END NOTES OF POST-
Judaism in transition.
Did they ‘move on’ ?
Who was Elazar ben Yair?
[Links to all my sites at the bottom of this post]
NOTE- Every so often some of my sites think I am Spam- or a Bot- I am not. My name is John Chiarello and I post original content [all videos and text are by me]. I do share my past posts from my other sites- but it is not spam- Thank you- John.
End notes of chapter-
IS THERE MEANING TO THE ACTUAL ORDER OF BIBLE VERSES?
HOW DID THE SPIRIT ‘TESTIFY’ TO THE FINAL SACRIFICE?
WHY DOES THE WRITER CONTINUE TO SAY THE NEW COVENANT IS HARSHER?
‘For the law having a SHADOW of good things to come, AND NOT the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshipers once purged should have no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year’. Paul shows how the simple fact of ongoing sacrifices in and of itself testifies of the insufficiency of the law. The on going sacrifices were a reminder that the peoples sins were still there. If the sacrifices really worked, then why do it over and over again every year? He will contrast this with the singular sacrifice of Christ. The fact that Jesus did it once shows the superiority of his sacrifice over the law.
‘Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. THEN SAID HE, lo, I come to do thy will O God. ABOVE WHEN HE SAID sacrifice and offering…THEN HE SAID, lo, I come to do thy will O God. He taketh away the first that he may establish the second’ Here Paul uses the actual order of the verses in Psalms to prove that the Old law will pass away and a New covenant will replace it. The fact that David [Psalms] says ‘sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared for me’ in this order shows that God always planned on taking away the sacrificial system and replacing it with Christ [or fulfilling it!] So even in the simple prophetic order of these statements Paul sees the Old law passing away and a new one being instituted. Wow again!
‘By the which will we are sanctified thru the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every high priest STANDETH daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, SAT DOWN on the right hand of God’ The comparison here is that the priests under the law stood, showing their sacrifices were never sufficient, they could never say ‘it is finished’. The fact that they stood while offering sacrifices showed the incompleteness of the system. Jesus sat down. This showed that his sacrifice was once and for all. Now, no where does scripture teach this concept between ‘sitting and standing’. Where does Paul get this stuff from? From ‘revelation’, that is God is supernaturally showing this stuff to Paul as he writes. This is the prophetic element of scripture. While we don’t ‘write scripture’ any more today, there are still lots of hidden meanings that we don’t fully see yet. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to ‘bring to our remembrance all the things that Jesus taught us’ [also all the things about Jesus!] So when you read the Old Testament, look for Jesus! He is there in more ways than you realize.
‘For by ONE offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us [of what? Of the singularity of Christ’s offering. The fact that the Holy Spirit thru Jeremiah prophesied that God would never remember our sins any more speaks to the truth of the one offering of Christ, we will read ‘if there is no more remembrance, then there is no more sacrifice’] this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin’. Do you see the point Paul is making? It is common for preachers and Christians to read these letters and to simply glean practical truths from them. That’s OK. But like I said in the introduction, when you see these things in context, then you can still make practical application, plus you are seeing the relevance behind the teaching. The practical part of this is ‘wow, God will not bring my sins back up into remembrance before his face!’ Now that’s practical!
‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest [true holy place, that is Gods presence in the throne room] by the BLOOD OF JESUS, by a new and living way[ the early Christians were at times called ‘the way’] which he hath consecrated for us, thru the veil, that is to say his flesh’ We now have total access to the Father thru the Son. This is the ONLY WAY man can have this access! It is common today to teach a type of pluralism that says ‘all religions will eventually lead us to God’ some will lead straight to hell! Sorry. The only way to the Father is thru the Son. God ordained it to be so. Don’t fight over it, God says ‘come freely’ those who don’t come, they will never GET THERE! Jesus flesh is called the ‘veil’. During the crucifixion the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom. Most believers know the significance of this. I would submit to you that when the scripture says ‘the veil was ripped’ that it was not only speaking of the actual veil that was in the temple on that day, but it was also prophetically speaking of the true veil, Jesus Body, that was being torn apart on the Cross.
The veil of the temple not only restricted access for man coming to God, but it also separated God from the true community of people. The tearing of the veil [Jesus body] not only allowed man to have access to Gods presence in heaven, but it also opened the door for the Spirit of God to tabernacle with men on the day of Pentecost. After the tearing of Jesus flesh [which Jesus is also called the door] it is like a door opened, both letting man into the presence of God, as well as ‘letting’ God tabernacle with men [note- Jesus ‘Emmanuel’ was ‘God with us’ so in a sense God was already tabernacling among men thru Christ, but at Pentecost God ‘spread’ this ‘tabernacling’ to a community with worldwide potential, as Christians would increase thru out the ages, so would Gods presence increase as he dwells in men. Thus the Kingdom starts small, like a little leaven, and before you know it the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord. It culminates at the second coming of Christ].
‘And having an high priest over the house of God [remember, even though in Hebrews Paul speaks of heaven itself as the tabernacle, yet he also told the Jews ‘who’s house are we, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end’] let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water [baptism]. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering [for he is faithful that promised] and let us provoke one another to love and good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another…’
A few things here. First, Paul is exhorting them to ‘get washed in pure water’ [baptism]. Remember, some of the recipients of this letter were believing in the message as Paul preached it as he traveled thru their cities, others were still on the edge. In this chapter it seems as if he is saying ‘some of you who have heard and seen all of these things, it’s time to make the decision to go all the way. Others have made a good profession, you too need to stick with the message’. Now, to those who would ‘revert’ back to the law, after they ‘received’ the truth, Paul says there is only judgment down the road. Even though they heard and the message reached them. Even though Paul presents the gospel in a way that says ‘you are all sanctified’ yet there was always the danger of apostasy. Those who believe you can lose your salvation [Arminians] take these verses and say ‘see, those who were once sanctified, if they sin, they face judgment’. I have actually viewed this chapter in different ways in the past. I never saw it as the Arminians, but I have debated over whether or not Paul was saying ‘now that you are believers, don’t think you can get away with sin, remember there is only one sacrifice, if you keep sinning God will judge you’ [not hell, but chastening]. But I have come to view it more along the lines of ‘those of you who are still in transition, you have made a good profession, Jesus blood has sanctified everyone [in a sense] so if you continue to sin [go back to the old system that taught that continual sin was part of the plan. Remember, the law made provision for continual sinning. This worldview of sin and judgment was unique to the Jewish community of the day.
