A Voice in the
order the book
02 - God's Essence (1:1-3)
03 - Better than Angels (1:4-14)
04 - Man (2:1-8)
05 - Made Flesh (2:9-18)
06 - Chief Apostle (3:1-6)
07 - Disobedience & Unbelief (3:7-19)
08 - Sabbath Rest (4:1-16)
09 - Priest Appointed (5:1-10)
10 - Dull of Hearing (5:11-6:8)
11 - Holding Fast (6:9-20)
12 - Order of Melchizedek (7:1-28)
13 - Priest in Heaven (8:1-13)
14 - Earthly vs Heavenly (9:1-28)
15 - Heavenly Replaces Earthly (10:1-18)
16 - Bold Entrance (10:19-25)
17 - No More Excuses (10:26-39)
18 - Faith (11:1-40)
19 - Perseverance (12:1-4)
20 - Discipline (12:5-13)
21 - Don't Turn Away (12:14-29)
22 - Conduct (13:1-8,16-25)
23 - Doctrine (13:9-15)
Introduction - (Hebrews)
In the New Testament there are two major (specifically) doctrinal books. True, the Gospels contain much doctrine, but they are specifically historical accounts of Jesus' incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection. Acts contains a lot of doctrine, but it is primarily history of the early church. The epistles by Paul, Jacob, Peter and Judas contain doctrine... about a lot of different things. And of course, while some doctrine can be derived from Revelation, it is pretty much mostly history and prophecy.
Today's latter day apostasy likes to speak of "unity in diversity" where (so-called) christians agree to disagree on 'periferal' issues, but to agree on the "essentials". So, for a moment, let's assume there is some validity to this line of reasoning:
-WHAT- are the "essential" doctrines? What doctrines are necessary for Eternal Life? For which doctrines can we not do without correct understanding? Would that not be:
The two books in question are Romans and Hebrews. We've already been through Romans at [link] Romans, in sequence, covers from the world's sinful state, conscience, the Law, the heart, faith, Salvation provided by Jesus' death and resurrection. And as Jesus said that "salvation is of the Jews" (Jn4:22), Paul describes Israel's significance in preserving the scriptures (Rom3:1-2), and their fall and future restoration. (Rom9-11)
Whereas Paul was the apostle "to the gentiles" (Ac28:28, Rom11:13,15:16) he also makes it plain that what is currently called in some circles "replacement theology" is in error. Paul always went "to the Jew FIRST and -ALSO- to the Greek" (Rom1:16,2:9-10); and makes it -quite- clear that, although Israel "stumbled", that they did not "come to an end" (Rom11:11) Israel was temporarily "broken off" (vs19) "-until- the fullness of the Gentiles comes in" (vs25); and gives full assurance that "all Israel will be saved" (vs26, Jer31:31-34)
Romans was written to Gentiles, so that we might not "boast" against Israel. (vs18) That we might understand that Israel has not been 'replaced'; but that the Savior and Salvation came through the Seed of the woman, through Israel. (Gen3:15, 22:18)
Many people, however, confuse Paul's teachings in Romans (and Galatians) They think that the Old Testament was about Law, -BUT- the NT is about Grace.
Jesus 'fulfilled' the Law according to the Spirit. (Rom8:1-5) Was the Law done away? No. Jesus said,
Romans was written to Gentiles, and explains the Israel connection to Jesus Christ and Salvation. Hebrews is written to Jews, and explains, in Jewish terms, how Jesus Christ -fulfills- the Law they received through Moses. About the most that Romans explains about Law to Gentiles is circumcision. That was the primary Jewish ritual; that which -makes- a Jew a "Jew", but explains that even that ritual, if not from the 'heart', is worthless. (Rom2:25-29) And the Gentile, reading into that conversation, can understand that for genuine Saving Faith, the physical Jewish ritual is not necessary, if the person is keeping the Law in the heart. Even as David says when confessing his sin...
Just as Romans is written to Gentiles, but Jews can also read and gain understanding; so too, Hebrews is written to Jews, and we Gentiles can also read to gain understanding. We can understand how we keep God's OT Law in our hearts, while we no longer need to repeat the physical rituals. We no longer need to kill animals, and sprinkle blood. We are no longer barred from the Holy of Holies, it being the special domain of the high priest once a year (9:7); we have direct access (10:19); as Jesus' crucifixion made the veil in the temple "torn in two from top to bottom" (Mt27:51) It is not the writer of Hebrews 'opening' the veil; Jesus, Himself, did it from the cross!
So... to summarize: While Romans addresses Jesus Christ and the OT Law, its primary overall doctrine is -Salvation-. On the other hand, while Hebrews talks about Salvation, its primary doctrine is the -Priesthood- of Jesus Christ. Thus, while Romans is 1) Salvation, Hebrews is the 2) Source. Hebrews validates Salvation, and explains what it really is.
But we'll get to all these things as we progress through the book.
This is the big question that many theologians spend time speculating. Just out of curiosity I pulled out this one-volume Wycliffe commentary on the shelf. Other than a few little commentaries on individual books, or topics, the Wycliffe is the only full-Bible commentary I own, only because it was a required/recommended purchase when I was at Bible school. But I don't spend much time in any commentaries; the Scriptures are pretty much self-explanatory, via the Holy Spirit's enlightening. And as I read what they have to say about Hebrews, there is an awful lot of speculation from Alexandrian sources, and early Roman traditions.
Many names are offered, including Paul, Timothy, Luke, and others; as well as some from Alexandria and the early church 'fathers' of the first couple of centuries. They speculated that Paul probably did not write it, because its writing style seems more 'level-headed' than Paul, like a historian might write. But when it comes right down to it, nobody knows, for sure, who wrote the book.
During college I was asked to direct the choir of this one particular church. First Wednesday Bible study I attended (choir practice was after prayer meeting), among other things, the pastor asks: who wrote Hebrews? I raised my hand and piped up, "Nobody knows for sure" With a smug expression, he reminded everybody present how they had already been previously brainwashed that "Paul" had written it. But can we know, from the text, why Paul was -NOT- the author?
Also, Paul's usual style was to begin every epistle with his own name, "Paul". Hebrews begins with "God". In this, there is a similarity to the writings of John, who begins his books with, "In the beginning was the Word" (Jn1:1), "That which was in the beginning" (1Jn1:1), etc. John's opening greeting is about Jesus, not his own name. In fact, the Gospel of John, while he refers to himself, he never names himself, but speaks of the one "whom Jesus loved". (Jn13:23, 20:2, 21:7, etc)
Notice also that the author speaks of Timothy as "our brother Timothy" (13:23) Paul referred to Timothy as "my son". (2Ti2:1) And also, if Paul, nearing the point of his death writes to Timothy, asking him to "Endeavor to come to me quickly" (2Tim4:9), Timothy was not in prison yet. But Heb13:23 speaks of Timothy as having "been set free". It would seem obviously to have been written sometime -later- than 2Tim4.
Also, the speculations of the theologians that "Timothy" might have authored it is refuted by the same verse. If Timothy wrote it, but speaks of "Timothy" being set free (from prison?) in the grammatical third person...if it had been Timothy writing, would he not have used the first person "I" having been "set free".
What about Luke? Unlike John, the (simple) fisherman, Hebrews is written as of one who is educated. This is one reason many equate Hebrews with Paul. We won't spend time analyzing here, but even as the Wycliffe commentary notes, comparing how the Greek is written, Paul's epistles and Hebrews are written differently. The English, which comes from the Greek, has a different 'feel' to word orders and sentence structures. While it has a more 'scholarly' feel, like Paul, it is not the same writer. But Luke?
For the Gospel of Luke, he does not identify himself by name; but begins the text setting out "in order a narrative" of the things that happened (Lk1:1), as he also relies a lot on "eyewitnesses" (vs2); just as Heb2:3 suggests a reliance on "those who heard Him"; i.e. eyewitnesses. Acts becomes a follow-up to Luke, written to "Theophilus" (Ac1:1)
Paul writes to Timothy, "Only Luke is with me" (2Tim4:11) He relays a greeting from Luke to the Colossians (Col4:14) and Luke he calls a "fellow laborer" (Phm1:24) It is thought, from these things, that Luke was likely a travelling companion with Paul during Paul's ministry.
A line of reasoning for a minute: If Luke was a physician (Col4:14), it indicates an 'educated' individual (as was Paul); and being a physician, also a person given to detail. Educated people tend to know how to properly use linguistic grammar. There are certain ways that educated people communicate, compared to more 'common' uneducated folk. In English, for instance, "spellling ishoos and bad tawking" indicate a person "hooo izunt gud at tauking two yo". And yes, this sort of stuff (and worse) comes to me in e-mails regularly.
Also, consider how when people spend a lot of time together, such as candidates for political office, and they have developed a party platform: do not their speeches begin sounding alike? They say the same things, they promote the same agendas, and answer questions with the same answers. John McCain might have said, "My friends..." a lot, and Sarah Palin, "You betcha!" But they spoke from the same platform.
If Luke spent as many years with Paul as it seems he might have, would it not be reasonable to assume he knew the doctrinal "platform" well. Thus, if he were to write such a book as Hebrews, would it not stand to reason that his writing might sound similar to Paul's. However, he was his own 'individual'...thus, those who wish to study the intricacies notice the little grammatical differences and nuances.
Thus, there is reason to suggest that Luke -might- have written the book. But in the final analysis, since the book itself does not tell us, such a thing can only be a speculation.
God's Essence - (Hebrews 1:1-3)
If Romans is about Salvation, and Hebrews is about the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the author of salvation (2:10, 5:9); where did Jesus come from? From God. (Jn16:27-30, 17:8) Thus, we don't need to be distracted by other things like "who wrote" the book. God is the author of all things.
