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Hebrews- Text

HEBREWS commentary copyright 2007 John Chiarello http://www.copruschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com P.O. box 181256 C.C. Tx. 78480
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INTRODUCTION:

I have been wanting to overview this book for a long time. I believe there are a lot of misconceptions from Hebrews. Often time’s modern translations take older books of the Bible and want to make them relevant for our day. This can be both good and bad.

I like the message Bible, but for in depth study it doesn’t really work. There are certain things that must be interpreted in context of the time and place when the book was written. Hebrews is one of the most important New Testament books to ‘read in context’. I wont go over every verse in this short commentary, I will hit the high points of various chapters and try to show you what I mean by ‘reading it in context’.

I believe it is possible that this book was Paul’s ‘open letter’ to the first century Jewish community, this is quite possibly why it goes unsigned. The ‘Judaizers’ had so polluted the minds of their fellow Jews against Paul ‘he speaks against Moses and our law’ type thing, that if Paul signed this letter, there would be little chance that the intended audience would read it!

If you read a book on auto mechanics, and tried to make it relevant for the human body, it wouldn’t work. For instance if you spoke on the engine of a car, and then tried to ‘translate’ that and equate it with the human heart, you would have problems. But if you left it in context and then applied the concept of maintenance and the need for clean fuel lines, and then applied it to the human need for clean arteries, well then that would be OK.

So I believe when we read Hebrews, and don’t try to make it ‘fit’ Gentile believers, then it works. You still get great principles from the ‘manual’, but you understand that it is not speaking directly to the Gentile church. God bless you guys, I hope you get something from it. John.

CHAPTER 1:

‘God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds’ Many years ago when I was going to a fundamental Baptist Church, they would interpret this passage in a ‘cessationist’ way. They would say because God says in the past he spoke by prophets, but now by his Son. That this means he doesn’t speak thru Prophets any more. The Prophets here are Old Testament voices. In Ephesians it says after Jesus ascended up on high he gave gifts unto men, some Apostles, some Prophets, etc. The fact that Jesus made Prophets after the ascension teaches us that there were to be a whole new class of New Testament Prophets that were different from the old. I find it strange to believe that Jesus would create a whole new class of gifts, and then take them away as soon as the Bible is complete. Why would Paul give instruction in the New Testament on how Prophets would operate [Corinthians] and then to say ‘as soon as this letter is canonized with the others, all this instruction will be useless’ it just doesn’t seem right.

The reason Paul is saying in the past God used Prophets, but today his Son. Paul is showing that the Jewish Old testament was a real communication from God to man. But in this dispensation of Grace, God is speaking the realities that the Prophets were looking to. Paul is saying ‘thank God for the Old Jewish books and law, they point to something, his name is Jesus’! The Prophets [Old Testament] served a purpose; they brought us from the shadows to the present time [1st century] now lets move on into the reality. Now you must see and hear the Son in these last days. ‘Who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person…when he by himself purged our sins SAT DOWN on the right hand of the majesty on high’ here we are at the beginning stages of themes that we will see later in the letter. The significance of Jesus ‘sitting down’ will be contrasted with the Old testament priests ‘standing up’. Paul [for the record I think Paul wrote this letter, from here on I will probably just refer to the writer as Paul] will teach that the ‘standing up’ of the Levitical Priests represented an ‘incomplete priesthood’ the reason Jesus sat down was because there would be no more sacrifice, and no more priesthood made up of many priests who would die year after year. This doesn’t mean there would be no more New Testament priests as believers, but that there would be no more Old Testament system. Paul will find spiritual truths like this all thru out the Old Testament.

Some theologians feel that Paul is a little too loose with these free comparisons that he seems to ‘pull out of the hat’, for the believer who holds to the canon of scripture, it is the Word of God. ‘Being made so much better than the angels…but unto the Son he saith “thy throne O God is forever and ever, a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy Kingdom”. Here Paul introduces another theme that will be seen thru out this letter. The superiority of Jesus over angels. Why is this important? Most believers know that Jesus is greater than angels, don’t they? Here we see why context is important to understand this letter. In Jewish tradition it is believed that the law was given to Moses by God thru the mediation of angels. Some say ‘well, we don’t use Jewish tradition, we use scripture’. First, Paul used anything he could to win the argument. Second, if we believe Hebrews is an inspired book, then when we read later on that the law given thru angels received a recompense if broken, then right here you have scripture [Hebrews] testifying that God did use angels to ‘transmit’ the law to some degree. Now, why is it important for gentiles to see this? Well it really isn’t! But it is vital for a first century Jew to see it. If Paul can show that Jesus is greater than the angels, then he is beginning to make the argument that the New Covenant is greater than the Old.

Here is the context. Moses law is highly revered in the first century Jewish community, so here Paul says ‘how much better is the law/word given to us from Gods Son’. Since Jesus is much better than the angels, therefore pay closer attention to the words spoken thru Gods Son, he is greater than the angels! ‘But to which of the angels said he “sit at my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool” we end chapter one with the theme of Jesus being better than the angels, yet in chapter 2 something funny happens, Paul will make the argument of Jesus being “a little lower than the angels” lets see what this means.

CHAPTER 2:

‘Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at anytime we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation that was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by them that heard him’. Now, we see the contrast. If the word spoken ‘by angels’ [law] was so strict in judgment, then how much more will God hold responsible those who reject the word spoken by the Son [gospel], being he is so much better than the angels? This is the theme taught in chapter one. That’s why chapter 2 starts with ‘therefore’ he is saying because of all this truth of the superiority of Jesus to angels, don’t reject the word of the Son! Also now we begin to see context. The ‘not neglecting so great salvation’ is really speaking to Israel [Hebrews]. It is not telling believers not to neglect salvation or they will be lost, it is telling first century Israel if you reject/neglect this true gospel of Jesus as Messiah, then YOU will be lost.

Many of the verses thru out this study will begin to make a lot of sense when taken in context. We will do much more of this in the coming chapters. ‘Thou madest him a little lower than the angels, thou crownest him with glory’ ‘thou hast put all things under his feet’ ‘we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man’. Now we see the doctrine of Jesus being made lower than the angels. Does this contradict chapter one? No! He was first made ‘lower’ [became a man and humbled himself more than any other man-Philippians] and for this reason God gave him the highest position at his right hand. He was made lower so he could ‘taste death for every man’ here Paul gets right into the central message of the gospel, that he will spend the rest of this letter explaining. He realizes that 1st century Israel must transition into the death and resurrection of Jesus. He doesn’t take the common evangelical approach to Israel, which seems to defend and extol her on a regular basis. Paul sees her ‘lost ness’ and makes every effort to bring her into the gospel. Jesus died for EVERY man, Israel, so you too must transition into this one new man that he desires to create.

‘For as much than as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also likewise took part of the same, that thru death he might DESTROY him who had the power of death, that is the devil: and deliver them who thru fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’ did you know that Jesus already destroyed the devil? The greatest act of deliverance and redemption that will ever take place, already took place! Evangelicals can be notorious for looking to the 2nd coming as an ‘escape hatch’. Sometimes the 2nd coming is looked to as the event that ‘destroys the devil’ sorry, but he has already been destroyed. Now there definitely will be a future aspect to his final judgment, but its inevitability is sealed by the fact of the death and resurrection of the Son of God!

These verses also say that Jesus delivered us from him who had the power of death, that is the devil. Jesus taught in the gospels that God had the power to take life or spare it. Fear God. Then how can the devil have ‘the power of death’. The devil has used death as a ‘sword of Damocles’ over the heads of people. He works thru intimidation. How many people live their whole lives in fear of getting cancer, or some other disease? They often go to extreme lengths to do all they can to avoid death. This type of self survival can be obsessive. People will run back and forth on hopes of escaping some sickness. The devil often accuses people ‘you have this sickness’ or ‘you might get it’. He had ‘power’ thru deception. He knew man did sin, and one of the prices for sin was death. So the enemy constantly accuses the saints. And one of his main weapons is ‘you will die because of what you did’. Jesus dealt with this ultimate fear thru tasting death himself and coming thru the other side. This is why Peter was so eager to go thru death after he saw Jesus do it. Peter was such a chicken before, that he would deny he even knew Jesus, to a girl, just to save his skin. After the resurrection, it was all over! They were convinced that death had no more power over them. They would die someday, but it wasn’t the final curtain.

‘Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to help them that are tempted’ One of the other reasons why Jesus took on flesh was so he could empathize with man. Paul wrote the Corinthians and told them that the things that they suffered were for a purpose. The purpose was that after they went thru stuff, God would show them comfort. They then would be able to comfort others with the same comfort that God showed them. Later in Hebrews we also read that every priest taken from men had infirmity. Therefore he could identify with man.

We will also read that Jesus was in all points tempted like us. So here we see that Jesus incarnation allowed him to identify with man and to be faithful to have compassion and understanding with mans weakness. Often times in Christianity you will have well meaning ministers give up on the addict. A lot of times you hear ‘well, if they were serious about God they would do right’ or ‘if they only made a quality decision at the altar’ and things of this nature. Often times those who have not been thru addiction cannot really understand the life of a person who will steal from his own family, go to prison, lose everything he has ever earned. And then get out after 10 years and do it all again! Jesus had compassion because he walked in our shoes. He knew the terrible draw of sin and temptation, and he asks us to come to him for help because he knows what the struggles are like.

CHAPTER 3:

‘Wherefore HOLY BRETHREN, partakers of the heavenly calling’ I want to submit to you that these terms found thru out Hebrews are really speaking of the privileged position of the 1st century Jew before his final rejection of Messiah as a nation. Most times we read these verses and debate whether it is speaking of someone who is ‘saved’ or not. Later we will see this in chapter 6 ‘those who were once enlightened and partakers of the Holy Ghost’ all these terms can apply to Israel as Gods peculiar people and chosen nation. I feel Paul is still addressing them this way because they are still in a transition stage in the 1st century. There is still hope that they will receive Messiah as a nation. All these terms are referring to Israel as being Gods special people who came for a special purpose. Ultimately they will not live up to this calling [yet!] because they will reject Jesus as a nation, though there will be a remnant of Jews who will believe. So as we read thru out Hebrews we will look at all these privileged expressions as speaking of Israel as Gods special nation.

This will clear up the arguments that many believers have over portions of this letter. ‘Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus…and Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things that would come later…but Christ as a Son over his own house WHO’S HOUSE ARE WE if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of hope firm unto the end’ a main theme from Paul is to compare Moses and Jesus. Paul will take lots of Old testament verses and quote them in this letter. I believe more than any other New Testament letter. He quotes them freely, not even giving the chapter and verse, he says ‘somewhere it is said’ and then goes right into it. Sort of like what I do on my blog! The point is Paul is seeing so many shadows of the Old Testament fulfilled thru Christ that his mind is exploding in revelation. It is almost like he can’t stop proving this point. Jesus is seen all thru out the Old Testament and Paul is obsessed with showing this to the first century Jew, his own cultural family. He says in Romans that he would be cursed himself if he knew it would open the eyes of his nation. Paul also reveals that Israel can become this house, if she ‘holds on to the end’. We will read stuff like this a lot in Hebrews. This causes some to read the letter as in if Paul were writing Christians.

Jesus taught in John 15 that the branches would be cut off that would not bring fruit. Paul also said that Israel, the natural branches, were cut off so we [gentiles] would be grafted in. These terms of ‘holding on, staying steadfast’ can be applied to Israel in the sense that Paul is pleading ‘you have a few thousand year history with God. God has sent you prophets and anointed your kings with his Spirit [by the way this is why in chapter 6 it will say those who were once enlightened by the Spirit and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost- no other nation on earth had the Spirit of God actively administrating their government like Israel- the argument isn’t whether it’s talking about people who were ‘truly saved’ or not!] you, Israel, have been walking with him for a long time, DON’T FALL AWAY NOW!’ So in context the ‘holding on’ can describe the transition stage. Don’t fall away after all these years of waiting for Messiah as a national hope and promise. You will see Paul use this argument in Acts when he says ‘you guys are accusing me of heresy, and I am just preaching the fulfillment of the promise that our fathers have been waiting for, for over thousands of years’.

