Jesus Is Our Hope: The Book of Hebrews – part 3

In the first two parts of this three-part series, the Holy Spirit-inspired author of the book of Hebrews has gone into great detail about who Jesus is, why we should place our hope in Him, what had to happen before Jesus could fulfill His purpose, and about the awe-inspiring power that He wields for us as both King and High Priest – in order to reveal just how much we are sealed in the salvation of Christ for our eternal reward.

The author then goes on to tell us why all of these revelations should build up our faith: Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our heart sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Heb. 10:19 – 23. NKJV

Thus, we have a plethora of joyful reasons to place our faith in Christ. Moreover, God warns us in earnest of what awaits those who refuse to exercise that faith:

For if we sin willingly after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Heb. 10:26 NKJV

Jesus has already shed His blood for everyone who will ever live on this earth – whether or not they accept Him as their Savior. If, once you’ve heard the gospel, decide to reject it, there won’t be any room for you in God’s eternal love plan.

[It should be noted that it is those that rebel against God and behave as they see fit (‘sin willingly’) regardless of His statutes, who will be condemned. Followers of Christ are still human, and will sin due to the nature of the flesh, (unwilling slips) but only they have the option of confession > repentance > restoration.]

So, the Holy Spirit-inspired author is pleading with us, for the sake of our salvation, to cling doggedly to our faith: …do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised. Heb. 10:35, 36. ESV

Furthermore, the author goes on to tell you exactly what faith is – so that you know when you have it:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, for the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made of things that are visible. Heb. 11:1 – 3. ESV

Nothing existed before God spoke it into existence. There were no primordial building blocks. God transformed His own thoughts into things material.

Now, God tells us the most important reason to have faith: …without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Heb. 11:6 NKJV

If you don’t believe in God, there is nothing everlastingly good coming your way.

The author then cites some of the Old Testament characters of faith as examples. (Remember, the author is pleading God’s case to Jewish converts who are waffling in their faith in Christ.)

He begins by telling of the faith of Abel, which led him to worship God His way, as opposed to the rebellious Cain, who did not. He also holds up the faith of Abraham – both his faith that led him to follow God’s instructions and leave his family, and his unswerving faith in God’s promise of eternal life: …for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Heb. 11:10 NASB

The author then paints a picture of the common trait of all of the biblical paragons of faith:

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Heb. 11:13 NKJV

They all had faith in their eternal destination. They knew that their earthly time was only the beginning of their journey. They looked forward to their ‘graduation’ with joy because they had faith in the fact that God Himself is faithful to His word:

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Heb. 11:16 NKJV

The author also includes the faith of Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, and others – again, holding them up for their acts of faith:

…through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions…Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Heb. 11:33 & 35. NKJV

And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised, because God had something better and greater for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them]. Heb. 11:39, 40. AMP

They stood up against all persecution – empowered by God, waiting for the day their spirits would join with Him. But the big party won’t start until the resurrection of every faith-filled follower’s glorified bodies.

We see then the tenacity of the faithful of old, and they didn’t have Jesus in person to inspire them. We do! So how can we be empowered by their examples?

…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God. Heb. 12:1, 2. NKJV

Jesus foresaw His joy in connecting with you for all of eternity and decided that it was worth paying the price of His crucifixion; and, the price that you pay for faithful endurance (setting aside earthly ways for those that are heavenly) will be more than worth it as well:

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Heb. 12:7 ESV

…He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful, yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Heb. 12:10, 11. NASB

So, you have a choice. When you make the choice for Jesus, you are immediately placed at the doorstep of heaven:

…you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood sprinkling that speaks of better things than that of Abel. Heb. 12:22 – 24. NKJV

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe. Heb. 12:28 NASB

You too can be a firstborn that is registered in heaven – not by accepting the blood of Abel that cried out to God for vengeance, but by the miraculous work of the blood of Jesus that completely transforms you, preparing you for your date with eternal Love…

Now at this point, like the apostle Paul, (and who knows, the author just might be Paul) the author leaves us with some godly behaviors to engage in, in order to remain in readiness for our heavenly call: Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Remember the prisoners as if chained with them… Heb. 13:1 – 3. NKJV

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have. Heb. 13:4, 5. ESV

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. Heb. 13:8, 9. NKJV

For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. Heb. 13:14, 15. NASB

Amen. I think that the case for Jesus has been thoroughly made…

Good night and God bless.

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Jesus Is Our Hope: The Book of Hebrews – part 2

In part one of this series, we learned that this biblical book’s author was anonymous (though the apostle Paul or his associates Barnabas or Apollo have been suggested). The author wrote this epistle to a group of Jewish Christians who were wobbling in their faith, because Christ had not returned since His ascension sixty years prior. In this epistle, the author is inspired by the Holy Spirit to reveal to them just how vital the Son of God is to their salvation by teaching them in great detail who Christ is, what He’s done, and about the promise of what He’s still going to do.

