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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Hebrews chapter three


Heb 3:1  Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
Heb 3:2  Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.
Heb 3:3  For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.
Heb 3:4  For every house is builded by some man; but He that built all things is God.
Heb 3:5  And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
Heb 3:6  But Christ as a son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
Heb 3:7  Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear His voice,
Heb 3:8  Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
Heb 3:9  When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years.
Heb 3:10  Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My ways.
Heb 3:11  So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest.)
Heb 3:12  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Heb 3:13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Heb 3:14  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
Heb 3:15  While it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
Heb 3:16  For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.
Heb 3:17  But with whom was He grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
Heb 3:18  And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not?
Heb 3:19  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
 
Now, we begin to find a common theme throughout this book—the issue of faithfulness under persecution. These Hebrew Christians were facing persecution from two sources—their own countrymen and the Romans. Because they were Jews, the Romans detested them, even though they didn’t do all the extreme, fanatical ceremonies, or have the bigotry and empty hypocrisy of their own people. And, because they received the power to become sons of God by following the Messiah and His truth and grace, they were hated by the Jews and suffered under their hand as much, if not worse, than they did from the feared pagan Romans.

 “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Heb. 3:1), starts off the setting for this theme. They were called by heaven. Would they turn away from the true source of life from the Spirit of God and return to an empty religion that might please men but be an offense to the God of heaven, the living God? “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” (Heb. 10:38,39).
 
So, knowing the plight and mindset of these new Christians, the writer of Hebrews (WoH) describes faithfulness by the example of Jesus and of Moses. Would they be faithful like Moses? Would they seek the highest mark, the example and life of the Messiah Jesus, the divine Son of God?
 
“And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.” (Heb. 3:5). All the prophets that succeeded Moses ever afterward referred back to him. He was faithful to the calling of God for him. And Jesus even more so was faithful than Moses.
 
“But Christ as a son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb. 3:6). Would they join His family? He was calling, Come unto Me. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). But, it does no good to come, but then to not stay.
 
“Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest Thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.” (Jn. 1:38,39).
 
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.… If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples. As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love.” (Jn. 15:4,5,7-9).
 
Many of us have heretofore understood abiding in Christ to mean a daily, moment by moment connection with Him through what we see of Him throughout His Holy Bible. But, now we see a larger definition of abiding, the requirement of a lifelong pursuit of following Him through the blessings obedience to the Law of love brings and also the difficult trials His character causes. Nevertheless, this larger definition can only be accomplished through the microcosm definition of the daily, moment by moment abiding in Jesus love.

We must hold fast that original confidence and rejoicing that came with the reconciliation to God. We must keep it to the end. We began a friendship; friendships are no light thing. Commitment to a relationship is a heavy responsibility—especially with someone so intense with relationship as is our God.
 
“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14).
 
“If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (Jn. 15:6).
“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” (2Pet. 2:20,21).
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn. 3:36).
 
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully 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.” (Heb. 10:23-27).
 
 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” (Heb. 6:4-8).
 
So, the WoH expresses some hard talk. But, the hard language comes from the depths of the Spirit of God moving his heart to warn his brethren away from the precipice they are about to step over. To depart from Jesus now was to follow the path of their fathers in the Old Testament. The WoH quotes from Psalm 95.
 
 “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” (Heb. 3:7-12).
 
It wasn’t just leaving a system of beliefs or a new theology that they were committing, but to depart from salvation by faith was complete ingratitude for the heavenly gift of the Spirit which God had entrusted to them; to leave God was adultery. It was sin, even if the going was getting tough. Do we break off a marriage for this reason, or is it “’til death do us part”, as we vowed to each other? They were turning down the greatest work and power Heaven had ever given to mankind, the focal point of God’s plan of redemption in Christ.
 
The WoH recalls David’s appeal to Israel in his day. Today, harden not your hearts as has been done since the beginning of our nation. And, glory be to God, 1,000 years later, the Lord was still willing to continue His gracious call in David’s day. The WoH is appropriating the grace given to the Israelites a millennium before, and claiming it again, “Today.” But, an obligation comes with every gracious promise—the obligation to not let the deceitfulness of sin erode the first love and joy that came with justification before God, made available through the sacrifice of Christ.
 
“But exhort one another daily, while it is [still] called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; while it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Heb. 3:13-19).
 
Lack of relationship led to unbelief. So many of the children of Israel had no time to spend with God, even though He had delivered them from the cruelest bondage. They did not strive to know the Person who saved them, and very quickly their loyalty to God died and withered away. Immediately, Satan took over their hearts. Soon, they had no loyalty to Moses who was suffering so much hostility and rebellion toward the laws God was passing to them through His chosen human mediator.
 
“[The law] was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” (Gal. 3:19).
 
The seed “to whom the promise was made” came out of Egypt; “howbeit not all that came out of Egypt” (Heb. 3:16). “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” (Jude 5).
 
“Because all those men which have seen My glory, and My miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted Me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to My voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked Me see it: but My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed Me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it. (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against Me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against Me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in Mine ears, so will I do to you: your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against Me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.” (Num. 14:22-33).
 
But, that seed “to whom the promise was made”, the little ones who came out of Egypt, turned to worship gods later on.
 
“And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel….
I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.
And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
And when they cried unto the LORD, He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.
And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand….
But I would not hearken unto Balaam….
And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.
And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you….
And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour….
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
For the LORD our God, He it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for He is our God.
And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for He is an holy God; He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then He will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that He hath done you good.
And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.
And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve Him. And they said, We are witnesses.
Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.
And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey.
So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which He spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.” (Josh. 24:2,5-8,10-27).
 
When Joshua died and others who had witnessed the mighty work of God through Moses and the wars of Joshua, the children of Israel forsook Jehovah and served the other gods, implacable and legalistic Baal, and seductive, lawless Ashtaroth. (See Judges 2.)
 
That seed “to whom the promise was made” must wait until David’s day. “This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek Thy face, O Jacob.” (Ps. 24:6). Yet, all was not well, even in the glory of the Israelite kingdom. “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. To day if ye will hear His voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness.” (Ps. 95:6-8). Evidently, many Israelites lived their lives without a single reciprocation to God for all of His beneficence to them. “So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.” (2Sam. 24:15).
 
Thus, the chosen generation must still wait. 500 years later, another seed came for whom the promise to Abraham was made. After centuries of forgetting Yahweh and living their lives apart from Him, and the consequent 70 year Babylonian captivity for their wickedness, another generation received the promised spiritual blessings from heaven.
 
“And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.
And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.
And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:
And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.
And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law.
And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month:
And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.
So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim.
And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.
Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner.” (Neh. 8:1-18).
 
“So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me:
And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;
And Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.
Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.
And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.
For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.” (Neh. 12:40-47).
 
But, that very same generation lost their wonderful revival through the aged Ezra and the sacrificial Nehemiah.
 
“But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king:
And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.…
And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.…
In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.
There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in       Jerusalem.…
In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:
And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people.” (Neh. 13:6,7,10,15,16,23,24).
 
Still another 500 years must pass before another dispensation of grace could be given to the promised seed that should come.
 
Paul alluded to the Galatians that that generation “to whom the promise was made” had arrived in the Early Rain of the Holy Spirit. So, did Peter. “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1Pet. 2:9).
 
Would the Hebrew Christians, after knowing their fathers’ long history of unbelief and wickedness, lose yet another rare gift of God’s grace? Even in the face of a two-fold tribulation, wouldn’t they hold fast the confidence that had come from the Spirit of God, firmly to the end?

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