As Romans begins describing man's utterly sinful state; when Adam and Eve first sinned, who came knocking? As they tried to hide their sin, God came calling, "Adam, where are you?" (Ge3:9) Just as Adam and Eve did, mankind has been doing...running from God. But God pleads,
The series "Covenants and Dispensations" [link] outlines how at "various times" in history God has attempted by "various ways" to speak to sinful man. By definition: Dispensations. There are those who disdain "dispensational" theology. But vs1 here, by definition proclaims it. If one way doesn't work, He tries another way, to get through to the hard heart of sinful man. When the sinner is thrown into the Lake of Fire, he cannot claim that he "didn't know", or had "no choice". Throughout history God has been bending over backwards in His desire for "all men to be saved" (1Ti2:4) Just like today's "safety" conscious society mandates more and more lights, reflectors, and signs to keep people 'safe' in traffic; God throughout history has erected signs, banners, billboards, announcers, preachers, and -PROPHETS-.
Jesus described it as a landowner, managing his property from a distance, sending representatives to collect his share of the harvest, but the hired help killing all the different ones sent. So then he decides to try...
When God sent the prophets, it was always a -promise- of the Messiah. When He spoke "by His Son", that was the fulfillment of those prior millennia of prophecies. Prophecy spoke of the Lamb of God who -would- die...in the 'future'. When His Son came, he died, literally, physically, personally, and fulfilled those prior promises.
So... Who (or) What is the Son?
If He is "appointed heir of all things" (vs2b) what does that mean? When an heir takes ownership, what happens? He is now the "boss". Previously somebody else owned everything and everybody bowed to and obeyed them. But when the "heir" takes ownership, everybody now obeys the heir. He is "in charge". In this case, Jesus Christ, the Son, the one whom mankind had "seen with [their] eyes, had looked upon, and [their] hands had handled/touched" (1Jn1:1)... He's the -BOSS-. This authority has been given to Him by "God".
Not only that, but "through Whom also He made the worlds" (vs2c)
As John tells us...
God is "Spirit" (Jn4:24) But we also know that...
God is Spirit, and exists in the "thick darkness" (Ex20:21, De5:22, 1Ki8:12) I don't claim to understand this. I don't. But He created light, and made man, a creature of 'sight'. In order for sight to work, there must be light. God created that. Since the Father is Spirit, and dwells in the Thick Darkness, how is man, a creature of sight, to see Him? Through the Son.
So, when Jesus Christ came, while He came in the form and likeness of man (Php2:7), He was more than -just- "man". He was the very "image and essence" of the Father. As Jesus says, "he who has seen Me has seen the Father" (Jn14:9)
Thus, when Jesus -spoke- and calmed the storm, He was illustrating the Father's essence of "upholding all things by the Word of His power" (vs3) Is it any wonder the disciples were in awe, "Of what sort is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" (Mt8:27)
Better than Angels - (Hebrews 1:4-14)
We must remember that Hebrews is written to people who, all they knew of Jesus was that He was a -man-. One of the taunts was,
The Jews of Jesus' day did not have a problem with the fact that Jesus Christ had "come in the flesh" (1Jn4:2) They -knew- He was a 'man'. They had a problem with His claims to Deity, using God's name "I AM" (Jn8:58) So as the blinders are chipped away, bit by bit, they must be shown how Jesus was better than something which they held in high regard. We could give various examples from the OT of people to whom angels appeared, and after the experience they were overcome with fright and awe. Ditto where Jesus, Himself, appeared in the form of the Angel of Jehovah.
Even today, angels are held in high esteem by people of all stripes and colors. They speak of "guardian angels", and angels that appear to them in dreams. Today they build entire stories around the theme of angels and ghosts: Touched by an Angel, Ghost Whisperer, and such things. Any sort of spiritual encounter is viewed as, essentially, the -ultimate- in experiences. They don't think much of the Almighty, if they have an encounter with an angelic being. Those who worship angels (Col2:18) pretty much also adhere to the modern "god-within" spirituality; and so they also pray -to- angels, asking them to do their bidding; as though they were in charge, and angels were subservient to them. However, even though they have these beliefs, if they think they've seen an angel, even if they are their own god, the angel, truth be told, is likely the highest spiritual being they would hope to encounter, even above themselves.
And so, for people with such a mentality, viewing the -man- Jesus, need some persuading. This -man-, Jesus Christ, is "SO MUCH better" than angels. And this superiority is in His "name".
Unbelieving Jews, even today, speak of "this man", or "the man". The One for whom they can only muster the expression "this man" is the physical (and human) embodiment of the -totality- of God's essence, power, glory, authority and dominion. Everything that God (the Father) is, Jesus (the man) is also.
Please see also the article: "God's Only Begotten Son" [link]
Thus, Jesus is "better" than the angels in that He -is- God, and the Father proclaims at His incarnation: Let all the angels bow down to Him. Homage is not proffered unless the object of that worship is "better" than the one prostrating.
Angels are ministering spirits. (vs7) Those who 'minister' are "less" than the One who appoints and proclaims them thus. Jesus is at the seat of honor, the "right hand of the Majesty on high" (vs3b), and angels are those who serve.
When David was nearing death, before he dies, he appoints Solomon, his son, to the throne. And as Solomon ascends the throne, it says that David, Solomon's father, just up to that moment the 'present' king, "bowed himself on the bed" and praises God, "Blessed is Jehovah the God of Israel, who has given one to sit on my throne this day, with my eyes seeing it! (1Ki1:46-48)
Somewhat in the same way, at Jesus' incarnation, the Father proclaims,
"And the heavens separated as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." (Re6:14)
In fact, angels are "less" than man. Next chapter addresses man's place. But what are angels to man?
But are they to be worshipped? No! When John attempted to do so, twice (he didn't catch on the first time), the angel reprimanded him, "
"Now see here! No! For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the Words of this Book. Do homage to God." (Re22:9)
Thus we understand Paul's comments about false worship by those who engage in "worship of angels" (Col2:18) Angels are not to be worshipped. Jesus is. As we concluded last lesson that Jesus is -very- God. Yes, Jesus the "begotten" -man- through the "Seed" of the woman, is -very- God. The Father has given Him all rule and all authority. In a very real sense, just as David bowed on his bed to Solomon, so too the Father has bowed to "this Man". Or as the herald announces the newly crowned king as he takes the steps up to the throne, thus too does God (the Father) to God (the Son).
Your throne, O God...!
Jesus was not just some famous man in history. He -is- VERY God Himself!
Man - (Hebrews 2:1-8)
The LXX was sourced out of Alexandria, the same source as the other texts that make up the "critical" texts from which today's perverted English translations originate. Except for the NASB, the English translations related to Alexandria or Rome say "angels". The Geneva, LITV, MKJV, NASB and VW say "God". In the previous lesson did we not mention those who worship angels; attributing to angels the honor due God. And: the Alexandria-based translations do many things which detract from Deity, and other such things. So, rather than being a Bible "contradiction", is the book of Hebrews accurately documenting translation issues that existed even back then? If it is the case that Luke is the author, would not a non-Jew have been more likely to be reading what was available in Greek, and have quoted the same? Nevertheless, this issue will not hinder our understanding of Truth.
Whatever the case, we see here a divinely intended situation for man. If Jesus was made flesh (vs14), He became "man", part of our understanding of Jesus is derived from a proper understanding of what man was originally intended to be, which circling back, is revealed to us by who and what Jesus is.
Man was made "in the image of God" (Gen1:27,9:6), not angels. Remember? Jesus is the "image of [God's] essence" (1:3) Thus, the comparison is also to God. Certainly, since Jesus is compared to angels for the reasons we observed in the previous lesson, man might be, as well. But Jesus is God's "Son"; and Believers into Jesus Christ become "children of God". (Jn1:12) So, you see the realms in which we carry on this present discussion.
Before Adam sinned, God gave him a task to do, which fits with this "set him over the works of Your hands". God commissioned Adam to name all the animals. And "whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name" (Gen2:19) God made it, but He gave authority over what He had made into man's hands. Mankind was given "dominion" over the earth. (Ge1:26,28) And this passage tells us something we never see in history, likely due to the intervening sin and Adam and Eve getting kicked out of the garden: God "left NOTHING that is not put under him". Since Jesus was the -perfect- Man, do we get an idea of what man -would- have been capable of, had he not sinned: Jesus speaks and "rebukes the winds and the sea" (Mt8:26) and they become calm. Is that what is behind His other words,
This authority of which we speak is NOT for angels. (vs5) However, at this time, in our sinful state, angels are "greater in power and might" (2Pt2:11) When they act as God's messengers, they come with God's authority; and when somebody would disobey or doubt a message given through an angel, the person suffered consequences. For instance, when Gabriel was sent to Zacharias to announce the birth of John, and Zacharias doubted: At the pronouncement of the angel, Zacharias was mute for those following nine months until John was born. (Lk1:18-20,63-64) The two angels were given the duties to implement the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and struck the man blind when they were pounding on Lot's door. In Revelation we see many things given to the angels to do, not to mention the things in Daniel, etc.
So, even though ultimately angels are less than Jesus or man, and as long as man is in the present sinful state angels are greater in power; if the word of messenger angels was doubted and suffered consequences, what are the consequences for those who reject Jesus' word? (vs2-3)
Jesus came preaching with signs and wonders. (vs4) And it says...
But for those who believe, we are exhorted...
But we are creatures of forgetfulness. How many times didn't Moses exhort Israel, "you shall REMEMBER....." God and His works. (De8:2,18, 15:15, etc) And "beware that you DO NOT FORGET Jehovah your God..." (De8:11), etc. They setup memorials, so they would 'remember' God's works.
Listen carefully. An OT expression was to "extend your ear" (Pr4:20,22:17, Is55:3) Like animals that turn their ears to hear, or birds cocking their heads sideways to aim their ears and eyes. Pay attention. Hide God's Word in your heart so that you do not sin. (Ps119:11)
Man, without sin, has God's full authority; but mankind -has- sin; and even Believers at present are still beset by these bodies of corruption. So don't become lackadaisical. Don't take Jesus' Salvation for granted. Don't assume that the originally-intended authority is presently ours. Not all things are subject to us right now. Don't think that we can do any old things we want, and thus transgress and disobey. If we do, there will be consequences.
But this now sets the stage for the next lesson, so we understand better -what- Jesus came to when He became "man".
Made Flesh - (Hebrews 2:9-18)
If Jesus created the universe, how do we know He was "less than" the angels? Any examples?
