October 31 – Hebrews 9:1-5. The Tabernacle.

Monday, October 31, 2011


October 31 – Hebrews 9:1-5. The Tabernacle.

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 and the table with its 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.

I am absolutely fascinated with the tabernacle.  It is overwhelming to me that the Israelites were able to construct such an intricate design while they were in the desert after running from Pharaoh’s armies.

God gave Moses a precise pattern for the tabernacle and all of the items that were to be contained within it.  Not only was it a copy of the heavenly sanctuary, but God put the plan together knowing exactly what the Israelites were carrying with them.  He didn’t ask them to go shopping or send them into enemy camps to plunder goods; He gave them a plan based on their inventory and the plan was perfect.

In fact, the only things that were provided outside their common goods were those things placed in the Ark of the Covenant – the jar of manna, the budding staff, and the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments had been carved.  Those things were set aside as remembrances of God’s work among the people.

Our worship of God isn’t something we can buy or take from someone else; it is simply an offering back to Him of what we have already.  The Holy of Holies … the place where the presence of God is found is already in us.  We don’t have to search far and wide to find it, we no longer have to rip back a curtain to enter; it is always there.

God wants us to worship with what we already have – whether it is broken or not, whether it sounds beautiful or is simply joyful noise, whether we understand the mechanics of it or can only fall on our faces.  We don’t have to practice, or be taught. We don’t have to do anything except bring ourselves into God’s presence.

October 30 – Hebrews 8:7-13. The New Covenant.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


October 30 – Hebrews 8:7-13. The New Covenant.

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 days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 
      It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors 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 establish with the people 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 they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘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 outdated will soon disappear.

There was such a difference between the Old and New Covenants.  The old Covenant was established with an entire nation.  God had taken the nation out of Egypt and established a covenant … the people had not been faithful.

A covenant and contract are two different types of entities.  A contract is finished if one or the other parties breaks it.  A covenant, however, remains in effect if just one of the parties stays honorable to it.  The Old Covenant was in effect until God said so, even though the people of Israel had broken it over and over.

The author of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah 31 in speaking of the New Covenant, one which would be between individuals – ‘no longer would they teach their neighbor.’  In other words, there would no longer be a human intermediary (the Levitical priest) that stood between humanity and God.

In the New Covenant, God would establish a relationship with each person, putting the Law in our minds and writing it on our hearts. He would be our God and we would be His people.

The best thing about this covenant is that He will forgive us completely.  Once forgiveness has occurred, He will never remember our sins again.

This is the New Covenant.  It isn’t based on sacrifices or a relationship between God and the High Priest of the people, but upon one sacrifice which was made once, for all and the relationship between His Son, the Great High Priest and part of the Trinity … so, God Himself and His people.

October 29 – Hebrews 8:3-6. Just a Copy.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


October 29 – Hebrews 8:3-6. Just a Copy.

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 priests 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.”  But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

Do you ever think about the things in your church building being representative of that which is found in heaven?

When God gave the specifications to Moses for building the Tabernacle and filling it with elements, He was asking Moses to build a shadow … a copy of the heavenly realm.  Why? Maybe because it was important to God that his children become familiar with holy places and feel comfortable there.  He was training them to be aware of what it meant to be in His presence.

Then … when Christ died and the curtain was torn, even the holiest of holies, the place where one high priest could enter and then only one time every year was opened to everyone.

Now we were invited to participate in a real way with the holiest place that could be found on earth so that we would feel comfortable approaching God in His throne room.

God wants us to feel comfortable in His holiness.  He has given us so many opportunities to come into His presence, whether it is to worship Him, learn from Him, commune with others, or care for His children.

What we see here on earth is only a copy of that which is in heaven, but it is what He has given us so that we can learn.

October 28 – Hebrews 8:1-2. Who do We Trust?

Friday, October 28, 2011


October 28 – Hebrews 8:1-2. Who do We Trust?

Now the main 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 a mere human being.

We really do have such a high priest.  One who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

In a day and age when it seems we can trust no one, when our pastors and priests are subject to the basest of human desires and the media takes great pleasure in pointing out their sins to the world, it is hard to really trust.

But it is most important that we learn whom to trust. The author of Hebrews knows that placing our trust in ‘mere human beings’ isn’t safe.  These humans live short lives and they have to offer sacrifices to cover their own sins.

The one in whom we should put our trust is Jesus … who serves in the true sanctuary … who sits at the right hand of God.

October 27 – Hebrews 7:23-28. Once. For All. 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 truly 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 in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. If you’re like me, you don’t often think about needs in terms of ritual sacrifices. We don’t wake up in the morning and worry about finding a perfect dove or goat or heifer to offer at the Temple for the sins we have committed. And I’m thankful for that. It’s actually quite incredible to think of the difference that has happened in the last 2000 years because of the work of Jesus. Jewish priests lived and died. They did their jobs in the temple as well as possible and when the time came for them to die … they did and someone else took their place. They were quite human. Before the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place, he had to offer a sacrifice not only for the sins of the people, but for his own sins. The threat of burning to death by God’s hand in a room where no one could help you was a bit frightening! Jesus, however, lives forever. He won’t die. He doesn’t have sin that He needs to atone for before He can approach the throne of God on our behalf. He doesn’t even need to sacrifice every day for the sins of the people. He did it once. He did it for all. He offered himself. Can you imagine another two thousand years of sacrificing at the Temple? Of never knowing for sure if a human priest can cover your sins for you? And if you weren’t Jewish or had converted to Judaism, you might be sacrificing to another god or maybe have no faith at all in a supreme being. Jesus changed the world. He did it once. He did it for all. He offered himself.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27 – Hebrews 7:23-28. Once. For All.