It really should have been easier to convert Israel, they already had a ‘Jewish’ world view. But one of the dangers of this world view was they had provision for ongoing sin. The idea of ‘continuing to sin’ was engrained in their culture. Paul is warning them that in Christ the fact that there is only one sacrifice means you cant still live with the worldview of ‘I will continue to sin’] In essence Paul seems to be saying ‘if you continue to sin, and think that the Cross is like the old system, then you are fooling yourselves. The fact that the Cross happened only once means that it is sufficient to truly cleanse you once and for all from your sin’ to those who wanted to keep sinning, because it was fun, Paul says ‘watch out, judgment awaits’. So in keeping with what I showed you in chapter 6, I see this chapter continuing to appeal to Jews, some who have even made an initial profession, but he still had to warn them about going back to their old way of continuing to sin. Remember, there were many who were preaching that the law was still necessary for salvation, Paul is telling them it isn’t.
‘For if we sin willfully [something that was expected under the law, that’s why they had all the sacrifices!] after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses law died without mercy under 2 or 3 witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?’ Once again Paul contrasts the severity of the law to the New Covenant. Remember how earlier Paul showed that those who ‘neglect so great a salvation’ have more to worry about than those who rejected ‘the word of angels’ [law] Here Paul again says ‘Those who disrespected the old system died without mercy, how much worse shall it be for those who disrespect the blood of the everlasting covenant’ I see this being directed at those who never fully convert to Christ.
While Gods discipline is also harsh on believers who continue to live in rebellion [Corinthians] this language is never used of believers. So Paul is saying ‘beware, if you decide to walk away from all that has been presented to you, you will bear a much harsher punishment than those who sinned under the law’. What was the punishment of those who sinned under law? They died. What is the punishment of those who reject so great salvation? Eternal judgment. Let me add a note about ‘not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together’. It is common to use this verse to defend ‘Sunday church’ a lot of times it is used in this way to fight against the house church movement. What is the context here? The Jews already met together regularly before they believed in Christ. They had both temple and synagogue. Paul is simply saying ‘after you convert, keep getting together’ this is not a verse for defending Sunday church! [It is OK to go to church on Sunday]. ‘For we know him that hath said, vengeance belongeth unto me…the Lord shall judge his people’ In context, remember how I already showed you that ‘his people’ and ‘holy brethren’ and other terms like this in Hebrews can be speaking of 1st century Israel in transition? They were still considered ‘his people’ at the time the gospel was presented to them. Ultimately when they rejected Christ they would lose that designation, but many of the terms in this letter speak to Israel this way. So ‘his people’ can most definitely describe believers. But in context in this letter it more than likely is saying ‘don’t forget Israel, God does judge his people. So don’t think that your natural heritage of ‘being his people’ will get you out of the crunch this time!’
The Jews were always appealing to their privileged position with God ‘we have Abraham as our father’ they would always appeal to their ‘pure’ orthodox heritage, here Paul says ‘God will judge all of us based on what we do with his Son, even ‘his people’! ‘For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods’ many of the Jews who were embracing Paul’s message did suffer persecution. Historically we know many of them were plundered. They lost their goods! It’s funny, Paul doesn’t say ‘get back what the enemy stole from you’ [though you can!] but he says ‘don’t worry about the loss of your wealth and stuff, you have a better inheritance of eternal things in heaven’. Most modern preaching doesn’t even think about this. We are so consumed with preaching a gospel that says ‘come to Jesus and you will be rich’ that we never even give a second thought to these verses. We will read in the next chapter how Moses ‘forsook the pleasures of Egypt so he could bear reproach with Gods people’. Now I know that when they fled God gave ‘the treasures back’ but the point was Moses went thru a period of leaving all of it behind for a higher calling. Don’t always tell people [to you preachers!] that the wealth of the world is waiting at your doorstep if you receive Christ. They might be on the verge of ‘getting their goods spoiled’ for a season knowing that in heaven they have a better and enduring substance.
‘NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him’. In the original bible you didn’t have chapter divisions. Sometimes the divisions interfere with the meaning of the text. It is important to see that right before Hebrews 11, Paul makes this famous statement on justification by faith! He will go into chapter 11 with this theme in mind. We often read chapter 11 as believers and see the great stories in it of the heroes of the faith, but this is not the primary reason for the chapter. The main reason is for Paul to make the case of law versus grace. He has just spent 10 chapters explaining the superiority of grace over law. Now he will show Israel that all of the great heroes of the faith PLEASED GOD BY FAITH! He will be laying out a grand overview of the great Old Testament figures and be saying THEY ALL RECEIVED A GOOD REPORT [JUSTIFIED] BY FAITH.
It is real important for you to see this as we head into the chapter. When you read it with this in mind, then you begin to focus in on the statements of faith in a different way. While chapter 11 will give all believers a great boost in faith, the primary reason behind it is to say to Israel ‘look, all of our great forefathers [and fore mothers!] pleased God by faith, not the works of the law. Some of them were even law breakers! [Rahab, Samson] yet they were JUSTIFED [pleased God] by faith!’ Well, lets get into the chapter before I preach the whole thing right here.
IS THERE MEANING TO THE ACTUAL ORDER OF BIBLE VERSES?
HOW DID THE SPIRIT ‘TESTIFY’ TO THE FINAL SACRIFICE?
WHY DOES THE WRITER CONTINUE TO SAY THE NEW COVENANT IS HARSHER?
If the sacrifices under the law were sufficient- then why did the priests keep offering them?
The writer says that’s proof they ‘didn’t really work’.
But Jesus offered himself once- for all- and that shows us that his death was the final one.
He quotes Psalms 40- and once again- like we saw earlier- he sees the actual order of the verses in this Psalm as having meaning.
‘Sacrifice and offering you do not want’ first
‘But a body you have prepared for me’ second.
He then says ‘see- God took away the first’ [meaning the Old Law covenant is ending]
‘Then- he established the 2nd’ [meaning the Body of Christ being offered].
He then says ‘the Holy Spirit also testifies to this”
He quotes Jeremiah 31-
‘I will make a new deal with the people- not like the old one- in this deal [covenant] I will not REMEMBER their sins any more’-
If God had some new covenant- in which HE would not remember the sins of the people- that shows that in the new deal- there would be no more sacrifices.
Now- he exhorts the reader ‘let us have faith- draw near to God with a clear conscience- having our bodies WASHED WITH PURE WATER’.
See- this is an exhortation to COME INTO this covenant- he’s saying ‘believe- and be baptized’.
This letter is not speaking to ALREADY BAPTIZED PERSONS.
We also see- once again- the writer saying that this New Covenant is MUCH HARSHER than the Old.
‘If those under the law disobeyed- and died under 2 or 3 witnesses- how much worse will it be for those who have the light [thru their Old Law- Christ was indeed in there- thru types and images] and reject it.’
‘for if we/you continue to sin- after having these truths revealed- there is no more sacrifice left- but a fearful waiting for judgment’.
In time I’ll develop this more- but in the New Testament letters- written to the Gentile churches- you don’t read stuff like this.
You do see God judging his people [in those letters- meaning Christians].
But you don’t see the New Covenant compared to the Old Covenant in this way- saying ‘it’s much harsher than the old’.
