Posts Tagged ‘Hebrews’

Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12 has the author continuing to talk about faith.  He begins the chapter with the word “therefore” which always should be a clue that we need to remember why it is there for.  He has just given us the list of the faith hall of fame and recalled the great people of scripture who have lived out an amazing journey of faith.  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,  who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”.

Jesus is our ultimate example.  God’s given us many examples in the Bible of people who have lived a life filled with faith.  Our choices are not always between right and wrong, but between something that may hinder us and something else that may not.  Sin can certainly derail our walk with Christ, but often it is the choice between good and best.  We let good things keep us from doing the best things with our time.  We need to stay the course and continue to train for and run the race, following the example of Jesus who did exactly that.  He chose God’s plan, even if it wasn’t the easy way.

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood”.  Life isn’t easy.  We are under constant attack and pressure to make poor choices and rebel against God’s will and ways.  But our struggle is nothing like what Jesus faced.  We haven’t dealt with the pain and suffering martyrs endure.  We merely need to resist sin and walk in obedience with Christ.  God has our best interest at heart.  “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives”.  He is going to work to keep us on course.

Discipline is never fun, but “he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness”.  That is God’s plan for every one of us as Christ Followers – to help us become like Jesus – holy and righteous in His sight.  “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”.  We may go through seasons of life where God works to bring us into alignment with His will.  Those will not be pleasant, but are so important.  “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no  “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal”.  Life is a high stakes game that impacts eternity.  We need to remember that God’s desire is for us to experience His grace and mercy and be prepared to spend eternity with Him.  That means living His way, not ours.

Hebrews 10

Hebrews 10 continues to provide us understanding about the saving grace of Jesus.  “Behold, I have come to do your will. He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”.  Sin has always been in the world since Adam and Eve first committed it in the Garden, but until Christ it could only be dealt with through regular sacrifice.  Jesus changed all that with the New Covenant where His blood took care of sin once and for all.  His death gave victory over death for all eternity and sets us free from the penalty of sin.

It was different in that the sacrifice Christ made was once and for all.  “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”.  Jesus was different from every sacrifice prior.  It was one and done.  “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified”.  Complete atonement and eternal in nature.  “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….I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more”.  Here is the difference from the Old Covenant where sins were forgiven for a time, but not for eternity like Christ offers us through grace.

God writes His laws on our hearts and minds.  When we come to know Jesus, it will change us.  We are no longer bound by the law, but our heart is changed and we want to live a life pleasing to God.  “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”.  The first thing that happens when we have a relationship with Jesus is that we want to draw near to God.

But the writer goes on to tell us a couple other things that happen.  “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful”.  Second, we have hope, unwavering hope, in God’s promises.  And finally, we are told that we are part of the body of Christ and being with God’s people (the church) is important.  “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”.  Being a Christ Follower is not a solo event.  We are part of His body here on earth and need to surround ourselves with like minded followers.

Should Jesus change us when we become a Christ Follower?  Absolutely without a doubt.  “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 of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries….The Lord will judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.  Becoming a believer does not give us a ticket to sin and live however we want.  If we are truly saved, we will choose to live in a way that aligns with God’s will.  It doesn’t mean we’ll never fall short because all of us will, but it does mean we won’t make continual choices to disobey God and His standards.  Being a Christ Follower means we live a changed life based on loving and serving God and His Son.  It means we choose differently than the world.  God hates sin.  We cannot just blatently live in it without consequence.

Hebrews 8

Hebrews 8 has the writer again talking about Jesus as High Priest.  “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.  One key thing to remember is that we have a high priest – and His name is Jesus.  He ministers for us from a position of all authority in heaven.  The tabernacle and the temple of the Old Covenant had beautiful furnishings, but no place for the priests to sit down, because their work was never finished. The work of Jesus is finished – He is seated in heaven!

Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises”.  The convenant God made with Abraham was amazingly good, but what Jesus offers is even better.  It is a covenant of grace, not works, which is guaranteed for us by God the Father through the shed blood of Christ that covers complete forgiveness of sin.  “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second”.  Guzik shares an overview of covenants through God’s redemptive history.

  1. There is an eternal covenant between the members of the Godhead that made possible the salvation of man (Hebrews 13:20).
  2. God’s redemptive plan was continued through the covenant He made with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3).
  3. The Mosaic covenant was another step in God’s redemptive plan (Exodus 24:3-8).
  4. The Davidic covenant was yet another step in God’s redemptive plan (2 Samuel 7:1-16).
  5. But the redemptive plan of God was fulfilled in the New Covenant (Luke 22:14-20).

God had a plan to create a new and once for all covenenant through Jesus.  “For he finds fault with them when he says:  Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt”.  While the earlier covenants were good, they still were based on works which is where mankind has always failed.  God had a plan for a new way, a once for all way to deal with sin and seal eternal life for all who would receive the gift of grace He offered freely through Jesus.

