priest forever.” It is for this glorious reason that the believer in Him is both eternally secure and always allowed access into the Holy of holies. We have an eternal Mediator who sits at the right hand of the Father and is always interceding on our behalf. If your prayers seem like they’re being unanswered, they’re not. Rather Jesus is working on your behalf and aligning your needs with His glory so that in the end you’ll see the absolute wisdom of what was accomplished on your behalf. Please understand this as you face trials or hardships – Jesus is there with you and is tending to every need as an empathetic and merciful High Priest.

Lord, may I never doubt Your glorious hand in my life, but rather Your word assures me that You are now and always “a Priest forever.” You can empathize with my weakness and you have the exalted position at Your Father’s right hand. Together those tenets assure me of Your ability to handle every woe and trial I may face. Glory to You!!! Amen.

 

 

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless… Hebrews 7:18

 

For those who’ve disagreed about the last few days of analysis, the one today and that of tomorrow couldn’t be clearer. The author says the “former regulation is set aside.” The law, all of the Old Covenant law, is set aside. People throughout the years have attempted to divide it into that which is still pertinent and that which isn’t by naming part of it the “moral law” and other parts of it the “ceremonial law” or some other term. However, no such distinction is made in either Testament. Rather, the Old Covenant law is “set aside because it was weak and useless…”  This doesn’t mean that there isn’t overlap in what was mandated before and that which is mandated now. Many of the Old Testament laws are incorporated in the New and are therefore binding – not killing for example. However, the Sabbath is not mentioned as a requirement in the New Testament and is therefore set aside. It’s that simple.  Does this mean the former regulation was defective or having some type of error? Not at all! As Paul says –

 

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Romans 7:12

 

The law fulfilled its purpose perfectly. It demonstrated that no one could be justified by observing it because no one could keep it perfectly. Only Jesus was able to meet its strict requirements, which He did. Thus He fulfilled it on our behalf. As He said –

 

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Matthew 5:17

 

Understand that He fulfilled what we couldn’t, but it is not abolished. If one chooses to reject Christ, it remains binding on them; they must fulfill it perfectly or be eternally lost.

Jesus, how grateful we are… You alone could meet the strict demands of the law which otherwise only bring death. And You’ve given us the choice – we can accept Your fulfillment of it on our behalf, or we can attempt (and fail) to meet its mandates on our own. We choose You, O Christ! We choose life! To Your honor and glory alone! Amen.

 

 

…(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:19

 

Today’s verse continues yesterday’s thought which stated – “The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless…”  The entire thought then is that the law was set aside because it lacked the power necessary to make a man righteous before God. The imperfection of the temple worshippers remained after each and every visit to the temple. But perfection is what God demands of us –

 

“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.’” Leviticus 19:2

 

The law could never make man righteous, but instead could only show him how utterly sinful he is in the presence of God. Something more was needed to bring us near to Him… something perfect in and of itself. This is the purpose of the incarnation. By His perfection Jesus prevailed over the law. Now, through faith in Him alone we stand righteous in God’s presence. This isn’t because the righteousness is inherent in ourselves, but because Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us – it covers us. Paul explains this transaction in Galatians 3:11-14. Can you imagine the wonderful love of God towards us in Christ Jesus! When we were powerless to help ourselves, Christ stepped in and carried our burdens and failings.

 

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Galatians 3:13

 

Surely we have a “better hope” than the ancient worshippers. Their hope looked forward to the Messiah and they only saw darkly what was coming – through shadows and figures. But our hope looks back on His glorious work, accomplished on our behalf and forward to the day we are glorified in Him. How marvelous are your wondrous ways O God! Amen.

 

 

And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath,… Hebrews 7:20

 

When Levi was selected from among the other tribes of Israel to minister before the sanctuary, it was because of their faithfulness during the rebellion at the foot of Mount Sinai. The congregation had been faithless to God and worshipped the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments. When Moses came down the mountain, he was appalled at the revelry going on and called out for those who would stand with him and destroy the revelers.  Many of the tribe of Levi came to his side and “that day about three thousand of the people died” at the hands of their own brothers, the Levites. Because of this the Bible records –

 

Then Moses said, "You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day."

 

Despite the heroic selection process of the Levites, tomorrow we’ll see how Jesus’ ministry is even greater in the way it was introduced. No oath was made to the Levites when they were selected as the priests. In addition to the superiority of the selection process, there is an interesting parallel in the New Testament which also points to the superiority of Jesus’ ministry –

 

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Act 2:40-41

 

Three thousand souls were killed at the time the Law of Moses was introduced, but three thousand souls were saved at Pentecost 1500 years later. Surely, the letter kills but the Spirit gives life!

Great are Your ways O Lord and greatly are You to be praised! We lift our hands to You in praise for the glorious honor of the work of Jesus on our behalf. Instead of death, we receive life. Instead of fear, we can worship with joy! How precious You are O God! Amen.

 

 

…but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
   “The Lord has sworn
      and will not change his mind:
   ‘You are a priest forever.’”
Hebrews 7:21

 

The author reminds us that it was with an oath that Jesus was made “a priest forever.” As God simply is, then anything He says must be. There can be no untruthfulness or change in God or in God’s word. The oath then is for our benefit – so that in our moments of weakness or doubt we can turn to God’s word and be absolutely reassured of His guarantee. The Levites didn’t receive an oath from God, but rather a directive to conduct their work faithfully. Should they fail in their duties, there were consequences for their failure –

 

He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony, so that he will not die. Leviticus 16:13

 

This Levitical system then, by its very nature, had to be temporary. In Jeremiah 31:31 God promised a New Covenant to the people and with the covenant came the oath of a new priesthood. This priesthood, by its very nature, cannot ever end. Jesus Christ has become the eternal Mediator of the eternal covenant. Because this is so, then the salvation of those for whom He mediates must also be eternal. Can you see these logical connections? If so, then you should have no fear when you fail as a Christian. No sin is too overwhelming for God to withhold His forgiveness, and there is nothing in all of creation that can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a past sin, cast that burden on Jesus – your “priest forever.” Allow Him to reassure you of the great and unlimited grace of God.

Lord God, thank You for opening the truths of the book of Hebrews to us. These words follow a logical and orderly sequence and lead us to the assurance of Your great love, grace, and mercy. Glory to You through Jesus… our Priest forever! Amen.

 

 

Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Hebrews 7:22

 

Over the past two days, the author noted that the priesthood of the New Covenant was made with an oath, something which was lacking under the Old Covenant. This oath was actually recorded in the times of the Old Covenant in the Psalms – through the hand of David. In so many ways, the Bible confirms itself and all of its contents. Historically, the Bible is a reliable reference of what has occurred. Archeologically, no evidence has ever been found to refute a claim made in its pages. Rather, archaeology again and again supports the biblical record. Philosophically, what can be determined about the nature of God from the created order is fully supported by what the Bible records. Internally, it reaches back and forth, confirming itself in various ways. Nothing is left unanswered when properly researched. Because of these and so many other assurances, when we see in Jeremiah that a New Covenant is promised and that it will be an eternal one, we don’t need to second guess what is being alluded to. Instead, we simply need to see what the Bible declares about it. This is the purpose of the epistles, including Hebrews. And Hebrews, again and again, demonstrates several truths – 1) Jesus is “greater than” each point or person to whom He is compared in the Old Covenant; 2) Jesus is the focal point of both adoration and worship, to the glory of God the Father; 3) All that is proclaimed in the New Covenant sets aside the Old Covenant in its entirety. If you’re bound in a legalistic environment which attempts to mingle the unattainable requirements of the Old Covenant, or if you’re in a sect or group which exalts any name above “Jesus is Lord,” then you have failed to receive the simplicity and grace of Jesus Christ – the “guarantee of a better covenant.”

 

…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Lord Jesus, we bow to you in adoration. You are majestic in splendor and beautiful in holiness and to You we give thanks, praise, and exaltation! Fill us with Your Spirit and lead us in paths of righteousness as we grow in Christian maturity. In Your perfect name we pray! Amen.

 

 

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; Hebrews 7:23

 

The first High Priest of Israel was Aaron who descended from Levi through his father Amram and through his grandfather Kohath. From Aaron came others sons and through his sons the line continued for 1500 years. There were strict regulations for these men including who they could and couldn’t marry. In addition to this were other requirements, some so precise that if they deviated from them, they would die for not properly performing them:

 

Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Leviticus 10:1, 2

 

These were two of the four recorded sons of Aaron at the establishment of the tabernacle in the wilderness. Nadab was the eldest but never attained the office of High Priest because of his unauthorized action. Instead, his younger brother Eleazer became the High Priest at the time of Aaron’s death. Other High Priests came and went, some being considered failures in their appointed office. But even the successful ones couldn’t continue forever. Being sons of Adam, they inherited his sin and also added their own sins in life. Such sin, then as now, results in death. Here in this verse, as in other verses, the author is demonstrating the insufficiency of the Levitical priesthood. No High Priest of Israel attained the perfection necessary to carry on the office, but rather died and left his duties unfinished.

The LORD bless you and keep you;

 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace. Number 6:24-26

Birkat Kohanim (the High Priestly Prayer of Israel)

 

 

…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Hebrews 7:24

 

Yesterday’s verse reminded us of the mortality of the high priests in Israel and how one generation would follow another in performing their duties and then returning to the dust. In contrast today, the author says “but.” Because Jesus is both the Son of God and the Son of Man, He met the strict requirements of the law and then gave His own life to pay the sin debt of all who come to God through Him. Just as each mediator of the Old Covenant was temporary, so then were his sacrifices. However, because Jesus is eternal and His offering is perfect, so then is His sacrifice; “He has a permanent priesthood.” This same thought has been presented several times in this chapter, but it’s because we’re dull in our thinking. We sin, often in a grievous manner, and we wonder how our sin could ever be forgiven. But the next few verses in this chapter will explain it completely – using the same logic we’ve used thus far. If you’ve called on Jesus as Lord, don’t despair over your sins. Rather, regret them and acknowledge how they must grieve Him, but don’t despair as if they’re unpardonable. To have this attitude is to diminish the great and glorious power of His atonement. The same Lord who spoke the universe into existence is the Lord who can handle your waywardness. If Satan is pestering you about a sin you’ve committed, remember Paul’s comforting words:

 

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Romans 8:31-33

O God! Help me always to remember that neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord. Thank You and Hallelujah! Amen.

 

 

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25

 

“Therefore” is stated so that we’ll look back and evaluate what the author has presented. In this case, 1) Jesus is a “priest forever;” 2) He has an “indestructible life” rather than basing his priesthood on ancestry; 3) He is “in the order of Melchizedek” who was greater than Father Abraham; 4) Jesus’ priesthood sets aside the laws of the former priesthood; 5) Jesus’ priesthood allows us to “draw near to God;” 5) Jesus’ priesthood came with an oath; 6) Jesus himself has “become the guarantee of a better covenant.” For these reasons, we know for certain that He is “able to save completely.” Understand the context though – “those who come to God through Him.” Jesus’ ministry as High Priest is the effective means of salvation. No one can expect a right relationship with God while circumventing Jesus. In a pluralistic society this is rejected, but the Bible makes it perfectly clear that there is one way and one way alone that the human soul can find restoration and a fulfilled relationship with God, and that is only through Jesus –

 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

 

It takes a gigantic knucklehead to study theology, read Jesus’ claims of exclusivity, and then think that God has made an exception in their case. Either Jesus’ words are true or they aren’t. If they are, then Jesus is the only path to God and all others lead to condemnation and hell. If they aren’t true then God has left man without the ability to truly know their eternal destiny. This would show a flaw in the nature of God – something which is impossible. Stand fast in your faith of Jesus and His great ministry and be assured that your faith in Him will be richly rewarded.

Thank You, O God, for the knowledge of salvation which is given to us through the Person and work of Your glorious Son Jesus. Thank You also that we have a sure word that is reliable and effective in leading us to Him. We stand undeserving and yet confident! Amen.

 

 

Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Hebrews 7:26

 

If today’s verse doesn’t make you want to jump up and shout, you need to get off the Xanax. We spoke a couple days ago of our need – the freedom from the guilt of sin. Its weight often seems unbearable and we painfully grieve over our misdeeds. O,,, but Jesus is Holy – He is unaffected by the sin which weighs down Adam’s fallen race. There is no imperfection in our great High Priest and so His cross is completely able to remove our sin-debt once and for all. He is pure – He is completely undefiled in thought, word, and deed. Because He is, His cleansing touch is able to purify us as well.  When we call on Him in faith, He gives us His righteousness leading to holiness. At some glorious point in the future, we shall stand in the presence of God unaffected any longer by sin and its consequences. He is set apart from sinners – this is the same line of thought as holiness. Jesus is completely set apart from all defilement, which includes those who have failed to call on Him. We can’t expect an eternal salvation for believers if we don’t expect eternal separation from unbelievers. God has given us the choice to choose life; to choose Jesus. If we neglect so great a salvation, only eternal condemnation can result. He is exalted above the heavens – The majesty of the heavens is nothing in comparison to the greatness of Jesus. We think of heaven as the ultimate prize, but the heavens were created along with the earth. The creation can’t equal the splendid majesty of the Creator and heaven can’t match the glory of the Lord. When we see Jesus… when we see Jesus we will have beheld the ultimate glory of God. May it be soon!

 

Heavenly Father, help us never to set our eyes on any lesser prize than the ultimate glory – that of our precious, exalted, and magnificent Lord Jesus! Your word again and again admonishes us to fix our eyes, our thoughts, our hopes, and our hearts on Him. Give us the burning desire to do so. And it’s in His splendiferously wonderful name we pray! Amen.

 

 

Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. Hebrews 7:27

 

Today is a climax of the subject matter we’ve been looking into for the past week or two. The author has been contrasting the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood over that of the high priests of old. There have been many differences in their duties, genealogies, and length of service, but today’s verse reminds us of the requirements of Leviticus 16. In verse 11 of this chapter, the high priest was told –

 

Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering.

 

Aaron and each of his descendants had to sacrifice a bull for his own sins before offering a ram for the sins of the people. After sacrificing this bull, he was to carry its blood into the Holy of holies and “with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover.” If he failed to do this, he would die because his own sins were unacceptable in God’s presence. But Jesus didn’t have to sacrifice for His own sins; He was sinless. Instead, His own blood was sprinkled seven times for us – His back, His head, each hand, each foot, and His side. Jesus’ blood, the most cleansing substance in all of creation, is able to cleanse each and every sin. Nothing you’ve ever done is too vile that it can’t be purified. When you look to the cross and accept what Jesus did on your behalf, you can never again be condemned for your wayward life. God has provided the ultimate atonement for you in the Person and work of Jesus Christ our Lord. Can I get an Amen!

O victory in Jesus, My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me, With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him, And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory, Beneath the cleansing flood.
EM Bartlett

 

 

For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:28

 

Here we are at the last verse of Chapter 7! What a great study this has been and the rest of the book will be no less so. Yesterday we saw the contrast between the other high priests and Jesus – they were imperfect; He is perfect. They required a sacrifice for their own sins; He required no sacrifice, but instead became the perfect sacrifice – “once for all.”  Today the author finishes this thought – the law, meaning the Law of Moses “appoints as high priests men who are weak.” This is referring to their sin-nature and their inability to withstand temptation. In contrast, with Jesus there is an oath rather than the mandate of the law. This oath “came after the law.” In other words, it sets-aside the law entirely. This has already been stated, but the author is ensuring that we understand it completely – the Law of Moses is set aside by the entrance of the New Covenant. This New Covenant appoints Jesus who “has been made perfect forever.” As was noted before, this doesn’t mean Jesus went from a position of imperfection to one of perfection. Instead, He was and is the perfect, sinless, Son of God. What’s perfected forever is this notion. Until Jesus died on the cross and then was raised to life, no one could have imagined His nature. He was thought to be merely a man who could be destroyed at the cross. But the very implement of His death became the point which confirms His perfection. By defeating the cross and being raised to life through the resurrection, all who realize the significance can comprehend His perfection and eternality. It is Jesus who established the New Covenant (Matthew 26:28) in His own blood; it is Jesus who died on the cross, shedding that blood and satisfying the wrath of God; It is Jesus who was raised to eternal life; it is Jesus who, even now, is at the right hand of the Father working on our behalf as we fall short of the law which He fulfilled.

 

Great are Your works, O Christ! Thank You for accomplishing that which no man has ever been able to do. In Your great mercy, You saved us from the debt we owe and from the curse of the law! No power of hell and no trick of the devil can ever steal us from Your great salvation. All glory to You! Amen.

 

 

The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,… Hebrews 8:1

 

Today the author sums up the discussion of Jesus’ role as High Priest by stating that He “sat down.” All of the furnishings and equipment mentioned in the construction of the tabernacle/temple are recorded in the book of Exodus. Nowhere was a chair authorized. This is because the priest’s work was never finished. They were assigned to 24 rotating courses, each of two week duration. And their duties during this time were carefully prescribed –

 

They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them. 1 Chronicles 6:32

 

This was a busy time for them and involved a tremendous amount of work as people came to sacrifice, again and again, for their sins. In contrast, Jesus performed His duty (His sacrifice), presented His blood, and sat down. The work is eternally finished! Not only did Jesus sit down, but He did it at “the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.” Uninformed people use this verse to indicate a distinction between the Father and the Son, thus denying the Trinity. But, the “right hand” is not a physical position; it is the position of all authority.

 

Your right hand, O LORD, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy. Exodus 15:6

 

Jesus is the right hand of God – the One who has “all authority in heaven and on earth.”

 

Jesus sat down! His work is completed, never to be repeated. Our Lord need never again face the agony of the cross and we need never again fear that our failings will separate us from God. In Christ Jesus, we are eternally secure. His blood has taken our guilt away! Hallelujah!

 

 

…and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. Hebrews 8:2

 

To remind you, yesterday said “We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven…” Today’s verse finishes the thought.  Jesus doesn’t serve in an earthly tabernacle made by men. Rather, He serves in heaven itself. The original tabernacle and later the temple in Jerusalem only prefigured the true tabernacle which is where God resides. However, this doesn’t mean God’s presence wasn’t in the temple, it was. In order to not get goofy, we can only speculate on the nature of the meeting which took place in the Holy of holies, but we can’t state with certainty exactly what it was like. Here are a few verses to contemplate –

 

There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites. Exodus 25:22

 

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. 1 Kings 8:10, 11

 

God really did manifest Himself between the cherubim which overshadowed the Ark. There He spoke with Moses directly. Later, His presence really was manifest in the Holy Place in the temple – so much so that the priests couldn’t perform their services. God’s presence was manifest at only a small point above the Ark and yet His glory radiated so much that it made Moses face shine and actually overwhelmed the priests. Imagine the glory which radiates from the heavenly tabernacle where He resides in all His fullness. Simply amazing!

 

How absolutely awesome You are, O God of eternity! We truly praise You for Jesus – He alone is able to stand and minister in Your glorious presence, interceding for us. On our own, we would simply perish at the site of Your majesty. Surely You are worthy of praise! Amen.

 

 

Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.  Hebrews 8:3

 

For the next several verses, the author will again demonstrate the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old using impeccable logic. When someone reads Hebrews, they can really come to no other conclusion unless they “suppress the truth by their wickedness.” Paul used this terminology in Romans 1 to describe the process by which men deny the truth of God when they view general revelation – that which God has presented to man through nature. But the same suppression of the truth exists when man reads God’s specific revelation – that which God has presented in the pages of Scripture. In both instances, “men are without excuse.” The power of the book of Hebrews is complete and effective in meeting its purpose, which is the demonstration of the superiority of Jesus and His ministry over many other biblical points and persons. As a real-life example, a Jewish couple was traveling separately on business. On the same day, one picked up a Bible and read the book of Matthew and the other picked up a Bible and read Hebrews. Each of them came to know Christ Jesus personally on that same day. Matthew revealed to one of them the true King of Israel. Hebrews revealed to the other the Guarantor of a greater Covenant; an eternal High Priest. Have you taken the time to share the knowledge you have about Jesus to others? If you’re speaking with a Jewish person, knowing and understanding Hebrews is an invaluable tool in being able to show who Jesus is and the superiority of His work in redemptive history. One other thing of note concerning today’s words is the importance of getting the Bible into people’s hands. The Jewish folks mentioned above found the Lord in the Gideon’s Bible left in a hotel room. Keep those who are involved in the publishing and distribution of Bibles in your prayers!

We look back on the work of Jesus and are fully aware of the offering Jesus gave on our behalf – His own precious life. May we never forget the awesome and yet terrible cost of our freedom from sin and the power of the devil. All glory to the name of Jesus! Amen.

 

 

If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. Hebrews 8:4

 

Until we get through verse 5, we can’t really understand what the author is saying today in its entirety. However, it’s good to be kept in suspense, eh. So let’s talk about what we have in this verse. Jesus was obviously here on earth, so the author isn’t talking as if His incarnation didn’t really occur. Rather what did occur wasn’t in the Temple at Jerusalem. Why? Because God chose the Levites to minister there and He also prescribed exactly what was to occur, even to the minutest details. Here’s an example of the exactness of their duties –

 

When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the LORD his God, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering a male goat without defect. He is to lay his hand on the goat's head and slaughter it at the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered before the LORD. It is a sin offering. Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. He shall burn all the fat on the altar as he burned the fat of the fellowship offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for the man's sin, and he will be forgiven. Leviticus 4:22-26

This type of specificity goes on for pages and pages and pages in the Law of Moses, covering every possible situation. The Levites followed these procedures exactly at the Temple. If Jesus’ ministry was only an earthly ministry, it would be a false one. The Levites already handled what was prescribed in the law at the place God chose for the ministry to Israel.

 

Heavenly Father, it is with thanks and gratitude that our sacrifice came not in the sacrificial system at the Temple, through the blood of bulls and goats. Instead, it came through the life of the precious Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus. We look to His glorious work and know that His greater ministry is sufficient to cover all our transgressions. Glory and honor to You! Amen.

 

 

They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:5

 

Yesterday’s verse acknowledged that the temple in Jerusalem had priests who offered “gifts prescribed by the law.” Because of this, Jesus couldn’t be a priest there – He was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi. It was the Levites who were set apart to minister and offer the appropriate sacrifices. But David said a priest would come in the order of Melchizedek – one with an eternal priesthood and with none of the imperfections of the Levitical priests. The term “foreshadowing” is often used of types and figures in the Old Testament. This is the case with both the temple and its contents as is noted today. These are only “a copy and a shadow of what is in heaven.”  Paul says exactly the same thing about the festivals and Sabbath days of ancient Israel –

 

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2:16, 17

 

These were given until the time of Christ; their fulfillment is in Him. The Ark is a picture of Christ as are its contents; each temple furnishing pictures Him; even the temple and each part of its construction have a fulfillment in Him. Likewise, He is the fulfillment of the festivals, the Sabbath, and the entire law. All are set aside in His work. If you’re struggling in a denomination which mandates a Sabbath Day, the observance of a particular festival, or any part of the Law of Moses, please know that these were fulfilled by Him on your behalf. You have freedom in Christ – you’re not tied to such facets of worship as they could never justify you before God. Put your faith and trust in Christ alone and God will be pleased to call you His precious child.

Lord, you’ve taken away such heavy chains from our lives – chains of condemnation for sin, chains of the law and its strict mandates, chains of insecurity. With such weight removed from our souls, it’s a wonder we don’t just fly away! Glory to You Lord Jesus! Amen.

 

 

But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.  Hebrews 8:6

 

Today is yet another verse confirming that the Old Testament is set aside in Christ. Jesus’ ministry is superior to that of the Levites and the covenant which He ministers is superior to their covenant… If this is so, and the author is clearly stating it is, then why would we as Christians ever choose to fall back on the Old Covenant or any part of it? When we were previously told the Old Covenant was set aside, it meant in its totality. Tithing, despite being taught in almost every church in Christendom, is an Old Covenant precept. The mandatory observance of certain days is likewise without effect under the New Covenant. The list is all-inclusive. Unless a precept is specifically taught in the New, it is no longer in effect. Jesus uses wording which resembles today’s verse Himself –

 

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:16, 17

 

The New Covenant is superior and has replaced the Old; its High Priest and Mediator is superior. In fact, Paul says in 1 Timothy that “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” The promises on which Jesus’ ministry are based are also superior – they are on oath from God and are eternal in their scope and nature. Rest, O Christian, in the work of Jesus!

 

Lord God, the repetition of the precepts in Hebrews is gratefully accepted. Because of conflicting data from so many sources on what is and what is not applicable to Christian life, it’s good to hear the same thought stated again and again in Your word in different ways. Thank You for solidifying our faith in Christ alone, apart from works of the law. Amen.

 

 

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. Hebrews 8:7

 

After all the discussion about the New Covenant setting aside the Old (meaning in its entirety), our author states what is evident from everything he’s thus far said – that because of it’s inherit weakness a New Covenant was needed. The weaknesses are obvious: 1) the priests were sin-filled men just like all of Adam’s seed; 2) the law could make no one perfect, but rather showed us that “in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.” (Romans 7:13); 3) The tabernacle and later the temple were corruptible and transitory. In fact, after the tabernacle was replaced with Solomon’s Temple, that was destroyed by the Babylonians. Then another temple was built which was destroyed by the Romans. 4) The sacrifices of the temple were imperfect and could never truly atone for human sin. For these and other reasons, another covenant was needed. This Covenant would be perfect in nature along with everything associated with it. Let’s consider another aspect of the Old Covenant which was lacking in its nature – the office of prophet. Even the prophets who lived and prophesied under the law were sinful men. They spoke the words of God, but their utterances usually accompanied some type of claim, such as “Thus says the Lord…” It wasn’t until the New Covenant that One came and spoke on His own authority, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:2, 28 If you remember Hebrews 1:1, the claim was made that God once spoke in certain ways, but now has spoken through His Son. In other words, what is recorded in the Bible is sealed and nothing can be added to it. Jesus has spoken. His apostles were granted authority to record their testimony of Him and clarify the New Covenant. Therefore, No other word is authoritative beyond the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.

O God of the Universe! You have honored us by bestowing upon us Your word, the Holy Bible. It points to Jesus, tells us of Jesus, and explains Jesus’ ministry to us. What more could we ever need. But even then, You’ve given us of Your Spirit to allow us to understand and accept the wonderful words it contains. Glory and honor belong to You! Amen.

 

 

But God found fault with the people and said: “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” Hebrews 8:8

 

This is a quote from Jeremiah 31:31. Notice how the verse for today says that “God found fault with the people.” The Old Covenant is perfect in its intent and purpose – to demonstrate that no one can be justified by attempting to adhere to it. The fault isn’t with the Covenant then, but rather with the people who were unable to meet its perfect demands. The law’s standards flow from God’s perfect character and only more poignantly show our imperfections. God knew this, but we didn’t. How could we appreciate Jesus; how could we appreciate God’s infinite mercy; how could we appreciate the perfection of God’s plan without first being given the law? It’s no different than feeling healthy. If we felt healthy all the time, we would never truly appreciate health. But when we get sick, we can appreciate our health more. In fact, the sicker we are, the more we can then appreciate true health. Jesus used this terminology even as He was fulfilling the law on our behalf –

 

When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 9:12, 13

 

If we were simply given God’s healing without realizing our sickness, it would have no effect in our lives. But once we were given the law we learned, as if tutored, our need to come to Christ and his perfection for our healing and restoration. Who did this New Covenant go to? It went to the house of Israel and the house of Judah; to those who had lived under its yoke and could appreciate the freedom it provided. Only after seeing its work in Israel and through the instructive hands of the apostles did it come to the gentiles. Now all can look back on Israel’s years under the law and see the wisdom of God in Christ Jesus.

 

O God! All the difficult work of meeting Your perfect standards was accomplished by Your own right arm – in the Person and work of Jesus. We can rest in His perfection and, by faith alone, receive complete healing and restoration. With give thanks to You! Amen!

 

 

It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.  Hebrews 8:9

 

Today’s verse is a continuation of Jeremiah 31; this is quoting verse 32. God made a covenant with the people He brought out of slavery in Egypt. If you remember, in Genesis 12, God made an oath to Abraham that He would bless him and make him into a great nation. In Genesis 15, He swore an oath by Himself that He would complete the promise just as He had said. God told Abraham at this time –

 

Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure." Genesis 15:13-16

 

As you can see, everything concerning the promise and Israel’s subsequent delivery from bondage was accomplished by God. After delivering Israel, the Mosaic covenant was given to the people, but the people were unfaithful to it, even from its inception. After enough disobedience, God turned away from the people and exiled them to Babylon. However, even in their disobedience, God promised them a New Covenant. When we are faithless, God is ever faithful. Remember this as you struggle with sin. He sent His Son to take your punishment if you will only trust Him. How splendid is God from whom all blessings flow!

God, even when we disobey and rebel, You remain ever-faithful. When Israel disobeyed and deserved destruction, you preserved them and even promised a New Covenant, a covenant guaranteed by the precious blood of Jesus. How can we neglect so great a salvation and remain guiltless? All glory surely belongs to You! Amen.

 

 

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Hebrews 8:10

 

Today the quote from Jeremiah 31 continues, specifically this is from verse 33. Jeremiah prophesied a New Covenant was coming that wouldn’t be written on tablets of stone, but rather it would be “in their minds” and “on their hearts.” By citing this verse and stating it was with the “house of Israel” people over the centuries have confused Israel with the church, a doctrine known as “replacement theology.” Because God made certain promises in the Old Testament to Israel which never came about, and because Israel disappeared from the scene as a nation, the church naturally assumed that the church replaced Israel and that those unfulfilled promises would now be realized in the church. However, as is often the case with unfulfilled prophecy, these people were wrong. The church did not replace Israel. The church age is a separate dispensation in God’s economy. Paul could not be any clearer in Romans 9-11 that God is not through with Israel and never does he confuse the two by claiming they are a single entity. In fact the very verses which replacement theologians use to support their case actually refute it –

 

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

 

When Paul speaks in this verse of “Jews and Gentiles” being one, he is confirming a distinction between the two. It’s obvious that males and females are not the same; no normal person would ever make such a claim. Being one in Christ is not the same as having no distinction in identity. Therefore, the gentiles are not, as replacement theologians claim, the Jews. Logically then, the church is also not Israel. Rather, at the end of the current dispensation, God’s attention will again be focused on the restored nation of Israel. This will occur at the rapture of the church.

You are the everlasting, covenant-keeping, and most glorious God! Thank you that despite our misinterpretations of Scripture, our salvation is secure in Christ and not lost in faulty doctrine. However, help our doctrine to be pure, that You will be glorified through it. Amen!

 

 

No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. Hebrews 8:11

 

Today’s verse contains a portion of Jeremiah 31:34 and is often misunderstood or misapplied in a believer’s life. Taking this one verse out of context leads naturally to the assumption that important aspects of Christian maturity such as dedicated Bible study, formal Bible schooling, etc. are unimportant. Rather, if read alone a sense that “I know it all simply because I believe” may result. Instead, as Matthew Henry so clearly explains it, “…private instruction shall not be so necessary under the New Testament as it was under the Old. The old dispensation was shadowy, dark, ritual, and less understood; their priests preached but seldom, and but a few at a time, and the Spirit of God was more sparingly given out. But under the new dispensation there shall be such abundance of public qualified preachers of the gospel, and dispensers of ordinances statedly in the solemn assemblies, and so great a flocking to them, as doves to their windows, and such a plentiful effusion of the Spirit of God to make the ministration of the gospel effectual, that there shall be a mighty increase and spreading of Christian knowledge in persons of all sorts, of each sex, and of all ages.” We now have the ability to receive the word through the availability of written material, through easier travel, and through time-availability. We also have the ability to understand the word because of its complete rather than “shadowy, dark, ritual” nature. This allows humanity to much more readily receive and assimilate what God has given us through His special revelation – the Holy Bible. We, in particular, are truly are the recipients of great favor to live in this period of history where we can access the Bible in numerous versions and through electronic means instantly. We can listen to sermons from pastors around world and read commentaries in abundance – without ever leaving our homes. Now, we can all know the Lord from the least to greatest.