But- to those outside of the covenant- to the ‘unbaptized- unbeliever’ then yes- this warning holds true.
The theme thru out Hebrews is ‘if the first century Jew does not BELIEVE in Christ as the Messiah- then he in effect does disgrace to the Blood of Jesus’-
He will not find repentance any more [under the old system]-
And he will face a stricter punishment then those who rebelled under the law-
[They died physically- but in this new covenant- if you reject Christ- you suffer spiritual death- and the ultimate judgment of God].
One last note- as we study the letters of the New Testament down the road- we see a theme- yes- about how we should view earthly riches/wealth.
Here we read ‘you suffered the loss of your earthly goods- knowing that in heaven you have a more enduring substance’.
The theme is never ‘claim your covenant rights to wealth’.
But ‘the things in this life- material wealth- are nothing to be compared to the spiritual riches we have in Christ’.
And yes- this is true.
Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
Psalm 40:7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,
Psalm 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Jeremiah 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
CHAPTER 11: [see commentary on Acts 21]
JUSTIFIED BY FAITH.
TORTURED- BY FAITH?
REJECTED MONEY- BY FAITH?
THEY ALL WAITED FOR THE CITY- THE CHURCH.
‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, FOR BY IT THE ELDERS OBTAINED A GOOD REPORT [JUSTIFIED]’ This is the key verse to the chapter. Paul will go on to prove that all the Old Testament figures that ‘pleased God’ did it by faith, and not by works! ‘Through faith WE UNDERSTAND that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear’ Faith is not ‘blind’. It informs and gives understanding. This understanding is real! Let me show you what I mean. All of the universe and creation had a beginning point. Science did not always know or believe this. Today science teaches this. It is called ‘the point of singularity/density’. Science has traced back the origins of all things and has found scientific evidence to prove that all things had a ‘beginning point’. Now if you were to ask science ‘what did you have right before the beginning point’? They are stumped. Some of course believe in God and will boldly proclaim him at this point. To the others they can not answer this question. Why? Because they realize, thru science, that matter is not infinite.
Some have theorized that either all things always existed [which science has now disproved] or that at one point nothing existed [which science also teaches that if this were true then you would have nothing today. You can not get something from nothing!] So all true science has gone back to this ‘point of singularity’ and can not see what is right before ‘the point’. The Christian ‘sees’ God at this point! He ‘understands’ that by necessity there has to have been something that existed before creation, science teaches this. This something can not have been created also, because then where did the ‘being’ who created ‘it’ come from? So science teaches us that whoever got the ball rolling [Saint Thomas Aquinas calls this the ‘prime mover’] had to have been preexistent/ self existent in order to have done it. And we know that creation couldn’t have done it by itself, so therefore all reasoning and understanding leave us at the philosophical point of ‘there had to have been something/someone who existed forever in order for anything to be today’. So now you see how ‘by faith we understand that all things that now exist were brought into existence by someone who we can not see’. FAITH UNDERSTANDS!
As we go thru the rest of this chapter I want you to focus in on all the references of justification by faith. You will be surprised [I think?] on how many examples Paul gives to Israel from their own history [his too!] on God justifying people by faith. I will also try and show you [if I remember] how this chapter links the division between Paul’s epistles to the gentiles [Romans, Galatians] with James letter to the Jews. James was one of the lead Apostles at Jerusalem [Acts 15] and the Judaizers who were always accusing Paul of preaching grace in a way that justified sin, they came out of Jerusalem. James and Paul were rivals in a sense. James had the difficult job of overseeing the Church at Jerusalem, who had all the Pharisees who believed, while Paul was preaching this radical message of grace. This is why James’s letter [book of James] focused so much on faith and works. James was seeing the Genesis 22 account of Abraham’s justification when he offered Isaac on the altar. James will say ‘see how Abraham was justified by his works’. While in Paul’s letters he focuses on the Genesis 15 account of Abraham believing God and being made righteous. James was not contradicting Paul; he was showing the actual outcome of the life of a person who was previously justified by faith. James was saying ‘When God made Abraham righteous [Gen 15] he later actually became what God made him!’ [Gen. 22].
Now when Abraham would later do righteous things, he only did them because he previously had faith in Gods promise. But the fact still remains that when Abraham did a righteous act, God still justified him [in a sense, God has the prerogative to say ‘good job son, I am pleased with you’ so this can be described as an act/function of justification]. Well, now that I already showed you all this, I guess I wont have to remember telling it to you later. The point is in this chapter Paul will go down and show all these examples of Jewish leaders acting by faith and doing righteous deeds. This sort of bridges the gap between the strong emphasis on faith in Paul’s letters, with the strong emphasis on works in James letter. Paul is telling Israel ‘yes, all the old saints did do good works that pleased God, but they did them by faith!’ ‘Faith without works is dead’ [James]. So in a sense this single chapter bridges one of the key divisions in the early church between Jerusalem and Antioch [Acts 13 and 15]. Note; I believe all the chapter references above are correct, I write all this from memory so you might want to go back and double check the references. I know all the stories are right.
‘By FAITH Able offered …by which he obtained witness that he was RIGHTEOUS…by FAITH Enoch was translated…he had this testimony that he PLEASED GOD…without FAITH it is impossible to PLEASE HIM [all these ‘please him’ references are like saying ‘being justified’ when a person is justified by God, God sees him as acceptable, pleasing. ‘Thou art my beloved son in whom I am well PLEASED’ God to Jesus!] By faith Noah… prepared an ark to the SAVING of his house…and became heir to the RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH [wow, he makes this one real plain] By faith Abraham…went out into a strange land…and sojourned’ interesting, both the aspect of ‘going out to a new land’ and ‘staying in it when you get there’ are both functions of faith. Let me throw in some practical stuff here. Over the years of ‘doing ministry’ I have seen and been a partaker of both of these experiences. Sometimes it takes an act of faith to uproot us from familiar territory and move on to the next level. And do you know what can happen next? The enemy will try to intimidate you once you get in the land of promise, and tell you ‘you cant stay here, look at all the people who hate you. Look at all the mistakes you made’ and it often takes an act of faith to STAY IN THE LAND. Don’t leave the land of your destiny; all true leaders will go thru both of these dealings.
‘For he looked for a city which hath foundations [Jesus is the foundation of this city!] whose builder and maker is God’ All of these great heroes of the faith were looking forward towards a future promise of being in Gods true church, the ‘City of God’ the Bride, the Lambs wife. Paul shows Israel that this 1st century appearing of Messiah was for the purpose of Israel coming into the ‘new land’ the Body of Christ. It is important to see this. There are many preachers today who are treating natural Israel as in if everything is just fine. It isn’t! They need Christ as much as the Muslim does. God was telling Israel ‘come into this new city’ [New Jerusalem versus Old Jerusalem] he wasn’t appealing for them to stay in ‘old Jerusalem’ and be a ‘completed Jew’. [I know this sounds harsh, but I want to emphasize to all my evangelical friends that Jews need Jesus, they play a special role in Gods plan, but ultimately they need Christ!]