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 truly 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 in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

If you’re like me, you don’t often think about needs in terms of ritual sacrifices.  We don’t wake up in the morning and worry about finding a perfect dove or goat or heifer to offer at the Temple for the sins we have committed.  And I’m thankful for that.

It’s actually quite incredible to think of the difference that has happened in the last 2000 years because of the work of Jesus.

Jewish priests lived and died.  They did their jobs in the temple as well as possible and when the time came for them to die … they did and someone else took their place.  They were quite human.  Before the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place, he had to offer a sacrifice not only for the sins of the people, but for his own sins.  The threat of burning to death by God’s hand in a room where no one could help you was a bit frightening!

Jesus, however, lives forever.  He won’t die.  He doesn’t have sin that He needs to atone for before He can approach the throne of God on our behalf.  He doesn’t even need to sacrifice every day for the sins of the people.

He did it once.  He did it for all.  He offered himself.

Can you imagine another two thousand years of sacrificing at the Temple?  Of never knowing for sure if a human priest can cover your sins for you? And if you weren’t Jewish or had converted to Judaism, you might be sacrificing to another god or maybe have no faith at all in a supreme being.

Jesus changed the world.  He did it once. He did it for all.  He offered himself.

October 26 – Hebrews 7:15-22. Everything Changed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


October 26 – Hebrews 7:15-22. Everything Changed.

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. 
And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he 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 guarantor of a better covenant.

Imagine being born into the tribe of Levi.  There was a pretty good chance you were going to be a priest.  It wasn’t something you chose to do, it was chosen for you simply because of your lineage.  The rule was set into place, it didn’t matter if you were any good at it, it was what you did.

Now, imagine you were a young man in say, the tribe of Manasseh that wanted desperately to be a priest of God.  You had a heart for worship, but since you weren’t born into the correct tribe, it really was never a consideration.

That Law … the Law that said only the Levites were priests was weak and useless because it was interpreted and managed by man.  There is no way that man can achieve perfection.

What we didn’t know was that God had already ordained His Son as the perfect High Priest. The author of Hebrews says that God took an oath on himself – a pretty amazing thing – in Psalm 110:4 acknowledging that His son, Jesus, would be a priest of a different sort.  A priest in the order of Melchizedek.

When Christ came to earth … the New Covenant, the New Law, the New Priesthood was set into place.  Everything changed.

October 25 – Hebrews 7:11-14. Jesus Changed Everything.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


October 25 – Hebrews 7:11-14. Jesus Changed Everything.

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 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.

These are such important words in terms of the difference between the Law and Jesus Christ.  Paul explains it throughout many of his epistles, but we are seeing the development of ideas regarding Jesus as High Priest in this passage.

The Levitical priesthood developed as part of the Law.  It was a copy … a shadow … of that which was found in heaven … in Jesus. Remember, both Aaron and Moses were of the tribe of Levi (Exodus 4:14). It was from him that the Levites came.

But, Jesus comes from the tribe of Judah.  There was never any mention of them serving at the altar of the Lord.

In the Old Testament, the only other mention of a priest who served God was Melchizedek.  He came long before Aaron and the Levitical priesthood.  So, the author makes the connection between the Genesis 14 passage regarding Melchizedek, the Psalm 110:4 verse (“You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” – assumed to be a Messianic prophecy) and Jesus Christ.

After the author establishes the truth of the priesthood of Jesus Christ (who, by the way, could have been a  Levitical priest, had God wanted it that way), he says something as kind of an aside … “For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.” (Hebrews 7:12).

Wow! There it is.  The Levitical priests with their sacrifices had been set aside by the High Priest, Jesus Christ.  If that type of radical change has occurred in the priesthood, the Law must also experience radical change.

Jesus changed everything.

October 24 – Hebrews 7:4-10. Levi Paid a Tithe.

Monday, October 24, 2011


October 24 – Hebrews 7:4-10. Levi Paid a Tithe.

Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also 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 is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people 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.

Sometimes there is nothing more difficult to understand than the words of a scholar.  I get so tired of reading some of these textbooks.  Authors are way too caught up in competition with their peers to outwrite each other.  They have to sound so terribly brilliant to gain any respect.

On the other hand, I believe that it just isn’t that difficult to get your message across.  Write it well, write it succinctly, write it clearly.

Anyway, the author of Hebrews had a point to make.  And he was quite the orator.  He got started and words just kept flowing out of his pen (or whatever he used to write words on parchment).  All he needed to say here was that the Levites were to collect a tenth from the other tribes so that they could live.  They weren’t supposed to work the ground or raise livestock or engage in trade.  They were supposed to care for the religious needs of their people.  God set it into place that they would collect a tenth from everyone – that way things would be pretty close to fair.

Well, long before the Levites even existed, Abraham offered a tenth to Melchizedek, a priest of God.  In a roundabout way, Hebrews tells us that Levi paid that tenth to Melchizedek – since in a very, very, very, very long distant relationship … Levi was in the body of his ancestor.  Levi – the lesser of the relationship was blessed by the greater – Melchizedek.

Stick with me, this is all going to wrap up here soon.

October 23 – Hebrews 7:1-3. Melchizedek.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


October 23 – Hebrews 7:1-3. Melchizedek.

