Showing posts with label Hebrews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hebrews. Show all posts

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hebrews 13

In his concluding exhortation, the author narrates practical ways in which how believers should live so that they can please God.

The list composes of:
  • Love one another,
  • Exercise hospitality,
  • Minister to those in prison and those who are mistreated, 
  • Honor marriage, 
  • Avoid sexual immorality, 
  • Steer clear of the love of money, 
  • Be content with Lord's provisions, 
  • Obey, respect and imitate leaders - especially Jesus Christ,
  • Reject false teachings,
  • Offer the proper Christian sacrifices of gratitude, praise, service, and generosity,
  • Pray. 
The author closes his sermon with a prayer that God of peace, who raised Jesus from the dead would equip believers to do His will and would work in their lives.

Grace be with you all.

Hebrews 12

Since we have a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside sin, and run the race with endurance, fixing our eyes at Jesus - the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Do not become weary and discouraged – consider how much hostility Jesus endured.

The author quotes Proverbs 3:11-12 – whom the Lord loves, he chastens. Chastening is a sign of sonship. How much more we must submit to God than to earthly fathers! God chastens us so we may be partakers of His holiness.
Hebrews 12:7-8 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined - and everyone undergoes discipline - then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.
Strengthen our hands which hang down, and those feeble knees, which make straight paths for our feet. Pursue peace and do not be bitter – do not sell your birthright like Esau.
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 
You have come to God via a better way - not by the terrors of Mount Sinai. Therefore, be thankful and grateful. Respond to God in worship. Live to please him. There is no way for those who refuse Him.
Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Hebrews 11

The ancients were commended for faith - they obtained a good testimony about it.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
It is by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, and that there is a difference between the visible and the invisible. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
  • Abel’s offering showed more faith than Cain’s. 
  • By faith Enoch was taken away, and did not see death. 
  • Noah acted on God's warning, based on his faith, saving his whole family. 
  • Abraham and Sarah are models of faith - God's call enabled them to have a life of refugees. Abraham's faith made him willingly offer up his only son. 
  • Isaac, Jacob and Joseph all demonstrated their faith in God's promise. 
  • Moses, by faith chose to leave his position in the court and joined a nation of slaves. 
  • Rahab welcomed the spies by faith, and was saved. 
  • City of Jericho was taken by faith.
  • All those Biblical Judges through King David and prophets had faith. 
  • Daniel's faith saved him from the lions.
  • Elijah and Elisha brought the dead back to life with faith.
  • Jeremiah held on to faith even while he was beaten and imprisoned. 
  • Isaiah, it is said, was sawn into half - he had faith in God. 
  • Zechariah was stoned - he was rooted in faith. 
Looking into Old Testament, we are surrounded by these heroes of faith. We have even more reasons for faith, having received the promise.

Hebrews 10

Sacrifice under the old covenant could not remind them of their sins; it could not take them away. The author quoted Psalm 40:6-8 and Jeremiah 31:33-34 and explained that Christ came to obey the Father and offer himself as the ultimate sacrifice. Therefore, Christ displaced the old sacrificial system. His offering is effective forever and no further sacrifice is needed. Sins and misdeeds are not only forgive, but also forgotten.

The sacrifice of our high priest, Christ, opened us a way to approach God. We can now boldly pass through that veil separating us and the Holy of Holies. Therefore:
(a) we should draw near to God with confident faith and clean heart,
(b) hold on to the faith we possess, due to God's faithfulness,
(c) consider how we may spur one another towards love and good deeds,
(d) not give up meeting together, but encourage one another. 
Trampling the Son of God underfoot is worthy of far worse punishment. Take heart in your discouragement, and remember how you have stood for God in tough times before.
Hebrews 10:31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Draw on your past experience to gain strength to endure for the future.

Hebrews 9

The author takes his audience back to the time of Exodus, where God made his covenant with Israel through Moses, and gave him the pattern on which to construct the tent - the Tabernacle. This was the earthly sanctuary for worship. The priest would then carry out the worship rituals in this sanctuary.

