Hebrews          
A Bible study

Contents:
 Introduction  
 God has Spoken to Us  11-3
 Jesus - Superior to Angels    14-14
 Beware of Drifting  21-4
 Why did God Create Man?  25-13
 God Became a Man  214-18
 Christ, the Builder, is Faithful as a Son    31-6
 Unbelief Hardens the Heart - Beware!  37 - 42
 The Sabbath Rest  43-13
 The Son of God, 'High Priest for Ever'  414 - 510
 The Elementary Teaching about Christ  511 - 63
 A Severe Warning  64-8
 Real Assurance  69-20
 Melchizedek and Jesus  71-19
 Jesus - a Better Offering with a Better Covenant    81-13
 Entering the Most Holy Place  91 - 1039
 The Assurance of Things Hoped for  111-40
 Therefore ...
      a)  Fix your eyes upon Jesus,  persevere  121-29
      b)  Compassion for others  131-9
      c)  Beware of Strange Doctrines  139
      d)  Rejoice in Christ  1310-15
      e)  Share with Others,  Obey Leaders  1316-19
 Final Blessing and Encouragement  1320-25
 Summary - Jesus is Better,  much Better !

 
Introduction        

Author:
Unlikely to be Paul.
      Most consider that the style, introduction and ending are too different.
He was certainly a well instructed Jew writing to Jews.
      Possibly Barnabas or Apollos
Just a short letter! 1322

Situation for Jewish believers:
Speaks of Temple sacrifices in present tense so written before 70 AD.
Rome dominated the whole Mediterranean area.
They allowed national religions. e.g. Judaism,
      but not Christianity, considered a new, undesirable, unlawful sect
      and were persecuted until 312 AD. ['conversion'(?) of Constantine]
Orthodox Jews persecuted the Jewish (and Gentile) Christians.
Hebrews written before 70 AD, when it was easy to be a Jew; but not a Christian.
Some Jewish Christians were tempted to emphasise their 'Jewish' part
      or even to revert to Judaism to avoid hardship.
(Persecution of Jews would begin later - after 70, 135 and 312 AD)

If living in AD 60, how would you have written to your fellow Believers?
And how would you write to your fellow Believers today?

What is the main emphasis of this letter to the Hebrews?
      Jesus is the longed-for Jewish Messiah.
      Jesus is far 'better' than the Law and all the sacrifices.
      Need to persevere and not turn back.
      The reality of a future hope of an 'enduring city' with Jesus.
            Current life is but a small blip of time. Use it to the full.

 
God has Spoken to Us  11-3          
 
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.  11

The opening three verses of Hebrews lay the foundation of the whole book.

It is a great honour that God speaks to us humans.
      Far more than the Queen saying, "I wish to come and speak with you!"
'Our forefathers'. Can we say they are our forebears too?
Who did God speak with?
      All who would listen; all who had an ear to hear.
      All who had a longing in their soul for the Lord God.  Deut 429  Is 551,2,6
How did God speak?
      Through his prophets.
God does nothing without first telling the prophets.  Amos 37
Who are the prophets? What was (and is) their ministry?
      To speak God's vital word to man.
      Prophets interpret the past.
            They learn from history; God is faithful and speaks the truth.
      Prophets discern the present.
            They see today as God sees it.  e.g. 1 Ch 1232
      Prophets predict the future.
            God reveals to them what he is going to do.
            Only the Bible accurately predicts the events of the last days - God's plan.
God still speaks to us through these same prophets.

What sort of people were they? What did God say to them?
      Priests (Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah), Landowners (Elisha, Job),
      P.M.'s (Daniel, Joseph)
      Shepherds and farmers (Abraham, David, Moses, Amos)
      Poets and songwriters (Isaiah, Jeremiah, David)
      Imprisoned (Joseph, Jeremiah)
Did God only speak through the prophets?
      Mostly, yes, but God also spoke personally to individuals.
      He spoke to Abraham, Jacob, Moses and to judges like Samuel and Gideon.
      Many times he 'spoke' through events.  Exd 1430,31  Judg 710-15  Hos 3

How did he speak? What were the many different ways that God used?
      Dreams and visions. Joseph, Daniel, Ezekiel.
      Everyday life, signs. Clothes did not wear out, manna + water
      Ordinary and extraordinary:
            Parables  Is 51-7
            Miracles. Jonah rose from the dead.  Math 1240
            Night sky - Abraham -  Gen 155,6
            Jeremiah 'go down to the potter's house ...'  Jer 18,24
      Good events and disasters.  2 Kg 514, 27  Is 3732,33  Amos 46-13  Job
      Defeat and victory.  Ai Josh 7,8  Judges 61,7
      Prayer. Elijah said that it would not rain - after much prayer.  James 517
.         Later that it would rain.  1 Kg 1841-45
            Answer is sometimes delayed.  Dan 920-23
      Ezekiel was struck dumb and had to mime / act.  Ezek 326 41-513
            But his message was clear.

God used many different ways so that all who sought God could hear.  Deut 429
      But sadly not everyone 'had ears to hear'.  Lu 88
Many great prophets; but at times they are rare.  1 Sam 31

What did God tell them?
      Many things - both personal and national.
      Any common theme? Yes.
            The need for a Saviour Redeemer.
                  God's only answer to sin - for the 'respectable' and for the criminal.
      All OT books looked forward to the promised coming Messiah.
            Then Jesus said, "Here I am."  Lu 421
      This letter reveals the truth of God's fulfilment of his promise.
      Jesus has done what no other could do.

What about prophecy today? Are there still true prophets?
      Nothing added to Scripture for nearly 2000 years.
      No more prophets like Abraham, Isaiah or Amos.
      We are specifically warned about 'false prophets'.  Math 1411,24
But there are those who prophesy.
      Many different 'words' and enthusiasms.
      Most prophecy is local, a few are national.
      Some accurate and need heeding, some are obviously wrong.
            Most are a mixture; part truth, part human embellishment.
      All need to be tested. How?
            Scripture. No true prophecy can contradict the Word of God.
            Inner witness (this is much more than 'do I agree with it'!)
            Beware of popular words.  Is 3010,11  Jer 530,31 2316-22  Lu 626  2 Tim 43
            Time is often the best arbiter.  Act 538,39
Little need for God to add to what he has already spoken. Why?
      Their task was to point to the day of Christ the Redeemer.  e.g. 1 Pe 19-11
For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
      Truth needs to be sought, 'heard' and revealed in every generation.
      Scripture remains the complete Word of God. Add nothing, subtract nothing.

There remains a great need to proclaim the truth
      of what God has already revealed about his 1st and 2nd Coming.
      There are many voices. And there will be many more -
            False prophets, who both add and subtract from Scripture.

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.  12,3

By far the greatest Prophet is the Son of God himself.
      (He is also Priest and King!)
He came to fulfill God's promise to 'take away the sin of the world'.  Jn 129
What all the prophets had so earnestly looked forward to and spoken of.  Dan 924

How did the Son of God speak differently?
      God came in the flesh, as a man.  Jn 114
      God spoke more clearly. Now is was firsthand, not secondhand.
            '... but I tell you ...'  Math 522,28,32 ...
      Jesus spoke the truth, not theory. And he perfectly practised what the spoke.
            Many witnessed his power, grace, humility, righteousness and his purpose.
      He revealed the whole truth - previously much was revealed in fragments.
            Isaiah said Messiah will be born of a virgin,
            Micah that he would be born in Bethlehem,
            Abraham saw that God himself would provide the Lamb etc

Though fragmented it was all absolutely true; just incomplete.
      It was not the progression of human understanding,
            Now it was the progression from promise to fulfilment.
      None saw that Jesus would come twice. As Saviour and then later as King.
Islam claims that Muhammad gave a later, more complete revelation.
      What an insult. How could a sinful, evil man reveal more than the Son of God?
Joseph Smith (Mormons) also claimed a later and greater revelation. Rubbish!
And many sect leaders have done the same.
Each suffer from demonic delusion. Always beware of such claims.
Jesus Christ was, and remains, the only Son of God; the only effective Redeemer.

What did Jesus fulfill?
      All that the previous prophets had spoken of.
      All the righteousness that the Law commands.
      All the punishment than justice demands.

Hebrews reveals the need for both justice and mercy.
      How Jesus fulfills both the demands of the Law (justice),
            and the promise of the Prophets (mercy).

Hebrews will teach us what to leave behind and what to keep;
      What has been fulfilled and what still awaits the time of God.
      What is obsolete and what must still be obeyed?
            Altars, priests, covenant (law), sacrifices, vestments,
            tithing, Sabbath, good works etc

How was Jesus so different from all the prophets?

1. Jesus, heir of all things.  
What was he given?  Father gives to him all believers, whom he cherishes deeply.
    As in marriage, when a father gives the bride to the bridegroom.
      It is a great tragedy today that most refuse to wait to be given the gift.
He is heir of all the earth which men have carelessly exploited and abused.
      There is much repair work to be done - to man and to the earth.

2. He made the universe.  113   Jn 13  Col 116  Prov 822-36
Gk. 'aiones' = ages. i.e. all material and all time.
Creation is almost universally denied today.  2 Pe 35
But creation is a real, tangible evidence of God's existence,  Ro 120
      whether he created it 7,000 years or X million years ago.
      School in Gateshead (UK) ridiculed for teaching 'creation myth'. (Feb 2002)

3. The Son is the radiance of God's glory ...  Rev 2123
The identity of Jesus as the Son of God is vital.
      Proven by his glory, power, wisdom and compassion.
Three men on Mt. privileged to see reality of God's glory.  Math 172
Radiance is much more than reflection.  Sun c.f. moon
Many would see God's glory at Calvary. Glory does not come cheap!

4. The exact representation of his being ...
Gk. 'charakter' = the very stamp of his nature (RSV)
      or the flawless expression of the nature of God (Phillips)
      c.f. 'eikon' = image  e.g. 2 Co 44  Col 115
Not God with the likeness of man,
      nor man in whom the full Spirit of God dwells
      but conceived by the Spirit in the womb of Mary
He had to be wholly man to be the required sacrifice,
      and he had to be wholly God to be perfect.

5. Sustaining all things by his powerful word.
The same 'Word' that brought it into being in the first place.  Is 4012
He has not gone away and left his world.  Col 115-20
I shudder to think what would happen if God did let go.  Ro 121-32

6. By himself he provided purification (purging) for our sins. (see KJV)
Surely this is the greatest need of man, but the least acknowledged.
In revival it is the revelation of guilt that causes men to cry out to God.
It is the principal reason that Jesus came as a man to redeem his creation.
He alone could fulfill this long-prophesied High Priestly act.

7. Now seated at the right hand of God in heaven.  Ps 110  Phil 29
Seated because the sacrifice is completed; unlike earlier priests.  1011-14
On the Cross Christ said, "It is finished."  Jn 1930
      The just punishment of our sin was paid for in full.
The Cross was not the end; there was a glorious resurrection and ascension.
      There will also be a glorious return, when the Kingdom of God will come.
      Then the Kingdom of God will be world-wide, not just within a few believers.

 
Jesus - Superior to Angels  14-14        

So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. 14

First of 10 ways in Hebrews that Jesus is shown to be far superior or better.
What name did Jesus inherit or gain?
      Yeshua (Hebrew)= the Lord saves. = (Gk. Jesus) Math 121
Only known names of angels are Gabriel (= 'God is my strength')
      and Michael (= 'the same, consistent'): never called Messiah
Jesus is Son of God, his Father; the angels are his servants.
Who are the angels? What did they do?
Angels are not weak, effeminate creatures, nor little overweight cherubs!
      They do not always wear white and fly (only Cherubim have wings).
Scripture's 300+ references to angels reveal something very different.
There are over 40 occasions when angels have visibly appeared to men.
      in 26 of these they come as messengers from God.
      in 17 they 'speak' with a sword!
One angel kills 185,000 in a single night. 2 Kg 1935
Another kept shut the mouths of hungry lions. Dan 622
Angels are mighty beings indeed!
They are familiar with God, they are holy and obedient,
      but are not impervious to sin, some have fallen.
      The devil and his evil angels rebelled and fell.  Is 1412-15 Math 2541
      But they are no match for the angels of God.  Dan 1013,20
In the Old Testament 'the angel of the Lord' is sometimes the Lord.
      e.g. Gen 18,19 Exd 3 Josh 513 But it is not always so obvious.
In the Great Tribulation (Rev 6-19) they execute the just Judgement of God.
They are instructed to blow the trumpets and empty the bowls of wrath.
      et they also encourage, protect and strengthen.
      They encamp around those who fear God.  Ps 347
      Also 2 Kg 617 Math 411 Lu 2243 1 Kg 193-9 Act 125-10
Angels should not be worshipped.  Col 218-23 Rev 228,9
Thank God for his mighty angels.
      And thank God for Jesus who is far greater than them all!

What name has Jesus inherited? To be 'inherited', someone must first die!
      Yeshua (Saviour) Redeemer.  Math 121  Lu 131-33 221  Is 6016
      King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Rev 1714 1916
No angel has names like these.
Jesus is not just superior in name to angels, but in who he is and what he does.

So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire." But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the sceptre of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." He also says, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end." To which of the angels did God ever say, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?  14-14

Seven Old Testament quotes in this passage:

1. 'You are my son ...'  Ps 27
Context always important.
      i.e. Nations conspire, and wish to be free from God and his Laws.
      The Hebrews would have known this, we may not.
God laughs, and he again confirms the Sonship and Kingship of Jesus.
Though Sonship confirmed, Jesus came as a servant.  Is 421  Math 2028
'Today ...' Jesus was always the Son of God.
      Seen to be at his incarnation.
      Confirmed at Baptism.  Mk 111
      Ps 27 also quoted in Act 1333 Resurrection proved Sonship was eternal.

2. 'I will be his Father ...'  2 Sam 711b-16  Lu 132-, 68-
Nathan tells David that God will establish his son's kingdom for ever,
      and that Solomon will build the house of the Lord - not David.
Because the throne will be for ever,
      it must be fulfilled by the One who lives for ever.
      i.e. by great David's greater son

3. 'Let all God's angels worship him'  Ps 10320 1482  (Deut 3243  Ps 977 ?)
The angels worshipped Jesus at his birth, and rightly so.  Lu 213,14
As Jesus spoke the word and created the whole universe,
      all Godís angels must have sung for joy and worshipped him.  Jn 11-3
Why do some men worship angels when we can worship God!
      or pray to Mary or the saints when we can pray with and to Jesus?
Angels do not wish to be worshipped.  Josh 515 c.f. Rev 228,9

4. 'He makes his angels winds ...'  Ps 1044
Wind and fire are obedient to God; so are the angels.
      And they often come to destroy.
The context of this psalm is the greatness of God.
      "What is man that thou art mindful of him?"
Yet man is so often arrogant,
      He refuses to obey God, refuses to repent.  Ro 1  Rev 1611  2 Pe 33-10
      or to respond to either God's judgement or his love.

5. 'Your throne, O God, will last for ever'  Ps 456
The Judean kings finished with Zedekiah;
      but God's eternal plan for his Son's rule remained unchanged.
One day all in the new heaven and earth will own the kingship of God,
      but meanwhile, 'the kingdom of God is within us'.

6. 'You laid the foundations of the earth ...
      they will perish ... but you remain the same ...'  Ps 10225-27
See context of this psalm - a man laments the brevity of life; but ...
      Today the tabernacle is gone, and the Temple.
The angels did not lay the foundations of the earth, Jesus did. 12
God's foundations are righteous, justice and truth. Each are sadly lacking.
      The earth, and all in it, will wear out, perish.
      Man has already made a considerable mess of it
But God who will 'roll it up' as easily as a man rolls up a garment.
God will never wear out!  Heb 138

7. 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool ...'  Ps 110
Here Jesus is seen as the mighty, triumphant warrior, the Messiah;
      before whom all nations will be judged.
Quoted by Jesus concerning the Messiah.  Math 2241-46
Pastor Wurmbrand sees Jesus at the 'right hand' while in prison.  Also Acts 756
Even the archangel Gabriel stands before God; only the Son sits.  Lu 119

Conclusion:
Jesus was not an angel; he is far, far higher. The angels are his servants.
Amazingly, the purpose of the angels is to obey God and to serve us who believe!
      But do not allow this to give us a false sense of superiority;
      Remember the Son of God came not to be served, but to serve.  Mk 1045

 
Beware of Drifting  21-4        

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? 21-3a

Spoken to by prophets, and now by God's Son, therefore ...
It is all too easy to 'drift'. How?
a) Lose sight, or have never really seen, the greatness of our salvation.
      'Great' because the Author is the Lord Almighty.
            Value of painting or violin because of the painter, maker or player.
      See both what we have been saved from and saved for.
      Appreciate the high cost of Jesus bore on the Cross for us.
      There is nothing in the history of the world so great as this rescue.
b) Not usually by suddenly renouncing Jesus,
            but by becoming careless or lazy, loving ease and plenty,
            allowing small compromises to grow.  Ro 121,2  Rev 24,5  c.f. 219  Math 255,10
      The return from drifting can be very difficult: but it is not impossible.
      Am I willing to challenge, and to be challenged by my friends?
      Helpful to once a year write out our goals and those for the church.
            What part can I play in achieving them?