Lord Jesus, how wonderful it is to be able to watch movies about you, listen to on-line Bibles, sermons, and commentaries, and to hear Christian music right over our radios! We’re filled with an abundance of Your word. Help us now to apply it to our lives! Amen.

 

 

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12

 

This quote from Jeremiah 31 confirms the doctrine of eternal salvation because of eternal cleansing. Under the Old Testament, the faithful were required to sacrifice for their sins – repeatedly. There were annual sacrifices, sacrifices for sins they unknowingly committed, sacrifices for being unclean in one way or another, sacrifices for this, and sacrifices for that. These were a constant reminder of their defiled state in the presence of an absolutely holy God. Forgiveness was granted when the sacrifices were made, but as soon as they stepped away from the altar if they were to become defiled again, they would again need to sacrifice because of their defilement. In contrast, when a person accepts what Jesus has done, forgiveness is immediate and eternal. As Paul says in Romans 4:6-8, which is a quote of Psalm 32, there is blessedness to the one whom God credits righteousness apart from works –

 

“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

 

Unfortunately, in the church there are countless souls who are forever beating themselves up for past sins. Jesus has forgiven them, but they have yet to either forgive themselves or to accept what Jesus has done. This may demonstrate a lack of faith in the power of Christ’s shed blood. If you’re caught in a cycle of stressing over sins already forgiven by Christ, end it today! You are free from all condemnation because of His work. On the other hand, if you’re continuing in a sin for which you were previously forgiven, you need to step back and understand that Christ’s grace and mercy are not license to continue in unholy living. Have balance in your life; confess when necessary, but don’t carry the burden of sins God has already washed away.

Lord, allow me to let go of the feelings of guilt from past sin. I know that Christ’s blood covers them all, but my heart still is heavy because of my faithlessness. But Lord, let me never become calloused to sin that I will again turn to it and discredit Your glorious name. Amen!

 

 

By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:13

 

There are two major points of interest in this one verse. First, as has been repeated in several ways already, the author makes his clearest statement concerning the end of the Old Covenant – it is obsolete. The law, meaning the entire law received at Mt. Sinai, and which is also known as the Law of Moses, became obsolete when Christ introduced the New Covenant in His own blood. Why would the author repeat this in several different ways and hint at it in several more? Remember that he was writing to first century Jews who had spent their entire life under the Old Covenant. Giving up all of its rituals and formalities would be exceptionally hard, particularly when facing the pressure of returning to it by family and community. For this reason the author brings up the superiority of the New Covenant in so many ways. By the time he’s done writing his letter, they will have no doubt about the supremacy of Christ, His work, and the covenant He established through His cross. The second major point to make about this verse is the comment “will soon disappear.” People argue over the dating of New Testament books. If someone wants to discredit them, he will generally tend to assign a much later date to the book. The logic is that more time between Christ’s ministry and the letter means either 1) more time for myth to be introduced or 2) a more solidified doctrine will result – thought up by man through contemplation and not by a mere understanding of the work of Christ. In the case of Hebrews, there’s no need to fret over a later date – such as a 2nd or even a 3rd century document. Why? Because the temple was still standing and the nation of Israel was still practicing its rituals. It wasn’t until 5 August 0070 that the temple was destroyed – a little over 38 years after the cross. By stating that the Old Covenant would “soon disappear” it confirms that the temple was still standing and being used.

Yes we have a sure word! Every word in the Bible was carefully selected for our edification and we can rest assured in all it contains. Praises to You for giving us clarity in what was accomplished by Christ Jesus that we can, through faith in His work, be eternally safe! Amen.

 

 

Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. Hebrews 9:1

 

Today we begin chapter 9! For the past several chapters, the letter has talked about the superiority of Jesus’ ministry; its eternality, the oath on which it was established in comparison to how the Old Covenant was brought about; the inability of believers to meet the Old Covenant demands, etc. Today and for a few more verses, we’ll look at the layout of the tabernacle in the Old Covenant. The “first covenant” is referring to the Old Covenant which established the Law of Moses. It had “regulations for worship” which are clearly detailed in Exodus and Leviticus. The duties were exacting and regulated what the priests were to do, when they were to do it, and how they were to conduct themselves as priests. It also had “an earthly sanctuary.” Like what was prescribed to be done, the very structure and make up of the tabernacle was also exactingly prescribed. Much of what was mandated is noted in Exodus 26-30 and then it’s repeated in Exodus 36-40 describing the actual construction. This repetition was to show that the workmen painstakingly followed the blueprints that were given.  Likewise, when the permanent temple was built under Solomon’s reign, it also had a specific blueprint to follow –

 

“All this,” David said, “I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.” 1 Chronicles 28:19

 

Just as Moses received the blueprints for the tabernacle, so King David received the blueprints for the temple. The worship of God, including where, how, and when was detailed exactly to teach the people of His absolute holiness and to indicate that He must be approached in a very specific manner. This manner is not unlike the reception of the gospel message today. In fact, these orders of worship prefigured the gospel.

 

How blessed we are to have the fullness of Christ Jesus and His glorious ministry. Instead of repeated sacrifices for sin, feelings of guilt over past deeds, and a worship which was regulated in detail, we have one sacrifice in Christ, freedom from guilt, and our worship is in “spirit and in truth.” Thank you for the freedom we have in Christ! Amen.

 

 

… which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Hebrews 9:2

 

Most people know that the tablets of the covenant were kept in the ark, but they’ve probably never thought of why. These reflect the perfect Law of God by which all people will be judged. Those who fulfill them perfectly (and none can) will be accepted into God’s paradise; those who fail will be condemned. However, God gave us His Son to fulfill them on our behalf. Therefore, those who call on Him as their Mediator will be covered with His perfection. This is why blood was applied to the top of the Ark once a year. It symbolized an innocent death on behalf of the unrighteous. When the Mercy Seat was removed, only judgment could follow such as in this case – “But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the LORD.” 1 Samuel 6:19 Likewise, the jar of manna was kept in the ark to remind the people of God’s provision – the Word of God. This pictured Jesus as well: “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:33 The account of Aaron’s rod which budded is recorded in Numbers 17. The staff of the leader of each tribe of Israel was presented before the ark to prove which clan was selected as priests. “The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron's staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.” Numbers 17:8 The word for “almond” is similar to the word for “watching.” This reflected the fact that God was always aware of the deeds of man, but that He had appointed a mediator who would stand between the fallen people and His glory. However, even the high priest had to offer a sacrifice for his own sins. Jesus though is a perfect, sinless, and eternal High Priest who is ever watching out for His own; standing as our Mediator par excellence.

 

Lord God – how beautifully the Old Testament unfolds in the Person and work of Jesus. Thank you so much for the book of Hebrews which opens our eyes to His wonderful perfection – our Substitution, our Bread of Life, and our faithfully watching Mediator!

 

 

Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place,… Hebrews 9:3

 

The Most Holy place will be discussed in rather complete detail in the days ahead, so instead of describing what was in it and what occurred there, we’ll look at the size and shape of the room as neither of these are mentioned later in Hebrews. Determining the exact dimensions of the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle is rather complicated in the Bible, but the Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus states it was 10 x 10 x 10, or 1000 cubits exactly. This is documented in The Antiquities of the Jews, Book III, Chapter 6, Paragraph 4. Later, the Bible tells us that the size of the Most Holy Place in the Temple in Jerusalem “was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high.” 1 Kings 6:20.  In both instances then, the shape of the Most Holy Place was a perfect cube. Remember that everything about both structures was given by God – first to Moses for the Tabernacle and later to David for the Temple. This reason is that they were “a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.” And this is exactly what the Bible later records in the book of Revelation - The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. Revelation 21:16. Some have questioned whether this city is shaped like a pyramid or a cube, but allowing the Bible to interpret itself answers the question – it is a cube. This city which is prepared for the faithful believers of all ages is immense in proportions. 12,000 stadia are approximately 1500 miles. In other words, it would fill up much of the land mass of the United States, and that’s only in length and width; it is equally high. Today as you’re going about your business, remember that God has something wonderfully special prepared for you and all of those who have called on Jesus by faith. Don’t let the tedium of life get you down, but rather keep things in their proper perspective – God has wonders in store for you!

 

Lord God, thank you for the sure promises of Your word and the splendid detail it holds for us as believers. Nothing is left unattended; every detail is just what we need in order to hold on as we await what’s coming! We love and praise You in the name of Jesus our Lord! Amen.

 

 

A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Hebrews 9:4

 

The entire layout of the tabernacle and all the materials used for it are given in Exodus. Today’s verse and the next few, however, are only focusing on two specific rooms of the tabernacle – the Holy place and the Most Holy place, which is also known as the Holy of holies.  In the Holy Place there was a beautifully ornamented lampstand, or menorah, made of hammered gold; it had 7 branches as opposed to the standard menorah of today which has 8.  The table and the consecrated bread were also in this room. The bread is known as the “showbread” or the “bread of the Presence,” but the Hebrew word is “lechem paniim” or “bread of faces.” The lamps on the menorah were to be lit continually and the bread, likewise, was to be always present in this room. The bread was changed out weekly on the Sabbath. A detailed study of these and all other furnishings will show that each prefigures Christ in some way. As an example, the pure gold used in the lampstand is symbolic of the purity of Christ Jesus; the oil used for the lamps prefigures the Spirit of Christ which illuminates the way to the Most Holy place; there are seven lamps which represent the seven-fold spirit of Christ which is noted in Isaiah 11:2 –

 

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

 

The middle candle of the menorah is known as the “Shamash” or “servant candle” and represents the earthly ministry of Christ as the Servant of the Lord. There were 72 ornaments on the lampstand; a number which speaks of the transmission of God’s word in Scripture. These are but a few of the many, many symbols of Christ to be found in the lampstand and equally astonishing comparisons are to be found in all the tabernacle’s implements.

 

What an honor and a joy to know we have the fullness of Christ as revealed in the Bible. The ancients had implements which could only intimate the glories to come in Jesus. We thank You Lord for bestowing on us the riches of Your majesty. All hail the name of Jesus! Amen.

 

 

Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. Hebrews 9:5

 

This is one of those honestly frustrating verses in the Bible… The author gives us just a little bit of information about the subject (enough to make the study start coming alive) and then he says, “But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.” Doh! It would be nice to have a thousand pages of detail on the tabernacle and its glorious foreshadowing of Christ. But this was enough to wet the taste of scholars for many centuries as they’ve done independent studies of the details of the tabernacle and temple – revealing wonders that are simply glorious in their portrayals of Jesus!  Despite cutting us off short, he does mention the cherubim of Glory and the atonement cover. The atonement cover is also known as the “Mercy Seat” and is from the Greek word “hilasterion.” This is the place where the blood was applied to the ark to remove the wrath of God from the people. This same word is used by John to indicate Christ’s work of propitiation –

 

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:2

 

The cherubim of Glory picture heavenly beings that surround the Mercy Seat on the ark, as well as the true Mercy Seat, where the ultimate propitiation was made for mankind –

 

But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. John 20:11, 12

 

Do you see? The ark, its Mercy Seat, the cherubim, every detail in fact – it all foreshadows the work of Jesus Christ. He is our propitiation; the atonement with eternal power to cleanse!

 

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be! Amen.
Reginald Heber

 

 

When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. Hebrews 9:6

 

“When everything had been arranged like this” can mean one of two things. If discussing the tabernacle which was portable, only the sons of Aaron could put up and take down the Most Holy articles. These were covered so that no one could see them when they were taken down, and uncovered only when the tabernacle was around them and assembled. After this the other priests could begin to perform their duties. In the case of the permanent temple, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place were prepared only once and then they were left to the exclusive use of the priests. The priest’s duties are laid out in the books of Moses, but particularly in Exodus and Leviticus. Later, in 1 Chronicles 24, David assigned the divisions of the priests and Levites who would minister at the temple his son Solomon built. It’s from this assignment of priests in an obscure passage of the Old Testament that the correct dating for Jesus’ birth can take place. From that assignment, John the Baptist’s birth can be determined, and from that, the birth of Jesus can be determined. As it says in this passage –

 

Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Luke 1:8-10

 

Because Zechariah was from Abijah, the rest of the figures to determine this date follow. Remember to never overlook even what is seemingly tedious or insignificant. It can lead to wonderful discoveries!

 

Lord, just as the priests in the temple had their regular duties, so we have regular tasks in our jobs. Give us the strength, wisdom, and ability to properly perform our duties, no matter what they are. And may You alone receive the praise as our fellow workers see our conduct. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

 

 

But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:7

 

The details of the annual visit to the Holy of holies are given in Leviticus 16. These were given after the death of Aaron’s sons – Nadab and Abihu. God demonstrated His holiness when they presented unauthorized fire in His presence. When they did, “fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them.” After this, He gave instructions about when and exactly how He was to be approached. If the instructions weren’t followed exactly, the High Priest would die. For this reason, he had bells sewn into the hem of his garments –

 

Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die. Exodus 28:35

 

If the bells stopped tinkling, those outside the Holy of holies would know he’d been killed and they’d have to drag him out. When he went in, he’d have to present the blood of an innocent animal for himself and then that of another innocent animal “for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.” This symbolism follows throughout the Bible – there must be a substitution for the sins people commit or their life is forfeit. Jesus then is our ultimate Substitution. It is His blood, and His blood alone, which all of these rituals foreshadowed. Without His life in exchange for yours, yours is forfeit; eternal condemnation waits. Please think on this and understand that you must face God either on your own merits or those of Jesus Christ. You will fail on your own; you will prevail in Him.

 

Thank You, O God, for the great blessing of knowing that all sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ our Lord. We look to His great sacrifice on Calvary’s cross as our substitution – without which, we stand utterly condemned in Your perfect presence. All glory is from You, for You, and to You alone! Amen.

 

 

The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. Hebrews 9:8

 

God’s Holy Spirit is credited here with the instruction of the people and priests in those times before the advent of Christ. What they learned, the speaking of the prophets, the reception of the books which make up the Bible, etc, are all the work of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t the work of an “active force” as the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim, but rather of God in the third Person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit. In today’s case, the teaching of God’s Holy Spirit was that there was a divide between the people and God which was symbolized by the veil. This partitioned off the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place. Remember, everything in the tabernacle was a “shadow” of what is the true reality of heaven. Because there was no access to God in the tabernacle, it reflected that there was no access to God in heaven either – except through a fallible mediator, once a year, and with the blood of an animal. However, the glorious account in Matthew at the time of Christ’s death reveals something new and wonderful –

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Matthew 27:50, 51

According to the Talmud, the curtain before the Holy of Holies was 40 cubits (60 feet) long, 20 (30 feet) wide, and the thickness of the palm of the hand. It was made of 72 squares which were joined together and was so heavy that it needed 300 priests to manipulate it. From the moment it was torn, which really occurred in history, access to the Most Holy Place has been granted to the people of God – fully and completely. This was no man-caused event either. As it says, it was torn “from top to bottom.” Something of this magnitude clearly indicates the hand of God at work. Glory be to Him for opening the way and providing access to His beautiful throne, through the Person and work of Jesus our Lord!

 

Lord God, we can only look with astonishment and complete gratitude at the work which you accomplished on our behalf – the death of Jesus – which opened a restored relationship with You! And even more, the resurrection! Now we also have the hope of eternal life! Amen.

 

 

It 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— Hebrews 9:9

 

This verse is referring to the sacrifices that were still being conducted at the temple in Jerusalem. If you read it in other translations, you’ll see how various translators chose to state it. Some put it in the tense of “was” and “are;” others choose “is” and “were;” while others choose both verbs to be present tense. As stated before, people choose to decide such things based on what they already believe concerning the 1) date of the original letter, or 2) if the letter was written to Christians in general or to first century Jewish believers in Christ. Today’s verse was taken from the NKJV because it correctly places the tenses as “was” and “are.” “Was” refers to the state of the sacrifices from their inception, even to the time of the letter. “Are” indicates these sacrifices were on-going at the time of the letter (the temple had not yet been destroyed) as was indicated in verse 8:13. The letter was also certainly written to 1st century Jewish believers. It’s important to study and understand where translators have done a poor job and why. As the memo in the preface to the original 1611 King James Version says, a “variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures.” The reason is “They that are wise, had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other.” In other words, if someone sticks dogmatically to a single translation they are unwise. Translators are fallible and therefore by studying and contemplating multiple translations, one is much more readily able to properly follow what’s being said and why. This really is important because the wording and terminology used in the original languages is often difficult at best and sometimes completely unknown to modern scholars.

 

Lord, how truly blessed we are to live in a day where Your word is translated into thousands of languages; and in some languages many times. We have study tools in abundance including commentaries, devotionals, computer programs, and more. Help us to use these to search out the wonders of Your word! Amen.

 

 

They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order. Hebrews 9:10

 

Yesterday mentioned the timing of Hebrews and the verb tenses translators chose in some of the more difficult verses. Specifically, verse 9 said, “This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.” These “gifts and sacrifices” are described in today’s verse – “food and drink and various ceremonial washings.” The daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rituals were external in nature and could never accomplish what they symbolized. In other words, the people didn’t realize that they only pointed to a greater fulfillment in the good things God had in store. The “food and drink” were the animal, meal, and wine offerings that were made for sin, thanksgiving, etc. The “ceremonial washings” included the people, the priests, and the animal sacrifices. The people bathed and refrained from certain things before coming to the temple. The priests bathed and wore certain clothes during their duties, and the animals were carefully prepared to eliminate any defilement at the temple. These rituals went on, with interruption during the exile and at other times, for about 1500 years. Eventually though, Christ came and fulfilled His ministry – a ministry which replaced all of these temporary regulations forever. When the “new order” came, there was a 38-year overlap which finally ended on 5 August of 0070 at the destruction of the temple. However, according to Daniel 9:24-27, there are still 7 more years offered to the nation of Israel for them to “finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.” (Daniel 9:24). Even now, the people have prepared the implements for temple worship and each year attempt to conduct sacrifices on the Temple Mount. In time, it will occur as predicted. Sadly they’ve missed the fact that these rituals point to the Person of Jesus.

 

Lord, may You open the eyes of the world to the truth of who Jesus is and why He came. We pray especially for the people of Israel who have, for so long, failed to see that their Messiah has already come and that He is even now holding out His hands to them in love. Amen.

 

 

When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. Hebrews 9:11

 

As you can see from this verse, there was nothing bad about the temple, its sacrifices, or the law which surrounded it. Rather, as Paul says:

 

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. Romans 7:12-13

 

What God established was good and it met its purposes perfectly – that we would realize we can never attain righteousness through the law, the temple, or the temple rituals. Rather, Christ fulfilled the law on our behalf and then “went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle.” I’d like you to sit and think about the glory of God – His absolute splendor. Now imagine how miniscule we are in comparison to creation. In fact, take 6 minutes to watch this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U After this, ask yourself the question David asked so long ago, “what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:4.  Imagine the Creator of all of this caring so much for you that He united with human flesh and humbled Himself on a cross… all for you. When you’re feeling low, useless, or lacking value please remember that God feels completely the opposite about you. Through Christ, He has called you His precious child.

 

In the pit of despair, I was all alone there.
I wasn't looking for You, but You found me anyway.
You put Your hand on face, then you changed my ways.
Nothing can separate me from…

You, You've found me. (ffh)

 

 

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:12

 

An interesting study concerns the bull which was presented by the high priest each year for his own sins before he brought in the blood of the goat for the sins of the people. The ritual is detailed in Leviticus 16. The bull actually symbolized the coming Christ who would need no sacrifice for Himself, but rather would sacrifice His own blood for the sins of the people of the world. In today’s verse it also says “having obtained eternal redemption.” If you go back to an earlier passage in Hebrews it says –

 

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. Hebrews 5:8, 9

 

The believer in Jesus Christ has no need to worry if he’s “lost” his salvation for some heinous sin; it cannot happen. If a person came to Christ by faith and accepted His offer of peace, then he is eternally secure. All people fall, all stumble, all make mistakes, but the blood of Jesus Christ is infinitely more powerful to cleanse than we are to err. He has secured “eternal salvation” and “eternal redemption” for His people. Both Peter and Paul state that we “have” been redeemed. Paul says in Ephesians 4:30 that the Holy Spirit “has sealed” us for the day of redemption. If the two apostles say we “have” been redeemed and then Paul says we’re sealed “for” the day of redemption, and Hebrews says that we have “eternal redemption,” then it logically follows that we are potentially redeemed now and that this will be actualized at a future date. It also means it can never be lost. Praise be to God that Jesus Christ’s blood was presented on our behalf! The perfect for the imperfect – what an honor to be called by the name of Jesus!

Jesus, I’ve failed you a million times and my soul loathes my failings, but I have no fear that You have turned from me. I will never let go of the glorious promise of Your eternal redemption for me…even for me. Praises belong to You, O Christ! Amen.

 

 

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. Hebrews 9:13

 

The author is setting up a contrast today. This verse is the first part of it and he intimates the inferiority of the sacrificial system of temple times. There were various animals that were used for these rituals – lambs, goats, bulls, doves, and even a red heifer’s ashes. Each served a particular purpose and some could serve several purposes, but they all had one thing in common – they only made the people “outwardly clean.”  Hyssop was dipped into the blood or other mixture and then it was sprinkled on the people. This was done as a reminder of their unclean state in the presence of God. Some of these cleansings, such as in the case of the ashes of the red heifer, took seven full days to be accomplished –

 

"Whoever touches the dead body of anyone will be unclean for seven days. He must purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third and seventh days, he will not be clean. Whoever touches the dead body of anyone and fails to purify himself defiles the LORD's tabernacle. That person must be cut off from Israel. Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean; his uncleanness remains on him. Number 19:11-13

 

According to the author of Hebrews though, this was only an outward cleansing. All of these rituals only foreshadowed the greater work of Jesus and His shed blood. Peter uses this term in the greeting of his first epistle, applying it to the true cleansing power of Jesus –

 

… through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. 1 Peter 1:2

 

Thank you Lord for the more perfect cleansing we have in the precious blood of Jesus, without which we stand unclean and condemned. Help us to remember always the high cost of our atonement and to accept it with humility, knowing we don’t deserve the least of Your favor. Amen.

 

 

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!  Hebrews 9:14

 

Today is the contrast from yesterday’s verse which said “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.” All those ancient rituals and sacrifices fell short of the glory of what Christ accomplished. This verse is similar to the terminology Paul uses in Chapter 5 of the book of Romans when he says five times “how much more…” Christ Jesus is superior to all things in all ways, including those blood sacrifices of the Old Testament. The people were outwardly cleansed by the participation in the temple services, but with Christ we’re cleansed both outwardly and inwardly – from the “acts that lead to death.” Any sin does this and therefore man stands utterly condemned in the presence of pure holiness. But Christ placed Himself in the gap and presented His blood on our behalf. God accepted this and we now have complete peace with Him, if only we accept by faith what Jesus did. Are you ready to stop trying to please God on your own merits and good deeds and simply hand your life over to Christ? In Him there is complete healing and restoration. Or, if you’ve come to Christ, are you still consciously carrying around the guilt of past sins? Let them go! We don’t want to forget where we’ve come from or the place we once were, but we also don’t need to continually bear our sins which have been washed away. Instead, have peace that Jesus Christ has truly – once and for all – cleared your guilty conscience and taken away the stains. Can you do anything else but shout? Whoo hoo!

O victory in Jesus, My Savior, forever.

He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood;

He loved me ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him,

He plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.

 

 

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15

 

It’s hard to even comprehend how much is involved in what Jesus did. Today’s verse looks forward to those who accept His work after the cross and also back on those who lived by faith in the Old Covenant system. Jesus alone is the mediator between God and man. This is made clear in 1 Timothy 2:5 and it excludes any other – such a Mary, whom Roman Catholicism accepts as co-equal mediatrix. Such heresy must be addressed because a prayer to Mary is an ineffective prayer; a reliance on her is a lost hope. It is through Jesus alone that we “may receive the promised eternal inheritance.” It is also Jesus alone who released the Old Testament saints from the bondage of the law. As it says in Ephesians 4:8 –

 

   "When he ascended on high,
      he led captives in his train
      and gave gifts to men."

 

Jesus’ death paid the true sin-debt that the old system sacrifices only foreshadowed. Until His more perfect sacrifice, these faithful believers were held captive. But Jesus led them to freedom in a triumphal procession. That He “gave gifts to men” speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for service in His church, of which He is the Head. Jesus is the First and the Last, He is the Beginning and the End, and He is all points in between. Truly, He alone is our All in all.

 

Lord God, keep our hearts, thoughts, and minds focused on Jesus and His work. Protect us from heresy which can only take our eyes off the Prize which is Jesus alone. When we stray from You precepts, send us correction that we may always be pleasing in Your eyes. Amen!

 

 

In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it,… Hebrews 9:16

 

The word for “will” in today’s verse is the same word in Greek for “testament.” The author is using the concepts in parallel. Just as a will requires proof of death before it is executed, so is the case with a testament; in this case, the New Testament. Jesus made it perfectly clear at the last supper that this was what was needed –

 

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Luke 22;19, 20

 

Paul quotes this passage in 1 Corinthians 11 and goes on to say, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” vs 26. Jesus’ death was necessary for there to be a new covenant. This is because the first covenant was already in place and was sealed, as we will see in the days ahead, with blood. Only a more perfect sacrifice could replace the Old Covenant, but the blood used for it was ordained by God as befitting such an agreement. Therefore, only a more perfect blood – that of a sinless Man – could replace what was in effect. Hence, Jesus’ perfect, sinless life was given to nullify the first and establish the New. As Paul said in the verse above, when we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” This is one of only two mandated ordinances in the Bible – the other being baptism. If you’ve never participated in baptism, or if you don’t frequently participate in the Lord’s Supper, make a commitment today to do so.

 

Come to the table and savor the sight, The wine and the bread that was broken
And all have been welcomed to come if they might, Accept as their own these two tokens
The bread is His body, the wine is the blood, And the One who provides them is true
He freely offers, we freely receive, To accept and believe Him is all we must do
(Michael Card)

 

 

…because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.

Hebrews 9:17

 

Remember yesterday’s verse which said in the case of a will it’s necessary to prove the death of the one who made it. This is because – obviously – until the person dies it can’t take effect. As we discussed, the same Greek term is applied to both a will and a testament and the same concepts apply to both. When a will is rewritten, the first will is obsolete and of no effect at all; it is superseded entirely. Likewise when a new testament is given in place of an older one, then the first is superseded, entirely. This is why the author firmly stated in verse 7:18 that the “former regulation is set aside,” and in verse 8:13 “he has made the first one obsolete.” Can you imagine standing in a court with a superseded will, knowing it to be so, and arguing why it should be accepted and the newer one rejected? If all was in order with the newer will, the court could find no reason for your argument and your case would be dismissed. How much more then should we accept that God, as a fully competent executor of His New Testament, has ordained that we live by the New Covenant which He provided at the cost of His Son! Clinging to Old Testament precepts is actually an indication that one has failed to trust the promises and benefits of the New Testament. Hebrews, above all other books of the New Testament, makes the point absolutely clear that we are living under new guidelines and with better precepts. To reinstitute dietary laws, mandatory tithing, or any other precept from the Old Testament is to live by “another gospel” than that which has been proclaimed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. We need to be exceedingly careful that if we follow such precepts, it’s because of our freedom in Christ and not because of a belief that we are somehow justified by our actions.

 

Heavenly Father – You alone know our failings and the areas where our doctrine is weak and ineffective. Transform our thinking to be in line with the precepts and guidelines that You have carefully and clearly laid out for us in the pages of Your word, the Holy Bible. Amen.

 

 

This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. Hebrews 9:18

 

The term “the scarlet thread” is used to indicate the symbolism which permeates the entire Bible concerning the need for a substitutionary atonement. This is a big term but simply means that something must die for sins committed. However, the death may be a substitute in place of the offender. From the first pages of the Bible in Genesis until the last pages of Revelation this concept is held to and never deviated from. Either we die in our own sin – eternally separated from God, or a substitutionary life is given on our behalf. When Adam and Eve fell, God provided the offering on their behalf –

 

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Genesis 3:21

 

When humans from all ages face God at the great white throne judgment, the same concept will apply –

 

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Revelation 21:27

 

In the Genesis account, an innocent animal was killed to “cover” Adam and Eve, thus symbolizing the covering of their sins. In the Revelation account, it is the “Lamb’s book of life.” Jesus’ death is the only true covering for fallen man. Anyone who has not personally accepted His work will be eternally condemned. It is a sacrifice of God’s choosing, not ours, which is acceptable. If you’re relying on the sacrifices of donations, good deeds, or right living to please God, you’ve missed the mark…condemnation awaits. Trust in Jesus alone today.

 

And so we “stumble over the stumbling stone” O God… Open our eyes to the simplicity of Your gospel of peace that we don’t stumble over it and lose our eternal souls. Show us the glory revealed in the sacrifice of Jesus which opens the door of restoration and healing. And it is in His glorious and beautiful name we pray.  Amen.

 

 

When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. Hebrews 9:19

 

The mixture mentioned in today’s verse was prescribed by God – the blood of calves indicates a young and innocent life was sacrificed to seal the Covenant when accepted by the people. The water mixed into the blood is a foreshadowing of the blood and water that came from His side – “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” (John 19:34) The scarlet wool is a common theme throughout the Old Testament and points to Jesus’ sacrifice and the cleansing it provides – “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) The hyssop is a plant similar to mint and was symbolic of the cleansing power of Jesus. David uses the terminology of such cleansing in Psalm 51:7 – Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  The procedure Hebrews is alluding to is mentioned in the book of Exodus and the mental picture it provides is sobering – Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:6-8) Even the people were sprinkled with the blood of the covenant. This made it binding on them as they said “we will obey.” However, as Paul states elsewhere – Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." (Galatians 3:11) As you can see, the people promised something they could never fulfill. God knew this, but in His great mercy provided forgiveness each year on the Day of Atonement; a day which looked ahead to its fulfillment in Jesus.

 

Lord, looking at the intricacies of Your plan of redemption, we can see the absolute wisdom in all You have done and promise to do on our behalf. Truly, we are in awe of Your marvelous perfection! Glory and praises – they surely belong to You!  Amen.

 

 

He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” Hebrews 9:20

 

This is speaking of Moses’ confirmation of the Old Covenant at Mount Sinai. Moses was given specific directions about every single thing he was to do and how he was to do it. When he did something, he did it speaking as an appointed mediator, subordinate to the one who appointed him – “which God has commanded.” When Jesus gave the New Covenant, it was on His own authority: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Luke 22:20

 

This is the same as when prophets of old spoke or acted –

 

When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD. 2 Kings 4:32, 33

 

But Jesus spoke and acted under His own authority –

 

He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. Luke 7:14, 15

 

This concept has been and will continue to be analyzed in the book of Hebrews – sometimes subtly as in today’s verse. Jesus is “greater than” in all ways because He is the incarnation of the LORD Jehovah. The Old Testament conceals Him, the New reveals Him. Don’t miss the mark by worshipping a false gospel, such as the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” of today do. This is an ancient heresy going back to a man named Arius and which has continued to infect right doctrine throughout the ages. Worshipping incorrectly can only end in death and condemnation.

 

Greater than! Greater than! Our Lord is greater than…

Greater than the angels, greater than Moses, greater than our sin

We have full assurance of eternal security because of our Lord

And nothing in heaven or on earth can separate us from Him! Amen.