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, the name Melchizedek 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, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Melchizedek is mentioned in the Old Testament twice.  Once in Genesis 14:18-20 as the King of Salem and priest of God Most High, the second time in Psalm 110:4.

What you won’t find in the Old Testament is actually any mention of Melchizedek’s parentage or lineage, the beginning or end of his life or the end of his priesthood.

In today’s literature, we assume that when something isn’t mentioned, then the author doesn’t think we need that information.  When the author of Hebrews was writing and in OT literature, if something wasn’t mentioned, it was actually assumed that it wasn’t mentioned for a reason.

So, if the author of Genesis didn’t mention Melchizedek’s lineage or genealogy, that meant he didn’t have one.  If his birth and death wasn’t mentioned, there was every probability that neither of those things occurred.

This is really difficult for us to comprehend, but is the point of reference for the author of Hebrews as he sets about what will occur in the next chapters.  Jesus Christ is the new High Priest.  Like Melchizedek, his parentage isn’t as important as the moments of his life.  He existed before time and continues to exist into eternity.  This priestly order is vastly different than that of the Levites.

October 22 – Hebrews 6:17-20. Hope in Christ.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


October 22 – Hebrews 6:17-20. Hope in Christ.

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 set before 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 our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

God promised – He swore on Himself and in that, we have hope.  He promised to bless Abraham and his descendants, He gave the law, the Tabernacle and the Levitical priests to Israel (Abraham’s descendants).  Those things were to strengthen the relationship God had with His people.

The New Covenant will be found in Jesus Christ.  He is the fulfillment of the Law, He eliminated the need for the Tabernacle by entering the inner sanctuary not on earth, but in heaven and He is a high priest forever.

This hope is set before us.  This is our future as Christians.  All of our hope is found in Jesus Christ and He is of God – who never lies and on whom the oath of the Covenant is sworn.

We have hope.  It anchors our soul. It draws us to heaven.

October 21 – Hebrews 6:13-15. God Promised.


October 21 – Hebrews 6:13-15. God Promised.

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.

Do you remember that commandment about not misusing the name of the Lord?  In other words, we are not to swear an oath using the Lord’s name as guarantor, because … well … we’re just not trustworthy and that means we demean His good name.

Now it is an entirely different situation when God swears on His own name.  That is what spawns a trustworthy covenant.  God promised Abraham that he would have many descendants and that God would bless him.

What has God promised you?

Unlike some of those promises that we make and fail to follow through on – a promise from God never fails.

October 20 – Hebrews 6:9-12. Don’t Become Lazy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


October 20 – Hebrews 6:9-12. Don’t Become Lazy.

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with 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, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Move from milk to solid food, learn to mature in your faith, allow the Holy Spirit to water your soul and bring new strength to your journey.  Throughout Chapter Six, the author has been encouraging us to be more than we are right now, to grow up and live as full members of Christ’s church.

While these first chapters of Hebrews might have seemed as if the author was disturbed at some poor behavior by his readers, these verses tell us just how much good he recognizes in them.  This is the same good that God recognizes in us.

God will remember the good things we have done.  Unlike us, His memory for these things is long and He deliberately forgets the bad things we have asked forgiveness for.

Hebrews wants us to continue our lives with the same amount of strength that we have shown in the past.  It seemed so easy when we first became Christians, or first became involved with a church we love.  But, the longer we stayed, the more things became mundane and we lost the thrill of the new.

Don’t become lazy, watch how those who have strong faith and patience live their lives and imitate them.

One of the fun things to do when studying the Bible in the original language is to see how the authors put together their thoughts.  A favorite type of form is what you might call bookending.  They present a word or a thought at the beginning of the passage and then end with the same word or thought.

In this case, we see the Greek word ‘nothros.’  It means slothful, sluggish, lazy.  The author also used that word at the beginning of this passage in Hebrews 5:11.  He calls the readers slow to learn – nothros.  Then, he expresses concern that they haven’t progressed far enough in their faith at the beginning of the passage … almost as if he is impatient with them.

Notice the words at the end of the passage.  Don’t become lazy (nothros), imitate those who have faith and patience.  I love it when I find how authors play with words.  We miss a lot of that in translation, so it is cool to uncover it whenever I can!

October 19 – Hebrews 6:7-8. Drink in the Rain.


October 19 – Hebrews 6:7-8.  Drink in the Rain.

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.

Authors often use metaphors that the community will understand to describe them.  Obviously the readers of this letter are farmers.  They understand the difference between useful ground and thorny ground.  They understand that their open hearts are like land that drinks in the rain.

When we were little, we would come to the cabin for several weeks in the summer.  There was a neighboring farmer who put his cattle on our land while we were gone and then would pull them out for the weeks we were here.  The cattle would forage our meadows and hillside keeping the grass and weeds short.  Other than avoiding cowpies here and there, that made it really nice for traveling through the hills and walking to the river.  However, the cows completely avoided thistles and Dad wasn’t too fond of having them fill the meadow, so in his wisdom, he dealt with three possibly bored children and paid us a nickel per thistle to pull them out of the ground.  We couldn’t cut them out, we had to make sure we pulled them up by the roots.  A few dollars out of his pocked cleared the meadow every summer.

The other bush that we had to deal with was a gooseberry bush.  Those thorns hurt – every time we tried to gather the berries.  As much as I loved gooseberry jam, I didn’t love fighting the bush for purply berries.  It was more of a fight than I ever wanted.