Message spoken by angels (= the Law given on Sinai)  Gal 319  Act 738,53
Why couldn't angels bring the message of salvation?
      It requires more than words; it needed a perfect sacrifice.
If the Law (brought by angels) cannot be ignored;
      how much less can salvation, brought by the Son of God himself.  Lu 421
Yet many wilfully ignore the salvation that Jesus offers.  Ro 121,28,32  Jn 319
       Deceived by pride, enjoyment of sin, or fear of ridicule;
            they make a definite and most foolish choice. Our task is to reverse this.
But Christians may also ignore salvation - and be distracted.
      Wrong priorities are excused, pressure of time, marry non-Christians,
            begin to enjoy sin (usually rooted in money, sex or power).  Lu 813,14
      They are not unconscious of this; but sadly are often unwilling to change.
      Daily gratitude for sins forgiven is a good antidote.
The consequences of drifting are dire - there is no escaping the just punishment.

 
This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. 23b,4

Confirmed to us by those who heard him.
      Therefore the writer was not an apostle or one of the pre-Calvary disciples.
Testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles.
      The Law was confirmed by cloud and fire
How was the identity of Jesus confirmed? By the testimony of God.  Lu 22 935
      By the truth he taught, the miracles he wrought, the holy life he led,
            the prophecy he fulfilled, his compassion, his claims
            his wisdom, his sacrifice and by his resurrection.  Lu 418-21 722 Is 53
      The Apostles witnessed his righteous, gracious and powerful character.
And by gifts of the Spirit - the 'Spirit of Truth', the 'Counsellor'.  Jn 1416,26 167,8
      Revelation of truth, conviction.  Lu 2427, 44-47  Act 237 1630
      Character. Gal 522  Act 244
      Healing and deliverance.  Act 37 512,15 87 1410
 

Why did God Create Man?  25-13        

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honour and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 25-9

God has given angels much responsibility for administering this world,
One day the world will be administered by the King Jesus.

What about now? Here on this earth?
The quote from Ps 84-6 refers to men - not to Jesus.
      It reveals the honour and responsibility that God gave to men.
      In the beginning God made every creature subject to man.  Gen 126
      This was his purpose in creation; and it was 'very good'.

But then man rebelled and our nature became corrupted.
      History is the proven trail of the mess and abuse we have made
            of what God created so well.
      Today the world-wide rebellion against God continues. And proves 'the fall'.
      Men in every age have abused the responsibility God gave us.
We do not yet see everything and everyone subject to men, or even to Jesus.
The Prince of this world is determined to destroy as much as he can while he can.

Is there any way to clear up this mess; to reverse the corruption of all men?
      This is the purpose of this letter - to reveal God's rescue plan.
      To make clear to the chosen people, why the Messiah had to suffer death.
But how many are willing to be truthful and admit our pitiful state?  Rev 317
      Proud deluded humanistic men think nothing is wrong that he can't put right.
      They say, 'what need have we for a Saviour or an Advocate?'

Right at the beginning of the letter we are introduced to God's solution.
We see Jesus ... now crowned ...
Do we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, now?
What is our vision of him?  Act 755,56
Why is he crowned ?
      He was willing to become lower than the angels.  Lu 1411  Phil 28,9
      He was willing to suffer even death at the hands of mere men.
            Not as a martyr, but as our Redeemer.
What Jesus has done for his marred creation is surely worthy of glory and honour.

Why necessary?
No man has ever been able to undo his inherited corruption.
      It required a son of man who was also the Son of God.  1 Co 1521,22
No angel could undo corruption - nor did any sacrificial animal suffice.
      Only a perfect sacrifice. (Hebrews will continue to explore this vital theme)
Jesus tasted death for everyone.
      No one is too poor or too rich, too old or too young, too good or too bad.
      The offer of God's mercy is still open to all in this day of opportunity.
      But not everyone will be saved.
            Only those who believe.  Eph 17 212,13  Rev 710,12  Jn 318
      Many are called, but few are chosen.  Math 2214 (See context for true meaning)

 
In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.  210

Why is this world here?
Why do we exist?
What is the purpose of life on earth?
Is it just for man to enjoy, to exploit or use?
Atheists and the despairing say that there is no ultimate purpose in it at all!
Very few acknowledge that man and all this earth exist for God!
Before God created us, he knew that he himself would need to redeem us.
      But this high cost did not stop him creating.
      Every woman knows that childbirth is painful; few are put off by the prospect.
            And the pain is amazingly quickly forgotten afterwards.

The author of salvation reminds us that
      the cost of salvation would be through suffering; his suffering, not ours.
He is determined to bring many sons to glory.
      God refused to see his creation spoiled without hope of recovery.
      Does it surprise us that God's intention is to bring us to glory?
      One day he will be proud of what he has made and salvaged -
            Not just repaired, but totally changed, 'reborn', to be like Jesus;
                  without even a trace of our corruption.  Jn 33,5  1 Jn 32
      God's purpose is nothing less than perfection.
            It may seem impossible, but he will achieve it!  1 Thes 523,24
He is the sole Author of the great plan of salvation. This supreme rescue plan.
      And he is the One who planned the means and paid the price that his own justice demanded.
The 'Author' was made perfect; he always was,
      but now he has perfectly completed their united purpose.

Why did God create man?
      Desire for family.
Why a little lower than the angels?
      Not an indication of our insignificance, but of responsibility and value to God.
But there is a problem - sin!  And a solution.
      Godís rescue plan devised by the Author of our salvation.
      It required Jesus to be born a little lower than the angels. 29 i.e. as a man.
He would be crucified for being the Son of God.
      But justice was satisfied, the plan was successful, and his family restored.

 
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me."  211-13

Incredibly, he achieves the impossible: he adopts us as his blood brothers.
He gives us a new life, a new blood-stream; not new resolutions;
      (that inevitably fail on Monday or before the end of January!)
Made part of his family, made holy by Jesus.  Heb 1014 122, 18-24
      also Is 354-10 (how to help the fearful)
Holiness is a process.  Heb 1014  Gal 516  Lu 923
"Sanctification is glory begun, glory is sanctification completed."

3 quotes - each declarations of Jesus - Ps 2222  Is 817  Is 818
It is Jesus who declares us his brothers
      and he even sings about us! He is pleased with his achievement.
How do we react to this?
It should not make us careless or flippant, but amazed and ever more devoted to him.
      "My utmost for his highest."
      'As much as we can, as well as we can, for as long as we can.'

Jesus had to trust his Father on the cross.
      When he yielded his spirit, he was confident that Father would raise him.
We must trust God too.
      "Trust and obey, for there's no other way ..."

What a wonderful outcome. Jesus is pleased to be with his family.

 
God Became a Man!  214-18        

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity [Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; KJV]
so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
  214-18

All men are born with a shared human nature, flesh and blood.
Jesus didn't 'share' all our human nature -
      that would have included our natural sinfulness.
But he 'took part of the same', and so remained pure. (see KJV above)
If he had not been born of a virgin, he would have inherited our sinfulness.
God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin,
      condemned sin in the flesh ...  Ro 83
Jesus was born with human flesh and blood, but not with sinful flesh.
      (not born in sinful flesh, but in the 'likeness of sinful flesh'.)
Jesus came with all the character of God!
      'Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die ...'
      He only left his glory in heaven.
      Now he was capable of hunger, thirst, ... and crucifixion.
      Like us, he was made a 'little lower than the angels'.

Right at the start we are introduced to the greatest need of man.
      To destroy the devil who holds the power of death.  214
      To free those ... held in slavery by their fear of death.  215

What is the death, the slavery referred to here?
All men are subject to physical death (except Enoch and Elijah.  Gen 524 2 Kg 211)
There is also spiritual death.
      We all inherit from Adam and Eve sin, corruption and rebellion.  Gen 217
      Heedless of God's warning, they died. Their relationship with God was broken.
            And so is ours. We are all born 'dead'!  Ro 39  Gal 322
      Physical birth is an unceasing wonder. Spiritual birth is even more so.
      Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
      You should not be surprised at my saying, 'you must be born again'.
 Jn 36,7

In God's beautiful design physical birth requires the union of man and woman,
      So spiritual birth requires the action of God. No man can achieve it alone.
            Jesus emphasises this work of the Counsellor.  Jn 167-11 1526 1613
            Men should do the same.  Lu 1017-20

Satan really delights in our death; God yearns for us to live.
Jesus said, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
      I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.  Jn 1010  1 Jn 417,18
What a contrast!

For the last 600 years these Jews had been under the rule of a foreign power.
      Babylon, Persia, Greece and then Rome.
      (They had some brief relief when the Maccabees defeated Antiochus IV.)
      They longed to be free.
Yet many only grudgingly admitted their bondage to Rome.  Jn 833
      Most refused to admit their slavery to sin.  Jn 539,40
God's plan reveals a different Messiah from the one the Hebrews were expecting.
      i.e. at best a super King David - successful, triumphant.
What kind of Messiah do we expect?
      One loving and kind, who will right all the world problems and bring peace.
God's Messiah came as Redeemer. The rescuer.
God's Messiah will also return as the mighty King of kings on a war horse!  Rev 19
      He will separate the righteous and the wicked and usher in a new Kingdom.
      An eternal Kingdom promised to David;  Ps 13211-14 14513  Is 97
            and revealed to Daniel.  Dan 234,35,44 714,27
      Is this what we remember when we pray, Thy kingdom come, ...
We Gentiles have largely failed to see God's plan fulfilled or for the future.
      So how can we dare to criticise the Jews when they too failed?

This is the power of death, the slavery, that was defeated by the death of Jesus.
      The sting of death is sin, not the dying of mortal flesh.  1 Jn 38  1 Co 1555,56
      Jesus did not belittle physical death; he wept with Mary and Martha. Jn 1133-35
      But he said to Martha,
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Jn 1125,26
      Many refuse to believe they are enslaved; and cannot understand this word.

God's heart was (and still is) set to help ... Abraham's descendants.
      Both Jews and Gentiles.  Ro 96-8
'Helps' is the same word as in 89 = 'to take hold of' or 'to lead out' of Egypt.

That is the prime purpose of this letter.
To reveal the reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way in order that he may become a merciful and faithful high priest ... that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  217

Two staggering facts:
      that God should be born and that God should die!
Why was he born? Why did he have to die?
This introduces the main theme of Hebrews:
      Jesus is the effective high priest and merciful redeemer (price payer).
What was the principal function of the High Priest?
      To offer sacrifice for the sins of the people.
Until Jesus, they all had to first offer sacrifice for their own sins.  Lev 166
Until Jesus even the best sacrifice was imperfect.
      Abel saw a better sacrifice.  Heb 114
      Abraham saw the day of Jesus Christ.  Gen 228,14  Jn 856

Jesus himself suffered when he was tempted.  218   How?
      From hunger during 40 day fast, to his agony in Gethsemane.
            e.g. Rejection, insults, lies, attempted murder ...

How does his experience help us when we are tempted?
      It is not that he just 'understands' our weakness;
            but that he did not fall - not even once! He resisted and won.
Satan is a bully. Whenever stood up to, in the name of Christ, he runs.  1 Pe 56-11
Sin is not inevitable. God always provides us with a way of escape.  1 Co 1013
      Regrettably we sometimes fail to avail ourselves of it.
      But Jesus never failed.
Jesus defeated Satan, the Prince of this world, but he is not yet destroyed.
Satan dared to tempt Jesus -
      but it is unthinkable that Jesus should ever became his slave.  Jn 1430

Christ, the Builder, is Faithful as a Son  31-6        

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honour than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honour than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.  31-6

2nd of thirteen ways in which Jesus is Superior.
After Abraham, Moses is highly honoured - and rightly so.  Heb 1124-29
What characteristic of Moses is highlighted here? Faithful.
How? He did not quit in difficulty. e.g.
      Rejected by Jews after 1st plague.
      Prayed when caught between Red Sea and Egyptian army.
      Many murmurings by the people in the 40 year Sinai desert wanderings.
      Interceded for the people.  Exd 329-14  Num 1413-23
      Forbidden to lead them into promised land.
      Nevertheless God's verdict is revealed in  Num 126-8
Jesus was faithful as a Son, Moses was faithful as a servant.
Moses built the Tabernacle under precise instructions,
      but only Jesus could build the house (or kingdom) of God.
Moses offered sacrifices, but the blood of animals could not atone for sin.
Jesus was faithful high priest (217), completed all he was sent to do.
Like a cook presenting bacon and eggs to his master;
      Hen (Moses) gives egg offering, but the pig has to give his life.

We are his 'house', called by name to heaven.  Is 431
      and are obliged to obey our master's Instructions: i.e.
    Pay more careful attention ... 21
    Fix your thoughts on Jesus ... 31
    Hold on to our courage and the hope ... 36
       = Faithful, consistent. Not like seed on the rock. Mk 45,16,17
      Our salvation should not depend on the emotional see-saw,
            but upon the unchanging, reliable, powerful Word of God.
Some hold to the theory of 'Once saved, always saved.'
They do so to try to boost assurance. But it often leads to presumption
      and carelessness. We must endure and be overcomers.  Rev 27,11,17,26 etc
      Rev 1310 1412  See notes on  Heb 64-12


Unbelief Hardens the Heart - Beware!   37 - 413       

So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.' So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'"
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.
 37-14

This is one of the difficult sections of Scripture.
It examines from Jewish history the grave problem of willful rebellion,
      of refusing to obey the Lord Almighty.
Ps 95 is sung by Jews each Sabbath, and by C of E at Morning Prayer.
1st part is the call to worship God.
2nd part is quoted here
      and shows that worship must be proceed from a careful, obedient heart.
Sadly our hearts can become hard and cold. e.g. Rev 23,4 315,17 also Judas
How does this happen?
Hardened by sin's deceitfulness - "they just believe what they want to believe ..."
An unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God -
      This is not accidental sin, but wilful rebellion.
Ps 958 quotes Meribah (= quarrelling) and Masseh (= testing)  Exd 171-7
Many 'testings' but especially  Num 131 -1425 (See "Testings")
      Joshua and Caleb were like beacons - they trusted God to enable them.
      It is possible to receive fruit of God's mercy and yet have a hard heart.
            Israel praised God for deliverance after crossing Red Sea,  (Exd 15)
                  but only Joshua and Caleb would enter the promised land.
      Need to both Believe (trust) and Obey. They must always go together.
Israel saw what God did (the many signs) and yet they still refused to believe.
      Even when Jesus himself came and taught, most still refused to believe him.
God was angry at their rebellion. They shall never enter my rest.
What about our rebellion today? Is there an Antidote?
'Encourage one another daily'. Not trite words; but action and honesty.
      Give help, even if inconvenient or costly.
      To encourage is not to give false praise. It is to stimulate rather than titivate.
      It is most dangerous for a Christian to be complacent or rebellious.
      Let us help each other to be overcomers in Christ.


