Faith!

Hebrews 11

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

This is the best definition of faith ever and this chapter in Hebrews is all about faith. It’s not necessarily about things always going your way but it is about the knowing that God is in it, whatever your it is. It’s the knowing that even if “it” doesn’t go exactly the way you planned it in your mind, it is about knowing that God will walk it out with you every step of the way. This chapter is sometimes called The Hall of Faith. It sets apart these people in the Bible who had faith. It gives us these examples to live by. 

Abel offered up his sacrifices to God and they were more acceptable than his brother Cains. And even though Cain killed Abel, God is still pointing out that his sacrifice was more favorable. (v. 4) 

Enoch pleased God, by his actions and his faith, and because of that he never tasted death, he was taken up in a cloud all at once. (v. 5) 

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

God told Noah to build an ark and even though he had never seen rain, he built it and he became an heir of righteousness. (v. 7) 

Abraham followed God to a new place, the promised land, even though he had no idea where it would be. (vv. 8-10)

Sarah, who was old and past the age of childbearing, conceived and bore her son so that Abraham would have descendants “as many as the stars”. (vv. 11-12)

Abraham also, offered up his own son Isaac, as a sacrifice, knowing that if God chose to allow the sacrifice that he could raise him from the dead, because he had already received the promise that through Isaac he would receive those descendants. (vv17-19) That one is the faith that always takes my breath away!! 

Isaac, blessed his sons Jacob and Esau by faith. (v. 20)

Jacob blessed each of the sons of his son Joseph. (v 21) 

Joseph requested of the Israelites to take his bones from Egypt when they left, even though at the time, that was not in the human plan. (v. 22) 

Even though there were orders to kill all the male babies, Moses mom hid him for 3 months. That’s some pretty good faith there, have you ever tried to tell a baby not to cry when you needed to keep him quiet? (v. 23) 

And when Moses grew up, he exhibited great faith by refusing to be a son of Pharoah’s daughter and enjoy all the benefits that would have come from that but he led the Israelites from Egypt, and he kept the Passover and he sprinkled the blood on doorframes as instructed so that the Destroyer of the firstborn wouldn’t take their firstborns. (vv. 24-28) 

Moses also crossed the Red Sea on dry land while the Egyptians drowned in that same Red Sea. (v. 29) 

The walls of Jericho fell after some people marched around them for seven days. (v. 30) 

Rahab, welcomed spies into her home and in turn saved her whole family because she had faith in the God of the spies. (v. 31

“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets – who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, sopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war put foreign armies to flight.” 

The Bible is full of stories of faith! All of these people showed great faith to God in so many many ways, and yet: 

“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40

All of these men and women mentioned in this hall of faith were before the promised one, the Messiah, Jesus. Their faith was big, yet we have Jesus who completes our faith. Our faith is perfect, completed through Jesus!  Yes and Amen!!! 

Need of Endurance

Hebrews 10:19-39

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22

“Therefore”, because of what we have been learning, because of Jesus being our high priest, because of his blood sacrifice because of all that Jesus did that fulfilled the law…. We now have confidence to enter the holy places!! Some translations say “having boldness”. Sometimes we humans look at God as so Holy we can’t approach Him. And everyone couldn’t approach Him before Jesus! That was the reason there was a high priest. And even the high priest could only go in the Most Holy Place once a year and he went in with the blood sacrifice with him and with fear and trembling. But with Jesus as our high priest we now have the confidence to draw near to Him with a true heart and with faith that He hears us and washes us clean!  Because of all that Jesus did we can have the confidence that even when we fall and even when we can’t see where the circumstances are going that we can come to Him. I love this next verse. 

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who is promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 

Oh how I wanted to end that one with an exclamation point! We have to hold fast to him, without wavering! Why? Because He is faithful! Even when we don’t see the how or the why of something we hold fast to Him because we know that all of these things Jesus did is because He is faithful!!! 

The next couple of verses explain to us our need for community. God created us in a way that we have a deep need for community. Community builds us up. You hear people say it all the time, that they can worship at home and they don’t have a need to go to church. Well we have seen this year that yes we can worship at home and thankfully we do have that when we have had a year like we have had. But I know for me personally, my heart is so much more encouraged when I am meeting with my church where we can “stir up one another to love and good works” (v. 24) 

The writer here also delivers a warning to those who know all of this, who have accepted this and fall back into sin. 

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation fo judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:26-27

It seems to me there is a difference in the judgment received for the sins committed before your knowledge of Jesus and after your knowledge of Jesus. When you know in your heart and you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you guiding you away from sin, then there is deliberate sin, it’s like just trampling Jesus underfoot. 