After He was tempted by the devil, it says that "angels came and ministered to Him" (Mt4:11) When He was in agony before the crucifixion, it says, "Then an angel appeared to Him from Heaven, strengthening Him." (Lk22:43) As He was being led away to trial, notice He says, "Or do you think that I am not able now to pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" (Mt26:53) This, even though He had just demonstrated His Deity by invoking His name, "I AM", and sending them hurling backwards onto their backsides. (Jn18:5-6) And yet, even though being -very- God, He had submitted Himself to being in the form of a servant (Php2:7), such that, presumably, considering how He speaks of calling for angels to assist Him, he was just like man, where compared to His submitted state in humanity, to Him at that time, angels were "greater in power" (2Pt2:11) He became "less than" the angels.
For the suffering of death.
But if Jesus was to be truly "man", He needed to come -through- one of earth's lineages.
Remember how 1:1 starts out proclaiming the doctrine of dispensations. If you clicked the earlier link to the "Covenants and Dispensations" series, we observed how God created a special nation. The nation of Israel had a couple of functions: to be a "light" to the world, to be a nation representing God to the world (a kingdom of priests Ex19:6); -AND- the lineage through whom God would send His Son.
Most of the rest of the book addresses Jesus as High Priest. A priest is a -person- appointed to act as a go-between between man and God. A representative of man before God.
Paul informs us...
But He is, He did, and He can.
Jesus not only "feels our pain", He suffered death on our behalf so that we don't need to. For the one who receives His Salvation, Jesus actually took on a "pain" (Is53:4) that we, as a result, no longer have to. He was the "propitiation for [our] sins". (vs17) That is: the conciliation and payment of the required debt to appease the "wrath of God" that is against sin (Rom1:18) to "reconcile" us "to God" (Rom5:10)
And in doing so Jesus Christ brings "many sons to glory" (vs10)
"Here am I and the children whom God has given Me" (vs13, Is8:18a)
Chief Apostle - (Hebrews 3:1-6)
Consider: Let's now take a look at...
As if being God's "Son" was a small thing. As though providing Salvation was, somehow, insignificant, by comparison. These things are NOT "small" nor "insignificant". But now we begin to discuss Titular matters. Suffering and death do not typically garner trumpet flourishes. It's the -big- stuff like titles, rank, position.
Jesus Christ is Apostle and High Priest.
But... I thought: Jesus -picked- "12" as apostles? (Lk6:13) Thus, in the context, since the 12 followed Jesus around...apostles are "disciples", yes? If Jesus -picked- some apostles, how -is- He also an apostle? What is an apostle?
If one looks this up in a dictionary, the first two definitions are related to Jesus choosing the 12; and the Mormon cult. But then, when one gets away from the "religious" undertones one finds more generically:
b. A passionate adherent; a strong supporter
Regarding the Church of Jesus Christ, most Christians often forget that "a" also applies to the "12" Jesus appointed. When Jesus was taken up into Heaven, it was the 12 who 'began' the Church at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came. They were setting forth new guidelines and traditions, and the NT epistles give instructions different from the OT rituals. Things go a new direction. But then a point of time came where 'all' instructions had been given. All doctrine was final, and so both Paul and Judas issue statements as to the finality of what had been given, and issued curses regarding anybody who might try to introduce something new, 'beyond' what had been given. (Ju1:3, Ga1:8-9) Paul even calls such "accursed".
Thus, for today...if it claims to be the Church of Jesus Christ, BY DEFINITION, there is no such thing as an "apostle". It was all given when the canon of Scripture was complete..."once for all" (Ju1:3) No new 'revelations' are appropriate today. Those who stand up, claiming to have had visions "I have dreamed, I have dreamed" (Jer23:25), and thereby claim to be "apostles" are "lying". They are, by Paul's definition, Accursed. They claim to have revelations from angels, or this, or that. Paul says,
The fact that Jesus is High Priest we won't spend time with right now. Beginning with ch5, that is pretty much what the rest of the book is about. These first chapters are laying the ground work for those discussions.
But in what way is Jesus an Apostle? Jesus is not really a "supporter", thus "b" is not really fitting. Jesus is God, and He is followed -by- 'supporters'...like the "b" application for the "12". So if it is definition "a", what did Jesus "pioneer"? What "movement" did He establish. Ah, yes!
Is it not the Church -of- Jesus Christ. "I will build My church" (Mt16:18) If it is His Church, He is the One who started it. When we profess our Faith (also known as a "confession"), whom do we profess/confess? Jesus Christ. As Paul says,
But notice it says that Jesus is worthy of "more glory than Moses" (vs3) To the Jews of Jesus' day such a statement would be tantamount to blasphemy. Who is greater than Moses...except for God Himself? In fact, when Jesus is debating the rulers, and He is claiming Deity and to being God's Son, at one point they retort with, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father; God." (Jn8:41)
Well, remember that Moses, even for as great as he was, was warned,
But -who- is Jesus? Who is the Son of Man? Very God, Himself. Jesus Christ created the universe. He gave His own life to atone for sin. When God's "Angel" was going before Israel in the wilderness, who was it that Moses was talking to "face to face"? (Ex33:11) Jesus Christ. Moses might have been the one carrying the staff, but it was Jesus Christ who was directing Moses in what he should do and say. As Paul says, "that Rock was Christ" (1Co10:4b)
Moses needed to be careful to follow the pattern -given- 'to' him. Why? Because it was not of his own musings. It was not Moses' Law that was given. Moses was merely the prophet. The messenger. He was taking from God, and -relaying- it to the people.
And that's why he didn't get to go into the promised land. For a little moment he (apparently?) 'forgot' -who- was in charge when he grumbles, "Hear now, you rebels! Shall -we- bring water for you out of this rock?" (Nu20:10) It was -not- "Moses" who brought water...it was Jesus Christ. In that moment Moses did not give God due sanctity and credit. (vs12)
Jesus Christ is a Son "over His -OWN- house" (vs6a) Everybody speaks of "Moses' law", as though it belonged to Moses. That is a cultural and theological misnomer. It was -not- Moses' law. It was God's. And so, Jesus comes along saying things like...
Just as, if I had the ability to play all three movements of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata, I could not then start into some other music and claim it to be Beethoven's "4th movement". The Moonlight only has three movements. However, if Beethoven, himself, rose from the dead, and appeared on stage...he -could- go on and play more music, and make the claim. The "Moonlight" was his originally... and being 'his', he also would have the right to make changes to it.
The Law was given through Moses, and he performed his duties with dispatch, faithfully. But the Law Moses gave was Jesus Christ's, the "Angel of Jehovah". The Law was Christ's "OWN house". He is the -Head- of the house; He makes the rules.
And so, the "confession" we speak of is the Church. Jesus Christ is the (if you will) -Head- Apostle. He's the one in charge. It is -His- Church.
"For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
"And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn out from the dead, that in all things He may be preeminent." (Eph1:22, 5:23, Col1:18)
Disobedience & Unbelief - (Hebrews 3:7-19)
Notice the strong language. "Do not HARDEN YOUR HEARTS" (vs8) "They always go astray in their heart, and they have NOT KNOWN MY WAYS" (vs10)
And so notice God's verdict: "They shall not enter into My rest" (vs11)
Something we are going to see several times is the quashing of the false notion that has been coined, "Once Saved Always Saved". In this passage we begin to see the pattern of the matter.
There is also the error taught by the (so-called) Eternally Secure camp that suggests that: Once a person is saved, IT DOESN'T MATTER. If the person commits sin, it is -impossible- to "lose" one's salvation. If we were saved "not of works" (Eph2:9), then works cannot 'secure' (keep) us, either. This last sentence may be true, but it -DOES- MATTER. What sort of heart does behavior reveal? A person -does- what is in the heart. Jesus said also, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Mt12:34) The tree is known by its fruit. (Mt7:16-20)
Let's not forget something, as we progress here. Moses might have been their leader, but Israel was under Jesus Christ. Always was. They might have heard Moses' voice, but it was Jesus 'calling the shots'. And now the Church is also under Jesus Christ. And we will see later the reminder that "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever." (13:8) Whatever Jesus's standards were for Israel, they are also for the Church. Dispensations may vary and differ according to the time of history, but God's holiness and standards of righteousness do not.
We see the picture of Israel's -salvation- when they "came out of Egypt" (vs16) But not all of them made it to the land of promise. Why did they not make it? They "did not -obey-". (vs18) Paul expresses it...
They "[withdrew] from the living God" (vs12b) An expression we'll see again later about "[drawing] back" (10:38-39) Notice that Salvation was not "LOST". The enemy did not come along, hogtie and hold them down, and 'yank' it from them, kicking and screaming. They "withdrew". To "withdraw" is 'active' voice. It is something the 'subject' -does-. It is not done -to- the person. (passive voice) They do it, themselves, each, individually.
And so, when the person withdraws, what do they do? They do according to their sinful heart. They see all the good around them that God is doing. But then they also see the holy standard that God requires, and instead behave according to their heart. Their -hard- heart. It is not that they don't know any better...they -know-, but refuse. They came out of Egypt, all 'happy' to be out of Pharaoh's clutches (We're saved! Hallelujah! Praise God! They sang praises Ex15), but did not remain "steadfast to the end". They continually lusted: Oh, if only we had stayed in Egypt, where we had all sorts of yummy stuff to eat...out here in this wilderness? All we have is this stupid manna! (Nu11:6) They hadn't yet reached the land "flowing with milk and honey" (Ex3:17) They were still IN TRANSIT, in the wilderness! What were they expecting? A camel caravan carrying all sorts of yummies? And why were they in the wilderness so long? They got to the promised land and refused to go in. If we can take from modern tongue-in-cheek comedy: They got to Heaven, saw St.Peter at the gate, saw through the gate all the splendors on the other side, and then said, Naw...we don't need this stupid place! (Sorry to be crass...but isn't that the equivalent of what they did at Kadesh Barnea?) They stopped at Sinai to receive the Law, and then progressed to the edge of promise, saw it, and refused to 'finish' the trip. They did not have "perseverence". As we will see later...