 

 

In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. Hebrews 9:21

 

After receiving the covenant from God, Moses slaughtered an animal and sprinkled the blood on the people, thus binding them to the words they uttered – “we will obey.” Today we see that after doing this, he continued on by sprinkling the tabernacle they built and “everything used in its ceremonies.” This includes all of the articles of silver, gold, wood, and cloth. Yes, even the garments of the High Priest were sprinkled with blood. Imagine the enormous amount of work and attention to detail that went into their fabrication –

 

Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, to give him dignity and honor. Tell all the skilled men to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest. These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so they may serve me as priests. Have them use gold, and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen.

 

The actual detail of the workmanship in these garments goes on for another 38 verses. After all of this care and attention, Moses sprinkled them with blood. This would have permanently stained them. Everything on earth was tainted at the fall, including the people. All of this was to symbolize their corrupt nature and their need for atonement. Today, what does God see when He looks at you? If He sees you without the covering of Christ’s sacrifice, He looks upon you in wrath, because – by your very nature – you are a child of wrath. But if He looks upon the blood of His Son sprinkled on you, then you have moved to a propitious place of favor!

 

The blood of Jesus has cleansed my soul; It’s taken away the stain of sin. Now I, even I, stand righteous in the presence of absolute holiness, not because of my own goodness, but because of the righteousness of Christ. It is in Him alone I make my stand!  Amen.

 

 

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22

 

There are certain verses in the Bible that one would do well to remember. Such a verse carries key doctrine and can be used when discussing the gospel; salvation; sin; atonement; substitution and many other major points.  Today is one such verse. The past few days of discussing blood and today in particular, may not seem appealing to you. In fact many churches will no longer speak about the blood atonement mentioned in the Bible. But God’s word proclaims the necessity of shedding blood to atone for sin and – as clearly as could ever be stated – today avers “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” If you miss this point, then the Jesus you think you’re following isn’t the Lord of your life. As Peter says in his first epistle –

 

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18, 19

 

It’s not the things many people cherish most in today’s world which save. The bald guy on TV is completely wrong when he jangles a handful of gold and says, “This is the sound of security; this is the sound of gold.” When the gold is gone, those who trusted in it will be condemned for their misplaced trust. Rather, it’s only through the “precious blood of Christ” that atonement for the sins we’ve committed can be made. Don’t miss this key point! When God looks at a faithful believer, He sees the death of His Son and His shed blood – the Just for the unjust. Praise God! As is recorded in Exodus, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you...”

 

Lord God, how can it be that You would send Jesus to the cross in my place? I’ve failed you since birth and each day I continue to fall short of Your glory, but even then you opened Your heart to me because of the precious blood of Jesus. Glory belongs to You alone! Amen.

 

 

It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Hebrews 9:23

 

This would have been an unheard of thing to say by an observant 1st century Jew. The temple was the center of all religious life and the place where God met man, where atonement for sin was made, and was the direction the people faced when petitioning God. However, this temple was part of creation and could thus be defiled. In fact, history records numerous times where the temple was defiled and needed to be re-cleansed. Procedures were set up for this –

 

When they had assembled their brothers and consecrated themselves, they went in to purify the temple of the LORD, as the king had ordered, following the word of the LORD. The priests went into the sanctuary of the LORD to purify it. They brought out to the courtyard of the LORD's temple everything unclean that they found in the temple of the LORD. The Levites took it and carried it out to the Kidron Valley. They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of the LORD. For eight more days they consecrated the temple of the LORD itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month. 2 Chronicles 29:15-17

 

The Bible tells of the heavenly dwelling – perfect in all ways, but entrance to it comes at a cost. “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.” Revelation 21:27 In order to be accepted into God’s paradise, one must be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. To reject His gracious sacrifice is to remain outside of God’s favor and outside of His eternal dwelling.

 

Oh when the trumpet sounds the call,

Oh when the trumpet sounds the call
Oh lord I want to be in that number,

When the saints go marching in

Louis Armstrong

 

 

For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Hebrews 9:24

 

If you read the details of the Day of Atonement procedures in Leviticus 16, you’ll see all that the High Priest of Israel was required to do in order to atone, first for himself, and then for the sins of the people. When Christ died on the cross, He accomplished the true atonement which this only pictured. He entered heaven and appeared in God’s presence. When He did, He presented proof of the fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant, the Law. He also presented His blood, thus establishing the New Covenant. As He said during His ministry, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17. People misinterpret this verse and teach that the law is still in effect for believers; it’s not. The law is in full effect for all persons until they come to Christ. When one comes to Christ in faith that He fulfilled the law on their behalf, the law is then “set aside” and a new law takes effect. This is the purpose of Jesus’ death. As it said in a previous verse, “In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died…” Hebrews 9:16, 17. In one mighty act, Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant, set it aside for believers, and established the New Covenant. The cross then is God’s glorious way of demonstrating His infinite grace, truth, mercy, love, holiness, righteousness, and justice. All of these eternal and unchanging attributes are reconciled at the cross of Jesus. Without this moment, tension between these attributes remains between God and man, resulting in eternal separation and condemnation. Ensure you understand these points! If you misinterpret Jesus’ statement concerning the law, you will feel bound to it when in fact you’re not. If you misinterpret God’s eternal nature, then you will miss the point you’ll flounder in an ocean of uncertainty. Instead, have faith in Christ and be at peace with God!

 

What an amazing gift, O God! That you would unite with Your creation in the Person of Jesus in order to reconcile us to You. It’s beyond comprehension how glorious You are and we can only shout praises and thanks to You! Hallelujah! Amen.

 

 

Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Hebrews 9:25

 

The High Priest of Israel had to enter the Holy of holies in the sanctuary once each year and follow the exacting details prescribed in Leviticus 16. Included in these rituals was the blood of animals – some to atone for his sin and some to atone for the sins of the people. This ritual was absolutely necessary because, as the verse a couple days ago said “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” As it says today, he used “blood that is not his own.” This is the idea behind substitutionary atonement – one life is given on behalf of another. Although atonement was made in other ways from time to time in the Bible, these instances were specific to an occasion and still required a substitution for restoration on the Day of Atonement. One example of purification from sin outside of blood is to be found in Isaiah –

 

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Isaiah 6:6, 7

 

Notice the coal was taken “from the altar.” Which altar isn’t specified (sacrifice, incense, etc), but one would presume it was the altar of sacrifice where burnt offerings were made. So even in this account, the idea of a substitution may be inferred.

 

In contrast to the annual ritual conducted by Israel’s High Priest, Jesus didn’t “enter heaven to offer himself again and again.” Tomorrow we’ll look further into this, but for today just remember that life is forfeit because of sin… it’s either yours or a substitution; a substitution decided by God. It is by Jesus’ death alone that we are reconciled to our heavenly Father.

 

Judgment is coming, all will be there.
Each on receiving, justly his due
Hide in the saving, sin cleansing blood,
And I Will pass, will pass over you.
(John Foote)

 

 

Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.  Hebrews 9:26

 

Several thoughts led up to this verse, 1) blood must be shed before forgiveness can be granted; something must die for sin – the sinner or a substitute; 2) blood was required to purify the people, the temple, and all of the furnishings in the temple; 3) Jesus’ sacrifice was not made to purify the earthly tabernacle, nor heaven (which is already pure); it was to provide proof of a substitutionary death on our behalf; 4) Jesus’ sacrifice is once for all time and provides eternal cleansing from sin.

 

All of this demonstrates the superiority of the New Covenant and also clearly shows that salvation is eternal. No sin committed after salvation can separate the person from God. Once a person is purified, he or she is eternally clean and free from condemnation. Were this not so, as Arminianism teaches, then Christ’s blood would insufficient for any sin. But Christ suffered once, the godly for the ungodly; the righteous for the unrighteousness. There is nothing more that can add righteousness to an individual. His blood, therefore, is fully able to perfect those who have accepted God’s offer of peace through Him. As today’s verse makes abundantly clear, “…he has appeared ‘once for all’ … to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”  As Paul jubilantly proclaims –

 

For from him and through him and to him are all things.
      To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:36

 

When I stand, in that place, Free at last, meeting face to face
I am Yours Jesus You are mine, Endless joy, perfect peace
Earthly pain finally will cease, Celebrate Jesus is alive… He's alive.

Hallelujah and amen!

 

 

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,… Hebrews 9:27

 

This is an often quoted verse during sermons – and rightfully so! We try our best to not think of death, but it’s coming for each and every one of us. Only two people in the history of humankind were translated to heaven without dying – Enoch, the 7th man from Adam, and Elijah the prophet. We can infer from several passages in the Bible that both of these men will be back during the tribulation period to witness to the world as indicated in Revelation 11:3 –

 

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.

 

However, they will be killed as is recorded in verse 7 of the same chapter. After this, they will be raised to life and taken to heaven in the presence of an unbelieving world. All of this means that death is awaiting all people and we need to be prepared to meet our Maker… and the duration of our stay, even if not cut short, is not a long one –

 

The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10

 

In comparison to eternity, 70 or 80 years is utterly insignificant. Are you willing to step out in faith during these brief years and live a life of holiness and honor to Christ Jesus? He paid the greatest price imaginable to save you from condemnation; consider this and determine today to bring credit and glory to His name during your brief and tenuous stay here!

 

Lord, as the Psalm says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Let us not fail you in our duties, but strengthen us to bring Your name the renown that it deserves. Praises, glory, and honor belong to You alone! Amen.

 

 

…so 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. Hebrews 9:28

 

Today’s verse resembles something Paul said to Timothy and which gives us assurances of immense joy and of blessing –

 

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8

 

As we wait, longing for the return of Christ, we can reflect on the majesty of the work He accomplished. He “was offered once to bear the sins of many.” Just as we’re appointed to die and then face judgment, so Christ died once – the righteous for the unrighteous. We only get one shot at our eternal future. There is no such thing as “karma” nor is their “reincarnation.” When we breathe our last, our destiny is set. Jesus’ death and resurrection confirms this. His cross demonstrates that there is finality to things and not a cycle of repetition. For those who make the right choice, Christ “will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” This verse, along with so many others in Hebrews, clearly points to eternal salvation. If in fact we’re set apart from sin unto salvation by His death, then His return for us is a guarantee. Are you stressing over sins you’ve committed since coming to Christ? Are you scared of condemnation because of the words of a pope, priest or pastor? Put those fears to rest once and for all. Yes, you will be judged for your waywardness, but not for condemnation, only for loss of rewards. Christ’s death has secured your eternal destiny. All we need to do is accept His work and trust that it is sufficient!

Lord Jesus, were it up to me… were it up to me I would have lost my salvation 10 seconds after I accepted You. But how wonderful it is to know that it’s not up to me at all! Your power to save is far greater than my inadequacy to obey. All glory, honor, majesty, and praise belongs to You alone! Amen.

 

 

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Hebrews 10:1

 

Welcome to chapter 10! What a great adventure the past 9 chapters have been. In the following three verses, we’re going to sum up what was said in chapter 9. Today is the first part of that – “The law is only a shadow…” This doesn’t mean just the Ten Commandments; it means the entire law of Moses and the Old Testament which is based on that law. Paul says the same thing about the feasts, celebrations, and Sabbath day worship –

 

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2:16, 17

 

Dietary, sacrificial, and festival laws fall under the broader Mosaic Law and the Sabbath Day falls specifically under the 10 Commandments. Therefore, the entire Old Testament is included in this concept. These, and all other Old Testament precepts were shadows of the good things coming in Christ; they prefigured His work. Because of this we see that those sacrifices which went on and on – daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly (the author states “endlessly” to indicate the futility of the effort) could never “make perfect those who draw near to worship.” Instead, these only looked forward to Jesus. Are you still trying to please God by some Old Testament requirement? If so, look to Jesus whom these things only foreshadowed. All is right between God and man because of Him alone. May you be blessed as you seek His face.

 

Yes Lord! We are ever-so grateful for what you have done on our behalf. We are made perfect, not through repetitive sacrifices and observance, but through Your mighty work, accomplished on our behalf. To You we cry Whoo Hoo and Hallelujah! Amen.

 

 

If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. Hebrews 10:2

 

Today our author comes to an obvious conclusion concerning the on-going sacrifices at the temple. Yesterday said that the law could “never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” We know this is true, with certainty, because if they could have, they would have ceased once the worshippers were cleansed. Instead though, the worshippers continued to feel the guilt of their sins. Even Israel’s great king, David, carried the weight of his sin. In Psalm 38, he mourns over his guilt –

 

My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. vs 4.

 

The entire Psalm continues on in this vein until the closing verses –

 

O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.

Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior. vs 21, 22

 

However, in Christ we have a sure promise –

 

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

 

As with every new thought in the book of Hebrews, the author assures and reassures the reader of the concept of freedom from guilt and also eternal salvation. In Christ, all things are made new. Jesus asks you to leave all of your feelings of guilt at His cross. Make the effort today to do so and trust that He has eternally cleansed you from your offenses.

O God we thank you for the complete and eternal cleansing power of the cross. Glory, honor, and majesty belong to You for the mighty deliverance You brought about on our behalf. Truly no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him! Amen.

 

 

But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins,… Hebrews 10:3

 

Yesterday’s verse spoke of the “sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year” and how they were insufficient to perfect the worshipers who made them. Instead, they did exactly the opposite of what the people thought they were doing. They judged themselves free of sin and guilt because of them, but instead it reminded them that they were sin-filled. This is exactly what happens in churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples all around the world every day. It’s also the same thing that happens in the hearts of the people who deny an all-wise Creator. When they do acts of charity for others – for whatever reason – they are attempting to justify themselves in the presence of God (whether they acknowledge Him as such or not). A good example of incorrect justification is Canon 10 of the Council of Trent, to which Roman Catholicism adheres –

 

If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

 

The claim here is that man is not justified by the work of Jesus Christ alone. Instead, the claim is made that we are “required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification.” It goes on to say that anyone who claims they are justified in this manner (by Christ alone) is anathema. In fact, making this statement is, by default, calling 1) Jesus anathema; 2) Paul anathema; 3) the Bible insufficient as a source for holiness and thus not God’s infallible revelation to man. Our sacrifices – whether in the temple of old or in our charitable deeds of today can never justify us, nor add to our justification. Instead we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24

 

Lord Jesus, let us not miss the mark. We are truly, surely, and completely justified by faith in You and Your work alone. Let us not be so prideful or haughty as to ever claim we could add to what You have done in order to stand right in the presence of God. All glory – every last bit of it – belongs to You alone! Amen.

 

 

…because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:4

 

Today’s verse finishes summing up the need for Christ and His perfect work described in chapter 9. The statement is simple but carries huge significance for the ancient worshippers and also for those around the world today – animal sacrifices are insufficient to take away sin. Why is this so important? Because these sacrifices went on continually from the time of Adam, through the time of Noah, Job, Abraham, Moses and right up to the time of Jesus. And yes, they continue today in much of the world. In almost every culture today – Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. – there are sects of individuals who perform blood sacrifices in an attempt to appease God or cleanse themselves of sin. But the Bible is perfectly clear – animal sacrifices can never take away the feelings of guilt because they can’t remove sin. They can only remind people of their sin and guilt. The very rituals which are conducted in an attempt to cleanse nagging feelings of wrongdoing only make things worse. We know this intuitively because many cultures of the past went so far as to perform human sacrifices instead of animal sacrifices. Such rituals are recorded in the Bible and in the history of many societies. Modern cultures have forbidden this, but the fact that they were conducted shows an understanding that animals were insufficient to purge sin. However, even these human sacrifices weren’t couldn’t cleanse. Why? Because the humans that were sacrificed were stained with their own sin! It’s impossible to transfer sin-guilt to an already sin-tarnished person. Even baby sacrifices (such as mentioned in Jeremiah 32:35) were insufficient. King David records in Psalm 51:5 that we’re sinful from birth. There is no possible sacrifice in creation that can take away sin; hence the need for Jesus. Only the sinless God/Man could truly atone for the sins of the world. Thanks be to God for Christ Jesus!

Are you relying on something to please God other than Jesus Christ? Do you feel that the sacrifices of money, deeds, animal blood, fasting, remorse, or living a “good life” are sufficient to make God happy? Don’t delude yourself. Instead, humble yourself at the foot of the cross and accept what God has done for you. He’s given His Son to pay your sin-debt.

 

 

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
   "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
      but a body you prepared for me;
Hebrews 10:5

 

“…Christ came into the world.” Man o man, we could stop there and never speak again of anything else. God united with human flesh – this really happened in the history of the world. No other thing will ever compare to what happened at that point in time. As the world turns, as the earth moves through the hugely vast solar system and that in turn moves through an even more vast galaxy – in the midst of billions of galaxies – and all of them moving through the continuum of time and space; no other thing which has ever occurred compares to the coming Christ. And so Christ came, perfectly pure and holy, to redeem man – the one part of creation allowed to deny the very One he was created to glorify. Think to yourself, “I can deny my Creator.” Imagine the immensity of that thought. Now think that not only a few of us, but every one of us since creation has done this at one time or another. We’ve put our desires above the obligation to glorify Him. Instead of releasing His hand and allowing us to return to nothing, God sent Christ into the world to reconcile us to the Father. In the days ahead, we’ll continue with the incarnation of Christ and what the author intends for us to see, but understand with certainty – Jesus was flesh and blood, born of a virgin, and His body was prepared for a specific purpose. You cannot deny the incarnation of Jesus Christ, nor can you deny His virgin birth, His cross, or His resurrection and have saving faith. Equally important is the knowledge that there is no other possible avenue to reconciliation with God. Oprah Winfrey is wrong when she claims there are “many paths to God.” Such talk will end in condemnation and eternal destruction. Christ came into the world; God has shown His immense love for us in the Person of Jesus. No sacrifice, no offering, no payment from us is acceptable to God apart from Jesus. Instead, a body was prepared, a Man came, and a life was given. Don’t be so utterly foolish as to accept less.

 

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts, 1707

 

 

…with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Hebrews 10:6

 

Burnt offerings and sin offerings were prescribed by the law. In fact detailed instructions were given in order to properly conduct them. And yet today’s verse says they weren’t pleasing to God. Surely then the fault must have rested with the people and not the sacrifice itself. And this is just what’s recorded throughout the writings of the prophets, such as this verse from Micah –

 

With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? Micah 6:6, 7

 

The prophet asks the people a set of rhetorical questions. These questions included those things prescribed in the law to be given as offerings – in massive quantities. Then he adds in his firstborn as a potential offering. This doesn’t necessarily mean human sacrifice. He could be indicating a dedication to the Lord like Samuel’s mother did – giving him to the service of the Lord all the days of his life. But all of these offerings, even a firstborn, were insufficient. Micah then answers –

 

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

 

And so Jesus came, showing us how to “act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly” with our God.

 

Lord God, surely You are worthy of our full devotion. Help us to follow in Jesus’ steps and to not stray from acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly in Your glorious presence all the days of our lives. Keep us from being haughty or proud as we pursue You! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Then I said, “Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God.” Hebrews 10:7

 

Today’s verse is taken from Psalm 40:6-8. It isn’t a direct quote, but rather a combination of two separate parts of these verses. The words reflect the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint. The majority of the quotes in the New Testament reflect the wording of the Septuagint and it’s a reliable witness of the intent of the passage. The verse is certainly speaking of Jesus and may reflect the reason why the Hebrew translation reads differently – Jewish scribes after His time may have determined the translation needed adjustment… Regardless of this, the writer of Hebrews makes the obvious connection:

 

Verse 5 – “…Christ came into the world.”

Verse 6 – “…with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.”

Verse 7 – “Here I am…”

 

The writer is saying that today’s verse is speaking of Jesus Christ and His greater work. In the days ahead, this will be broken down and analyzed. Today, let’s note that what is written in the Old Testament points to Jesus. As our author says, “…it is written about me in the scrolls.” The Old Testament presents but conceals the coming Christ. The New Testament presents and reveals Him. It is this revelation which demonstrates that Jesus came to do God’s will, and He did it perfectly. Even a pagan Roman procurator confesses –

 

Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” Luke 23:4

 

In Thee is all our righteousness,
In Thee all peace and blessedness.
Who trusteth in Thy holy Name
Shall be redeemed from sin and shame.
Ba­sil­i­us Förtsch

 

 

First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Hebrews 10:8

 

As is often done in Hebrew writing, the author turns around and repeats exactly what he has just said in order to make a point. Today repeats verses 5 and 6. This is usually done to solidify what’s been said or to set up a contrast. In today’s case, it’s used for both purposes – he’s ensuring the reader understands that the temple sacrifices couldn’t produce felicity between God and man, even though the law required them. The repetition is also used to bring about the contrast between what was then and what is now in Christ. This will be looked at more in the coming verses. The fact that these were mandated and carried out for about 1500 years doesn’t mean Israel was “spinning her wheels.” Instead as Paul says in Romans 7:7-10 –

 

But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Galatians 3:22-25

 

These sacrifices, which were based on the law, were meant to teach that the law could only point us to our need for Christ. The mandates of the law were unobtainable and thus He needed to fulfill them in our place. Additionally, the sacrifices were ineffective and thus He needed to die to provide atonement in their place. In other words – He shoots; He scores. All points to Jesus!

 

Thank you, O God! When we were ever-missing the target, whether through failing to meet the demands of the law, or providing an insufficient sacrifice for having failed to meet that law, You came in and saved the day. The goal is now obtainable – faith in Jesus and His work. Now we too can shoot and score … the goal is Jesus! Amen.

 

 

Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. Hebrews 10:9

 

In order to follow the line of thought properly, we need to remember yesterday’s quote –

 

“‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’ (although the law required them to be made).”

 

The Old Testament sacrifices weren’t pleasing to God, despite the fact that they were mandated by the law; they were ineffectual in restoring a right-relationship between God and man. This precipitated the need for something greater. A call was made and a voice responded, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” As it says in Isaiah 59:16 –

 

He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.

 

God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, provided the salvation which the law couldn’t. In providing this work, the Old Testament law was set aside. Remember what it says in Hebrews 7:12 – “For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.”

 

And again in Hebrews 8:4 – “If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.”

 

As you can see, 1) there were “gifts” or sacrifices already prescribed by the law; these were superseded by the ultimate Gift of Jesus. 2) There was a change in priesthood, from Aaron to Jesus. Therefore, 3) There was a change in the law; the first was set aside to establish the second.

 

Lord, help us to never fall back on that which couldn’t satisfy.  Help us to never be trapped in the legalism of the law such as dietary, tithing, or other restrictions. Instead, keep our eyes focused on Jesus – our foundation, High Priest, Savior, and the One from whom all blessings truly flow! Amen.

 

 

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10

 

“That will” in today’s verse is what was exclaimed yesterday – “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” Jesus came to fulfill God’s will on behalf of fallen man; to perfect the imperfect and to restore that which had fallen. By doing God’s will, Jesus fulfilled the law which was then “set aside” to make way for the New Covenant. Through this covenant, all who call on the name of the Lord by faith “have been made holy through” His sacrifice, once and for all. Not once, but twice in today’s verse the author proclaims eternal salvation for the believer –

 

1) We “have been” made holy, and

2) This was accomplished “once for all.”

 

There is no need to fret over whether we need to ask Jesus more than once to save us. Nor is there any need to question whether our prayer in faith, be it recently or many years ago, has truly made us acceptable to God… it has. We also don’t need detailed knowledge of what occurred or how it happened. What’s needed is to once and for all, with the simple faith of a child, ask Jesus to come into our lives, forgive us, and be our Savior. Everything after that is growing in Christian maturity, but never let anyone deceive you that you need to do more. Jesus is big enough to save even you and He is powerful enough to never let you go –

 

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. John 6:37

 

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb!

Elisha A. Hoffman

 

 

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. Hebrews 10:11

 

The author repeats himself as he builds his case for the supremacy of the work of Jesus. Today he’s repeating a portion of verse 1 which says, “the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year” and a verse 4 which says, “because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” He adds in a new thought today as well though – that “every priest stands and performs his religious duties.” Tomorrow he will contrast this (I just can’t wait to see what he’s going to say!) and will demonstrate Christ’s supremacy over that of the Aaronic priesthood. Until then, let’s think on the huge multitude of sacrifices that were made over the years from Moses to Jesus. There were literally tens of thousands of them. Each fulfilled a particular purpose and constantly reminded the people that they were imperfect and in need of atonement. How much greater then is Jesus, who truly died for the sins of the world – one sacrifice for all time. You’re possibly struggling with the idea of asking Jesus to save you more than once. In fact, you may have asked Him to save you many times because you fear that you didn’t do it right or that He somehow didn’t hear you. These thoughts are based on fear. But as John says –

 

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.1 John 4:18

 

Have no fear – if Christ died once for our atonement, then you need only ask Him to save you once. Be perfected in His love which was demonstrated on the cross and you’ll be assured of eternal salvation. Surely His sacrifice is sufficient. Let’s pray about this.

 

Heavenly Father, give me a spirit of peace and assurance that my salvation is secure in the work of Jesus. Let me not be fearful that I could ever lose what You have so graciously provided for me through His cross. Today and forevermore, I will stand on the promises of Your word – I am saved, saved, saved! Saved through the blood of Christ! Amen.

 

 

But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Hebrews 10:12

 

“This priest” is referring to Jesus. Notice the contrast in yesterday’s verse which spoke of the high priests in the Jerusalem temple – “every priest stands and performs his religious duties…” The furnishings in the temple in Jerusalem are carefully detailed in the Old Testament, but nowhere is a chair or a place of rest mentioned. This is because their work was never done. There were always more sins which required more sacrifices. And, in turn, these sacrifices could never take away sin – so the work never ended. In contrast, Jesus provided “one sacrifice for sins” after which… “He sat down!” If you’ve been struggling with the doctrine of eternal salvation which is mentioned time and again on this daily devotional, consider today’s verse and be at peace. Jesus went to the cross, paid the price for your sin-debt, and then sat down. In essence, what He did is:

 

1) Complete

2) Never to be repeated, and

3) Eternal in significance

 

And Jesus didn’t just sit down on a lounge chair at the beach. Instead, He sat down “at the right hand of God.” The right hand, throughout the Bible, is the pre-eminent position; the position of power and authority. All power, all authority, all control belongs to Jesus. How could the Lord of all creation save you and then allow you to be lost again? It’s impossible! If you’ve called on Jesus, you’re free from all condemnation. Now go forth and live in His good graces.

Lord Jesus, never allow us to falter in the confident knowledge that you have eternally saved us from our sins. Help us to never fall back into sin, but if we do, strengthen us and return us to the right path. Keep our hearts, our minds, and our lives on that path which is directed to You. Glory, honor, and majesty belong to You alone! Amen.

 

 

Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool,… Hebrews 10:13

 

Today’s verse repeats the idea stated in Hebrews 1:13 and is a quote from Psalm 110:1 –

 

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

 

Jesus is, even now, seated at the right hand of God, meaning all authority, all power, all honor, and all allegiance is due Him. However, the concept of a footstool is included to indicate the on-going nature of bringing the world back to the original state in which it was created – with complete obedience to God and fellowship with Him. When we sit, our work is done, but when we use a footstool, total peace has been achieved. The world we see now isn’t in total peace and continues to strive against the risen Christ. However, one day He will return and destroy all wickedness. As Matthew Henry said, “Christ's enemies shall be made his footstool; some by conversion, others by confusion; and, which way soever it be, Christ will be honoured.”

 

How glorious will be that day when there is no more conflict, strife, or oppression. In his song “Imagine” John Lennon said “Imagine there's no Heaven, it's easy if you try, no hell below us
Above us only sky, imagine all the people, living for today.” Unfortunately, living for today will result in hell; heaven and hell are real places. Eternal peace will only come through the Prince of Peace and only through His first making war. Live today as a pilgrim in this world, standing for Christ. Anything else will result in eternal sadness.

 

Jesus – we look forward with anticipation to that glorious day when there will be no more strife, no more anxiety, no more loss or pain or death. Instead, we will live in Your presence forevermore – perfectly content in all Your glory! May that day be soon! Amen.

 

 

… because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.  Hebrews 10:14

 

There are a couple things going on in today’s verse. The first is another evidence for eternal salvation. As it says, “…by one sacrifice” meaning Jesus’ cross, “he has made perfect forever,” indicating the permanence of what occurred in the believer’s life. In other words, the act of what Jesus did for the believer is completely sufficient in itself to forever perfect (and thus save) those who believe. The second thing that’s being discussed is the process of sanctification. This is a big word which indicates a process in the believer’s life whereby we become more and more like Christ, and thus more holy. Whether or not we actually progress in our sanctification during this life is an entirely separate matter. But the result will be the same in both the faithful and the unfaithful who’ve called on the Lord. As Paul says in Romans 8:30 –

 

And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

 

In other words, if you’ve been called, then you are already justified. And if you’re already justified, then you are – in the mind of God who sees the future – already glorified. For those who fail in sanctification in this life, the judgment seat of Christ will be used to burn away all that’s worthless. Again, as Paul says elsewhere –

 

If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 1 Corinthians 3:15

 

Don’t be a peanut head and squander your eternity. Live for Christ now and grow in holiness all the days the Lord has placed before you!

We can see that you’ve left it up to us to bear fruit or to squander the salvation which came at such a high price. Lord, give our hearts the burning desire to live for you today and always. Without your nudging, we’d surely let you down. So nudge away, O great Lord! Amen.

 

 

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: Hebrews 10:15

 

The coming quote will be dealt with tomorrow, but today we can still find a golden treasure in this short verse. It says, “The Holy Spirit also testifies to us…” The Bible makes it clear that the Holy Spirit was involved in the writing of Scripture and that every word is inspired by God. Today, the writer of Hebrews uses this truth to claim with certainty that what was said in the past via the prophets, and under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, verifies his claims about the supremacy of Christ’s work. It also verifies to the recipients (first century Jews) that the Old Testament itself claims that it would be superseded. This is a wonderful point to start with when witnessing to Jewish people. To make claims about Christ, or the superiority of the New Testament from the New Testament is called “circular reasoning.” It’s the same as making claims for the validity of the Bible from the Bible. Using a source to justify that source leads to confusion of thought unless something external confirms what’s being said. In the case of the New Testament, an argument for it can be made from the Old. This is what the author has been doing and will continue to do. When you witness to others about Jesus, unless you have external information to validate what you say, they have every right to reject you. What externals are acceptable? Some are 1) the nature of man, including sin, responsibility, etc. 2) The composition of nature which demonstrates an intelligent Being. 3) The participation of the Holy Spirit. (Do you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your witness?) These and other external verifications of the content of the Bible keep you from using circular reasoning and looking impotent. Paul used all of these when He spoke to the Aeropagus in Acts 17 – and so should we! His speech led to conversions and He only brought in a biblical point (the resurrection) at the very end of his speech.

 

Lord, you’ve given us abundant evidence for the truth of the Bible. Help us to use these evidences to support what the Bible claims. How wonderful it is to read Your word and then to see how it’s supported by what we see around us! Give us wisdom to use these tools effectively in bringing many to a saving knowledge of You! Amen.

 

 

This is the covenant I will make with them
      after that time, says the Lord.
   I will put my laws in their hearts,
      and I will write them on their minds.
Hebrews 10:16

 

Yesterday it said that “the Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this.” Today quotes a portion of Jeremiah 31:33 in evidence of this. The Holy Spirit, through Jeremiah, promised a New Covenant. This new law would be in our hearts and on our minds; an effect of the Holy Spirit. If this was promised by the Lord, then it must be true. A Jewish man named Stan Telchin had a daughter who received Christ while in college. He decided he had only two choices, 1) be upset about her conversion and let it linger or, 2) prove her wrong. He chose the second option and set about to do exactly this. However, when he came to Jeremiah chapter 31 and saw that a New Covenant was promised, he realized he needed to look into the matter further. Through his studies, he accepted Christ and has gone on to be a pastor, missionary, and teacher of the gospel. He’s written numerous books about the Jewish Messiah and the truth of the gospel. Each of us has exactly the same choice to make – will I deny Christ simply because I don’t want to face the facts, or will I search out the claims made in the Bible and accept or reject them based on the evidence they provide? In the end, God doesn’t force Himself on us, but allows us to reason out our own destiny. Because of this, we need to ensure we have proper faith. Misdirected faith is wasted faith. The Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. all have faith, but their faith is misdirected and can only lead to death. But God has promised to put his laws in our hearts and on our minds. To receive this, we only need to ask Jesus to be our Lord. Paul says at the moment we choose Christ, we’re sealed with the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit and His illumination of Scripture which properly directs our faith. Have faith in Christ, receive His gift, and follow the Risen Lord through to a happy resolution of your soul!