Although God had chosen to live with His people in this Tabernacle, they had no access to Him. Only the high priest was the only one allowed to enter the inner sanctuary, on the day of Yom Kippur, always with blood of goats and calves. The blood was offered for himself and also for the sins his people committed. There was no atonement - only punishment.
Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 
With the arrival of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice is not the blood of goats and calves anymore, but his own blood.
Hebrews 9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 
He gave his own blood for cleansing our conscience and for the forgiveness of our sins. Wages of sin are death, and the price for forgiveness cost Jesus his blood. The law demanded everything be cleansed with blood and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Jesus enters into a greater and perfect tabernacle - the Holy of Holies.
Hebrews 9:24-25 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 
Unlike a Mosaic priest, who must sacrifice regularly, Christ’s sacrifice is made only once.When he returns, it will be to save.

Hebrews 8

Earthly high priests served in the tabernacle built by Moses; Jesus however has a superior ministry of superior covenant. Jesus has been exalted to the throne of God and now serves as our heavenly high priest in the true tabernacle, the very presence of God.
Hebrews 8:1-2 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.
The fact that God has established another covenant proves that there was something lacking in the old covenant. The author quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34  – its theme is the instituting of a new covenant. The old covenant has been made obsolete.
Hebrews 8:13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Hebrews 7

The author now goes back one step - to the story of Melchizedek, mentioned in Genesis 14:17-20.

Melchizedek means ‘king of righteousness’ and, he was also a ‘king of peace’, because Salem, where Melchizedek was king means ‘peace’. Melchizedek had no genealogy – made like the Son of God, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. He had a dual role - that of a priest and a king.

Melchizedek is considered greater than Abraham, because of two reasons:
(a) Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, and
(b) Melchizedek blessed Abraham.

The author notes imperfections in Levitical priesthood. Therefore, another priest had to rise according to the order of Melchizedek, to replace those former regulations.

Jesus could not be a priest according to Mosaic law, because he was of the tribe of Judah, not Levi. Another priest has come not according to the law of a fleshy commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. Jesus was made high priest by the direct oath of God. Jesus is the surety of a better covenant.
Hebrews 7:23-25 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.
He is the kind of high priest we need - holy, sinless, and exalted; one who does not need to atone for his own sins. Jesus is better qualified to be a high priest than any priest from the order of the Law of Moses. The sacrifice he offered up was himself.

Hebrews 6

The author is frustrated and challenged his audience to move beyond the very basics – repentance from dead works, faith, baptism, the laying of the hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. All these elements were shared by Christianity and Judaism. Build on this foundation was a Christian.

This lack of progress is bad enough in itself, and is a symptom of something serious. They are in danger of abandoning their faith altogether. Despite all their Christian knowledge and experience, they are willfully rejecting their faith. Ultimately, they will become enemies of Christ, and crucify him again.
Hebrews 6:4-6 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.
Repentance is impossible for those who have fallen away after receiving blessing from God. Earth which bears useful herbs is blessed by God; but earth that bears thorns and briers is cursed and rejected.

The author turns his warning quickly into words of encouragement. He does not think his believers will go that far - or God will allow it.
Hebrews 6:10-12 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.
The author now gives a better explanation that Christ is a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. In his transition, he reminds his audience that God made his promise to Abraham and his children upon God's own character and unchanging nature. This solidifies our hope about God's faithfulness. Jesus now enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain and has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 5

High priests such as Aaron are appointed by God to represent the people and offer sacrifices for sins. Since they themselves are subject to weakness, they can deal compassionately with people, but should offer sacrifices for their own sins. They do not glorify themselves, and nor does Christ, who is a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 5:5-6 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.”
Christ, while on earth, offered prayers with vehement tears and cries, and learned obedience by the things that he suffered including his agony in Gethsemane and death on the cross. Having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation for those who follow him.

However, the author thinks his readers have become dull of hearing and do not understand. He expects his audience to be teachers, while they are still behaving like students without elementary understanding of God's word. As such, they have become unskilled in the word of righteousness, and behave like babes.
Hebrews 5:12-14 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.

Hebrews 4

What happened to the wilderness generation can happen even today, if those who hear God's message do not accept it. Those who have believed in Jesus have entered that rest, and listeners need to ensure they are in the group that entered that rest.

The author then goes on the explain the concept of rest.
In Psalm 95:11, it is written:
“So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

Then it is also written in Genesis 2:2, “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” By analogy to the Sabbath, entering rest is described as a ceasing from work. Again in Psalm 95, He says, “They shall never enter my rest.” These are about those who followed Moses. The time for entering that rest is "Today." Therefore, "God's rest" refers to something more than entering the Promised Land. It is a spiritual reality wherein we no longer depend upon our own work and begin to rely on God's work on our behalf.