“How much worse punishment, do you think will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the mood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:29

The writer here is saying, when you have had an encounter with Jesus and you deliberately continue in sin you may as well be trampling everything he did under your feet. And there will be judgment for that. 

Sometimes these verses are hard to write about. I am one who wants to hold close to my heart God’s grace and the many ways I know He loves me. But you can’t study about Him and His word without looking at these verses too. Yes we can approach the throne of grace with boldness. But we also have to continue to recognize His holiness. And His holiness doesn’t tolerate deliberate sin. 

The writer does end this chapter with encouragement. In verses 32-34 he is encouraging these christians to remember the struggles they have had but to remember the ways that abiding in Jesus was a blessing to them even during those struggles. Sometimes, many times, the fruit and the blessing that comes out of a struggle is the relationship that grows between you and your Savior. This writer is just reminding them of that and reminding them to: 

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36

We have confidence to approach Jesus with our lives, and with our struggles and our concerns. Don’t turn away, don’t turn back but live it out. This is where the endurance comes in. Yes in this world the struggles will come, but enduring those struggles and bringing those struggles to the throne is the will of God and living it out with him we will receive a reward. 

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith AND PRESERVE THEIR SOULS.” Hebrews 10:39 (emphasis mine)

Let’s not shrink back, let’s live out our faith in order to preserve our souls for Him! 

Once and for All

Hebrews 10:1-18

“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, they would not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.” Hebrews 10:1-3

Under the Mosaic law sacrifice for sins had to be made every year. They were reminded that they were never fully cleansed of their sins because the preparations were made and sacrifices were made every year for their cleansing. 

“For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Hebrews 10:4

This is why Christ came to the world. The sacrifices of bulls and goats to cleanse their sins yearly was meant to point to the picture of what Christ would do once and for all. And while God set that sacrificial system up, it would never be enough. 

“Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’’” Hebrews 10:5-7

The law required the sacrifices, offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings, but when Christ came he did away with the law and he established the second covenant with his own offering so that we can truly be cleansed of our sins. 

“And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10

I loved the next verses. They explain that the priests work was never done. As soon as he completed his service by entering into the Most Holy Place he would begin preparations for the next time he would enter in. He was always “offering repeatedly the same sacrifices” and they “can never take away sins.” 

“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.” Hebrews 10:12-13

Jesus offered the sacrifice of His body once and for all and he sat down at the right hand of His Father. He does not have to continually do this work on our behalf, the work is finished. And all we have to do is accept His gift and come to Him. We just now have to draw near to Him to receive the forgiveness. 

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,’ then he adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’ Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering of sin.” Hebrews 10:15-18

The writer of Hebrews is quoting scripture from Jeremiah here. Because of what Jesus did here on earth, he died on the cross and because of that we all receive the Holy Spirit when we receive forgiveness for our sins and now we no longer live under the Mosaic law, but the law is written on our hearts and on our minds. When we accept Jesus and make Him Lord of our life, then he doesn’t remember the sin and we don’t have to have these offerings over and over and over again. But we can have personal relationship with Him and we have His laws written on our hearts and minds. Because of this we can trust that still small voice, which is the Holy Spirit living inside of us, to guide us every day and we can live in the knowledge that His blood has washed away our sins. 

Enter into the Most Holy Place!

Hebrews 9

“Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness.” Hebrews 9:1

When Moses and the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness God instructed them to build a tent where they could worship. The tent was divided into sections with the outer section being the Holy Place and an inside section being called the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies. In the Most Holy Place was the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant. 

“Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.” Hebrews 9:3-5

There was a lot of details that went into the tent. God cares about details. He gave the Israelites the plans and they were to follow these plans to the letter. There were rules and regulations that were meant to remind the Israelites of His holiness. The priests carried out daily duties in the Holy Place but the High Priest could only go into the Most Holy Place once a year and he must go in with blood to sprinkle on the altar to offer up sacrifices and to pray for his own sin as well as the sins of the people. They were to treat the Most Holy Place with awe and with reverence and to recognize the holiness of entering into it was entering into the presence of God. 

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:11-12

The people could not enter into the Most Holy Place, only the high priest could. And the High Priest must enter with the blood of goats and calves. But what Christ did on the cross was offer his own blood, which is more perfect than the blood of goats and calves and he secured for us a place in the Most Holy Place. Remember that when Christ died on the cross the veil was torn from top to bottom making a way for us to enter into this Most Holy Place with Him as our High Priest. I can almost picture God taking his Holy hands to the top of that veil and ripping it from top to bottom when Jesus died on that cross. When the High Priest entered into the Most Holy Place a death had to take place in order to take the blood in with Him to purify the people from their sins. When Christ died on the cross, His own blood is what now purifies us from our sins. 