Thank You, O God, for the gift of Your Holy Spirit. In His fellowship, we can truly understand “the things of God” and know with all certainty the truth of Your word. And, how precious is Your word – it’s sweeter than honey to our mouths! We Love You Lord! Amen.

 

 

Then he adds:
   “Their sins and lawless acts
      I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 10:17

 

Yesterday’s quote from Jeremiah 31 promised that the Lord would “put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Along with this comes the promise that the “sins and lawless acts” would no longer be remembered.  Let’s look at this logically –

 

1) We’ve sinned. God is infinitely holy – therefore we stand condemned.

2) Deeds to gain the favor of God are insufficient because they come from what has been created – in other words, all is from Him and ultimately is His.

3) The Old Covenant sacrifices fell into the realm of things in creation and could never take away sin.

4) Jesus, being fully God, is not part of creation.

5) Jesus, being fully Man, gave Himself to pay our debt.

6) The payment, once rendered, is

     a) available

     b) acceptable

     c) all sufficient

     d) eternal

 

Therefore –

 

God offers it; God accepts it; it’s complete in scope; its effects last forever. This is why we can – with complete confidence – accept that He will never remember our “sins and lawless acts.”

 

He saves me from every sin and harm, Secures my soul each day;
I’m leaning strong on His mighty arm; I know He’ll guide me all the way.
Saved by His power divine, Saved to new life sublime!
Life now is sweet and my joy is complete, For I’m saved, saved, saved!

 

 

And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Hebrews 10:18

 

Today’s verse is speaking of the “sins and lawless acts” which are remembered no more. This wasn’t the case during the times of temple worship because the Day of Atonement came around each year on the 10th day of the 7th month…a constant reminder to the people that their sins were remembered. First century Jews who were considering a return to the temple and its sacrifices were being told, in certain language, that this move would be completely ineffective in improving their position with God. What would be the point? Their sins were already forgiven in Christ and where these had been forgiven, there was no longer any sacrifice for sin; their return would be a useless gesture. Instead, the writer asks his recipients to think things through –

 

"Come now, let us reason together,"
       says the LORD.
       "Though your sins are like scarlet,
       they shall be as white as snow;
       though they are red as crimson,
       they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

 

Never does the Bible ask us to blindly walk through this life. Instead God asks us to use reason and to be fully versed in His word. Using our brains doesn’t demonstrate a lack of faith. Instead, it directs our faith to the narrow path of Jesus Christ. As the proverb says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Determining the right way is a responsibility we all bear.

 

Lord – a thousand religions on a zillion websites tell us they have the answer – that they are the path to You. But Lord, Your word says there is one path and one gate. Protect us and keep us on the way which leads to life. Keep our thoughts and our eyes on Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Amen.

 

 

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,… Hebrews 10:19

 

The over-arching theme of the book of Hebrews is “greater than.” Jesus is greater than the angels. Jesus is greater than Moses. Jesus is greater than Aaron, etc. An underlying theme, however, is “confidence.” The word in one form or another is used 6 times in the book as a reminder that we’re completely safe, completely secure, and can be completely at rest in what Jesus has done for us. Today’s verse tells the first century Jews (and, in turn, us) that because of what Jesus did, there is confidence to “enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.” This would have been absolutely unheard of in the temple worship in Jerusalem –

 

Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp to the east of the tabernacle, toward the sunrise, in front of the Tent of Meeting. They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death. Numbers 3:38

 

There was only one penalty prescribed for anyone who attempted to enter a forbidden area of the Temple – death. This remains true now however. One can only enter the Most Holy Place by Jesus’ blood. No one else has access to it. But someday all people will be brought to the Great White Throne for judgment. There, in the presence of God and without Christ’s covering, the judgment will be death. Choose Christ now and accept the payment offered in His blood. For those who have chosen, enter with confidence; God is pleased to call you His child.

 

We can enter in, enter in, Into Heaven's Holy place
We can enter in, enter in, Boldly by His blood we can approach His throne of grace
We can enter in a new and living Way
By our faith He will receive us when we pray!

Bob Hartman

 

 

…by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,… Hebrews 10:20

 

There are lots of things in the Bible that symbolize other things. Sometimes these are fully explained elsewhere and sometimes they’re not. For the things that aren’t, we need to be careful that what we feel is represented makes sense and can be supported. However, there are also symbols in the Bible which are mentioned and then their literal meaning is given – today is one such example. We need to look for no other meaning to the curtain (or veil) than what the Bible says it represented. Here is the account of the making of the curtain –

 

"Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman. Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the Testimony behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Exodus 26: 31-33

 

And another time the curtain is mentioned (Matthew 27:50-51) –

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.

The curtain of the temple controlled access to the Most Holy place. Just as the curtain was torn open when Christ died, so access to the throne of God was restored to fallen man through the body of Jesus. We need look for no other explanation. The Bible tells us the wonderful story.

 

Torn now is the veil,
And now you call to me, to come to you,
Your body torn for me,
Your blood was shed for me, and now I know the way is through the veil.

 

 

…and since we have a great priest over the house of God,… Hebrews 10:21

 

Jesus – our great High Priest is described in glorious detail in Revelation 1 –

 

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. vss. 12 - 16

 

The symbolism is rich in this account as it shouts out Christ’s glory – both His humanity and His divinity. The lampstands were used in the temple for illumination; that He is “like a son of man” indicates His humanity; the robe reaching down to His feet reflects His status as our High Priest; the golden sash replaces the woven sash of the earthly high priest and demonstrates the eternality of the office; the snow-like head and hair indicate His absolute purity and divine glory; the blazing eyes are what read into our very thoughts and minds; the bronze feet represent his permanence and authority to judge; His voice like many waters demonstrates his deity; the seven stars demonstrate His sovereign authority over the angels of the churches; the sharp double-edged sword reflects the authority of His words and their ability to “judge the  thoughts and attitudes of the heart”; and His face like the sun is indicative of the glory of God which shone in the tabernacle of the Old Testament. The risen Christ – our Great High Priest!

 

Alleluia! King eternal, Lord omnipotent we own;
Alleluia! Born of Mary, Earth Your foot-stool, heaven Your throne.
As within the veil You entered, Robed in flesh, our great high priest,
Here on earth both priest and victim, In the eucharistic feast.
William C. Dix

 

 

…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22

 

Wow – a ton of good information and symbolism in this one verse! First, we’re told to “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” If we doubt Christ’s ability to save us from our sins, then we’re not coming to God in sincerity. The Bible proclaims Christ and what it says is that He is fully capable of saving us. Further, that it’s Him alone who saves us and not our works. If our works participate in any way in our salvation, then we can never have assurance of faith. So much for any doctrine which says our works assist in our justification – they don’t. “Having our hearts sprinkled” comes from the Old Testament practice of “sprinkling” blood or other mixtures with hyssop in order to externally cleanse the offender –

 

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean… Psalm 51:7

 

Unlike the external cleansing of hyssop, our hearts (internal) are sprinkled with the blood of Christ (see 1 Peter 1:2) which can fully “cleanse us from a guilty conscience.” Finally, we read that we are to have “our bodies washed with pure water.” Does this mean a literal bath or full immersion baptism? No. Full immersion baptism signifies our new life in Christ, but this isn’t what’s implied here. Just as our hearts are sprinkled symbolically, so are our bodies “washed with pure water” symbolically. The water is the word. As Paul says in Ephesians 5:25, 26

 

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word…

 

Yes Lord! Through you we have full assurance of properly directed faith. Through you our hearts are sprinkled, thus cleansing us from a guilty conscience. And through your word our bodies are made holy – washed with pure water. Because of you, we stand acceptable to God the Father. What else can we do but shout! Woo hoo and Amen!

 

 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

 

As a society progresses from honoring hard work to one which is entitlement-based, the very moral character of that society changes. Instead of being productive and tending to one’s own needs, the people begin to expect things they didn’t personally earn. Eventually they take what isn’t theirs from those who’ve earned it. This is the direction much of the industrialized world has been going, and in many cases it’s already arrived. The moral fabric of many Christian denominations has followed this change and has become a social gospel rather than one based on a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. Another result of this move is that people in churches allow personal faith to become entitlement-based as well. Church attendance moves from focusing on the glory of God to discovering what God can do for the congregant. Pastors no longer preach on personal responsibility or Christian values, but instead preach that we should “expect a blessing” or “expect a miracle” in our lives. People no longer come to the table in gratitude, but rather in expectation. When they arrive they claim rather than proclaim; instead of “I proclaim the name of Jesus” it becomes “I claim in the name of Jesus.” Holding fast to the faith we profess includes honoring the One in whom our faith rests. If we really believe God exists and that He is sovereign, then our faith will remain strong in crisis as well as in prosperity. When we expect a reward for our faith, then our faith is misdirected – the reward was received when Jesus saved us. Everything else which comes after that must be taken in its proper context. Jesus is ever-faithful – our sins are forgiven, our resurrection is assured, and our eternity is settled. Let’s remember to praise Him for His faithfulness.

 

Thank you, Sovereign Lord, for the perfect gift of our Lord Jesus. Give us willing hearts to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” in Him. Keep us from willful presumption, but rather, give us hearts that petition you in humility. Glory and honor belong to You! Amen.

 

 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

 

This is the third of four “let us” admonitions in a row. The first two were “let us draw near to God” and “let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” Each of these was given “since we have a great priest over the house of God.” If the Israelites had confidence in “drawing near to God” because they had a temple right in Jerusalem, and if that temple gave them unswerving hope because they had a high priest who could minister to their spiritual needs, then how much more should we have greater confidence in the security which comes from Jesus! Because of this great comfort, today the author implores us to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” As James says elsewhere, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26  Love is easier to measure from our perspective, but unfortunately “deeds” are not. Because of this, dubious standards of “deeds” are set up by churches and individuals. If you don’t meet their criteria, then you “can’t be saved” or “you’re not a good Christian.” Probably the best thing to do is not worry about the specific deeds that people expect and instead give the Lord credit for all that occurs in your life. Should you break a leg, remember to thank the Lord for the time to rest; should you find a $20.00 bill on the ground, give the Lord thanks for the bounty; should you be seen helping an old lady across the road, give Jesus the credit for giving you the heart to do it. No matter what you do, do it with the notion that the Lord is the one who gets the credit. In addition to this, we’re told to “spur one another on.” Not only should we be living the thankful life, but make every attempt to both be an example to others and to remind them to live likewise. In all you do, do it unto the Lord! Let’s take a moment to pray about this.

Lord God, how You’ve blessed us so abundantly. Thank You for all that comes from Your open hand of grace. And not only this, but give us willing hearts to live a faithful Christian life – doing deeds of righteousness in Your name and to Your glory. Finally, help us to spur others on to the same fruitful life we’ve asked for ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray! Amen.

 

 

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

 

This is the most specific verse in the Bible telling us to attend church and it’s also the fourth “let us” in this series of admonitions. All other verses merely imply attendance in some way or another. In other words, Jesus speaks of taking matters “to the church” in Matthew 18:17. Paul mentions the duties of elders and deacons in his epistles. To the Colossians he says “After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.” This implies people are there and attending and that attendance is regularly set. Jesus tells John to “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” Again, this implies that these churches would receive and hear the words of the letter while meeting. The implied evidences are many and there’s no excuse for failing to meet. The age old excuse “The church is filled with hypocrites” is:

 

True

A feeble excuse

Implies that the person lives hypocrite-free the rest of his life. This is:

Surely not the case if one other person is present and,

Not the case even if no other person is present; we’re all guilty of hypocrisy.

 

People who find an excuse to not attend don’t have problems with the church, but problems with themselves. They are the ones who “are in the habit” of not attending. As the author says, not only should we attend, but we should encourage others to attend. This is especially so as we “see the Day approaching.” Putting it simply – the Day is approaching. The signs are all around us. Let us not give up meeting together.

 

Lord, You’ve ordained that we meet together as a congregation. You wouldn’t have done so unless it was honoring to You and beneficial to us. Therefore, give us the wisdom, the desire, and the ability to regularly meet and raise holy hands to Your honor and glory! Amen.

 

 

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, Hebrews 10:26

 

This is an obvious statement, but still needs to be carefully considered – in context and in accord with other passages of the Bible. If not, as is often the case, it can be misconstrued as an indication that one can lose their salvation. Such however isn’t so. As Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians –

 

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. vss 5:18, 19

 

And in 1 John 2:12 we read - I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.

 

Accepting Christ’s work places all of our sins – past, present, and future – in the past tense. The verse today is speaking to those who’ve heard the message of the gospel and have rejected it. Remember, it’s the early Jewish believers who are being addressed. Rather than asking for forgiveness and restoration, they continued life without Jesus’ forgiveness. And the same applies today. Families are divided into the saved and the unsaved; the secure and the insecure; the hopeful and the hopeless. The only question that counts in the end is “what have you done with Jesus?” If you fail to accept Jesus, your condemnation remains. But if you call on him – “your sins have been forgiven on account of His name.” Jesus is the end of sacrifice for sin.

O to grace how great a debtor, Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.

 

 

…but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Hebrews 10:27

 

Yesterday we looked at verse 26 and how it applies to those who’ve heard and rejected the gospel, not to believers. As was then said, “Accepting Christ’s work places all of our sins – past, present, and future – in the past tense.” This is important to remember because more often than not, verses such as the following are misused and applied to Christians –

 

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14, 15

 

At one time or another, almost every ministry will review the subject of forgiveness and mention this verse, incorrectly applying it to Christians when, in fact, we “have been forgiven” already through Christ. Jesus was applying these words to another group of people and under differing circumstances. He had not yet been crucified or resurrected. Mixing dispensations will only end in confusion of thought and misapplication of biblical principles. Today’s verse is a continuation of the one from yesterday. It therefore applies to those who have heard and either not yet accepted, or rejected the gospel. Jesus’ words quoted above then can be fully applied to people like this. The result is a “fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” To apply today’s verse to believers would be wholly inappropriate. It’s being addressed 1) in judgment; 2) in expectation of the Lake of Fire; and 3) to the enemies of God. But the Bible says we’re safe from these things through the blood of Christ. Christian judgment is not for destruction, but for the granting or loss of rewards. Remember to always think through the purpose and intent of passages – what is being addressed and under what circumstances.

 

Thank You Lord that through the cross of Jesus, men can be reconciled to You and that You are “not counting men's sins against them.” Instead, of the fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire, we look forward to a judgment based on our lives as Christians. May we be found worthy of reward and not loss on that day! Amen.

 

 

Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Hebrews 10:28

 

Today’s verse begins a comparison between the expected punishment for rejecting either the Old or the New Testaments. The Law of Moses is all inclusive of the Old Testament – its times, its people, and is 39 books. Those who rejected this law “died without mercy.” Several types of punishments are recorded, but the most notable was stoning. And as Deuteronomy 19 tell us, this wasn’t done without safeguards –

 

One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. vs 15.

 

In fact, the passage goes on to say that if a false witness is discovered, that person was to receive punishment equal to the accusation he made. Stoning continued even to the time of Jesus as is recorded in John 8 and the first martyr of the New Testament, Stephen, died by stoning in Acts 7. Likewise, the Apostle Paul was stoned as is recorded in Acts 14:19 –

 

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.

 

Both Stephen and Paul were stoned by adherents of the Old Testament law and both were falsely accused. Fortunately for Paul, they did a bad job of their work and he continued on for many years in His ministry. For rejecting the law, death was mandated. For rejecting Jesus how much more terrible will be the punishment.

 

Lord, we’re without excuse as to what choice we make in regards to Your gospel of peace. Likewise, those who haven’t heard of it stand condemned already and will face an unpleasant eternity. Therefore, turn our hearts to the need and priority of spreading Your glorious gospel. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 

 

How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:29

 

Today’s verse contrasts yesterday’s which said, “Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” The point being made is that if physical death was the response to disobedience under the Law of Moses, then an even greater punishment is due those who reject the New Covenant which came through the blood of Christ. This is not speaking of saved believers at all. Paul says as much in 1 Timothy 1:9 –

 

We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,

 

Today’s verse is directed at people who hear the law and disregard it. Again, as always, one must look at the original recipients to understand the context. The letter was written to first century Jews who had accepted Christ, but here they were being instructed as if they hadn’t. The Son of God had come, was crucified, and rose again to life. This was testified to the people at the feast of Pentecost after the resurrection. All men were required to attend this feast as is indicated in Exodus 23:14-17 and so all had heard the word concerning the Messiah. If they rejected it, they treated Him and His precious sacrifice as “an unholy thing” and had “insulted the Spirit of grace.”  When it says, “the covenant that sanctified him” it’s not saying a particular person had been saved and then rejected the word. Instead, this is no different than speaking of amnesty for an illegal alien. The sanctification was available to those who heard and yet was never claimed; it was rejected.

 

Thank You, O God, for the precious blood of Jesus which sanctifies all men potentially and those who believe actually. Help us to be faithful witnesses of this glorious covenant by which men might be saved – all to Your honor and Your glory alone! Amen.

 

 

For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” Hebrews 10:30

 

These two quotes are stated in the Old Testament – Deuteronomy and the Psalms. Paul repeats the first in Romans 12 as well. The same quote is being applied in the same way, but in Romans Paul is using it in the context of not taking revenge on others. Instead he tells us to allow God to judge in matters –

 

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, vss 18, 19

 

In Hebrews however, the author is using it only in the sense of God’s judgment. When it comes right down to it, we can repeat the words of Hebrews 4:13 – “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Despite being perceived as a cosmic pushover who forgets our sin just as we forget it, God sees every wrong deed and, because of His righteous nature, must judge them. Not only will He judge them, but He will repay them according to His very nature. An eternal affront to His glory (any sin) demands an eternal separation from that same glory. God will reward all wickedness with condemnation. Just as the cross has eternal significance for the believer, it also must carry the same eternal significance for the non-believer. Don’t be lulled into a false belief that God doesn’t judge – He does. The question for each soul then is “Are my sins to be judged at the cross in Jesus or at the Final Judgment in me?” Choose wisely today – choose Jesus.

 

Lord, that You’ve given us the choice demonstrates the severity of the matter. If Jesus’ cross can pay for every sin, then every sin not laid on it must be judged with condemnation. Thank You for giving us the Gift of Jesus. Thank You that we are freed from eternal punishment because of Him. Help us to get this word out to the world. Amen.

 

 

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31

 

One thing is made perfectly clear in the Bible; there is one God and only one path to that God – Jesus Christ. Throughout history man has made God in his image rather than acknowledging that we’re made in God’s image. How often people will openly claim “I believe all paths lead to God.” Such a statement shows:

 

a lack of understanding of the nature of God, and

a belief (or hidden hope) that they are of more value than they really are in the sight of infinite holiness.

 

As Jeremiah 10:10 says –

 

But the LORD is the true God;
       he is the living God, the eternal King.
       When he is angry, the earth trembles;
       the nations cannot endure his wrath.

 

There’s little point in trying to scare people into heaven by promising hell, but there is a place for warning people about the consequences of rejecting God. If “heaven” is real then a place which isn’t heaven (namely hell) must also be real. If the cross has eternal significance for those who believe, then it must – by the very nature of what occurred – have eternal significance for those who reject it. Think it through. Truly it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

O God, how can one stand in Your infinitely glorious presence and presume to claim a righteousness of their own. But praise be to You, O God, for giving us a righteousness not our own – that of Jesus – to cover over our stains. All praise and glory belong to You! Amen.

 

 

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Hebrews 10:32

 

This verse is a confirmation that the book was written to saved believers – those who “had received the light.” It serves as a warning and an admonition to stay the course, to persevere, and to not lose heart or faith in the glorious promise of life in Christ. The writer is reminding them of the trials and the “great contest in the face of suffering” that these people had shouldered. In remembering, he asks them to stand now just as “you stood your ground.” Certainly this is applicable to us today. Some of you came to Christ at church, via a radio program, or maybe a knock on the door. For many of you, there were tears of release from bondage, tears of anguish over past sins, and maybe tears of joy at the promise of eternal life in the presence of this wonderful Lord. At the same time, you may have felt the stress of giving up an old style of life which was incompatible with the life Christ expects. You also may have faced criticism from family, friends, or coworkers. Whatever trials – be they small or great – that you faced, you were willing to face them because of the precious faith you’d received. Has that faith diminished? Has that faith gotten cold or been altogether abandoned? The Bible asks you to look to the former days and remember, even as the psalmist of old did –

 

I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?” Psalm 77:5-8

 

The Lord will show His favor again. The promise is sure and your faith will be rewarded.

O Lord, we look to You in anticipation of the glory ahead, but we need You to be with us now during our great trials of faith and testing as well. Thank You for the promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us. Glory, honor, and majesty…they belong to You alone! Amen.

 

 

Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. Hebrews 10:33

 

How unfamiliar are these words to the vast majority of us today! Yes, Christian persecution is coming subtly through government intrusion into our lives. Also, the radical left of the world is becoming much more violent towards individual believers. But for the most part, Christians are still protected under the constitutions which establish our governments. Because of this, there’s a continuing and loud voice of those who claim wealth and prosperity in Jesus’ name. This is simply because they haven’t figured out that “friendship with the world is enmity with God.” As time progresses though, people will be divided between those who are truly willing to call on Jesus even during suffering – looking ahead to a greater hope – and those whose faith was merely in what they could obtain from God during this life. This was also the case with the early Jewish believers. They’d suffered greatly during the establishment of the church –

 

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:1

 

This continued as the Jewish leaders hounded the faithful. However, by the time Hebrews was written, their faith was waning. Persecution is a tiring thing on a person and it’s natural to wonder where God is when you’re facing the loss of home, business, family, and even life. But this – not wealth and prosperity – is the condition that defines a faithful believer. What a mistake it is for people to think they deserve abundance when the aims and goals of Christ’s kingdom aren’t those of the world in which we live. When abundance is received, praise God! However, when it’s lacking, even then praise God!

 

Lord Jesus – You set the example for us when You came and lived among us in a humble and lowly state. You faced persecution, torture, and death. Help us to clearly see that if this is also our lot, we should be thankful for the honor. And if You provide us abundance, let us not be haughty or arrogant in the wealth that You alone provided. Thank You Lord. Amen.

 

 

You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. Hebrews 10:34

 

Have you ever heard of Robert Morris – one of the US Founding Fathers? Read the following quote about him by Robert G. Ferris in his book about the signers of the US Constitution –

 

Merchant Robert Morris was a man of many distinctions. One of the wealthiest individuals in the Colonies and an economic wizard, he won the accolade "Financier of the Revolution," yet died penniless and forgotten. He and Roger Sherman were the only signers of all three of the Nation's basic documents: the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution. Morris... also served as a Senator in the First Congress...

 

Mr. Morris literally gave all of his worldly wealth in order to help finance a cause in which he believed. Other than with a few history buffs, he’s been entirely forgotten by the nation he helped to forge. Now, please think about the innumerable people who’ve given their lives for an infinitely greater cause – that of the Kingdom of Jesus. Unmarked graves swell the soil of distant lands, filled with those who have found eternal life; men and women have died in poverty, and yet have attained eternal wealth; causes which seemed hopeless have turned into everlasting joy – all because of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. What are you willing to give up in order that you might secure everlasting life, riches, and happiness? Think on this today – the consequences of your decision will span the ages, even for eternity.

 

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17

 

Lord Jesus, open our hearts and minds to see the eternal and not the temporary. Keep us from squandering those riches which are true riches. And Lord, never let us forget to look back to the torturous cross in order to inspire us to move – ever forward – in the pursuit of Your heavenly kingdom. Amen.

 

 

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. Hebrews 10:35

 

In an attempt to not be a downer, it’s nice to focus on the happy and uplifting side of the Bible. However, there is a place for understanding our difficulties in Christ as well. At least as much is said of the trials and hardships we can expect as of the blessings. But, despite being promised trouble in this life, Jesus gives us an eternal promise that’s so much greater. This is the point of the recent verses we’ve been looking at. The writer understood the trials the believers were facing. He knew there was an easier path that would have been a lot more comfortable in the short term. But the faithful Christian’s life isn’t just about comfort, ease, and prosperity – it’s about persevering during trials. The majority of the first chapter of the book of James is about how to persevere during these situations. When the persevering is finished and this earthly life ends, the patience and confidence we posses “will be richly rewarded.” Humans have an infinitely small speck of eternity in this earthly body and yet we anxiously grab at every moment as if it were all we were given. For the believer, such is not the case! When Christ comes for His church, the difficult years we’ve spent will all but be forgotten. As Jesus said in the last chapter of the book of Revelation –

 

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Revelation 22:12

 

If we’re to be rewarded according to our work, let’s endeavor to work while we can and forget about pursuing the things of this world. Fun now will mean a loss when He comes. Our patient endurance and hard work for His kingdom will have eternal benefit. Press on!

 

Lord, give us minds to see the eternal and not just the temporary. Turn our hearts to the satisfaction of living our present hours for You and Your glory that we may receive that rich reward promised in Your word. Yes Lord, help us not to squander our eternal blessing in the here and now. Amen.

 

 

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

 

Today’s verse is similar to that of 1 Timothy 4:16 –

 

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

 

Paul asks Timothy to persevere in his “life and doctrine.” Today the writer of Hebrews asks his audience to persevere in doing “the will of God.”  Outside of the Bible, we have no special revelation of the will of God. We can only determine things about Him from creation. But through the Bible we have specific insights into God’s nature, His standards for us, and His purposes and promises. The promises include rewards based on our faithfulness in carrying out our Christian lives. Salvation is a gift and something we can in no ways merit apart from the work of Jesus, whereas eternal life is a promise based on our salvation. They go hand in hand. Our rewards, which come with a promise, come from what we do with the salvation He provided and therefore must be eternal in nature. One thing we do which deserves reward is to persevere; we’re promised a reward for continued faithfulness. This should be obvious without ever being said. The Bible tells us that God is ever faithful so it shouldn’t be any surprise that faithfulness on our part reflects His image and is something we can expect to be rewarded for. Are you living faithfully for Christ and watching your life and your doctrine closely? Be attentive to the few short years you’ve been given. Squandering eternal rewards because of temporary pressures, temptations, setbacks, or trials is hardly worth it. When you’re feeling any of these, find a close friend to help redirect your steps or do a topical study in the Bible to redirect your ways. In all things, remember to “persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. Let’s pray about this –

Lord Jesus, keep us from the pressures, temptations, setbacks, and trials which take our heart and our focus off of You. Direct our steps each and everyday and keep our hearts softened to the things You require. In turn, we will follow where You lead all our days. Amen.

 

 

For in just a very little while,
“He who is coming will come and will not delay.”
  Hebrews 10:37

 

Today the author quotes Habakkuk 2:3 –

 

For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
       it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
       Though it linger, wait for it;
       it will certainly come and will not delay.

 

Remember the context – the recipients had faced suffering, persecution, and loss and the author was imploring them to persevere through these trials and to not abandon either their faith or the great hope they possessed. By quoting Habakkuk he makes a few points –

 

Habakkuk was speaking of the revelation of the coming Christ;

This revelation was still future at the time of Hebrews and anticipated Jesus’ second coming, therefore;

There is a set time for Christ’s return which ill occur exactly as God pre-determined.

 

Those who received the letter and those who still wait for this day shouldn’t be concerned about the term “in just a very little while” as if it should have come by now. Remember Peter’s words –

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8. 9. God’s timing is not our timing and it serves an important purpose. Christ will return at exactly the right moment. Keep looking up…the King is coming!

 

Lord, to You a thousand years is like a day, but to us it’s a really long time. Thy will be done, O Lord, but may it be soon! How great will be the day when we see Your face. Amen.

 

 

Now the just shall live by faith;
      But if anyone draws back,
      My soul has no pleasure in him
. Hebrews 10:38

 

Today is a quote from Habakkuk 2:4 and is the principle theme of the Christian life – faith in something beyond oneself. This includes faith that salvation is of the Lord; faith that we cannot be justified by our own works; faith that God will keep His promises; faith that our trials are being experienced for our good; etc. If I say, “I have faith that I can climb this mountain” then I’m placing trust in my own abilities – even though there are unknown aspects of the climb such as weather, snakes, falling off a cliff, and so on. However, I’m still trusting that I have the ability to overcome these and any other obstacles that arise. On the other hand, God asks us to put our faith in Him. We’re to have faith that He has spoken to humanity and this conversation is recorded in the Bible. This record says we’re separated from God, who is otherwise unknowable except as revealed in nature and in Scripture. The Bible points to Jesus. Jesus is the incarnate Word of God and therefore makes the unknowable understandable. But what we know of Jesus is recorded in the Bible. Therefore we must have faith that the Bible is God’s word to us. As you can see, a great deal of the Christian life involves understanding the process of receiving the Bible, analyzing its context, and being sure of its reliability. Once our faith in the Bible is sound, we can trust that what it says about Jesus is accurate. If it is, then our faith in Him is sound. If our faith in Him is sound, then we have every confidence that our faith in God is sound. And our faith in God tells us that it’s all about Jesus –

 

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Romans 3:21, 22

Lord, misdirected faith is no faith at all. Give us wisdom to understand and accept the reliability of the Bible. By having faith in Your word, we can then have faith in what it tells us about Jesus. And what it tells us about Him is glorious! Thank You for our Jesus! Amen.

 

 

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.  Hebrews 10:39

 

Talk about a great verse to end chapter 10! At times during this chapter you’d think the author was a stern college professor, at others a downer, and at others a nagging conscience, but in the end he draws everything he’s said together into the work of a cheerleader. You can do it! You’re faith will endure! You will receive the prize! How can you read this verse and not feel the confidence of every good thing which is found in Christ? He’s writing to young people and old; those new in the faith and those with years of faithfulness behind them; men and women; the healthy and the infirmed. And yet his conclusion to these recipients is, “you will make it!” How can he confidently say we won’t shrink back to destruction? Especially when we will all shrink back at some point in our life. It’s because Christ’s name resides in the believer. Our failings do not – in fact they cannot – negate His faithfulness. If you’re saved, His promise is that you can never lose that salvation. As the Bible says elsewhere –

 

 Let God be true, and every man a liar. Romans3:4

 

Paul was speaking at that time of God’s righteousness in comparison to ours. Likewise, the author here is implying that we can’t shrink back to destruction; we have believed and are saved. How could anything be more glorious than to know it’s not up to us! Despite many denominations saying that we need to “participate” in our salvation, the Bible says otherwise. God, who is ever-faithful, is in complete control of the Christian soul. Hallelujah and amen!

 

What an absolute honor and blessing to know that You are in complete control of our eternal destiny, O Lord. When we fail, when we slip, when we fall as if to have lost it all, You graciously intervene on our behalf – ever faithful in the promise You’ve made to Your children. O, how we love You! Amen.

 

 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

 

Today we start Chapter 11, known as the Hall of Fame of Faith. The first verse sets the tone for the entire chapter and is the most explicit description of faith to be found both in the Bible and outside of it. Every instance of faith recorded elsewhere will find its basis in it –

 

Faith is – being sure of what (a) we hope for, and (b) of what we do not see.