I watch crops go in and come out here in Iowa on land that farmers tend with a lot of loving care.  Rich, black dirt supports fantastic corn and bean crops.  When it rains, the land drinks the water in to help them grow.

Iowa corn and beans feed the world because of the attention that the land receives from its caretakers.  Thistles are bad for livestock and the ground and have to be pulled out of the ground and burned.  Gooseberries might be a wonderful tasting berry, but the thorns make them nearly impossible to enjoy.

Take care of your hearts so that they are thirsty for living water.

October 18 – Hebrews 6:4-6. Crucifying Again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


October 18 – Hebrews 6:4-6.  Crucifying Again.

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 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

These verses have been nearly impossible for me to manage – even digging as deeply as I can dig while taking the course on Hebrews this semester.  The worst thing is, the subtleties found in the Greek are difficult to comprehend as well.  The word used for ‘crucify’ in this passage is only seen here and when seen outside of the Bible, it does mean simply crucify even with the fact that it has a prefix on it which means ‘again.’  (Welcome to Greek confusion. And you thought everything the Bible said was all figured out!  Hah!)

Early church fathers believed that it meant crucifying ‘again,’ but what does this really say?

No, it doesn’t mean that Jesus is experiencing prolonged suffering.  That is not the case at all.  We see Him in His resurrected form throughout the Gospels and we also see Him in Revelation.  To be responsible for the continued sins of the entire world and have to suffer the crucifixion repeatedly for all of civilization would never allow Him to act as the Lamb of God, the ruler of all things, the Word of Creation and our Advocate before the Father.  He conquered death and suffering … He doesn’t continue to experience those things.

When we sin, we are committing the acts that put Jesus Christ on the cross.  As long as we continue to do those things and we know better … we are still in the same place that we were before we came to Jesus.   The author of Hebrews wants us to grow beyond that, to mature to the place that we can continue to move forward, not return to a life lived in sin.

October 17 – Hebrews 6:1-3. Foundations of Faith.

Monday, October 17, 2011


October 17 – Hebrews 6:1-3. Foundations of Faith.

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

Just about the time you think the author of Hebrews is disgusted with his readers because they haven’t moved beyond milk to solid food, he says something more to them.  Rather than taking the time to go through and re-teach the elementary foundations of the Christian faith, he asks them to allow what they already know to be the foundation for moving toward maturity.  This is good news for them and it can be for us as well.

There are six foundational elements in this passage. These are the things that we need to understand, believe in and act upon as the very foundation of our life in Christ according to Hebrews.

Repentance from acts that lead to death. Turn away from those things which will remove us from God and lead us to death.  Jesus died to conquer death.  The debt has been paid, we only need to stop doing those things.

Faith in God.  If you’ve been reading along with me, you will see that the author is pretty adamant about this.  He pleads with us to not harden our hearts toward God as those who wandered the desert with Moses did.

Cleansing rites.  For us, this is baptism as prescribed by Jesus.  We must be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  That cleansing is a reminder of the power of God flooding through us, removing the old and cleansing us to make room for the new.

Laying on of hands. This really does imply the need for community, for surrounding ourselves with other Christians, those who are willing to reach out and pray for us, to lay hands on for healing, to care for us when we are in need and to worship with us.

The last two – resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment aren’t necessarily things we will actively pursue while we are alive, but we must believe that they are true.  This is what the author believes to be foundations of our faith.  We will rise again and be in heaven. There will be a time when God judges everyone.  Only by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior will we be permitted into the throne room.  He is our advocate and our salvation.

October 16 – Hebrews 5:11-14. Lit Up With Learning.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


October 16 – Hebrews 5:11-14. Lit Up With Learning.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 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.

Just about the time the author was ready to launch into a lecture on Jesus as the high priest in the order of Melchizedek, he interrupts himself and talks to his listeners about their responsibility to grow and mature in their faith.

There is every possibility that he knows there is a lot of information about to come and if they are still stuck in the beginning pages of the story, they aren’t going to get it.

It is exciting to watch young minds learn.  I suppose that is why elementary teachers love their jobs so much.  One evening, long ago (the kid has graduated from college by now), I sat with a friend’s son as he was working on understanding math concepts.  He was about five years old.  I talked with him and watched him make the leap in his understanding of counting by tens and then into hundreds.  He grasped the concept quickly and I saw his eyes light up with excitement.  He got the process of numbers right there in front of me.  I wanted to weep with joy at being given a chance to experience that with him.

This might be the reason I love teaching scripture.  There are so many foundational, fundamental concepts that are present within scripture.  They define our lives and push us forward in faith.  Without them, we will stay the same … in the same place, living the same lives, doing the same things … messing up and never achieving anything greater than who we were yesterday.

The author of Hebrews desperately wants to see his readers move on – to see their eyes light up as they stand firm on the foundation of Christ’s teaching and can begin to understanding the deeper things of our faith.

October 15 – Hebrews 5:7-10. Made Like Us.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


October 15 – Hebrews 5:7-10. Made Like Us.

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, 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.

I’m not sure if I fully understand the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.  It is difficult enough to comprehend the death that he faced, but he also faced life and everything that we face every day.

Before Jesus came to earth as an infant and took on human flesh, he was the Word of God, instrumental in creation, working as part of the Trinity.  He had been with the Father since the beginning of creation. There were no limits to all that He knew, saw and experienced.  No limits.