‘Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed’ it takes faith to produce spiritual offspring! It might look impossible, but with God all things are possible. ‘Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky and the sand by the shore’ sometimes God will allow you to bring forth one ‘seed’ [person or act of ministry] and you will be surprised how much fruit can come forth from this singular effort. This is why it’s so important to simply hear and obey God. Often times in ministry we do tons of ‘leg work’ which is OK. But when God gives you an idea or mode of function that you weren’t even thinking of, go with it. These are usually the ‘little seeds’ that produce the great harvest! ‘THESE ALL DIED IN FAITH, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES’ I want to emphasize here that it is possible to live your whole life in faith without actually seeing the fulfillment of all that God has told you.
Now faith does obtain promises [verse 33] but sometimes we also see things many years down the road and we must realize that the measurement of faith is not whether or not you are currently getting the actual promise. In the above [and below] verse’s we see Abraham and Sara being told that their offspring would number in the millions. They believed these promises, but it is obvious that they didn’t live to see it fulfilled, but they sure knew that after they were gone it would come to pass. So I want to exhort you to believe to see certain things fulfilled in your life time, but have some greater goals that you initiate while here on earth, knowing that after you depart they will be fulfilled. ‘And truly if they had been MINDFUL of the country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned’ what is Paul saying here? The greatest threat to the gospel taking root in the Hebrew community was the desire to go back to old law and culture. How many believers ‘revert’ back to an older form of church simply because they missed the old culture and ‘feelings’ that they had when they were younger? Many of the Jews would not go all the way with the gospel because they were ‘mindful’ of the good old days of law and sacrifice.
I just watched a show the other day that told how even some gentile believers began celebrating certain feasts of Israel with their Jewish neighbors. While it is good to understand and see the significance of the feasts, yet we know Paul wrote the early believers and said ‘you observe days and times and feasts, and I am concerned about it’. So when we [or 1st century Israel] are ‘mindful’ of the ‘good old days’ then there is always a danger of going back! ‘By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…of whom it was said in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure’ Abraham exhibited characteristics of the Father [God] as well as Isaac being a type of the Son [Jesus]. It’s interesting that these verses show that Abraham knew for a fact that God was going to give Isaac millions of children, Abraham also knew the voice of God so well that when he ‘thought’ he heard God say ‘offer up this boy’ that in the mind of Abraham, the only way these 2 things could be reconciled, is he came to the conclusion ‘I guess God will have to raise him up, being he has told me this boy will have millions of children, plus he is telling me to kill him’. Most of us would not have come to this conclusion! We would have doubted either the original promise, or said ‘surely this can’t be God telling me to offer Isaac’ [most likely we would have doubted the latter!].
There is a real important reason for Abraham to have been a real man of faith. God wanted this ‘picture’ of the offering up of Isaac for a type of the Cross and Resurrection. The only way he could have shown this example was to have had someone so radically filled with faith, that he would have come to this conclusion of ‘well, I guess God will just raise him’. It was necessary for the figure to have been truly fulfilled. It took Abraham many years of hearing and believing God before he would get to this stage. The part of Abraham’s mind that said ‘God will just have to raise him up’ was important for the figure to truly work. God knew he could only bring someone to this conclusion by arranging the whole scenario around a person of faith. It truly took a real person of faith to have come to the conclusion of resurrection as being inevitable! [For Abraham to fulfill the type of God, he had to have been convinced beyond all doubt that after he offered up his son, that he would be raised again. This is exactly what the Father [God] believed and knew about his own Sons death. So not only did Isaac fulfill the type of Jesus in this story, but Abraham also fulfilled a type of God!] [NOTE; Today is September 22, 2007. Israel’s Day of Atonement. I just heard a brother preach on the feasts of the Lord [I have done this also] but he preached it in a way that said ‘because God said you were to observe these feasts perpetually, therefore all gentile believers need to start observing these days’ he added ‘I know Paul taught the law passed and all, but these feasts are supposed to be forever because God said so’.
How are the feasts ‘perpetual’? Thru the fulfilling of them in Christ! Paul makes this plain all thru the New Testament [as well as this letter!] I was surprised to hear the brother preach that the first 2 feasts [out of the 3 main ones] were fulfilled and memorialized, but the 3rd one [Atonement/tabernacles] has yet to be fulfilled! What? Jesus fulfilled Passover and Pentecost for sure, and they are still being ‘fulfilled’ God is still bringing people in thru the blood of Christ and the Spirit is continually being poured out on people, and of course the ultimate reality of our atonement thru our high priest is a daily reality [he ever lives to make intercession] that is ‘fulfilled’ all the time[ I understand what the brother meant, that both Passover and Pentecost were fulfilled at the Cross and the day of Pentecost, and Tabernacles still has a future fulfillment. That Jesus will ‘ingather’ all peoples to himself at the end. The way he said it was in a way that he said Atonement, the beginning of Tabernacles/booths, still has to be fulfilled. It really came out badly!] I just thought it worth noting that today is natural Israel’s feast day, and we hold this feast in reality 24/7!]
‘By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of pharaohs daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, then to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward…by faith the harlot Rahab perished not…’ I want you to see that faith in Moses situation caused him to forsake great riches and leave a successful future. This is in keeping with all the times Jesus called people in the Gospels ‘forsake all and follow me’ mentality. We too often equate the ‘treasures of Egypt’ with following Jesus; the scripture puts a different spin on it! Also Rahab ‘perished not’ because she ‘believed’. Paul teaches in Corinthians that those who believe are ‘being saved’ and those who don’t believe are ‘perishing’. I want you to see that Paul is really making a theological argument for ‘being saved by faith’ in this chapter. Even a harlot can be saved! Wow. The law seemed to have no mercy on someone like that!
‘Who thru faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions…women received their dead raised to life…others were TORTURED not accepting deliverance…others had mocking and scourging and bonds and imprisonment, they were stoned, cut in half, were slain with the sword… being destitute, afflicted, tormented…they wandered in deserts and mountains and dens and caves of the earth, ALL THESE [both the ones who shut the mouths of lions as well as the one’s who were tortured without deliverance] OBTAINED A GOOD REPORT THRU FAITH, AND RECEIVED NOT THE PROMISE’ Faith does not always cause you to be better off in this life. I am very familiar with all the verses of God blessing us and providing for us ‘the blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow to it’. I believe and claim these verses just like the next guy. I also don’t want to tell people ‘give your life to Christ and all will go well’ did it go well for the ones who were tortured not getting delivered? Sure did. It went well the moment they saw the face of God. The same for those who were cut in half. It also went well for the women who received their dead raised to life. The point is ‘going well’ is not always defined by your outward circumstance.