As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."
Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
 315-19

Why did they rebel?
They had seen God's redeeming power at Passover in Egypt.
      When the angel had seen the blood on the door posts he had passed by.
They had experienced God's deliverance on the shores of the Red Sea,
      when protected from the pursuing Egyptian army who had all then drowned.
They had seen the fire and cloud of the presence of the Lord Almighty.
      God had led them and gave them victory when Amalek attacked them.
They heard the Commandments of God for their well-being on Mt Sinai.
They had experienced the provision of God in crossing the desert:
      water, daily manna, quail, shoes and clothes that didn't wear out.
Nevertheless they rejected God's purpose.
Jeshurun (Israel) grew fat and kicked; filled with food, he became heavy and sleek.
He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the rock his Saviour.  Deut 3215
Much later Stephen would declare at his Sanhedrin trial, "You stiff-necked people
       ... you are just like your fathers: you always resist the Holy Spirit!   751
       Also Act 1345 175 186 199 2824

What was the terrible and inevitable consequences of unbelief and disobedience?
      They all died in the desert. None entered the land God promised.
      They were 'shut out'.
      Just as when Noah entered the ark and God shut him in - and the wicked out.
      Jesus tells us that of the 10 virgins, 5 were foolish and they were shut out.
It was not their sins, but unbelief that prevented their entry.
      As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
            but whoever does not believe stands condemned already.
Note that if a believer sins the consequence is not the same as for unbelief.      
    Consider how Jesus treated Peter's 3-fold denial. Peter wept and repented.
            He was given the opportunity to repeat how much he loved Jesus.

How do we hear / listen?
Are we eager and expectant to hear God; or dull and critical?
Do we spend more time each day watching TV than reading the scriptures?


Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands,
let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
 41

By the grace of God, the promise of salvation (entering his rest ) still stands.
      Today is still a day of opportunity.

Therefore is a timely warning not to become like those with hard hearts.
      Their rebellion was at a high price. They never had peace with God.
      They didn't just ignore God; they refused to believe and they refused to obey.

We all need to be diligent and careful. Fear is far better than flippancy.
God must be respectfully feared, earnestly sought and whole-heartedly loved.
      As the scriptures repeat, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
          Ps 3316-22 Prov 813 166 Act 931

How can our belief be wrong or inadequate, to have fallen short?
Nearly half in UK claim to believe in God - but they refuse to repent.
      Faith is the God-given assurance of things hoped for.
      It is much more than a vague hope of heaven based on 'good works'.
      Faith is being certain that the sacrifice of Jesus really does cover all our sin.
Jesus tells us in Jn 540 that the Pharisees studied the scriptures;
      but they did not come to Christ for salvation. They saw no need.
      They did not have clue about God's rescue plan.
      Indeed they said, "Thank God I am not like others, especially this publican!

So what is the essential core belief that we need to be careful to maintain?
  1. That I am by nature evil (even if I do some 'good' things).
  2. The consequence of this is death is that I have no relationship with God.
  3. There is nothing I can do to save myself, to give myself a new heart.
  4. Jesus bore all my sin and gladly gives me new birth and a new spirit.

Jesus taught us these steps to becoming a Christian in the Beatitudes.  Math 53-10
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit. God reveals to us our poverty, our need.
      We cry to him for help. And the gracious God says:
2. Blessed are those who mourn. We begin to see the dire consequence of sin.
      That we are under God's death penalty. We cry: What shall we do to be saved?
      The Counsellor begins to convict us of sin, righteousness and judgement.
3. Blessed are the meek. Our God-humbled hearts are eager for the truth.
      We are made able to learn how to escape the just death-penalty.
      God reveals that our Redeemer Jesus Christ has paid the full required price.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
      We are desperate for God to make us righteous, to be given a new heart.
      We cry, "Create in me a new heart." In his mercy God does exactly that.
5. Blessed are the merciful. When we receive the undeserved mercy of God,
      it is hard not to be merciful to others. So begins a life-long pilgrimage.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart. Our goal - Holiness, to be like our Saviour.
      Our desire is not to be conformed to the pattern of this world,
            but that our minds be transformed and hearts be pure.  Ro 122
7. Blessed are the peacemakers. This is not a Christian CND, the absence of war.
      It is the earnest to tell others of the peace we have found with God.
      This is the peace Jesus wept for on the Mt of Olives on 'Palm Sunday'.  Lu 1942
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.
      The inevitable result of evangelism is persecution.  Jn 1520

God is delighted to say, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Now! and for ever.
He gives assurance to all who follow such steps and a warning to those who don't!


For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'"  42,3a

What is the difference between 'us' and 'them'? What we believe.
They accepted the benefits of religion, its ethics and way of life;
      they were even glad of some help,
      but they refused to admit their utter helplessness, their 'fallen nature'.
      They saw no desperate need for God to intervene.
They didn't believe the absolute necessity of Christ to be crucified;
      the redemption price that God's justice demands.
They hope that their good deeds will outweigh the bad.
      The 'religious' prefer the 'Scales of Justice' to the Cross of Jesus Christ.
This is always the great divide, and an offence to unbelievers.
What was the gospel preached to them?  Exd 193-6 2320-33 247 258 2314-19
Their goal of entering the promised land of God's rest was not achieved.

This letter asks why not?
What do we need to learn from their failure?
Why was God's message of no value to them,
      after all they'd experienced and seen in their deliverance from Egypt,
      the glory of the Lord at Sinai and his generous provision in the desert?
They thought they could manage by themselves.
They saw no need for a Messiah who would deliver them from sin.
When Jesus was speaking to some disciples whose belief in him was inadequate,
      he said, You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Jn 832-34
But they did not realise their bondage, they replied,
      We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone.
Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
They were wrong even on a physical level.
   The 'descendants of Abraham had been slaves in Egypt,
       then in Babylon and currently were under the Romans!
But Jesus was revealing how all were slaves to sin and needed rescuing by him.
Then, as now, many had rejected this vital truth.

Why do men reject God's rescue plan? In the Sower parable Jesus gives 3 reasons:
Pathway of hard, unchangeable tradition/thought - 'my mind is made up ...'
Weeds of comfortable living, enjoying popularity, embarrassed by Jesus.
Stony ground of wrong priorities, choose compromise, easily distracted.
These all heard but ... yet they never entered the rest of God's forgiveness.
Most men actually prefer wickedness. Jn 319
Let us be always quick to repent and accept correction, never complacent,
      always eagre to hear and careful to obey.
Those who reject God's offer will suffer, not just his sorrow,
      but God declares on oath they will suffer his anger!
      It is a certain promise. Not all God's promises are 'good'!


The Sabbath Rest   43-13        

And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.   43b-6

What is the significance of this 'Sabbath rest'?
      God's heart-felt satisfaction of his very good creation.
The supposedly Christian Constantine introduced 'Sunday' as a day of rest.
God commanded that the creation should be celebrated on the 7th day.
      But Constantine countered this and it's significance,
            introducing the 1st day as the day of rest..
      Furthermore Constantine worshipped the sun-god, so he called it Sunday!
      So the glory of God's creation became sidelined, instead of celebrated.
      I cannot think that God was very impressed with this heathen distraction.
      Surprisingly, no Christians have tried to reverse this.
We are glad to celebrate Christmas at the mid-winter solstice,
      and Easter at the spring fertility festival, Eostre (Norse) or Ishter (Babylon). We choose to largely ignore the 3 festivals that God commanded the Jews.
            Passover, Weeks and Tabernacles. One day we will.
On the 7th day God rested, his work was complete;
      but there was still much to do! Jn 516,17
In John's gospel we read that Jesus said, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working. ... The son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."
It is like a ship or a house that has been built; it's life has only just begun.
Jesus always did what he saw his Father doing on the Sabbath. Jn 519
      And it wasn't doing nothing!

On the Sabbath he preached, and healed and endlessly strove to reveal the truth.

When God in his mercy creates a new heart in us; that too is just the start.
      It makes it possible to begin a life-long work.
As Jesus told the woman at the well,
      whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Jn 414
Yet we remain thirsty for more!  Jn 635  Rev 2217
We long for the coming of Jesus,
      we pray for the day when the Kingdom of God will be world-wide.

Some entered God's rest: but some did not. Why?
Previously we read that it was because they refused to believe.
      Here we are shown it was also because of their disobedience.
      They knew God's Commandments and Laws - and chose to reject them.
            What folly. The Word of God can never be ignored with impunity.
      Unrepentant disobedience will always lead to disaster. Act 737-53

The Scripture says, God commands all people everywhere to repent. Act 1730
      All men ignore this command at their peril.
            It was true then, and it remains true today.

Conversely, It still remains that some will enter that rest.
      We still live in the day of God's grace when he offers salvation to all.
      Many Old Testament men rejoiced in God's Sabbath rest.
            They were assured of his forgiveness and life.
            It was this joy that Abel displayed which made his brother Cain so jealous.


Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.  47-11

Why does the writer repeatedly use the word today ?
      It stresses the urgency of the warning about unbelief and disobedience.
When Israel was delivered from Egyptian slavery, they soon began to complain.
      They refused to trust the Lord God, in spite of the evidence.  37-11  Num 1411,22
In one sense neither Moses nor Joshua gave them rest.
      There was a desert to cross
            and a judgement of the Canaanites to fulfill.  Gen 1513-21
All who trust in their Saviour are given rest and peace with God.
      But there remains much for us to do and work at - to live a holy life.
      Does this still seem contradictory?
      How can we 'rest' and at the same time 'make every effort'?
      When a new child is born; the work of parenthood begins!
      My Mum was still working at it with me when she died aged 92.
What effort can we make?
      Obviously we can do nothing to earn our salvation.
      But our sanctification requires both the extensive grace of God
            and our diligence, determination, zeal and responsive hearts.
      Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  Phil 212,13
      In other words, we must 'work out what God has worked in!'

Let us remember that Jesus, the obedient Son of God, has completed his redemptive 'work'. So what is he doing now? Relaxing? Having a good time? No.
      He is seated on the throne (resting).
      But every day he is continually working as our Advocate and Intercessor.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him,
      because he always lives to intercede for them.  Heb 725

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.  Is 5312

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ... if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  1 Jn 18 - 21

If Jesus is our Advocate, how can any accusing devil expect to win the case?!


For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
 412,13

The concept that the Word of God divides rather than unites, may seem strange.
What does the Word of God divide?
      Good and evil. Righteous and wicked. Thoughts as well as actions.
      The 'sword' cuts away all pretence and all that deceives.
In this inner battle, the soul is sometimes at odds with the spirit.
      As Paul confesses, I do not always do what I want to do.  Ro 718,19
      Who can rescue me? The Spirit, the Word of God.  Ro 724
      He reveals the awful truth, and we repent, 'Wretched man that I am ...'
And such is the grace of God that he then says,
      Therefore there is now no condemnation ...  Ro 81  Zech 31-5, 8,9
      There remains a rest ... 41  Isn't God good!

God knows accurately not only everything we have done and will do,
      but he knows every thought and motive better than we do.
      This is awesome, but it is also a great relief!
The idea that we can hide anything from God is ridiculous and utterly futile.
      In the beginning Adam and Eve tried to hide from God.
      And they even tried to cover their shame with fig leaves! Gen 37,8
      God revealed a much better and effective plan giving them leather garments.
            Garments that required an animal sacrifice. Gen 321
            The 'better sacrifice' of Jesus is the main subject of the rest of this book.

Note that our accountability and God's revelation of all things
      is an excellent antidote to carelessness!
Some do not see God as a Judge and pour scorn on any such idea.

Conclusion:
There remains a Sabbath Rest for the people of God.
God is angry with those who repeatedly spurn the revelation of his rescue plan;
     those who refuse to believe and those who are willfully disobedient.

Judgement on the Plain (Author unknown - slightly modified)

At the end of time billions of people were scattered over a great plain before God's throne. Most shrank back from the brilliant light before them, but some groups at the front were talking heatedly, not with cringing shame but with belligerence. Can God judge us? "How can he know about suffering?" snapped a pert young woman. She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. We endured terror, beatings, torture and death. In another group a Negro boy lowered his collar. "What about this?" he demanded showing an ugly rope burn, lynched for no crime but being black. In another crowd a pregnant school-girl with sullen eyes murmured,"Why should I suffer, it wasn't my fault?" "What about me?" cried an old man. I worked over 30 years for a firm and then they flung me out. What does God know about being unemployed, rejected and useless?"

Far out across the plain were hundreds of such groups. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering that he had permitted in his world. How lucky God was to live in heaven where all is sweetness and light, where there is no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred? What did God know about all that men had been forced to endure here in this world. For God leads a pretty sheltered life they said. So each group sent out a spokesman, chosen because he had suffered the most. A Jew, a Negro, a person from Hiroshima, a deformed arthritic and a starved Ethiopian. And in the centre of the plain they consulted with each other. At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever. Before God could be qualified to be their judge, he must endure what they had endured. They said that God must first come to live on earth as a man. Let him be born a Jew and know continual unjust persecution. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted. Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think he is out of his mind. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges and be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let him be tortured and at the last let him see what it means to be terribly alone. Then let him die; let him die in agony, and so that there can be no doubt that he died, let there be a host of witnesses to verify it. As each leader pronounced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval when up from the great throng of people assembled.

And when at last they had finished pronouncing their judgement, there was a long silence. No one uttered another word. No one moved, for suddenly everyone knew that God had already served his sentence.

The Son of God, 'High Priest for Ever'  414 - 510       

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  414-16

God wants us to be certain of the truth, to hold firmly to the faith we profess.
      For faith is not like some slippery eel, here one day and gone the next.
      It is much more than a vague hope of a better life,
            but it is a God-given consistent assurance of things hoped for.
            Based on the character of God, on fact of Christ crucified, not on feelings.

In the previous section we have seen that God is angry
      with those who repeatedly spurn his rescue plan;
            those who refuse to believe and those who are willfully disobedient.  319 411
But the truth was also revealed
      that There remains a Sabbath Rest for the people of God ...
So how can we be more certain? How can we hold more firmly to the faith?
      Because we have a great High Priest ... Jesus, the Son of God.
      He is the wonderful subject of most of the rest of this letter to the Hebrews.

What is the connection the High Priest and the last section, the Sabbath Rest?
To the Hebrews there is a natural progression from the 7th day Sabbath Rest
      to the 7th month. What happens in the 7th month of the Jewish year?
      Sadly Christians have largely neglected all the Jewish feasts:
            Passover, Weeks (also called Pentecost), and especially the third one -
                  Tabernacles.
      On the 1st day, Rosh Hashana, there is the Feast of Trumpets.
      The trumpet is blown, sounding a warning to repent;
            a time to get right with God and with your neighbours.
      The 10th day is Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement.
            On this day the High Priest atones for sin.
      5 days later is the feast of Tabernacles - 7 days to dwell with God.
            The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.   Jn 114
            Or, The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.

How may we receive a Sabbath Rest; that assurance that God has forgiven all our sin?
To have that same joy that Abel displayed and made Cain so jealous.
All down the ages God has used the same means for our salvation:
      The High Priest enters the Holy of Holies on our behalf.
      We trust Jesus, our great high priest who has gone through the heavens.   414
            Christ, risen from the dead, the sacrifice is accepted.

Thus we are introduced to the truth of Jesus being our Great High Priest.

Lev 16 tells us how the Levitical high priest foretold this effective sacrifice:
      Aaron had to first offer a bull for his own sin.
      Then he presented two goats to the Lord and cast lots.
      One goat was to be a sin offering,
            and the other was for making atonement - to be a 'Scapegoat'.

Jesus, the Son of God is our faithful, reliable, effective High Priest.
      Being totally without sin: he always did what he saw his Father doing.  Jn 519
            So unlike Aaron, he did not have to first make an offering for his own sin.
            Neither did he have to enter again and again every day or even every year.
            He entered once and made
                  "A full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world."

As High Priest, what does he do with our sin?
      1. Jesus removes both the guilt and the power of sin.
                  Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee!
                  Let the water and the blood, From thy riven side which flowed,
                  Be of sin the double cure; Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
            As far as the east is from the west,
                  so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  Ps 10312
            I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake,
                  And remembers your sins no more.  Is 4325
            'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord.
                  Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.  Is 118
      2. Jesus takes the guilt and the punishment upon himself.
            Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows ...
            He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
                  the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
                  And by his wounds we are healed. ...
                  The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Is 534-6
            While sympathetic, he never excuses any sin.
                  It cost Jesus far to much to ever say that sin doesn't matter.
            "The Cross was God's way of forgiving us without excusing us." Cliff Richard
      3. Jesus shares his victory with us.
            As Paul declares,
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Co 1554-57

What a great and generous High Priest!
Let us remember:
      Mercy is not getting what we deserve (the just punishment by God).
      Grace is getting what we do not deserve (the immense kindness of God).
We are invited to enter the most holy place and to bow before his mercy seat,
      a seat that has now also become the throne of grace.