“how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:14

The covenant between God and his people called for the blood of animals to purify from sin. But when Christ died he ushered in a new covenant that would allow us to not have to kill animals anymore to gain forgiveness for our sins, the veil was torn which now allows us to enter into a covenant with Him and He became our High Priest removing the veil. Jesus is now our mediator between us and God. We do not have to have another human to ask for forgiveness for us. Jesus spilled his own blood for us so that we do not have to have someone else sprinkle the blood for us. We are purified by the shedding of Christ’s blood rather than the blood of animals. 

“Indeed under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22

The tent that was made by earthly hands was always meant to point to Jesus and what would happen on the cross. God gave us that so that we could better understand what Jesus was doing on the cross for us. 

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Now as it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation fo the world. But as it is he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once and after that comes judgement, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:24-28

Note this the High Priest had to go into the Most Holy Place every year to offer up sacrifices for sins. Christ entered into THE Most Holy Place, heaven itself, and he only had to do it once for us. He does not have to suffer and die over and over. It’s done and Christ will appear to us once again, but it is not to deal with sin, but it will be to take us, who are waiting for Him, home! 

Go Straight to the Throne!

Hebrews 8 

“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” Hebrews 8:1-2

I love how simplistic the writer puts this “now the point is this”. Our high priest is not ministering in a tent that had to be built by earthly hands. Our high priest sits at the right hand of God in heaven. Even though the high priests in the early days were to minister and were to offer sacrifices they were still mere men, mere fallible men. They built the tent according to the pattern but it was still built by human hands. It was always meant to point to things to come.  

“They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.’” Hebrews 8:5

God established a covenant with Moses and gave him the plans to erect an earthly tent, the tabernacle. God appointed Aaron and the Levites to be the high priests. But you see all of these things were carried out by men. Therefore because these were just people, like you and me it was destined to have fault within it. The point of all of it back then was to point to the future High Priest Jesus. Because of Jesus we no longer have to go to the tent to offer sacrifices to be forgiven for our sins. Jesus completed that once and for all. Because of Jesus we can look to the law as a guide but more than that we have the Holy Spirit living within us and we can know His will and his way for our lives and we can know that God is merciful toward us when we fail Him, when we sin. 

“For this is that covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:10-12

Because of this new covenant, because Jesus is our High Priest we get to KNOW Him for ourselves. We don’t have to have a priest to approach the Holy of Holies and speak on our behalf to Him. We get to have this relationship for ourselves! Let that sink in. Yes I ask for prayer from others on my behalf when things are heavy on my heart. But there are things on my heart that are reserved just for me and Him. I don’t have to take it to a High Priest somewhere and ask them to approach the throne for me, I get to take it straight to the throne myself. I don’t know about you, but that gives me all sorts of feels! 

Our Eternal Priest!

Hebrews 7

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of his life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” Hebrews 7:1-3

The Jewish Christians had this problem identifying with Jesus being a High Priest because he was not of a Levitical lineage. According to commentary I read, this might be the reason this writer continually brings up Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a High Priest appointed by God, who came out to meet Abraham after his defeat of Chedorlaomer. Melchizedek blessed Abraham with bread and wine and in turn Abraham gave a tenth of everything to Melchizedek. This short story is woven into Genesis 14:17-20. The things we know about Melchizedek from Genesis is “He was a priest of God Most High”. He was not born into his priesthood as the Levitical priests were. He was appointed. We learn here in Hebrews his name means king of righteousness, he was king of Salem and Salem means peace therefore he was a king of peace as well. And we also learn here in Hebrews that he “resembled” Jesus in that he remains a priest forever. The Levitical priesthood was ever changing because it was made up of men, who lived and they died and the priesthood would change hands. It stands to reason that the Jewish Christians would have known who Melchizedek was and would not have needed a history lesson on him. They simply needed to think in relation to Jesus. 

Verses 11 – 17 goes on to explain to us that the Levitical priesthood could not be perfect because it was made up of mere men. But if it had been perfect there would have been no need to rise up another priest LIKE the order of Melchizedek, who was a priest not on the basis of his birth order but because he led his life in such a way that God appointed him to the priesthood. 

“For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” Hebrews 7:18-19

The thought here is the Levitical priesthood could not be perfect because the law is not perfect. The law is the diagnosis for sin, it is what points out sin to us. It is a guide for us to live by. But it cannot save us from our sin. This is why we need Jesus. Because He is not just our priest, He was the sacrifice too. The Levitical priesthood was constantly changing. But Jesus is our priest forever. 