We must see the overall biblical worldview of all things here being temporary, while all true spiritual riches are eternal. Moses actually was ‘less rich’ by the choice to follow Christ. But he was ‘more rich’ in that he fulfilled Gods purpose. It is important to see that many of these great heroes of the faith died without fully seeing the promise in this life. Now the last verse does say ‘that they without us should not be made perfect’ and this does show that the promise is now fulfilled thru Christ. We have all become recipients of eternal salvation thru Christ. The Old Testament patriarchs have ‘found that city’ in that we are all now members of the great ‘City that comes down from God out of heaven’ we are all in Christ today, even our Old Testament brothers who had faith. The point is don’t always measure a persons faith by their outward wealth and condition. James rebuked this idea in his epistle, he taught us not to show partiality to people who were rich while despising the poor.
When believers see faith only from the standpoint of outward things, they are missing the true riches. Jesus taught that all these outward things were not the true riches; I am surprised how many believers spend so much time hoarding and storing things that will all pass away some day. Let’s close this chapter on a good note. Paul has offered Israel all of their Old Testament heroes as an example of being justified by faith. He is saying ‘look, all the great fathers of the faith pleased God, just like you have said and taught for ages. I am declaring unto you they were all ‘justified/pleasing to God’ by faith, not law’. Therefore if you want to follow the example of Abraham and Moses and all the other wonderful fathers, then you too MUST BELIEVE!
JUSTIFIED BY FAITH.
TORTURED- BY FAITH?
REJECTED MONEY- BY FAITH?
THEY ALL WAITED FOR THE CITY- THE CHURCH.
This chapter is loaded with the history of the Jewish people-
I could teach on each story- but that would be a bit much-
So I pasted the verses below to show that the writer is saying ‘see- all of our forefathers were justified- received a GOOD REPORT- by faith’.
Wait a minute- they DID THINGS- in these stories-
Isn’t that WORKS?
If you read the letter of James- and the letters of Paul- some scholars says there is a disagreement-
Paul says a man is justified by faith- and not by works.
James says ‘see how a man is justified by works- and not faith only’.
If this letter [Hebrews] was written by Paul- then it’s a true masterpiece- because he is combining the examples that James uses [Rahab- and Abrahams Genesis 22 experience- which James uses to say ‘see how works justifies’].
So- to me- Paul would be saying ‘no- I’m not contradicting James- we both believe/teach the same thing’.
If the letter was written by Barnabus- then it also is a masterpiece- because Barnabus might be trying to bridge the gap between Paul and James.
We read about this tension in Acts chapters 13 and 15.
This chapter is certainly not showing us how to obtain stuff [money- etc.] thru faith- because look at the examples- ‘Moses chose to suffer- and reject the wealth of Egypt- BY FAITH’-
‘SOME WERE TORTURED- SUFFERED- CUT IN HALF- by faith’- ‘CHOOSING TO not be delivered- because they had faith’.
We also see the heavenly city- as the goal of the patriarchs- they were all waiting for THE CHURCH- the city that the apostle John spoke about in the book of revelation.
The writer says ‘if they were mindful of the city they came out of [a reference to the law covenant- meaning if the Jews kept clinging to the law- the ‘city they came out from’- they will have a hard time moving on- into the New Covenant revelation of Messiah].
I didn’t quote verse 2- but we could teach modern physics from that one [the bible says all things were made from something invisible- modern physics has come to that reality in the 20th century- yet this verse was penned 2 millennia ago]!
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
So yeah- lots of good stuff in this chapter- but the main point is these ancients were justified by faith- the example of Noah and Abraham actually use that very language- salvation/righteousness [it’s a bit clearer in the King James Version- the above verses are from the NIV].
Yes- the writer is saying ‘everything is based on faith- and even our ancestors were justified by faith- they did all these things because they believed God- and God saw their faith- in action- and they too were made righteous- by faith’.
By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
A HEAVENLY CITY.
DON’T BE SAD, HE’S TREATING YOU LIKE A SON.
NO REPENTANCE- OUTSIDE OF CHRIST THAT IS.
CULTURE SHOCK IS HARD ON US ALL.
‘Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses [all the heroes of the last chapter!] let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us’ a few practical things. Paul compares the journey to a marathon, not a sprint! The patient runner who paces himself will receive a reward. The sprinter will look good at the start, but you never see him again! I have been blessed by so many gifted people over the years. Some who were on radio, or were doing some type of ministry for the Lord. The gifts and callings were truly on these people. A few years would go by and they were no where to be found. Where did they go? Some of them jumped on the latest ‘Christian movement’ [I am not against movements from God, I just feel we get enamored by them and give up on the main thing the Lord has called us to] some walked away from the Lord.
I have come to realize that God will put certain things in you from the early days, things that he predestined for you to fulfill before you were born. These are the things that you should be faithful to. Don’t abandon the original calling, it’s still there! You can spend your whole life leaving one ‘track’ and ‘sprinting’ in another. But God wants you to stay on the original course and run it with patience. It might not seem as glamorous or exciting as the newest race in town, but at the end you will receive a reward. ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him ENDURED the cross, despising the shame and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that ENDURED such contradiction of sinners…and ye have forgotten the exhortation that speaketh to you as children [remember what we said about this type of privileged language in Hebrews? It is speaking to Israel] my son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art REBUKED of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If you endure chastening, God dealeth with you as sons’.
Now, for many years I read this just like you. That God was telling Christians that he disciplines them. True enough. But in context what is Paul saying here? He spent 11 chapters ‘reproving’ Israel. He told them that all the sacrifices and wonderful holidays and family traditions are no more. That Messiah has fulfilled it and you can’t keep doing it. Now, how would you feel if some know it all preacher came along and totally dismantled your whole way of worship? And you knew in your heart he was right! You would take offence. You would feel like you just got ‘chastened’ up and down and all over. Your initial reaction would be ‘this is too much correction in one letter, I am tired of reading it!’ so Paul is telling Israel ‘Don’t take all this reproof the wrong way, Gods intent is to get you to move on with the program. He loves you guys; don’t forget that scripture [Old Testament] says ‘who God loves he chastens’ hey, God is just dealing with you as children who he loves’ get it? ‘We have had fathers of the flesh that corrected us…shall we not much rather be in subjection to the father of spirits and live?’ Paul is saying ‘you guys want to live [eternal life] then you need to submit to the correction the father is giving you’.
‘For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness’ Now, God does chasten believers for the purpose of holiness. Scripture says ‘those who have suffered in the flesh have ceased from sin, that they should no longer spend the rest of their days in the flesh pursuing the desires of the flesh, but the will of God’ ‘before I was afflicted I went astray, but after I kept thy word’ ‘thou in faithfulness hath afflicted me’ ‘though he were a son yet learned he obedience from the things he suffered’ ‘the captain of our salvation was made perfect thru suffering’ [the last 2 are in this letter, the others are some where in scripture, I just quoted them off the top of my head. As you can see I have some familiarity with this subject! Ouch] In context Paul is saying to Israel ‘you have tried to attain holiness thru legalistic means, by keeping the law [Romans 9-the last few verses] but until you submit to Gods chastening, and have faith in God, you will not truly have his ‘holiness’ [righteousness].