What must we do?
1. Be assured, be confident to approach the throne of grace.
            Because of what Jesus has completed for us.
            On the Cross Jesus cried out, 'It is finished'.
                  The offering he made was accepted - He rose from the dead!
                  Jesus didn't do ½ a job at Calvary.
2. Be ever grateful. Never become presumptuous, nor complacent or careless.
            Forgiveness is a daily need, not just a once only conversion.

Billy Graham was once asked what his first thought will be in heaven?
      He replied, "Relief!"

As Charles Wesley wrote:
            Jesus, thy blood and righteousness, My beauty are, my glorious dress,
            Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head.
Jesus gives to us his blood and his righteousness - nothing is more glorious.

Note that none can say, 'What does God know about temptation or suffering?'

How was Jesus tempted?
1. Stones to bread - i.e. the easily excused self-gratification.
            Putting me first. The misuse of power or resources.
As Ezekiel said to Judah, Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. Ezek 1649
2. Jump from Temple - i.e. the wrong use of miracles.
            The miracles of Jesus always had the motive of compassion
                  or they fulfilled the plan of God; they were never to earn popularity.
            The coming of Jesus was not to gain 'followers', but to save the lost. Lu 1910
As he says in Ezek 34 - I myself will search for my sheep and look after them ... I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness ... I will tend them in a good pasture ... I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak ... I will make a covenant of peace with them ... declares the Sovereign Lord.
            It is the truth that sets us free; not the spectacular.
3. Offered him all the earth - Satan appeals to possessive greed.
            What a cheek! Jesus had created the world by his word of power!
            Satan also conditioned his offer; you must first worship me. How ridiculous!
                  This is what he always really craved - the worship of men and even God!
            Let us note what Paul wrote in Col 35b Covetousness is as idolatry.

In considering temptation let us recall the '7 Deadly Sins':
      Pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, sloth.
As their name indicates, they are each 'deadly'.

Note that temptation is not sin; but yielding is.
      Let us therefore act upon the advice of James:
            Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 47
      Let us confess our sin, be honest and never try to excuse it.
As John writes in his 1st letter: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all ... If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from ALL sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 Jn 17-9

Finally: Temptation only has power if we like what Satan has to offer.
This reveals the area of our greatest need, where we constantly seek help. Ro 715-25
As Peter's 2nd letter tells us: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Pe 13,4

As we shall see, this is the grand purpose of our Great High Priest, that we may delight in his life and forgiveness and enjoy the Sabbath Rest of God - thrilled with the new nature that he has created in us.


Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. No one takes this honour upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."  51-6

What was the principal task of the High Priest?

First, he offered sacrifices for himself and for the people. Why?
Because no 'unclean' man could approach Almighty God, and live.
      Jacob knew all too well his own nature and failings.
      After his flight from Laban, the Lord met him and they wrestled all night.
      But why did Jacob call the place Peniel? He was amazed because I saw God
            face to face, and yet my life was spared.  Gen 3230
      When Isaiah saw the Lord he cried out, Woe to me, ... I am ruined.  Is 65
            But God then told him, Your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.
      When God came down on Mt Sinai, only Moses was allowed up the Mt.

Why was there a veil in the Temple?
      For the same reason; to separate God and the people, the holy and the sinful.
      To protect the people from certain death.  Exd 1912

Why was the Temple veil torn in half two thousand years ago?
The perfect sacrifice that Jesus made was complete and accepted.  Math 2750,51
      God wanted us to know the truth of what is written later in Heb.      Therefore, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened up for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Heb 1019-23

      Now in Christ, God beckons us to draw near, and we will not be struck down.
      As on Sinai God commanded, Only when the ram's horn sounds a long blast
            may they go up to the mountain.  Exd 1913
      Jesus has now blown a very long blast on the ram's horn!

      Sadly many Catholic and 'high' churches today have no understanding
            of why the veil was torn in two.
      They erect a rood screen between the altar and the people.
      But God's revealed desire is clearly that we may have confidence to enter.
      It is not only the priest who can draw near to God.
Aaron, and his sons, were all subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer
      sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.
      Some priests were wicked - like the sons of Eli.  1 Sam 212, 34,35
Even the best like Joshua the high priest (1000 years after Joshua the warrior),
            was described in Zech 33 as being dressed in filthy clothes.
            But God was pleased to command, 'Take off his filthy clothes' ...
            I have taken away your sin, I will put rich garments on you.  Zech 34,5

The 2nd principal task of the High Priest was to represent men before God.
To plead their case. Like we need to have a Counsel in County or High Court.
      Only a fool would try to represent himself in God's court.
      We need an Advocate. He does not try to deny our guilt. That is clearly proven.
            But before sentence is passed; he declares that he has already paid it!
            Justice is satisfied and the guilty prisoner can be set free.
            This is what Jesus proclaimed in the synagogue at Nazareth, reading Isaiah:
The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.  Is 611,2a

Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father as our Advocate.
      This fact concerning the Ascension is highly significant.
      We have one who speaks to the Father in our defence - Jesus Christ,
            the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.   1 Jn 21
            Jesus never claims we are innocent, but that he has paid for our sin in full.
      Paul reveals this same truth, If God is for us, who can be against us? ...
            Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who is raised to life -
            is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Ro 831, 34
      And again in his letter to Timothy he reminds him:
            For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men,
            the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.  1 Tim 25,6a
      And in Hebrews 7, the chapter about Melchizedek, we read:
            Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God
            through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.  Heb 725
      Later in the same letter we read: For Christ ... entered heaven itself,
            now to appear for us in God's presence.  Heb 924
      In about 740 BC, Isaiah prophesied concerning the Messiah:  Is 5310-12
            Though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring ...
            After the suffering of his soul he will see the light of life and be satisfied ...
            For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
            Justice demands that all crime must be punished.
            The problem with sin is that the punishment is death.
            God made this clear in his warning to Adam and Eve.
                  In the day that you eat of it, you will surely die. And they did!
            The kindness of God is that he offers to bear the sin of many.
                  For all who believe and receive his offer, he intercedes to his Father.
      Only a deceived person would ask Mary or one of the saints to be their
            Advocate, when the Son of God has repeatedly made it clear that he
            himself pleads for us - we need no other sacrifice and no other Advocate.
 
Jesus, the Son of God has become our 'much better' High Priest.
      This is confirmed by the Father.  Ps 26  Lu 322 935  Act 236
      Sent by the Father, rather than called.  Jn 536,37 657 etc
Jesus is like Melchizedek:
      High Priest for ever.  56  Ps 1104 762
      King of Salem (peace)  Gen 1418a
            Ironically Jerusalem has never yet enjoyed peace.
            From David to Christ the city was under 17 different rulers.
            From Christ until today there have been 21 rulers!
      Until the day when Christ is king, God says war will continue.  Dan 926b
            No treaty signed by men, no 'Road Map' will bring lasting peace.
            Christ wept that its people should know what makes for real peace.  Lu 1941
                  It was hidden then, and for most it remains so.
      While individually we may now be reconciled to God,
            only then will the world know the peace
                  that Melchizedek speaks of, and Jesus wept for.

To the Hebrews there is none greater than Abraham;
      yet even Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek,
      who brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High.  Gen 1418-20
This event revealed that there would be a priesthood that would be for ever.
      In Jn 856 Jesus testifies that Abraham saw this prophetic day of Jesus Christ
             he saw it and was glad.
      And all who see this glorious truth that Jesus is our High Priest are glad too.

Note that Aaron's priesthood did not begin till over 400 years after Abraham.


During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. 57-10

When did Jesus pray with tears? Probably many times:

In the middle of his triumphal entry to Jerusalem, Jesus wept.  Lu 1941
The people wanted a victorious King;
      But God saw that our prior need was for a Saviour Redeemer.
Today many still want a triumphant King;
      But the Great Tribulation reveals that God will come first as Judge.
God still grieves deeply that men remain blind; that God's ways are hidden.

Then on the Mount of Olives
      Jesus, being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly.  Lu 2244
His prayers were certainly heard, but what was the answer?
      Jesus was not spared from suffering in the garden,
            at his trial, nor on the Cross.
What was the result of his obedience?
      Jesus became the one and only source of our salvation, our Redeemer.
No other way was found for Jesus; and there is no other way for man either.
      Redemption required his reverent submission,
            the willing obedience of Jesus. No threats, no bribery, no coercion.
            This was dramatically prophesied by Isaac, Abraham's only son,
                  who was also a willing sacrifice.  Gen 222
                  Abraham was about 120 years old and Isaac only 20.

Jesus 'in the order of Melchizedek' is a much better Sacrifice than Abraham's ram.
How?
      It was permanent, never needed to be repeated.
      It was completely effective, it is finished.
      It was accomplished for all.
            How much better than the blood of bulls and goats!
As the Anglicans used to say:
      Jesus is a 'full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.'
He is the source of eternal salvation. His suffering was not in vain.
No cries and tears are ever wasted.  Ps 1265  Jer 137 504,5 3115-17

The Elementary Teachings about Christ  511 - 63        

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do not so.  511 - 63

Why did they need milk?
Some Hebrews in 60 AD were not acquainted with righteousness
      and more important, some did not thirst for it.
Jesus said, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Math 56
      i.e. those who recognise their poverty and sin.
God's invitation still stands, Come all who are thirsty.   Is 551  Jn 737
Today, how great is this hunger for holiness among Christians?
God has always sought righteousness and justice.  Is 57 But what did God find?
      Bloodshed, lies, drink, injustice, bribery, deceit ...
      >50% in U.K. now say there is no such thing as 'good and evil';
            every one must decide for himself what is right and wrong,
            and do what is right in his own eyes.  Judg 176 2125  Prov 212
      In spite of Isaiah's clear warning they gladly call good evil and evil good.  Is 520
But God says that righteousness exalts a nation,  Prov 1434
      not prosperity, political power, or military might.

What is the difference between infants and the mature?
      The latter have learned to 'distinguish good from evil' and practice 'good'.
Discernment and right judgement remain in great need.
The Pharisees often complained about Jesus healing on the Sabbath;
            yet they were quite happy to circumcise on the Sabbath.
Jesus exposed their inconsistency when he said,
      Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.  Jn 724
He kept all the Laws of God but refused to be bound by man-made laws.
      The 1,500 laws concerning the Sabbath that Jews had added in the Oral Law!
How is right judgement to be gained?
      By the revelation of Scripture.
            As it says in 513,14 with the teaching about righteousness.
By constant use they have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
      The Word must be consistently applied to daily life.
            To only know what is right is of little value, we must do it.
            As Jesus said, If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  Jn 1423
      In the decisions we make, ask, 'Is Jesus honoured?
            Will it produce the fruit of righteousness and justice?'

What are the elementary teachings about Christ ?  61-3

1. Repentance from acts that lead to death.
      The consequence of disobedience is death.  Gen 217 38
      But to repent and be baptised in Jesus gives new birth.  Acts 238 + 1 Jn 18,9

2. Faith in God.
      This is much more than a vague hope.
      It is assurance of God that our sins are forgiven. 111
      It is having complete confidence that Jesus bore the punishment we deserve.
            He is the perfect sacrifice accepted by heaven; and is now our Advocate.

3. Baptisms.
      There is the water baptism of John that required repentance.
Also baptism into Christ's death! and into his resurrection!
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  Ro 61-8
      These are both part of the same baptism.
Paul makes this clear in Act 191-6 when he first went to Ephesus:
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
      Later in his letter to them: There is ..One Lord, one faith, one baptism.  Eph 45
       Note that when Jesus was baptised by John the Spirit came down
            and God proclaimed (prophesied) 'This is my beloved Son'.
            And John proclaimed, 'Behold the Lamb of God
                  who takes away the sin of the world.'
            Jesus emphasised that the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, reveals truth.
                  He is the Spirit of truth. Jn 1417 He will teach you all things.  Jn 1426
                  see also Jn 1526 167,8 Note the change in today's emphasis.
            Prophecy is God telling the world what we need to hear;
                  past, present or future.

4. Laying on of hands.
    An instructive example of this is given in Act 85-12, 13-17
Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed Christ there ... With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many cripples where healed ... But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

5. Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement.
    Some will rise to eternal life, but others to corruption.  Jn 529
      As Jesus taught Nicodemus, Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
            but whoever does not believe is condemned already.  Jn 318
    There is a judgement for and a judgement against.
Dan 77-27 reveals: As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favour of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.

We have much to say about this. 511 (the effective High Priesthood of Christ)
      And the writer proceeds to do so in the following chapters.
      But for the moment he concludes:
      Therefore let us leave the elemental teachings ... and go on to maturity.
      God has much more truth to reveal.
            O that we were a little quicker to learn the essential foundations.
            Thank God that he is both patient and very gracious.
            But let us be in earnest for our Redeemer, who gave everything for us.

A Severe Warning  64-8         

Before further considering the priesthood of Christ,
      the writer has the courage to deal with a difficult, but important matter.
Is the statement 'once saved, always saved' true?
      Or is it a road to false assurance and an excuse for wickedness?

God's Word says this:
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.  64-8

For many, these verses are a major problem.
For all, they are a most severe warning!

It is impossible for believers who deliberately continue to sin to be brought back.
      Why? Because they become unbelievers with hard, disobedient hearts.
Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts ... see to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. ... And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.  37-19
A good example is in Acts 8 where Simon Magus believed and was baptised.
      Then he sinned. He tried to buy the Holy Spirit!
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."  Act 818,19
      Peter immediately confronts his wicked heart and tells him to repent.  Act 820-23
      But he refused. He only desired their prayers to escape punishment.  Act 824
      History suggests that he went on to encourage much error in the early church.
      In 1190 the Roman church introduced the sale of indulgencies.
It was, and remains, a crafty means of gaining wealth by playing on the tender conscience
    of the guilty who desire an assurance of forgiveness.
Mary's gift of expensive perfume to Jesus was because she knew she had been forgiven much,
    not in the hope of earning forgiveness.  Lu 736-50

Remorse is not repentance.
      Esau sought to escape the consequences of his sin.
      He desperately wanted God's blessing, but saw no need for a new heart.
            He stubbornly refused to repent of his worldliness.
This was made abundantly clear in Heb 1216,17 See that no-one is sexually immoral, or godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterwards, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.
            Esau sought the blessing, but he did not seek to change his mind or heart.
Pharaoh desired Moses to release him from the plagues nine times.
      But each time he hardened his heart and refused to repent.
      He only wanted to escape God's judgement, the consequence of his sin.
      Sadly he is far from being alone in this today.

The disobedience and rebellion is a conscious choice, not an accidental mistake.
In Is 51-7 we read how beautifully God sings to his beloved, his vineyard.
      He did all he could to provide for us; a Cross on which his own Son paid the
            redemption price in full, the punishment that our sin deserves.
      God did everything he could to encourage our repentance.
      But his mercy and grace were rejected.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Jn 319 110,11
      Constant rebellion results in God's protection being gradually removed.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie ... because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. ... God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  Ro 125-28
And today several bishops and ministers claim that what God clearly calls an abomination is ok! Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.  Is 520
      The extent of unnatural relations are like a thermometer of our wickedness.

So the cancerous root of sin becomes more ingrained and more extensive.
Sin both hardens and deceives the heart.
As Heb 313 says, Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
      Christ clearly warns the end-time Church of this 3 times in Math 244,11,24
Watch out that no one deceives you ... many false prophets will appear and deceive many people ... for false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect - if that were possible. See I have told you ahead of time.
      But what was the primary area of deception? False prophets and miracles.
      Today many 'signs and wonders' may well be 'of God', but not all are.
            Christians do not have a monopoly of miracles.
Current teaching and emphasis on 'signs and wonders' is poor preparation for tomorrow's deception when the whole world will be astonished when the Satanic Beast who appeared to have a fatal wound was healed. And his False Prophet, who will perform great and miraculous signs.  Rev 1314 1920
      God repeatedly warns us that these 'signs and wonders' will deceive many.
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.  2 Thes 29-12

These verses in Hebrews are God's solemn warning
      to the presumptuous, proud and stubborn.
But they should not distress the humble, the correctable, or the thirsty;
      for whom there is much encouragement and many promises.
Is 662 This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at my word.
Mic 68 And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
      Probably best summarised in 1 Jn 18,9
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Consider the story Jesus told of the two who prayed in the Temple.  Lu 1810-14
Let not the sensitive soul allow Satan to falsely accuse you with any unidentified,
      'unpardonable' or confessed sin that has been forgiven.  Zech 31-10
      For Jesus promised, whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  Jn 637
Recall God's response to David's repentant prayer after adultery + murder.  Ps 51
      So complete was his forgiveness that God called David
            'a man after his own heart.'  1 Sam 1314  Act 1322  Is 118  Ps 1031-12
            (Note - God knew the whole life of David when he declared this.)
      Also how Jesus restored the repentant Peter
            after he had three times disowned his Lord.  Jn 2115-19

But note that forgiveness does not mean that there is always no penalty.
      e.g. David and Bathsheba's 1st child died as Nathan prophesied.  2 Sam 1213,14
      Sometimes we have to live with the consequences of sin,
            even though God has graciously and totally forgiven us.