It's like another exmple we've used (I believe in Romans): [link] We are in the water, Jesus lets down the rope (or life preserver) to pull us out to safety, and the Holy Spirit is alongside giving us encouragement to "hang on". All we need to do is hang on. Jesus has the top side of the rope and is pulling us up to Himself. The rope is a 'non-slip' rope...and we have a good solid grip. All we have to do is "hang on", and we will be there, we're saved. But if we let go the rope...we fall back in. And Jesus provides only -one- 'rope', only -one- life preserver. There is no other. (6:6) He sent the rope down only "once for all" (9:28)
Notice the relationship. It says that those who did not enter were "those who DID NOT OBEY" (vs18) But then the conclusion is that they could not enter "BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF" (vs19)
Obedience and Faith are a close pair. Notice...
"obedience to the faith" (Rom16:26)
"The one BELIEVING into the Son has eternal life; but the one DISOBEYING the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Jn3:36)
God says, "This is the way, walk in it..." (Is30:21)
The Child of God believes God's way is best and complies. Faith causes the person to obey. But when a person refuses to obey, it demonstrates the person's -true- heart as being -hard-. What they claim as 'belief' is not -true- "faith".
Such a person cannot enter. Where? That's the next lesson.
Q/A: Believe or Obey?
Sabbath Rest - (Hebrews 4:1-16)
But then if we consider Jesus' invitation "I will give you rest" (Mt11:28) that's the same word as "that they may rest from their labors" (Rev14:13) That's "anapauo", to cease from labor in order to be refreshed and collect strength"
You see how they are all similar, but with slight variations, and their accompanying meanings.
As mankind was multiplying, after the fall into sin, it says that Noah was born. Noah (Noach) means rest. Mankind was burdened with the "toil of our hands, because of the ground which Jehovah has cursed" (Ge5:29), which God had done, "Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life." (Ge3:17b) Noah was the first hope to mankind for "rest" from toils.
What is one of the prime expectations of Heaven? Glittering gold? Sparkling gems? Bright angels flashing back and forth at lightning speed? No. The promise 'remains'. It hasn't yet been fulfilled. We haven't yet experienced it: To "enter His rest".
Recall that there is the "pure river of Water of Life" along with the "Tree of Life" with leaves that "heal" (Re22:1-2)
Whenever I daydream about Heaven, there are many things I wonder about: What will my first (visible) face-to-face meeting with Jesus be like? Will it be like Peter after the resurrection, or John in Revelation ch1? Or something in-between? Who will I see there? Will I be pleasantly surprised that, some of whom I question their salvation, will they be there? Who else will -not- be there? But I must say, the #1 dream I have, that I think about most often, is to go and sit along the shore of the River. There is the old song, "Shall we Gather at the River" But for me it is more than just a song. I wonder what sort of new (individual) bonds and frienships will be made while sitting by the River. I don't dream of it as a 'gathering' (like the song) of -lots- of people, but of me being 'solitary', with perhaps another person, or two. Of it being a 'quiet' and 'peaceful' rest.
At Spokane, along the Spokane River there is a place called the "Bowl and Pitcher". After 20-some years of living here, I haven't yet figured out why it is called that. Before they started charging a parking fee, I used to go there, walk across the suspension bridge, climb around on the rocks; stand on the bridge and watch the water go by, sit on the rocks and be soothed by the sounds of the rushing water. There is a road that follows the river a few miles that I will sometimes take on my way home from work. It is a 'relaxing' place. I've even been known to ride my bicycle down to the cemetary just beyond the VA hospital a few blocks from where I live, go through the cemetary and ride over to this one spot that overlooks the river, and sit there on the grass and -RELAX-. REST.
Israel did not enter into Rest. Why? "unbelief" (3:19) The Gospel was preached to both Israel and us (the Church). But the Gospel, by itself, does not save. There are some 'universalists' who proclaim a "gospel" of "You are already saved, because Jesus died. Rejoice in that fact." But they teach nothing of Faith. Israel had their sacrifices and Sabbath feasts. They had seven annual feasts, aside from the weekly 7th day Sabbaths. All of the feasts were Sabbaths. For all of them they were not to do any "labor of work". (Le23:7,etc) They had the form and ritual, but...
But just as we learned several lessons ago what God's original intent for mankind was, as we see it revealed in Jesus the "Man"; God also intended for man to know His "rest". God rested. Even though creation is called the work of His "fingers" (Ps8:3) (In other words, it was not laboriously difficult nor exhausting for Him), when He had finished and proclaimed it "extremely good" (Ge1:31), He rested (Shabbat). (vs4, Gen2:2) The work was finished, and then Sabbath.
If we consider the 'works' of this creation, they will come to an end, and then Sabbath. The "works...will be burned up" and then will be the "new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2Pt3:10,13)
As it says of those who are martyred during the 70th week, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow with them." (Rev14:13) They have labored through faithful sufferings for Christ. When they die, their work is finished. Sabbath.
This was something Israel didn't understand as Jesus was continually -breaking- the Sabbath by -healing- people. A person in the midst of the toils and labors of an illness or deformity... was Jesus -working-? Not hardly! He was giving those people "rest" from their infirmities. What better activity to be doing on the Sabbath! It's a day of "rest"? Make it possible for the infirm also -to- 'rest'.
But the only ones who will partake in that Sabbath at the end of this creation will be those who "do not harden [their] hearts" (vs7), who do not "fall according to the same example of [Israel's] disobedience" (vs11)
But who's to say -who- is a Believer, and -who- has the hard heart?
Nathanael counters Jesus' -familiarity- with him, with, "From where do You know me?" (Jn1:48) Presumably, if Nathanael was from Bethsaida (NE side of the Sea of Galilee), but Jesus had been way SW of there, on the other side of the lake, when Jesus "saw" Nathanael "under the fig tree" (Jn1:48), it was obviously not a happenstance that Jesus 'walked by' and '-happened- to notice' him sitting there. Jesus "discerned" Nathanael. And when He says, "an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit" (vs47); such a statement is one that discerns Nathanael down into his heart. Many people are skilled at -reading- people. But they use technology to -detect- lies. But even those are not 100%.
But Jesus "pierces" into the heart and soul. It says "joints and marrow". Where does the soul reside? The "soul is in the blood" (Lev17:11) Where does blood come from? Bone marrow. Not only does Jesus know the soul, He even pierces to where that soul comes from. (Perhaps another indication of the 'physician' Luke writing the book? The average person might not think to use such a medically figurative expression.) He is the One who "covers" us in our mother's womb. (Ps139:13) He knows not only if we are telling the truth, He also knows the -intents- of the heart. There is no such thing as being "caught" and (quick!) pull the wrap around to cover our nakedness. We are lying sprawled on the table, stripped naked, and every place is being poked and prodded, stared at and scrutinized. Like an autopsy: Cut it open, pull flaps back, cut through the ribs with a saw, dig round in the organs, and find -everything- that's there. -THAT- is how Jesus knows each and every individual.
And so as the tattoo is found: What's this?? Disease ridden organ tugged on: Why did you let this happen? Something else: Why did you do that? And as thoughts, plans, and hard-heartedness is exposed: Just who do you think you are? No, I don't hate You: LIAR! Yes, I want to serve You: LIAR!
"So then each of us shall give account concerning himself to God." (Rom14:12)
Therefore, we do not need to fear. If we have done wrong, which is all of us (1Ki8:46, Rom3:23), we can -ask- for mercy, and it will be given. When we are struggling, we do not need to pridefully try it on our own. We can ask for "help in time of need". Yes, God's presence is awesome and "fearful" (10:31); but if we come with the nakedness of our heart laid bare before Him, not trying to deceive... we are able to
Priest Appointed - (Hebrews 5:1-10)
We certainly know where false prophets come from. Many of them come "from among yourselves, speaking perverse things" (Ac20:30) Among other things, they arise from out of the midst of the congregation. Is that where "majority rule" is flawed? Congregations take votes, and the 'popular' ones rise to prominence, instead of 'whom?'.
If we are to properly understand the priesthood of Jesus Christ, we need, first, to understand what the priesthood under Moses was. To understand His humanity we needed to understand man in God's original intentions, which in turn was understood by seeing who Jesus is. A similar sort of 'circular' understanding is involved in the priesthood. Just as humanity became flawed due to sin, the human priesthood was also flawed, since it involved sinful man. Even Aaron, the first high priest, led Israel into corporate idolatry, even -while- Moses was in the mountain receiving God's Law. (Ex32)
We won't look up all the OT references, but before the priests could minister, or even put on the priestly robes, they had to dip in the mikvah and wash. Animals were killed, their blood collected, and dipped and sprinkled on the priest's thumb, big toe, and right ear lobe; and other such rituals. These were all before they even began to offer the sacrifices that the people brought. Before they could intermediate for the sins of the people, they first needed to ritually purify themselves. How can a sinful person perform atoning rituals for others, when he himself is ritually defiled? Thus...
He is "taken from among men". He is -APPOINTED-. (vs1) How? By whom? The clerical council assembled by the denominational hierarchy?
So, the young man is nearing completion of his Bible school and/or seminary studies. Graduation is nearing. Now it's time to get into his 'career'. He speaks to the career counselor: What are your aptitudes? What do you 'like' to do? Are you a "people person"? Do you "care" about people? Do you have oratory skills? Are you a preacher, or an administrator? So...all these -ideas- are laid out; perhaps an idea per piece of paper with its own heading, and two columns, "Pro" and "Con". Let's assign numerical values to each idea as to presumed strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps by now somebody has devised a computer program to take all the -data- and start 'crunching' some numbers, to give the upcoming graduate a "score" and "recommendation" for "ministry"..??
If that's the way God works, I'd still be doing professional music. My strengths were music performance. Anything in school that involved public speaking or written composition were the courses in which I got less-than optimal grades. Music was usually pretty much 4.0 all the way through. These other fields were in the 1.0-3.0 range. Where is music for me today? The MP3 files, created from all my old albums and tapes, in the computer connected to the stereo. But -writing-, one of my absolute -worst- subjects, is what God has me doing. Oh, I always got straight A's in English grammar (not that I necessarily adhere to all the rules when writing); which came in mighty handy when compiling the VW-edition Bible. But I was -never- a 'compositional' writer.
And if that's the way God works, we would not have Peter preaching at Pentecost; he was a fisherman. The shepherd Joseph would not have been second-in-command in Egypt. The shepherd David would not have been a mighty warrior and king. Go through Scripture and make your own list.