These two points then form the hallmark of the Christian’s walk. Take any situation requiring faith and turn it into a series of questions. If you can affirmatively answer the first question(s), but not the last, then your faith is sound. 

 

The Bible claims to be the word of God. Is your hope grounded in this? Are you confident this is so? Can you absolutely prove it?

 

The Bible says Jesus will deliver you from condemnation. Is this your hope? Are you completely confident that He will accomplish it? Has it happened yet?

 

There must be a negative answer involved in each question or faith is negated. A hope that is seen is no hope at all; it has become experience. But an unseen hope on which we place our trust is faith. One final thought – if our faith is misdirected, it is a wasted faith. Every act of faith requires an unknown, but is should be a leap backed by sound reasoning.

 

Lord, we can only direct our faith in one direction, but there are a zillion possibilities out there. In the end then, our faith is really up to You and Your divine hand of providence upon our lives. And so we ask You to direct it and to give us reasonable assurance that it’s properly placed. We thank You for this, knowing You will guide us as we seek You. Amen.

 

 

This is what the ancients were commended for.   Hebrews 11:2

 

It must have been both interesting and hard to grasp for the early Hebrew Christians to read today’s verse and to reflect on what the author was saying. After 1500 years of observing the law, they had surely come to think that they participated in their righteousness before God. But the writer says otherwise, as does the rest of the New Testament. After defining faith in yesterday’s verse, today he states that it is faith which pleases God and for which we receive commendation. If you think about it logically, it must be so. God told the Israelites to put blood on their doorposts at the Passover. Did the blood save them or was it that they had faith to believe in what God asked them to do? God later asked them to sacrifice for their sins at the temple. Did these sacrifices restore them to God or was it faith in what they symbolized? How you answer these questions is of no small matter. In fact, the same debate rages on in Christianity today. A large percentage of those who follow Christ believe that we participate in our justification. In fact, it’s one of the principle differences between Roman Catholicism and protestant theology. Roman Catholicism says that we must participate in our justification. If we fail to die in a righteous state, it’s off to purgatory with our soul. But the term “justification” as used in the Bible literally means “to declare righteous.” In other words, Paul says that the moment we put our faith in Christ, we are justified. Only one option is correct – that we are justified by Christ alone, through faith alone, by God’s grace alone. There is nothing we can add to this justification. When we attempt to do so, we state “God, what you did in the Person of Jesus, your Son, was insufficient to save me.” In essence we reject the very salvation that He has provided. Don’t be deluded – there is nothing you can do to add to the work of Jesus Christ. Stand firm in what He has done and…. Have faith!

 

Lord, my soul praises You for the great and awesome deeds which You alone have accomplished on my behalf. Forgive me for ever-striving to add to what you have done when in fact it is fully sufficient to restore me to You and to keep me eternally secure. I trust in You, I rest in You, I glory… in You alone. Amen!

 

 

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:3

 

As has repeatedly been the case throughout history, science has had to catch up with the Bible. In addition, science validates the veracity of the Bible and disproves other religious systems along the way. Such is the case with today’s verse. In the 1920s, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity proved that time, space, and matter are all uniquely linked – one cannot exist without the other two. What this means is that you cannot have time without space and matter; you cannot have space without time and matter; and you cannot have matter without time and space. Without getting into lengthy detail, this means that all three occurred at a set point in time, before which they didn’t exist. They came from nothing, thus proving the biblical claim that God created ex nihilo (out of nothing) rather than ex Deo (out of God) or ex morphine hules (out of unformed existing matter). Simply stated, only monotheism is possible because of this scientific revelation – all other religious systems are proved false in the process. The details of the creation account are given in Genesis 1 and 2 and are to be held as truth, not merely myth or fairytale. There is only one truth and that truth is immutable. If science conflicts with the revelation given in the Bible, then either the science is faulty, or our understanding of the biblical account is wrong, but the Bible – as recorded – is accurate. It is therefore of great importance that we study and properly analyze the creation account if we’re to know and understand what it reveals. As an interesting parallel to today’s verse, the same concept of creation ex nihilo is also recorded in the psalms –

 

For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. Psalm 33:9

 

Think on these things and know – with certainty – that there is one God, the Creator.

 

Lord, let us not be so foolish as to think all religions are equal. You, O God, are logical, orderly, and infinitely wise. To assume that all religions lead to You is to assume You are incompetent and like shifting shadows. Let us never come to that conclusion. You alone are to be worshipped! Amen.

 

 

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. Hebrews 11:4

 

Great debate exists as to why God accepted Abel’s offering but not that of Cain. Some argue that both offerings were acceptable based on Leviticus. Unfortunately, this is putting the horse before the cart. Leviticus was written long after the time of Cain and Abel. This type of logic results in faulty analysis of passages and also mixes dispensations. It’s like trying to place a square peg in a wooden hole. So we can’t determine if the type of sacrifice was right or wrong based on the Genesis account. Rather, Hebrews says that “by faith” Abel offered “a better sacrifice” and that “by faith” he was commended as righteous. Regardless of what was offered, Abel’s sacrifice included faith. As asked yesterday, “Did these sacrifices restore them to God or was it faith in what they symbolized that did?” There is absolutely no need to introduce faulty logic into the substance of the sacrifice, i.e. blood, grain, fat, etc. Hebrews has given us the information we need to properly understand the passage – Abel’s offering included faith whereas Cain’s didn’t. Abel’s faith resulted in a “better sacrifice” and led to his commendation. Interestingly, the writer includes the next thought – “And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.” The lesson of Cain and Abel comes from real people that really did what was recorded. Not everything that’s occurred in history is in the Bible, but everything we need to know to live our lives in a manner pleasing to God is. He’s left no gaps, nothing necessary unrecorded, and nothing confused in His word. Error in bad analysis lies with us and our failure to spend the time, reflection, and prayer needed to properly understand the context of what’s written. The record on Abel stands for us today – by faith He was known as a man who pleased God. Reflect on and understand these words about faith from the apostle Peter – it is “of greater worth than gold…”

 

When all our deeds are swept away,

And fire tests our soul’s intent,

Only by our faith will you say,

“My child, this effort was well spent.”

 

 

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.  Hebrews 11:5

 

Very little is said about Enoch in the Bible. Here’s the main verses which explain him –

 

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. Genesis 5:21-24

 

Other than a few more genealogical references (including being in the lineage of Jesus) and a note in Jude which says that he was a prophet, and which records a portion of his prophecy, there’s nothing more of him recorded in Scripture. He’s one of only two people in the Bible who never experienced physical death, the other being Elijah. And yet he’s in the Hall of Fame of the faithful. Simply stated, Enoch had faith and his faith was pleasing to God. And so it will be for all those who are alive and have put their trust in Jesus at His coming – they will never experience physical death. The precedent for this future moment was set in Enoch and Elijah. Enoch wasn’t a Hebrew and Elijah was and yet both were taken away because they pleased God. This pattern was certainly given in part to demonstrate to us that it’s not heritage, but faith that will bring about our eventual glorification. It’s believed the world will see more of Enoch and Elijah during the tribulation period when they come to testify to the nations, but until that day He is remembered by us as a true father of the faithful.

 

O Lord, what a wonderful gift you’ve given us in the story of Enoch. In it, you’ve told us that faith is what’s pleasing to You. You’ve also shown us that by faith we can walk in harmony with You. And You’ve given us a great hope at Your coming by that same faith. Thank You for this wonderful example in the person of our ancestor Enoch. Amen.

 

 

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

 

Hebrews 11:6 is such an important verse that every Christian should not only memorize it, but use it in their daily speech to others. “…without faith it is impossible to please God.” This single verse excludes all works based religions, and all religions outside of Christianity are in some way works-based. Therefore, either this statement is true and Christianity alone is true, or it’s false and there is no assurance in all of human existence for reconciliation with God. If one thinks it through logically though, it must be a true statement. It would contradict God’s character to be any other way; this is impossible. Therefore, being assured of it’s veracity we can follow through with the thought – “…because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists…” God will never reward a doubter or a disbeliever. This excludes religious pluralism (many paths lead to God); religious syncretism (a mixing of religious systems); and relativism (truth is changing and subjective). God is and God has spoken. There is no change in Him, no variance, no progression, and no untruth. Therefore, He can and will only reward “those who earnestly seek him.” This doesn’t mean someone who earnestly seeks him in a misguided fashion – such as a devout Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Although they may earnestly seek God, they have failed to seek Him in the manner which has been given for restoration – Jesus Christ. Only through Jesus can we please God and only in pursuing and seeking Jesus can we receive reward from God. Have faith and seek the Lord with all your heart.

 

Lord, give us the strong heart and desire to be pleasing to You and to seek You with all our hearts. Let us not trip over the simplicity of what You ask for – faith and faith alone. Also, may we be found pleasing because our faith is properly directed – toward Jesus alone! Amen.

 

 

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. Hebrews 11:7

 

Noah was so sure of what was anticipated that he spent an enormous amount of time, energy, and material building an ark. The ark was simply enormous – bigger than a football field. And he accomplished this when the flood was “not yet seen.” Whether you believe the account of Noah is true or not is of the greatest importance in whether or not you’re on sound footing in your doctrine. If you fail to accept the account of Noah as a literal occurrence, then your faith in the word of God is lacking. Likewise, if your faith in the Bible is lacking, then your knowledge of and faith in Jesus is lacking. If your faith in Jesus is lacking, your faith – whatever it is – is in vain. Each point of this logic is interwoven with the next. If any part of the tapestry of your faith is missing, the entire fabric falls apart. How can such a claim be made from an otherwise incredible passage of the Old Testament? Because the New Testament states the account is true. Noah is recorded in 6 separate chapters of the New Testament, including Jesus’ genealogy and by the words of Jesus Himself –

 

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. Luke 17:26. 27

 

If Jesus was merely accommodating the audience by quoting a story He knew was false, then He is a liar and not the Son of God. Also, as the Bible records Jesus’ words and is the only source of our faith in Jesus, then if the account of what Jesus said isn’t true we’re still following a false Lord. Faith in what the Bible says leads us to Jesus. Faith in Jesus is what leads us to the Father. Be wise and have properly placed faith.

Lord, when you put it that way…when You tell us the account of Noah really happened, I need to accept it by faith. Keep my faith strong, O Christ, even in the difficult passages of the Bible. It’s evident now how important it is to accept even the stories which seem incredible. Strengthen my faith that I may be pleasing to You! Amen.

 

 

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

 

With little arms swinging and little feet stomping… children sing about Father Abraham in churches around the world on Sunday morning. Abraham holds a place of high honor in both Judaism and Christianity. Even Muslims join in revering their ancestor, though their understanding of what he did and how things occurred has been tainted by a whopping falsification of the facts. Here’s the introduction to his life of faith –

 

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you”…. So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. Genesis 12:1 & 4

 

Unlike his father, Terah, who started out for Canaan but stopped halfway, Abraham picked up his things and moved as directed. Today’s verse said “he did not know where he was going.” Abraham did this by faith and it’s for this type of faith that we honor him today. Unlike children of the natural seed, Christians are his children by adoption because of faith and not of blood heritage –

 

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” Romans 4:16

 

Thank You Lord for the lesson of faith in today’s verse! Though we don’t always know the path that lies ahead of us, we’ve been assured in Your word that You are with us and will guide us all our days. Grant us faith like Abraham – to step out and follow where You direct. To the glory of Jesus! Amen.

 

 

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. Hebrews 11:9

 

The accounts of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob span chapters 11-49 of Genesis. Each was filled with faults and troubles. The struggles they had with their wives, children, and health are no different than ours today. Favoritism when dealing with others, deceit in relationships and stubbornness to yield to the better path seemed to plague them. Abraham gave in to bad advice which resulted in the birth of Ishmael – something which later caused him enormous heartache. Isaac had to send his son Jacob away before his other son Esau killed him. Jacob didn’t restrain his children and ended up dealing with murder, incest, and immense heartache. It’s easy to look at our lives today and think about how dysfunctional they are, but comparing them to these patriarchs shows that our situations are pretty normal after all. We may think our health problems aren’t deserved or are greater than they should be, but the Bible records these men suffered from the same conditions. Today however we have medical facilities we can go to. And if we’re laid up at home, we have TVs, air conditioners, refrigerators full of yummy food, etc. These people “lived in tents,” had no access to the local grocery store, and had to suffer their pains without painkillers or air conditioned environments. When you think on the difficulties your children are giving you, remember that these men went through the same or worse. When you think you’ve mismanaged your family relationships, don’t forget that they messed up just as badly. And as you suffer through illness or disease, no matter how bad it is, these people suffered with the same – but in much harsher conditions. In the end though, they’re remembered for one thing above all else – they lived by faith. When your time is up, God will reward you based on your faith as well. Instead of looking at the trials, pains, and troubles as insurmountable, look at them as gifts which challenge your faith. You’ll be rewarded as you keep your eyes on and faith in Jesus.

 

Jesus, You know the pains of my heart, body, and soul; pains which never seem to end. You know my weakness in facing them and how hard it is to endure each day. Be with me, strengthen me, and give me the faith to endure through each difficult moment. And may You alone be glorified as I prevail by Your might. Amen.

 

 

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  Hebrews 11:10

 

Today’s verse is a contrast between what was said yesterday – “he lived in tents.” Abraham and his sons after him never established permanent residence in Canaan, even though it was promised to him and his descendants as an inheritance –

 

“All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.” Genesis 13:15

 

Why would he neglect taking up a personal and permanent residence? It was because “he was looking forward to the city with foundations.” Even many years later while speaking to Pharaoh in Egypt his grandson Jacob used the terminology of someone looking beyond the life he was living –

 

 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.”

 

 A pilgrim is a person on a journey to a holy place. Jacob, like Isaac and Abraham before him, knew that this life is temporary and troubled, but they looked forward to that city whose “architect and builder is God.” This is a really good lesson for each of us to consider. How deeply have we set our roots in this life instead of looking at it as a stepping stone for the next? Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t get sidetracked by what’s only temporary and fleeting.

 

That Rock’s a tower, whose lofty height,
Illumed with Heaven’s unclouded light,
Opes wide its gate beneath the dome
Where saints find rest with Christ at home.

Tullius C. O’Kane

 

 

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. Hebrews 11:11

 

When he was 75 years old, God promised Abram (later Abraham) that he would make him into a great nation. This was in Genesis 12 and implied that he would have offspring. God appeared to him again in Genesis 15 and renewed his promise to Abraham. At this time, the Bible says –

 

But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”  And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Genesis 15:2, 3

 

Here the LORD responded, “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Vs 4-5

 

And the result – “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Vs 6

 

Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness. Only later did the covenant of circumcision come to the Hebrew people. Paul uses this account, and especially verse 6, to demonstrate that it is by faith, and not works or an outward sign (such as circumcision) that we are counted righteous. There is nothing we can add to faith to increase our righteousness, only our rewards.

Lord, You alone have done everything necessary to provide us with righteousness – a righteousness not of works, but of faith in You and Your promises. Help us never to forget or misuse this most important precept! Amen.

 

 

And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.  Hebrews 11:12

 

Today’s verse covers several topics concerning Abraham. One concerns having children, that he was “as good as dead.” In other words, he and especially his wife were far older than one would expect to have children. Because of this, and also because of a long delay in having a son which was previously promised, Abraham actually had a child through his wife’s maidservant. This resulted in the birth of Ishmael. However, this isn’t what God intended as the son of promise. The son of promise was yet to come through his aged wife. This child, Isaac, was the son of promise. When later asked to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham did as instructed. Just before taking his own son’s life, the Angel of the Lord called out for him to stop. Because he was willing to give the son of promise as an offering, God made the following pronouncement –

 

I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."  Genesis 22:7, 18

 

Today’s verse confirms this promise was fulfilled. Paul elsewhere says that it’s by faith that we’re adopted by God and thus Abraham’s children. As you can see, the promise is fulfilled not only in faithful Jews looking forward to the Messiah, but also in all – Jew and gentile alike – who look back on the work of the Messiah. When you read today’s verse, understand that you are included in the “sand on the seashore” of God’s children.

 

What a gift! Children of God by faith in Jesus! What more could we ask for when we realize the magnitude of this concept. All our sins are forgiven and eternal life has been bestowed upon us by grace through faith. Glory to God for His immeasurable gift of love! Amen.

 

 

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  Hebrews 11:13

 

Different Christians treat this life in different ways. Some, as the old saying goes, are “so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good.” Some hold on to this life as if it’s the only thing that can be fully trusted – even doubting the promises of Scripture beyond John 3:16. In between these two are countless variations. Some people “really want to see the Lord” but just “not today.” Some want Him to come after their child’s wedding – but anytime after that is fine. Others continue to work diligently in their jobs, but they never stop hoping for the Lord’s coming. Each moment for them is a moment of anticipation – even in the midst of life’s joys and trials. This is the type of person being described in today’s verse. They admit they’re only aliens and strangers. Temporary aliens in a foreign land continue to work, tend to life’s business, and raise families, but they always wait for the promised return to the land they love. This is similar to what the Jewish people would state, year after year for almost 2000 years, at their annual Passover – “Next year in Jerusalem!” Even though they were scattered around the world – even to the remotest parts – they never stopped hoping for a return to the Promised Land. Watching old footage of the joy of returnees after the long dispersion is a wonderful experience. This is what it should be like for every Christian as we wait on the Lord Jesus and the promise of the heavenly Mount Zion – the New Jerusalem. In fact, the last prayer of petition in the Bible leads us in the attitude we should hold dear – “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20. What is the great hope of your life? May you along with the Apostle John ever pray, Come Lord Jesus.

This world is not my home I'm just passing through
my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
the angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
and I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

 

 

People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. Hebrews 11:14

 

One of the most wonderful things to hear a Christian say is “This ain’t my home.” It’s especially nice to hear it when they’re receiving a reward, honor, or are just having a great day. When things are going wrong or when life is beating you up, it’s easy to wish for another home without the difficulties and trials of the moment, but when things are going right and you still can say this – wow! That’s true dedication to the promises of the Lord. When this is the heart’s desire of a faithful believer and the difficult times do come, their hope and faith are only increased, not shaken. On the other hand, if a person is happily content to put off the Lord’s coming for another day, then when trials come the response may be different. Yes, their faith may be strengthened during the trial, but the pressure of the ordeal will certainly be greater than it otherwise would have been. Today, even right now, check out your faith level. Is there anything coming in life that would make you say, “I hope the Lord waits just a little while before coming.”? Other than desiring the salvation of another person, there should be nothing more wonderful than the promise of His return. Keep your eyes on Jesus through the good and the bad and look for a country of your own in the life to come.

 

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!
         Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1

 

Lord Jesus, fill my soul with a longing for You alone. May nothing ever take my eyes off of You and may nothing ever divert my thoughts from the glory of Your majesty. How precious to me is the day that You return to take me home! Amen.

 

 

If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Hebrews 11:15

 

Have you ever noticed how immigrants who can’t speak a word of the native language and who even come with nothing but the shirt on their back often establish a business, drive around in better cars than their neighbors, and send their children to private schools – all within a short time? Wang Chung could arrive from China, spend a few months in anxiety and sadness, and return home to a safer existence, but something inside of him is stronger than the bonds he cut when he left home. The opportunity to return is there, but the motivation for a better life in a new land is stronger than the desire to look back. Such should be the case of every believer in Jesus. We’ve been called out of the world of sin and death and into His kingdom of righteousness. Instead of wallowing in the past and looking back to the previous life of whatever bound us, we need to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Those who had the most to gain often make the best converts. When someone leaves behind a life of drugs, alcoholism, or some other major sin, they tend to rise far above those around them who’ve become complacent in their salvation. They have their eyes on a better life in this world and eternal rewards in the next. If you feel your Christian walk is floundering, look back to where you were before you met Christ. If there isn’t a time that’s striking and memorable, look at those whose lives were changed and emulate them. Just as the foreigner excels and receives reward based on his hard work and dedication, so the Christian will excel and receive a greater reward based on his devotion to Christ. Don’t think of the country you left with a desire to return, but look to Jesus and His glory.

Lord, keep me from looking back now that my hand is on the plow. Instead, give me the heart’s desire to work towards the prize of eternal life and blessing that comes from a faithful walk with You. May my life be a pleasing sacrifice all my days – to Your honor alone. Amen.

 

 

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  Hebrews 11:16

 

In the New Testament, there are several verses which tell us about things by which we simply cannot be pleasing to God. Jesus indicated that if we aren’t willing to stand up for our faith in Him, He won’t stand up for us at the judgment –

 

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26

 

Earlier in the book of Hebrews, the writer speaks of those who put their trust in Jesus’ sufferings as a mark of commendation. In other words, rather than be ashamed of His sufferings, we’re to rejoice in them. By doing so, we receive His approval –

 

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. Hebrews 2:11

 

Today’s verse tells us that our faith in, and anticipation of, a greater home – a better country than the one in which we live – is also a point which truly pleases God. When we put all of our time in the pleasures of this world and yet God has promised something so much greater, we show a lack of faith in His promises. Look ahead to what God has planned and have faith that it is infinitely more wonderful than the temporary pleasures of this world.

 

Thank You Lord, for the sure promises of a greater life to come, but remember that we’re often limited in our ability to see beyond what’s around us. Give our souls a fresh filling of Your Holy Spirit of promise that we can rejoice, without fear or trepidation, in the life yet to come. Amen!

 

 

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Hebrews 11:17

 

Most people have heard of the account of Abraham and Isaac. It was “by faith” that Abraham was willing to offer up his son – the son of promise. Note that today’s verse is being quoted from the NKJV. The NIV incorrectly states – “his one and only son.” Abraham had another son before Isaac named Ishmael. This error is repeated in the NIV in John 3:16 when the same terminology is used of Jesus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” In fact, God claimed Israel as a son long before the advent of Jesus – “Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son,…” Exodus 4:22.  This is an important point in understanding redemptive history and divine election. In both cases, they were the “only begotten” sons of promise, not the claimed “firstborn” sons, and thus we have the resulting concept of divine election. For a list of other “replacement seconds” of note in the Bible, I’d like to direct you to this link from a study I did years ago: http://www.wonderful1.com/page17.html. In addition to the second replacing the first in Scripture is another wonderful parallel of Abraham/Isaac and God the Father/God the Son. Abraham had his son Isaac carry the wood on his back up the hill just as the Jesus carried the cross up to Calvary.  The father was to perform the sacrifice, just as the Father allowed the great, final sacrifice.  Both occurred in the same location as is indicated Genesis 22:14 “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”  Abraham said “God himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.” and this is just what happened – the Lamb of God was sacrificed for the sins of the whole world in the same place 1900 years later. Truly, on the mountain of the Lord, God provided. Thank you Heavenly Father.

Lord, thank you for the wonderful truths which are plainly evident through a study of Your word. Just as the first man, Adam, brought condemnation on all men, so faith in the second Man, Jesus, brings salvation to all who call on Him. Your word is perfect in all it teaches us. Thank You for the treasures it contains! Amen.

 

 

…even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Hebrews 11:18

 

In a bit of a different tact today, we’ll compare the accounts of Abraham’s faithfulness as recorded in the Bible to that in the Koran, which Muslims use. It’s claimed by adherents to Islam that it was Ishmael, not Isaac who was the child by which Abraham was tested –

 

We called him: “O Abraham.“You have believed the dream.” We thus reward the righteous. That was an exacting test indeed. We ransomed (Ismail) by substituting an animal sacrifice. And we preserved his history for subsequent generations. Peace be upon Abraham. We thus reward the righteous. He is one of our believing servants. Sura 37:104-111

 

First notice that the name “Ismail” is surrounded by parenthesis. This indicates that the translator chose to insert the name as no name is mentioned in the Koran. Both books therefore indicate that Abraham was tested; however, only the Bible records the name of the son – Isaac. Further, the Koran acknowledges that Isaac was the son of promise; a fact agreed upon by both faiths. The Bible’s complete and thorough use of the pattern whereby the first is replaced by the second is confirmed in the Ishmael/Isaac account. Finally, the biblical account predates that of the Koran by over 2000 years and the oldest documents still in existence still predate the Koran by over 800 years. The Bible proves itself historically, scientifically, anthropologically, prophetically, concerning the nature of God, and in a host of other ways. The Koran fails in all of these. If you are one of the religious pluralists of the world who believe “all paths lead to God” you need to study these matters and think them through. Jesus makes absolute claims and these are absolutely exclusive in nature. Make the right choice today. Choose Jesus.

 

Lord, as truth is immutable and Your word claims to be truth, give me understanding in it and faith to accept it as Your inspired word. Help me not to be sidetracked by false systems of belief which can only take my eyes off of You. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

 

 

Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. Hebrews 11:19

 

Why was Abraham willing to offer his only begotten son, Isaac, as a burnt offering to the Lord? The answer depends on what you believe about the character of Abraham, about God’s sovereignty, and about the purpose of faith. During an interview of an elderly Jewish man for a college paper, he said that what Abraham did was inexcusable, was not really what God intended, and resulted in his separation from Sarah his wife. This was the stand in the synagogue he attended and which permeates their thought to this day. But what Abraham did was based on his obedient character, on faith in God’s promises, and on the absolutely sovereignty of God. Abraham “believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” This sound belief was that “God could raise the dead.” Ultimately this was proven in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and it will again be proven at the rapture of the church. But Abraham had no inclination of either of these occurrences. Rather, he understood that God had created, that all life is held in the hands of God, and that God has infinite ability to control His creation. Because of these things, Abraham faithfully took his son to Mt. Moriah, laid him on the altar of sacrifice, and raised his knife in preparation… But God called out –

 

And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Genesis 22:12

 

It wasn’t until 1900 years later that the greater sacrifice, one which was not stopped, happened there on the same mount. The ultimate sacrifice of Jesus demonstrated the infinite holiness, righteousness, justice, mercy, grace, truth, and love of God for the sons of Adam.

Heavenly Father, that You spared not Your own Son – and for one such as I! May I never fail to proclaim the glorious majesty of Your splendor. May I never fail to look to the cross in complete awe and wonder. All glory surely belongs to You alone. Amen.

 

 

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. Hebrews 11:20

 

In another example of divine election, today’s verse places Jacob ahead of Esau even though Esau was the firstborn of Isaac. This wasn’t something that occurred during their lifetimes and which should have surprised Isaac. Rather, when the twins were jostling in her womb, their mother Rachael was so disturbed that she inquired of the LORD about it. She asked, “Why is this happening to me?” And the divine response –

 

The LORD said to her,
       “Two nations are in your womb,
       and two peoples from within you will be separated;
       one people will be stronger than the other,
       and the older will serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23

 

Before either child was born, the LORD had already divinely elected Jacob over Esau. God’s sovereign choice continued through their descendants which became “two nations.” In Malachi 1:1-3 the Bible records: “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ “Was not Esau Jacob's brother?” the LORD says. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.” Paul quotes this verse in Romans 9:13 when discussing God’s sovereignty. Life is unfair, people are born into different situations as determined by God, and rather than being unhappy about it, we need to accept our situation and work within the parameters of our station to bring the most glory to the Creator who placed us where we are for His purposes.

 

Oh Lord, I wonder why I was placed where I am. Help me, O God, to bring glory to You by being the most faithful Christian I can be – using the time, place, and circumstances You have dealt me in a life worthy of the title “Christian.” To Your honor and glory alone! Amen.

 

 

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. Hebrews 11:21

 

The account referenced in today’s verse is recorded in Genesis 48. Joseph, the vice-regent of Egypt was called to his father’s bedside because he was ill. It says, “Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.” From there, Jacob claimed Joseph’s sons – Manasseh and Ephraim – as his own. He then proceeded to bless them –

 

But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim's head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh's head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn. Genesis 48:14

 

Again as had already occurred several times in Genesis, divine election is noted. Jacob’s blessing on Ephraim was a movement of the Holy Spirit which again directs the reader to an important truth in God’s redemptive plan for all of mankind. Jacob said that Ephraim would become “melo ha’goyim” or “a fullness of the gentiles.” Understanding this passage led Paul to write his analysis of the Jewish/Gentile situation as is recorded in Romans 9-11. By God’s foreknowledge, Israel would reject their Messiah which would open the door to gentile salvation. Ephraim, used as a synonym for the fullness of the gentiles, would come to Christ through faith in His glorious work. In Romans 9:25, 26, Paul quotes the prophet Hosea to help us understand this mystery –

 

“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one," and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

 

O Lord! Although Your word can often seem difficult to grasp, one thing is easy to understand – faith in Jesus equates to eternal salvation. Because of Your great love for the people of the world, You have given us the right to be called “sons of the living God.” All we can do in response is to shout Whoo hoo – praise to our mighty Lord! Amen.

 

 

By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones. Hebrews 11:22

 

In Genesis 48:21, Isaac promised Joseph that he would return to Canaan and that his descendants would receive a specific portion of land as their inheritance. Many years later as he was dying, Joseph “spoke about the exodus…and gave instructions about his bones.” –

 

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” Genesis 50:24, 25

 

Of all of the amazing things which Joseph did in his life from which the author could choose as an example of faith, today’s example was selected. This should give us an indication as to what’s also a demonstration of faithfulness in our lives – looking forward to the as yet unfulfilled promises of God and to the “better country” He’s prepared for us. As directed, in Exodus 13:19, Moses and the children of Israel took Joseph’s bones with them when they departed the land of Egypt. Joshua 24:32 records the burial of these bones in Shechem, in the land Jacob promised Joseph and as Joseph had instructed. These events occurred several hundred years apart, but what may seem slow by our standards in coming to fulfillment doesn’t mean it won’t happen exactly as God has promised. Remember this lesson as you patiently wait on the promises of the Lord.

 

Lord, it’s hard to wait on what we desire. We’re earthly and constrained by time and decay. Because of this, we ask that You grant us Your Spirit of patience and control – even during the moments where nothing seems to occur as we would like. Thank You for granting us Your peace. Amen.

 

 

By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. Hebrews 11:23

 

Today the faith of Amram and Jochebed, the parents of Moses, is noted. In the last verse of the first chapter of Exodus, it says –

 

Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” Exodus 1:22

 

This is followed immediately by these verses from Exodus chapter 2 –

 

Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. Exodus 2:1-3

 

Keeping the child would have resulted in death if they were caught, but by disobeying the edict for these three months they gave the baby a fighting chance – no matter how small – compared to that of a newborn. As Peter says in the book of Acts, “We must obey God rather than men!” Even after placing the child in the basket, they had Moses’ sister watch out for him until he was found and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. This account should remind us that God is working out all things for His purposes. Even when we don’t understand the sorrows or troubles we’re facing, He does. Nothing you’re facing is beyond God’s knowledge or outside of His plans and purposes. Have faith, just as Amram and Jochebed did, even in the face of great hardship.

 

Lord, give me the ability to trust that the sadness, loss, hardship, and uncertainty I face really do serve a higher and more glorious purpose. As hard as it is, help me to never grumble against Your perfect plan which is being worked out through me, Your child. Amen.

 

 

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Hebrews 11:24

 

We have to be careful not to let movies or stories over-influence our notion of biblical characters. Very little is said of Moses’ adopted mother or him during his youth. If you read Exodus 2:5-10, that’s all you’ll get about her and his early life from the Old Testament. The very next verse (verse 11) occurs when he’s 40 years old. The only other thing that we can determine from the Bible about the intervening years is recorded in Acts 7:20-22 during Stephen’s speech –

 

At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father's house. When he was placed outside, Pharaoh's daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

 

Unfortunately, because of movies like The Ten Commandments, people mix story information with the Bible.  Today’s verse gives us an insight into Moses and his character not otherwise revealed in the Bible and which probably came from a source similar to that spoken by Stephen in Acts 7. This may have been an oral or a written tradition, but as it was written by an apostle under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we can be certain of its accuracy. If you’d like to read a small portion more of the life of Moses as is recorded by the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, you can read it at this link - http://wesley.nnu.edu/biblical_studies/josephus/ant-2.htm. Just scroll down to Chapter 9 and enjoy your studies!