For this is the 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”.  This covenant is based on a relationship, not merely how someone was born.  It is based on receiving a gift from the Creator, and making it my own.  Jesus provides freedom from the penalty of sin, something that all the prior covenants failed to do.  They were still dependent on man doing things.  Now, at this very time and place, God offers us a covenant based on what Jesus has already done on our behalf. All we have to do is receive it and make it our own through a personal relationship with the giver of the gift.  If we do, scripture promises “I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more”.  What a Savior.  What a Lord!

Hebrews 7

Hebrews 7 has the writer continuing to talk about Jesus as High Priest.  Jewish Christians would have been very interested in Jesus as their High Priest, but would have had a significant objection to the idea. He just wasn’t qualified according to their expectations.  This is because Jesus did not come from the priestly tribe (the tribe of Levi) or the priestly family (the family of Aaron).  He just wasn’t up to their standards.  They were struggling with with the truth of the gospel. These intellectual hang-ups were keeping them from continuing on to maturity in Jesus.

So the writer focuses on Jesus by admitting He wasn’t really aligned with their expectations.  But that doesn’t mean Jesus wasn’t High Priest.  “This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life”.  Jesus has changed the rules of the game.  He didn’t have to be a Levite from the family of Aaron.  He was qualified by being God’s Son – one who conquered death and had eternal life.

That’s the High priest we have now.  “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, You are a priest forever. This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant”.  The law is valuable as it shows us God’s perfect standard, but it was not ultimately intended to be the basis of a man’s walk with God. It is a relationship with Jesus that matters. He alone is the way to eternal life. “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”.  Jesus is our intercessor.  He is our Savior.

Jesus is the perfect High Priest.  “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens”.  Jesus set a new standard.  He was the perfect answer to the problem of sin.  He is the solution to the law.  “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”.  Jesus is the answer.  He is the only answer.  And each of us needs to determine our response to God’s offer to cleanse our sin through the power of His shed blood.

Hebrews 5

Hebrews 5 addresses the truth around the role of High Priest and in particular how Jesus fits into that holy role and order.  The job of a high priest was to deal with sin.  “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”.  They have a very important job – to be the mediator between God and sinful man.  God appointed many to this role, but Jesus was called by God to be the complete fulfillment of High Priest.  “And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God”.

So even though Jesus was the Son of God, He didn’t just waltz in and declare Himself High Priest.  “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….You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek”.  God had a plan for Christ, and He appointed Him to be the final High Priest that would deal with sin once and for all.  But it wasn’t easy and without sacrifice.  Jesus paid the price.  “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered”.  Jesus came to earth as a baby, grew to be a young man, and lived through the trials and temptations of life before suffering an agonizing death on the Cross.

But then things changed.  He overcame death and became the fulfillment of God’s plan for grace and mercy for all mankind.  On our own, not one of us is good enough to make it into heaven.  God’s standards are far too high.  But through the shed blood of Jesus, we can receive God’s gift of grace and have His perfection imputed to us through faith, so we can stand before God perfect just as Christ was.  “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest “.  Jesus is the answer to our sin problem.  He is the only answer.  But we have to make the choice to receive Him and the grace God offers through Him.

God’s expectation is that we grow in our faith and become mature Christ Followers.  Maturity should happen as we walk with Jesus.  Unfortunately it doesn’t happen via osmosis, we have to work for it.  The writer here expresses a lack of growth on the part of the Hebrews.  “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles….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”.  Are you growing in your walk with Jesus?  That’s what should happen to each of us as Christ Followers.  It isn’t automatic.  We have to do the work of spending time in the Word, in prayer, and in relationship with Him.  Are you making that investment?

Hebrews 4

Hebrews 4 reveals God plan for His world.  “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”.  God sent us the Good News through His Son Jesus Christ.  But man didn’t receive that Good News and as a result “They shall not enter my rest although his works were finished from the foundation of the world”.  God has prepared a way, but it is up to us to receive it.  He doesn’t force us to believe, nor to obey, but He also won’t force salvation upon us.  We can choose not to receive His grace.

Not all roads lead to heaven.  In fact, there is only one, Jesus Christ.  It begins with receiving and believing and must result in a changed life.  Not perfection or sinless, but obedient in heart.  We can’t truly receive Christ without a change in our heart which will drive us to obedience.  Works don’t save us, but they validate our relationship with the Savior.  “Those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience”,  It’s not about earning salvation, it’s about living a changed life with Jesus at the helm.  “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”.  Jesus will change our heart.

The writer then shared the importance of God’s Word.  “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 thought and intentions of the heart”.  God’s Word is  our offensive weapon in the battle with evil.  It is how we stand against the enemy.  Jesus showed us that when He was tempted by Satan three times.  Each time, He quoted scripture.  The enemy can’t deal with truth.  But the Word also is the source of God’s standards.  Each of us will stand before Him and have to give account.  “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account”.  Are you ready for that examination?  Do you know what God expects?