‘Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost says, today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me and saw my works FORTY YEARS… so I sware in my wrath they shall not enter into my rest’ Now, a common theme is to teach that Christians cant get the promised land because they don’t have faith. It is taught that Israel in the wilderness are a type of believers and to get the promise you must believe. While all this can be true, this is not the context in Hebrews. Paul is trying to get Israel to BELIEVE in Christ for righteousness, as opposed to her trying to work for it [Romans 9-10].

Paul sees the story of Israel not entering into the Promised Land as an example of the danger of not entering into the new covenant by failing to believe in Jesus and be justified by faith. He will later do this in chapter 11, the great faith chapter. He will show Israel how all of her Patriarchs received A GOOD REPORT [justified] by faith. I will explain it when I get there. So keep in mind that Israel in the wilderness is a type of Israel in the first century, and Paul is trying to tell them ‘just like our fore fathers couldn’t get into the promised land because of UNBELIEF, so too you are in danger of stumbling over the righteousness of God which is by faith, not of works!’ I also find it interesting that Paul includes the 40 year period of judgment. It was around 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus until the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

It was a prophetic sign, a sort of probationary period for Israel as a nation. It was like God said ‘40 years are now up, the temple is going to be destroyed just like my Son said, those who haven’t moved on and made the transition into the ‘new temple’ are now being judged’. Israel hasn’t had true temple worship since! ‘Wherefore the Holy Ghost saith, today if you will hear his voice harden not your hearts [as opposed to the voice of Moses which is the law] as in the provocation, the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me and saw my works FORTY years…so I sware in my wrath they shall not enter into my rest, take heed brethren [fellow Jews] lest there be in any of you AN EVIL HEART OF UNBELIEF IN DEPARTING FROM THE LIVING GOD’ We are going to enter a theme that speaks of Israel not entering Gods true rest because of unbelief, not because of a lack of works [law].

The apostle will begin to use the story of Joshua entering into the Promised Land as a story of Jesus [which the Old Testament translation of Joshua means Jesus] and his offering true rest [grace] to 1st century Israel. The fact is the only ones who entered in were the ones who believed. The unbelievers [all the adults except for Joshua and Caleb] all died out over a 40 year period in the wilderness. Just like many of the first century Jews would reject Messiah for 40 years until the destruction of their temple. Jesus said we must become like little children to inherit Gods Kingdom. The children of the older generation entered into the Promised Land, the parents died. Why did they die Paul? Was it because they didn’t have the law or do ‘works’? NO! They died because of unbelief. Paul is stressing that the 1st century Jew is also in danger of ‘not entering into rest [grace] because of unbelief’. We often read these verses applying them to Christians, which is OK. But when you read them in context, then you see the real meaning. This will help later when we read others passages. We wont argue over Arminian or Calvinistic interpretations of stuff, we will see that neither one is right as it pertains to certain portions of this letter. ‘And to whom sware he that they should not enter into rest, but to them THAT BELIEVED NOT, SO WE SEE THAT THEY COULD NOT ENETR IN BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF’ Do you see the significance of this argument? Brilliant Paul is using all of these well known Old Testament stories to convince Israel that they must believe [justification by faith] in order to ‘inherit the land’ [the promise of eternal life]. This is the whole context of Hebrews. That’s why when modern preachers use all these verses to say you must believe to get material things, that they are way off the mark. It is true that faith does obtain things. And when we believe God for healing and finances and answers to prayer that it is vital to believe. But so many modern teachers have taught these promises as getting stuff, while in context you begin to see the true meaning.

CHAPTER 4:

‘Let us therefore fear [Jews in the first century, not Christians in the 21st century! At least in this context] lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest [now defined as the New Covenant rest. Paul is telling Israel God has left you a promise of rest in Messiah, where you will cease from your own works [law], beware Israel, our forefathers missed out on the promise because of unbelief, don’t do the same!] any of you should come short of it, for unto us was the gospel preached [1st century Israel] as well as unto them [Israel at the edge of entering the promised land had the gospel [good news] preached to them by Joshua and Caleb, they gave the ‘good report’ that the land was great and it was there for the taking, of course they didn’t believe and therefore couldn’t take it] but the word did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

For WE WHICH HAVE BELEIVED [the remnant of Jews who were believing in the first century were entering into the rest of the New Covenant of grace, they left off trying to be made righteous by the law, they ceased from their own works] do enter into rest…for he spake in a certain place of the 7th day on this wise, and God did rest the 7th day from all his works, and again, if they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it still remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again he limits a certain day in David [Psalms] today if you will HEAR HIS VOICE [as opposed to the voice of the law/Moses] harden not your hearts. For if Joshua [my king James says ‘Jesus’ this is because the translation is the same] had given them rest then he would not have spoken of another day, there remaineth therefore a rest TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD! [Jewish people ‘of God’ not gentile converts!]. Well, we covered a lot here. Paul takes the creation account, the verses that will later speak of a future rest for Gods people, and then a verse from Psalms where David prophesies that there still remains a future rest. He puts them all together to show Israel that God has ordained a future ‘7th day’ for his people to enter into. He uses the 7th day as a symbol of Gods ‘day of Grace and rest’.

He then shows Israel that it really wasn’t speaking of the rest of the Promised Land after all, because eventually Israel did inherit it, but yet David still spoke of it in the future tense. So Paul concludes that the future rest of the 7th day that ‘Gods people’ [Jews] still must enter is the offer of grace to the 1st century Jew. Wow! This is why some theologians feel Paul was a little too loose with the scriptures. I think this stuff is great! Paul basically was using all of his understanding as a first century theologian [Pharisee] and was absolutely proving Christ to Israel in a way that none of the other Apostles could do. He was the only Pharisee out of all the Apostles, one born out of due time. This is obviously why Jesus chose him. It is so important to see the connections that Paul is making here. If Israel were following the timeline that Paul is giving, they will see that their own Old Testament scriptures testify that there was a future ‘place of rest’ that would be offered to them as a nation.

And Paul also shows that in history, Israel had a pattern of not entering into ‘this rest’ because of unbelief. And then he says ‘but the rest that Joshua finally did give them [the promised land] wasn’t really the true rest after all, because David still spoke of it in a future tense’ then he says ‘see, there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God’. Seeing this in context clears up many wrong interpretations of these passages. You can still read Hebrews as a Christian and get wonderful principles, but you must see it in context to truly understand what its saying. ‘For he that hath entered into rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his’ amazing, Paul says just like God ceased from creative activity on the ‘7th day’ so likewise when we enter into the covenant of grace, we too will cease from the works of the law. This is so significant to the Jewish community whom Paul is addressing. He is showing them, in their language [Old Testament] the same things he writes to the gentiles in Galatians and Romans.

He is using the story of Genesis to show the truth of grace. Out of all the Apostles, Paul is unique in his ability to see Jesus in all of these Old Testament stories. No one could have made a better apologetic for the Christian faith than Paul. ‘Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall into the same example of unbelief’ Now, I have heard it taught that this is telling Christians to ‘work for your rest’. This would be a complete contradiction to this entire letter. But if you see this in context, that the recipients of this letter are 1st century Jews who are already under the bondage of the law, then you read this as ‘those of you Jews who are always working to try and make yourselves righteous, you need to stop working for this, but instead let all your labors and struggles end up at the Cross’ in essence ‘labor [struggle] to see these things I am showing you, and if you do you will find rest’ in the New Covenant of grace! ‘Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession, for we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ This of course applies to all of us. Paul and other New Testament writers saw redemption in a way that naturally included everybody. It was only those who rejected it thru unbelief that were missing out. This is why you will see statements made like ‘Jesus is the savior of all men, specially of those that believe’ there was a real sense in the early church that Jesus really redeemed everybody.

They were not preaching universal salvation in the sense that everybody will be saved. But the gospel was presented in a way that simply included everybody. So here Paul says ‘we have a high priest’ he is including Israel in the ‘we’. I also like to apply these verses to all of us. How many times do we feel intimidated to come before Gods throne? We feel unworthy and God seems unapproachable. Sort of like Saint John of the Cross who experienced the ‘dark night of the soul’ as well as Mother Theresa. There are times where believers feel separated from God’s real presence. It is during these times when God says ‘come boldly, I too have experienced weakness and separation thru the incarnation. I know what it is like. Come to me, I can see what you feel like, I can feel your feelings of weakness and inadequacy, come to me for help my child’. In the next chapter we will read this in depth. Jesus and all the high priests of the law were able to identify with man because they were at one time in mans shoes. This is one of the great realities of the incarnation.

CHAPTER 5:

‘For every high priest taken from among men…who can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are OUT OF THE WAY , for that he himself is compassed about with infirmity’ God once again emphasizes the reality of calling men with faults and weaknesses into leadership. Why? Because according to the law men who themselves have weaknesses could then have compassion and not judge others who are ‘out of the way’. I spent the day yesterday with some homeless friends, a lot of them are ‘out of the way’. They never seemed to transition into the normal routines of life. Many of them will eventually share their experiences of being rejected as kids by their parents. Others have had an abusive childhood. For different reasons they are ‘out of the way’. They also are used to being treated badly by society. One of the guys is a true believer. He is even ordained as a deacon for a homeless church, he reads and teaches the word. Really stands out as a follower of Christ. He is homeless. He told me how sometimes he will go and just sit on church property so he can sense God and spend time praying apart from the other hangouts where guys are drinking and doing drugs. Sometimes the church will call the cops and tell him to move. Now I know the church doesn’t realize he is truly a believer, but it shows you how society treats those who are ‘out of the way’.

God chose you, fully knowing your weaknesses and faults, you might think that your faults disqualify you for service, God says they are part of the requirement to be a priest! ‘Christ glorified not himself to be made a priest… thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec’ once again Paul will use his great knowledge of the Old Testament to teach something new. He goes to the story of Melchisedec in the Old Testament. This person was a real priest who Abraham paid tithes to. Later we will read that this means the priesthood of Jesus is superior to that of the law. Many use this verse to justify tithing for gentiles, but it really is showing the superiority of grace over law. Now Paul also finds a prophetic Old Testament verse that says Jesus is a priest from this order. What order? Well there have only ever been 2 priests in this ‘class’ and that was Melchisedec and Jesus. In essence Melchisedec was simply a real person who functioned as a priest before the Levitical priesthood was established. The fact that Paul finds this obscure verse showing that Jesus came from this ‘line’ of priests as opposed to Levi shows that Christ’s priesthood is outside of the law. This is the main reason for Melchisedec’s historical existence. Some teach that he was a preincarnate appearance of Christ because we will read he had no beginning of days or end of life. I kind of lean towards this meaning there is no record in scripture of him having a birth or death. I don’t see Melchisedec as a preincarnate appearance of Christ. I do find it interesting how God raised up a man, before Christ, for the sole purpose of later saying of Jesus ‘you are a priest forever after this order’. In my mind God did it for this sole reason.

We know Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world. So basically God raised this priest up just so Jesus could be traced thru his lineage as opposed to Levi. The significance is great in the mind of Paul, because once again this makes the case for Israel to come out of the old system of law [Levi] and come to a priesthood that cannot trace its roots back to the law. This is solely a grace argument; it is not some strange teaching that shows a preincarnate Christ who walked the earth forever. ‘Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec, of whom we have many things to say [I just said some of them!] and hard to be uttered, seeing ye [1st century Israel, NOT CHRISTIANS!] are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers [God raised Israel up to be a ‘teaching nation’ in the midst of a pagan world. The purpose of God for them as a nation was to influence all the nations around them with the true God. This is why God ordained ways for ‘proselytes’ to come and become partakers of Gods blessings on Israel. This is very important to see here, because as we go into chapter 6 this will be the context to clear up many wrong views of this letter] you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God’.