So God is disciplining them thru this letter so they will ‘believe and become righteous’ as opposed to staying in the old system of law. ‘Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous [old brother Paul, he sure knew how to understate things!] nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of RIGHTEOUSNESS to them that are exercised [or exorcised! Just kidding, but it can feel like this at times] thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down…and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame [broken] be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed’ David said ‘restore to me the joy of your salvation that the bones which YOU HAVE BROKEN may rejoice’ The danger of chastening [both for Christians and Israel] is that we get so broken that we never fully recover. Paul is telling Israel ‘I know it’s been hard on you guys to hear so much rebuke. Don’t walk away totally discouraged. There is a danger that you might respond to Gods correction the wrong way. Lift up your hands, shake off the depression, and let yourselves be healed. God wants to restore you!’
‘Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for HE FOUND NO PLACE OF REPENTANCE though he sought it carefully with tears’. This is another reason why reading Hebrews in context is important. One of the themes of this letter is ‘if you miss out on it now, you can’t repent later!’[Chapter 6]. We know that Pauls other letters to the churches leave open future repentance for those who have sinned. In Paul’s letters to the Corinthians we see this being done. But in Hebrews the idea is ‘if you pass on the Cross, you can not find repentance thru any other means. There is no other place for repentance’. So this is the reason why Hebrews has this theme of ‘no future repentance’ thru out the letter. Paul is certainly not telling Israel that if they decide to repent and accept Christ at a future date, they can’t! But he is saying ‘if you pass over this sacrifice of Christ, all the other ‘sacrifices’ and means of repentance that are contained in the law will have no future effect, remember Esau!’
‘For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched…but ye are come to Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem [the church]…and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Able’ Here Paul comes back to a ‘scarlet thread’ that runs thru out this letter. He says ‘hey, you think the first covenant was a fearful thing, watch out! If you disregard this covenant [Jesus blood] then you have gone against something that is much greater than the law’. Also the ‘blood of Able’ cried out from the ground for vengeance, the blood of Jesus cries out from heaven for mercy and forgiveness! It ‘speaks’ better things than that of Able! ‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth [Moses and the law] much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him which speaketh from heaven’ again Paul repeats themes he hit on earlier in this letter. He says ‘Moses spoke Gods Word [law] to you from an earthly mountain and place, you are come to a heavenly mountain [Sion-spiritual Jerusalem] and Jesus is speaking to you from heaven. This is much more strict than he who spoke from earth’.
‘Wherefore we receiving a Kingdom that can not be moved, let us HAVE GRACE, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire’ Though Paul doesn’t say it [I think he should have!] but this alludes to the ‘God’ of Moses day, who did not consume the burning bush, compared to the ‘God’ of today [new covenant] who will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire! This fits in with the theme of a harsher punishment for those who reject the covenant of grace as opposed to those who rejected the covenant of law. I know these themes are not popular, but this is clearly the way Paul is presenting them. I also am not saying the ‘God’ of the Old Testament is different from the ‘God’ of the new [this is the heresy of Marcion! I think that was his name. He was an early Christian heretic who comprised the first canon of scripture for a ‘new testament’ it included basically Paul’s letters, and he taught that The God of the new testament was different from the God in the old] but Paul is presenting the new covenant in a way that says ‘don’t neglect this new way of salvation, those who do will receive a harsher judgment than those who rejected the law’.
A HEAVENLY CITY.
DON’T BE SAD, HE’S TREATING YOU LIKE A SON.
NO REPENTANCE- OUTSIDE OF CHRIST THAT IS.
CULTURE SHOCK IS HARD ON US ALL.
Once again we see the contrast between ‘he that spoke from earth’ [Moses- the law]- and he that ‘speaks from heaven’ [Jesus covenant is more strict- to those outside of it and reject it- because he has heavenly authority- Moses had earthly]. Hebrews 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
The writer says ‘don’t be sad- God disciplines every son who he receives’- though this certainly applies to Christians- Hebrews 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Hebrews 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Hebrews 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Remember this- though the message of grace and Jesus as the Messiah is wonderful- especially to us Gentile believers-
Yet- it was indeed a cultural shock to the 1st century Jew-
Even though Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophets- yet in order for the Jewish person to accept this [Like the apostle Paul]
He had to accept a real cultural change in the religion he practiced from his youth-
He was being asked to stop the animal sacrifices- to ‘move on’ from the Law covenant- and to embrace Christ.
Now- in reality- it would be the fulfillment of all that was contained in the law- but it’s often hard for anyone to ‘move on’ from former religious practices that are embedded in his culture.
So- in context ‘Don’t be sad- God is disciplining you- showing you new stuff- and it’s tough for sure- but he does this with all the sons he receives’.
We also see the promise of the heavenly city- As opposed to the earthly one. Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
The writer is speaking about the church- and how both Jew and Gentile are part of this spiritual community coming down from God out of heaven.
And again we see the warning- of no repentance- for those who keep sinning.
I stress that this is never taught to the Gentile churches- as a matter of fact the Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians- about a sinning brother- sleeping with his father’s wife [his step mom].
And In the 2nd letter- this brother repented- and Paul exhorted the church to receive him back into fellowship.
But to the 1st century Jew- still not fully in the covenant- he says ‘Hebrews 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
In keeping with the theme of the letter- Jesus is now the only acceptable means of repentance- and if you reject him as the Messiah- and continue in sin- then yes- there is no repentance.
Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Ephesians 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Ephesians 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Once again we will see an image in this chapter that Paul will take from the Old Testament and use to describe the sacrifice of Christ. It might even be the best image yet! But let’s start with some basics. ‘Let brotherly love continue’ the other day I was shopping at Wal Mart and saw some Cowboys shirts. I have a homeless friend who I have known for 15 years who loves the Cowboys [The football team!] So I bought him a 13 dollar shirt [they had a nicer Jersey for around 40 dollars, but I am not that spiritual yet]. So I bought him the cheaper one. Sure enough he’s been wearing it ever since! Sometimes it’s the little things, the ‘brotherly love’ stuff that we need to do. We are so obsessed with doing ‘religious stuff’ and attending ‘religious meetings’ and ‘tithing’ that we really do not see the underlying reality of going out of our way for others. We will read in this chapter the 3 sacrifices God does want from us, after all the teaching Paul does on ‘no more sacrifices’ he will give us the spiritual sacrifices that God requires of us. They don’t even touch what we think is important!