He continues…

Jesus and Moses:

The author contrasts Jesus with Moses – the greatest biblical prophet in the eyes of the Jews: …consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest Whom we confessed [as ours when we embraced the Christian faith]. [See how] faithful He was to Him Who appointed Him [Apostle and High Priest], as Moses was also faithful to the whole house [of God].

Yet Jesus has been considered worthy of much greater honor and glory than Moses just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house [itself]. Heb. 3:1 – 3. AMP

And Moses certainly was faithful in the administration of all God’s house [but it was only] as a ministering servant. [In his entire ministry he was but] a testimony to the things which were to be spoken [the revelations to be given afterward in Christ.]

But Christ (the Messiah) was faithful over His [own Father’s] house as a Son and a master of it. And it is we who are [now members] of this house, if we hold fast and firm to the end of our joyful and exultant confidence and sense of triumph in our hope [in Christ]. Heb. 3:5, 6. AMP

So, the offices of apostle and high priest are combined in Christ as opposed to Moses, who was the apostle, but his brother Aaron was the high priest. Jesus, the apostle, pleads God’s case to us, and Jesus the high priest, pleads our case to God.

We see too that Moses served the house of God (the tabernacle in his time), whereas Jesus personifies the Spiritual house of God. As part of his servitude, one of Moses’ purposes on earth was to preach about the greater importance of the coming of Christ: The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst. Him you shall hear… Dt. 18:15 NKJV

Next, the author pleads with his audience to exercise endurance in maintaining their faith in Jesus:

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion in the day of trial in the wilderness where your fathers put Me to the test…They shall not enter my rest.” Heb. 3:7 – 9 & 11. NKJV

Let us be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Heb. 4:11 – 13. NKJV

The author was referring to the behavior of the Jews who were traveling with Moses in the exodus from Egypt to the ‘promised land.’ The Holy Spirit is telling us that the Jews who rebelled against Moses (i.e. had no faith in God) did not get to enter into God’s ‘rest.’ (Heaven)

Thus, all followers of Christ are being called to persist in faithful obedience to the word of God and to hold tight to God’s promises (accomplished through Jesus) for their future.

Jesus the Most High Priest:

Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]. Heb. 4:14 AMP

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb. 4:15, 16. NKJV

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

While on earth, Jesus was tempted by every form of unrighteousness Satan had to offer; yet He, and only He, out of all of history, remained sinless. Therefore, He can both empathize with the suffering that you endure when you are tempted to sin, and show you the way to resist those temptations.

The author goes on to use the architecture of the temple of Solomon (something the Jews would be well versed in), to illustrate to them how Christ, through His death and resurrection, covers those who follow Him with righteousness – so that they may gain entrance into the ‘Holy of Holies,’ i.e. into the presence of God Himself:

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all who obey Him the source of salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Heb. 5:7 – 10. NASB

God appointed Jesus to be the High Priest over His children. Recall that Melchizedek was the high priest and king over Salem during the time that God helped Abraham deliver his nephew Lot and his family from captivity. (Gen. ch. 14)

Jesus’ heavenly office is like Melchizedek’s in that He too holds the office of both King and High Priest. However, God tells us that Christ’s priesthood far surpasses any who have ever worn that mantle:

…our Lord sprang from the tribe of Judah, and Moses mentioned nothing about priests in connection with that tribe. And this becomes plainly evident when another Priest arises Who bears the likeness of Melchizedek, Who has been constituted a Priest, not on the basis of a bodily legal requirement [an externally imposed command concerning His physical ancestry], but on the basis of the power of an endless and indestructible Life. Heb. 7:14 – 16. AMP

So, Jesus did not inherit His priesthood due to any Levitical type of lineage. He was set apart from the history of the office of the priest to be set above and superior to the earthly station; and Jesus’ priesthood is eternal. How does that help us?

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

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. Heb. 7:22 ESV

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Heb. 7:25 NKJV

…Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Heb. 8:6, 7. ESV

When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. Heb. 8:13 NASB

God evolved the Mosaic Law into His eternal salvation model – the gospel of Christ, which brings with it a much greater significance and authority:

…Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Heb. 9:11 – 15. NKJV

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us… Heb. 9:24 NKJV

…at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Heb. 9:26 NASB

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sins, but to save those eagerly waiting for him. Heb. 9:27, 28. ESV

…it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Heb. 10:4 NKJV

And in accordance with this will [of God], we have been made holy (consecrated and sanctified) through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ (the anointed One). Heb. 10:10 AMP

…this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God… Heb. 10:12 NKJV

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Heb. 10:14 NKJV

Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Heb. 10:18 NASB

Jesus went into the heavenly Most Holy Place, i.e. the throne room of God, for you. He rendered His own blood from His only and last sacrifice to bring you to sanctification. (Did you notice those words in the second to the last scripture above which says ‘perfected forever’? That’s what Jesus has done for you.)

It was the moment that Christ decimated the power of sin for all time. If you want that sin power over you to be decimated, you only need to confess and repent, accept Christ as your Savior, and do your best to walk as He walked. And when you come up short, Jesus has got your back.