As we go into chapter six I will show you how ‘the first principles of the Word of God’ are all the elementary teachings of the law, not the message of the Cross! Paul is rebuking Israel because they had a long time to fully get grounded in the law, it was now time for them to move on from these ‘basic teachings’ and into Christ. Paul says they need to be ‘re taught’ the basics again because they are unable to see the pictures that Paul has been painting for them thru this ‘old testament canvas’. So in context, Paul is not telling Christians to ‘move on from the Cross’ as many teach. But he is telling Israel ‘move on from the elementary principles of the law’ unto Christ. This is why it is so important to read this letter in context.

CHAPTER 6:

‘Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ [in Colossians Paul teaches that the ‘principles/ elementary teachings’ are the law. The law contained all the elementary doctrines of Christ, it held all the ‘shadows’ but not the reality! Here the principles are not Christian doctrine, but law], let us go on unto perfection’ Now, it is commonly taught that Paul is exhorting believers to move on to maturity. While it is true that Paul teaches this elsewhere, here he is not teaching it. Here he is telling Israel ‘leave the basics of the law and move on to Christ’. Why is this important to see? Because if you don’t see it this way, then you will have a doctrine that says to believers ‘you must move on from the Cross’ many well meaning preachers have done this, this is why context is so important. When you see it in context, Paul is not saying ‘move on FROM the Cross’ but ‘move on INTO the Cross’!

‘Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works [law], and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms [washings- Israel had all types of doctrines of baptisms [plural] this is why when John the Baptist came baptizing people in the Jordan, they didn’t say ‘what in the world is this guy doing’ they had the ‘doctrine of baptisms’ engrained in their law! The whole sacrificial system and the tabernacle had all types of lavers {wash basins} and things] ‘and of the laying on of hands [Moses ‘ordained’ 70, you had the ‘laying on of hands’ taught in the law] and of the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment’ Now, all these verses without a doubt describe the law. It is easy to read these verses as applying to the New Covenant, but they really aren’t. In context why would Paul be telling young believers [who these are not! They are Jews on the verge of transition] to leave all the fundamental teachings of Christianity? But he is telling Israel to move on from the basic elements of the law into the reality of what the law was foreshadowing. That is Christ! ‘For it is IMPOSSIBLE for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost’ Israel had Gods Spirit anointing her Kings for thousands of years before the Spirit ever came on the day of Pentecost. They had ‘exclusive rights’ to the things of God pre-Cross. They were made partakers of the Holy Ghost! They were enlightened in a way that no other nation was, they had prophets and priests administrating the things of God all thru out their history.

In context Paul is saying ‘if you Jews, who have had this favorable position all thru out your history, if you ‘fall away’ from God at this point by not continuing with his revelation of Messiah, then it is impossible to renew you AGAIN unto repentance’ Part of their system of law was repentance. All the animal sacrifices and works of humility were for this purpose. Paul is warning Israel ‘if you miss this opportunity to believe, don’t think that you can keep bringing your animal sacrifices of repentance anymore, it is impossible to renew that’ Now do you see? No more arguments over whether these are Christians who lose their salvation, or whether these were those who professed but didn’t possess, that’s silly! In context you now know what this means. That’s why I said in the introduction of this commentary that you can’t read a book on mechanics and apply it directly to the human body. But you can glean principles from it that will benefit you. So we see here the great finality of the sacrifice of Jesus. We see its sufficiency to cover and REMOVE all our sins. We see the great doctrine of redemption thru the offering of Jesus. What we don’t see is Christians losing their salvation and being told ‘you can never re dedicate [renew] yourself back again!’ ‘And have tasted the good word of God [Israel was reading scripture thousands of years before Gentiles even knew their was scripture!], and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they CRUCIFY UNTO THEMSELVES THE SON OF GOD AFRESH, and put him to an open shame’ Here it is real important to understand context. How many believers who have struggled with sin have been told ‘you are crucifying Jesus afresh’? Paul never dealt with believers using this language. He told the Corinthians that because they were God’s dwelling place, and the Spirit of God lived in them, that God would judge those who were in unrepentant sin. But he never used this type of language. So why use it here?

If Israel rejects Messiah and continues to ‘keep open’ the sacrificial system post Cross, in essence she would be saying ‘we want the sacrifice to continue’ or ‘let’s keep crucifying the Son of God afresh’. In Israel’s mind this would be what they were saying. Paul says ‘don’t do this’ in essence this is an argument, once again, to move on from the law and its sacrifices unto Christ. ‘For the earth that drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, recieveth blessing from God, but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned’ In the parables one of the main themes is Israel not bringing forth fruit to God. The parable of the vineyard, the cursing of the fig tree.

In John 15 the branches not bearing fruit are cut off and burned. In all of this imagery Jesus is saying to Israel ‘the time has come for you to produce fruit, the only way a branch can do it is if it is connected to the vine[Jesus], if you reject me you will never produce fruit and your ultimate destiny is judgment’ Paul reiterates that theme here! ‘But we are persuaded better things of you, that which speaks of salvation… for God will not forget your work and labor of love that you have showed towards believers’ Many of the recipients of this letter were those who Paul had preached to in various cities. He would often preach to the Jews on a Sabbath day. After his departure some believed, others were in transition. They still treated the believers well and sort of shared a common fellowship. To these who were not fully converted yet, Paul says ‘God won’t forget how you treated his children, I am persuaded that you will go all the way and show fruits of salvation in Messiah’. ‘Be followers of those who thru faith and patience inherited the promises’ Paul will go thru the rest of this chapter showing how Abraham received promises from God and after many years of waiting he would get the promise.

Paul is telling Israel ‘you have waited many years for the promise [Messiah] do like the fathers did, inherit it thru faith and patience’ Paul is showing Israel that the patient waiting for their Messiah was part of the plan. When the promise shows up all you have to do is recognize the time and believe in the promise. Israel was at a dangerous transition time, she could [and did] miss the fulfillment of the promise! ‘Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil: wither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever after the order of Melchisedek’ we are going to get into Melchisedek again in chapter 7. Paul lays the groundwork, he is telling Israel ‘we have a great high priest who has entered into Gods presence for us, he is from another tribe [Judah] and therefore you must come out from the ‘law tribe’ [Levi] and into the grace tribe [Judah] and you must leave the Aronic priesthood [law] and enter in to the Melchisedek priesthood [New Covenant]. Everything Paul points to is for the purpose of getting his Jewish brothers to embrace Messiah and the New Covenant, Paul sees everything thru this lens. He is persuaded that Jesus is the only way!

CHAPTER 7:

‘For this Melchisedek, king of Salem [Jerusalem], priest of the most high God…to whom Abraham gave a tent part of all…without father or mother [no record in scripture!] having neither beginning of days nor end of life [no record of his death or birth] but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually’ first, Paul is showing the superiority of the New covenant over the Old. These verses are often used to teach tithing to gentile believers, they really teach the opposite! In context they are showing that the New Covenant is greater than the law, therefore the law [represented as Levi being in the loins of Abraham] submitted to Grace [The priesthood of Melchisedek/Jesus] and showing how grace is better than law. Paul’s point is to once again use the Melchisedek figure as a type of Christ. Jesus is called a high priest forever after this order, Paul says in essence ‘this order has priests who have no beginning of days or end of life, the priests in this order have a forever priesthood’. It really is amazing how Paul gets all this from the few verses of scripture that speak of Melchisedek. Many theologians today question even the most obvious truths. Some good ones will say there isn’t enough evidence for certain doctrines. Even though the evidence is 100 times more than what Paul used in his teaching on Melchisedek! I find it interesting how Paul continually sees Jesus thru every story! The man was a true ‘Jesus freak’.

‘Now consider how great this man was, unto whom Abraham gave the tenth…they that are of the sons of Levi have a commandment to TAKE TITHES OF THE PEOPLE ACCORDING TO THE LAW’ Lets settle this once and for all. To all my friends who teach tithing is for Christians today, many of them justify it by saying ‘tithing was before the law [true] in the law and after the law’ I have tried to explain this many times before. This verse shows tithing to be part of the law, specifically, not just ‘during it’. Also, the whole point of the argument here is that Grace and the New Covenant are better than the law. The tithe here is mentioned in a way that shows the superiority of the new covenant over the Old. ‘Levi also paid tithes in Abraham, for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedek met him, if THEREFORE perfection were under the Levitical priesthood, what further need was there that a priest should rise after the order of Mechisedek, and not after Aaron? FOR THE PRIESTHOOD BEING CHANGED, THERE IS A NECESSITY FOR A CHANGE OF THE LAW’.

The ‘therefore’s’ are real important. They show you the main reason for the argument. If Paul can prove that God raised up Jesus from another priesthood, then there must also be ‘another covenant’. For this reason [therefore] you [Jew] should move on from the Old one and into the New! ‘For it is evident that out Lord sprang [root out of dry ground!]out of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood…who is made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life, for he says “thou art a priest FOREVER after the order of Melchisedek”. Again Paul gets all he can from the ‘Melchisedek verse’. Because this single text of scripture says ‘Jesus is a priest forever’ therefore God knew all along that he would raise up a priest with an endless life. Wow, Paul even gets the resurrection from this verse!

As Paul was learning all these things in a new way after his conversion, it was blowing his mind. He saw all these ‘hidden’ nuggets of wisdom that Israel had all along in hidden form contained in their law. Paul is doing his best to present his case from their own ‘bible’ if you will… ‘For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by which we draw nigh unto God…and they truly were many priests, because they were not permited to continue by reason of death: but this man, because he contiueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. WHEREFORE he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him’. Now, we usually read this ‘the guttermost’ but it means something a little different. It means because Jesus has an endless life, he is ‘always’ interceding on our behalf. His very presence continually before the throne is what ‘keeps saving us continually all the time’. It is more along the lines of ‘Jesus never will die; therefore we will continually be saved’.

Paul compares this to the insufficiency of the priesthood of the law. Those priest’s ‘meant well’ but the poor brothers kept dieing! This showed the total inability of those priests to effectively stand in on our behalf, even though they did all they could do. Jesus, on the other hand, will never die. Who would you prefer to have on your prayer team? Someone who will forget to pray for you down the road, who will last so long? Or someone who will pray for you forever? I know this is a crude way to look at it, but for our gentile minds it gets the point across. ‘For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens’ Paul describes the character of Jesus as ‘harmless’ as someone who would never ‘get even’ who is always pure, the perfect intercessor!

There are times in our lives, as well as all ‘natural priests’ that we are not pure, holy or harmless. During these days our prayers can’t get thru. If people are depending on us for true intercession, we let them down. There is never a day where our ‘chief intercessor’ lets us down. There are days when we feel useless, we have failed. Our own agendas get in the way. Days when we are not ‘harmless’. Thank God that our ‘prayer warrior’ is always on the job on our behalf. This is what it means when it says ‘he is able to save to the uttermost that come to God by him’. All you have to do on those down days is ‘come’.

‘Who needeth not daily to offer for sins… he did this once and for all when he offered up himself’ Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, there will never be another! ‘For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity, but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated forevermore’ Paul takes the verse again where it says ‘thou art a priest forever’ and compares it to the law. He says ‘the oath that God swore when he made Jesus a priest forever, came after the giving of the law. Therefore it supersedes the law. The law made priests that were failing, the oath made a priest who would last forever’ it really is amazing how much use Paul gets from this one verse. He in essence is saying ‘because Jesus was made a priest by this later oath, therefore the former making of priests is no longer in operation. You must leave the Levitical priesthood [law] and enter into the new one made by the oath’ [New Covenant] all the arguments that Paul makes in this letter are always pointing to Jesus as the final word from God. A better covenant with better promises. This is the whole context of Hebrews, for the people to come out of the law and into Christ!

