TruthInvestigate

“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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A person God turned around many times.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hebrews chapter seven

Heb 7:1  For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

Heb 7:2  To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

Heb 7:3  Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

Heb 7:4  Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

Heb 7:5  And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

Heb 7:6  But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

Heb 7:7  And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

Heb 7:8  And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

Heb 7:9  And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.

Heb 7:10  For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

Heb 7:11  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Heb 7:12  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Heb 7:13  For He of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

Heb 7:14  For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

Heb 7:15  And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

Heb 7:16  Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

Heb 7:17  For He testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Heb 7:18  For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

Heb 7:19  For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Heb 7:20  And inasmuch as not without an oath He was made priest:

Heb 7:21  (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

Heb 7:22  By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

Heb 7:23  And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

Heb 7:24  But this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

Heb 7:25  Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Heb 7:26  For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

Heb 7:27  Who needeth not daily, as those High Priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself.

Heb 7:28  For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
 
This chapter seeks to establish that Jesus is the true High Priest since the beginning. Verses 1-24 are details of the man, Melchisidec, in order to explain the central scripture, “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 7:17).

Jesus was not Melchisidec himself. Melchisidec was a man, and only a man, whom Christ providentially ordained to represent His work as our intercessor. Abram was not a greatly renowned person at the time he met Melchisidec, and he was not yet called “the father of many nations”. But, he recognized the holiness of this priest of the Lord whose voice in his conscience he was also following and obeying, while surrounded by a world in apostasy from the government of righteousness which Noah had set up. Christ was not Melchisidec; He was like Melchisidec, “after the similitude of Melchisedec”; and His heavenly work was “after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 7:15,17).
 
The writer of Hebrews (WoH) presents Jesus as greater than Abraham, the ancient father of Israel who every Jew revered in the highest strata. “Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.” (Heb. 7:4).  “But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Heb. 7:6,7).
 
Jesus is greater than the ordained priests because they die, while He, as “priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec,” never dies, but has eternal life. “And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.” (Heb. 7:8).
 
“The LORD [Jehovah] said unto my Lord [Adonai], Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” (Ps. 110:1). This the WoH understands to be God, in David’s vision, speaking to Christ, the Son of man. Then, in verse four of the same psalm David hears God ordaining His Son as High Priest. David saw that his Lord was infinitely higher than Abraham. Because of this, the WoH, by the Holy Spirit, lays claim to a new system of redemption under a newly anointed High Priest, Messiah Jesus. “And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” (Heb. 7:15,16). “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.” (Heb. 7:18).
 
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for [because of] Himself…. And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for [because of] the overspreading of abominations He shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Dan. 9:25-27).
 
It isn’t possible to get more perfect than “Messiah [H4899 Heb. mashiyach, anointed one] the Prince [H5057 Heb. nagiyd nagid, King of kings or Lord of lords] (Dan. 9:25), the “anointed One”, Prince of peace. Perfection is Messiah; He is perfection personified. His coming would have caused every prophet to sing of His loving-kindness and tender mercies, and receive His robe of righteousness. (Isa. 63:7; 61:10).
 
“If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?” (Heb. 7:11).
 
The coming of Messiah into human affairs immediately brought the Aaronic priesthood to an end. Aaron, if alive, would have bowed as Ezekiel did at the brilliant sight of Adonai (Christ).
 
“And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of His loins even upward, and from the appearance of His loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face and I heard a voice of One that spake.” (Eze. 1:25-28).
 
Likewise, should the whole Aaronic priestly system fall on its face before the Lord of glory.
 
“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (Jn. 5:23,24).
 
“And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn. 6:40).
 
“And inasmuch as not without an oath He was made priest: (for those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.” (Heb. 7:20-22). And by so much do we have hope in Christ as God’s appointed and anointed broker for our salvation and restoration to eternal life with His Father, our Father.
 