Is the ministry an "aptitude" or "recommendation"? No! It is an -APPOINTMENT-. By whom? God. If you go through the OT prophets, many of them recorded their 'call' from God. As for the OT priests, they were appointed through the line of Aaron; by God; through Moses. Moses, himself, was called by God from the burning bush. As Moses appointed the first priests, he did so at God's appointment.
Men! Heed this next bit carefully. We have addressed this matter on a few other occasions. If you are -considering- the ministry... FORGET IT! If you are -weighing- your 'options', and "ministry" is one of those options... FORGET IT! I 'think' God -would- want me in the ministry... FORGET IT! I 'think' God -might- be calling me... FORGET IT!
"Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, Hear the Word of Jehovah! Thus says the Lord Jehovah: Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!"
"Likewise, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own heart; prophesy against them," (Ezk13:2-3,17)
Earlier I suggested that if you are "considering" the ministry, to FORGET IT! Why? If God -calls- you, you will -KNOW- IT! It is CERTAIN! When God calls, His Word is like a burning fire. You cannot help -but- proclaim. It is not merely a 'choice' or 'consideration'.
"Is not My Word like a fire? says Jehovah; and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" (Jer23:29)
In the garden Jesus prayed "with vehement cries and tears" (vs7)
"He humbled Himself and became -obedient- unto death, even the death of the cross." (Php2:8)
Adam was the author of sin:
"Therefore, as through one manís (Adam) offense judgment was to every person unto condemnation, even so through one Manís (Jesus) righteous act the free gift is to every person unto justification of life. For as through one manís (Adam) disobedience many were declared sinners, so also through one Manís (Jesus) obedience many will be declared righteous." (Rom5:18-19)
Dull of Hearing - (Hebrews 5:11-6:8)
Just like some today, who say that "the OT was that" but "the NT is this"; the Jews of the early Church days were also rejecting Grace. This new "church" is not doing things the way "we've always done them". But the writer explains, like we do often from these pages, that Righteousness has never changed. What it was for Adam, is what it is today. They might have killed "thousands of rams" and "ten thousands of rivers of oil" (Mic6:7) in sacrifice; but what was the Foundation?
This is where this book is now heading... to the "Master's level" We are beyond: This is a transistor, this is a resistor. This is Ohm's Law. These are the parameters of the laws of parallel and series circuits. (In my day, these were taught in grade school... they are so basic)
In matters of Righteousness, what are the transistors and Ohm's Law?
FOUNDATION: Repentance from dead works and faith toward God (vs1)
As Paul summed up the bare essentials of nothing having been missing from his messages of what was necessary: "testifying both to Jews, and also to Greeks, REPENTANCE toward God and FAITH toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ac20:21)
DOCTRINES: Immersion, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, eternal judgment
These are the -basics-. The way today's apostasy wants to 'dialog' about things, and "tear down the walls" of doctrine, they claim they want unanimity in the "essentials". Well, by definition, -these- just listed are the "essentials". But even today, as it apparently was during the time this book was being written: How many do you know who hold to these essentials? They wrangle about even these. Some today who hold themselves in vaunted states deny the necessity of Repentance. They deny that there is an Eternal Judgment. Some wrangle and deny the doctrines related to the Resurrection. As such, how can they possibly understand anything else that follows. He says, these are the 'rudiments'; let's understand these, and now MOVE ON to greater things.
Those who wrangle the basics, also totally misunderstand these very next few verses. Misunderstanding what Eternal Security is, confusing it with Once Saved Always Saved, use the following verses to support that error. But as we shall see, these next verses have -nothing- to do with (so-called) Eternal Security, but are a -condemnation- of Israel's hard heartedness.
First of all notice that the three verses are all ONE SENTENCE. And if we sort through all the descriptions and qualifiers, what is the core sentence? It has a subject and predicate. In it's simplest form it is:
WHO: They have 'understanding'. The Heavenly gift has been tasted. They have partaken. They have the Holy Spirit.
WHAT DID THEY DO: They "also turned aside"
This little spot right here is the crux of the whole matter, and of the prevailing error. It is in the proper understanding of the word rendered in KJV/NKJV/Geneva/NIV/Tyndale as "IF". What is quoted in this study comes from the VW-edition, which essentially agrees with Wycliffe/NASB/LITV/MKJV/Darby/ALT.
What -kind- of "if" is it? Is it 'conditional' or 'cumulative'? It is not 'wrong' for the first listed versions to use "if", but the reader must understand what -kind- it is.
Most people view "if" as being IF this is done, THEN that will happen. Going backwards, then, if 'that' didn't happen, then 'this' was not done. People usually understand it as cause-and-effect.
They also take this "if" in the middle of the sentence, and for purposes of their argument move it to the beginning, twist the words around to say, "If it were possible..." Thus to suggest: If it were possible to be saved, and then lost, it would be like crucifying Jesus over again. But in their logic, such a twisting is then supposed to suggest that, "Of course, this is not the case...that one loses their salvation". So therefore, Jesus is not re-crucified. Or the other twist: Since Jesus is not re-crucified, therefore a person cannot be lost after having been saved. But the Word does not say, "If it were possible.." It says, "it is impossible". But let's continue...
The "if" in this passage is 'cumulative'. 'This' happens... "if" (and also) 'that' happens. ALT says "and having fallen away". NASB says "and [then] have fallen away"
Now the Greek also indicates "deviate", thus VW-says "turn aside".
The term "fallen away" could easily be mistaken with the concept of "losing" one's salvation. They "lost" it... they "fell". But no, it is "active" voice. The person -does- the action. It didn't slip or get lost, as if by 'accident'. They were saved... they had the Holy Spirit...(vs4) but then -turned- away. (vs6) They "withdrew" (3:12). They "drew back" (10:38-39)
In simple English: They were Saved, and then Turned Away. There is no "if" (maybe) they did (or not). The statement is active. They were saved, and then -purposely- (actively) turned away. That's "who", "what" makes them who, and what they "did".
Such a person, the predicate now tells us: Such a person (who was saved AND THEN ALSO turned away) cannot be saved -again-. It is -impossible- to "renew" them to repentance. Repentance being the fundamental core of Salvation. (vs1) This puts the nails in the coffin of Nazarene doctrine where they are continually being saved, losing their salvation, going forward to be re-saved, losing, re-saved, etc.etc. over and over.
Salvation is a ONE-TIME-DEAL. Jesus died "once for all". (Rom6:10, Heb7:27,9:12) He did not "suffer often" but did so "once for all" (9:26)
That's what this immediate passage explains. To be re-saved would be the same as to "expose Him to public disgrace". (vs6b) To re-crucify Him.
This is what is SO WRONG about Babylon's doctrine of transubstantiation as they -continue- sacrifice of (what they call) Jesus in their eucharist, claiming that His wounds are "continually bleeding". They always depict him in the wretched state on the cross... not the Resurrected Lord in "victory". (1Co15:57) Same thing the Jews objected to, that the disciples "preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Ac4:2)
Now, to the OSAS crowd this next allegedly clinches their argument...
That's next lesson.
Holding Fast - (Hebrews 6:9-20)
You are still babies doctrinally and spiritually developmentally. You haven't done much growing. Are you getting tired of the struggle? Well, if you want to give up, you can do that...but if you do, you can't ever be saved again. God don't accept no quitters! If you quit, you're done! Make up your mind. But surely, you are not like that. Yes? Surely you are still "holding fast to salvation"? Yes? Even though I've just been bawling you out. (vs9b)
Perhaps, something like that?
Apparently there had been some "fruits" on their part. Their "labor of love" and "ministry". (vs10)
The Christian life requires "diligence" and "full assurance of hope unto the end" (vs11) Examples are given, of people to "imitate" who demonstrated "faith and patience" to "inherit the promises" (vs12) And gives the example of Abraham.
God promised Abraham a son. It was TEN YEARS before the promise was fulfilled. Did Abraham's faith stumble? Indeed. He listened to his wife and sired Ishmael through the servant woman. And for Abraham's lack of faith, Israel even today has troubles with their neighbors who wish to wipe them off the map, and lob continual barrages of rockets at them.
But even though history shows us his wavering, it says that he "patiently endured" and "obtained the promise" (vs15) Abraham never turned away from God. And as it says, "God is not unjust, to forget.." (vs10) God "swore by Himself" (vs13b) God also knows that "we are dust" (Ps103:14) He knows our frailties. Remember: that's one of the premises of Jesus' priesthood, in becoming "man"; He was "tempted as we are" (4:15) He knows our frame.
Man waffles, but God does not. God makes a promise, and swears by Himself. What God promises he is "able also to perform" (Rom4:21) Thus, the "security" of our Salvation is not in our own abilities, but the "love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom8:35-39) The surety of this is an...
Order of Melchizedek - (Hebrews 7:1-28)
Jacob calls Bethel the "house of God" (Ge28:17) There are some Jews and also Messianic 'christians' who expound on Jacob's vision of the angels coming and going on the ladder between Heaven and earth. They have created a fanciful supposition that there is a sort of heavenly 'vortex' where Jacob's "ladder" was; that this vortex is the connecting point between Heaven and earth; that all prayers to God pass through this vortex, and that all God's help to man is channeled through the vortex. So they assume that to be physically near this vortex is to be "closest to God" that is possible on this earth. But then, they also speak of this vortex as being focused on the Temple Mount at the spot where they presume the Holy of Holies was, where the Muslim Dome of the Rock now rests. Thing is, Bethel and Jerusalem are separated by some distance. They are not the same place. While we know that Jacob had a vision, and that location became a place they would resort to, to make sacrifice to God (Gen35); Jerusalem became the place for God's temple for Israel, after David conquered it (2Sam5), and purchased the Temple Mount area for sacrifice. (2Sam24) Jerusalem is the place over which the nations will grumble and quarrel. (Zec12:2-3) It is the place to which Messiah will come to reign. (Zec14:16) The Temple Mount is also traditionally presumed to be the place where Abraham took Isaac to offer him to God. (Ge22) Thus, Jerusalem has a long and special history between God and man.