All of a sudden, He was thrust into the limitations of a human infant.  He was limited in the expansion of his brain, living with all of those limitations until it matured, just like ours does.  He was no longer omniscient (knowing all things), but limited to that which he could sense with his five senses, just like us.  He had to clothe himself and put up with bullies.  He felt anger at the mistreatment of people.  He had emotions that filled him to tears.  He was exhausted and burned out from constantly being surrounded by people who needed him.

He faced temptation and had to communicate with those who wanted to trip him up and make him look bad.

Everything that we face as humans, Jesus experienced.

Why? Because in being made like us, when he faced death, he conquered it for us.  His ultimate sacrifice allowed him to pass through the veil of heaven to the throne room of God, just as human high priests passed through the veil to the Holy of Holies.  When he did so, it was the ultimate and changed history so that it would never be necessary again for us to have an intercessor.  He had gone straight to God’s right hand and intercedes for us always.

He is the source of our salvation because he became like us and obeyed his Father.

October 14 – Hebrews 5:1-6. A Priest Forever.

Friday, October 14, 2011


October 14 – Hebrews 5:1-6. A Priest Forever.

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people 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. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.

In the same way, Christ did not take on 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.”

I can’t imagine living in a time before Christ, when there was no one holy enough to take on my sins as well as the sins of the people.  There was a lot of work to be done to atone for sin.  A priest did his best to live a holy life, but he was still human and couldn’t help but to sin.  So … he had to offer sacrifices for himself and then for the sins of the people.  That’s a lot of pressure – especially when to do anything else might bring the curse of God down upon the nation.

The high priest is supposed to care for his people.  He is called by God as their intercessor.  He tries to guide them and when all else fails, it is he who takes their sacrifices before God.

That didn’t work out so well as the Israelites moved closer to the time of Jesus.  By that point, we meet people like Annas and Caiaphas and see events like the clearing of the temple.  Corruption had riddled the priesthood so that true holiness was rarely seen by the people.  But, the kept bringing their sacrifices, hoping that God’s forgives would be filled with mercy and grace.

Jesus was called by God to be the high priest that would bring the ultimate sacrifice  - himself. Since he is of the lineage of David and through him, the tribe of Benjamin, that means Jesus can’t be part of the Levitical system of priests.  And that actually puts quite a crimp in things when it comes to declaring him a member of the priesthood.

Don’t you love how God works all of these things out?  He prepared another order of priests – one that existed long before Levi was born, one that was introduced in the time of Abraham.  We’ll look a bit more closely at Melchizedek another day, but the author declares Jesus to be of the order of Melchizedek – outside the Israelite tribe of Levi – a follower of God, but a man who would accept both the people of Abraham (the Israelites) and others who worshiped God (the Gentiles).

Jesus is called to be the high priest over all priests and over all the world.

October 13 – Hebrews 4:14-16. A Friend at the Throne

Thursday, October 13, 2011


October 13 – Hebrews 4:14-16.  A Friend at the Throne

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, 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 empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

A friend told me about going before a judge, accused of something she hadn't done.  But, the accuser pushed things until they stood in court before a judge.  As my friend looked up at him, she realized that they had attended law school together and had been very good friends during those years.  He knew her, her character and her behavior.  He knew that she could not have done the things that the accuser laid out.  Since there was no real evidence, he recognized that this was a petty accusation and set it aside.
That's the type of friend that stands before the throne of grace with us.  Jesus knows what it is like to be us.  He came to earth to stand with us, he faced temptations that we face and though he is without sin, He understands what we deal with every day.

With this great high priest standing before us, we know that we will receive mercy and grace at God's throne.

October 12 – Hebrews 4:12-13. The Word of God.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


October 12 – Hebrews 4:12-13. The Word of God.

For the word of God is alive 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.

One of my favorite things to talk about is the Word of God.  You see, God has given us so many hidden mysteries within Scripture that describe this gift, but this verse illuminates many of them and asks us to scour the scriptures to figure out what it is God is saying to us.

We find in Ephesians 6:17 that the Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. We see in John 1:1 that Jesus Christ is the Word.  He was there in the beginning, He was with God and He was God.

Now with those two pieces of information, we come to these verses in Hebrews and see that this sword is so sharp, it can penetrate to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Look at Revelation 1:16.  In this vision of Jesus, John sees Him with a sharp double-edged sword coming from his mouth.  To the church at Pergamum in Revelation 2:12-17, Jesus comes as the one with this sword in His mouth.  He comes to bring judgment against the Nicolaitans and He reminds the people that even though they have been faithful to Him, they are allowing teachings of other Gods to penetrate their midst.  He brings judgment.

We see this sword again in Revelation 19:11-16.  Jesus, called Faithful and True, comes forth on a white horse.  He judges with justice.  In Rev. 19:15, we see that out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  He comes to bring justice and judgment.

When Jesus sends out the twelve in Matthew 10, he tells them that there will be people who cannot leave their lives to follow His teaching.  In Matthew 10:34, He says, "do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

This sword, the Word of God, Jesus Christ, comes to bring judgment in justice.  Hebrews 4:13 finishes by saying, "Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

Everything is laid bare before the one who brings judgment.  The good news for us is that this is also the one who is our advocate before God Almighty and the one who chose to stand in to cover our sin.

The Sword of the Spirit, The Word of God, Jesus Christ.  He is living and active yet today.

October 11 - Hebrews 4:6-11. Rest = Peace.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


October 11 - Hebrews 4:6-11. Rest = Peace.

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: 

         “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 their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

Joshua 21:43-44 says of the Israelites that Joshua took into the Promised Land, “So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there.  The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers.”