The author drives home the point that we should enter that rest. He also describes how powerful 'Word of God' is, how everything is visible in God's sight, and we are held accountable.
Hebrews 4:11-13 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. 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.
Jesus, our high priest, can sympathize with our weakness, and was tempted as we are, but he is without sin. Let is therefore come boldly with confidence and approach the throne of grace to receive mercy.

Hebrews 3

The author calls out to fix our thoughts on Jesus - our apostle and high priest. Jesus the high priest was faithful to Him who appointed him, as Moses also was faithful. Jesus is more worthy of glory than Moses.
Hebrews 3:3-4 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.
The rest of the chapter is a warning against faithlessness. Quoting Psalm 95:7-11, the author says those people whom Moses led out of Egypt proved unfaithful to God, by displaying their hard, rebellious hearts. Therefore, the wilderness generation was not allowed to enter God's rest. The author is encouraging and urging readers to persevere in faith and avoid the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 3:12-13 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.

Old Testament References:
Hebrews 3:5 Numbers. 12:7
Hebrews 3:11 Psalm 95:7-11
Hebrews 3:15 Psalm 95:7-8

Hebrews 2

The chapter begins with a warning - to pay attention and not drift away from the Christian message. If we must take the word which came by angels seriously, how much more seriously must we take the word which came by the Son of God - who has been proven to be greater than the angels?

We know that for a little while, Jesus shared our human nature, because God has put the world in subjection to man, not angels – ‘What is man that you are mindful of him?’ Jesus, the superior son was made a little lower than the angels, suffered death yet was crowned with glory and honor, and tasted death for everyone. It was Jesus' humble descent into our world that accomplished our salvation.

Jesus brings many sons to glory, making them perfect through suffering, and calling them brothers and sisters. Through death he destroyed him who has the power of death - the devil.
14-15 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. 
Jesus is not helping the angels, but he is helping the seed of Abraham - that's why he was made fully in the human form. Jesus is our faithful high priest, making propitiation for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Old Testament References:
Hebrews 2:8 Psalm 8:4-6
Hebrews 2:12 Psalm 22:22
Hebrews 2:13 Isaiah 8:17
Hebrews 2:13 Isaiah 8:18 

Hebrews 1

The book of Hebrews opens with the most amazing statement about the nature of God's son. God in the past spoke to the fathers by the prophets; in the last days, he has spoken to us by His son. The son is the heir of all things, through whom the worlds were made. The son is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person. He has by Himself purged our sins, and sits at the right hand of Majesty.

He is better than the angels, and has obtained a more excellent name than them through inheritance. The angels, whom some Jews came close to worshiping themselves worship Christ.
Hebrews 1:6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,“Let all God’s angels worship him.
God says to the son that his throne is forever – heaven and earth will perish, but the son will remain. Angels are lesser spiritual beings – ministering spirits for those who will inherit salvation. The son is far and above them - just as scriptures describe.

---Additional Info
The Old Testament Quotes in this chapter are from the following books:
Hebrews 1:5 Psalm 2:7
Hebrews 1:5 2 Samuel 7:14; 1 Chron. 17:13
Hebrews 1:6 Deut. 32:43
Hebrews 1:7 Psalm 104:4
Hebrews 1:9 Psalm 45:6,7
Hebrews 1:12 Psalm 102:25-27
Hebrews 1:13 Psalm 110:1

An Intro to Hebrews

Several authors have been believed to be the author of Hebrews: Paul, Barnabas, Luke, Apollos, Silas, Philip etc. Paul usually identifies himself as the author - where as the author of Hebrews remains anonymous.

Paul claims to have received his revelation from Jesus Christ directly. In Hebrews 2:3, the writer of Hebrews specifically says that he was taught by an apostle (Hebrews 2:3). The book quotes Old Testament and it uses the Greek Old Testament references. If Paul was quoting Old Testament, most logically, he would have used those Hebrew quotes. It is also possible that this is a sermon given by Paul, later written by Luke - who had command over Greek language.

Regardless of who the author is, we believe that Holy Scripture is authored by the Holy Spirit and it does not matter who actually wrote it down. It is in the Bible, and we accept it.

The big question that Hebrews addresses is, "How can we humans approach God?

Like Romans, the material in Hebrews is bit hard to crack, and may take a reader multiple passes.