Did you notice too that at the end of time, if you are a follower of Jesus, He’s coming to save you and nothing will stand in His way? (John 10:28, 29.)

Talk about love…

Goodnight and God Bless.

Jesus Is Our Hope: The Book of Hebrews

Introduction:

After we finished the last part of our series on the book of Romans, Acting Out Our Faith, we briefly (and for the last time) revisited the Bible book of Acts, wherein we left off with the apostle Paul just beginning to serve a two-year sentence of house arrest at the city of Rome in 60 A.D. Now, we’re going to leave Paul for a little while, in order to examine other historical developments and Holy-Spirit inspired Biblical writings, which were taking place at approximately the same time.

Although, perhaps we are not leaving Paul at all, let me explain…

We are first going to delve into the Bible book of Hebrews; and although the author is anonymous, many biblical scholars believe the author to be Paul. (Others believe the author to be associates of Paul – either Barnabas or Apollo.)

The title of the book / letter suggests that it was directed at a Jewish audience; and some of the scholars calling for a Pauline authorship of the book of Hebrews, believe that because Paul’s primary mission was to evangelize to the Gentiles, he penned this letter anonymously to prevent the formation of any rife between he and the apostle Peter (whose primary mission was to evangelize to the Jews).

The purpose of this letter appears to be for bolstering the faith of the Jewish converts to Christ – especially to a group who had somehow gotten the notion that Jesus was going to return immediately. However, because sixty years had gone by since Christ had ascended to heaven, the Jews were beginning to question whether or not following Him was a wise decision. The author goes into great detail reassuring them that it was…

Who is Jesus?

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Heb. 1:1, 2. NKJV

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty, having become as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Heb. 1:3, 4. ESV

There’s a lot to glean here. We learn that as soon as Jesus was resurrected, the ‘last days’ of the earth commenced. You might retort with saying, “These ‘last days’ have lasted over two thousand years!” True, but that’s just a blink of an eye to a universe that is believed to have stood for over sixteen billion years!

We see too that God now speaks to us through Christ, whom we know petitioned His Father for the Holy Spirit in order to deliver those words. In addition, God tells us that His Son is comprised of His exact imprint – reaffirming that whatever comes out of the mouth of Jesus is the word of God.

In addition, the Holy Spirit reminds us that God made the universe through Christ, and that Jesus Himself is still holding that universe together.

Finally, at the point of Jesus’ resurrection, He received His crown from God to rule over the earth as our King of kings and Lord of lords after He completed God’s plan for our salvation. As King, God exalted His Son over all things (including the angels).

Why hope in Jesus?

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we heard so that we do not drift away from it. For the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Heb. 2:1 – 3. NASB

The Holy Spirit is appealing to the Jew’s knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures, which showed that every time an angel would appear, its pronunciations invariably came to pass. The Jews are well aware that the angels also testified of the coming of the Messiah.

Then, the Holy Spirit-inspired author asks them to consider ‘present-day’ proofs for the veracity of Jesus as being the Messiah:

It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will. Heb. 2:3, 4. ESV (In essence, the author is saying, “How much ‘proof’ do you need?”)

What had to happen before Jesus could fulfill His purpose?

First, though we’ve seen that Jesus in heaven is exalted above the angels, Jesus on earth could not be; He had to take on mortality:

But we are able to see Jesus, Who was ranked lower than the angels for a little while, crowned with glory and honor because of His having suffered death, in order that by the grace (unmerited favor) of God [to us sinners] He might experience death for every individual person. For it was an act worthy [of God] and fitting [to the divine nature] that He, for Whose sake and by Whom all things have their existence, in bringing many sons into glory, should make the Pioneer of their salvation perfect [should bring to maturity the human experience necessary to be perfectly equipped for His office as High Priest] through suffering.

For both He Who sanctifies [making men holy] and those who are sanctified all have one [Father]. For this reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren… Heb. 2:9 – 11. AMP

Angels do not die. Jesus had to be mortal so that by His sacrifice He could nail our sins to the cross forever. He also subjected Himself to the ‘human experience’ so that He could compassionately identify with our weaknesses and our suffering, while He serves as our High Priest as the right hand of God.

Furthermore, Jesus calls us ‘brothers and sisters’ – acknowledging our connection to His human side, when we accept Him in full faith with our spiritual side:

Since, therefore, [these His] children share in flesh and blood [in the physical nature of human beings], He [Himself] in a similar manner partook of the same [nature], that by [going through] death He might bring to naught and make of no effect him who had the power of death – that is the devil – and also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives. Heb. 2:14, 15. AMP

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make a propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Heb. 2:17, 18. NKJV

Jesus conquered death for all who choose to follow Him. We will not feel death’s sting and therefore need not fear it. Our transition will be immediate and glorious. Until that time, our High Priest can identify with anything that we are going through in this world, ( He Himself being a conqueror of all of them), and He does not hesitate to send help, compassion, and healing, our way, in any situation.

There is still so much more that rounds out our Hope. Next time…

Good night and God Bless.