Even though Melchizedek was likely a man, like any man, his existence in history is a 'type'. It does not say that he -was- the Son of God, but that he was made "like" the Son of God. (vs3) While he probably did have parents, we don't know who they were. Thus, figuratively, historically, it is for this discussion AS IF he didn't have parents. Nothing is recorded as to his birth or death; it's AS IF he was 'eternal'. Scripture records a few selected names here and there, like Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, etc. But between these millennia were many generations of people being born and dying. In Acts we know the names of the apostles, who, it records, went around establishing churches and appointing pastors. What were the names of all those pastors? We don't know. It was not recorded for us. In the same way, before Melchizedek there were likely priests and prophets, not recorded; and also since then. But Melchizedek happens to be recorded for his proximity to Abraham. And due to Abraham's fame, he also provides a 'type' for Jesus, our High Priest. We know nothing about him except his 'name'. We don't know which of the sons of Noah he hails from. Just... there he is... plopped into the middle of history.
On the other hand, the OT Israeli priesthood was very specific. Moses and Aaron were of the tribe of Levi. (vs5) The priesthood was passed down, father-to-son, generation after generation. By Law.
So, what is the relationship between Melchizedek and Levi? Who is better? Who is above the other?
Where did Levi come from? Is he not the seed of Abraham. And according to ancient tradition, the father is greater than those he sires. Thus Abraham is greater than Levi, even though the Levitical priests mediated between God and man.
But Melchizedek was not of Abraham's (Israel) seed. And furthermore, as "priest of the Most High God" (vs1) Abraham gives him a tithe. (Gen14) The one receiving the tithe is greater than the one giving it. And also, Melchizedek blessed Abraham. The one giving a blessing is greater than the one receiving. In other words, Melchizedek was 'greater' than Abraham; who in turn was greater than Levi.
Thus, the Melchizedek type was greater than the Levitical priesthood. And being without lineage, was also a picture of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not have an earthly father. Jesus did not come through the seed of the Levitical priesthood. Jesus' mother was of the lineage of Judah; not a priestly line. (vs14)
The order of Melchizedek was -different- from that of Levi. Figuratively it was also -better- than Levi. Both of these, types of the Priesthood that is Jesus Christ.
When Jesus came along, being 'better', the better priesthood replaces the inferior. The Levitical becomes "annulled"; it is wiped out. (vs18) It was based on Law, which was imperfect. (vs19)
And: "the wages of sin is death" (Rom6:23)
The New Covenant (to Israel) is...
But since Jesus, being God, His "years will not fail" (1:12); He is able to provide an "unchangeable priesthood"; He "continues forever" (vs24) His intercession is "forever" (vs25) It is not limited like the Levitical priesthood.
Being God, being sinless, Jesus does not need to make continual daily sacrifices for Himself. (vs27) He offered Himself "once for all". He proclaimed, "It has been finished" (Jn19:30) His priesthood has been ritually "perfected forever" (vs28) He is not limited by human infirmity. He is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" and is "higher than the heavens" (vs26)
The Aaronic priests were appointed without an oath. An oath being like a seal of a promise. God "with an oath" of promise appointed Jesus...
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ... For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom8:35,38-39)
Thus, "He is also able to save to the uttermost (ultimate Salvation) those who come to God through Him, since He lives forever to make intercession for them" (vs25)
Priest in Heaven - (Hebrews 8:1-13)
This present topic is at the root core and foundation of Eternal Salvation. Without these truths, Salvation would not exist. While Salvation, at the individual level, is attained through Repentance and Faith (Ac20:21); this that we are presently discussing is the Foundation to that, that which makes Repentance and Faith even possible. Remember? The "master's level" of understanding. "moving along to maturity" (6:1) Without the priesthood of Jesus Christ in Heaven, we would be eternally lost. While we use an expression like "master's level", for the one with understanding, the topic is actually quite simple. And if you are with understanding, it is like I suggested: perhaps 'redundant'. But there are those who do not understand. Some suggest that a mystical "mary" (Queen of Heaven) is co-redemptress. Others think that redemption comes through meditation and mysticism, as they make themselves into "deity". A lot of people are trying to get there "some other way" (Jn10:1) But Jesus is -the- Way, Truth and Life. "No one comes to the Father except through [Him]" (Jn14:6) There is NO OTHER WAY. (Ac4:12,10) And, Jesus -is- the "Way" through (because of) His Heavenly Priesthood. In a very real sense, for doctrinal teaching, Hebrews is -the- "bull's eye" of what Scripture is all about. Historically, it is Jesus on the cross, and then resurrected in the Gospels. Doctrinally, it is these chapters we are on right now in Hebrews. These chapters explain exactly what happened on the cross (Jn19:30), at the resurrection (Rom6:4), and then when Jesus ascended up to Heaven. (Ac1:9)
You see, Salvation is "not of [mans'] works" (Eph2:9)
Israel built a tabernacle in the wilderness, which remained in one form or another through David's reign. Then Solomon built a building of wood, stone and gold. The Levitical priesthood served in things pertaining to these man-made things. But they were a "copy and shadow" of the Heavenly. Moses was strictly warned, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain" (vs5) What was made by Moses and Solomon was a -copy- of the -real- in Heaven. In a sense (and please don't read anymore into this than the context suggests)... the Aaronic priests were -pretend- priests. Not the REAL THING. Theirs was a shadow-priesthood. They were merely 'pictures' of the REAL. Like the kitten that chases the shadow, but when it pounces, nothing is there. The Aaronic priesthood was a physical enactment to represent the heart of sinful man before God. And since Salvation has always been by -FAITH-, the "just lives by faith" (Hab2:4, Rom1:17, Heb10:38); even though the Aaronic priesthood was 'make-believe', being 'figurative' of the REAL in Heaven. It was all a 'type' of Jesus Christ.
But Jesus is seated at the Father's right hand, the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, and is priest of the -TRUE-TABERNACLE- built by God, not man. Jesus is the -real-, of which the Levitical was merely the -shadow-.
But all they understood was the -shadow-. The kitten never quite figures out that the person is holding the real -object-, moving against the light, creating the shadow it chases around. It cannot grab the shadow, play with it and bite and kick on it. But if it could grab the real object, then it could play with it. The shadow is lacking. Kitty needs the real object for real play; something, as the saying goes, it can "sink its teeth into".
"And it shall be in that day, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no longer be remembered, says Jehovah of Hosts. And I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land." (Zec13:2)
Earthly vs Heavenly - (Hebrews 9:1-28)
The earthly rituals were a "comparison". They illustrated how the performance of physical service could not do anything "in regard to the conscience" (vs9) Remember? Conscience is something God has put into the heart of each person, Jew or Gentile, as distinct from the Sinai Law. It has to do with the Law "written in the heart" (Rom2:15) But the killing of an animal, spilling the blood, roasting and boiling foods, pouring drink offerings... it's all "fleshly ordinance". A temporary (if you will) stop-gap "until the time when things were set right" (vs10)
What needed to be "set right"? What had been set wrong? God had created man in perfection...but he went the "wrong" way. All of humanity was thus corrupted. God promised the "Seed" of the woman (Gen3:15), which wouldn't be for another 4000 years. So, what to do until that time? These physical rituals were a "comparison" to the Heavenly. But they were merely a "shadow". (8:5) Physical ritual cannot cleanse the conscience within the heart. Just like all the pagan religions of the world perform rituals, but they are never sure if they have ever done "enough". That's because the earthly is only a 'type' of the Heavenly. What is needed is a clear conscience in Heaven, before God's throne, which no earthly ritual can provide. So...
Likewise, Salvation must be sourced from Heaven; some place other than sinful earth and from sinful man. That's where Jesus came from. He did not offer more animals, but His own "body" (10:5) "undefiled" (7:26) He offered "his own blood" and with His own blood "entered the Holy of Holies once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (vs12)
Again the comparison: If the blood of animals served for the flesh, "how much more" does the blood of Christ "cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (vs14)
Thus it is called a "new covenant" that He mediates. (vs15) Jesus said..
So as a side note here: If God placed His glory in that Holy of Holies behind the veil, such that, if people entered unworthily they were struck down; of what do you suppose is the grandeur of God's -very- presence in Heaven!
The pronouncement had been...
Heavenly Replaces Earthly - (Hebrews 10:1-18)
In a similar way, in the repeated offering of animals it was "not possible" to pay "in full" the debt of sin. (vs4) Every year the 'bill' came due as a "reminder of sins" (vs3)
Did God -want- all that killing of animals?
Jesus "takes away the first in order that He may establish the second" (vs9) Jesus came and took away the payment coupon book, and in its place gives the "paid in full" -Title-. If one has the Title, there is no more need for the payment coupons. That's why we no longer "keep the law".
Jesus, "this Man", took care of the debt "for all time" and then "sat down at the right hand of God" (vs12) To 'sit down' indicates that one's work is done, and now one can rest. Mediations are typically done as the parties are -sitting- next to each other. God is on the throne, Jesus is at His right hand...and as they observe humanity, Jesus can point to the Father the ones who in faith have received Him, and says, "That one is Mine...Yes, I paid for that one, too"
We've quoted it already, but this section closes with it. It is a different -kind- of covenant. The reason there is no more need for payment is because, when the debt is paid, the conscience is also cleared. And with a clear conscience, service to God is from the heart, not out of requirement. The conscience of debt is replaced with...
Bold Entrance - (Hebrews 10:19-25)
You see, the "new" way is that we no longer need to stand outside, while the priest goes in, and then comes back out. The High Priest, Jesus Christ, has already gone in. He is -there-. When we enter boldly, we are coming not only to the Father, but Jesus is there next to Him. If God's presence is 'fearful', we don't need to fear, because we know Jesus. Little children are typically fearful of walking out on a big stage surrounded by a huge audience. But like we have seen of the Obama girls, if 'dad' or 'mom' was on the stage, there was no trouble at all running out there eagerly. The audience ceases to be scary, because mom and dad are there. Right now it is the case that "No one has seen God at any time" But we know the "only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father" (Jn1:18) And so we are able to boldly enter the Holy of Holies, God's presence...to Jesus Christ.