CHAPTER 8:

‘Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: we have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man’ Now, to be fair, I have done a lot of teaching on how the Church [people of God] are the place where God ‘tabernacles’. But in Hebrews when Paul speaks of Gods tabernacle he is speaking of heaven itself. Why the difference? Is this a contradiction? The best way I can explain it is when Paul is writing the gentile believers, he is showing them the truth that they are the Body of Christ. When he is writing to Israel in transition, he is not going to address them as ‘the Body of Christ’ because he is still trying to persuade them to ‘come into this Body!’. Is this a contradiction? How can he write the gentiles who believe and tell them God is in you, and then write the Jews and tell them ‘God is in heaven’? Because these are both true! The reality of God dwelling in the church does not mean that God doesn’t also dwell in heaven. He is ‘omni present’. So in Hebrews Paul sticks with the theme as heaven itself being the true tabernacle, as opposed to the earthly one that Moses built.

‘Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for see, saith he, that thou make all things after the pattern showed thee in the mount’ Moses was seeing a pattern that God revealed to him ‘on the mountain’. God shows us things in the Spirit first, and then we build. Jesus said he did/said only what he saw the Father doing first. I feel much of modern ministry comes from an insecurity to want to act/do something for God. We all fall into this at times. We want to see action, which is a noble thing, but then because we are impatient we go out and produce an Ishmael! It’s not like Abraham wasn’t believing God at all when he did this. He kind of thought that maybe this was Gods way of fulfilling the promise.

I heard a Prophet testify of how he prophesied that a woman was to have a child. She was barren at the time. Years later as they were sharing how it came to pass, they shared how they eventually went and adopted a child. This was a well known Prophet on a national level. I think he might have just missed it! The point is we at times try our best to make Gods word come to pass, we need to wait on the mountain [in his presence] and let him ‘downlaod’ the pattern in his time. After you ‘see’ what God wants, then run with the vision and make it plain upon tables, but wait until he shows you the pattern! ‘For if that covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the 2nd. For finding fault WITH THEM he saith, behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with them when I took them out of Egypt’.

Now, God says thru Jeremiah that he would make a new covenant with Israel. Paul starts to tread on dangerous ground with his Jewish readers. He has been accused and slandered as someone who disdains the law of Moses and wants to do away with all Jewish tradition. These were the accusations that Paul had to fight thru out his ministry. Paul taught in his other letters that the law was good, but man was sinful, therefore the law failed as a means to make man righteous [just]. Now Paul clearly teaches [Galatians/Romans] that the law actually had a tendency to bring out mans sinful nature. If you tell a kid ‘don’t touch this wet paint’ sure enough the suggestion itself will cause the kid to think about it and do it. Now Paul taught that the purpose of the law was simply to bring to the surface mans sinful nature. It’s not that the law is unrighteous [Romans] it’s that men are sinful. I have heard preachers teach that the law plays a role in restraining sin In believers. No it doesn’t! It does play a role in society to keep anarchy from overrunning earthly governments, but it does not ‘harness’ the sinful nature of man. So Paul is telling Israel that God all along planned on bringing them into a new covenant [not a ‘completed’ Jew. Only in the sense that the ‘completion’ is that Israel would leave the old covenant and enter into the foretold new one. More of a transition into fullness than a continuation of something old. Jesus said his blood was the blood of the ‘new covenant’ not the fulfilling of an old one. I share this because a lot of believers teach a doctrine of the ‘Abrahamic covenant’ being fulfilled in us. There is a sense where you can teach this, but some do not see what I just showed you!] So Paul is telling Israel ‘leave the old shadows[covenant] behind, the Prophets [Jeremiah] said you were to come into a new one, so COME!’

‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people…for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to VANISH AWAY!’ This new covenant is one where God writes his word [law] on the hearts and minds of people. No longer will they strive to keep outward observances, but by nature will fulfill the intent of the law [Romans]. Once again Paul is not telling Israel that they can keep their old covenant [this is what some in ‘New Perspective’ theology teach] but he is telling them the old covenant is decaying and getting ready to pass from the scene. So enter into this new one! Also it says ‘they will have no need to teach every man the law, for all shall know me’.

I find it interesting that I will run into Christians who have been homeless for years. Many of them never really had the same advantages of study and research like myself [thru the net, libraries and all types of stuff] and yet many of them have come to the same conclusions and understanding of scripture as I have. God’s Spirit has a way of getting truth to his people in a way that no ‘outward law’ could ever accomplish. In essence Paul is teaching that the New Law will be built into mans nature at the New Birth and God will become his primary instructor [1st John ‘you have no need that any man teach you, but the Spirit in you will guide you into all truth’ This doesn’t mean God has no teachers in the church, because that would contradict Paul’s letters. But it means Gods Spirit is the final authority, he is the one resident in the earthly teachers who is doing the instruction. Teachers are ‘gifts’ made/given by the Spirit to the church]. ‘Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more’ Paul will use this to teach the finality of the one sacrifice of Christ. He will say ‘if God doesn’t remember your sins any more, then there is no more need for sacrifice!’ So he sees the Cross in the simple phrase ‘God will not remember your sins any more’ once again Paul sees Jesus everywhere!

CHAPTER 9:

‘Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary’ Let me stop here and cover some stuff. Some ‘old time’ churches [high church model] feel the future of the church is ‘liturgical’. One of my favorite Catholic theologians is Scott Hahn. He believes and teaches that God’s purpose for all these Old Testament symbols was for the purpose of MORE SYMBOLS! A lot of these brothers mean well, but I take Paul’s position. Here Paul states that the first covenant [notice, he calls the Old Law the ‘FIRST’ covenant, and the New covenant the second [or last]. This refutes dispensational theology which sees the law as the 2nd or 3rd covenant after Abraham and Noah. Paul and Jesus refer to only 2 main covenants. The Old and New] had a ‘worldly sanctuary’ but the second one doesn’t! The second covenant has Jesus in heaven at the real sanctuary in Gods presence. So you see right away Paul showing that all the earthly ‘liturgical symbols’ played a role in Gods purpose, but they were simply pointing to a future reality [Christ] that would be the fulfillment of the shadows. So the future of the church is not ‘liturgical’ in as much as it is ‘reality’.

We are living under an open heaven right now. Jesus is really at Gods right hand advocating for us! ‘For there was a tabernacle made, the first [first room]wherein was candlestick, the table and the shewbread..after the second veil the holiest of all…now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle [room]..but into the second room the high priest went alone once every year, with blood, which he offered for himself and the sins of the people: the Holy Ghost signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not made manifest while the first tabernacle was yet standing’ There is a lot here. Some commentaries confuse the ‘2 tabernacles’ as 2 different structures. What it is speaking about is one structure, with 2 different rooms. Now the fact that the ‘first room’ had daily access by the priest, but the 2nd room had annual access only by the high priest once a year was in itself a symbol of grace in Paul’s mind. Paul says ‘the fact that the first room [first covenant] stood in the way of the second room [a type of the 2nd covenant] was a picture of the 2 covenants. And the first one ‘blocked’ free entrance into the second one, so likewise today [1st century] the first room [old covenant] is standing in the way of the second room [new covenant]’. Wow! Paul really did do a lot of ‘reading into’ scripture. Hey, I like this stuff!

‘Which was a figure FOR THE TIME THEN PRESENT, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience; which stood only in meats and drinks, and DIVERS WASHINGS [remember what we said in chapter 6? ‘baptisms’ can be translated ‘washings’] and carnal ordinances [liturgy!] imposed on them UNTIL THE TIME OF REFORMATION [the 1st century coming of Messiah]’ All the symbols were only given for a time. God always intended for there to be a day when his people would leave the symbols behind and move into the reality. This is not to say that Christians have no reminders or ‘ordinances/sacraments’ in the sense that Jesus told us to ‘do this in remembrance of me’ at the last supper. So God does have ways for us to remember the work of the Cross, but the overall ‘carnal ordinances’ of the law were only for a temporary period of time, when that which is perfect has come [Jesus] then that which is in part passes away!

‘But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands… neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place [heaven in this context] having obtained eternal redemption for us…how much more shall the blood of Christ, who thru the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works [law, remember chapter 6 verse 1?] to serve the living God?’ Paul includes all 3 aspects of the Trinity here. Paul is telling the most fundamental reality of the New Covenant. We are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb! To the Jew who was inundated with legalistic sacrifices his whole life, for him to be told that Gods own Son offered up himself once and for all for all the sins of man, was an unbelievable freedom. Its like if you were brought up in a legalistic church [there are many of them!] and were taught from a young boy that you had to pray for 3 hours a day, read 25 chapters of scripture, wear long pants and suits all day [even in summer!] and you lived under this bondage of a never ending strain to please God. Then one day God reveals to you that you don’t have to do any of it anymore, Jesus did it all! You would be relieved, you would still pray and read scripture, but not out of a sense of obligation, but more from a sense of thanksgiving [you would probably also burn all those suits as a sign of no more sacrifices!] So to the Jewish readers of this letter, it is absolutely too good to be true to be told NO MORE SACRIFICES just rest in grace!

‘And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of transgressions under the FIRST [not 3rd!] testament… for a testament is of force after men are dead’ Paul teaches that the death of Christ was for the purpose of redeeming those who had ‘built up’ a record of sin and transgression under the first testament. He shows that the law and its sacrifices were a temporary fix that simply looked forward to Christ. In Peter’s epistle you also see the idea that those who were under the law were in a waiting stage[in death] until the time of true redemption in Christ. These ideas were crucial for the 1st century Jew to understand that God allowed them to continue for many years under the Old Covenant, but it was for the future purpose of Christ. Many times in theological discussions you will find believers saying ‘we have believed and done things a certain way for so long, how can you now come along and shake up the apple cart’? The point is God often allows his people to function in limited paradigms until the time of reformation and change. The fact that he allowed you to continue for a long time in a limited understanding, does not justify never moving on into maturity! Paul is telling Israel ‘God allowed you to build up a ‘record’ [deposit] of past sin and transgression, and he knew all along that a day was coming when Christ would ransom all those who were in this limited system’.

‘Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood…saying this is the blood of the testament…he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of ministry…it was necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true, but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us’ Paul says that just like the blood of the Old Covenant cleansed both the tabernacle and the vessels, so Jesus blood cleansed ‘heaven’ as well as ‘all the vessels of ministry’[us!] This speaks of themes found in Romans where scripture speaks of all creation yearning for redemption. There is a sense where the curse has affected all creation, therefore the benefits of redemption will affect it as well. In these verses we are taught that the blood of Christ has already had a redemptive effect on ‘the heavens’.

‘Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year…but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation’. Here we see the completeness of Christ’s sacrifice. Once and for all! While the Old Testament made temporary provision for mans sin, Jesus, as the mediator of a new and better covenant, makes complete redemption and atonement for mans sin. The proof of this is the fact that Jesus sacrifice only happened once in history, therefore God must have accepted it as sufficient for all time!

CHAPTER 10:

‘For the law having a SHADOW of good things to come, AND NOT the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshipers once purged should have no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year’. Paul shows how the simple fact of ongoing sacrifices in and of itself testifies of the insufficiency of the law. The on going sacrifices were a reminder that the peoples sins were still there. If the sacrifices really worked, then why do it over and over again every year? He will contrast this with the singular sacrifice of Christ. The fact that Jesus did it once shows the superiority of his sacrifice over the law.

‘Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. THEN SAID HE, lo, I come to do thy will O God. ABOVE WHEN HE SAID sacrifice and offering…THEN HE SAID, lo, I come to do thy will O God. He taketh away the first that he may establish the second’ Here Paul uses the actual order of the verses in Psalms to prove that the Old law will pass away and a New covenant will replace it. The fact that David [Psalms] says ‘sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared for me’ in this order shows that God always planned on taking away the sacrificial system and replacing it with Christ [or fulfilling it!] So even in the simple prophetic order of these statements Paul sees the Old law passing away and a new one being instituted. Wow again!