Rest = peace.  God promised that his children wouldn’t have to put up with wars and unrest.

It occurs to me that the author of Hebrews really wants us to understand the difference between lives without God and the rest that comes from being close to God.

There was a period of my life when I went like a house afire nearly every day of the week.  I’d be at work before 8, some evening I would get to have dinner at home, but most of the time I was in my car grabbing something to eat on the way to church and a series of activities that got me home by about 11 that night.  I’d stay up until ridiculous early morning hours trying to gain some sanity after the day, crash for a few hours and then start the day all over again.

I didn’t know what the word ‘rest’ meant.  I look back on those days and the books I was reading were all about trying to find peace, looking for rest, searching for a way to have a good prayer life with God.  I was spinning out of control.  There was no rest.  In fact, there were times that I looked so forward to eternal rest, I just prayed for Jesus to return immediately! (Now, I simply pray for Him to return in His own time … I figure that is probably a lot healthier.)

Rest isn’t something we should take for granted, whether it is resting from work and the activities of our life or resting in God – taking time to build our relationship with Him. God promised a time of rest – a time without wars and unrest.  But, there is a bit of a caveat, as the author of Hebrews tells us.  We actually have to live in relationship with God, we can’t harden our hearts to him, we can’t turn away from him.

October 10 – Hebrews 4:1-5. Enter His Rest.

Monday, October 10, 2011


October 10 – Hebrews 4:1-5. Enter His Rest.

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. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.  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.’ ”  

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”  And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

I love these passages.  There are so many interesting details and sometimes we gloss over and miss them.  They may not get us too deeply into the theology, but they certainly make the author seem a little more real to us.

He’s a preacher.  And sometimes he forgets himself.  Don’t you love the second sentence?  “Let us be careful that none of you be found …”

In the second paragraph (after the quotation), he writes: “For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words …”  Somewhere?  The man knows his scripture quite well, but he can’t identify the book of scripture that it comes from.

For the last chapter and a half he has been quoting from Psalm 95.  He could probably go to the specific scroll that this passage comes from, but he can’t remember to tell us that it is even from the collection of Psalms.

These little details are a lot of fun to discern.  They take you away from the specifics of the text for just a few moments to enjoy the truth of who the author is. But, the other thing the author wants us to know is the importance of his message.

The good news has been preached to us, let it fall deeply into our hearts and souls so that we might be part of God’s kingdom on earth and when it is all said and done, might enter His rest.

October 9 – Hebrews 3:16-19. No Whining.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


October 9 – Hebrews 3:16-19. No Whining.

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 perished in the wilderness? 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.

Whining and complaining, complaining and whining.

It seems as if that is all the Israelites did from the moment that got through the Red Sea and away from Pharoah.

In one fell swoop, they forgot about the abuse they tolerated at the hands of the Egyptian overseers while they lived as slaves.  They forgot about the beatings and the reduction in supplies that occurred while their output of bricks was to remain the same.  They decided that freedom with some trials and tribulations wasn’t worth it and wanted to return to the old way of living rather than face something new.

They whined and complained about the travel, about the lack of water, about the lack of food.  When God sent manna from heaven, they whined about not having meat.  There wasn’t much this group of ungrateful wretches didn’t whine and complain about.

When Moses went up to meet with God, they decided that honoring God wasn’t nearly as important as … say … a golden calf!

I’m not saying that as Christians we are as bad as the Israelites, but sometimes we can be pretty close.  We whine and complain about our lives, the attitudes of people around us, the fact that God hasn’t given us every little thing we want at any given moment, that our lives are tough … it goes on and on.

 The Israelites were a disobedient lot and we have a tendency to be exactly the same.  We quickly forget the grace and mercy that God extends to us every moment of the day.  Let us remember and set aside our whining and complaining.

October 8 – Hebrews 3:7-15. Don’t Test God.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


October 8 – Hebrews 3:7-15. Don’t Test God.

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 wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; 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 and sisters, 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 indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: 

         “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 

The Holy Spirit is quoting from Psalm 95:7-11.  Do you remember the reason that Moses and everyone else from that generation didn’t enter the Promised Land?  The answer is in the Psalm and is also found in Exodus 17:7:
“And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’”

They tested the Lord.  After all He had done for them; they still refused to acknowledge that He loved them.  Their hearts couldn’t see the incredible love that God poured out on them.  After everything, they still wanted to test His love for them.

We do this to each other, don’t we? We can’t believe that we are worthy of such unconditional love, so we test those who offer it to us and are continually startled when they pass the test.  Kids push their parents – sometimes to extreme limits – to ensure that the response will continue to be, “I love you.”

We do it to our friends and family.  And if someone fails, or if we perceive that they might fail – our hearts harden and we move away from the relationship before we get wounded and hurt.

The author of Hebrews calls on us to be careful of testing God.  He doesn’t want to see our hearts harden because we set a test before God that He won’t take.  If God won’t take the test, we’ll simply perceive it as failure – God doesn’t love us, won’t we?!

God won’t take the test.  Ever.  He allowed an entire generation of His chosen children to die in the desert just outside the promised land.  They never got to cross the border.  When the last of them died, Joshua took them in.

God will not be tested.  If we try to do so, we allow our hearts to be hardened against Him.

October 7 – Hebrews 3:1-6. We Are His House

Friday, October 7, 2011


October 7 – Hebrews 3:1-6.  We Are His House

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 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 honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor 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,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

In Chapter 1, we were shown the distinction between the Son and the angels.  The Son was far superior to angels. He was seated at the right hand of the father and his footstool would be his enemies.