“And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:23-25). At Christ’s words, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30), His priesthood would remain in effect until the Father’s words, “It is done” (Rev. 16:17), will resound throughout heaven and earth to bring to an end Christ’s mediatorial ministry for sin and sinners. Through His Son, God’s work of redeeming the hearts and rehabilitating the characters of the children of Adam has successfully sealed a people wholly bent on glorifying the great King of creation.
 
“For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” (Heb. 7:26). This is what Ezekiel and Daniel saw. The sight of the pre-incarnate Jesus caused Daniel to faint.
 
“His body also was like the beryl, and His face as the appearance of lightning, and His eyes as lamps of fire, and His arms and His feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of His words like the voice of a multitude.… Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of His words: and when I heard the voice of His words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.… And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.” (Dan. 10:6,8-11,15-17).
 
“Who needeth not daily, as those High Priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men High Priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.” (Heb. 7:27,28). The WoH deems the oath which David heard of greater force than the Law of Moses because the oath came second, “since the law”, after the law, and therefore the oath should have precedence, and so should the Priesthood of Jesus decreed by the oath have precedence. This sounds rational. But if the WoH is Paul, then it contradicts his rationale in another place.
 
“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” (Gal. 3:17). Here, Paul gives the greater weight to the promise of righteousness through faith, which was the law of life the Lord gave Abraham, because the covenant of promise in return for trusting God came before the Law of obedience through Moses. Therefore, the first should have the supremacy. The kingdom of faith came before the law given to Moses is argued in Galatians; however, ordaining the King of faith to reign in His kingdom of faith came after the laws given to Moses is argued in Hebrews. Which reason should have the ascendency? Can these two contradicting rationales be reconciled?
 
Whatever the case, “the Son” “is consecrated for evermore.” Mashiyach, the Anointed One, “the Messiah the Prince” (Dan. 9:25),  “the prince of the host” (Dan. 8:11), “the prince of the covenant” (Dan. 11:22), “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6), “the Prince of princes” (Dan. 8:25), has come. “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31). “Even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne” (Zech. 6:13), and He ever lives to make intercession for us; thus, “bringing in of a better hope” (Heb. 7:19), “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 6:19,20).

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hebrews chapter six

Heb 6:1  Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Heb 6:2  Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Heb 6:3  And this will we do, if God permit.

Heb 6:4  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,

Heb 6:5  And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

Heb 6:6  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.

Heb 6:7  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:

Heb 6:8  But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

Heb 6:9  But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.

Heb 6:10  For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Heb 6:11  And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

Heb 6:12  That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Heb 6:13  For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

Heb 6:14  Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

Heb 6:15  And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

Heb 6:16  For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.

Heb 6:17  Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

Heb 6:18  That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

Heb 6:19  Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Heb 6:20  Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
 
Hebrews Chapter five ended with another reproof to the Jewish Christians in Israel.
 
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb. 5:11-14).
 
And maybe chapter six should have begun at those verses, because chapter six continues that same thought, adding a warning to them. Here we see the writer of Hebrews’ (WoH’s) sanctified skill of combining promises and hope and blessing with duty and responsibility and warning. Confidently, they see that this was no different than what Moses had done.

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deut. 30:15-20).
 
This follows Moses’ long sermon from the preceding two chapters of promises and commandments, blessings and curses, which itself was a recounting of what he had previously told them in Leviticus chapter 26. There can be found no greater power to reconcile the sinful soul and transform the heart and life than the combination of grace and truth. The model for the rest of the scriptures is found here; and the WoH speaks the divine word of God, in a fatherly way blending divine mercy with divine justice like his Master Jesus, who would be called “the everlasting Father,” “for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Isa. 9:6; Matt. 7:29).
 
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. 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. 6:1-8).
 
These verses have often terrified people seeking the mercies of God. They were babes used to milk and not of full maturity through surrendering to God’s authority and love. So, they winced at the power of God’s threats, and fainted in heart. (I know, because I was one of them.) But, that is not God’s intent by using His infinite authority.
 