Real Assurance  69-20         

After a severe warning, God does not want us to be doubtful but certain.
How can we be more assured of our salvation? So the writer continues:

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case - things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.  69-12

The earlier warning against rebellion is necessary because we need to learn.
      Israel repeatedly rebelled in Sinai, so only Joshua and Caleb entered Canaan.
      Later the northern tribes were permanently exiled in the days of Amos.
      Judah was exiled for 70 years after rejecting Jeremiah and God who sent him.
      In Act 751,52 Stephen spoke the truth to the Sanhedrin when they accused him:

You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him.

The writer to the Hebrews says that you haven't rebelled like they did.

But can God say this of the UK today?
He writes: we are confident of better things in your case. Why was he confident?
      Because he knew that they did not rebel, but believed in Jesus.
            Their work ... love ... and help proved this.
His encouragement of diligence to make your hope sure is not salvation by works;
      but the continued working out of our gratitude to Jesus.
What are the better things that accompany salvation ?
      Revelation, humility, trust, obedience.
      Godly character: righteousness, truth, integrity, justice, kindness.
      Patience, practice, perseverance.
Hold fast to these things, and let us encourage them in each other.

"The faith we finish with is more important than the faith we started with."
So imitate ... the faith and patience of our Jewish forebears.
      This exhortation anticipates the many examples given in Heb 11.

What inheritance has been promised to those with faith and patience, believe ?
      Eternal life - Both now and later.
This real assurance is far better than being under the severe warning of God!

The writer continues to build our faith by examining the promise of God.
What was God's covenant to Abraham?
      He was such a prime example of faith and patience.
      Remember his life, and the subsequent history, was all well known to the Jews.

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants." And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. 613-20

What did God promise Abraham? What was his unchanging, clear purpose?
1. I will make you into a great nation ...
            all peoples will be blessed through you.  Gen 122,3
2. To your offspring I will give this land.  Gen 127
3. I give you all the land you see
            and your offspring like the dust of the earth.  Gen 1314-17
4. Your own son will be your heir (not Eliezer, your servant).  Gen 154
            Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars.  Gen 155
5. Your descendants will be enslaved for 400 years...
            In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here.  Gen 1513,15
      On that day the Lord made a Covenant with Abram:
            To your descendants I give this land.  Gen 1518
6. I will confirm my covenant between me and you
            and will greatly increase your numbers.  Gen 172,3
            Changed name Abram (=exalted father) to Abraham (= father of many)
      An everlasting covenant to you and your descendants to be your God.  Gen 177
      The whole land of Canaan, an everlasting possession.  Gen 178
      Circumcision a sign of the covenant.  Gen 1710
      Sarah will bear you a son, Isaac.
            I will establish my covenant with him
            as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.  Gen 1719
7. This time next year you and Sarah will have a son.  Gen 1810
            Is anything too hard for the Lord?  Gen 1814
            All nations on earth will be blessed through him.
                  For I have chosen him.  Gen 1818,19
8. Through Isaac ... (not Hagar and Ishmael - they were sent away).  Gen 2111-13
9. Sacrifice your son, your only son, Isaac.  Gen 222
            God himself will provide the lamb.  Gen 228
            The Lord will provide (not has provided).  Gen 2214

Abraham received his promised son, but only when impossible!
      And only after waiting patiently for 25 years.  Gen 124 (aged 75) 215 (100)
      As Heb 615 says: after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
      Do we wait patiently?
In another respect Abraham did not receive what was promised.
      Heb 1113 says that they did not receive the things promised;
            they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.
      What did Abraham not receive?
            The land, to be a great nation and the blessing of all nations.
            And the sacrifice that the Lord himself would provide.
            The Lord confirms he saw the day of Jesus Christ and was glad.  Jn 856

What was the basis of Abraham's faith, and ours?
The promise of God, his covenant, that is true and everlasting.
God always keeps his word. He will not and cannot ever break it.
      The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind.  Ps 1104
In Num 2319,20 we read that though Balaam was a false prophet on one occasion he spoke the truth: he said, God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it.
What if the Jews should break the covenant? Is it then null and void? No!
      In Ro 1129 the Lord emphatically says, God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.
What if we should break the covenant? Is it then 'curtains' for us? No!
      If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
            and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 Jn 19

What are the two unchangeable things that are our anchor and sure hope?
      The Covenant promises.  Gen 1518
      The Oath confirming the Covenant.  Gen 174-8 263,4
The promise that God will provide, and now has provided.
      Jesus has become our sacrificial Priest and our Advocate.
God gives us this assurance as well as a warning. What a relief!
Why do men reject God's rescue plan and 'cut and paste' his Word? What folly!

Melchizedek and Jesus  71-28         

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness";
then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. Just think how great he was: even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!
 71-4

The story of Abraham and Melchizedek would be well known to Jews.  Gen 1417-20
He was king of Righteousness and king of Peace.
      Melchizedek's kingdom was thus filled with righteousness and peace.
      If only the world were filled with these.
      It was this longing that made Jesus weep on the day of his triumphal entry.
            "If you had only known on this day what would bring you peace".   Lu 1942
Abraham was blessed by God and by this great and eternal king and priest.
      Small wonder Abraham gave him a 10th.
      The blessing he received did not just last for a day or a year; but for ever!
      Most of the presents we give are consumable or have a life date.
            Wouldn't it be wonderful if what we gave lasted a little longer.
What was the blessing that Abraham received?
The King gave of the substance of his kingdom - what else of value could he give?
      So Abraham received the righteousness of God and the peace of God.
      What profound treasure! There can be nothing of greater value to men.
      God confirmed this word again a little later.  Gen 156
Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Melchizedek went to meet Abraham.    See, your King comes to you.  Zech 99
Where would we find our Redeemer? So, most graciously, he comes to us!!

Note that Melchizedek was like the Son of God, not visa-versa.


Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people - that is, their brothers - even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.  75-10

The people, the Levitical priests, and even Abraham each gave to Melchizedek,
      and were blessed by him. Thus they were all inferior to him.
Abraham gave in gratitude after he was blessed, not before to get blessing.


If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come - one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.  711-14

No one has ever attained perfection through the Law or the sacrifices.
      As David cried out, Create in me a pure heart, O God,
            and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Ps 5110
Cleansing and a new life required a better priesthood.
Abel, Abraham, Moses and others looked forward to this better priesthood.
They sought the blessing of God; but no imperfect sons of Levi could provide it.
      They could only point to future day.
            A day when the perfect Lamb of God would provide a perfect sacrifice.
            A day when the cleansing fountain would be opened. Zech 131
            A day when men would know the full forgiveness of God.
            A day when many would be given a new heart and a new spirit.
            A day when the blessing of God would be poured out.
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.  Ps 321,2
But if this future Messiah was to be like Melchizedek, it created a problem.
      For He had to be both a king (from Judah) and a priest (from Levi)!
You are a lion's cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness - who dares to rouse him? The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.  Gen 499,10
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.  Is 111,2
The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.  Jer 235,6

So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.  Exd 2944,45

Messiah could not be from both tribes so he had to be of a different order -
      Like Melchizedek.

And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, One who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (For the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.  715-19

Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, of David's line; not Levi.
So his priesthood had to be of different order from Levi, on a different basis.
      Not the basis of the Law, not descended from Levi;
      But on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.
            Like Melchizedek who was priest for ever.
This was proved when Jesus was crucified.
      He died a perfect sacrifice, the only perfect One who could redeem us.
      And he rose from the dead which revealed
            that his power and life were indestructible, eternal
So the former regulations, the hereditary law, was set aside. Problem solved !!
This is just as well, for it says that the sacrifices were weak and useless.
      They never cleansed any man; they never earned any man forgiveness.
      So what was the purpose of the law?
      Paul tells us in Gal 324 The Law was a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.
            The Law awakened men to the need for a Saviour Redeemer.
      The inadequate Law pointed the Jews to the only sure and certain hope.
            To Jesus Christ.
            To the Better Hope, by whom any man may draw near to God.

So we see that Christ is:
      better than the Law - that could only be a signpost; it made nothing perfect.
      a better Priest - he offered himself a perfect sacrifice, not an animal.
      a better Hope - a sure and certain hope for all eternity.
He has done wonderfully well what no other could do for us.

And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he (Jesus) became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.'" Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. The point of what we are saying is this: we do have such a high priest ...  720- 81

Priests came into office because they were the descended directly from Levi.
Jesus became Priest because God made an oath saying, "You are a Priest for ever"
      As we have just seen it was of a different order - and much better.
Why was it so much better?
1. It was founded upon a better covenant.  e.g. Jer 3133,34  Jn 117  Math 517
      The law would not be just a written code,
             but the covenant would change their hearts to delight and keep it.  Jn 33,5  Ps 197-11
      They would know God - love and obey him.  Jn 1423                                 
      They would have assurance of forgiveness - like Abel. 114
      Jesus has become the guarantee of a better Covenant.

2. The priesthood was permanent - Jesus lives for ever.
      So we need no other priest.
      His sacrifice being perfect, he is able to save completely.
            He thus meets God's need for justice and he meets our need for salvation.
            His sacrifice was fully accepted, "It is finished."  Jn 1930
                  A 'full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world'.
                  As such it only had to be offered once.
                  The resurrection is proof of God's acceptance of his Son's sacrifice.
                  The Temple veil was torn in two. Did they try to repair it?!  Math 2751
                  It fulfilled the promise to Adam, Abel, Abraham etc.  Gen 315b 44 228,14
            He never had to offer any sacrifice for his own sin.
                  Unlike even the best levitical priests, Jesus is holy, blameless, and pure.
                  Not weak, but sinless.
            Priests offered animals, Jesus offered himself.

3. He continually intercedes for us. 725  1 Tim 25  Is 5312b

4. He is set apart from sinners,
            though while on earth he spent all his time with them.  Lu 734
            One day we will be too. Righteous, no more sin or even temptation.

5. He is exalted above the heavens.  Act 756
            And rightly so!

We do have such a High Priest.
      This is the heart of the truth; Jesus really has become our High Priest.
      It is not 'too good to be true'. It is reality.
      This simple but far-reaching truth is the centre of this letter to the Hebrews.

God has no other way to save men and take away our sin.
Thankfully he cannot and he will not change his mind in this day of opportunity.
 
God will not change his mind concerning his chosen Israel either.
      Ro 111,25-29  Jer 3136,37
When God warned the young prophet Hosea before he married that his wife would become a prostitute (Hos 12), and later that he was to redeem her, he did not change his mind. When God chose Israel, he knew that they would reject him. But he did not abandon them or break his covenant. He fulfilled his ancient promise to come and redeem sinful men. He did not change his mind. Hosea and Israel remain amazing examples of God's faithfulness.



Jesus, a Better Offering with a Better Covenant  81-13          

The point of what we are saying is this: we do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."  81-5

The longed-for Messiah has come; to Jews first and also to us Gentiles.  Act 1346 2619-21
Jesus is our high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne.
      If he were on earth, he would not be a priest. Why?
            His priestly work was completed. His offering for our sin was accepted.
            There is now no need for any Levitical (or any other) priests on earth!!
                  Some ministers still 'say communion' daily for the sins of the people.
                  They fail to see that Jesus has fulfilled all the Law's requirements.
      Though Jesus is seated and triumphant; he still serves in the sanctuary. How?
            He is able to save completely those who come to God through him,
                   because he always lives to intercede for them.  725
            He is our mighty Advocate, who successfully pleads on our behalf.

The high priest used to offer both gifts and sacrifices.
What did the High Priest, Jesus, bring? Himself!
Why are believers now a kingdom of priests?
     Because allowed to enter the Holy of Holies.  Heb 1019-22
         The Temple veil was torn in two.  Lu 2345
What gifts do we bring? As the old hymn 'Rock of ages' says,
            Nothing in my hand I bring,
            Simply to thy cross I cling;
            Naked come to thee for dress;
            Helpless look to thee for grace:
            Foul, I to the fountain fly;
            Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
      This contrasts with an incident in the Song of Sol. 55,6
            where the bride put on perfume to try and make herself acceptable.
I arose to open for my lover, and my hands dripped with myrrh,
            my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the lock.
            I opened for my lover, but my lover had left; he was gone.
            My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him.
            I called him but he did not answer.   c.f. Is 6524  Deut 429
            Her efforts at self cleansing were rejected by the Bridegroom.
            There can be no substitute for the Cross.
Yet in all 4 gospels we read how pleased Jesus was with Mary's expensive anointing.
            Jesus said, "She has done a beautiful thing to me."  Math 2610
            It was not to gain acceptance, but it was her thank-offering to Jesus.
                  She knew he had forgiven her and made her acceptable.
 
The Levitical priests served in a copy, a shadow, of the heavenly sanctuary.
The tabernacle was important to reveal what the Christ would come to do.
Many principles seen in Moses' careful copy.  Exd 24-31
      Its design, materials, and the detailed practice of sacrifices etc.
      Ark of gold covered wood, mercy seat, cherubim, menorah, veil, altar, laver...
But it could never compare with the real and much better sanctuary;
      nor could their sacrifices compare with the perfect sacrifice that Jesus offered.
 
The first tabernacle was always inadequate; it was but a preparation for the new.
Likewise the Law, the covenant with Moses
      was always intended to prepare for the new covenant.
 
But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.  86-13
 
Why did Jesus receive a better ministry and better promises or covenant?
Under 1st Covenant the Law demanded absolute obedience.
      But no man was ever able to keep all the Law; however hopeful his intentions.
      The Israelites said, "We will do everything the Lord has said ..."  Exd 198 243, 7,8
            But they failed to do so - miserably, catastrophically.
      Joshua challenged the people to serve the Lord.  Josh 2418,19
            And the people responded, "We will serve the Lord ..."
            But Joshua, who saw their hearts had not been changed said,
                  "You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God."
                  But the people insisted, "No! We will serve the Lord."
                  So Joshua built a stone witness, against them, to remind them.
                  He knew they would fail. The proud people refused to admit this.
Under Josiah, the righteous king of Judah (640-609 BC),
      the people renew the Covenant.
      Idols are burnt and many reforms are instigated.  2 Kgs 22,23
      But the hearts of men cannot be changed by the order of a king.
"I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. Because Israel's immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense," declares the Lord.  Jer 38-10 also 71-29
 
The old Covenant was two sided,
      blessings if obeyed and curses if rejected.  Deut 281-68
      The onus was always on man to obey.
            But what if he failed? And he surely would.
      The Law would be a schoolmaster to reveal our need for a Saviour.  Gal 324
A new type of Covenant was needed.
      Based on new birth through repentance, believing and baptism.
      The result would be revelation (knowing God) -
            they will all know me ... for I will forgive their wickedness.
            The assurance, the relief and joy of this of forgiveness will be very evident.
            It was this evident assurance that made Cain so jealous of Abel.
                  He was not his brother's keeper, but his murderer.
      From the beginning God reveals the need for this new covenant, a new birth.
 