Just as Salvation is an individual meeting with Jesus, so too is our entrance into the Holy of Holies. The conscience is an -individual- thing within one's own soul and spirit. The conscience is in direct relationship to the "accounting" we give before God. (Rom14:12) Notice it says that we "each" give account concerning "himself". That's singular. One person, each, alone before God.
In the same vein...
But we do not neglect fellow-believers.
So, what is the function when Believers are together? To "stir up" to Christian behavior. And what else. "Exhorting". What is it to exhort. A relative of "stir up": to urge by strong, often stirring argument, admonition, advice or appeal. Why? Because "Jesus is coming", the "Day" is approaching.
Where's the part about "fellowship" and "worship"? Hmmm... as I look it over, I seem to be missing those concepts, here.
What is the group -doing-? What has been the context for the past six chapters? Fellowship of Believers together WITH EACH OTHER? That is what those who twist this passage claim. What has been the context?
Jesus our High Priest. To what goal? To what end?
Entrance of the Believer into the Holy of Holies. The Believer's fellowship with Jesus Christ is for the purpose to have fellowship with the Father.
Fellowship with EACH OTHER is not nearly so big a deal, if we each, individually, are in fellowship in the Holy of Holies. If we are in fellowship with God, having a clear conscience and true heart, the fellowship with each other will be -automatic-. Jesus prayed for it. It is fact...
You see, it is not a matter of holding TO EACH OTHER. One person cannot save another. One person cannot lead another into the Holy of Holies. Only Jesus Christ can do that. That's why -He- is the High Priest. That is His 'job'.
We need to be "holding fast to the Head" (Col2:19) Jesus is the "Head of the Body, the church..." (vs18)
What is the hope? Jesus coming to redeem these bodies, and taking us into His presence. Scripture calls that event "the Day". If a group of people are insisting on sitting around fellowshiping and worshiping, but are not exhorting and stirring... they refuse to have "true hearts"... the 'Day' will come when they are "not expecting Him" (Mt24:50) and they will find themselves being "distanced from Him in shame at His coming" (1Jn2:28)
If a True Believer finds the group he has been fellowshiping with to be such a group, what should he do? Does he hold fast to the 'group', or does he hold fast to the "Head"? If the group is not in the Holy of Holies, he is outside of Jesus' fellowship. His conscience is compromised. They like to use this verse to strong-arm people into staying with -them-, no-matter-what. But there are also times, when the group is not in the Holy of Holies, that the individual needs to obey the command to...
No More Excuses - (Hebrews 10:26-39)
This is a similar scenario that Ezekiel outlines. The "righteous" man who -turns- from his righteousness to again become a sinner. (Ezk18:24-26, 33:12-18)
This is 'active' voice. The person sins "willfully"...not in ignorance, after having received the Truth. Jesus -is- the "Truth". (Jn14:6) It is that about which Jesus said...
This is the same place where satan was as the "anointed cherub that covers" (Ezk28:14) He -was- the (real) cherub overshadowing the Mercy Seat. He was -in- the Holy of Holies with God. And then "sinned willfully" by boasting, "I will be like the Most High" (Is14:14) [See: "Treason"]
Of him it is proclaimed, "Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the recesses of the Pit." (vs15) to the place that was "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Mt25:41)
Satan cannot be "saved". He was there, in God's presence. Now, while Jesus died on the cross for sinful man; if the sinner comes to God in repentance and comes to full knowledge and fellowship in the Holy of Holies, and then does like satan did; like satan... he is done for. There is no more sacrifice for sins. Jesus died "once for all". If the sinner is saved, and then rejects salvation once received, Jesus does not go to the cross -again-.
Under the 'shadow' of the Heavenly things, those who sinned were taken out and stoned to death "without mercy" (vs28) If that was the case under the 'shadow', what is the case for the 'real'?
And notice it says He punishes "His people". No, not a misprint. In the beginning was not satan part of God's "people". One of His created beings. Part of the crowd called the "morning stars" and "sons of God" (Job38:7) But when he became satan, his judgment is certain and irrevocable. Those claiming participation in the Salvation of Jesus Christ, and understanding fully what they have done, but then turn away...as we saw a few lessons ago: It is "impossible...to renew them to repentance" (6:4,6)
And so the exhortation to "-REMEMBER- the former days in which, after you were given understanding, you endured a great struggle with afflictions" (vs32)
Jesus promised, "In the world you have affliction" (Jn16:33) He promised that much of it would come from the synagogue rulers. (If you will: churches and pastors) (Jn16:2) When a sinner comes to God through Jesus Christ, the enemy will come along to 'test'. A True Believer will "endure" and see it through. The Believer will "hold fast to Salvation" (6:9) A True Believer will see the suffering of fellow-believers and have compassion on each other. (vs34) And as we will see in more depth next chapter, those who through Faith continue to the end will "receive the promise" (vs36) And even though it is a struggle while in the midst of it, the encouragement is that Jesus -will- return...
In the same vein, neither do we enter the fight and then "draw back". The "just shall live by faith" (vs38) Next chapter. Faith is not merely that we -have- faith. But faith is also in God's preservation.
Hopefully it can be said of you...
Faith - (Hebrews 11:1-40)
Jesus said... "Have faith in God" (Mk11:22)
And then goes on to describe such faith...
And our opening words say that by faith the "elders bore witness". The chapter also closes with the statement that...
What does it mean to "bear witness"? It is usually thought of as being an -observer-. But quite often, when a person -witnesses- something, they also WENT THROUGH IT. They witnessed it as -participants-. Such as a witness to an earthquake: the building was shaking as they ran outside to safety; or got trapped in the rubble and were rescued.
But how do people bear witness to faith? Can a person -see- inside another person's mind and heart? Faith is witnessed in -action-. As Jacob explains...
The first item of faith is...
That is the second item of faith: -THAT- God exists. (vs6)
If a person doesn't hold to that tenet, the whole rest of this book is meaningless. If we have progressed to the Holy of Holies, following Jesus into God's presence; such "master's level" of understanding presumes how the book started: that Jesus is the "express image" of God. But if God doesn't exist (vs6), then neither does Jesus Christ. And if Jesus doesn't exist, there is also no Holy of Holies. There is no Salvation. We are "most pitiable" for our foolishness. (1Co15:19)
As Paul introduces the gentiles to the "Unknown God", he does so with a recap of creation...
How does a Believer give witness to a changed life? By -living- a changed life. How does anybody else know the life is changed, unless they can -see- the change? They don't have faith. They do not have the "witness" of the Holy Spirit in the Believer. (Rom8:16)
One of the ways the world sees is that the Believer puts away the filth of the world, and no longer engages in it...
"But now you yourselves are to PUT OFF ALL THESE: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth." (Col3:8)
And indeed, the rest of the chapter summarizes the faith of those who gave their own lives for their testimony; often in horrendous torturous ways.
What would cause somebody to endure such tortures and be killed, unless they knew "something" their killers did not! Even though they "did not obtain the promise" (vs39) they -knew- with "certainty" (vs1) that a "homeland" (vs14) awaited them. And so, as the world observes the steadfastness of the one dying, knowing their own predilection for "life", such a willingness to undergo such excruciations surely -must- indicate a reality they are not aware of. How many people have been saved throughout history when observing the "death of His saints" (Ps116:15)
No! Testimony to the world is not achieved by being -like- the world, and embracing the world's demonic filth, and calling it "worship". It is by standing up to and against the world, being holy unto God, being distinct, being "Godly in the present age" (Tit2:12) Also, when called, to endure "affliction" (Jn16:33), not being like the "stony ground" seed that...
True Faith is not a -feeling-, but rather the outcome of...
"Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you." (Tit2:11-15)
Perseverance - (Hebrews 12:1-4)
And in another sense, if we consider that "we shall not all sleep" (1Co15:51), perhaps this cloud also includes any other Believer, who might be alive, who is not us individually? In other words, as we consider this passage, each of us -individually-, might this cloud also include anybody -else- who knows the Lord? This might not be the original intent when written, but I suspect such an application could be made, as we continue, seeing what it says. Not every -witness- was martyred, but experienced struggles. Those same struggles of Faith are going on even today amongst our brethren. (1Pt5:9)
Perhaps this "cloud" also explains who the "great multitude" is?
So... since we are surrounded by this cloud of witnesses, now what? Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Let's all dance and worship together?? No!
Two things: 1) Get rid of any sin that keeps pestering us, and 2) Persevere in the race that we are in.
#1 is, by definition, Holiness. This is pretty much in stark contrast to what the emerging church has been doing all the last century. The further back one goes, the more of a sense of 'separation' from the world was understood. As the decades progressed, especially the past half-century, standards have laxed and laxed, at almost an exponential rate of acceleration. Today, that which calls itself "church" pretty much has NO STANDARDS of holiness! The psalmist speaks of having been pulled out of the "horrible pit, out of the miry clay" (Ps40:2); but what calls itself "church" today is sloshing around in the muck and mire, claiming it is doing so in order to "-relate- to" the world. Yes, they "relate" as being 'one -with-' the world! The old "unity in diversity" argument.
Thing is, we have not been called to lounge around "feeling the love" as TV's Meredith Vieira likes to swoon, but we are in a race. Sin is trying to overtake us. We are supposed to be running -away- from it. When athletes race, they design attire with the least possible wind 'drag'. If they need to wear helmets, those are designed aerodynamically. They don't spend their time turning around looking back at what they have left. As Paul says,
As we are running, do we "play to the crowds"? No! We are "looking unto Jesus". This little phrase is how I typically close e-mails with people. A lot of what the Lord requires of me to say is not always accepted by the recipient. It is not -my- message. It is -God's- Word. I am merely a messenger. They may disagree or retort back with nastiness. Such used to bother me when I was younger, when I was seeking the approval of man. At the time I didn't yet understand that -most- of those calling themselves "christian" were NOT part of the grandstands. They were not part of the "cloud of witnesses". I was trying to look to Jesus, but was also distracted by the taunts of words: So you think that -you- are right, and -ALL- of us are wrong??!!
But when we look to Jesus, we...