“For I will not contend for ever,” says the Lord, “neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.” (Isa. 57:16). God doesn’t speak of the sinner’s end, and then leave it at that. The Spirit of God continues on, through the WoH, encouraging those who have trembled before His warnings.
 
“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (Heb. 6:9,10). The WoH has warned; the justice of God is established; conviction has shocked and humbled. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isa. 57:15). Now God can dwell in the hearts of these Hebrew Christians, safe from the prospects of any presumption or destructive undue consternation.
 
Their hearts are bought back, brought back to divine realities, eternal precepts, the things of God which take us away from this world and from the troubles Satan magnifies in our minds to steal our hearts and trust from God. The Hebrews are struck anew with the heavenly truths that they had known, but had forgotten. They are reminded of the deeper insight they had heard with their ears from the WoH, and of the catapulting into faith which they had experienced when first hearing the word of God. Jesus, through the WoH, did for them what they couldn’t do for themselves. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Prov. 27:17,6).

The WoH ends the curses and blessings in this chapter with a final admonition. “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Heb. 6:11,12). He called them slothful because they had lost their first love by the persecutions and ostracism they were suffering. But, he also informed them that they were not alone; they were part of a bigger whole, a large family, one that extends from the present back to the beginning of recorded scripture.
 
Now that he has their full attention, both of mind and heart, in spirit and in truth, the WoH can move into the deeper things of the gospel, beyond the simple, practical requirements that Christ taught. Not that he spurns righteousness or the regular simplicity of Jesus, but that we need to sink the shaft deeply into the mind of Christ, His treasures of heavenly truth. The simple parables of Jesus were designed to reach a people whom Satan had made ignorant of the great themes of truth given in their sacred scriptures. Through those parables, Jesus was reaching them where they were, and He was also reaching the children who would make up the next generation within the church. But this does not presuppose that Jesus’ lessons didn’t contain the far deeper knowledge than what He spoke. In no way did He ever mean to leave the people ignorant of the Bible’s deeper treasures. Conversely, He meant to pique their interest in the deep things by giving them a taste of them. He even scolded His disciples for not searching out the scriptures for themselves.
 
“Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Lk. 24:25-27). Jesus scattered the seeds of truth; but He meant for those seeds to send their roots downward deeply into the word of God, to sprout, and then to reach upward into plants and even trees, bearing much fruit.
 
So, Jesus now brings the Hebrew Christians higher as He dispenses His Spirit to them through the WoH. What a privilege to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him through His chosen human agent!
 
“For when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” (Heb. 6:13-15). If they (and we) will be patient to endure the difficulties, hardships, and even tragedies of life, the blessings of the Spirit will come to us as they did to Abraham. The Lord promises us just as He promised Abraham. He desires to bless and multiply us. But He must hold off the fullness of His blessings for our full surrender. To reward us with full blessings before we surrender is to reward sloathfulness and disobedience, and to perpetuate sin. He would destroy us were He to do that. So He waits.
 
“And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Isa. 30:18).  “And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?” (Lk. 18:7,8).
 
The basis for our patient endurance awaiting the promised blessings from heaven is grounded in deep theological precepts. “For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation.” (Heb. 6:16-18).
 
The two immutable things were/are His promise and His sworn oath that precedes His promise. When God does anything, He does so in a big way. When He speaks, He thunders; when He sorrows, He sends a trumpet wail from one end of heaven to the other. When He loves, His blessings come in torrents and heavenly cataracts and sheets of liquid sunshine. When He promises, He does so emphatically with an oath. The greatest is God’s promise to be merciful to us, to forgive our sins, and to reclaim our hearts and our lives for eternity. To our repentance He always sends forgiveness. This He promises with an oath.
 
“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 6:18-20).
 