‘Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them’ a regular part of my prayer life includes praying for our fellow brothers and sisters ‘in bonds’. A few years ago a brother from our area got sent to jail for stealing money from a famous Christian mission that he worked for. I met him a few times over the years. He used to go to the church I attended. I really didn’t like him to be honest with you. I loved him as a brother, but a little to ‘I am a Christian, cant you see’ type thing. I don’t want to judge him, but this was how I felt. Well many years later when he got sent to jail he became the talk of the town. I started regularly praying for him and haven’t stopped since. This has been around 5 years or so. I also recently included some other Christians who also did some public crimes and were sent to prison, a girl who was found guilty of murdering her foster child. I also pray for those around the world who are in prison for the faith. True persecution. I want to exhort you to pray for those in bonds. Paul knew how hard it was, he was in jail often. ‘Marriage is honorable in all… but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge’ Paul made it clear in all his letters that he was not preaching a gospel of grace that condoned sin. He will say this time and again thru out his writings. He was accused of preaching a sinful gospel, but he wanted to make it clear that in all of his preaching about the law and sacrifices passing away, that in Christ people by nature will do what is right [Romans]. At the end of this great treatise to the Hebrews he makes it clear ‘don’t go on sinning’.
‘Let your conversation [lifestyle] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he hath said ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’ Paul once again deals with avoiding a materialistic mindset. He isn’t urging them to believe God for millions of dollars, or to set a goal of what you want and then to use scripture to get it. He tells them ‘you have Jesus, so be happy. Don’t be always trying to find fulfillment in things, they pass away’. You will find this mindset all thru out scripture [read 1st Timothy 6!] so many Christians today think that this mindset is ‘tradition’. But it is in scripture!
‘Remember THEM which have the rule over you’ to be fair, I have done a lot of teaching in the past against the authoritarian one man rule over believers. I want to submit to you that both here, and in every other New Testament letter that leadership is always plural. It is ‘them’ not ‘him’. Also there are a few other passages that use the term ‘rule’ you could also interpret these as ‘those who watch over you, have care for you’ and use more amicable terms. There are actual reasons why the stronger language is used, I don’t really want to get into the whole thing here, but some feel it had to do with the time that the English bibles were being translated. The kings of the time [England] wanted to maintain a strong hierarchy within their ‘nation states’ as they broke away from the Papacy of Rome, and the translators made a conscious decision to use the more authoritarian terms to keep the people under authority. A whole book has been written on this dynamic. But for now I simply want you to see that Paul is addressing a community of people and saying ‘submit to the eldership of your area, they have responsibility for your spiritual growth, they will give an account to God. So listen to them’ this is not a verse to be used to justify the present office of the singular Pastor in the Protestant church!
‘Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them which have been occupied therein’ I like this verse. It summarizes so much of the Christian life. The whole point of this letter is to establish people in grace. To see that in Christ we have been accepted with God. Our main message isn’t all the interesting doctrines and stuff that we like to argue about. It really is Christ and Gods grace being freely given to us thru him. A lot of the reproving I do is not for the purpose [I hope not!] of just arguing about things that don’t matter, but it is for the purpose of bringing Gods people back to a platform of grace. I teach ‘you are not under the tithe [law] but give all you can in love [grace]’ we are all living our lives openly before the face of God, we shouldn’t be running around trying to ‘one up’ the next guy. Or showing everybody how smart or spiritual we are. We are all here to become more like Jesus and to simply see our requirement as living a thankful life and doing good deeds and sharing our goods with others [the 3 sacrifices that we will see later in this chapter!] I like this verse a lot!
‘We have an altar [the Cross] whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle [those under the tabernacle system, the law!] For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp [the main area where the tabernacle and all the holy things of God were located]. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate [right outside the City of Jerusalem at the hill of Golgotha]. Let us go forth therefore unto him [leave the Old Covenant and all of its sacrifices, and move on unto perfection found only in Christ] without the camp [outside of the rules and regulations of the law and all of its shadows], bearing his reproach [those who left their Jewish heritage for Christ suffered extreme reproach and ridicule from their friends and family. It was a very unpopular thing to do for the 1st century Jew] for here we have no continuing city [natural Jerusalem], but we seek one to come [spiritual Jerusalem]’ Paul sees significance in the fact that the bodies of the animals whose blood was used for atonement were burned outside the camp. There were different types of sacrifices that took place around the system of the tabernacle. Some were totally burnt [burnt offering] others were eaten [Passover] and for the one whose blood alone was used, these bodies were taken to a place outside of the camp and were disposed of by burning. It was purely a utilitarian purpose. They had to get rid of the bodies and they burnt them. Now Paul sees this as a prophetic symbol of Christ. Paul says ‘remember that place where those bodies were burnt? It is a type of Jesus who suffered outside of the city. It was showing that there would be a day where a sacrifice would be made, outside of the law system, that would sanctify all the people’! Amazing, once again Paul sees things in scripture that no body else is seeing, until now! Paul’s mind was consumed with seeing Jesus in everything. He sees hidden shadows of Gods preplanned coming of Messiah and how God all along would require people to ‘leave the camp’ and come unto Christ. In essence Paul is saying ‘even in the tabernacle system God prefigured a once for all sacrifice that would take place outside of the law’ Bravo!
Also you will notice how Paul says ‘here we have no continuing city’ [Jerusalem] but we seek one to come [The heavenly city, the bride the Lambs wife, the church!] Paul does not do what many modern Evangelicals do. He does not exalt Israel’s natural heritage. Interesting that a first century Jewish believer [Paul] writing to a 1st century Jewish audience, downplays their ‘holy land’. If you go back and review everything in this commentary, you will see that there are no references to the prophetic significance to the land of Israel as a geographical ‘holy place’. As a matter of fact the main theme is ‘leave your dependence and cultural pride that comes from your natural heritage, and come into this ‘new city’ that all of our fore fathers were looking for’ there is this amazing lack of exalting the natural city of Jerusalem [which the New Testament calls ‘Sodom’ in a spiritual sense! Revelation] and a plea for all nations, including natural Israel, to come unto Christ.
‘By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased’ Paul gives us 3 main sacrifices that the New Covenant priest/believer can bring. Praise, doing good and giving of your goods and money to meet the needs of those around you [communicate means this here]. ‘Obey THEM that have the rule over you and submit yourselves’ again we see leadership in plurality. Every city has spiritual leadership, they are responsible before God for how they lead the people in their area. They are also responsible to bring the people to maturity and independence. A place where people are not co dependant upon leadership. I believe much of the modern system has failed in this respect. The modern system has actually taken these types of verses and used them to tell people ‘your main role is to come to church on Sunday and passively listen’ we have built this audience/ spectator mindset into people, and we have failed in this respect. ‘Pray for us’ I have found this simple request to be one of the most important things you can ask others to do for you. Enlist prayer support. Pray for me! Ask people to pray for you! We all need this desperately!