 

Lord God, how wonderful it is to read and know your word! Thank you that what the Bible records is useful for our instruction, our edification, and our contemplation. Thank you also for telling us about the faithful believers of the past. By reading of their lives, we can be built up in our faith as well. Praises belong to You! Amen.

 

 

He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. Hebrews 11:25

 

As we’ve seen, Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and “educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” Had he wanted, he could have lived a life of leisure and prosperity, and yet he “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God.” Although the Bible doesn’t specifically tell us what prompted this, we can infer where he obtained these values. In Exodus 2 we learn that when Moses was placed in the river, his sister “stood at a distance to see what would happen.” When he was found we read the following –

 

Then his sister asked Pharaoh's daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” “Yes, go," she answered. And the girl went and got the baby's mother. Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. Exodus 2:7-9

 

Moses was still raised by his own mother, but now at the expense of Egypt! In those early years, until he was old enough for adoption, he was most likely told about the one true God. This early training in monotheism certainly stayed with him all his life. The lesson each parent should take to heart is that even if their child strays at one time or another, if the foundation was properly laid, eventually the stability of that early instruction will outlast the temporary structures that were built on it. If you’re struggling with a child who once accepted Christ and later strayed, join the club…it’s a big one. In the end, God will prevail in their life and all will be set right.

 

Lord, you know the struggles and trials we as parents face. You know how it hurts us to see our children wander from the truth. But Your word gives us hope through these days of sadness because we know that in the end, Your will shall prevail in their lives. This is a great hope and comfort to our weary souls. Amen.

 

 

He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Hebrews 11:26

 

What are you willing to give up for Christ? What challenge is too great; what loss is unacceptable? Jesus said it as clearly as is possible –

 

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26

 

Outside of Christ there is no other ticket, no other avenue, no other payment for the soul. Moses, although not fully understanding the mystery of Christ, knew enough to accept disgrace for His sake. He knew there was a reward for his faith and his faithfulness. And so he stepped away from the riches of Egypt, which are no riches at all, and into the true wealth of his Creator. If you’ve accepted Christ, what are you willing to give up that He may be glorified? People are dying in foreign lands without ever hearing of Jesus. A thousand languages on earth still don’t have a single verse of Scripture in their own language. People are walking by churches without ever being invited in to hear the good news. When you go out today, think on the “walking dead” you encounter and have compassion. Eternity is a long time. The soul without Christ is an unimaginable horror. In all you do, leave the comfort of your riches and look forward to the life which is truly life. As Paul so beautifully said it –

 

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ… Philippines 3:7, 8

 

Jesus, You’ve given us the examples of faith which are pleasing to You. Included in these is that of Moses – who walked away from the greatest wealth the world had to offer. But that was no wealth at all compared to the surpassing wealth of knowing You. May I be so moved to follow You wherever I’m led! Amen.

 

 

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. Hebrews 11:27

 

“By faith…he saw him who was invisible.” What an incredible statement! It’s been said, “What’s more foolish, a man who believes in a God he can’t see, or a man who is angry about a God he doesn’t believe in.” Moses had never actually seen God. Instead he’d seen a burning bush which spoke to him, but the bush actually hid the glory of God. It was a visible manifestation provided for Moses’ sake. In the end though, it was faith in a God he couldn’t see that gave him the strength and fortitude to not fear Pharaoh. Such is the case with each believer in Christ. We can’t “see” God anymore today than Moses did then. And Jesus has ascended to the Father so that we can’t now see Him either. But what did He say to His disciples –

 

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29

 

All we have is the Bible to tell us of Jesus. When we accept Him, we’re indwelt with the Holy Spirit, whom we also can’t see. Therefore, we are living by faith and not by sight. Our hope and trust is in the One who can make the invisible visible, the unknowable knowable, who unites the infinite with the finite. Because of Jesus, we can have fellowship where it once didn’t exist and we can have peace in place of anxiety. If you’re facing troubles because of your Christian walk – whether in the workplace, with family members, or in any other way then remember Moses’ example. By faith…he saw him who was invisible” and was found pleasing to God because of that faith. Be strong and unwavering in your convictions about the Person and work of Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, give us wisdom to follow You and to trust Your word as the rule and guide of our lives. Give us faith to not fear those who persecute us because of our love and devotion to You. And Lord,  we look forward with antici…..pation to that day when our faith will become sight – when we see the beauty of Your majesty in person. O, Happy day! Amen.

 

 

By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. Hebrews 11:28

 

To this day, Jewish families around the world observe the Passover. It symbolized the redemption of the people from Egypt and its bitter bondage. An innocent lamb was killed and its blood was applied to the lintel and sides of the door as a sign that there were faithful believers inside the home. When the destroyer saw the blood, he passed by. As it says, “by faith” Moses kept the Passover and applied the blood. The blood isn’t what saved them, but faith in its application. Looking ahead to the New Testament, Paul says in Colossians 2:16, 17 –

 

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

 

The Passover, along with all of Israel’s other mandates under the law were only shadows which prefigured the work of Jesus. Jesus, as John states in his gospel account, is the true Lamb of God. It is His sacrifice that brings us out of real bondage – that of slavery to sin. It is faith in what He did that redeems us and gives us new life. The question for every person then is, “Have you applied the blood of Christ, by faith, to your heart. As the Passover only looked forward to Christ, then it is Christ alone who can truly save you from destruction. Have faith in Him and in His work and you too, like Moses, will be known as one of God’s faithful – chosen and loved.

 

Thank you, O God, for the precious Lamb, our Lord Jesus. Thank You from freeing us from the chains which bound us in slavery to sin and which could only result in death. Now, through Christ and His sacrifice, we’re not only free from condemnation, but we’ve also been given new and eternal life! Hallelujah and amen!

 

 

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. Hebrews 11:29

 

While at the final point before crossing the Red Sea, Pi Hahiroth, the Israelites were hemmed in on all sides. Facing them was the Red Sea, behind them was the army of Egypt, and on each side an impassible cliff – the term Pi Hahiroth in Hebrew means “mouth of caverns” and indicates they were wholly closed in. The people were certainly afraid and questioned Moses about the decisions which had brought them to the seemingly impossible position they were in, but –

 

Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:13, 14

 

With this, “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.” If you’ve heard that this was actually a shallow area of the sea and that this wasn’t really a miracle, consider two things – 1) The Bible specifically says there was “a wall of water on their right and on their left.” This would only be possible in a very deep area of the sea. And 2) all of the Egyptians drowned. If the entire Egyptian army drowned in knee deep water, that would be a greater miracle than the parting of the sea. Just as the Israelites had faith and “passed through the Red Sea as on dry land” so should you have faith that 1) the Bible’s record of events is true and, 2) God will safely bring you out of whatever bondage you’re facing. Trust in Him with all your heart and soul, even when you’re hemmed in from all sides. Have faith that God loves you and will deliver you.

 

Lord, from time to time I can feel the walls hemming me in – creditors, bitter family members, physical pains, troubles, trials, and afflictions! But You O God … I trust You to keep me from drowning under this Sea of Woes and to carry me safely and triumphantly to Your better home. Until that day, I rejoice in Your splendid hand. Amen.

 

 

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.  Hebrews 11:30

 

Archaeologically, this is one of the stories of the Bible that non-believers have spent a great deal of time trying to disprove. Unlike many other accounts, this one can be verified by simply going to the site and looking over the ruins. The evidence has been substantiated by believers and supposedly disproved by non-believers. Each determination was based the scientist’s findings of how they perceive what occurred in the Bible and their larger worldview. In the end, the Bible account is the only eye-witness testimony for the destruction of Jericho. All of history past can only be known by what was written about it and/or diligently piecing together the evidence based on the preserved remains. Here is what the Bible says about this particular incident –

 

When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. Joshua 6:20

 

Regardless of the fight among archaeologists, the account in the Bible stands as recorded evidence. If it were untrue, one would think that the surrounding nations could have just as easily recorded their side of the story. No such record exists. In fact, no part of the Bible has ever been disproved. Remember, not every Bible story has as yet been proved true, but that which has been studied has always vindicated the biblical account. Just as the Israelites had faith to march around the walls in obedience, God asks you to have faith that what’s recorded in His word is true as well. What the Bible records forms a sure foundation for our faith; a faith that can never tumble if it rests ultimately in the Person of Jesus.

Lord, it sure is wonderful to read the stories recorded in Your word and to see how they fit into redemptive history. Each account serves a particular purpose in helping us to understand You and how we relate to You. Thank You for the story of real events about real people who, like us, are part of Your wonderful unfolding story. Amen!

 

 

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews 11:31

 

The specific details of what Rahab did are recorded in Joshua chapter 2. She was a prostitute who lived in the city of Jericho. When the Israelites sent spies into the city to determine its strength, she hid them under stalks of flax on her roof to keep them from the king. In exchange for this, the spies assured her that she and all who were in her home during the attack would be spared. In order to identify her dwelling they gave her the following instructions –

 

"This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. Joshua 2:17-19

 

The Israelites kept their promise and she was spared. But not only that, she became the wife of an Israelite named Salmon, the great grandfather of King David, and she is one of the faithful women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. Thinking on this today, I hope you’ll realize that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your life, or how badly you’ve messed things up, Jesus will accept you if you will simply demonstrate faith. Then someday you too will be mentioned in heaven’s great Hall of Fame of Faith. On a side note – if you ever hear someone say that Rahab wasn’t a prostitute because the same word in Hebrew can mean either an inn-keeper or a prostitute, remind them that in Greek a prostitute is a prostitute and the New Testament settles the issue.

 

Lord, even a prostitute can be cleansed of her life and brought into your flock! This encourages me that my life too can be used for Your glory despite the things I’ve done wrong. Give me the ability to look forward in faith and leave behind all the wrongdoings of my past life. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets,…  Hebrews 11:32

 

From today’s verse through verse 38, we’re told of a range of people and the various trials they faced as they demonstrated faith worthy of a true saint. As you think on their situations, remember their failings as well, maybe you’ll see yourself and be encouraged that the Lord can use you in a great way. Gideon (Judges 6-8) was so unsure of his own abilities that he asked the Lord for a sign. When he received it, he asked for another… not the most confident soul in town. Barak (Judges 4) was told by Israel’s Judge (Deborah) that the Lord had commanded him to take an army of men and that he would defeat Israel’s enemies. In verse eight it says “Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go.” Instead of believing the Lord’s directive, he questioned the command’s validity. By asking Deborah to go, he was checking both her truthfulness and the surety of the Lord’s word. Samson (Judges 13-16) was set apart from birth to God and became Israel’s Judge. However, he had a weak will towards women, was over-confident in his own abilities, and he often took revenge that wasn’t proportionate to offenses made against him. Jephthah (Judges 11-12) was the son of a prostitute. He made a rash vow to sacrifice the first living thing that came out of his house. To his horror, it was his daughter. However, his vow stood and he performed his vow at her expense. David committed adultery, murder, and other grievous sins. However, with a faithful and repentant heart he was considered Israel’s great king and sweet psalmist. Samuel was Israel’s last Judge. He failed to restrain his own children and raise them properly. This resulted in the end of Israel’s theocracy and a turn to an earthly kingship rule. Are you seeing any of your failings in these men of faith? If so, then understand that despite them, God looked on their faithful and repentant hearts and accepted them; forgiving every sin and trespass.

Jesus, it sure is good to look back on these people and see that they’re not unlike me! But even with their failings, You’ve placed them in Your hall of fame of faith! This gives me hope that I too may someday be remembered, not for my failings, but for my heart which is devoted to You. Amen.

 

 

…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,… Hebrews 11:33

 

This verse repeats some of the grand accomplishments of the “miserable failures” of the Bible’s Hall of Fame of Faith. King David conquered many kingdoms as did Gideon, Barak, and Jephthah. The Bible tells us that Samuel, Gideon, Jephthah, and David were all leaders of Israel and administered justice to God’s people on His behalf. Each of them in one way or another “gained what was promised” when God commissioned them. The Lord took these fallible, weak willed men and used them for His glory and for our edification. Daniel is the one referred to “who shut the mouths of lions” when he was tossed into the lion’s den for having been faithful to God. But in like fashion David, even as a boy, was able to kill lions using merely a sling. By doing so, he saved the sheep of his father’s flock. Likewise Samson killed a lion with his bare hands – thus also fitting this description.

 

The stories of these people’s lives have echoed down through time. Each one of them has been used as an example by similarly weak-willed people who have gone on, in the strength of the Lord, to accomplish tasks which would otherwise be impossible. And so you too can read about these people and then determine to accomplish whatever task is set before you. If the future – whether the immediate or distant – looms with difficulty, take to heart the wonderful lessons of this chapter. Insert your name into the Hall of Fame of Faith by trusting in the grand and splendid provision of Jesus Christ. He will never leave you; He will never forsake you. Be like the young boy David when he faced the giant Goliath –

 

"You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 1 Samuel 17:45

 

Dearest Jesus – I simply am overwhelmed to know that Your hand is with me in the tasks You have chosen for my life. Give me the courage and ability to never sway from bringing you the glory and honor that You are due. All hail the GLORIOUS name of Jesus! Amen.

 

 

…quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.…  Hebrews 11:34

 

The list of faithful deeds continues in today’s verse. Today the author reminds us of the great faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three men who stood against the king of Babylon at the risk of being thrown into a fiery furnace. When so threatened, they responded as one –

 

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. Daniel 3:17

 

Many of the prophets of old were threatened with death for speaking the word of the Lord, but the Lord often (but not always) saved them from “the edge of the sword.” Those “whose weakness was turned to strength” actually include all of those previously mentioned as well as all others in the Hall of Fame. On our own, despite how we may perceive ourselves, we’re incapable of handling life’s pressures and stresses. God gives strength to all, but not all give Him the credit He’s due. The greats in the Hall of Fame are those who “became powerful.” They realized that the power they possessed was granted to them, not something which came from them. Remember to praise the Lord for every accomplishment that you participate in!

 

Again we thank you Lord for the wonderful stories of faithful followers. We look back on their achievements and see Your hand at work in their lives. Likewise, be with us and guide us through the flames, the swords, the weaknesses, and the battles. In return, we’ll be sure to turn and give You the praise You’re due! Amen.

 

 

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Hebrews 11:35

 

Twice in the Old Testament young boys were raised to life. Once was during the time of Elijah (1 Kings 17) and once during the time of Elisha (2 Kings 4). Take a moment to read the following two verses which occurred during these accounts. Then read what Jesus said in the raising of Lazarus. See if you can determine a difference –

 

Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the LORD, "O LORD my God, let this boy's life return to him!" 1 Kings 17:21

 

He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD. 2 King 4:33

 

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" John 11:43

 

The difference is that Jesus, while thanking the Father, raised Lazarus under His own authority. Elijah and Elisha both prayed to the LORD, who is Jesus, for His authority to restore. Now think on the significance of this. By faith these prophets looked forward, not seeing what we see. How much more confident should we be after having the fullness of God in Christ! The second half of today’s verse also deals with the resurrection. Understand that there was and is a reward for being faithful during persecution, torture, and martyrdom. Should you ever face such a difficult ordeal, if you persevere then you also can expect a glorious resurrection, the crown of life, from the hand of your Lord (see Revelation 2:10).

 

Lord Jesus, I call on You like the faithful of times gone by. Allow me to live by faith, never fearing, never fretting, never regretting! Instead, fill me with Your constant and unfailing peace and allow me to be a faithful testimony to Your splendor all my days! Amen.

 

 

Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. Hebrews 11:36

 

And so it continues…the painful list of what the faithful endured. Some people think that accepting Christ means blessings, abundance, provision, health, and wealth, but – like these Old Testament saints – the faithful in Christendom have been martyred by the millions. Many times, this persecution has come from within the church, such as during the Spanish Inquisition and the reformation. The whole point of listing the abuses and trials that these people endured is to enlighten the path of the Christian to what we can also expect.  Today’s verse says they “faced jeers and flogging.” It’s hard to find an Old Testament prophet who didn’t face jeers, and today this is on the rise even in countries that have in past times been sympathetic to the Christian message. The punishment of flogging is actually broken down into two categories, one limited by the Old Testament to 40 lashes (Deuteronomy 25:3), and that carried out by other nations – which could continue on for as long as the tormentors wished. Being “chained and put in prison” was also not uncommon and the example of Jeremiah is cited for you –

 

So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king's son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud. Jeremiah 38:6

 

For speaking the word of the Lord to a nation who didn’t want to hear it, Jeremiah was imprisoned in a muddy cistern and left to starve to death when the city’s bread was used up. Thankfully he was rescued. Around the world today, faithful pastors and evangelists are being handcuffed and led to prison for preaching from the Bible – this is right at the doors of America also. Determine now to side with God and His word regardless of what you face. 

 

Lord God, none of us would look forward to jeers, flogging, chains, or imprisonment with glee, but we ask that if that time should come, You sustain us and give us the courage to face it resolutely. All of this we pray in the name of, and for the sake of, Jesus our Lord! Amen.

 

 

They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— Hebrews 11:37

 

Again we see the world’s treatment of God’s people. The last martyr of the Old Testament, Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, is recorded in 2 Chronicles 24 –

 

But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the LORD's temple. 2 Chronicles 24:25

 

This wasn’t an unusual occurrence either. Whenever a prophet spoke something that the people or the king didn’t like, they were sure to face judgment. In fact, in 1 Kings 19 Elijah while speaking to the Lord said that “the Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword.” (vs 14). Today’s verse says they also “went about in sheepskins and goatskins.” Such was the raiment of the prophet. He could be identified by the lowly garments he wore. This is noted in Zechariah 13:4 –

 

On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision. He will not put on a prophet's garment of hair in order to deceive. Zechariah 13:4

 

The reference to being “sawed in two” is actually not from the Old Testament. Rather it comes from a Jewish tradition and is mentioned in the apocryphal book, The Ascension of Isaiah. However, the story is rooted in truth, whether it’s speaking of Isaiah or someone else as evidenced by its inclusion in the Bible. Those who speak God’s word today are also likely to be persecuted, but despite the costs, the rewards are worth it.

 

Heavenly Father, despite the troubles and persecutions we can expect because of our unwavering faith, let us stand firm in our convictions. Our faith will surely outlast these temporary and weak bodies. Thank You for the promise of new ones. Whoo hoo and Amen!

 

 

…the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Hebrews 11:38

 

Go back over the past 37 verses and remind yourself of whom the author states “the world was not worthy.” They were all fallible people who lived fallible lives. They failed their spouses and their children; they deceived family members; one committed adultery and murder; one was a prostitute and the other the son of a prostitute. And the list goes on. These people lived lives just like each of us. But “the world was not worthy of them.” It’s their faith in something greater that set them above the other peoples and systems of government in which they lived. Many of them, while the rest of the world was living in spacious homes or palaces, “wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” They were pilgrims, simply living life for the future; not worried about that which is temporary. One wonderful story of the Recabites comes to mind. This family, detailed in Jeremiah 35 was given a directive by one of their forefathers –

 

"We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab gave us this command: 'Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads.' We have obeyed everything our forefather Jonadab son of Recab commanded us.” Jeremiah 35:6-8

 

They steadfastly followed the directive and God used them as an example of faithfulness. Indeed, God made this promise to them –

 

Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me.” Jeremiah 35:19

 

Lord, thank You for the gift of our faith because we know it is what’s truly pleasing to You. Never let us slip or falter in it, but rather increase it so that we may always walk in a manner that will bring You glory and demonstrate to others our joy in serving You. Amen.

 

 

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. Hebrews 11:39

The Old Testament saints lived by faith in a God they couldn’t see…even if they occasionally saw some of His miraculous works. However, their faith wasn’t in vain. They knew the God of Israel is the One true God and it was in Him they placed their hopes. This knowledge wasn’t limited to Israel though. As the prostitute Rahab said –

When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Joshua 2:11

As is apparent from the text, the entire city of Jericho understood who they were up against, and yet only Rahab replaced the head-knowledge with faith. Because of this, she became known as one of the faithful of all times. However, she – along with all the others of the Old Testament – despite receiving commendation for their faith, hasn’t yet received the promise. Tomorrow’s verse explains why, but try to remember this when you’re facing a long-term illness, years of praying for something that seems to never come about, or any of a host of other things which seem to never happen.

These people waited their whole lives, and have continued to wait thousands of years in whatever interim state exists for them, for a promise yet to come. How much more then should we wait patiently upon the Lord and His good timing.

It certainly is hard to wait Lord. We’re so used to eating three times a day that when we miss a meal we really feel it. We’re used to seeing the sun rise with regularity. Each new day is one less we have. Help us to be patient, even as our days slip past, waiting on Your good timing for all things. In Jesus spectacular name we pray. Amen.

 

 

God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:40

 

Remember yesterday’s verse which said, “yet none of them received what had been promised.” We see the reason why today, “so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Until Christ had come and fulfilled the law, man stood condemned for being unable to meet its standards. Even the temporary atonement provided by the sacrifice of animals was insufficient to perfect God’s people. Because of this, they could not be glorified at their deaths. However, since Christ came all believers, both those looking forward to the cross and we who look back to it will be made perfect together. The entire process of what will occur and when is highly debated, but the surety of the promise stands. Paul describes some of it in 1 Corinthians 15 –

 

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. … The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. … For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44, 47-49, 53

 

What a glorious promise we have awaiting us. If you haven’t yet accepted Jesus Christ, now is the time. The moment of your death is unknown but to God; don’t meet that moment without Christ’s righteousness to cover you.

 

Lord God! Thank you for the wonderful Hall of Fame of Faith. The past 40 verses of the Bible have shown us that these faithful were just like us – fallible folks, saved by their faith in You alone through the blood of the Lamb. All glory to Him. Amen.

 

 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Hebrews 12:1

 

Today begins the 12th chapter of Hebrews. After speaking for 40 verses on the exceptional faith of biblical characters of the past, “a great cloud of witnesses,” the author gives us a challenge –

 

1) “Let us throw off everything that hinders.” This is speaking of anything which will affect, withhold, or rob us of our faith. How easy this is too! It can surely affect our faith when we see a false preacher lining his pockets with money and then being caught in gross sin. Understand that this will surely happen from time to time and determine not to let it hinder your walk. The same is true with countless other things which can sidetrack you from strong faith. Think about a show you saw on the History Channel which called into question the truth of the Bible. On every such occasion, the speaker either failed to do his homework or he has an agenda to bring disrepute on it and weaken your faith. Know your Bible, know your Lord, and stand strong in your faith.

 

2) “Let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles.” Not only do we need to watch out that other’s sins don’t bring us down, but we need to remember that each of us is susceptible to sin. No sooner do we feel secure in our faith than the devil challenges us with temptation.

 

3) “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” We have been reminded elsewhere that being a faithful Christian is like a race. In a race, one needs to not only start, but to persevere. The only way to make it to the finish line is to focus and not falter.

 

Tomorrow’s verse will tell us how to accomplish today’s seemingly impossible tasks. I hope you’ll stay tuned as it’s my favorite verse in all of Scripture.

 

Dear Heavenly Father! Today’s verse has offered several challenges to us that seem to make our walk out to be more than just a sprint, but rather a marathon. Therefore, be with us each step of the way that we may not be weighed down, that we may not be tripped up, and that we may pass the finish line with satisfaction that we have been pleasing to You in our run! Amen.

 

 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

 

What could be more important than the first seven words of this verse … Let us fix our eyes on Jesus! The almighty and infinitely wise Creator of the universe stepped into the continuum of time and space in the person of Jesus. He alone has bridged the gap, provided atonement, redeemed lost man, and restored felicity between God and Adam’s fallen race. He is the focal point of our worship and the light in our lives. He wrote our faith and will bring it to perfection. He looked forward to His day of triumph and joy, knowing that the cross with all its shame and agony lay ahead…and He scorned it! What is shame? What is agony? What is worth the humiliation of his accusers? The answer is as astounding as it is simple… God loves you so infinitely much that, before He created a single grain of sand, He determined that Jesus would go to the cross and bear the punishment for sin each of us deserves. No cost was too high to pay the ransom. No pain was too great to right our wrongs. No disgrace was too shameful to cover our nakedness. And so Christ Jesus endured this for you. And when His mission was complete, He ascended again to the Father with all authority and all power granted to Him. This is the same authority He possessed from eternity past and which He set aside in order to destroy the work of the devil. The tabernacle of Moses had no chairs because the priests’ work was never done. But Jesus Christ, our true High Priest, finished the work His Father sent Him to accomplish. And when He did so... He sat down. His work is complete and never needs to be repeated. Jesus Christ’s atonement is all-sufficient for the salvation of the human soul. Think today on the majesty of God and His great love for you – expressed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

 

Heavenly Father, again we must repeat the words of David – “What is man that you are mindful of him…”Of what value are we, even lost in our sins, that You would send Your precious son, Jesus, to buy us back from this state of death. How terrible was the cost, and yet, how glorious the work accomplished there. All praise and glory – they are Yours alone. Amen.

 

 

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3

 

The author is reminding us of a fundamental truth of Christianity. We’re hated, not because we’re violent, because we destroy the unborn, because we blow ourselves and others up, or because we’re somehow intolerant. Rather, we’re hated because we bring the truth concerning the fallen state of man to a world that doesn’t want to accept it. People want to believe that they’re in good and tight with God and that all the wrong they’ve done will simply be forgotten because of few good deeds they may have accomplished in between the innumerable sins of a lifetime. It’s hard to face up to the fact that we’re really sinful beings and so the world simply attempts to deny this truth. It’s so much easier to live in denial and pray to something – anything – other than an infinitely holy Creator. But as Jesus said,

 

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master. 'If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” John 15:18 -20

 

We’re reminded of this today so that we “will not grow weary and lose heart.” If Jesus received opposition even leading to death, we really should expect no more. If we live a life without this, how wonderful that is, but if we face persecution, torture, or even death, we need to simply accept that Jesus walked that path before us.

 

Thank you, Lord, for reminding us that not everything in our Christian walk will be fun and prosperity, but rather we should expect hardships, opposition, and trials. Give us the ability to endure whatever comes our way that You alone may be glorified.  Amen.

 

 

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  Hebrews 12:4

 

Remember that the author is writing to first century Jewish believers who were considering returning to temple worship, most likely for security and safety from persecution. This persecution was certainly increasing as the Jewish believers and non-believers began to become more and more distinct. The entire book of Hebrews is written to demonstrate the “greater than” nature of Christ in His many roles – Prophet, Priest, King, Lawgiver, Creator, etc. By turning back to temple worship, they would be moving from a greater to a lesser form of worship. In addition to this, the author reminded them that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Yes, we still struggle with sin, but he makes it perfectly clear that all sin is completely atoned for by Christ Jesus’ sacrifice, whereas the temple sacrifices were temporary and passing away. In their daily lives and “struggle against sin” they hadn’t faced such great persecution that they had “yet” shed their blood. By saying this, he was comparing them with Jesus who had. He faced opposition and eventually the cross and became the great example for each believer to follow – even to the point of death. Remember, all of this follows on the heels of Chapter 11 which noted the faith and perseverance of past believers. Prior to that in Chapter 10, the recipients were reminded of their own faithfulness in their earlier years. As you can see, the author is masterfully preparing them for the long-haul by looking back to the past. By doing so, he’s giving them the much needed confidence they would need for the increasingly hard road which lay ahead. In the end, the imperative to “fix our eyes on Jesus” still stands today. If we can remember those simple words, all else will always find its proper place.

 

Lord, it is our honest desire to follow You no matter what lies ahead. Thank You for the logical, orderly, and uplifting way in which Hebrews builds us up in the ability to accomplish this. Let us never lose sight of that which is most important – following Jesus’ example no matter what the cost. Amen.

 

 

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:  “My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,… Hebrews 12:5

 

Along with the books of Moses, the Jewish people normally would have been extremely familiar with the Psalms and the Proverbs. Today the author rebukes his audience by saying, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement…” He then goes on to quote Proverbs 3:11 –

 

My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline
       and do not resent his rebuke,…

 

Despite being a rebuke, it’s also a tender reminder that the Lord does, in fact, discipline us. Tomorrow’s verse will explain the reason because it’s a continuation and completion of the same proverb. Interestingly, the LORD is equated with God in the author’s current thought and yet back in verse two he said that Jesus “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The right hand does not mean a different physical location. Rather, it indicates the position of authority. The math is pretty easy here – 1) Jesus carries all the authority of God; 2) the LORD (Jehovah) is called God; therefore, 3) Jesus is Jehovah God. This isn’t an unusual pattern that could somehow be misconstrued. Rather, it’s the common practice of the author throughout the book of Hebrews. A pattern we’ve encountered numerous times already. When you call on Jesus, you are now God’s son through adoption, hence this verse today is applicable to all believers; the “word of encouragement that addresses you as sons.” If the world is beating you up, take time to think on this. God loves you as His precious child. Though you may be disciplined, He will never take His love or His favor from you. Keep this in mind and know that He has a good plan and purpose set aside just for you.

Lord, it’s often hard to think of myself as Your child. Things often seem harder than I can bear. Be with me and help me through the difficulties and I will remember to give You the praise and worship You deserve. This is my prayer to You today. Amen.

 

 

…because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
      and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.
  Hebrews 12:6

 

Remember yesterday’s verse said, “My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you...” Today finishes that thought and explains why. It’s a paraphrase of Proverbs 3:12. If you’re under the hand of the Lord’s discipline for straying from Him, it may seem counter intuitive, but you should actually rejoice. There’s an immense difference between the Lord’s discipline and the Lord’s wrath. We, as saved believers, will never face the Lord’s wrath. However, as we turn from Him we can surely expect His discipline…because He loves us. In fact, He disciplines us not as a wayward student, or a straying employee, but as one of His own children. The theme of being God’s child through adoption permeates the New Testament and confirms that we once were just the opposite. As Paul says in Ephesians 2:3 we “were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” As hard as it may be for people to accept, man without Jesus is at enmity with God. There are only two possible relationships with Him – either you are a child of wrath, or a child of God’s love and affection. Take this to heart and be thankful when you face the Lord’s discipline. As John so jubilantly exclaims –

 

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1

 

To be chastised by God is to be His legitimate child and accepted as a son. Truly, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us! Hallelujah and Amen!

 

Thank You Lord for the times of discipline! Even though they may seem painful at the time, surely they demonstrate Your great love for us. Thank You for the bonds of family which can never separate us from Your love and grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? Hebrews 12:7

 

For the past couple verses, the Lord’s discipline upon his sons has been mentioned. The question then is, “How can we tell the difference between His discipline and something else?” It’s a valid question and not directly addressed here or elsewhere. For this reason, the author says to “Endure hardship as discipline…” Got it? Whatever trials you face, whatever hardships, whatever seems to be robbing you of joy – consider it discipline. The exact same things may be common to all people. The difference then is that our hardships are meant to refine us as children of God. This same concept is addressed by James, the Lord’s brother –

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

 

Thus, our trials indicate that “God is treating you as sons.” These develop perseverance and that in turn leads to becoming a complete and mature Christian. Understandably, many faithful Christians – maybe even you – are going through almost insurmountable trials. You may have a wayward child, financial difficulties, a spouse who is unfaithful, or even a combination of these. Rather than following what would seem logical and crying out “Why me Lord?” you can try to find the Lord’s hand, even in these things. Although the trial remains, understanding that this is developing your character may help you to keep it in proper perspective. And don’t carry the burden alone. Talk to God as your Father and cast your cares on Him – for He cares for you.