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” (1Tim. 6:12). In that fight and hold we don’t let go until Jesus blesses us. We receive Him and His power to become sons of God, not born of the flesh or of our own will, but of God. The recognition of His Spirit gives us the evidence that God is near and working for us; we receive a new hope that forever settles and anchors our heart and mind. We can no longer be caught up in the wily work of Satan, and get tossed to and fro by the many winds of doctrine, philosophy, and fanaticism. We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll.

We have followed Jesus into the heavenly sanctuary.
 
God who is rich in mercy, “even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:5,6).
 
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” (Col. 1:12,13).
 
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:20).
 
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads.” (Rev. 14:1).
 
“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.” (Rev. 15:1,2).
 
“Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:5,6).
 
“And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:8-10).
 
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hebrews chapter five

Heb 5:1  For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

Heb 5:2  Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

Heb 5:3  And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

Heb 5:4  And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

Heb 5:5  So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

Heb 5:6  As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Heb 5:7  Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

Heb 5:8  Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

Heb 5:9  And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Heb 5:10  Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

Heb 5:11  Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

Heb 5:12  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

Heb 5:13  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

Heb 5:14  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
 
The whole book of Hebrews was written to exalt Christ―His greatest joy in serving others, with compassion on the ignorant, and on them that were out of the way of salvation; the whole while being compassed with the nature of Abraham (Heb. 2:16), the infirmities that He inherited from Adam. Jesus did not exalt Himself to be the High Priest, as did Lucifer; He served God and man with all His heart, even until death.
 
“Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, to day have I begotten Thee.” (Heb. 5:5). Christ could not be our High Priest until He had laid down His life. In a special sense He was begotten at His resurrection from the tomb.
 
Like David having been anointed king, but patiently awaiting 10 years to providentially be given the throne, so, Jesus was conceived in the utmost anointing of the Most High and then submitted to 33 years of training, being “under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father” (Gal. 4:2), which, of course, would include His death.
 
Especially was He taught from the Garden to Calvary. “Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Heb. 5:7,8). His suffering was intense in the garden, as Satan separated Him from His Father’s love and pity.

But, once Jesus had fully made up His mind to risk eternity next to His Father, and under the horrible darkness of Gethsemane, He accepted the wrath of God which completely eclipsed all prospects of His restoration to His Father. God was everything to Christ. Essentially, Jesus chose to forever lose His own eternal existence with the Father God who was His life, so that we could be reconciled to His beloved Father, and supply His eternal absense next to God.
 
But, even though God heard His Son, He must allow His Son to pass through this traumatic, wrenching misery―They must both pass through this trauma together as a mother and child during birth. The cry of Jesus, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46) reveals that Jesus could not on the cross discern that He had been heard. Not until His resurrection would He know whether or not that His sacrifice was acceptable.
 
“And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5:9,10).
 
When He heard the words from the angel, “Son of God, come forth; Thy Father calls Thee,” new life was begotten in the Lord and He prepared Himself to ascend to His Father to know for sure that His propitiatory death was accepted in all respects. That’s when He rejoiced to know that God could accept His sacrifice. He could declare the intention of God from the days of eternity to save humanity, the gospel dispensation could be launched, and the plan of redemption could continue on to the full extermination of sin and the full redemption of all who would obey Him.
 
“I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee.
Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
Be wise now therefore, o ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” (Ps. 2:7-12).
 
The Almighty will not be satisfied with His fallen race unless they each individually would “Kiss the Son” and “greet one another with an holy kiss.” (2Cor. 13:12). The kiss is the display of deepest brotherhood, friendship, kinship. It means, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Jesus was betrayed with a kiss, but that should never destroy the true purpose of the kiss. We should come to Jesus with our whole heart, kissing Him by faith through our reconciliation and justification, and showing our reconciliation by our obedience to Him.  “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (Jn. 15:14).
 
If we will come to Jesus, open our heart and receive the message God built into His abundant life and death for us, then He will give us power to become sons of God, to sit forever with Him in His Father’s throne as younger children surrounding their elder brother.
 
“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.
The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies.
Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: Thou hast the dew of Thy youth.
The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Ps. 110:1-4).
 