‘Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever amen’ What a great way to end this letter! It is thru the blood of Jesus Christ that we are accepted and perfected in every way. We can only live and function because of the blood! We have true forgiveness for all of our sins because of what Christ has done for us. Paul has penned 13 chapters of revelation showing us the great significance of Christ’s sacrifice. He has urged his fellow country men ‘come out from trying to make yourselves holy and acceptable, and receive the once and for all sacrifice of Christ’ he has trumpeted this theme all thru out this letter. I want to exhort you guys to see the sufficiency of the Cross. We get so caught up in what we are doing that there is a tendency to rely on ourselves and our own ability to change things [even us!] we need to re-focus on the biblical priority and necessity of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He truly is the way, the truth and the life. No man can come to the Father but by him! God bless you guys,
Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
[Try and do this- I have this verse painted on a sign in my yard- I have a consistent prayer time- early in the morning- it includes nations- world issues- many subjects that God is concerned with. During this prayer pattern- which I have done for 30 years now- I also pray for the prisoners- and this verse asks us to do just that. I have friends- even Pastors- who simply do not pray- regularly.
I would encourage all of you- learn a routine pattern of prayer- not a selfish time where you focus on yourself and your needs [though that can be a small part of it]- but a prayer time that consistently covers the issues that scripture teaches us to be concerned with].
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
[This past year- I have talked to my friends about this issue- sleeping around. Many of these friends- are still friends- but I felt my associations with them- sort of ‘overlooking’ this very issue- made them feel like ‘well- John will have to learn to live with it’- meaning they felt like I could still do ministry stuff with them- still hang out- all the things I have done for many years. But time is rolling on- and I fear that these friends- yes- even Christians- think this issue of adultery is a minor thing. The scripture makes it VERY CLEAR- that those who do these things cannot I inherit the kingdom of God.
I am not trying to be mean to these guys [and gals] but this issue must be dealt with in this life- not the next.
And I want my friends to get this issue dealt with- and that’s one of the reasons I have stopped ministry activity with some of the guys].
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
[Over the years I have heard it taught that if you are content with what you have- you are in sin. Because you must believe God for increased wealth- to fund ministry projects. Many of the people who preach this are good men- but I fear the do not see it is a violation of scripture. This is just one- of many verses in the New Testament that warns against a wealth building mindset. The writer is saying when God meets our basic needs- and we show the world that our joy does not come from the things of this world- then that itself is a witness for God].
Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Hebrews 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
Hebrews 13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
[The altar ‘we have’ is the Cross- he is saying that if the Jewish brothers stay in ‘the tabernacle’- meaning the law covenant- then they can’t partake of the benefits of the final sacrifice of Christ- this verse is not talking about church buildings- as some have said].
Hebrews 13:11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
Hebrews 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
Hebrews 13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
[The references to ‘without the camp/gate’ refer to the whole theme of this letter ‘you must go forth- move on from the Old Covenant mindset- and suffer the reproach of being a follower of the Messiah’- it was difficult for the early Jewish believers to embrace Christ. It brought scorn on them from family and friends- it was a price that many of us in the modern day don’t experience. So at the end of this letter the writer exhorts them to bear the reproach- become a believer in the Messiah- it will be worth it in the end].
Hebrews 13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
[He is speaking about the church here- I already pasted some of the verses in this post that show us this].
Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
Hebrews 13:16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
Hebrews 13:19 But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
Hebrews 13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:22 And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.
Hebrews 13:23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. [Frankly- this sounds just like the apostle Paul- these are reasons why I still lean towards Paul being the writer of this letter].
Hebrews 13:24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.
Hebrews 13:25 Grace be with you all. Amen.
Judaism in transition.
Did they ‘move on’ ?
Who was Elazar ben Yair?
In the last video I spoke about what happened to the Jews after the letter to the Hebrews was written.
In a way- the Jewish people made a transition- though forcibly- into some of the exhortations we read about in this letter-
They no longer offered animal sacrifices- why?
The Jews saw the destruction of their city and temple in AD 70 under the Roman leader Titus-
Some continued to resist Rome- they took over the fortress of Masada- a great fortress built by the late King Herod- Herod the Great.
They held the fort for around 3 years- until the Romans built a rampart to invade it.
The fortress was built high on a cliff by the Dead Sea-
The only way to get to it was from a narrow road- called the snake.
It had no ‘hand rails’ or walls to protect you- it was built this way on purpose.
So when the Roman soldiers tried to capture the Jews in the fortress- a small group could easily fight back- and hold the fort.
So the Romans built this rampart- it took about 2 years- and right before they reached the fort- the Jews holed up inside killed themselves.
They chose 10 men by lot- who would kill all inside the fort [women and kids too].
Out of the 10- they drew lots for one of them to kill the other 9- then he killed himself.
Elazar ben Yair was the leader of the Jewish resistance- we read the account in the writings of Josephus Flavius- the great historian who too fought against the Romans.
Here’s a quote from Elazar ben Yair “Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice …We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom.”
Falvius wrote 4 great works [we read about this account in Jewish Wars] – after the rebellion was over- Josephus was brought to Rome- and he began writing his historical works in order to show the Romans that the Jewish people were a great people- with a great history.
Many scholars refer to Josephus works [mostly Antiquities] because they give us history that we don’t find in the bible- it sort of fills in the gaps- and gives us historical context.
The Bar Kokhba Revolt-
The Jews had their last revolt against Rome around 130-132 AD-
Under the leadership of Shimon Bar Kokhba they resisted Rome- Emperor Hadrian would eventually prevail- and ban the Jews from their land- and make laws outlawing Jewish religious practice.
Over time the Jewish people learned/adapted to practice their religion- without Temple/Priest or sacrifice.
The Seder meal became the memorial of Gods deliverance from Egypt- they use the bone of a lamb- but they do not actually have the Passover sacrifice [which the letter to the Hebrews exhorts them to do- to not practice animal sacrifices any more].
The priests were no more- but the people had Rabbis- one in particular tried to help the people transition after such a cultural loss.
He taught them that the ‘new way’ of sacrifice and worship would be thru acts of charity- and prayer ‘sacrifice and offering I do not want’ a quote from the Old testament Prophets.
So- in a way- the Jewish people did ‘move on’ from the Old sacrificial system- and embraced a ‘more Christian’ view of religion.
Of course there are Jews today who fully embrace Jesus as the messiah- but over all- as a people- their Old Law system was done away-
Today you have various forms of Judaism- ranking form the most strict- to the most liberal [we see this in Christianity as well].
But none of them practice ritual sacrifice any more-
Some Christians [and Jews] actually believe the Temple will be restored- and at that time the sacrifices will be re-instituted.
I actually do not hold to this end time view-
But for now- that system has been done away with [or put on hold- if that’s your view].
And the ‘new works’ of religion- are charity and prayer and Mercy-
The same theme we read in this letter to the Hebrews-
5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith , Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: Hebrews 10:5
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is , the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15
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