Discipline - (Hebrews 12:5-13)
Well, let me tell you. Anybody hearing the commotion would have thought the dad was abusing the kid...even 'killing' him by slow torture. I've never (ever) before heard such screaming, anywhere. He was squalling 10 times worse than a cat yowls when being given a bath. The dad would tell the boy to "Sshhh! Be quiet... Stop yelling... Shut Up!" The more the dad yelled, the louder the boy screamed...'bloody murder'. One thing I did not hear was a "Smack!" ...nor the suggestion or threat of one. I still can remember back to when I was a little tyke...if I had raised such a commotion, my dad would have suggested in a calm voice: "Do you need something to cry about?" That would shut me -right- up. Apparently there must have been some prior incident/s, that I no longer remember, where I had not shut up, and had been smacked..?
Of course we can quote...
When teaching a dog to "heel", and it wants to sniff the air and go to investigate everything, sometimes the leash needs to be yanked. To make a horse go where desired, the bit puts (uncomfortable) pressure in the horse's mouth; they would also often put blinders so the horse would not be distracted by things from the side, but only look straight ahead. Where they use oxen for field work or other labor, the ring in the ox's snout provides similar 'persuasion' for the ox to obey. A race horse is often whipped to give it a bit of added 'incentive' to go faster.
Remember? We are running the "race that is set before us" (vs1) We need incentives. We need course-corrections. Depending on the severity of our waywardness, to such a degree is the discipline. Discipline is not always punitive, for having done 'wrong'; but might be incentive, to 'get going'. In other cases, it might be punishment.
Corinth was so carnal, they were abusing the Lord's Supper, and the Lord disciplined them with illness and death. (1Co11:30) Death? Yes. As in that other place...
You see... this business we speak of regularly, coming apart from the filth of the world, and churches not embracing the world's ways... is SERIOUS BUSINESS. God does not play around. God is HOLY and He guards His holiness with extreme jealousy.
In God's economy, things do not change. God does not change. (Mal3:6) His standards of holiness have remained the same; they -are- the same. The Law had rituals, which pointed to Christ. (Ga3:24) But now that we no longer offer sacrifices, does not mean we start sinning again, because we don't offer sacrifices. Contrariwise, if we understand what we've been studying up to this point, we should be -more- diligent to be holy... to keep pure. To "keep yourselves away from idols" (1Jn5:21)
But where we slip, the Lord gives us 'reminders'. "reasons" to behave. Sickness, economic misfortune, debilitating accident, etc. Paul was given a "thorn in the flesh" to help curb his pride. (2Co12:7) He gives us each in this way, according to our tendencies and needs. When such is the case, it is not a "cross" (that I must bear...poor me, poor me). Such people are not learning...and we often observe them, continually ill and complaining.
The exhortation is to...
So you see...when we misbehave, the Lord brings adversity. When we confess, He removes the adversity.
But how do we "lift" the hands? How do we strengthen the feeble knees? By confessing our sin. We do not grab the bit in our mouth and plow ahead down the wrong path -ANYWAY-. We follow a straight path... Looking unto Jesus. We see Jesus, and go -toward- Him...not meandering all over the countryside, smelling this flower, picking that one...la dee dah; as Jesus is calling to us, and we ignore Him!
Don't Turn Away - (Hebrews 12:14-29)
But so-called "christian" Bible studies did the same thing. Read the Bible, see what it says... now: What does it mean to you? And so all sorts of ideas get "shared". The world's permissiveness interjected into God's Word, mushed around. The Thesis of God's Word, the Antithesis of the world... mush it around and arrive at Consensus; what I have come to understand in the years since, as being the Dialectic model. I was -in- those Bible 'studies', seeing it happen and knowing it was wrong, before I knew the term Dialectic, and that it was a socialist agenda and methodology.
The world was talking "peace", and -christians- were talking "love". The world's "love" was not love at all, but "free sex". But the christian thing that corresponded to the world's "peace" was "love". Jesus was quoted a lot during those days...
The apostasy says, Peace and Immorality. Peace and Perversity. Peace and Lying. Peace and -whatever- other swill you wish to compromise and claim is "OK". Dialectic...Consensus. Don't tell anybody they are wrong. Don't judge. Accept everybody "as they are", because after all God accepts us "just as we are".
Holiness is the direct opposite of that. Where consensus welcomes everything with open arms, Holiness PUSHES AWAY. Consensus 'hugs' everybody. Holiness keeps aloof. Consensus 'accepts'. Holiness 'rejects'.
So, if the Believer is pushing away, how is peace achieved? It's somewhat related to the old Reagan Doctrine (I wonder if Sarah Palin knows this one?): "Trust but Verify". You say you are destroying certain types of weapons? We believe you, but let's have a panel of people whose job it is to go in and take a count. See what the -facts- are. Keep everybody honest.
Sin "defiles" (vs15b) A person who wishes to compromise away his life might as well be like Esau. With no concerns he gave away his birthright for a measly bowl of stew. And it was not God's irresistible sovereignty that made him such. It was not that Esau had NO CHOICE when he rejected God. God made known His foreknowledge when the two were in the womb
By birth, Esau -was- the "heir". It was -already- his. But he gave it away. He did not "lose" it. He -gave- it away. And he "found no place for repentance" (vs17)
In the wilderness at Sinai God revealed Himself in a way that made everyone shudder and cower away in fear. Even Moses was "in terror and trembling" (vs21) But for as fearsome as that was, that was part of the aforementioned "shadow". What we face is so much more than that was. When John saw Jesus, he "fell at His feet as dead" (Re1:17)
We do not face thunders, earthquakes and darkness, but (read it) Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, the host of the angels, and those who have gone before...those "witnesses" we have already spoken of. We are not in some wilderness on the Sinai Penninsula, but headed to Heaven itself.
When God spoke in the wilderness Israel, of whom it was said that "with most of them God was not well pleased" (1Co10:5), they cowered away and requested that God -NOT- speak to them, but that He should speak to Moses, and they would listen to Moses. God responded...
The exhortation to us is...
Conduct - (Hebrews 13:1-8,16-25)
You see... the Christian life is not about 'lists'. Do this, do that, don't do this, or don't do that. And those of the liberal bent usually taunt those who seek to live holy lives that, "You just can't do anything!" As though the lists were all about "don'ts".
If a Believer is truly living a holy life, we are possessed of conscience. Even without a Bible, the unregenerate know what is good and bad. (Rom2:15) Thus, so much more, a Believer who knows the Lord, knows the Word, and understands doctrine... Well... what was the question? Particularly this book, which talks about Jesus our High Priest; as we grow in understanding about entering the Holy of Holies... again... What was the question?
It's like I've suggested on some other occasions: For those who claim to "not be sure" what is right or wrong, in terms of those things they like to wrangle over, of worldliness vs holiness; I've suggested that, if such a person suddenly found themself in Jesus' physical presence, they were looking Jesus in the face: I submit to anybody willing to hear... THERE WOULD BE NO QUESTION in their minds as to what was right or wrong behavior. In their heart, in their conscience, THEY -KNOW-. When they claim to not know, they are covering for secret desires to be naughty, which they consider to be "fun". But if they were in what they could observe as God's 'presence'...they would suddenly be devoid of any questions and doubts. This book has spoken of "conscience" quite a few times. (9:9, 9:14, 10:22)
This book covers doctrine in a way that none of the others do. It takes the Believer -into- the Holy of Holies. Thus, it is not very 'necessary' to enumerate very much on specifics of behavior. A Believer who is ordering a holy life... -KNOWS-. However, there are a couple of things of which to be reminded.
Brotherly love. (vs1) Of course. A close relative: hospitality. (vs2) As being part of the body, when others are suffering, we remember them. (vs3)
Nothing wrong with the marriage bed. God made it, He designed it, and Paul says to "not deprive one another..." (1Co7:5a) But any sort of sexual perversity receives judgment. (vs4) And this is worth noting, because of all the things mankind might slip on, this is likely the most prevalent. It seems to be -the- #1 perversion over which society is militant about. It drives commercials, it is the basis for that which is called "entertainment", and so much of society thinks they must get themselves up to appear as whores, even in everyday life. That to be accepted, they must be slutty. So... beware!
Be content in the state you are in. (vs5) Paul says...
"Obey those in authority over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.(vs17)
But there is a special place of honor for those who minister the Word. When vs7 says "remember", that is a word saying "support". As Paul speaks of "double honor" in relationship to being "worthy of his wages" (1Ti5:17-18) And when vs17 speaks of submission, note that that is in the context of also "observing their behavior". If somebody in a position as pastor is also corrupt, God does not establish a "chain-of-command" such that, if they lead in apostasy, the 'laity' are supposed to obey in the apostasy. One of the things that keeps these bad people going is that they stand on their 'position', and since "the Bible says" that they are "rulers" (kjv), everybody must obey them blindly. And so, sometimes, the righteous are afraid to disobey their false ways, for fear of disobeying the imagined "chain-of-command" principle. The "obedience" (vs17) is to "imitate their faith" (vs7) As they proclaim from the Word, "This is the way, walk in it" (Is30:21), they should also be able, as they -lead-, to say, as Paul did,
We cannot get into the Holy of Holies with sin. The pastor's job is not to cajole and make the people -feel- 'good', CONDONING THEIR SIN, and building up their self-esteem. No! His job is to grab shoulders, shake people: Listen to me! This is God's Word. Obey it. Cleanse your lives. This is the way into the Holy of Holies. I'm going there. Who will follow and imitate me?
When we enter the Holy of Holies, we will "be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" Therefore, what? Let's rejoice, praise the Lord, and dance around to happy "worship" music? No! No! No!
Doctrine - (Hebrews 13:9-15)
However, in fulfilling the Law, Jesus did as the OT sacrifices. Once the animals had been offered, their ashes were carried outside the camp. Thus, to fulfill that type, Jesus also "suffered outside the gate" (vs12) The outside ash heap was a place of uncleanness. Jesus made Himself unclean, in order to cleanse us from all sin.
No... you will not likely find much of anybody singing this song anymore. It does not fit the modern sensuous self-esteem rock-n-roll party model.
If you are tempted to look back "remember Lot's wife" (Lk17:32) When she yearned for home (perhaps the daughters that refused to escape with them? Ge19:14) in the middle of sin, she died in the destruction.
"...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Rom10:9-10)
But as those who "now have mercy", the Church is to
"Let your light so shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." (Mt5:16)