“The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:23-25

Jesus saves “to the uttermost”, from now to eternity, forever! He lives to save us, He lives to make intercession for us. Because of Jesus we can draw near to God. If there is a separation it is by our own making, not by God’s, because Jesus death on the cross tore the veil. No longer do we have to offer up sacrifices in the way of blood of animals for our salvation because Jesus took care of that once and for all. All we have to do is come to our High Priest, Jesus with our needs. 

“He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:27-28

Jesus does not have to continually offer up sacrifices for our sins. This was done once and for all on the cross. Jesus, priesthood is perfect forever!

An Anchor for your Soul

Hebrews 6

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” Hebrews 6:1-2

There is that word again, “therefore”.  The last few verses of Hebrews 5 were talking about spiritual maturity. The writer of Hebrews is giving further instructions to them to grow up. They, nor are we, to remain stagnate in our faith. We love the basics, we remember our repentance, we think on all those things that are basic, but our faith should be growing. The next few verses were hard to read and were hard to understand. I don’t ever want to try to appear to make scripture say what I want it to say. But to handle rightly the word of truth. 

“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” Hebrews 6:4-6

I read these verses in several translations and I looked at several different commentaries. I think one of the things the writer is saying here is, if someone has truly had a spiritual experience with the Lord, he has walked with the lord, they have tasted His goodness and seen His power and then have “fallen away” that they will become so bitter that it is impossible to get them to turn to the Lord again. The term “fallen away” here implies that they have taken on a lifestyle of sin. We all sin, and we all fall short of His glory, but this person who was super spiritual and then completely turned his back on the blessings and the goodness of God is not just falling by committing a sin, this person has fallen away and is entangled in a lifestyle of sin. This is one reason we should do everything in our power to keep our walk fresh every day and to continue to grow up in Christ and to guard your hearts and minds in Jesus. You make no mistake Satan doesn’t give up so easy. If he can’t own you, he will do everything in his power to cripple you and to make you fall away from a life in Christ. 

The writer goes on in the next few verses to encourage his audience, and us that though he gives this warning, we do not have to dwell on that. But that we can focus on the hope that we have in Christ. 

“And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”  Hebrews 6:11-12

God made a promise to Abraham. He promised to bless and multiply Abraham and Abraham patiently waited to see the promise fulfilled. Now if you know the story of Abraham, you also know that he didn’t do everything just perfect. Yet still God did fulfill his promise to Abraham just perfectly. Seeing God fulfill his promises to others, Abraham as well as to others around us today should give us encouragement to hold onto the hope that is before us. When you read God’s word you see God fulfill his promises. And when you walk with Him daily and you walk alongside others who are walking with Him, you see God fulfill His promises as well. Then you can hold onto hope because: 

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20

Thank you Lord that you are our steadfast anchor even when we do not see what is ahead of us, that we can anchor our soul to you and enter into your holy place. 

Jesus, our High Priest

Hebrews 5

“For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” Hebrews 5:1

When the priesthood was established the high priest was chosen from among men, the high priest acted on behalf of man to offer gifts and sacrifices to God for the sins of man. But the high priest was just a man yet and still. 

“He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.” Hebrews 5:2-3

The high priest would not only offer sacrifices on behalf of men, he offered sacrifices for his own sins as well. The high priest could identify with the people he represented simply because he had his own weaknesses to contend with. He was just a man. 

“And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.” Hebrews 5:4

The high priest was appointed by God, not by man. Back in the old testament he was born into the lineage. The high priest would come from the lineage of Levi. But much the same way today he was appointed by God. Pastors have a calling on their life. A lot of the pastors I know would never say, “I grew up wanting to be a preacher”. In fact many of them have the story of the last thing I wanted to do was to be a preacher. But there is a calling that they can’t deny. 

“So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’” Hebrews 5:5

Jesus was also appointed by God to become a high priest. Jesus became flesh and walked this earth so that when He became our high priest He would also identify with our weaknesses much in the same way that the high priest in the old testament could identify with the people because he too had weaknesses. 

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:7-10

Jesus cried in anticipation of what was about to happen to him. He cried out to God, who could have said ok nevermind, we won’t do it this way. But Jesus suffered for us. He felt every whip, he felt the nails go into his hands and feet. He not only is our high priest, he is the sacrificial lamb. He is fully man and fully God all at the same time. Therefore he is our ETERNAL high priest called by God! 

The last few verses of this chapter warn us against spiritual immaturity. 