Repentance:
This is far more than remorse, or avoiding the shame at having been found out.
      It is not trying to escape the just consequences of my sin.
It is seeing how much God hates my sin, and his justice in punishing it.
      It is learning to hate the sin and turning away from it.
Repentance must be real, not just 'crocodile tears'.
      John Baptist spoke clearly about producing fruit in keeping with repentance.  Math 35-12
 
Believing:
Believe what? It is much more than that God exists.
      We need to believe in the Lord Jesus.  Act 1629-34
      It is more than Jesus was a man who was crucified and rose 2000 years ago.
      We must believe the reason why he had to come and lay down his life for us.
      1. I (and all men) are sinful by nature - whether I like it or not.
      2. The consequence of my sin is death - my being alienated from God.
      3. There is nothing I can do to reverse this just punishment.
      4. Jesus is the only Redeemer - he has paid in full this punishment I deserve.
 
Baptism:
What is the intended purpose and the significance of baptism?
All of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father,
we too may live a new life.  Ro 63,4
It is a death to life experience and witness.
      Our old self was crucified with him ...
            anyone who has died has been freed from sin.  Ro 66,7, 18
What greater purpose and significance can there be?
Therefore we should count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
      Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
Baptism is the reality of the new birth that Jesus told Nicodemus about.  Jn 33,5
      Sprinkling or signing with water is a wholly inadequate expression of baptism.
 
Jeremiah was one who sought this new covenant, and God told him.  Jer 3131-34 c.f. Deut 64-9
      New birth, new heart, forgiveness comes at a price.
            A price that only Jesus could pay. And he willing did so.
Under the new covenant God writes the Law in our hearts.
      we obey not just because we are told to,
      but because the law becomes a delight.  Ps 197-11, 14
      The law that is naturally alien to men becomes more precious than gold.
            See how the UK has revoked all the 10 Commandments in the last 50 years.
 
Forgiveness was always the plan of God in the old and new Covenants.  Exd 345-14
      The judgement of sin and the separation of righteousness from wickedness
            was God's purpose with the Canaanites, as also in the Tribulation.
God's desire has always been to dwell with his people.  Exd 258  Jn 143,23  Rev 213

Entering the Most Holy Place  91 - 1039          

Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings - external regulations applying until the time of the new order.  91-10

This reading begins with a description of the Tabernacle, its rooms and contents,
      but more especially it tells us who was allowed to enter the rooms and when.
Some think there was no salvation in the O.T.
      There was; but it wasn't through the first Covenant.
      The first Covenant was inadequate: or rather we were inadequate.
      No man has been able to keep the Law,
            and the 1st Covenant always looked to the later covenant; to Christ.
The glorious Temple of Solomon was no better than the Tabernacle.
      The Ark of the Covenant had a gold Atonement cover;
            just as Noah's Ark had a cover of pitch (Heb. kippur = Atonement).  Exd 614
      Each reminded them (and us) that all sin needs to atoned for, or paid for.
      Only Jesus, the High Priest with a perfect blood offering, can atone for sin;
            the Tabernacle was never sufficient, nor the Temple.  98
            There was no way for ordinary men to enter the Most Holy Place.
            God instituted a Veil to protect men who might otherwise enter - and die!
      No High Priest was ever able to pay the required price; we are slaves to sin,
            bound to it, with no escape; except through Jesus.  99
Without Jesus we are no better off than those who only had the old covenant.
Few men will acknowledge this binding inadequacy.  Jn 821, 33,34
      Most are satisfied to think there are others that are worse than they are.
So the Law and the old order reveal the absolute necessity
      for Christ, for a new order, founded on a new covenant and a new birth.

In Hebrews, the message is that Jesus Christ has provided, in full,
      the sacrifice that all the old ceremonies inevitably failed to achieve.
      It repeatedly reveals that Jesus is far, far better.
This may seem obvious to us, but it wasn't to the Jews 2000 years ago.
      They were steeped in their tradition of priestly sacrifices.
      Just as today many are steeped in church tradition, ceremony and sacraments.

The purpose of this Hebrew letter is to reveal that Jesus died to bear our sin
      and to clear our sin-troubled conscience.
How did he achieve this, when priests and Temple had failed for centuries?

When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!  911-14

Men sought a Messiah like king David to lead them to triumph and prosperity.
      Few realised that our sinful souls need to be redeemed, to be atoned for.
      All men and all priests had failed; no animal blood could atone.
      The sacrifices were designed to point to a better sacrifice.
            A sacrifice that only the Messiah could make.

Here is the central truth that reveals the prime purpose of Jesus.
      The word of God to Isaiah and to others was not understood.
      The apostles, the two going to Emmaus, the Ethiopian are typical.
      They each failed to understand that their Messiah had to be
            the sacrificial lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  Jn 129
      God had to reveal this amazing truth - the high cost of our salvation.
      He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
      the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
      and by his wounds we are healed ...
      The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  Is 534-6

Jesus could only enter the Most Holy Place via the Cross.
      Animal blood was far too trivial a currency to pay the price of our redemption.
      As Isaac Watts wrote:
            Not all the blood of bulls and goats on Jewish altars slain,
            Could give the guilty conscience peace, or wash away it's stain.
            But Christ, the heavenly Lamb, takes all our sins away;
            A sacrifice of nobler name, and richer blood than they.

To the Jews this was so different from their traditional teaching.

Christ came as High Priest - different in so many respects from the sons of Levi:
      Jesus never entered the Most Holy Place in the Jerusalem Temple.
      He entered a greater and more perfect tabernacle.
      He entered the Most Holy Place once, not repeatedly.
      He made 'a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice' by his own blood.
      He entered, making no sacrifice for himself, but only for us sinners.
      His sacrifice obtained eternal redemption for us.
Thus the unchanged purpose of God was completed in Jesus Christ.

The forgiveness of God is not free! Someone had to pay.
       Jesus paid the price that was far beyond my reach.
      We are redeemed.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever - holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Ps 1117-10
            Also Is 2918-23 359,10 6212 Eph 17 Gal 310-14

We are told to remember this necessity and the cost.
In Capernaum Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him."  Jn 653-56
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."  Lu 2219,20  (also Math 2626-28)

Do we value what, to us, is free?

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance- now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.   915-18

Jesus is our essential:

Mediator = one who intervenes, he stands between God and us,
      in the middle, to separate (e.g. the Temple veil)  or to unite (Christ). 86 915
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Tim 25
       (Not Mary, the saints, nor any priest)

Advocate = legal witness who pleads powerfully on our behalf.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 725
For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. 924
For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Is 5312

High Priest = only he is allowed to enter the most Holy Place
      to present the sacrifice required to expunge our sin.
The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest. 81
He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 912

Redeemer = pays the ransom price demanded to gain our freedom from sin. 912

Not one of us is able to fulfil any of these 4 ministries, nor the law's demands.
      Only Christ is, and now his payment has been accepted.
      His promise to Abraham is faithfully fulfilled.  (also 1 Thes 524  1 Jn 19)
      God himself will provide the lamb ... my son. Gen 228
      On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided. Gen 2214
The 1st Covenant (the Law) reveals sin; the new covenant sets us free from sin. 915

What is the promised inheritance ?   It is no less than eternal life with Christ !
For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  Jn 640
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Ro 623
You wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.  Jud 121
Eternal life is inherited from Christ; not from parents or by gifts.  Lu 1818-24
      Jesus here revealed what blocked the young man's entry to heaven - riches.
In what sense is it 'inherited'?
      No inheritance can be received until the person who made the will has died. (c.f. Lu 1512)
Did Jesus make a written will?
      Yes! The scroll of Rev 51-10
      Who could open it? Only the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
      When opened? At the end.
      Who are the executers? The angels.
      What was written?
            The names of all believers, those called and chosen and precious.
Several references to the Lamb's Book of Life.  Ps 6928  Rev 35 138 2015 2127

What is the purpose of Christ in paying such a high ransom demand?
      That he may have the company and friendship of men in heaven!
      And that we may serve the living God. 914

What is our response to such a Mediator, Advocate, High Priest, Redeemer?
      Unending gratitude
      Diligent to read his Word
      Eagre to listen to him
      Determined to obey.   'At any cost, dear Lord, by any road'.

When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, "This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep." In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.   919-26


First the writer takes us through what happened under the 1st Covenant.
He explains that these sacrifices were insufficient; they were just pointers.

He tells us that blood and water
      were sprinkled on the scroll, people, tabernacle and vessels. Why?
God has decreed that Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  922

The blood and water are shown to both cleanse, and thus to forgive.

How does the blood cleanse?
      First it is a sign to the angel of death as at Passover.
The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt ...  Exd 1213,22
 
Then it is a reminder to the people of God's covenant. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, "We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey." Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words."  Exd 246-8
      But even the chosen Israelites were unable to keep this covenant.
 
John the Baptist, who longed for the better covenant and who was assured of its coming, saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  Jn 129
 
It is the blood that makes atonement.  Lev 1711


How does the water cleanse?
      It washes clean, as in baptism.
Anything else that can withstand fire must be put through the fire, and then it will be clean. But it must also be purified with the water of cleansing. And whatever cannot withstand fire must be put through that water. Num 3123

      But neither fire nor water can transform the corrupt heart of men.
 
So God revealed to Ezekiel the certainty of a better covenant. For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezek 3624-27
 
Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Ro 63-7
 
The Counsellor bears witness to this better sacrifice of Christ. As Zechariah proclaimed, "On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the Lord Almighty. Zech 131 (and Ps 10312)

Thus we are shown that both covenants are ratified with both water and blood.

This truth is confirmed by the Apostle John:
This is the one who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement ... And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  1 Jn 56-8, 11,12

And when speaking to Nicodemus Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit."  Jn 35

Thus the Counsellor reveals the truth of what Christ had to do for us.
      He gives us the assurance that Christ's sacrifice for us has been accepted.

Why was almost everything be cleansed with blood ?
      Why was it 'almost everything' and not 'everything' ?
      God allowed the impoverished Israelite to bring 1/10th ephah of flour
            instead of a lamb.  Lev 511

Blood and water are used for cleansing: and fire is also used to refine.

Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked.  Dan 1210

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness.  Rev 318

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  927,28

Thus the great work of gaining our forgiveness was completed at Calvary.
      As Jesus cried out in his last minutes on the cross, "It is finished."  Jn 1930
But our complete salvation awaits the second coming of Christ.

What remains to be fulfilled?

1. The end of the battle against sin.
When Christ returns he seized Satan. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.  Rev 202,3
      Our freedom from sin and holiness is assured.

2. The Kingdom of God becomes worldwide; not just within believers.  Lu 1721
      Our earnest and oft repeated prayer Thy kingdom come is fulfilled.

3. The Judgement of all. Christians do not need to dread the Judgement.
      But all others have good reason to do so!
This horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favour of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.  Dan 722
 
He who believes is not condemned, but however does not believe stands condemned already.  Jn 318
      There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Ro 81-3a

Meanwhile we eagerly await his coming.
No wonder our cry is, "Come!"  Rev 2217,20
      And Jesus says, "Yes, I am coming soon!" Hallelujah!

Jesus bids us enter with him even into the most Holy Place.
He completed the promised perfect sacrifice, and it has been accepted.
And he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence.  924
He is the Mediator of a new Covenant, ratified by water and blood,
      to assure us of full forgiveness and a complete salvation.
What a Saviour!
What a relief for struggling Hebrews and ignorant Gentiles alike.


The writer desireded to awaken the possibility entering the Most Holy Place.
.   The Jews were more aware of the greatness of God - and feared him.
Revealing that all the Law and sacrificial offerings spoke of Christ, the Messiah.
      That the Christ would offer himself the perfect sacrifice, once for all!
      Jesus did this. It was all planned and prophesied, in the Law.

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am - it is written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, O God.'" 101-7

The Hebrews relied upon their daily and annual sacrifices.
They had to keep on bringing them, for God had commanded it.
      But their sacrifices could never win them salvation or assurance of sin forgiven.
            Neither can any self-denial or good works.
            Some today hope that their church-going and living a reasonably decent life
                  will enable them to enter heaven at the end.
            Just as many Jews hoped that bringing their sacrifices would be sufficient.

Why did God include the offering of sacrifices in the Law?
      1. The offerings were never intended to impress God with their sacrifice.
      2. Far from removing their feeling of guilt,
            the sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins that remain!  103
            because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.
            This obviously (to the Jews) referred to the Day of Atonement.  Lev 16
      3. To direct their view to the better and perfect sacrifice of the Christ.

Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;
      I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."  Math 517
How did Jesus fulfill the Law?
He did not keep 'the Oral Law' - these were man's additions, post Babylon exile.
      There were over 1,500 laws concerning the Sabbath - rejected by Jesus.
      God's commandments are often so different from men's.  Is 558

From the beginning God's plan was to make a perfect sacrifice himself.
That's why he gave Adam and Eve clothes of skin to cover their nakedness.
When Abel offered his best he looked forward to the day of a far better sacrifice.
Abraham not only declared that God himself would provide the sacrifice,
      but that on this very spot (where he offered Isaac) God will provide.  Gen 22
Right on cue, 2000 years later, Jesus fulfilled his promise.
            But there was no ram caught in a thorn bush substitute for Jesus.
 
The writer to the Hebrews here quotes from Ps 405-8
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, "Here I am, I have come - it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
Christ came in obedience to that plan. I have come to do your will, O God.
      He came to fulfill the Law and all it's requirements.
      To put an end to all the various sacrifices by one perfect, sufficient sacrifice.
      Though planned and prophesied from the beginning, few understood
            this most radical remedy by God.  Lu 2425-27, 44-47  Is 53  Act 830-35
Jesus knew that to obey is better than sacrifice.  1 Sam 1522
      Especially the disobedient sacrifice that Saul offered which disgusted God.
Jesus desired to fulfill all his Father's will, all that the Law demanded.
His obedience was crucial to the agreed rescue plan of God.
      He stedfastly set his face toward Jerusalem - And the Cross.  Lu 951
      Then in Gethsemane ... yet not my will but yours be done.  Lu 2242

As the prophet Isaiah said, Behold my Servant ...
The One who was despised and rejected ... was pierced for our transgressions ... and on whom was laid the iniquity of us all ... by whose wounds we are healed .. and who made intercession for the transgressors.  Is 5213-5312
The same One who said, but my ears you have pierced.  Ps 407  Deut 1516,17
      Such was his love for us and his desire to win our freedom.
See before he had even created the world, the rescue plan for man was made.
See in the fulness of time his humble incarnation as a man.
See his 30 years of patient preparation in Judea.
See his 3 years of revelation of the Truth made flesh,
See his 3 hours on the Cross where he paid in full the ultimate price.
What a Servant !! Such willing obedience.

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming.
Indeed it is. Though the shadow is only in 'black and white', it is accurate.
What 'law' does this refer to?
      Not just the sacrificial laws, but all the laws of God for the best human life.
      David saw this in Ps 197-11.
      To him the law was not an irksome impossible duty, but the desired way to live.
      This change is proof of his renewed heart.
      The unregenerate cannot desire God's ways;
            they are entirely foreign to his corrupt nature.

The Scroll = the Tenach, the Jewish O.T.
Today there is no Temple, no sacrifices;
      so how is the guilty conscience of the observant Jew cleared?
      How is Yom Kippur fulfilled and forgiveness assured?
      Outside of Christ, God's sole answer to sin, there can be no assurance.
This letter continually emphasises how much better Christ is than the law.
Remember it was written to Jews whose culture was steeped in the sacrifices.

First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 108-12

How could God be displeased with something he had commanded?
The Commandments are not deficient. But the men who agreed to them were.
What a comparison. Priests who daily made ineffective offerings
      c.f. the Sacrifice of Jesus. Made only once; then he sat down! It is finished.
Being seated does not mean that Jesus is doing nothing.
Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life -
            is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Ro 834 (Heb 725)
      He is alert and listening to the faintest cries of men for salvation and help.
            He hears the cry of 170,000 babies murdered each year in UK.
            He hears the groaning of the creation.  Ro 822
      Sustaining all things by his powerful word.  Heb 13
      Divine power to demolish strongholds.  2 Co 104
      His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  2 Pe13

Now triumphant and seated, what is he waiting for?

Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. 1013-18

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise - for a world made righteous for ever.
      He is patient with you, not wanting any to perish,
            but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Pe 39
Jesus waits for the day of tribulation when all men will reject him,
      when God gives men his final warnings and the day of opportunity is passed.
      Then evil will be judged, and separated from the righteous.
      Then his created perfection and kingdom is restored for ever.
      Then, when the full number of the Gentiles have come in ... all Israel is saved.
      Then he will also create the new heaven and the new earth.
He may be seated now, but his work of salvation is not yet finished!
      He will come again to defeat the Beast and save Jerusalem.  Rev 19  Zech 12,14

We live in a day when time is perilously short.