‘By the which will we are sanctified thru the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every high priest STANDETH daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, SAT DOWN on the right hand of God’ The comparison here is that the priests under the law stood, showing their sacrifices were never sufficient, they could never say ‘it is finished’. The fact that they stood while offering sacrifices showed the incompleteness of the system. Jesus sat down. This showed that his sacrifice was once and for all. Now, no where does scripture teach this concept between ‘sitting and standing’. Where does Paul get this stuff from? From ‘revelation’, that is God is supernaturally showing this stuff to Paul as he writes. This is the prophetic element of scripture. While we don’t ‘write scripture’ any more today, there are still lots of hidden meanings that we don’t fully see yet. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to ‘bring to our remembrance all the things that Jesus taught us’ [also all the things about Jesus!] So when you read the Old Testament, look for Jesus! He is there in more ways than you realize.

‘For by ONE offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us [of what? Of the singularity of Christ’s offering. The fact that the Holy Spirit thru Jeremiah prophesied that God would never remember our sins any more speaks to the truth of the one offering of Christ, we will read ‘if there is no more remembrance, then there is no more sacrifice’] this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin’. Do you see the point Paul is making? It is common for preachers and Christians to read these letters and to simply glean practical truths from them. That’s OK. But like I said in the introduction, when you see these things in context, then you can still make practical application, plus you are seeing the relevance behind the teaching. The practical part of this is ‘wow, God will not bring my sins back up into remembrance before his face!’ Now that’s practical!

‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest [true holy place, that is Gods presence in the throne room] by the BLOOD OF JESUS, by a new and living way[ the early Christians were at times called ‘the way’] which he hath consecrated for us, thru the veil, that is to say his flesh’ We now have total access to the Father thru the Son. This is the ONLY WAY man can have this access! It is common today to teach a type of pluralism that says ‘all religions will eventually lead us to God’ some will lead straight to hell! Sorry. The only way to the Father is thru the Son. God ordained it to be so. Don’t fight over it, God says ‘come freely’ those who don’t come, they will never GET THERE! Jesus flesh is called the ‘veil’. During the crucifixion the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom. Most believers know the significance of this. I would submit to you that when the scripture says ‘the veil was ripped’ that it was not only speaking of the actual veil that was in the temple on that day, but it was also prophetically speaking of the true veil, Jesus Body, that was being torn apart on the Cross.

The veil of the temple not only restricted access for man coming to God, but it also separated God from the true community of people. The tearing of the veil [Jesus body] not only allowed man to have access to Gods presence in heaven, but it also opened the door for the Spirit of God to tabernacle with men on the day of Pentecost. After the tearing of Jesus flesh [which Jesus is also called the door] it is like a door opened, both letting man into the presence of God, as well as ‘letting’ God tabernacle with men [note- Jesus ‘Emmanuel’ was ‘God with us’ so in a sense God was already tabernacling among men thru Christ, but at Pentecost God ‘spread’ this ‘tabernacling’ to a community with worldwide potential, as Christians would increase thru out the ages, so would Gods presence increase as he dwells in men. Thus the Kingdom starts small, like a little leaven, and before you know it the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord. It culminates at the second coming of Christ].

‘And having an high priest over the house of God [remember, even though in Hebrews Paul speaks of heaven itself as the tabernacle, yet he also told the Jews ‘who’s house are we, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end’] let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water [baptism]. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering [for he is faithful that promised] and let us provoke one another to love and good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another…’

A few things here. First, Paul is exhorting them to ‘get washed in pure water’ [baptism]. Remember, some of the recipients of this letter were believing in the message as Paul preached it as he traveled thru their cities, others were still on the edge. In this chapter it seems as if he is saying ‘some of you who have heard and seen all of these things, it’s time to make the decision to go all the way. Others have made a good profession, you too need to stick with the message’. Now, to those who would ‘revert’ back to the law, after they ‘received’ the truth, Paul says there is only judgment down the road. Even though they heard and the message reached them. Even though Paul presents the gospel in a way that says ‘you are all sanctified’ yet there was always the danger of apostasy. Those who believe you can lose your salvation [Arminians] take these verses and say ‘see, those who were once sanctified, if they sin, they face judgment’. I have actually viewed this chapter in different ways in the past. I never saw it as the Arminians, but I have debated over whether or not Paul was saying ‘now that you are believers, don’t think you can get away with sin, remember there is only one sacrifice, if you keep sinning God will judge you’ [not hell, but chastening]. But I have come to view it more along the lines of ‘those of you who are still in transition, you have made a good profession, Jesus blood has sanctified everyone [in a sense] so if you continue to sin [go back to the old system that taught that continual sin was part of the plan. Remember, the law made provision for continual sinning. This worldview of sin and judgment was unique to the Jewish community of the day.

It really should have been easier to convert Israel, they already had a ‘Jewish’ world view. But one of the dangers of this world view was they had provision for ongoing sin. The idea of ‘continuing to sin’ was engrained in their culture. Paul is warning them that in Christ the fact that there is only one sacrifice means you cant still live with the worldview of ‘I will continue to sin’] In essence Paul seems to be saying ‘if you continue to sin, and think that the Cross is like the old system, then you are fooling yourselves. The fact that the Cross happened only once means that it is sufficient to truly cleanse you once and for all from your sin’ to those who wanted to keep sinning, because it was fun, Paul says ‘watch out, judgment awaits’. So in keeping with what I showed you in chapter 6, I see this chapter continuing to appeal to Jews, some who have even made an initial profession, but he still had to warn them about going back to their old way of continuing to sin. Remember, there were many who were preaching that the law was still necessary for salvation, Paul is telling them it isn’t.

‘For if we sin willfully [something that was expected under the law, that’s why they had all the sacrifices!] after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses law died without mercy under 2 or 3 witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?’ Once again Paul contrasts the severity of the law to the New Covenant. Remember how earlier Paul showed that those who ‘neglect so great a salvation’ have more to worry about than those who rejected ‘the word of angels’ [law] Here Paul again says ‘Those who disrespected the old system died without mercy, how much worse shall it be for those who disrespect the blood of the everlasting covenant’ I see this being directed at those who never fully convert to Christ.

While Gods discipline is also harsh on believers who continue to live in rebellion [Corinthians] this language is never used of believers. So Paul is saying ‘beware, if you decide to walk away from all that has been presented to you, you will bear a much harsher punishment than those who sinned under the law’. What was the punishment of those who sinned under law? They died. What is the punishment of those who reject so great salvation? Eternal judgment. Let me add a note about ‘not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together’. It is common to use this verse to defend ‘Sunday church’ a lot of times it is used in this way to fight against the house church movement. What is the context here? The Jews already met together regularly before they believed in Christ. They had both temple and synagogue. Paul is simply saying ‘after you convert, keep getting together’ this is not a verse for defending Sunday church! [It is OK to go to church on Sunday]. ‘For we know him that hath said, vengeance belongeth unto me…the Lord shall judge his people’ In context, remember how I already showed you that ‘his people’ and ‘holy brethren’ and other terms like this in Hebrews can be speaking of 1st century Israel in transition? They were still considered ‘his people’ at the time the gospel was presented to them. Ultimately when they rejected Christ they would lose that designation, but many of the terms in this letter speak to Israel this way. So ‘his people’ can most definitely describe believers. But in context in this letter it more than likely is saying ‘don’t forget Israel, God does judge his people. So don’t think that your natural heritage of ‘being his people’ will get you out of the crunch this time!’

The Jews were always appealing to their privileged position with God ‘we have Abraham as our father’ they would always appeal to their ‘pure’ orthodox heritage, here Paul says ‘God will judge all of us based on what we do with his Son, even ‘his people’! ‘For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods’ many of the Jews who were embracing Paul’s message did suffer persecution. Historically we know many of them were plundered. They lost their goods! It’s funny, Paul doesn’t say ‘get back what the enemy stole from you’ [though you can!] but he says ‘don’t worry about the loss of your wealth and stuff, you have a better inheritance of eternal things in heaven’. Most modern preaching doesn’t even think about this. We are so consumed with preaching a gospel that says ‘come to Jesus and you will be rich’ that we never even give a second thought to these verses. We will read in the next chapter how Moses ‘forsook the pleasures of Egypt so he could bear reproach with Gods people’. Now I know that when they fled God gave ‘the treasures back’ but the point was Moses went thru a period of leaving all of it behind for a higher calling. Don’t always tell people [to you preachers!] that the wealth of the world is waiting at your doorstep if you receive Christ. They might be on the verge of ‘getting their goods spoiled’ for a season knowing that in heaven they have a better and enduring substance.

‘NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him’. In the original bible you didn’t have chapter divisions. Sometimes the divisions interfere with the meaning of the text. It is important to see that right before Hebrews 11, Paul makes this famous statement on justification by faith! He will go into chapter 11 with this theme in mind. We often read chapter 11 as believers and see the great stories in it of the heroes of the faith, but this is not the primary reason for the chapter. The main reason is for Paul to make the case of law versus grace. He has just spent 10 chapters explaining the superiority of grace over law. Now he will show Israel that all of the great heroes of the faith PLEASED GOD BY FAITH! He will be laying out a grand overview of the great Old Testament figures and be saying THEY ALL RECEIVED A GOOD REPORT [JUSTIFIED] BY FAITH.

It is real important for you to see this as we head into the chapter. When you read it with this in mind, then you begin to focus in on the statements of faith in a different way. While chapter 11 will give all believers a great boost in faith, the primary reason behind it is to say to Israel ‘look, all of our great forefathers [and fore mothers!] pleased God by faith, not the works of the law. Some of them were even law breakers! [Rahab, Samson] yet they were JUSTIFED [pleased God] by faith!’ Well, lets get into the chapter before I preach the whole thing right here.

CHAPTER 11: [see commentary on Acts 21]

‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, FOR BY IT THE ELDERS OBTAINED A GOOD REPORT [JUSTIFIED]’ This is the key verse to the chapter. Paul will go on to prove that all the Old Testament figures that ‘pleased God’ did it by faith, and not by works! ‘Through faith WE UNDERSTAND that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear’ Faith is not ‘blind’. It informs and gives understanding. This understanding is real! Let me show you what I mean. All of the universe and creation had a beginning point. Science did not always know or believe this. Today science teaches this. It is called ‘the point of singularity/density’. Science has traced back the origins of all things and has found scientific evidence to prove that all things had a ‘beginning point’. Now if you were to ask science ‘what did you have right before the beginning point’? They are stumped. Some of course believe in God and will boldly proclaim him at this point. To the others they can not answer this question. Why? Because they realize, thru science, that matter is not infinite.

Some have theorized that either all things always existed [which science has now disproved] or that at one point nothing existed [which science also teaches that if this were true then you would have nothing today. You can not get something from nothing!] So all true science has gone back to this ‘point of singularity’ and can not see what is right before ‘the point’. The Christian ‘sees’ God at this point! He ‘understands’ that by necessity there has to have been something that existed before creation, science teaches this. This something can not have been created also, because then where did the ‘being’ who created ‘it’ come from? So science teaches us that whoever got the ball rolling [Saint Thomas Aquinas calls this the ‘prime mover’] had to have been preexistent/ self existent in order to have done it. And we know that creation couldn’t have done it by itself, so therefore all reasoning and understanding leave us at the philosophical point of ‘there had to have been something/someone who existed forever in order for anything to be today’. So now you see how ‘by faith we understand that all things that now exist were brought into existence by someone who we can not see’. FAITH UNDERSTANDS!