Sovereign Lord, you have determined the time, place, and situation in which I am. You know even the most intimate and difficult trials I’m facing. Thank You for them if they will but bring You honor and develop me as Your child. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Hebrews 12:8

 

After yesterday’s statement, “God is treating you as sons” when you’re disciplined, the writer today uses common logic. If your father doesn’t discipline you, then you’re an illegitimate child. There is an obvious exception which would be a father who refuses to discipline an unruly child. However, the Bible uses the example of a proper and loving father when making a comparison to God. A father who refuses to discipline a child is an immoral example to his children and those who see him. Such a father is sure to raise a child with no morals, is spoiled, and a problem to society. God, however, is the perfect Father and will never leave sin or haughtiness in one of His children unattended. The reason should be obvious – just as an unruly or disobedient child brings discredit upon his earthly father, Christians who act in a like manner bring discredit upon God. A person who continually runs through marriages and yet claims to be a Christian is a poor reflection on God. Likewise, a saved believer who spends his hours at a bar or gambling casino gives those around him a reason to mock God. Paul uses this logic in Romans 2 –

 

You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Romans 2:22-24

 

Here, Paul was quoting Isaiah 52:5. God’s name resided on the Jewish believers, but their actions brought discredit upon Him. Nothing has changed and our actions today, likewise, need to be carefully considered lest we diminish His glory in the site of unbelievers. Let’s pray about this:

 

Lord, Holy is Your name. May we be perceived as children of obedience that Your name may be glorified among non-believers. And may our actions cause them to look inward and determine that they too should desire to be a part of Your covenant people – sons through adoption. Amen.

 

 

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9

 

Yesterday I mentioned that “a father who refuses to discipline a child is an immoral example to his children and those who see him.” Today’s verse confirms this. Not only would such a father be looked down on, but the reciprocal is true. A father who properly disciplines his child is respected. Not only out of fear (at the time of punishment) but out of love and appreciation later. Anyone who remembers discipline which was handed out for real mistakes learned that it came because of love and a desire to see you learn what’s proper. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about discipline and it doesn’t shy away from it. Unlike modern day thinking, corporal punishment is recommended for children who misbehave –

“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24 /// “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” Proverbs 23:13, 14

Rather than being inappropriate, it’s correct to discipline our children. The type of punishment needs to meet the level of misdeed. And when it does, respect – not fear – is the result. In addition to respect we gain a proper moral compass which will last us through our lives. Likewise, when the Lord disciplines us, it’s for our growth. Rather than being upset and accusing God for our displeasure, we need to thank Him for the loving instruction He’s providing us. Remember these things and when trials or troubles come; thank Him for them. He’s showing His great love for you.

Heavenly Father, thank You for these lessons on discipline! There have been times when I’ve not understood all the difficulties I’ve faced. And even now, I am facing hardship, but I know it’s molding me into Your glorious image. Because of this, give me the patience and heart to accept it as a faithful child – obedient even as my Lord Jesus was. Amen.

 

 

 

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. Hebrews 12:10

 

One thing is for sure, parenting doesn’t come with an operating manual – as any parent knows. Books written to help parents through tough times often come with contradictory messages and even good ones don’t cover all circumstances. And so we discipline our children “for a little while” as we think best. However, because of our own faulty morals and limited knowledge of both present and future repercussions, we often blow it and make things worse. Because of this, we can then fly to the opposite extreme and fail to discipline at all - thus making things worse in a different way.  Also, because of our inner desire to protect our children we’ll often decide on a lesser punishment simply because we don’t want to hurt them or break their hearts. Isn’t it complicated? They steal a cookie and we go through a huge dilemma trying to decide how to handle it! God however is the perfect administrator of justice. For those who haven’t called on Jesus, one type of punishment will be handed out – eternal condemnation. But for His sons through adoption God disciplines us “for our good, that we may share in His holiness.” As stated before, if we suffer hardships or trials we may often be confused as to whether it’s God’s correction or just time and circumstance. In either case, we should consider it God’s providential correction and accept it with gratitude. By accepting our situations this way we learn to “share in his holiness.” Just as Jesus accepted the reviling, persecution, jeers, and eventually crucifixion from His people, we too should accept what comes our way. Jesus, though not needing correction, still accepted the trials to show us how we too should live.

 

Lord God, if Your hand of discipline means sharing in Your holiness, then bring it on. Soli Deo gloria. Amen.

 

 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

 

I wonder if the readers of this letter came to this sentence and said, “What an understatement!”?  No one in their right mind likes a good spanking or having their privileges revoked for being disobedient. Even a spanking that doesn’t hurt the body still hurts the feelings. But when we get disciplined, we learn to not do whatever wrong thing we did. It sets a guide for future actions. If the guide is based on proper morals, then our actions will be morally aligned. If the guide is based on unreasonable anger or simply because the parent is taking his or her frustrations out on the child, the effects can lead to emotional or moral problems. On the contrary though is the discipline that is meted out in love and for the child’s growth – “it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.” When tough moral issues come along later in life, there is no question about the proper course to take. Likewise, when God disciplines us for our waywardness, He’s expecting a result based on His loving hand upon us. Whatever trials or hardships you’re facing, as long as you keep them in the proper perspective, you’ll see that God is challenging you for a specific reason. It may not be readily apparent, but a day will come when you understand all that occurred and the great wisdom of the trial. You will be better set for handling future trials in both your life and helping others through their difficulties. And, above all, you will be molded more and more into the image of Christ. When He comes, there will be far less loss and far more gain in your eternal rewards. Think on this and know that every trial is there for a good end – from an infinitely wise and loving Father.

 

Lord, give me the ability to understand why I face trials, hardships, and temptations, and give me the ability to rejoice in them – knowing that they are indeed producing a harvest of righteousness and peace in my life and in the life of those around me. Thank You, Thank You! In Jesus’ name, Thank You!

 

 

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  Hebrews 12:12

 

Today’s verse is given based on the preceding few which talked about discipline and how it was a good thing when it comes from God, who is the Father of Christians. It’s probably a reference to this verse from Ezekiel –

 

Every hand will go limp, and every knee will become as weak as water. Ezekiel 7:17

 

Here the judgment and wrath of God were being poured out on the people because of their faithlessness and “detestable practices.” Because of this, there was no hope for strengthening, but rather the hands went limp and the knees weakened completely. On the contrary, the author of Hebrews is saying that rather than wrath and judgment, Christian believers merely face discipline. This discipline is to strengthen us rather than weaken us. If we simply pay attention to what God is trying to teach us, we’ll produce “a harvest of righteousness and peace.” And if we don’t, then we’ll face our own disasters and loss. God gives us the choice to follow Him faithfully or to wander and stray. However, as has been noted many times thus far in Hebrews, one will never lose their salvation. The Christian is secure in that promise from God. But how sad many believers will be when they meet Christ face to face and realize the life they wasted in empty pursuit rather than living for Him. Determine today that you’ll spend your life and your efforts in bringing glory to Him.

 

Jesus, surely we all need to strengthen ourselves and get about Your business. Give us the ability and the desire to be Your faithful and honorable followers all the days of our lives. To Your glory alone… Amen.

 

 

Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:13

 

As a reminder, yesterday’s verse was reminiscent of a thought from Ezekiel and it said, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” Today follows along the same lines and is partly a quote from Proverbs 4:26 –

 

Make level paths for your feet
       and take only ways that are firm.

Do not swerve to the right or the left;
       keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:26, 27

 

I included the whole thought from proverbs here and probably the author would have wanted his readers to read and consider both verses as well. One sure way to cause worse injury to a wounded knee is to take a path that isn’t level or firm. And surely if you deviate from the path, your foot is bound to find even more trouble. The author uses this logic “so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” On the same lines is another proverb which teaches us to use discretion when listening to supposed wisdom –

 

Like a lame man's legs that hang limp
       is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. Proverbs 26:7

 

As you can see, the Bible is using physical troubles to make spiritual applications in our lives. By understanding these proverbs, we can look to the One who created us and therefore knows how the two applications – physical and spiritual demonstrate His wisdom.

 

Lord, as You created us, You can readily use examples we understand from our physical bodies to guide us to higher truths in our spiritual lives. Help us to understand these passages so that we too can have wisdom and insight into the things which You found important enough to include in Your word. This prayer is made in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  Hebrews 12:14

 

The theme of God’s holiness is particularly found in Leviticus, Isaiah, and Hebrews, although it is found throughout the Bible. Depending on the stem of the word “qadosh” the word “holy” will normally mean set apart or consecrated, or it will mean “to show oneself sacred or majestic.” What the author is telling us is that we are to be set apart from the stain of sin in the world. We’re not to remove ourselves from the world as monks and other ascetics have done over the centuries. Jesus Himself, the Holy One incarnate, walked among us, ate with sinners, and never attempted to stay away from fallen man. Rather, He kept Himself set apart from what people did, not from the people. He lived at peace with those around Him and we should as well. This does not in any way mean that we’re to not call sin what it is. Jesus called out the hypocrites, the unrepentant, and the arrogant without hesitation and we shouldn’t feel any less angry at the sin of such people. As the verse says, “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,…” Although it’s often taught that this means we’re not to go to bed angry, this is a misinterpretation of the verse. Rather, it’s saying that we are (actively) to be angry about sin and to never let our anger towards sin diminish (let the sun go down on). When we stop being angry about sin, we open the door to allow it to come into our own lives and we violate the command to be holy. And “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Obviously, this is impossible for us in the complete sense, but like justification, our holiness is imputed to us by Christ. When we come to Him, we are “set apart” because of our faith. In response to that gift, we should continue to make every effort to increase in holiness all our days. Remember these things as you go out into the world today. You’re set apart, live that way for the sake of the name of Jesus.

 

Lord Jesus, forgive me for often failing to be holy and set apart to You. Forgive me for not being angry at sin the way that I should be. Give me the ability to see sin as You see it that I may never condone it. I know this will lead me to holiness and to a state which pleases You. This I ask in Your beautiful name. Amen.

 

 

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15

 

There’s a lot in this one verse to consider in our daily lives. First it says “See to it that no one misses the grace of God.” As a reminder we’ll consider grace and mercy – Grace is getting what you don’t deserve; Mercy is not getting what you do deserve. As grace is unmerited favor, it’s easy to see that “missing” the grace of God can happen in a couple of ways: 1) Working to earn what you cannot earn; or 2) Feeling like you deserve that which you don’t. A practical application of the first would be someone who believes they need to “help” God as they “earn” their salvation, for example “I need to do this and this to be saved or to remain saved.” This is commonly practiced throughout the church and is actually part of the doctrine of many denominations. The second example is just as common. If you ask someone, “Why should God accept you?” The answer is often, “Well, I’m a good person,” or “I’m not as bad as that guy over there…” If you include “I” in an answer about your justification or salvation, you have “missed” the grace of God and are unqualified for it. The correct answer is “Because Jesus…” The second thought today is to ensure “no bitter root grows up…” Being around a bitter person is like putting a bitter herb in a pot of stew…everything gets tainted. And so it is in church bodies, our families, and our social contacts. When a bitter person is allowed to influence the party, the party is ruined. Isaiah actually marks bitterness in a person as one of the great sins of existence – “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Just as a person who calls evil good, so is the person who takes what should be sweet (Christian fellowship for example) and calls it bitter. Be wary of your own heart and watch for bitterness in others lest it “cause trouble and defile many.”

Thank You Lord for today’s verse and all the detail it contains. These reminders are so helpful in our daily walk. Keep our thoughts attuned to Your grace and not works of any kind. Also, keep us from bitterness which defiles that we may be a pure and holy people, set apart for Your use. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Hebrews 12:16

 

If you’re unaware of the story of Esau and Jacob, it’s a good and quick read. Start in Genesis 25 and then you can read more in Genesis 27, 28, 32, and 33. From before birth, God selected Jacob over Esau – indicating divine election, a common theme throughout the Bible and one which affects each of us personally. Genesis 27:27, 28 says, “The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” So there was favoritism between children and parents. In addition, because of Esau’s lifestyle, he very easily gave up his birthright as the elder son, for a mere bowl of soup, “Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.” Vs. 34. This is what the author is referring to today. Something considered most precious and a gift from God based on birth was shunned. Additionally, the author mentions sexual immorality. It seems he may or may not be applying it to Esau, but understanding Esau’s nature, it is certainly Esau who’s being discussed. In Genesis 28 we read, “Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.” Vs.8, 9 This is not, as some might argue, a stand against polygamy. Many times in the Old Testament men had more than one wife without it being condemned. Rather, the culture of the women implies sexual immorality – Esau married women from Canaan who would’ve practiced fertility rites and other sexually immoral activities. The overall admonition is that we are to marry within the Christian community and treat our Christian heritage with respect. When we fail to do this, we only bring sorrow on our own heads, just as Esau did.

 

Lord, may You help us to learn from what we read today. Help us to see the importance of a proper sex life conducted in a Christian context. Also, keep us from squandering the heritage You have given to us through our Lord Jesus. In His name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.  Hebrews 12:17

 

Yesterday we looked over the life of Esau who “for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.” Today refers to a completely different event - receiving his father’s blessing. This is one of the saddest passages in the Bible and is found in Genesis 27. It shows the cunning of his mother and younger brother Jacob, but also fulfills God’s promise of divine election even when the twins were still in the womb. The name “Jacob” actually means “one who grabs the heel” which is a euphemism for a “deceiver.” What occurs in this chapter actually shows how his name fit his character when he “deceived” his father Isaac to obtain the firstborn’s blessing –

 

Then Isaac trembled exceedingly, and said, “Who? Where is the one who hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it before you came, and I have blessed him—and indeed he shall be blessed.” When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me—me also, O my father!” But he said, “Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.” And Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” Genesis 27:33-37

 

Although this account may seem unfair towards Esau, remember that it was deserved. As the author of Hebrews said earlier, Esau was “godless.” God did not author the deceit which occurred, but He allowed it to meet a good end. Jesus Himself therefore descended from the line of Jacob and not that of Esau. If you feel wronged in some way, could it be that you’ve failed to live for God and are reaping what you’ve sown? Be careful never to blame God for misfortune, but rather understand His hand of providence in all things.

Lord, give us wise and discerning hearts to understand our place in Your plan of redemption. Let us not fight bitterly over what we have or what we don’t get, but let us bring You glory through accepting our lot and position as was determined by You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; Hebrews 12:18

 

The author today is taking us back to the reception of the law at Mt. Sinai and the fearful display which occurred at that time –

 

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain,… Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently,… Exodus 19:16 & 18

 

The enormity of the display demonstrates the severity of what was to come. God was ensuring that what the people heard, they would never forget. The law was to be taken as the holy word which it is, and from the perfectly holy God who spoke it. It can be assumed that any infraction of the words to come would carry a terrible penalty simply by the display that accompanied it. And so it was –

 

While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses. Numbers 15:322-36

 

Because this man had seen God’s awesome display, had heard the words spoken, and then had disobeyed them, no mercy was given. For picking up a bundle of sticks, the man forfeited his life. Such is the harshness of the law. Thanks be to God for mercy through Christ Jesus our Lord!

 

Lord, when we read difficult passages that show the severity of violating Your word, help us to keep them in context and to remember what they’re teaching us and why. In the end, we all deserve death and condemnation, but You sent Jesus to take our place. How thankful we are! In His name we pray. Amen.

 

 

…to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them,… Hebrews 12:19

 

This is the second part of a series of three verses talking about the splendid majesty of the revelation of God’s power at Mount Sinai. When the people gathered at the base of the mountain, it must have been an awesome and glorious sight.  Here is the account from Exodus, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’” Exodus 20:18, 19 Unlike movies – no matter how dramatic – this was real life and the demonstration served a particular purpose. God was checking their hearts. By giving this display, the later challenges could be held in only one of two ways, 1) faith that the same God who they heard and saw could handle any trouble, or 2) disobedience and rejection of the God whose power they had seen. “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’” Exodus 20:20

 

When the time of testing came, did they pass?

 

“Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times-not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.” Numbers 14:21-23

 

The answer is no. And so their bodies fell in the wilderness during 38 years of wandering.

 

Lord, if you were displeased with those who saw Your glory on Mt. Sinai and rejected it, how much more then we… when we reject the display of Your glory in the Person of Jesus Christ. May we never fail to have faith during our times of testing. In His name we pray. Amen.

 

 

…because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” Hebrews 12:20

 

Today is the completion of the verses which describe the awesome display and consequences of the theophany at Mount Sinai. Here is the quote from Exodus –

 

Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, “Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.” Only when the ram's horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain. Exodus 19:12, 13

 

No explanation is give as to why even an animal would be subject to destruction, but we can reason out a few things that fit. First, the idea was to make a permanent mental effect on the people concerning the terror and majesty of God. Second, it was to show that God had accepted Moses (who would go to the mountain) and that he was their chosen representative to God. This is indicated in verse 9 of the chapter, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Exodus 19:9

 

Finally, everything in creation fell at the fall. All things are corruptible and unworthy of God’s presence. Paul indicates this in Romans 8, “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Romans 8:20, 21

 

As you can see, the taint of Adam’s sin has affected everything, but all things will be restored in due time. As Jesus says in Revelation, “Behold, I make all things new.”

 

O God! Thank You for the promise of restoration and renewal. Thank You that backaches, eye problems, sadness, and even death will be wiped away forever. And above all, thank You for Jesus who made the bridge to You possible. We bow at His glorious feet and hail, “Worthy is the Lamb!” Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” Hebrews 12:21

 

As we saw in the preceding 3 verses, God’s majesty was on display for all the Israelites to see. It was so fearful that they begged for God speak to Moses only and no longer to them lest they die. Later, after the Israelites had rejected God and made a golden calf to worship, Moses truly feared the repercussions. They’d seen; they’d heard; they’d been warned; and they rejected…

 

I feared the anger and wrath of the LORD, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the LORD listened to me. Deuteronomy 9:19

 

Moses thought they were goners and actually begged God to spare them –

 

So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written." Exodus 32:31, 32

 

All of this shows the greatness of Moses in the sight of God and the people of Israel. He foreshadows the true Intermediary to come – Jesus our Lord. Remember, once a person is saved, they can never lose this salvation, but our sins continue to show disregard for the great work of the cross. We’re it not for Jesus interceding on our behalf, we would be utterly consumed by God. Please remember that our prayers and petitions for forgiveness can only be made through Jesus. The Bible is absolutely clear on this point – “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus..” 1 Timothy 2:5. If your prayers are being offered in any other name, God’s wrath remains on you.

 

“Who among the gods is like you, O LORD ? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” To You alone we give thanks and praise for the Person and work of Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Him we praise You, through Him we ask for forgiveness, and through Him we petition You. And in His name we pray today! Amen.

 

 

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, Hebrews 12:22

 

This is another of the most exciting verses in the entire Bible. In contrast to the last three days of verses which showed the fearful and terrifying sight of God’s presence at Mount Sinai, the author tells us that through Jesus we come to the true Mount Zion – the perfection of beauty and the city of God. At Mount Sinai, the people begged to not hear more. In the heavenly Jerusalem, they’ll rejoice in the singing of an enormous multitude of angels. It’s hard to imagine all that’s prepared for faithful believers, but no matter how majestic or awesome the display, there will be no fear. As Paul says elsewhere –

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1, 2

 

The law – even from the day it was given – was a reminder of death and the impossibility to please God by observing it simply because no one can fully live by it. And so death reigned even after the law was introduced. Again –

 

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6

 

The “letter” is the law and actually brought death, but the Spirit – given by Christ – gives life. Because there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” the glory of what is coming is truly a surpassing glory. One we simply can’t even imagine at this time. How wonderful it will be!

 

Lord, what a wonderful and precious assurance You’ve given us through the Person of Jesus. Now, because of Him, we can have everlasting fellowship with You without fear. Instead, only eternal joy awaits us as we join the heavenly choir in singing praises to You! Help us to keep our eyes on this wonderful promise that we might not falter in the present. Amen!

 

 

…to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, Hebrews 12:23

 

This is a continuation of verse 22 which said we had “come to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.” Just as the Israelites were redeemed out of Egypt and taken to the Promised Land, we too have been redeemed by the Lord “You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly.” Just imagine the sight to come when we’re finally translated to His kingdom! All of this is going on even as we speak – we have come “to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.” As Jesus said when His disciples came to Him excited about having power over demons –

 

“Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20

 

Just because we’re not physically there yet in no way means we aren’t already there in God’s view – we are. Continuing on, it says “You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect.” Because of Jesus, we now have a restored relationship with the Creator Himself…we have come to God. And God, being judge of all men has the authority to save or destroy. In the case of those who follow Jesus, we are “made perfect” by His work. The pardon is given, the penalty removed, the transfer is made!  How can one read this verse and not be exited enough to jump and shout! Praise be to God for what He has done on our behalf. Praise be to Jesus who has redeemed His people! Hallelujah and Amen!

 

Yes Lord! You have, through the precious Gift of Jesus, brought us to Yourself. As the verse says, “judgment begins at the house of the Lord” but in the case of Your redeemed, it will be a judgment unto eternal life. How can we do anything but praise You! In the most awesome and glorious name of Jesus we pray! Amen.

 

 

…to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.  Hebrews 12:24

 

Today is the third verse in the same thought and is the culmination of the glory of the preceding verses… you have come to Jesus! Of all the joys we will experience in the ages to come, none will be more precious than coming to Jesus. He established the New Covenant in His blood – through His death on the cross. It is the sprinkling of His blood which cleanses humanity from all sin. Abel’s blood was the first recorded to have been shed on earth and it came from a person whose sacrifice pleased God when offered. However, Abel inherited Adam’s sin nature when he was born and therefore his blood, along with all others who have died since then, was insufficient to restore fallen man. Jesus came into the world without sin though and lived perfectly. Because of this, His blood was sufficient; His sacrifice could cleanse completely. Just as Moses “sprinkled” the people, the law, the tabernacle, and everything else with blood to purify those things, Jesus’ blood is said to have been “sprinkled” to bring us cleansing as well. As Peter records –

 

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. 1 Peter 1:1, 2

 

As you can see, Peter ties in a great deal with the sprinkling of Jesus’ blood. Without it none of the other things mentioned could have occurred. But because of His sacrifice, we are sanctified through the work of the Spirit. Without Jesus’ death, no other good thing would be possible. And by His resurrection, we are assured of eternal life! What a wonderful Lord!

 

Jesus, it’s hard to imagine just what you went through on our behalf. The cross with its terrors is simply beyond our comprehension, and you went there willingly. May we never forget what You have done for us. Surely great praise belongs to You alone! Amen.

 

 

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? Hebrews 12:25

 

In the Bible, there seems to always be a sober reminder amidst the excitement. The last three verses have spoken of the heavenly Jerusalem, of joy in the future, of the promise of being eternally with Jesus. However, today reminds the readers that this is not automatic. You may have been to a funeral at some point. It seems everyone in the box is “going to heaven” and everyone in the audience is a believer – but this isn’t so. Rather, we need to accept and not refuse God’s good purposes for us. Those who refused to obey after seeing the display at Mount Sinai “did not escape” and their bodies died in the wilderness. As Paul says elsewhere –

 

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. Romans 2:13

 

Life with Christ also involves a commitment. If someone spends their entire life sitting in church listening to the message and never accepting Christ’s pardon, then all that time was wasted. As it says, those who heard the Law of Moses and rejected it did not escape. As this is so, “how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven.” Let’s think better thoughts though… You have heard the word of Christ, you have understood His mission, and certainly you won’t reject His offer. Be wise and understanding now, while you have breath, to follow the One who loves you so very much!

 

Thank You Lord for the offer, thank you for the promises, and thank you for my salvation! I know it’s by Your great arm that I have been redeemed and I will follow where You lead all my days.  Glory to You!!! Amen.

 

 

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."  Hebrews 12:26

 

The author today is quoting from Haggai –

 

"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty. Haggai 2:6, 7

 

This is speaking of the coming Messiah, the “desired of all nations” and tells us that just as the Old Covenant shook the earth, so will the New.  The explanation of this will come in the next couple days. If you’ve read the account of receiving the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, you’ll notice that it records, “the whole mountain trembled violently.” This is also recorded in the Psalms and gives more insight into the awesome display –

 

When you went out before your people, O God,
       when you marched through the wasteland,
       Selah

the earth shook,
       the heavens poured down rain,
       before God, the One of Sinai,
       before God, the God of Israel. Psalm  68:7, 8

 

Imagine how awesome it was to stand and receive the Law at Sinai. Now understand that even more awesome is receiving the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

Lord, when You shake the world, only that which is unshakeable will remain. May our faith be strong and never shaken and may we be a testimony to Your immense glory. May the nations of the earth be glad when they stand the trial of Your purification. To Your honor and glory alone! Amen.

 

 

The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.  Hebrews 12:27

 

Remember that this verse is explaining the previous one which is a quote from Haggai 2:6. The author tells us that what is being shaken is that which has been created. This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the creation, but the way we use it. For example, a house may be made of wood; there is nothing wrong with the wood, but the way it’s used may be faulty. That which is created then most probably applies to the building blocks we assemble – whether through materials – such as for the house, or through teachings – such as faulty doctrine in a denomination. That which is faulty will be shaken “so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” As Jesus is eternal, not created, He cannot be shaken –

 

You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. John 8:23

 

And again –

 

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." John 18:36

 

Following our faith in Jesus to its logical conclusion then, we can see that proper faith, in Him, will never be shaken –

 

As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Romans 10:11

 

Therefore, that which “cannot be shaken” is our faith in the Rock of our salvation – faith in Jesus Christ. All other systems of religion, all other philosophies, all other attempts to stand righteous before God, all of these things will be shaken. By the very fact that they are faulty, they will be removed.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, Hebrews 12:28

 

As difficult as it is for me to imagine, we – the fallible masses of Christendom – are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Imagine the bickering, divisiveness, petty argumentation, and out-right backstabbing that goes on in Christian circles. People fight over whether to stand or sit while praying. Congregations divide over which version of the Bible should be used. People point fingers at those who dress differently – and the list goes on. And yet, despite all of this child-like behavior, we are promised a kingdom…let us be thankful. I can’t imagine how it must look to the Creator when we disparage each other as we do in the name of “denominational purity.” And yet, we are promised a kingdom…let us be thankful. Despite ourselves – even despite ourselves, we are promised a kingdom…let us be thankful. And because we are, let us “worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” This doesn’t say “acceptably, with no instruments in the church.” This doesn’t say “acceptably, with guitars and drums.” This doesn’t say, “acceptably, with noses held up to our fellow man.” Instead, acceptable worship – in whatever form we choose – is with reverence and awe. I’ve seen more reverence at a large Christian concert than in a church with a warbler organ. But I’ve also seen reverence in the church with the warbler organ. Reverence and awe, although often held by the entire congregation, is an individual decision. Whatever you do, do it to the glory of God – with reverence and awe. Then your worship will be acceptable!

 

Almighty and glorious Creator, help us to focus on the proper form of worship – in whatever manner we use… worship filled with reverence and awe. May our instruments bring you glory, may our voices bring you glory, and may our very lives bring you glory as we worship you – our great and majestic God. Amen.

 

 

…for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29

 

The final verse of Hebrews 12 is a quote from Deuteronomy 4:24. It reminds us that God is both the destroyer of evil and a purifier of those who bear his name. We previously looked at that which can and cannot be shaken. That which can is the impure; that which can’t is what will last. The same idea is found in the use of fire throughout Scripture –

 

If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

 

Here Paul gives two types of foundations – one built on something which can withstand fire and one which can’t. Gold, silver, and costly stones can all withstand fire and are purified from impurities when heated, but wood, hay, and straw are all easily burned up. The question for each of us then is, “What type of eternal foundation am I laying?” If we’re spending our Christian lives living marginally for the Lord and entertaining the world, our deeds will be burned up. If we’re living our lives for His glory and to His good ends, then what we do will be refined and found useful in our eternal home. Think now on the things of God and live for him lest your deeds be consumed, rather than purified in His refining fire.

Truly Lord, You leave the choice up to us – will we receive a thimble, a cup, a bucket, or a drum full of Your blessings when we stand before You? May our deeds be pleasing in Your sight, and may our lives not be wasted in the temporary when the eternal is our true home. Teach us to live our days rightly. Amen.

 

 

Keep on loving each other as brothers. Hebrews 13:1

 

What a wonderful way to start a new chapter! One thing that is stressed again and again in the New Testament is brotherly love; having affection for all in the body of Christ. This is unfortunately not something that comes about as much as it should. Rather, we divide churches over teeny issues and we disown friends because our feelings get hurt over something they say. But Paul is pretty clear about how we should conduct ourselves around other believers –

 

Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

1 Corinthians 6:4-8

 

He says that it would be better that we were cheated than to turn and sue a fellow believer. It’s not just for our sake he says this, but rather for the sake of Jesus’ name. When fellow Christians act in such an unbecoming manner, the one who ultimately looks bad in other’s eyes is Jesus. “Ah, those Christians are all a bunch of hypocrites.” I suppose you’ve heard that many times, but is it true? Are we setting a noble example for Christ in our conduct and behavior? Think on these things and … keep loving each other as brothers. This is the calling to which we are called. Let’s pray about this….

 

Lord Jesus, it’s extremely hard to overlook an offense when we’re wronged by others. Give us hearts that are more willing to be molded to Your image. You’ve forgiven us so very much and we need to emulate the grace bestowed upon us. In the end, may it be Your name which is held in high esteem as we live our lives to Your glory. Amen.

 

 

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

 

Whether or not people since the completion of the Bible have really had angelic visits where they’ve communicated with angels is disputable and the evidence is usually against such. However, the author today makes it abundantly clear that we are visited by angels without ever realizing it. For whatever purpose, they do interact with humans. Today we learn that we’re to “entertain strangers” for this very reason. Whether it’s some type of test seems unlikely because God already knows the intent of our hearts and how we would respond in certain instances. On the other hand, we don’t. When we entertain a stranger – helping them in some way for example – we learn more about ourselves. After doing whatever it is they’ve come to challenge us with, we can look back and really wonder, “Was that an angel?” How often do we hear of someone who helps another person or is helped by them, and then that person just disappears. When this happens, the person will evaluate their own actions during the situation and hopefully realize that one of God’s messengers really was involved in it. This should (stress should) make them want to search out the things of God even more. It should also prompt them to act likewise towards others in the future. As said above, any test isn’t meant for God to learn something about us, it’s for us to learn about ourselves. If you believe you’ve had an angelic encounter, are you living as if you did? Have you learned from the experience and grown in Christian maturity? Or are you just content with telling others about the angel you think you met. The way you handle such an encounter tells a lot about your level of spiritual maturity. If you believe you’ve had an angelic encounter, take time to evaluate yourself. If there are angels, there is a God. If there’s a God, then we really are accountable to Him. Contemplate this and understand His good intent for you by allowing an angel to interact with you.

Lord, help us to take possible encounters with angels for what they are – an attempt to help us mature. Let us not get sidetracked by lesser issues, or grow haughty because we’re somehow “special” because of our encounter. Remind us that all things happen because of Your providence and mean to teach us more about You! In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3

 

Although this verse could be used as a text for starting a prison ministry, it’s most probably speaking of fellow believers in Christ and not general lawbreakers.  We’re asked to remember those who have been persecuted and imprisoned for the gospel as if we were right there with them. Surely this means to visit them if possible and encourage them and pray for them. Having said that, some of the most effective ministries around are prison ministries and they can reap a gigantic harvest for Christ. If you’ve never considered this as an opportunity to tell others about God’s great plan, there are usually groups which already minister to prisons across the world. Maybe this is something you could consider as part of your gratefulness to Him. Going on, we’re told to also remember those who are being mistreated “as if you yourselves were suffering.” The author wants us to empathize with others who face trials, not just to brush off their situations with a shrug. Most of us will never face any such trial, mistreatment, or imprisonment for the sake of Christ, so it’s hard to empathize, but this is what we’ve been asked to do. There is a difference however in those who have purposely brought troubles on themselves. TV evangelists who ripped off others for their own profit, pastors who have broken the public’s trust through dishonest gain, etc deserve no such empathy. Instead they’re right where they belong, paying not only a debt to society, but also removed from the position they’ve misused at the expense of the precious name of Christ. If you’re aware of someone who has genuinely been arrested or mistreated because of his or her Christian testimony, be sure to empathize with them and comfort them. Let them know that their trial is not in vain.