It is the Holy Spirit who makes this truth clear.
      He testifies of God's gracious plan.
      He reveals his ancient covenant.
      His Word assures us of the truth and renews our minds.
      He confirms that Christ has taken away all our sin;
            that we really are forgiven by God - totally and for ever.
      Our sin is blotted out, and will not be remembered, even on Judgement Day.

Unlike the Jews, our culture doesn't include sacrifice for sins.
But for both Jews and Gentiles with an alerted heart and a sensitive conscience,
      guilt is a heavy and tenacious burden to bear.
The Holy Spirit's prime ministry is to reveal the extent of Christ's forgiveness,
      the effectiveness of his sacrifice,
      the reliability of his fulfilled covenant,
      that on the Cross Jesus was obedient and 'finished' his allotted task,
      that men were fully redeemed, that he paid in full the price justice demanded,
      that we are then made perfect for ever.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 1019-23

Consider first the Most Holy Place.  1019
Who may dare to enter heaven and stand before Almighty God?
The most proud, arrogant and ignorant may try -
      but a rude shock awaits such men!
Even the rebellious Israelites would not go near.  Exd 1920-25 2417 2021
Moses was not allowed to see the Lord, but only his glory.  Exd 3318-23 4035
So how can we, mere Gentiles, foreigners, have confidence to enter?
This is key question that is answered so clearly here.
      It is We have confidence to enter by the blood of Jesus.  1019
Jesus, thy blood and righteousness,
      my beauty are, my glorious dress ... Charles Wesley
At Calvary, the Veil was torn in two. (not delayed until the resurrection)
We are certain and sincere,
      but never become presumptuous or careless.
My heart is cleansed and renewed by God, not just the outside appearance.

He who promised is faithful.
What has he promised?
      That "God will himself provide a sacrifice ..." Gen 228   Now he has.
      There are literally hundreds of promises. See 'Promises of God' next page.
            (Note that many are good but some are warnings)
How has God revealed that he is faithful?
      God has kept all his promises.
      Most are already fulfilled, some remain for the future.
      God is always faithful to Israel - God has always kept his word.
            Even when twice exiled.
      God has never divorced his Bride, and he never will.  Jer 3136,37
Our hope is not vague or in vain.
      It is founded upon God's certain promises already fulfilled.
      His Word has never failed
      So why should he cease to be faithful now?


And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 1024,25

A very practical question. How may we encourage each other?
      By example, encouragement, prayer, testimony, practical care,
            exhortation, being truthful, peace-making,
            be quick to forgive, apologise, and repent.
'Meeting' = 'synagogue-ing' (Gk. Episunagoge)
What is 'The Day'?
      The Tribulation, Judgement, and Lord's return.
It is approaching even faster now than it was then, 2000 years ago!  Ro 1311

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 1026-31

See notes on 64-8
No sacrifice for sin is left ... is a clear and definite statement.
      It again emphasises the difference between true and false assurance.
Raging fire can never be a popular theme to either believers or unbelievers;
       but that does not prevent it's reality.
What is the value of the fear of God and Judgement?
      It removes much of the attractiveness of sin!
Mercy is conditional.
Sin cost Jesus too much for him to ignore it, or for us to be careless about it.
The Lord is patient, not wanting anyone to perish,
      but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Pe 39
He has made ample provision for all to be saved.
      For, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Ro 1013
      But there is no blanket, world-wide forgiveness.
Many are invited, but few are chosen.  Math 2214
For whom is it especially dreadful? Those who once followed.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 1032-36

Jews have suffered much over the years.
In the 1st century so did all those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah.
Nowadays it is difficult for many of us in U.K. to perceive persecution.
      Arrogance and indifference are probably our greatest enemies.
            "Indifference" by Studdert Kenedy

            When Jesus came to Golgatha they hanged him on a tree,
            They drave great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
            They crowned him with a crown of thorns, red were his wounds and deep,
            For those were crude and cruel days and human flesh was cheap.

            When Jesus came to Birmingham they simply passed him by,
            They never hurt a hair of him, they only let him die;
            For men had grown more tender, and they would not give him pain,
            They only just passed down the street, and left him in the rain.

            Still Jesus cried, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do,"
            And still it rained the wintry rain that drenched him through and through;
            The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
            And Jesus crouched against a wall and cried for Calvary.

      Any religion is popular, so long as means peace and prosperity.
The early Christians stood together. The persecuted still do. e.g. China.
      Jail (or worse) is a great leveller. they are 'all in the same boat'.
What would UK Christians do if the Government took over all Church buildings
      to use them as local medical or social centres?
      Would we rejoice if we had to surrender our house deeds?
            Or if we were denied all social benefits because we love Jesus?
      Does our view our life on this earth need to change?
Persecution and pain help to focus on the better life to come?
We certainly all need to persevere and to obey God.
      Only those who do will receive what he has promised. Eternal life with him.

For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.  1037-39

2000 years on it is still in just a little while ...
What Christian characteristics are needed?
      Righteousness, faith, perseverance, obedience.
See 4 examples in Math 24, 25 of what men did when their master was delayed.
      Abused their power. Careless, not ready.
      Too difficult so gave up. No real compassion, only pretended.

In the next chapter we are shown many good examples.



The Assurance of Things Hoped For  111-40          

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  111-3

What is our hope? What do we dream about?
What do we look for this world? And in the next?
What will the 21st century bring, revival or judgement?
How can our faith be sure? What is the basis of our certainty?
      The word of God is totally accurate and reliable. God always keeps his word.
      It is the prime ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to us.
            It makes clear to us what we need to believe to be saved. e.g.
                  I am sinful by nature, my sin deserves punishment,
                  I cannot pay the price God's justice demands, Christ has paid in full.
      Salvation depends on what Christ has done. My response is repentance.
Do we persistently plead with God for his undeserved mercy?
This letter written to encourage, to persevere, believe and be saved. 1036,39
Jews are very practical.
      We are given examples of what they hoped for, saw and received.

But first, another directly related matter. Who designed and created this world?
It was by the command of God, not by 'Big Bang' or chance mutations (evolution).
Why is this so relevant here? If men don't believe God created what is seen,
      they certainly will not believe God has made ready what is not seen.
      And they will scoff at any mention of judgement.  2 Pe 33-7
Believing God's account of his creation in the first two chapters of Genesis,
      we stand in awe before God.
      It is so beautiful, varied, amazing, simple, complex, so small and yet so big.
Satan hates men to honour and worship God and tries all he can to stop it.
God created all things out of what is not seen and invisible. He just spoke!
Men can only transform what is now seen out of what was already visible.


By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. 114

Why was Abel commended? How does God see him as righteous?
Righteousness can't be bought by anything that man can give or refrain from.
      But is given to those with a broken and contrite heart.  Ps 5116,17  Lu 738,47,50
What did he believe? What was he certain of?  How did he become assured?
What sort of sacrifices please God in scripture?
Abel looked for a better sacrifice than his lamb.
      He knew that even the best parts of the best lamb were not sufficient
            for him to earn God's forgiveness.
      Somehow he knew that God would have to provide a better sacrifice.
            It would be better than Cain's, and better than his offering too. Gen 43 c.f. 44
      God gave him assurance and righteousness. He knew the relief of being forgiven.
            His gratitude showed so clearly than Cain was jealous and hated him.
            He had no sense of his sin. No real desire for God. None of Abel's happiness.

The blood of this first martyr cried out to God from the ground.  Gen 410
The blood of the Son of God speaks the same words -
      Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Jn 129
Who commended Abel, and to whom? Jesus commends Abel before the Father.
This story in Gen 4 compares the two men Abel and Cain
      It contrasts faith and unbelief, righteousness and wickedness, life and death.


By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death;
he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him
. 115,6

Why does God commend Enoch? What did he believe?
He believed that God existed;
            and that God rewards those who earnestly seek him.
      If you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him
            with all your heart and all your soul.  Deut 429  Jer 2913
      c.f. Adam and Eve who tried to hide.  Gen 38
How did he come to believe?
      Wonder at the birth of his son.
      After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God.  Gen 522
      Many others have believed through the wonder of giving birth.
Enoch was also commended by God before being taken.
      He could not have walked with God unless his sins had been covered.
      He must have sought God for forgiveness, and received it.
            This would certainly have pleased God.  Lu 157
He gave Methuselah his name. ('In the day that I die it shall happen')
      Methuselah died when Noah was 600 - the year of the Flood!
He and Elijah were the only men who never died - and many more at the end!


By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. 117

How did Noah come to have faith. What was he certain about?
God warned him of the impending 'Methuseleh' judgement.
      He believed God and was certain of his judgement - the 'things' not seen'.
      In spite of the jeers and sneers, Noah build the Ark.
      He was obedient to what God told him. Gen 622 and 'Holy fear'
Like Enoch, Noah walked with God, righteous, as one forgiven.
      Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time,
            and he walked with God. Gen 69
Noah was grieved, as God was. As the exiled prophet Ezekiel would be.  Ezek 94
      Grief is no casual sorrow.
      I wept and wept because no one was found worthy ...  Rev 54
      Streams of tears flow from my eyes because your law is not obeyed.  Ps 119136      
    Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears!
            I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.  Jer 91  and Lam 348
      The whole creation has been groaning ...
            and we ourselves ... groan inwardly as we wait eagerly ...  Ro 822,23
      Like Isaiah, he longed for righteousness and justice, but there was none.

Noah was an heir - not of land or possessions, but of righteousness.
      From whom did he inherit it? Who had died?
God told him to coat the Ark inside and out with pitch.
      But the Hebrew word used is 'Kippur' = Atonement.
      No doubt he used black pitch that was common in the area,
            but what he saw was the atonement of God.
      Like we see the body and blood of Jesus in the bread and wine,
            Noah saw atonement in the 'pitch'.

Recap on 111-7
Faith is not trying to believe some theological impossibility.
      It is the revelation of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away our sin.
We are certain that God has told us the truth.
      And that God always keeps his word, his covenant.
      He promises forgiveness and eternal life to all who seek him and repent.
Abel, Enoch and Noah saw and believed in a better sacrifice to come.
      The Holy Spirit gave each of them the certainty, the assurance of this truth.
      No one else can give us such a revelation.


By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith Abraham, even though he was past age - and Sarah herself was barren - was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 118-12

Told to go; but where to, why, and for how long?
Without knowing the answers, Abraham obeyed.
Even when given the land, he did not grasp it for himself.
      He gave Lot the choice of the best land.  Gen 138-18
He looked for a city with God's foundations.
What are the foundations of London, New York or Tokyo?
      Economics, trade, greed - i.e. the Babylon of Rev 17,18
            One day it will fall; and suddenly!
The City Abraham (and others) sought is designed and built by God.
      It is founded on righteousness, truth and justice.
      Its foundations were decorated with jewels.  Rev 2119-21
            Each jewel is an expression of righteousness, joy, courage,
                  persistence, purity, kindness etc

He believed that God would be faithful to his seemingly impossible promise;
      that his descendants be as numerous as the stars ...  Gen 154-6  Heb 1023
He was not disappointed!

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country - a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them
. 1113-16

In what sense were these people living by faith when they died?
      They knew 'new birth', they were reconciled to God,
            and they rejoiced at seeing the day of Jesus.  Jn 856
      Earth was not their home.  They were pilgrims and strangers.
      Do we feel at home here?
            How real is our hope of heaven and eternal life with God?
What does Jesus promise concerning resurrection and eternal life?
I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
 Jn 1125,26
What was promised that they did not receive?
      The fulfilment of the 'better country', the 'New Jerusalem'.
      The day when the kingdom of God will be world-wide, not just personal.
      The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.  Dan 244

Even though we are miserable sinners, God is not ashamed of us!
Are we ever ashamed of Jesus? Beware!
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation,
    the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes ...
 Mk 838
Jesus has plans and dreams for us, and they all come true.
I am going there (to my Father's house) to prepare a place for you ...
      And if I go ... I will come back and take you to be with me ...  Jn 141-4


By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. 1117-19

It was some test! Abraham must have heard God very, very clearly.  Gen 221-14
God had previously spoken to him directly 8 times.  Gen 12-21
What had he already heard? Not vague generalities!
      1. Get on your camel and start riding! I will bless you as you go.
      2. Gave him all the land he saw.
      3. Promised him descendants - through Sarah.
      4. Now - take your only son Isaac ... (1st fruits belong to God)
How was Abraham, now about 115 years old, able to pass the test?
      No chance that he would have another Isaac.
      God did not tell him the answer -
            He reasoned it, knowing God's power.
            He knew that God could raise his sacrificed Isaac back from the dead!
Do we shrink from God's testing?
      Both Abraham and Job passed the test with flying colours.


By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.  1120

What were their respective blessings? Gen 2727-29 2739,40
Being assured of the truth Isaac blest each of them - by faith - very differently.
Jacob would receive the fulness of God; Esau would not.
      Jacob would seek God earnestly. Gen 3226 But Esau was self-sufficient. Ro 913


By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.  1121

Leaned on the top of his staff as upon God his Saviour. Gen 4731
      After Peniel Jacob limped and needed his Staff.
God's blessing at Peniel was what Jacob had sought for so many years.
      And it was better than Isaac's blessing (which he never did inherit!)
First he blest Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Gen 4812-20
      Younger son blest as firstborn - as he had been.
Though old, Jacob knew each of his own sons and what they had done to Joseph.
      He prophesies over each of them. Gen 491-28


By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones. 1122
How did Joseph know about the exodus ? God had told Abraham. Gen 1513,14
Why was this 'by faith'? He trusted that a day of deliverance would surely come.
      Almighty God, the giver and interpreter of dreams had always proved faithful.
             Each of the dreams was fulfilled 'to the letter'. Gen 375-11 408-23 4115-40
In Egypt Joseph was 2nd only to Pharaoh, but he still felt a long way from 'home'.
      Egypt couldn't be his final resting place. Gen 5026 Exd 1319 Josh 2432
      c.f. Jeremiah buying his cousin's field. Jer 323 but also Jer 3215,17,36-44


By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict.  1123

Moses parents showed faith by 'hiding' Moses for first 3 months.
No ordinary child. Slaves long for freedom and deliverance.
      Parents knew that the 400 years was nearly up. Gen 1513,14
      Saw their son as the God-sent leader and deliverer. c.f. Dan 92
After 3 months Moses no longer hidden but deliberately put in pitched basket,
      where they knew Pharaoh's daughter would find him. Exd 23
      Sister told to watch and hear what to say. Exd 24,7
What a risk? What faith. What did his mother teach Moses while nursing him?
Pharaoh's daughter pays Moses mother to nurse him! God's humour.


By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.  1123-29

Moses preferred to be Jewish rather than a privileged Egyptian.
      But there was a cost. Life-long slavery c.f. a privileged prince.
      "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose".   Jim Elliot
                                                                                                                                       
Moses did not leave Egypt because he feared death;
      it was mainly because he 'saw' God's deliverance.
      But the timing was 'not yet' - youth had 'jumped the gun',
      Did he knew what part God had planned for him to have in this?
Faith did not come easily to Moses. (or to anyone)
      The years went by - still a shepherd in Midian,
            and for 40 years, far from all other Jews.
      How could he ever fulfill his early calling?
      Like David was crowned king, yet next 13 years as a desert fugitive.
      And Joseph who was sold as a slave, then many years in prison.
            Were his early dreams, just dreams?
      Moses learned that for dreams to be fulfilled men need meekness,
            perseverance and obedience. Num 123

Moses kept the Passover by faith. How?
      He believed God's word; that the blood on doorposts would save them.
How do we keep the feast?
      What, or rather who, do we remember? Christ the Passover Lamb. 1 Co 57,8
By faith the people would Stand still and see the salvation of God ... Exd 1413,14
      But the Egyptians tried to cross and were drowned. They had no faith.
What happened to Ignorance in Pilgrim's Progress? and Why?
      He rowed across the river and angels threw him into the door of hell.
            He believed in Christ, but he thought he also had to save himself.
      How did Christian get his scroll? He came to the Cross. No other way.
      Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.