“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:11-14

Notice here that the audience of Hebrews had become dull of hearing. They were not learning, they were simply sticking with the basic principles of christianity. Let’s be careful to always be sure that we are growing in our faith. We need to be sure that we are moving from milk to solid food when we are studying the word. Knowledge of the word, feeding on the word will give us the power of discernment so that we can distinguish good from evil. 

Oh Lord, let us not become dull of hearing but may we always feast on your word so that we will build our faith. 

Enter His Rest!

Hebrews 4

“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Hebrews 4:1

Our “therefore” here refers to the Israelites unbelief being the reason they did not enter into the Promised Land. We may not physically have the promised land in front of us but we do have the opportunity to enter into his rest no matter what is going on around and with us. But we can also allow our unbelief to cause us to fail to reach it. I see it this way, rest is a gift from God that He has been trying to give us since the beginning of time. Yet we seem to have such a hard time grasping and living in His rest. When God created the world on the seventh day He rested. He tried to give the Israelites rest as He wanted to lead them right into the Promised Land, yet they fell short of it. Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Jesus said in Matthew 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” God does not desire for us to live this life filled with angst and despair and anxiety. But He desires for us to enter into His rest. We can only do that by placing all of our trust in Him. 

So how do we live in the posture of this day and time and enter into the posture of His rest? The world is surely not a very restful place these days. But think on the Israelites, packing up their belongings and their families to set out for the Promised Land. They did it quickly. They left the only homes they knew but they were also supposed to be leaving a burdensome lifestyle behind. They were to keep their eyes on the prize, on the Promised Land on what God had promised to deliver them to not just what he was delivering them from. Why did they not get to see it? 

“For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.” Hebrews 4:2

They were not united in their faith. That’s why they didn’t get to enter that rest. And they lived out the rest of their years falling in the wilderness. 

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:11

I don’t know about you but this puts a whole new twist on my need to have faith and to live and walk by my faith that He holds the keys to my future and all the things that are on my heart and mind. I want to enter into His rest that he can handle whatever concerns me. I know based on past experiences that He can, but I guess in some ways I did not think of my anxiety, on whether He’s got this one, as disobedience. This next verse falls under my favorite category. But I can say that this is probably the first time I have ever studied it in context of the entire chapter. Because of studying the entire context I am going to include the next verse as well. 

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13

This Word is what will bring us into His rest. This Word can do surgery of the heart like nothing else. It will lay bare the intentions of the heart. Nothing or no one is hidden from this Word. We can put our trust and our faith into this Word and into the power that lies within it. And we can let that power lead us into His rest. Through this Word we know Jesus our great high priest. 

“Since then we have a great high priest who passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

No matter what is on your heart and your mind today, come to the throne of grace with confidence, receive His mercy, find grace and he will help you through whatever it is. And you will be able to enter into His rest! 

Consider Jesus!

Hebrews 3

“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.” Hebrews 3:1-2

“Therefore” – because of what we learned about Jesus, because he is greater than angels. “Holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling” – if you know Jesus you are his holy brothers and sisters in Christ and we share in a holy calling with Jesus. So what does this author want us to do? “Consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house” – we are to consider Jesus, we are to think on Him, everything we do comes back to Jesus. The word for consider here is a Greek word “katanoein” it doesn’t mean simply to look at something, it means to fixate on it. It means to give it your full attention! When the author here says “Consider Jesus” he is saying let Jesus be the starting point for all you think or do. So why mention Moses? Moses was faithful. Moses was called a friend of God and he spoke with God.

“For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses – as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Hebrews 3:3-6

Moses was a servant to God, Christ is God’s son. He is faithful over God’s house and is in essence the creator of the house. The builder, the creator is more honorable than the house or the servants of the house. Where do we place our confidence and our hope, in the house itself or the builder of the house?

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years.’” Hebrews 3:7-9

Therefore, because we put our confidence in Jesus, don’t harden your hearts like the Israelites did in the wilderness. I am often amazed when I study about the Israelites at how they saw miracle after miracle and yet still rebelled against God. I hope if I had been there I would be a Joshua or Caleb and remain faithful. But think on how God has used that story through the ages. Nothing even the rebellion of the Israelites is wasted with God. 

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12

We have to take care of our heart. We have to hold fast to Jesus, the builder of our house. The enemy is standing close by waiting to lead us away from the living God. 

“For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:14

We are here to share in Christ. Let us hold fast to him. The Israelites saw those miracles, they heard from God through Moses, yet their bodies fell in the wilderness and they (the ones who actually left Egypt with Moses) did not see the Promised Land because of their unbelief. (vv 16-19) 

Oh Lord, please help our unbelief and please help us to hold fast to our confidence in You, the builder and creator of our house!