 

Lord, thank you for those who have faithfully endured for Your cause and are suffering or imprisoned for Your name. There are many in distant lands, even now, who fit this category and I ask that You be with them and comfort them in their hardships. This, to Your honor and for Your glory. Amen.

 

 

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Hebrews 13:4

 

We can infer that the first ordained rite between humans in history is that of marriage. Theologically, the account of Eve being taken from Adam’s side during his sleep is of much greater symbolic importance than most people realize.  Here is the account –

 

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:20-24

 

Just as Eve came from Adam’s side in a sleep like death, so the church came from Christ’s side as He was pierced in death. Out flowed the water and blood confirming His death and establishing the New Covenant. Therefore, just as “the marriage bed” is to be kept pure, the symbolism agrees with the purity of doctrine – never mixing any religious expression with biblical Christianity. The Bible equates mingling false religion with adultery. Because this comparison is made, the absolute purity of being faithful to one’s spouse is of extreme importance to God. We cannot defile our marriage bed, nor our religious expression, and come out unscathed. If you’re having either a sexual affair outside of marriage, or a religious affair (such as adding in Buddhism, horoscopes, etc.) you’re on extremely shaky grounds and will be judged for your actions. Keep your marriage and your doctrine pure – to the honor of Christ.

Lord, thank You for the covenant of marriage; and thank you for the New Covenant in Christ Jesus’ blood. Give us wise and discerning eyes to look on our spouse with reverence and to deal in purity. Likewise, give us the same spiritual discernment in how we relate to You. These things we pray that You may be glorified! Amen.

 

 

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
   "Never will I leave you;
      never will I forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5

 

There are two complete thoughts in this one verse even though the author unites them in a single concept. The Bible speaks a great deal about the trap of money and greed. This includes many sayings of Jesus personally. In fact, the two thoughts here are in the same basic order and idea of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:

 

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. vs. 24

 

&

 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? vs. 25, 26

 

If our focus is on money, it becomes our trust. When we place our trust in anything but God, our foundation is weak. Even if the money doesn’t disappear, we don’t know the timing of our death. Therefore, the money we saved will be of no use to us when death does come. To trust in money or riches is simply the fool’s path. Instead, God – through Jesus Christ – promises to never leave us and to never forsake us. This is a promise by the unchanging God who cannot lie. His word reflects His very nature. So don’t be frustrated about your finances. Instead, rejoice in your relationship.

 

Thank You Lord for today’s most comforting verse! You’ve given us a sure guarantee that You are with us in whatever our life’s station is. Help us to be content in it and, while striving to improve it, never lose sight that all things are from you and serve Your purposes for us. Thank You for Your abundant provision and protection! Amen.

 

 

So we say with confidence,
   "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
      What can man do to me?"
Hebrews 13:6

 

Yesterday asked us to keep away from the love of money because the Lord has promised to never leave us nor ever forsake us. Knowing that money cannot save and that the Lord will defend us from the troubling hand of man, we’re given another verse of confidence today which comes from Psalm 118.  This is a victorious psalm speaking of the coming Messiah. Because today that same psalm is being applied to us because of Jesus’ victory, we have absolute assurance that no thing, no person, no trial, no temptation can hold us down. In fact, we’re to “say with confidence” that it is Jesus who stands with us and because of that we will not be afraid. It’s this thought that allows people to undergo any torture or martyrdom without disowning Christ. The early Christian martyr named Polycarp was given a chance to disown Christ and confess Caesar as lord, but instead he stood firm –

 

Eighty-six years have I been His servant, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me? … You threaten me with fire which burns for an hour, and after a little is extinguished, but are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why do you tarry? Bring forth what you will.

 

Although most of us probably won’t face being burned at the stake, whatever trials you do face – large or small – remember that the Lord is your confidence and so you should never be afraid of what lies ahead.

 

Yes Lord, You are our great confidence in a world which is lacking reason. Give us the ability to stand fast in Your great comfort when times become difficult or even hostile. May You receive the glory you’re due for having provided us with such a sure and great salvation. Amen.

 

 

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7

 

There are a lot of people vying for our attention in the world – sports figures, politicians, movie stars, etc. We’re told today that we should look to our preachers when looking for a way of life to emulate. If anyone hasn’t taken the time to notice, much of the “Hollywood elite” are the most messed up people on earth. Sports figures spend too much time working on their athletic skills, which fade with age, and not enough on considering the deeper questions of life. Politicians are generally the most self-serving bunch of people of all. Instead, we need to look to those who preach the word of God and consider “the outcome of their way of life.” What they preach has eternal significance and is the only sure foundation we have. Along with this, we’re reminded to “imitate their faith.” Notice Paul doesn’t say to imitate them. To imitate a fallen person – even a pastor – isn’t smart. Pastors have been known to fall too – in big ways. The only One we are to actually imitate in person is Jesus, but for earthly examples of faith, we look to our pastors. In addition to this, Paul reminded Timothy that –

 

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages." 1 Timothy 5:17, 18

 

He repeats his thought in Galatians –

 

Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Galatians 6:6

 

Don’t forget to share the good you have with your pastor – take him out for dinner, bring him something nice, etc. And again, learn to imitate his faith.

 

Lord, you have raised up God-fearing men to teach Your word and to direct us to You. Give us caring hearts to pray for them, acknowledge them with our gifts, and to imitate their faith. Help us always to be faithful congregants in support of our pastors who in turn lead us to You! Amen.

 

 

 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

 

This is one of many verses in the Bible which tell us of God’s unchanging nature. This may seem like an unimportant aspect of God that you don’t need to think about deeply, but such isn’t the case. The eternality and unchanging nature of God leads us directly to monotheism and excludes all other non-monotheistic religions … it’s that simple.  Because Jesus is being equated with an unchanging nature, then He must be a part of the Godhead. If this is so, and the Bible claims it is, then any other monotheistic expression outside of Christianity is excluded. We can easily reason out why this must be the case and why the other monotheistic religions are false – for example, Islam’s system of final justice would violate God’s eternal nature of holiness. By using reason, the Bible alone stands as an expression compatible with the nature of God. In a world where so many people believe that “all paths lead to God” there needs to be careful thought given as to why this simply can’t be true. And, once we’ve determined the truth, we can be completely assured that we are dealing with a God who isn’t fickle, vindictive, moody, or changing. His word reflects His very nature. It would be utterly foolish to claim faith in Jesus Christ and then worry about somehow losing your salvation at a later point. When God says that we’re forgiven through Christ, then we’re forgiven. When God says, that we have reconciliation because of Christ, then we’re reconciled. When God says we’re His children because of Christ, then we’re adopted and heirs. Have faith that Jesus is the same God who said, “I the LORD do not change.” Jesus is the full expression of the Godhead in bodily form. He makes the unknowable knowable. Have no fear; Jesus is.

 

Thank You Lord for coming and displaying to us the great love of the Father! Thank You for our salvation, our adoption, and our promised eternal life. Because Your word tells us of Jesus and Jesus tells us of these things, we can be eternally confident that they are true. Thank You for Jesus! Amen.

 

 

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. Hebrews 13:9

 

The first half of today’s verse is so broad in its admonition that pages and pages could be written about the strange teachings followed by a single individual, much less everyone in Christendom. We as people can so easily get sidetracked into cults, conspiracies, speculations, and general finger pointing that we never become productive Christians. How many times do you see people waste their time on every possible conspiracy that arises? “The government is building concentration camps for its citizens;” “the twin towers were destroyed by the US government;” “the gulf oil spill is an attempt to take over the world” – and on and on it goes as we waste our lives on that which is both strange and unproductive. Likewise, how many know someone who’s come home to tell the family they’ve joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, or Adventists because they are the only truth and have the secrets of God exclusively. Strange teachings are teachings which have no value in our lives and merely divert our attention from Jesus. Those who follow them can only be pitied as they dig deeper and deeper into one giant black chasm of futility. The second half of today’s verse is pointing back to the dietary laws of the Old Testament and will be explained further in the coming days. Suffice it to say today that we should be “strengthened by grace” and not in legalistic teachings – be they concerning dietary restrictions such as eating pork or dietary enhancements such as special foods meant only for an elite group. When we eat, we do so to the Lord. He has (past tense) accepted us. To try to merit His favor through our diet after He has already accepted us is to lack being strengthened by grace. Eyes on Jesus! Thoughts on Jesus! Hearts toward Jesus! Everything else is foolish and wasteful.

 

Lord, help us to think on today’s verse as we go about our lives. Nudge us to ask “Is this a strange teaching which is of no value?” And then give us wisdom to reject it if it is. May our hearts and minds be attentive to You and not toward the wacky, bazerko, or just plain nuts... May we be pleasing to You alone. Amen.

 

 

We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.  Hebrews 13:10

 

“The altar” is speaking of the altar in Jerusalem. This, like an earlier verse in Hebrews, confirms that the temple was still standing at the time of this letter and so the letter was written prior to AD70. This is important because liberal theology will often try to date biblical books later than they were written in order to argue against their truth.  “Those who minister at the tabernacle” are the priests who handle the sacrifices. Because of their position, God ordained that they receive a part of the sacrifices as their portion. Here are several of the numerous verses which show this:

 

In this way the priest will make atonement for him for any of these sins he has committed, and he will be forgiven. The rest of the offering will belong to the priest, as in the case of the grain offering. Leviticus 5:13

 

'The same law applies to both the sin offering and the guilt offering: They belong to the priest who makes atonement with them. 8 The priest who offers a burnt offering for anyone may keep its hide for himself. 9 Every grain offering baked in an oven or cooked in a pan or on a griddle belongs to the priest who offers it, 10 and every grain offering, whether mixed with oil or dry, belongs equally to all the sons of Aaron. Leviticus 7:7-10

 

Hebrews, however, says that believers in Christ have something that even the priests have no right to. When these priests failed to come to Christ, they were left out of the New Covenant promises, including its eternal blessings.  We can only be thankful for God’s mercy in selecting us for inclusion in the Bread from heaven, our Lord Jesus. The altar from which we partake is His precious body and blood – given for us. When you participate in the Lord’s Supper, do you take time to appreciate its enormous significance?

 

Lord, because of what You did at Calvary, we have the right to come in and dine with You. May we never take for grated that which You did on our behalf, but rather help us to appreciate Your greatness even more as we share in the Table set before us. To the glory of God the Father… Amen.

 

 

The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. Hebrews 13:11

 

The ritual mentioned today is described in the book of Leviticus. Not all sacrifices were burned outside the camp, but several were. Here’s a portion of one example of this which comes from the ordination procedure of Aaron and his sons –

 

He then presented the bull for the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. Moses slaughtered the bull and took some of the blood, and with his finger he put it on all the horns of the altar to purify the altar. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. So he consecrated it to make atonement for it. Moses also took all the fat around the inner parts, the covering of the liver, and both kidneys and their fat, and burned it on the altar. But the bull with its hide and its flesh and its offal he burned up outside the camp, as the LORD commanded Moses. Leviticus 8:14-17

 

Anytime something was taken “outside the camp” it was for reasons of impurity. People with diseases were kept there, blasphemers were taken there and stoned, those who died were taken there, etc. In the case of the sin offering mentioned above, sin was transferred to the animal. The blood proved the death of the animal which indicated that the transfer had taken place and that a life was forfeit. Then the dead animal’s carcass was taken outside the camp to remove the taint of the sin which had been transferred thus keeping it from defiling people or implements. Tomorrow we will see how this prefigured the work of Jesus.

 

Heavenly Father, Hebrews is such a gift! It helps us to understand more clearly the purpose of many Old Testament books and it shows us how they pointed to Jesus. Thank you for giving us such beautiful insights into what was, what is, and what is coming because of His grand and glorious word! Amen.

 

 

And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Hebrews 13:12

 

Do you remember yesterday’s verse? It said – “The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp.” Sin had been transferred to these animals and they were thus defiled and taken outside of the camp to be burned. Their blood was carried into the Most Holy Place to prove the death of the animal symbolizing that the sin was put to death. The animal’s carcass, being unclean because of  the transfer, was disposed of in a place set aside from the people. Are you seeing the significance of what this foreshadowed? Reconsider Hebrews 9:12 –

 

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

 

Jesus’ blood was presented in the Most Holy Place, proving His death. However, His body suffered outside the city gate as a symbol that it was unclean because of receiving our sins; it was set apart from the people. Consider this verse as well today –

 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

 

I hope you’re seeing the significance of what occurred and how absolutely far God went to reconcile us to Himself. If you fully grasp what happened, how can you not devote your very self to honoring and giving glory – forever – to this One who loves you so very much? The Creator of the vastness of space sent His Son to become sin, that You might become the righteousness of God – simply unimaginable!

 

O God, thank You for Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. Hebrews 13:13

 

As we saw yesterday, the remains of the sin offering for Aaron and his sons were taken outside of the camp to be burned. This is because they had, in effect, transferred their sins to it. Because of this it was considered unclean. Imagine now what the author of Hebrews is saying. He has drawn a comparison to Jesus and is demonstrating that this sin offering merely prefigured the work of Jesus. He was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem – having received the sins of the whole world. It’s amazing to think  - the infinitely holy Creator united with human flesh as a Babe in a manger, lived His entire life without sin or fault, and yet Isaiah prophesied “the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” As Paul confirms in his second epistle to the Corinthians –

 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

 

Think it through, carefully. God – our Creator; Him who had no sin – Jesus, fully God and fully Man; made to be sin – bearing the disgrace of our misconduct and moral deficiency; so that in Him – that broken and rejected body; we – insert your name here if you’ve accepted the transfer; might become the righteousness of God – reconciled through the cross of our innocent Lord, to bear His righteousness when we instead deserve His cross.

 

Personally, I cannot imagine the immensity of what’s being said here. That God would give me His own jealously-guarded righteousness after the life I lived… And all of it was laid upon an innocent Lamb who then bore my disgrace, my sin, and my rebellion. O, the love of God which is in Christ Jesus is far too large a canvas for me to ever pen a note of thanks sufficient to the deed. I can only hope and pray that you also will look to this wonderful implement of death and reconciliation and call on the name of the Lord, the Lord Jesus.

 

See the hands pierced for me

See His feet held to the tree

See His side, the spear received

How precious the transfer, when I believed…

Thank You my Lord, my Savior, My God…

 

 

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14

What keeps you from being an active, faithful, and heartfelt follower of Jesus Christ? Really, think it over. What is it that robs your joy? What is it that steals your attention? What is it that you cherish having or cherish doing above all else? Every single thing and every single person around you is part of a decaying system and is temporary at best. But as yesterday’s verse said –

Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.

Our camp is where we reside in this world – surrounded by the things which keep our attention and which deprive us of time spent with the Creator. Understand that all things He gave us are blessings for which we should be grateful. By being grateful for them, we’re including Him in the process. However, when He is excluded because of whatever reason, we’re forgetting the fundamental truth that only He can truly satisfy.

The Bible asks us to “go to Him outside the camp” and not worry about or be consumed by the things of this world. The reason – “we are looking for the city that is to come.” If we can emulate Christ now, how insignificant is the cost compared to that which is prepared.

I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 20:2, 3

Thank You Heavenly Father for the promise of an enduring city! One where things will never wear out, people won’t grow sick and die, and especially one where we will be your people and you will be our God – in Your very presence. Until that day, give us steadfast hearts to bear any disgrace for the eternally exalted name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. Hebrews 13:15

 

What a verse!  Here we have several huge concepts. 1) In order to please God, we praise Him through Jesus. This is not an idea unique to this verse, but is repeated throughout the New Testament. It clearly and unambiguously means that no other avenue of praise to God is meaningful. We cannot praise Him through Mary or the saints; through Buddha, Allah, or Vishnu; nor can we do it directly without a mediator. Instead, it is through the name of Jesus that praise is acceptable to God. 2) Praise isn’t meant for a specific time of the week – a Sabbath, a single day of worship, or a specific location. Instead, praise is something to do continually. Believe it or not, if you hurt yourself – say a badly stubbed toe – you can call out “Thank You Jesus it wasn’t a broken hip.” In other words, we can – even in the most trying times – praise God for the greater trial that didn’t come. 3) God looks at praise as a sacrifice! We don’t need to fast, give money to a cause, spend excessive time helping others, or be creative with our skills to be pleasing to God (although we can also do these things for His glory). Instead God looks at our true praises as sacrifices in and of themselves. As the 54th psalm says –

 

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, O LORD, for it is good.

 

And again, as a means of repaying the kindness of our salvation, the psalmist says –

 

How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. Psalm 116:12, 13

 

There is truly no other thing we can do to “repay” God. Paul says as much in Romans 11:35. Instead, we sacrifice to God through our praises. I’ll bet a jillion dollars that if you spend your time finding reasons to praise Him at all times, you’ll be healthier, happier, and more filled with heaven than you can imagine. In all things, remember to Hallelujah (Praise the Lord).

 

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD. Hallelujah and Amen!)

 

 

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

 

The problem with liberal social theology is that it puts the “deeds cart” before the “salvation horse.” People all over the world are doing good deeds for others. If Christians think they have an exclusive claim on them, they’re mistaken. People like Bill Gates and other philanthropists give away as much as entire nations. Unfortunately, these deeds mean absolutely nothing to God in determining their righteousness. They simply can’t buy their way into heaven. Likewise, liberal social theology follows a similar path. They tend to place people’s needs at the front of the list of things to be accomplished. In fact, this is often all that’s on the list. They never get to the part about Jesus. The entire effort is wasted effort because the root of the people’s problem is a separation from God because of sin. Feeding these people without tending to their spiritual needs is no different than petting a cow as it’s going to slaughter…kind of pointless. Another problem with social theology is these people tend to get their fingers into the government entities around them and force themselves and their viewpoints on others who may have better aligned priorities. Such is the case in America where these ideologies have formed religious/political machines who never introduce Jesus. The Bible, on the other hand, never fails to proclaim our need for God’s pardon through Jesus and only then sharing with others. This is quite evident from the fact that we’ve spent 13 chapters on Christology and only in the middle of the 13th chapter do we introduce charity. Once our station with Christ is resolved, we can then please God with our charity. Don’t be captivated by ministries which spend so much time doing good that they never get to the reason for the good. Without Jesus, the effort is in vain, but with Him it makes all the difference in the world!

 

Lord God, help us to have our priorities right as we seek to help others. Let us never shirk from first explaining the Gospel of Christ as we also tend to their other needs – physical, emotional, mental, and financial, etc. May You be proclaimed at all times and in every way! Amen.

 

 

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17

 

It’s not really clear what types of “leaders” are being referred to here. Are they spiritual leaders, work supervisors, political leaders, or something else? Probably because nothing certain is mentioned, it’s referring to all leaders of any kind. We’re told elsewhere to obey the governmental leaders over us – such as in Romans 13:1-7. We’re also told in Ecclesiastes 5:8 that we can expect higher and higher levels of authority within districts – whether governmental or private. Also, Paul reminds us that our spiritual leaders should be both recognized and taken care of on several occasions –

 

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:17, 18

 

&

 

Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Galatians 6:6

 

Because of these, and many other areas in the Bible dealing with authority, we need to really watch ourselves and be careful when we deal with those above us. This isn’t always easy to do either. How often we find ourselves at variance with our bosses and political leaders – and even our pastors. When we disagree, it’s good to voice our opinions, but it’s not right to vent in violent or abusive manners. One finds out as they climb the ladder that they face exactly the same dissension from their own subordinates, often over trivial matters. So let’s make sure when we vent, it’s not over trivia!

 

Yes Lord, give us wise and discerning hearts concerning our leaders. Help us to disagree only when warranted and even then with a spirit of respect and love. Help us to understand that their jobs aren’t all peaches and cream and they carry a burden larger than we may know. Help us to be good subordinates for the sake of Jesus name. Amen.

 

 

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. Hebrews 13:18

 

Pray for us… what an honor it is to read verses like this and then remember that we’re entitled to raise prayers for others – even to the One who created us. The author of Hebrews asks for prayer indicating that he too, along with the other early apostles had needs and desires that needed divine attention. If they, who set the early foundations of the faith, needed prayer, then we should never hesitate to ask for it ourselves. Nor should we withhold our prayers when others ask for them. Additionally, if these great leaders needed prayer, then our pastors and preachers should feel they can also reach out to their congregants for prayer without feeling ashamed. Sometimes these men are elevated in our thinking to be supermen. But the reality of the matter is that they have needs, desires, aches, and pains just like everyone else.

 

The Bible mentions prayer over 350 times and infers it many other times as well. It’s not something to take trivially or to simply look for in times of trial either. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing” as we go about our lives. He also acknowledges elsewhere that the “prayers of the many” are effective; corporate worship has great weight. In addition to asking for prayers, the author assures the readers that he and his associates “have a clear conscience” and are free from wrong doing, but rather “live honorably in every way.” This probably should be taken as a claim about both an overall life-walk as well as concerning doctrinal soundness in what’s been written. In other words, he’s written to first-century Jews about issues which affect their eternal destiny and what he’s written accurately portrays Jesus in all ways.

 

Lord, we praise You and thank You for Your wonderful word. Thank You for reminding us that prayer was needed for even the early apostles and that we also share in the privilege of being able to pray for others. Also, help us to be as the writer of Hebrews – having a clear conscience and a desire to live honorably in every way. To Your glory alone! Amen.

 

 

I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon. Hebrews 13:19

 

Today our author lets us know something we wouldn’t have had a clue about to this point. After all the beautiful analysis of the work of Christ, His superiority, His greatness and splendor, and after admonishing us to live proper lives in submission to our leader – after all these things and so many others – he finally gets to his own needs. He’s in prison as he writes. Remembering that prisons in the Roman Empire were unbelievably horrid, stinky, and dank it’s hard to imagine that this wasn’t the first, rather than the last, item in the letter. But such is the faithful Christian life for many, even in the world today. If you ever want to know the greats of the faith, don’t turn on a TV preacher; don’t go to a big church with 30000 members; don’t attend stadium sized evangelistic meetings. Instead, get a copy of the Voice of the Martyrs magazine and read about those who are in jail, tortured, and even executed without ever denying the One who holds their eternity. I have to wonder how I’d fare in such circumstances and you should too. Although it may be a few years off, modern first-world societies are already arresting people for simply speaking the gospel. It’s happened in England, Canada, and even in the US. Mostly these cases have been overturned, but the hostility to speaking the truth about the fallen state of man and our inability to save ourselves is ever-increasing. Add in the truth about sexual immorality or that there is one and only one path to God and you have a volatile mix for a world who sees everything in shades of gray. Be alert to the changing tide and be ready to stand for Christ, regardless of the consequences. What can man do to us when Jesus holds our souls!

 

Thank You Lord that no matter what happens to us here, we’re safe in eternity with You. May it be our pleasure and honor to suffer for You should the time come. And may You receive all the glory You’re due in the judgment of those who persecute Your  people. Amen.

 

 

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, Hebrews 13:20

 

Among the many titles of deity given to Jesus in the New Testament, the idea of Him being our Shepherd is among the most personal and comforting. Three times He is designated as a Shepherd in a unique way. First in the Gospel of John, Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd –

 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11

 

Then we read today’s verse where He is called the Great Shepherd. Later in the book of 1 Peter He is designated as our Chief Shepherd –

 

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 1 Peter 5:4

 

These are intentionally used to remind us of who the Person of Jesus Christ really is –

 

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. Psalm 23:1

 

Jesus is the incarnation of Jehovah of the Old Testament. There is no doubt the writers of the New Testament intend for us to see this. Another point to comment on is that Jesus’ shed blood initiated an “eternal covenant” that will never cease. It completely sets aside the Old Covenant for those who have trusted in Him. Are you struggling with legalism and working under the law to please God? Are you struggling with the concept of Jesus’ divinity though it’s clearly presented in Scripture? Take time to reflect on the surety of God’s ability to save you despite your failings. Also take time to reflect on the unique nature of the God/Man – Jesus our Lord.

 

Lord God Almighty! Thank You for Jesus, our Great Shepherd. He is the One who reaches down into humanity to redeem us from the curse of the Law. Help us to understand that this right belongs to You alone and that Jesus is a member of Your eternal and holy Trinity. Glory, majesty, and perfection reside in You alone! Amen.

 

 

…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:21

 

Remember what the previous verse said. These two are actually a unified whole –

 

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,..

 

We know from this verse that God is working through Jesus Christ to 1) secure us eternally just as He brought back His Son from the dead; 2) Shepherd His people; 3) equip us with all good things in order to accomplish His will; 4) work in us to bring pleasure to Himself.

 

All of this is accomplished by God through Christ Jesus – His Mediator and conduit to fallen man. As Paul says in Romans 11:36 –

 

For from him and through him and to him are all things.
      To him be the glory forever! Amen.

 

As God is otherwise unknowable to us except as He reveals Himself in nature, He sent His word through the prophets and His Son in fulfillment of that word to allow us to know Him more fully. By saying about Jesus “to whom be glory for ever and ever” we’re to understand that Jesus receives the glory which was reserved for God alone in the Old Testament. In other words, God has revealed Himself in Jesus because Jesus Himself is God incarnate. This is also confirmed in a comparison between the Romans verse and our subject verse. In the first, the glory is given to God and in the second, to Jesus (who therefore is God). What an amazing story of love for us!

Lord, thank You for equipping us for every good work according to Your greatness; may our actions may be pleasing to You. Help us to use our time rightly in doing these works that You may be glorified. In all things, we give you the honor You are due, in the powerful and personal name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter.  Hebrews 13:22

 

Considering the cost in both time and materials to write an ancient epistle such as Hebrews, today’s verse is understood more easily. The author wrote “a short letter” on the Person and work of Jesus. There are several such verses in the New Testament and they remind us of the infinite riches of Jesus that we weren’t privy to. How blessed we will be when we have a complete understanding of all that wasn’t included. Such a note leaves us wanting more! However, God left nothing out of His word that we need and included nothing in His word that is superfluous. In other words, God’s word is exactly what we need to live our lives in a manner pleasing to Him and have sufficient knowledge of Him for our edification. Considering the incredible complexity of the structure of Hebrews and also its orderly account of Jesus’ superiority over the law, over angels, over the High Priest of Israel, etc. we have a beautiful display of God’s wisdom. The selection of the book’s author, who has such a masterful skill of presenting these concepts, brings glory to Jesus. It perfectly presents Him as all-sufficient in those areas that were once lacking. Truly He is “greater than” in every way. When you read your Bible, take careful time to cross-reference key points between other books and to think on their relationships. By doing so, you can have a much fuller understanding of the points which may not be explicitly stated anywhere in the Bible. Such is the study of God’s word – a lifetime adventure into His will and intent for you – His precious child. Just as you cherish a love letter from someone, never fail to cherish the great Love Letter of all time – the Bible.

 

Thank you for Your precious word, O God. Help us to understand it, love it, and share it with others. When a passage is difficult, please open our minds and eyes to understand it properly that we may be fully equipped to be pleasing in our walk with you. This is our prayer today, and it is made in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you. Hebrews 13:23

 

The Timothy mentioned here is the same person to whom Paul addresses the epistles 1 and 2 Timothy. He had also been imprisoned and was released as apparently the author expected to be. Tradition records that Timothy went on to serve as the Bishop of Ephesus in about AD65. He served for about 15 years, but eventually he tried to halt a pagan procession of idols, ceremonies, and songs that was occurring there. In response to his gospel preaching, they beat him, dragged him through the streets, and stoned him to death. Sticking up for the gospel wasn’t easy then and it’s been a difficult ride for the faithful since then as well. Many, many faithful people have been martyred throughout the ages and it still occurs today. Despite this, Jesus’ promise of eternal life is given by our God, who cannot lie, and is worth all the temporary troubles. Also in today’s verse, we see that the author was planning on coming to see the letter’s recipients. Paul would include such notices in his letters as well. Though it’s not known for certain if Paul is the author, the letter is written in his style – either he wrote it or someone who had followed him around and had emulated him wrote it.

Are you waiting for a reunion with someone today? As the old saying goes, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” When the time of reunion comes, it will be a wonderful occasion… especially if it’s Jesus you’re waiting on!

 

Lord, we look with anticipation for that Day when you will return and take us to be with You. Never has there been, nor will there ever be, a greater reunion than when we see Your face. May it be soon! Amen.

 

 

Greet all your leaders and all God's people. Those from Italy send you their greetings. Hebrews 13:24

 

Today we find out that the letter was written from Italy but nothing else. Because of this, either a cover letter was sent with this note which didn’t survive, or it was hand-carried by someone who could verify its authority. Either way, the letter survived intact, was recognized as authoritative, and was eventually included in the 66 books of the Bible. Without it, we would have a lack in our understanding of the supremacy of Jesus over the Old Testament shadows and pictures of His greater work. We’re also told today that the recipients are told to greet their leaders. This probably means governmental types because the church leaders would have been included as those who were receiving the letter. In other words, it makes sense – both then and now – to stay on familiar terms with our leaders and to demonstrate the high qualities expected of Christians. But we’re to do this without easing up on our standards or values. Instead, we need to give honor where it’s due, but never let go of our standards for the sake of someone in temporary authority. The author also wants us to greet “all God’s people.” Too often, we divide up the body of Christ over denomination or church location. Most people don’t even know what their denomination teaches, so how can we look down on other denominations? Unless heresy is taught, differences in denomination don’t exclude Christian fellowship. It’s important to realize this and to love our fellow Christians as our own family. Take a moment today to think on where you fall short in this and then make a determined effort to change it – to the glory of the Lord!

 

Lord, help me to see the good in other believers and not just those minor issues which divide. Bring me to the point where I can fellowship with them in love, not disputing over unimportant or dubious matters. To Your honor and glory! Amen.

 

 

Grace be with you all. Hebrews 13:25

 

We come today to the last verse of Hebrews. It’s been a fantastic 303 days of study and one which has only touched on the depths of this wonderful book. As a final salutation, the author wishes grace upon those who receive it…this includes you! If you want to see a lot of anger between Christians, do a study on the word “grace.” For such an uplifting and generous word, it divides to the point of great animosity. The reason for this is because by interpreting the word, or more rightly the “concept” of grace, one way or another we will have a different view on what God has done for us in human history – particularly in the Person of Jesus. Catholicism says that we must “participate” in grace – the cross and what Jesus did is in itself insufficient for our salvation. Those who follow the doctrines of John Calvin see grace as bestowed on believers unconditionally – think of it as being “forced” on those God chose to save. Understand that there is a happy middle though. Grace is unmerited favor – it’s getting what you don’t deserve. If someone offers you a gift, it’s a gift and not something you can earn. If you go to pay for the gift, then at some point you’re going to offend the giver and negate the fact that it was a gift. Such is the case with our salvation. It is a gift and the Bible makes this clear again and again. However, a gift which is forced on someone is oppressive – no matter what the gift. It needs to not be forced in order for it to be a true gift. Rather, a gift is offered and must be accepted. Just as Adam used free-will to rejected God’s fellowship, we must choose to receive it again. God’s grace in Jesus Christ is unmerited favor, offered to all. It is all-sufficient in and of itself to save. Accept God’s gift and be reconciled through the precious Gift – our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with you all.

 

O God, thank You for the book of Hebrews. And thank you for Your grace, explained in this book as it tells us of the Work of Jesus Christ our Lord, Savior, Mediator, and Friend. May we have humble hearts toward you, never finding fault in the sufficiency of His work, but rather in the all-sufficiency of it. Thank You for Your grace! Amen.

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