As we go thru the rest of this chapter I want you to focus in on all the references of justification by faith. You will be surprised [I think?] on how many examples Paul gives to Israel from their own history [his too!] on God justifying people by faith. I will also try and show you [if I remember] how this chapter links the division between Paul’s epistles to the gentiles [Romans, Galatians] with James letter to the Jews. James was one of the lead Apostles at Jerusalem [Acts 15] and the Judaizers who were always accusing Paul of preaching grace in a way that justified sin, they came out of Jerusalem. James and Paul were rivals in a sense. James had the difficult job of overseeing the Church at Jerusalem, who had all the Pharisees who believed, while Paul was preaching this radical message of grace. This is why James’s letter [book of James] focused so much on faith and works. James was seeing the Genesis 22 account of Abraham’s justification when he offered Isaac on the altar. James will say ‘see how Abraham was justified by his works’. While in Paul’s letters he focuses on the Genesis 15 account of Abraham believing God and being made righteous. James was not contradicting Paul; he was showing the actual outcome of the life of a person who was previously justified by faith. James was saying ‘When God made Abraham righteous [Gen 15] he later actually became what God made him!’ [Gen. 22].

Now when Abraham would later do righteous things, he only did them because he previously had faith in Gods promise. But the fact still remains that when Abraham did a righteous act, God still justified him [in a sense, God has the prerogative to say ‘good job son, I am pleased with you’ so this can be described as an act/function of justification]. Well, now that I already showed you all this, I guess I wont have to remember telling it to you later. The point is in this chapter Paul will go down and show all these examples of Jewish leaders acting by faith and doing righteous deeds. This sort of bridges the gap between the strong emphasis on faith in Paul’s letters, with the strong emphasis on works in James letter. Paul is telling Israel ‘yes, all the old saints did do good works that pleased God, but they did them by faith!’ ‘Faith without works is dead’ [James]. So in a sense this single chapter bridges one of the key divisions in the early church between Jerusalem and Antioch [Acts 13 and 15]. Note; I believe all the chapter references above are correct, I write all this from memory so you might want to go back and double check the references. I know all the stories are right.

‘By FAITH Able offered …by which he obtained witness that he was RIGHTEOUS…by FAITH Enoch was translated…he had this testimony that he PLEASED GOD…without FAITH it is impossible to PLEASE HIM [all these ‘please him’ references are like saying ‘being justified’ when a person is justified by God, God sees him as acceptable, pleasing. ‘Thou art my beloved son in whom I am well PLEASED’ God to Jesus!] By faith Noah… prepared an ark to the SAVING of his house…and became heir to the RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH [wow, he makes this one real plain] By faith Abraham…went out into a strange land…and sojourned’ interesting, both the aspect of ‘going out to a new land’ and ‘staying in it when you get there’ are both functions of faith. Let me throw in some practical stuff here. Over the years of ‘doing ministry’ I have seen and been a partaker of both of these experiences. Sometimes it takes an act of faith to uproot us from familiar territory and move on to the next level. And do you know what can happen next? The enemy will try to intimidate you once you get in the land of promise, and tell you ‘you cant stay here, look at all the people who hate you. Look at all the mistakes you made’ and it often takes an act of faith to STAY IN THE LAND. Don’t leave the land of your destiny; all true leaders will go thru both of these dealings.

‘For he looked for a city which hath foundations [Jesus is the foundation of this city!] whose builder and maker is God’ All of these great heroes of the faith were looking forward towards a future promise of being in Gods true church, the ‘City of God’ the Bride, the Lambs wife. Paul shows Israel that this 1st century appearing of Messiah was for the purpose of Israel coming into the ‘new land’ the Body of Christ. It is important to see this. There are many preachers today who are treating natural Israel as in if everything is just fine. It isn’t! They need Christ as much as the Muslim does. God was telling Israel ‘come into this new city’ [New Jerusalem versus Old Jerusalem] he wasn’t appealing for them to stay in ‘old Jerusalem’ and be a ‘completed Jew’. [I know this sounds harsh, but I want to emphasize to all my evangelical friends that Jews need Jesus, they play a special role in Gods plan, but ultimately they need Christ!]

‘Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed’ it takes faith to produce spiritual offspring! It might look impossible, but with God all things are possible. ‘Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky and the sand by the shore’ sometimes God will allow you to bring forth one ‘seed’ [person or act of ministry] and you will be surprised how much fruit can come forth from this singular effort. This is why it’s so important to simply hear and obey God. Often times in ministry we do tons of ‘leg work’ which is OK. But when God gives you an idea or mode of function that you weren’t even thinking of, go with it. These are usually the ‘little seeds’ that produce the great harvest! ‘THESE ALL DIED IN FAITH, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES’ I want to emphasize here that it is possible to live your whole life in faith without actually seeing the fulfillment of all that God has told you.

Now faith does obtain promises [verse 33] but sometimes we also see things many years down the road and we must realize that the measurement of faith is not whether or not you are currently getting the actual promise. In the above [and below] verse’s we see Abraham and Sara being told that their offspring would number in the millions. They believed these promises, but it is obvious that they didn’t live to see it fulfilled, but they sure knew that after they were gone it would come to pass. So I want to exhort you to believe to see certain things fulfilled in your life time, but have some greater goals that you initiate while here on earth, knowing that after you depart they will be fulfilled. ‘And truly if they had been MINDFUL of the country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned’ what is Paul saying here? The greatest threat to the gospel taking root in the Hebrew community was the desire to go back to old law and culture. How many believers ‘revert’ back to an older form of church simply because they missed the old culture and ‘feelings’ that they had when they were younger? Many of the Jews would not go all the way with the gospel because they were ‘mindful’ of the good old days of law and sacrifice.

I just watched a show the other day that told how even some gentile believers began celebrating certain feasts of Israel with their Jewish neighbors. While it is good to understand and see the significance of the feasts, yet we know Paul wrote the early believers and said ‘you observe days and times and feasts, and I am concerned about it’. So when we [or 1st century Israel] are ‘mindful’ of the ‘good old days’ then there is always a danger of going back! ‘By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…of whom it was said in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure’ Abraham exhibited characteristics of the Father [God] as well as Isaac being a type of the Son [Jesus]. It’s interesting that these verses show that Abraham knew for a fact that God was going to give Isaac millions of children, Abraham also knew the voice of God so well that when he ‘thought’ he heard God say ‘offer up this boy’ that in the mind of Abraham, the only way these 2 things could be reconciled, is he came to the conclusion ‘I guess God will have to raise him up, being he has told me this boy will have millions of children, plus he is telling me to kill him’. Most of us would not have come to this conclusion! We would have doubted either the original promise, or said ‘surely this can’t be God telling me to offer Isaac’ [most likely we would have doubted the latter!].

There is a real important reason for Abraham to have been a real man of faith. God wanted this ‘picture’ of the offering up of Isaac for a type of the Cross and Resurrection. The only way he could have shown this example was to have had someone so radically filled with faith, that he would have come to this conclusion of ‘well, I guess God will just raise him’. It was necessary for the figure to have been truly fulfilled. It took Abraham many years of hearing and believing God before he would get to this stage. The part of Abraham’s mind that said ‘God will just have to raise him up’ was important for the figure to truly work. God knew he could only bring someone to this conclusion by arranging the whole scenario around a person of faith. It truly took a real person of faith to have come to the conclusion of resurrection as being inevitable! [For Abraham to fulfill the type of God, he had to have been convinced beyond all doubt that after he offered up his son, that he would be raised again. This is exactly what the Father [God] believed and knew about his own Sons death. So not only did Isaac fulfill the type of Jesus in this story, but Abraham also fulfilled a type of God!] [NOTE; Today is September 22, 2007. Israel’s Day of Atonement. I just heard a brother preach on the feasts of the Lord [I have done this also] but he preached it in a way that said ‘because God said you were to observe these feasts perpetually, therefore all gentile believers need to start observing these days’ he added ‘I know Paul taught the law passed and all, but these feasts are supposed to be forever because God said so’.

How are the feasts ‘perpetual’? Thru the fulfilling of them in Christ! Paul makes this plain all thru the New Testament [as well as this letter!] I was surprised to hear the brother preach that the first 2 feasts [out of the 3 main ones] were fulfilled and memorialized, but the 3rd one [Atonement/tabernacles] has yet to be fulfilled! What? Jesus fulfilled Passover and Pentecost for sure, and they are still being ‘fulfilled’ God is still bringing people in thru the blood of Christ and the Spirit is continually being poured out on people, and of course the ultimate reality of our atonement thru our high priest is a daily reality [he ever lives to make intercession] that is ‘fulfilled’ all the time[ I understand what the brother meant, that both Passover and Pentecost were fulfilled at the Cross and the day of Pentecost, and Tabernacles still has a future fulfillment. That Jesus will ‘ingather’ all peoples to himself at the end. The way he said it was in a way that he said Atonement, the beginning of Tabernacles/booths, still has to be fulfilled. It really came out badly!] I just thought it worth noting that today is natural Israel’s feast day, and we hold this feast in reality 24/7!]

‘By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of pharaohs daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, then to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward…by faith the harlot Rahab perished not…’ I want you to see that faith in Moses situation caused him to forsake great riches and leave a successful future. This is in keeping with all the times Jesus called people in the Gospels ‘forsake all and follow me’ mentality. We too often equate the ‘treasures of Egypt’ with following Jesus; the scripture puts a different spin on it! Also Rahab ‘perished not’ because she ‘believed’. Paul teaches in Corinthians that those who believe are ‘being saved’ and those who don’t believe are ‘perishing’. I want you to see that Paul is really making a theological argument for ‘being saved by faith’ in this chapter. Even a harlot can be saved! Wow. The law seemed to have no mercy on someone like that!

‘Who thru faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions…women received their dead raised to life…others were TORTURED not accepting deliverance…others had mocking and scourging and bonds and imprisonment, they were stoned, cut in half, were slain with the sword… being destitute, afflicted, tormented…they wandered in deserts and mountains and dens and caves of the earth, ALL THESE [both the ones who shut the mouths of lions as well as the one’s who were tortured without deliverance] OBTAINED A GOOD REPORT THRU FAITH, AND RECEIVED NOT THE PROMISE’ Faith does not always cause you to be better off in this life. I am very familiar with all the verses of God blessing us and providing for us ‘the blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow to it’. I believe and claim these verses just like the next guy. I also don’t want to tell people ‘give your life to Christ and all will go well’ did it go well for the ones who were tortured not getting delivered? Sure did. It went well the moment they saw the face of God. The same for those who were cut in half. It also went well for the women who received their dead raised to life. The point is ‘going well’ is not always defined by your outward circumstance.

We must see the overall biblical worldview of all things here being temporary, while all true spiritual riches are eternal. Moses actually was ‘less rich’ by the choice to follow Christ. But he was ‘more rich’ in that he fulfilled Gods purpose. It is important to see that many of these great heroes of the faith died without fully seeing the promise in this life. Now the last verse does say ‘that they without us should not be made perfect’ and this does show that the promise is now fulfilled thru Christ. We have all become recipients of eternal salvation thru Christ. The Old Testament patriarchs have ‘found that city’ in that we are all now members of the great ‘City that comes down from God out of heaven’ we are all in Christ today, even our Old Testament brothers who had faith. The point is don’t always measure a persons faith by their outward wealth and condition. James rebuked this idea in his epistle, he taught us not to show partiality to people who were rich while despising the poor.

When believers see faith only from the standpoint of outward things, they are missing the true riches. Jesus taught that all these outward things were not the true riches; I am surprised how many believers spend so much time hoarding and storing things that will all pass away some day. Let’s close this chapter on a good note. Paul has offered Israel all of their Old Testament heroes as an example of being justified by faith. He is saying ‘look, all the great fathers of the faith pleased God, just like you have said and taught for ages. I am declaring unto you they were all ‘justified/pleasing to God’ by faith, not law’. Therefore if you want to follow the example of Abraham and Moses and all the other wonderful fathers, then you too MUST BELIEVE!