“And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” (Jn. 20:22). If they will kiss the Son, He will kiss them with His Spirit of life and power. Then they will receive the seal of God in their forehead that reads, “Son kissed”.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hebrews chapter four

Heb 4:1  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Heb 4:2  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Heb 4:3  For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Heb 4:4  For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

Heb 4:5  And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

Heb 4:6  Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

Heb 4:7  Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Heb 4:8  For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

Heb 4:9  There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

Heb 4:10  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

Heb 4:11  Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Heb 4:13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Heb 4:14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Heb 4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Heb 4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
 
The book of Hebrews many times comes on with hard gentleness. Its uses of rebuke and correction and instruction are allowed by these Christians to whom the letter was written because they were already familiar with those tools of truth. Paul desired to anchor all the Gentile churches to the Hebrew Christians because their history grounded them in essential truths, such as submission to the Law of God, fear of God, sin and propitiation and repentance―truths that formed the foundation for the gospel. Dr. Benjamin George Wilkinson writes:
 
Light is thrown on the actual beliefs of the early Christians by studying the fundamental instructions concerning the organization of individual churches as given by the apostle Paul. The great apostle to the Gentiles made it distinctly clear that the churches which he founded in his missionary labors were modeled after the Christian churches in Judea. Thus he says,
 
“For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews.” (1 Thessalonians 2: 14.)
 
Paul did not pattern the plan of the local church after the heathen temple or after the Gentile models he might have found in his travels. The pattern given him was of God. What was that pattern? It was the first Christian church at Jerusalem and its duplicates in Judea.
 
It would be difficult to imagine that the apostle Paul, laboring in regions all the way from Babylon to the western borders of Asia Minor, would organize the churches upon any other model. His congregations also were but repetitions of the original Christian communions in the province of Judea, particularly of the churches in Jerusalem. Truth Triumphant, p. 38.
 
Paul was proud that he was a son of Israel, because he knew that fifteen hundred years of sacred teaching on each recurring Sabbath had enriched the Hebrews with a mentality in things divine which enabled them to grasp readily such truths as God, sin, morality, and the need of a Redeemer. Truth Triumphant, p. 21.
 
Thus, the writer of Hebrews (WoH) harks back to the failures of Israel to help the Jewish Christians make a sure connection between the apostasies of ancient Israel and their temptation to depart from the gospel. The encouragement from the WoH didn’t come to these afflicted Jewish Christians in the form of cajoling and petting their discouraged self-pity, but in the strength and power of the Spirit of Christ.
 
The message to them was perfectly suited to gain their faith and acceptance. No differently treated were these Hebrew Christians than was John as he faced his death sentence for standing for the truth. “Jesus answered and said unto [John’s disciples], Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” (Matt. 11:4-6).
 
The disciples bore the message, and it was enough.….
     The Saviour’s words, “Blessed is he, whosoever shall find none occasion of stumbling in Me,” were a gentle reproof to John. It was not lost upon him. Understanding more clearly now the nature of Christ’s mission, he yielded himself to God for life or for death, as should best serve the interests of the cause he loved. Desire of Ages, p. 218.
 
Having established the humbling reproof (which they will be reminded of again and again) the WoH brings in a reminder of what he had given them when he had passed through preaching the first time. They accepted the Spirit of God and the rest and peace of God, and now were thinking to leave it all under the extreme circumstances of vehement opposition by two violently gestapo-like religious and political regimes. But, until they were humbled by the truth, the WoH dared not touch on the glory of the gospel, the precious pearl of great price. “Before the seed of the gospel could find lodgment, the soil of the heart must be broken up. Before they would seek healing from Jesus, they must be awakened to their danger from the wounds of sin.” Desire of Ages, p. 103.
 