In Chapter 2, we began to see his relationship to humanity.  He was given a name so that we could call him by name … Jesus.  We saw the importance of his coming to earth and taking on human form.  This was done so that he could conquer death and offer salvation to those he called his brothers and sisters … all of us are children of God.

Throughout all of this, the author of Hebrews is pleading with us to stay on task.  In Hebrews 2:1, he says “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”

He begins Chapter 3, asking us to fix our thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest.  This is the source of our salvation.

But, Chapter 3 begins another plot line.  He compares Jesus to Moses.

Remember … Moses is the one who was given the plans to the Tabernacle.  The method of worship that Jews had lived with up to this point was that which Moses had given to them.  It was all important and as far as they knew, the only way to deal with their sins and have any hope of salvation.

Moses was faithful as a servant in God’s house … but, God was the builder of that house and it was built through Jesus Christ.  Jesus is far superior to Moses and is the Son over all God’s house.

The best part of this entire passage is found in the last verse.  We are his house.  Do you see that?  Moses was simply a servant in God’s house.  We, however are his house and as God’s Son, Jesus is in charge of everything.

Fix your thoughts on Jesus Christ.  He is the author of salvation and is ruler over God’s house.  Pay attention.  Fix your thoughts on Jesus.

October 6 – Hebrews 2:10-18. Lower Than the Angels

Thursday, October 6, 2011


October 6 – Hebrews 2:10-18. Lower Than the Angels

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.  He says,

         “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly 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.”

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of 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 them, fully human 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.

The first chapter of Hebrews was all about angels and that Jesus was superior to them.  In the beginning of Chapter 2, we were reminded of the Psalm which declares that humanity is a little lower than the angels.

That’s true right now with creatures of the heavenly realm versus creatures of the earthly realm, but there is a verse in today’s passage that really does something for me.

“For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants …”

As great as angels are, as much responsibility as they are given by God to act as messengers and guardians, and in Hebrews 1:14 we read that they are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation; they will never know the joy of salvation or the glory of transformation that comes from leaving death behind and finding new life in Jesus.

There is great truth to the notion that if knowing what rain is brings a greater appreciation for sunshine, that living through winter brings a love of spring.  Angels will never understand the peace that comes from leaving a pit of despair.  There will never be an emotional attachment to Jesus such as we have.

Jesus became like us so that He would experience a life like ours.  This was a life filled with temptation, sorrow, pain and suffering.  He did this so that He could act as the atonement for eons of sin and for the sin that one person commits.  His life was for the salvation of the world.

We might be made a little lower than the angels, but it seems to me that is the best place to be.

October 5 – Hebrews 2:5-9. Lower Than Angels.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


October 5 – Hebrews 2:5-9. Lower Than Angels.

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 mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? 
          You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor 
         and put everything under their feet.”,  

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

A couple of things happen in these verses.

The first is that we see the name of the Son from Chapter 1 now.  Jesus.  We’ll find this is pretty important throughout Chapter 2, but think about the first chapter.  It was entirely about characters found in the heavenly realm.  God, the Majesty in heaven, the Father … the angels, who are messengers to the earthly realm and servants of the Father … the Son.  This is the royal home of God.  The Son is seated on the throne.  So … much like an earthly palace, everyone is referred to with titles.  Instead of the King, we have God … instead of a Prince, we are introduced to the Son.  Never once in Chapter 1 do we see Jesus’ name.

Now, the action moves to earth.  Once the Son walks among humanity, He is given a name.  Remember … that is one of the things that God asked Adam to do on earth – name everything.  The name is very important to give distinction to individuals, various animals, fish, birds and plants.  In heaven, names are written in the Book of Life … but those are for us … not for the royal residents.

The second thing actually relates to the first.  The Son comes to earth and because He has been made human, that actually places him a little lower than the angels in his earthly form.  Just for a little while, but long enough for him to bring salvation to the world.

October 4 – Hebrews 2:1-4

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


October 4 – Hebrews 2:1-4

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? 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 by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

One of the things you can do while reading scripture is to pay attention to what type of literature form or genre is in front of you.  While you read Hebrews, you actually encounter several forms.  The first chapter was exposition – the author is simply telling you about the Son.  He isn’t asking you do to anything or inviting you to participate, it is informational.

He moves back and forth between that and exhortation, which is found in these four verses. Now he is telling you to do something for your own good.

Pay attention so you don’t drift away.  How will we escape punishment if we ignore such a great salvation?

He will move back into expository writing quickly, but it is interesting to watch this occur.

This great salvation should not be ignored.  In fact, as the author points out, it seems impossible to have ignored it.

He reminds the reader that there were those who heard the Lord and they confirmed the salvation.  If you know people who knew the Lord and you trust that they are telling the truth, then you can put your confidence in that.

But, beyond that … God offered signs, wonders and miracles and the Holy Spirit distributed gifts.

We can be assured of the salvation that we inherit.

It’s exciting to watch the work of a good writer in progress.  We are being set up for a climax.

The author doesn’t tell us many details about salvation – he just assures us that it is great, it was announced by the Lord, it was confirmed by those who heard him, testified to by God with signs, wonders and miracles and by gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit.

You can read ahead for more about the author of our salvation … or I will be back tomorrow to continue this exciting story!

October 3 – Hebrews 1:5-14 – Greater than Angels

Monday, October 3, 2011


October 3 – Hebrews 1:5-14 – Greater than Angels

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 spirits, and his servants flames of fire.”  
But about the Son he says, 
         “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter 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, 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?