CHAPTER 12:
‘Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses [all the heroes of the last chapter!] let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us’ a few practical things. Paul compares the journey to a marathon, not a sprint! The patient runner who paces himself will receive a reward. The sprinter will look good at the start, but you never see him again! I have been blessed by so many gifted people over the years. Some who were on radio, or were doing some type of ministry for the Lord. The gifts and callings were truly on these people. A few years would go by and they were no where to be found. Where did they go? Some of them jumped on the latest ‘Christian movement’ [I am not against movements from God, I just feel we get enamored by them and give up on the main thing the Lord has called us to] some walked away from the Lord.

I have come to realize that God will put certain things in you from the early days, things that he predestined for you to fulfill before you were born. These are the things that you should be faithful to. Don’t abandon the original calling, it’s still there! You can spend your whole life leaving one ‘track’ and ‘sprinting’ in another. But God wants you to stay on the original course and run it with patience. It might not seem as glamorous or exciting as the newest race in town, but at the end you will receive a reward. ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him ENDURED the cross, despising the shame and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that ENDURED such contradiction of sinners…and ye have forgotten the exhortation that speaketh to you as children [remember what we said about this type of privileged language in Hebrews? It is speaking to Israel] my son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art REBUKED of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If you endure chastening, God dealeth with you as sons’.

Now, for many years I read this just like you. That God was telling Christians that he disciplines them. True enough. But in context what is Paul saying here? He spent 11 chapters ‘reproving’ Israel. He told them that all the sacrifices and wonderful holidays and family traditions are no more. That Messiah has fulfilled it and you can’t keep doing it. Now, how would you feel if some know it all preacher came along and totally dismantled your whole way of worship? And you knew in your heart he was right! You would take offence. You would feel like you just got ‘chastened’ up and down and all over. Your initial reaction would be ‘this is too much correction in one letter, I am tired of reading it!’ so Paul is telling Israel ‘Don’t take all this reproof the wrong way, Gods intent is to get you to move on with the program. He loves you guys; don’t forget that scripture [Old Testament] says ‘who God loves he chastens’ hey, God is just dealing with you as children who he loves’ get it? ‘We have had fathers of the flesh that corrected us…shall we not much rather be in subjection to the father of spirits and live?’ Paul is saying ‘you guys want to live [eternal life] then you need to submit to the correction the father is giving you’.

‘For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness’ Now, God does chasten believers for the purpose of holiness. Scripture says ‘those who have suffered in the flesh have ceased from sin, that they should no longer spend the rest of their days in the flesh pursuing the desires of the flesh, but the will of God’ ‘before I was afflicted I went astray, but after I kept thy word’ ‘thou in faithfulness hath afflicted me’ ‘though he were a son yet learned he obedience from the things he suffered’ ‘the captain of our salvation was made perfect thru suffering’ [the last 2 are in this letter, the others are some where in scripture, I just quoted them off the top of my head. As you can see I have some familiarity with this subject! Ouch] In context Paul is saying to Israel ‘you have tried to attain holiness thru legalistic means, by keeping the law [Romans 9-the last few verses] but until you submit to Gods chastening, and have faith in God, you will not truly have his ‘holiness’ [righteousness].

So God is disciplining them thru this letter so they will ‘believe and become righteous’ as opposed to staying in the old system of law. ‘Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous [old brother Paul, he sure knew how to understate things!] nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of RIGHTEOUSNESS to them that are exercised [or exorcised! Just kidding, but it can feel like this at times] thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down…and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame [broken] be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed’ David said ‘restore to me the joy of your salvation that the bones which YOU HAVE BROKEN may rejoice’ The danger of chastening [both for Christians and Israel] is that we get so broken that we never fully recover. Paul is telling Israel ‘I know it’s been hard on you guys to hear so much rebuke. Don’t walk away totally discouraged. There is a danger that you might respond to Gods correction the wrong way. Lift up your hands, shake off the depression, and let yourselves be healed. God wants to restore you!’

‘Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for HE FOUND NO PLACE OF REPENTANCE though he sought it carefully with tears’. This is another reason why reading Hebrews in context is important. One of the themes of this letter is ‘if you miss out on it now, you can’t repent later!’[Chapter 6]. We know that Pauls other letters to the churches leave open future repentance for those who have sinned. In Paul’s letters to the Corinthians we see this being done. But in Hebrews the idea is ‘if you pass on the Cross, you can not find repentance thru any other means. There is no other place for repentance’. So this is the reason why Hebrews has this theme of ‘no future repentance’ thru out the letter. Paul is certainly not telling Israel that if they decide to repent and accept Christ at a future date, they can’t! But he is saying ‘if you pass over this sacrifice of Christ, all the other ‘sacrifices’ and means of repentance that are contained in the law will have no future effect, remember Esau!’

‘For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched…but ye are come to Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem [the church]…and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Able’ Here Paul comes back to a ‘scarlet thread’ that runs thru out this letter. He says ‘hey, you think the first covenant was a fearful thing, watch out! If you disregard this covenant [Jesus blood] then you have gone against something that is much greater than the law’. Also the ‘blood of Able’ cried out from the ground for vengeance, the blood of Jesus cries out from heaven for mercy and forgiveness! It ‘speaks’ better things than that of Able! ‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth [Moses and the law] much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him which speaketh from heaven’ again Paul repeats themes he hit on earlier in this letter. He says ‘Moses spoke Gods Word [law] to you from an earthly mountain and place, you are come to a heavenly mountain [Sion-spiritual Jerusalem] and Jesus is speaking to you from heaven. This is much more strict than he who spoke from earth’.

‘Wherefore we receiving a Kingdom that can not be moved, let us HAVE GRACE, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire’ Though Paul doesn’t say it [I think he should have!] but this alludes to the ‘God’ of Moses day, who did not consume the burning bush, compared to the ‘God’ of today [new covenant] who will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire! This fits in with the theme of a harsher punishment for those who reject the covenant of grace as opposed to those who rejected the covenant of law. I know these themes are not popular, but this is clearly the way Paul is presenting them. I also am not saying the ‘God’ of the Old Testament is different from the ‘God’ of the new [this is the heresy of Marcion! I think that was his name. He was an early Christian heretic who comprised the first canon of scripture for a ‘new testament’ it included basically Paul’s letters, and he taught that The God of the new testament was different from the God in the old] but Paul is presenting the new covenant in a way that says ‘don’t neglect this new way of salvation, those who do will receive a harsher judgment than those who rejected the law’.

CHAPTER 13:

Once again we will see an image in this chapter that Paul will take from the Old Testament and use to describe the sacrifice of Christ. It might even be the best image yet! But let’s start with some basics. ‘Let brotherly love continue’ the other day I was shopping at Wal Mart and saw some Cowboys shirts. I have a homeless friend who I have known for 15 years who loves the Cowboys [The football team!] So I bought him a 13 dollar shirt [they had a nicer Jersey for around 40 dollars, but I am not that spiritual yet]. So I bought him the cheaper one. Sure enough he’s been wearing it ever since! Sometimes it’s the little things, the ‘brotherly love’ stuff that we need to do. We are so obsessed with doing ‘religious stuff’ and attending ‘religious meetings’ and ‘tithing’ that we really do not see the underlying reality of going out of our way for others. We will read in this chapter the 3 sacrifices God does want from us, after all the teaching Paul does on ‘no more sacrifices’ he will give us the spiritual sacrifices that God requires of us. They don’t even touch what we think is important!

‘Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them’ a regular part of my prayer life includes praying for our fellow brothers and sisters ‘in bonds’. A few years ago a brother from our area got sent to jail for stealing money from a famous Christian mission that he worked for. I met him a few times over the years. He used to go to the church I attended. I really didn’t like him to be honest with you. I loved him as a brother, but a little to ‘I am a Christian, cant you see’ type thing. I don’t want to judge him, but this was how I felt. Well many years later when he got sent to jail he became the talk of the town. I started regularly praying for him and haven’t stopped since. This has been around 5 years or so. I also recently included some other Christians who also did some public crimes and were sent to prison, a girl who was found guilty of murdering her foster child. I also pray for those around the world who are in prison for the faith. True persecution. I want to exhort you to pray for those in bonds. Paul knew how hard it was, he was in jail often. ‘Marriage is honorable in all… but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge’ Paul made it clear in all his letters that he was not preaching a gospel of grace that condoned sin. He will say this time and again thru out his writings. He was accused of preaching a sinful gospel, but he wanted to make it clear that in all of his preaching about the law and sacrifices passing away, that in Christ people by nature will do what is right [Romans]. At the end of this great treatise to the Hebrews he makes it clear ‘don’t go on sinning’.

‘Let your conversation [lifestyle] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he hath said ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’ Paul once again deals with avoiding a materialistic mindset. He isn’t urging them to believe God for millions of dollars, or to set a goal of what you want and then to use scripture to get it. He tells them ‘you have Jesus, so be happy. Don’t be always trying to find fulfillment in things, they pass away’. You will find this mindset all thru out scripture [read 1st Timothy 6!] so many Christians today think that this mindset is ‘tradition’. But it is in scripture!

‘Remember THEM which have the rule over you’ to be fair, I have done a lot of teaching in the past against the authoritarian one man rule over believers. I want to submit to you that both here, and in every other New Testament letter that leadership is always plural. It is ‘them’ not ‘him’. Also there are a few other passages that use the term ‘rule’ you could also interpret these as ‘those who watch over you, have care for you’ and use more amicable terms. There are actual reasons why the stronger language is used, I don’t really want to get into the whole thing here, but some feel it had to do with the time that the English bibles were being translated. The kings of the time [England] wanted to maintain a strong hierarchy within their ‘nation states’ as they broke away from the Papacy of Rome, and the translators made a conscious decision to use the more authoritarian terms to keep the people under authority. A whole book has been written on this dynamic. But for now I simply want you to see that Paul is addressing a community of people and saying ‘submit to the eldership of your area, they have responsibility for your spiritual growth, they will give an account to God. So listen to them’ this is not a verse to be used to justify the present office of the singular Pastor in the Protestant church!

‘Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them which have been occupied therein’ I like this verse. It summarizes so much of the Christian life. The whole point of this letter is to establish people in grace. To see that in Christ we have been accepted with God. Our main message isn’t all the interesting doctrines and stuff that we like to argue about. It really is Christ and Gods grace being freely given to us thru him. A lot of the reproving I do is not for the purpose [I hope not!] of just arguing about things that don’t matter, but it is for the purpose of bringing Gods people back to a platform of grace. I teach ‘you are not under the tithe [law] but give all you can in love [grace]’ we are all living our lives openly before the face of God, we shouldn’t be running around trying to ‘one up’ the next guy. Or showing everybody how smart or spiritual we are. We are all here to become more like Jesus and to simply see our requirement as living a thankful life and doing good deeds and sharing our goods with others [the 3 sacrifices that we will see later in this chapter!] I like this verse a lot!

‘We have an altar [the Cross] whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle [those under the tabernacle system, the law!] For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp [the main area where the tabernacle and all the holy things of God were located]. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate [right outside the City of Jerusalem at the hill of Golgotha]. Let us go forth therefore unto him [leave the Old Covenant and all of its sacrifices, and move on unto perfection found only in Christ] without the camp [outside of the rules and regulations of the law and all of its shadows], bearing his reproach [those who left their Jewish heritage for Christ suffered extreme reproach and ridicule from their friends and family. It was a very unpopular thing to do for the 1st century Jew] for here we have no continuing city [natural Jerusalem], but we seek one to come [spiritual Jerusalem]’ Paul sees significance in the fact that the bodies of the animals whose blood was used for atonement were burned outside the camp. There were different types of sacrifices that took place around the system of the tabernacle. Some were totally burnt [burnt offering] others were eaten [Passover] and for the one whose blood alone was used, these bodies were taken to a place outside of the camp and were disposed of by burning. It was purely a utilitarian purpose. They had to get rid of the bodies and they burnt them. Now Paul sees this as a prophetic symbol of Christ. Paul says ‘remember that place where those bodies were burnt? It is a type of Jesus who suffered outside of the city. It was showing that there would be a day where a sacrifice would be made, outside of the law system, that would sanctify all the people’! Amazing, once again Paul sees things in scripture that no body else is seeing, until now! Paul’s mind was consumed with seeing Jesus in everything. He sees hidden shadows of Gods preplanned coming of Messiah and how God all along would require people to ‘leave the camp’ and come unto Christ. In essence Paul is saying ‘even in the tabernacle system God prefigured a once for all sacrifice that would take place outside of the law’ Bravo!