We’re all going to fail the heavenly entrance exam on our own.  We are sinners, plain and simple, and that does not meet God’s requirement.  So we need a plan B which is actually God’s Plan A – Jesus Christ.  “Since then we have a great high priest who has 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.”  Jesus is the way.  He’s been here and lived life and won the victory over death.  He is our Savior and our Lord.  Through Him we can stand confidently before God.  But we have to receive God’s gift of grace and make it our own.  Are you ready?

Hebrews 3

Hebrews 3 has the writer challenging us to consider Jesus for who He is.  “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”. Jesus is compared here to Moses, one of the great men of faith in all of history.  When we consider the past faithfulness of Jesus, it makes us understand that He will continue to be faithful. His record is unblemished.  He never fails.  And as He was faithful to God the Father so He will be faithful to us.  We can take that truth to the bank!

But it’s more than a comparison to Moses here.  Jesus is superior, not only to Moses, but to any other person at any time.  “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….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”.  Moses was a faithful servant, but he was never called a Son in the way Jesus is.

God cares about our heart.  “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God”.  We can quickly lose our way with Christ if we don’t guard our heart and keep it centered on Him.  The world tugs at us from all sides, pulling us toward the ditch.  We need to help each other stay the course and continue walking with Jesus.  “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”.  Sin will destroy us and separate us from God.  We need each other to keep our heart centered on God and His ways.

History shows us a people that failed to do that, even though they had a great leader in Moses, taking them to receive a great promise in The Promised Land.  They had every reason to stay true to God, but failed.  We are warned by the writer “do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion….with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned,  whose bodies fell in the wilderness….they would not enter his rest”.  We can call the punishment harsh for those who trekked around 40 years hoping to reach their promise, but because of their sin and an unwillingness to trust and follow God, then never reached the goal.  God cares about the heart.  Most of all.  Don’t let sin harder yours!

Hebrews 2

Hebrews 2 focuses on Jesus and His role in God’s plan.  “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it”.  There are some wise words for each of us as Christ Followers.  They certainly could have been written to us today, as the world around us pulls us in many directions, almost always away from our walk with Jesus.  The biggest challenge for all believers is that drifting away is what happens when we don’t do anything.  When we are inactive in walking with Christ.  When we just coast through life and assume it will all work out.  Being a Christ Follower requires intention and attention.  It doesn’t just happen because we receive Jesus as Savior, just like a marriage doesn’t work because we say ‘I do’.

God’s plan for the world through Christ is supported not only by the Bible, but in many ways.  “For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was  attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will”.  God has proven Himself time and again through history.  It all started in that manger some 2000 years ago when Jesus was born, and all of history has pointed to the reality that He is not only Savior, He is also Lord.  Ignoring God’s truth doesn’t make it untrue, just like ignoring gravity and then jumping off a building after that won’t make you fly.  Truth is truth, and Jesus is truth.

The life of Christ didn’t follow the path we would expect for a King.  “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it  was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source”.  Jesus came to earth, was persecuted, suffered and hung on a Cross to bear the sin of everyone and provide the one source for eternal life, namely His perfect sacrifice, for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.  It was all God’s plan which was executed flawlessly.

So why did Jesus have to come and die?  “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery”.  Jesus came to have complete and final victory.  “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”.  Jesus came to experience life like you and me, which enabled Him to perform the ultimate sacrifice and win the war with evil.  He knows what we face.  He’s experienced temptation.  He’s there to help us.  We just need to ask.  We must need to receive God’s gift of grace, which is Jesus Christ, to not only save us from our sin, but lead us through life as our Lord!

Hebrews 1

In Hebrews 1, the author talks to us about our Savior.  “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world”.  When is the last time you heard from God?  God is still speaking today, still ‘at many times and in many ways’.  I’m not sure we are hearing what He says though.  We cram our lives so full that if God was yelling at us through a bullhorn, we’d likely miss it because we have so much noise in our lives we can’t hear each other, let alone God.  And He often chooses to speak to us in His ‘still small voice’ which means we need to be listening…..

Hearing God means we need to learn to be quiet and wait and listen – three qualities most of us forgot how to do long ago.  Jesus came to earth and spent time talking directly to the people of His day, and even though He walked among them most didn’t hear what He said.  He came to this earth to deliver God’s message of love, and did far more than just speak it, He lived it.  “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power”.  God came and walked among us, to try and connect and show His love.

But man didn’t figure that out.  Jesus was rejected and died a cruel death on the Cross, which was part of God’s plan to save us from sinful living.  But to have that salvation become real for each of us, we have to hear the message of God’s love expressed through Christ, and then take the gift of grace and make it our own.  “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs”.  Jesus paid the price, we merely need to take that gift and make it ours.

The offer still stands – Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross that gives us victory over sin and a ticket to eternity.  “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”  God still wants us to receive His gift of mercy and grace through Jesus.  But we have to hear His call and respond.  We have to take action to accept that gift and make it our own.  That’s how we become a Christ Follower.  Not by merely knowing about Jesus, but by having a personal relationship with the only One who can set us free from sin and give us eternity!

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