The question is not so much about who the angels are, but who the Son is.  He is far superior to angels and his time is now … today.

Angels worship the Son. They move with the speed of wind and the strength of fire.  They are servants.

On the other hand, the Son is on the throne, he was there in the beginning as the foundations of the earth were laid.  Everything will perish, but the Son will remain.

There is no angel to whom God offers the seat at His right hand and under whom God will place enemies. Angels are ministering spirits sent to us … the inheritors of salvation.

The author of Hebrews continues to set the stage.  If you notice in Chapter 1, he still has not given the Son a name … he makes the reader wait.  The power of this chapter is about the relationship God has with his Son.

The only other heavenly beings that humanity recognizes are angels and the author wants us to be very clear that the Son is far superior to those beings. At the same time, the personal name is withheld so that we regard him with his title … Son to the Most High God, the Creator, the Almighty, the Majesty in heaven.

The name will come soon enough.

October 2 – Hebrews 1:5-14 – Original Language

Sunday, October 2, 2011


October 2 – Hebrews 1:5-14 – Original Language

I look back at what I wrote yesterday and almost feel as if I should give you an extra day to get through it.  I wrote a lot!  Sorry about that.  Tearing into scripture gets a little exciting for me and sometimes I might get a little … over excited about it!

The deeper I move into looking at the original language and trying to discern what the author was saying, the more I am made aware that God’s word, while divinely inspired, gives us a lot of opportunity for distortion. Even in the first few centuries after these words were written, people who read in the original language disputed an author’s meaning.  We all listen to a speaker, read an author, watch a movie with our own perceptions and background creating thoughts and interpretations.  I am constantly startled by people’s comments on my Facebook status updates or blog posts that had nothing to do with what was in my head when I wrote them.  But when my words were published they became part of everyone else’s individual outlook on life and they read those words through their own understanding of the world … not mine.

Do you know that in Greek at the time, all letters were capitalized; there were no spaces between words and very little punctuation.  I’m surprised that we are able to comprehend any of the words, much less the meaning behind those words.  There continues be debate regarding passages in the Bible because of these issues.  The other part of that debate is that translation of words tends to get a little iffy sometimes. Just about the time I wanted a word to have a concrete translation, my Greek professor would tell us that it’s translation was firm in most cases, but sometimes …  Let’s just say that it makes it difficult to memorize and learn things with that many inconsistencies.  In Greek, the word ‘dia’ can mean ‘and’ or ‘but.’  Now, I know that those two simple conjunctions can bring an enormous difference to the translation of a sentence.

If you want to take some time today – read through Hebrews 1:5-14.  Notice the number of Old Testament passages the author uses.  You can probably count them in the notes at the bottom of the page in your Bible.  I hope that you will come up with the number seven.  He cites scripture from the Psalms, Deuteronomy and 2 Samuel.  It’s really quite interesting to go back and read those passages in context.  There is every probability that will confuse you, because the author does take things out of their immediate context to offer proof of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We’ll talk about that a little more later.  And hopefully tomorrow, I’ll not lecture on translations and Greek and other weird stuff, but will dig down into these verses with you.

October 1 - Hebrews 1:1-4

Saturday, October 1, 2011


October 1 – Hebrews 1:1-4

What a fun class I’m taking this semester.  Hebrews Exegesis.

This means that we closely read the text, look at the context in which it was written and work to understand the theology that was behind the writing of the book as well as theology that developed out of the book.  This is some of my favorite stuff ever!

There is no certainty about the author or the audience of Hebrews. There is plenty of speculation, but without knowing who those two parties actually are, it makes it that much more difficult to comprehend the meaning behind the text and the purpose for which it was written.

But, there are still plenty of exciting things to look at and the first chapter of Hebrews begins right away with an introduction that can take your breath away!

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also 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. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

In the past God spoke through prophets
In these last days, he has spoken by his Son
God appointed his Son heir (1)
God made the universe through His Son (2)

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory (3)
The Son is the exact representation of his being (4)
The Son sustains all things by his powerful word. (5)

After he had provided purification for sins (6)
he sat down at God’s right hand. (7)
He is superior to the angels
His name is superior to theirs.

The first thing the author does is remind his readers (and this always includes us) of their place in time.  We are part of a world that knows of God’s Son.  How important is this Son? Wow.  Look at the accolades the author pours on Him.  He is the one through whom everything is created.  He is the heir of God.

The next two things we discover about the Son is that he is the ‘radiance’ (or reflection) of God’s glory and the exact representation of God.  These two words are only used here in the New Testament.  There aren’t a lot of words that are only used one time, but here are two of them.

The first word, apaugasm, is the sense of radiating the brightness of the source.  The second word, charakter, means an imprint or representation - like the head of Washington on a nickel in our purse, but in this case an exact reproduction of God.   Our word character comes from this through Latin and Middle English and means a distinctive quality, a mark or a sign on a person.

In these first four verses, the author of Hebrews sets the stage for his sermon, which is quite different from epistles (letters) of the New Testament.  This is an introduction, he is presenting points that he will expand.

Notice that I put numbers after seven things regarding the Son.  Seven things.  This number continues to be found throughout scripture.  These seven facts about the Son are there to show his superiority and the reason he should be in the position God placed him – at God’s right hand.

Tomorrow we’ll start looking at the angels over whom the Son is superior. And we'll see another seven.