Also you will notice how Paul says ‘here we have no continuing city’ [Jerusalem] but we seek one to come [The heavenly city, the bride the Lambs wife, the church!] Paul does not do what many modern Evangelicals do. He does not exalt Israel’s natural heritage. Interesting that a first century Jewish believer [Paul] writing to a 1st century Jewish audience, downplays their ‘holy land’. If you go back and review everything in this commentary, you will see that there are no references to the prophetic significance to the land of Israel as a geographical ‘holy place’. As a matter of fact the main theme is ‘leave your dependence and cultural pride that comes from your natural heritage, and come into this ‘new city’ that all of our fore fathers were looking for’ there is this amazing lack of exalting the natural city of Jerusalem [which the New Testament calls ‘Sodom’ in a spiritual sense! Revelation] and a plea for all nations, including natural Israel, to come unto Christ.

‘By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased’ Paul gives us 3 main sacrifices that the New Covenant priest/believer can bring. Praise, doing good and giving of your goods and money to meet the needs of those around you [communicate means this here]. ‘Obey THEM that have the rule over you and submit yourselves’ again we see leadership in plurality. Every city has spiritual leadership, they are responsible before God for how they lead the people in their area. They are also responsible to bring the people to maturity and independence. A place where people are not co dependant upon leadership. I believe much of the modern system has failed in this respect. The modern system has actually taken these types of verses and used them to tell people ‘your main role is to come to church on Sunday and passively listen’ we have built this audience/ spectator mindset into people, and we have failed in this respect. ‘Pray for us’ I have found this simple request to be one of the most important things you can ask others to do for you. Enlist prayer support. Pray for me! Ask people to pray for you! We all need this desperately!

‘Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever amen’ What a great way to end this letter! It is thru the blood of Jesus Christ that we are accepted and perfected in every way. We can only live and function because of the blood! We have true forgiveness for all of our sins because of what Christ has done for us. Paul has penned 13 chapters of revelation showing us the great significance of Christ’s sacrifice. He has urged his fellow country men ‘come out from trying to make yourselves holy and acceptable, and receive the once and for all sacrifice of Christ’ he has trumpeted this theme all thru out this letter. I want to exhort you guys to see the sufficiency of the Cross. We get so caught up in what we are doing that there is a tendency to rely on ourselves and our own ability to change things [even us!] we need to re-focus on the biblical priority and necessity of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He truly is the way, the truth and the life. No man can come to the Father but by him! God bless you guys,

John.

(1368) FOR HE LOOKED FOR A CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS, WHOSE BUILDER AND MAKER IS GOD- Hebrews. In keeping with the last post, let’s talk some more on the debate between Evolution and Design. When the able Stephen Barr shot the round that was heard around the world [at least the world of IDer’s] he made some good points, even though I disagree strongly with the way he represented the other able scientists in the field. One day I had a talk with a geologist, it was a happenstance meeting [friend of my daughter] and during a normal friendly conversation I brought up many of the opposing views to ‘uniformitarianism’ and the challenges to a ‘deep time’ geology. While not a young earther myself, I found it amazing that this scientist was totally unaware of any opposing viewpoints to the standard theories. In the halls of academia the majority opinion is without a doubt that of Darwinian Evolution, it is also true that many people [even scientists!] are really not familiar with all the data [lots of data!] that challenge the standard view; many have come to challenge the basic Darwinian timeline [thus punctuated equilibrium] and have admitted that the tremendous ‘gap’ in the fossil record, along with the discovery of high complexity in the most simple cell, that these scientific discoveries have made it difficult to accept the Darwinian idea. Now the adherents of Evolutionary theory accuse the IDer’s of resorting to a ‘God of the gaps’ excuse. That is they claim that all the IDer’s are doing is finding places in the record that have no explanations [information, complex machines, etc.] and are inserting ‘God’ into these gaps. The Evolutionists say ‘given enough time, maybe we will find naturalistic explanations to fit the gaps’. And they claim that any ‘gap theory’ actually hinders scientific discovery, because it has a tendency to say ‘well, might as well stop looking for a naturalistic cause, God just filled the gap’. First, the IDer’s are not saying that because we have run across unanswered difficulties, lets stick God in there. What they are saying [for the most part] is that observable data [science] show us, in every case, that when you have complex systems that are ‘irreducible’ and stored data/info at the most simple level; that these facts point to an intelligent mind having been the cause of these things. Now, Stephen Barr and Francis Beckwith [two of the main scientists/philosophers in the debate] do not reject the idea that yes, an intelligent mind is behind the design/info, what they are saying is it’s still possible that science will discover a ‘naturalistic’ explanation/mechanism to it. That is God might have created some other unknown mechanism that is simple [or complex] that can be credited with bringing into existence the design/info. They are simply arguing that it’s possible, and not in contradiction with historic Christianity, to embrace this view. Barr also seems to be saying ‘yes, it is very possible that we will never find a reasonable, naturalistic explanation for this, and at that point the IDer’s might be right, but then you jump out of the field of science [observable data] and carry the argument into another classroom’. I believe the ‘God of the gaps’ accusation is erroneous, I also believe that far too many adherents to Evolutionary theory are not giving the proper weight to the gaps, some are not even aware of them! Thomas Aquinas is sometimes misunderstood and is said to have advocated a secular/religious division in apologetics; that is some say he taught that the natural sciences and religious truth were 2 totally different fields, sort of like the thought of Emanuel Kant [Physical/Metaphysical division] but Thomas taught that science could show us many truths about God, just because you have naturalistic explanations to things, this does not discount the Divine hand- but he also taught that science could only go so far down that road- for instance it would take many years to arrive at a naturalistic proof of Gods being, while revelation [thru tradition and scripture] could get you there quicker. Also science can prove that God exists [prime mover] but for truths on the nature of God [Trinity] you need revelation. So Aquinas leaves room for science to go so far, and if it ‘hits a gap’ then yes, you have every right to carry the argument into ‘another classroom’ so to speak. It is not wrong to say ‘yes, we are searching for a city, one that has been built by God’ but to also recognize that the city has foundations [whether discovered thru naturalistic or religious truth]; both seekers can be on the right track, arriving at different times/ways.

(1369) Been reading Hebrews 11 ‘by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things we see were not made from things that appear’ in keeping with the last few posts, it seems that God himself has said we will eventually get stuck at a point of irreducible complexity- or at least we will get to a point where the actual act of God creating the physical realm will be ‘unseen’ by physical means [Physics]. Any way I wanted to mention Moses, Hebrews says that by faith his parents hid him for 3 months, by faith he forsook the pleasures/riches of being a son of pharaoh, by faith he kept the Passover and sprinkling of blood, etc… Often times Moses and the story of the children of Israel fleeing Egypt is seen thru a materialistic lens- ‘look, God gave them all the riches of Egypt on their way out, a Divine transfer of wealth’ actually God simply made the Egyptians reimburse them for all their years of free slave labor, we call that evening the playing field [reparations]. The point I want to make is Moses made a conscious decision, by faith, to not walk the path of the highly successful ‘jet setter’ he rejected a lifestyle that would have elevated him to the top of society and instead chose to ‘suffer affliction with the people of God’. Hebrews 11 also speaks of those who ‘by faith’ were tortured, not accepting deliverance- that is in today’s church world we very rarely view successful faith thru this lens- we actually give the impression of Jobs friends ‘surely Job, you must be messing up in some way, look at the hell your going thru’ but the scriptures teach us there are definite times where the cost of faith will be making the decision to not take the bait, to make the decision to make less money- or to attain less status; these are very real choices that the bible tells us about over and over again. If we were told ‘look, I am going to give you a book by some revolutionary, in it he will give you the keys to greatness and being a true follower’ and then you received a New Testament, and you start reading it for the 1st time- you would be inundated with a message and calling that says over and over again ‘unless you forsake all, you can’t follow me’ ‘whoever loves this life, can’t be my disciple’ ‘unless you take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of me ‘you can’t serve God and money ‘it’s harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom than for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle’ I mean you would be hard pressed to walk away from the New testament with a message of wealth and luxury! Moses, by faith, chose to forsake a life of luxury and success, he chose ‘affliction’ for the sake of a higher calling- I want to challenge you guys today [especially all our Pastor/leader readers] have you been influenced too much by the modern ‘health/wealth’ message? Has the busyness of ministry and the pressures of life ‘choked these words that they have become unfruitful’ [Jesus parable of the sower]. Remember, Jesus said the enemy comes to steal the words of Jesus; he tries to cause us to forget, to ‘not see’ the actual things that Jesus said. Don’t feel guilty if this is you, just rethink what I shared in this post and by Gods grace make the adjustments- God is challenging many ministries at this season, there are good men who mean well, but lots of ministry that is focused on extreme wealth and needing millions to accomplish the mission, these are going to be challenged in the economically challenging days ahead. But if your ministry/mission is seen the thru lens of the great revolutionary [Jesus] you will do well. Hey, sometimes faith is the act of walking away from the status and limelight, sometimes it’s ‘forsaking the riches of Egypt’ and embracing some affliction.

(1370) BY FAITH THE WALLS OF JERICHO CAME DOWN, AFTER THEY WERE COMPASSED ABOUT FOR 7 DAYS- Hebrews 11. Also ‘Moses and the children of Israel went thru the Red Sea like it was dry ground, others drowned in the same attempt’. We often view ministry/serving God thru a mindset that says ‘I have this vision, this thing I want to do for God- I see myself being in ‘full time ministry’ and I am not cut out to live a normal life’. Now, many good men with noble goals have done great things ‘for God’, the point I want to make, in keeping with the previous post, is that Jesus gave us a way to approach ‘Christianity’ and it doesn’t start with ‘my big vision’ it starts with service and sacrifice. Years ago when I was pastoring I had friends who would come to our meetings, others who were members, who were ‘word of faith- prosperity’ brothers. I had one friend who was actually an ordained ‘WOF’ [word of faith] pastor. I advised him to try and get a ‘secular job’ while waiting on his ministry, he refused to work. It was common to run into brothers with this mindset. They meant well, but they were approaching the Christian life thru a lens that said ‘I am not cut out for the working world, so I aint gonna work, period!’ What can you do with these types of mindsets? In the above verses the people of God did not disconnect faith from action, real consistent action. Faith made the walls of Jericho fall down, AFTER 7 days of labor! Moses attempted something that others died attempting; he then kept the ordinances and remained faithful for 40 years in the dessert. We often say ‘well, it wasn’t Gods plan for them to wander for 40 years, they brought that upon themselves’ true; but then Jesus would have never been able to say ‘Moses gave you manna for 40 years, I am the true bread that comes down from heaven’. The point being we need to be prepared for a consistent life of faithfully doing God’s will, there will be times when the glory of the Red Sea experience will turn into a bunch of rebels whining about Quail! Much of Christianity in our day has mastered the ‘Quail request’ we say ‘give us abundance, more and more’ God said ‘okay, you got what you wanted’ and the bible says they ate Quail till it came out their nose! I believe God has some good things in store for us down the road, we are all in this together [Abraham dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob- all heirs of THE SAME PROMISE] Its just every now and then we need to make some adjustments, it seems this season is one of those times.

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