By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed  the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.  1130,31

Walls fell not because of an earthquake, or even the great shout.
      (though these may have also have had an effect)
It must have seemed crazy marching round each day.
      By whose faith did the walls fall? What did they believe?
            By the faith and obedience of Joshua. 2 Co 104
      How was he confident in what he hoped for?
            He had met with the Commander of the army of the Lord. Josh 514
            He had also seen the plagues of Egypt. Exd 714 - 1230
                  Red Sea divide and the Egyptians die. Exd 1410-28
                  Defeat of Amalek. Exd 178-14
                  Destruction of the Amorites - Sihon and Og. Num 2122-26, 33-35 Deut 14
                  The Jordan divide. Josh 314-17
            He had good reason to trust the Lord Almighty - and so have we!
It is by faith and the power of God that all our 'walls of Jericho' fall.
       Those things which oppose or displease God and make war upon our souls.
The people of Jericho were disobedient to 6 days of 'trumpet warning'.
      They remained confident that their walls were strong enough.
      Like the arrogant, evil, insulting Belshazzar in Babylon.
But Rahab and her family were not killed - as agreed.
      She was also righteous. James 225 Josh 211
      Righteous like Lot: don't be too quick to criticise. 2 Pe 27,8
Scarlet rope c.f. Passover blood of the Lamb. Josh 217
      Her deeds showed her heart.
She was not the last prostitute to be saved. Lu 8
She was not a traitor, trying to save her own skin; she sought God for her own soul.
And such is the grace of God that Rahab is part of the lineage of Jesus. Math 15
       

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  1132-40

Gideon - with just 300 he defeated the Midianite host. Judg 6
How did God build his faith? Visits Midianite camp and hears dream.

Barak - defeated the Canaanites when Deborah prophesied
      and told him to go.
How did God build his faith? Deborah went with him! Judg 4

Samson - Fearless against Philistines, foolish and yet also faithful. Judg 13-16
 
Jephthah - Rejected son of a prostitute, defeated the Ammonites. Jud 11

David - Defeated Goliath, Philistines and others. 2 Sam 8
      He prepared for the Temple. 1 Ch 28,29 (1 talent gold = £250,000)

Samuel - administered justice.

Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah - unaffected by the flames. Dan 3

Daniel saw an angel shut the mouths of the lions. Dan 6

Elijah, Jeremiah and others escaped the edge of the sword -
      but others didn't. 2 Macc 7 (Jeremiah died in Egypt) 2 Ch 2421
      Stephen Act 759 James Act 122 Tyndale, Jim Elliot, Mehdi Dibaj

Who received back their dead? Shunammite. 2 Kg 4
Others were tortured, imprisoned, stoned ... destitute, persecuted, etc.
      Their names unknown to us, but very precious to the Sovereign Lord.
Isaiah was probably sawn in two by Manasseh.

Commended, but did not receive what was promised.
      What was promised? Salvation - Eternity in that 'better city'. Heb 928 1019
No late-comers at the Marriage feast of the Lamb.
      All believers, made perfect, will sit down together.



Therefore ...          

a) Fix your eyes upon Jesus, persevere   121-29

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  121-3

These men and women were all a witnesses to God's faithfulness. Therefore ...
What is God's purpose in reminding us of such people?
      Men with assured, believing, trusting hearts, confident in God.
Encourage similar confidence in God so we are able to endure persecution
      and not give up, or start doubting. see Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
      Remember the brave, courageous witness by Tyndale, Cranmer, Latimer ...

What hinders ? What so easily entangles ?
      Love of ease, flattery of men, the fear of pain or rejection or the future,
      self-confidence, anxiety, TV, money, sex and power ...
Running a race requires training - and no excess baggage.
Perseverance requires a known goal - What is your goal? Jesus!
      'My goal is God himself, not joy, nor peace, nor even blessing ...'

View time from standpoint of eternity - and see what really matters.
What was the joy that was set before Jesus? All who believe in every age.
Be like Jesus - and do not lose heart, know what he sets before us.
      Rev 21,22 is given so that we might know of the New Jerusalem.
Jesus is the both the author and perfecter.
Faith is given by God; it is not 'worked up'.
      Our part is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. As he did on his Father.
Jesus endured the cross. It was neither unnecessary, nor a failure.
The physical agony was horrendous,
      but the separation from Father (due to our sin) was even worse.
No worse shame. Naked + Crucifixion was only for non-Romans.
Pray regularly for those who today face danger, loneliness, suffering ...


In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  124-11

What is the purpose of discipline? (x10 in this passage)
      'Do as you like freedom' has always been popular,
      In our modern Democracy many say Discipline = Law,
            and it has now been fulfilled, so is not required any more.
      But the grace of God + self discipline brings righteousness.
      Jesus came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Math 517
God's discipline leads to:
      Endurance in pain, poverty or persecution. 2 Co 64-10 Heb 58
      Care of others. c.f. the natural selfishness of 'Me, Now!' 1 Pe 47
      Patience, diligence, good habits. Gal 522 Dan 610 1 Pe 223
      Ready and willing obedience. Jn 1423
      Victory over sin. To him who overcomes ... Rev 2,3 + 2 Pe 13
      Peace instead of anxiety and fear of punishment. 1 Jn 418
      i.e. the harvest of righteousness and peace and a godly character.

How does God practice discipline? He awakens our conscience.
He does not always give us what we ask for - but he is never mean
      God is abundant and generous with his love, joy and peace.
There is no easy way. It remains both 'Stick and carrot'
      James 12-4 1 Pe 16,7 412,13 Lu 951
We all share in the trials and difficulties that are common to man.
God forgives my confessed sin, but it's consequences may remain.
Punishment is painful - else it is useless.
      Sometimes others have to pay for my sin. 2 Sam 12 1 Ch 21
David didn't repent to escape punishment; but because he had sinned.


Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.  1212-17

In The Pilgrim's Progress,
      Mr Ready-to-Halt, Feeblemind, Despondency and Mrs MuchAfraid
            were not rejected but encouraged by Mr GreatHeart.
      They destroyed Doubting Castle for a whole week.
      They sang 'Who would true valour see ...'
Why were Christian and Hopeful imprisoned in Doubting Castle?
Tried an easy way when tired of the difficulties.
Seek 'Peace with all men', but do not compromise the truth.
      especially in Church divisions.
      Do not ignore the major Roman Catholic errors.
            See list in notes on 137-9
      Note that peace is linked with holiness.

What causes bitterness to grow?
      Insult, humiliation,
      rejection,
      lack of care ...
It was common then, and it still is.
Like the dock if left, bitterness is difficult to remove.

Why were David and Jacob forgiven, but not Esau?
      Esau wanted the blessing but (so far as we know) refused to repent.
      Sorrow and tears at not getting what he wanted is not repentance.


You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned." The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear." But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.  1218-22a

The Israelites experienced all this fear at Mt Sinai.
      Even Moses trembled. Exd 19
Why were the people told not to come near? Needed to be holy.
Why have we not come to such a Mt?
      Mt Sinai = Law and slavery. Gal 421-51
      Jerusalem above is free, through Christ.
      This is the 'better city' that is prepared for all believers. 1116
Long to know more about this city. God tells us in Rev 21,22

You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?  1222-25

We come to angels, the firstborn, to God, to the righteous,
      to Jesus the Mediator and to the better blood
      that speaks 'a better word'. (Last of the 13 "better's")
A word of warning:
      Listen. "He who has ears to hear ..." Lu 88 1435
            We usually refuse to listen when we do not like what hear.
      Learn to be meek.

We have NOT come to the Mt of the condemning Law.
We have come to Mt Zion, and salvation with Jesus.
      It is not 'you will come' but 'you have come'.


At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken - that is, created things - so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, For our "God is a consuming fire."   1226-29

The earth shook then, on Mt Sinai, and the people trembled;
      and it will shake again.
What will happen then?
      Judgement will shake the whole earth
      and it will be consumed.
What cannot to shaken and will endure for ever?
      The Kingdom of God and the Word of God. 1 Pe 125
We have so much to be grateful for. Ps 103


What does the fire of God consume? Deut 525
      Wood, hay, stubble. 1 Co 311-13
            all that worthless, and which the world values so highly.
      The wicked. Exd 3210 Num 1621 This is serious.


We shall be totally free to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.
      Not the physical expression,
            but free from sin, and from wrong motives / thoughts
            and no distracting thoughts.
Praise God for the 'consuming fire'!


b) Compassion for Others   131-9          

Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.   131-8

Several diverse and personal commands:
      Love each other as brothers - unlike friends, we can't choose family.
      Entertain strangers, not only those who pay us back
            or when it happens to be convenient. Math 2543 Lu 1412-14
      Care for the imprisoned. (they were not fed in those days!)
            There are many lonely and friendless people today.
      Honour marriage. See Billy Graham's principles.
      Keep free from the love of money.
      i.e. don't be like the world.
      A boat is made to float on the water
            but it is in great danger if the water gets in the boat.
Remember God says, "I will never leave you", so I will never be afraid.
      Man can do much to me, but nothing that really matters.

Paul could say, "Imitate me", but there are few leaders who can repeat it


c) Beware of Strange Doctrines  139          

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.  139

Doctrine matters. It affects dramatically what believe and do.
Do not be hoodwinked by modernists and liberals.
What 'strange teachings' are in the church today?

a) Theology develops with man's knowledge.
      i.e. We can modify scripture today. We know more now!

b) Word of God not totally reliable or accurate.
      We are not free to add or subtract what is liked or disliked.

c) Liberal theology. Modify or even deny the virgin birth and resurrection. Both are key essentials in the Christian faith.
     If Jesus had been Joseph's son, he could not be perfect and could never take away the sin of any man. Without the resurrection there is no triumph over sin or death.
      We would have no Advocate in heaven - and that would be disastrous!

d) No hell or just eternal punishment. We can sin, and get away with it.
    This removes the necessity for a Saviour, and makes the whole coming of Jesus irrelevant.
    His death was a waste of time. How insulting!
      It also means that he was just a good example for us to follow.
      But all men find that impossible.

e) Many ways to God. Inter-faith services etc
      This may sound tolerant and be popular
      but Jesus said there remains only one way to God; all others are a lie. Jn 146

f) Islam's Ka'ba stone is an idol, so is Buddha and all the Hindu gods.
      God hates idols; and so should we.

g) The New-Age idea that God is in everything (including us) is an arrogant
      form of spiritual humanism. Makes us idols who say we are all little gods

h) 'Replacement theology' substitutes the Church for Israel.
    They select all the 'nice' promises as applying to the Church and all the 'nasties' are ignored or left for Israel .
    This naturally leads to the belief that Revival is imminent idea and the Church will be triumphant.
      Also say Christians are raptured before the Tribulation
      But God remains faithful always.
      What he has promised Israel he will fulfill totally. Jer 3135-37 Ro 111,25-32

i) Signs and wonders. Thank God for his gracious powerful hand to heal.
      But not all miracles, sign and wonders are from God. 2 Thes 29,10
      In Rev 13 the Beast deceives many by his fatal wound being healed. Rev 133
      Then the False Prophet deceives even more by his signs and wonders. Rev 1314

j) Prosperity gospel.
      Too often a good excuse for rich evangelists to enjoy a bloated life-style.

k) 'Seed faith'. We can never out-give God, nor can he be bribed.
      A generous spirit is excellent and rare.

l) Triumphalism. Fails to acknowledge our sin and weakness.
    Praise becomes unreal if no sin to be forgiven.
      Based on false premise that the Church is always triumphant. Dan 721,25
      God promised Jeremiah he would protect him and he did.
      But he still suffered rejection, deprivation and prison for over 40 years.

m) 'Big personalities'. They play on our emotions,
      telling us what we want to hear. Some are fool enough to believe it.

o) Roman Catholic errors.
      These are many and significant and must not be ignored.

Transubstantiation.
Rome burned at the stake many Protestants for refusing to accept this in the Reformation The bread and wine are to remember, they are not transformed in a magical rite. Only the Priest is allowed to celebrate the mass and other church sacraments, which they claim are essential for salvation. This makes all laymen totally dependant upon the Roman priest. Excommunication thus becomes a great threat especially to the sensitive and superstitious.
Church tradition considered more important than Scripture in decision making.

Purgatory (2nd chance and prayers for the dead).
      The parable of the rich man and Lazarus deny this possibility.

Sale of indulgences, though less common now, is still used in poorer countries.
    It is a callous scheme to gain wealth from the bereaved to gain assurance concerning the soul of the departed.

Papal infallibility.
      Leaders should be honoured, but none are, or can be, infallible

'One-way' confession.
    We are instructed to confess our sins to one another. They say that knowledge is power. It is not confession that is wrong, but that it is 'one way'.

Celibate Priesthood may be good for a few, but has proved disastrous for many.

Priests given title of 'Father'.
    Christ told us to call no man Father. They are not intermediary's between us and God. We have one Advocate in heaven, and that is Jesus.

Apostolic Succession to justify priestly authority has no reliable historical basis.

Immaculate conception
    Claims Mary was born perfect.
      But she knew her own need for salvation. Lu 147

Veneration of Mary, Prayers to Mary and Saints.
    These are an insult to Jesus, implying that he is too busy! Again we do well to honour the saints and learn from their example; but pray to them? Never!

Vestments.
    These merely reinforce the false notion that Priests are intermediaries between God and man.

Relics.
      Historical proof is one thing but never encourage superstition.

In spite of these errors, many Roman Catholics can rightly claim salvation .
We forget what our Reformation forbears died for at our peril.
Roman Catholics agree that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ.
But they refuse to say it is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
      They say that only the Church (Roman priests) can provide the sacraments
            necessary for salvation. i.e. Mass, confession etc
      Jesus Christ has become our one true Advocate in heaven. We need no other.
            Indeed, all others are nothing compared with Jesus.

This letter to the Hebrews repeatedly emphasises that our confidence is now in what Christ has done, not in any priest of Aaron or Rome.


d) Rejoice in Christ   1310-15          

We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name.  1310-15

Why did the minister have no right to eat?
      He relied upon animal sacrifice.
      Our sacrifice is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
He 'suffered outside the city gate' of Heaven and the city of Jerusalem.
Are we willing suffer disgrace or ridicule for Jesus? I hope so.
The 'enduring city' we have entered (1222) is not on earth.
      We join with those whose names are in the hall of faith. (11)
Why do we continually offer the sacrifice of praise?
      Jesus paid the high price of redemption, for which we have no money. Is 551,7


e) Share with Others, Obey Leaders  1316-19          

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honourably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.  1316-19

We need constant reminding to do good and to share.
The task of leaders and ministers is an onerous one.
      Do we make their work a joy? Do we readily heed their exhortations?
Pray diligently and with courage for them.
The writer of Hebrews is not too proud to seek prayer.
He is a poor man, for whom no one else prays.


Final Blessing and Encouragement   1320-25          

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  1320,21

Real peace requires the resurrection power of God.
The new covenant of God is eternal.
Jesus is the great Shepherd. Ezek 3411-31
What does the writer pray for?
For an effective life and ministry that pleases God - not for an easy life!


Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you. Greet all your leaders and all God's people. Those from Italy send you their greetings. Grace be with you all.  1322-25

A short (!) letter of 13 chapters.
Obey exhortations. What are they?
      Current chapter. Many and various exhortations.
      Jesus the Messiah is far better ... so draw near to God. 1022
            You have not come not to Mt. Sinai that condemns.
            but you have come to the Mediator and Redeemer who forgives.
      Have courage to press on, looking to Jesus. 121-3


Greetings and Grace.



Summary - Jesus is Better, Much Better!          
 
14             So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior (name) to theirs.

33             Jesus has been found worthy of greater honour than Moses.

74-17        Jesus (is superior to Abraham because) he became a priest not on the basis of his ancestry (Judah, not Levi) but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. (like Melchizedek to whom Abraham gave gifts and was blessed)

718,19       The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

722            Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

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

911            Jesus went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made. (not the Most Holy Place) (i.e. a better High Priest - after the order of Melchizedek, not Levi. He only had to make an offering once, and he did not have to make any offering for his own sins.)

923            It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrificesthan these.

1034         You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

1116         Instead, they were longing for a better country - a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

1135         Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.

1139,40   These were commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better (city) for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

1224         To Jesus the mediator of a new (Better) covenant, (722) and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.