God never gives us grace without truth or mercy without justice. And equally important to know is that He never gives us justice without mercy and truth without grace. Truth needs grace to make obedience to the truth possible; and grace needs truth to keep grace from falling into the hands of the adversary, the lawless son of perdition, who knows how destructive lawlessness is to genuine faith and love, and quickly moves to warp the effect of grace into self-indulgence. In all of holy scripture, both Old and New Testaments, we see a consistent co-mingling of both truth and grace. This distinguishes the Bible from every other holy book. It also is what gives the Bible so much power to transform the corrupted nature and life.
 
Now, the WoH can introduce the blessing of rest, “His rest”, the rest that dwelled in Christ, the Prince of peace, and the rest He wants to give us. “His rest” is His faith, the “faith of Jesus” (Rom. 3:22; Gal. 2:16,20), “fixed”  on His Father (Ps. 112:7),  “The glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” (Jn. 17:5). The abiding that Jesus did, which propelled Him to lay down the eternal throne next to His beloved Father, that rest of soul, when conceptualized and comprehended in the sinner, can be appropriated, sanctifying the sinner. Loving and yearning for what Christ had, the sinner may obtain by request. And Jesus is happy to share His rest and peace with all who have had enough of Satan’s enslavement and oppression. He readily breathes on them His Spirit of life and they are made whole. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2Tim. 1:7).
 
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them (ancient Israel): but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest.” (Heb. 4:1-3).
 
This message was twofold: obey, as, anciently, their fathers did not; and obey, as their modern people were not. These facts of history and current stinging persecutions were undeniable to the readers of the epistle to the Hebrews. They could obey, and enter into rest with God. So many multitudes in Israel had desired this, yet had never obtained it.
 
“For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest.” (Heb. 4:4,5).
 
“Hadn’t our Creator set the example of rest? Isn’t that all that the gospel is presenting? Why then the Jews’ hatred of the gospel? It’s in their scriptures. Yet, they have not entered into the rest that the Sabbath stands for. If they would accept the gospel, the promise yet offered to them by the Lord is, They shall enter into My rest.’ Until then, Satan will control them. But, you, Hebrew Christians, did enter into it. Don’t give it up and turn to the drudgery of this world and to the god of this world who keeps your fathers in darkness.”
 
“Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” (Heb. 4:6,7).
 
“After so long a time”, that is, 500 years after the Lord through Moses offered the nation rest, the true rest remained illusive. The offer was still calling out to them, Today, if you will hear His voice, don’t let your heart be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Idolatry and false worship had siphoned off their love for truth and self-denial. Faith could not survive under the soul’s administration of self-love, self-indulgence, temptation to sin, and forgetfulness of Jehovah. Idolatry doesn’t harden the heart in all respects; it only hardens the heart toward the holy God. Unholy worship and human traditions remain the heart’s thrill and rush and lust. The heart is far from hardened to Satan and his kingdom. It is intoxicated, “in a state of strange, unnatural excitement”. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 56. But, toward God and humble submission to the Ten Commandments, service to God and man finds no relish from the heart seduced by lawless religion and by absolution through the mummery and sleight of man that requires no repentance and renunciation of sin.
 
“For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (Heb. 4:8,9).
 
Jesus is the Hellenized name for Joshua. The two names mean the same, “Jehovah saves.” Joshua had brought the children of Israel into the land of promise which the Lord God promised would be their rest.
 
“For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you. But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety…” (Deut. 12:9,10).
 
But, David, after so long a time, spoke of a yet unobtained rest. The people hadn’t entered into rest, even by David’s time. The “another day” mentioned by the WoH in Hebrews 4:8 does not refer to another day of worship or any day of worship, as this chapter of Hebrews is not addressing which day is the Sabbath. Rather, the “another day” refers to David’s day; it says that Israel was still hardening their hearts, which the WoH quoted from Psalm 95 when David said, “To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
 
Then, the WoH projects Israel’s endemic problem forward to his day; he assumes that nothing changed with the nation. Except for a very small remnant, they had always lived apart from God, and forfeited the peace and rest that comes with receiving His Spirit; and now, except for that remnant, the Hebrew believers, they still had that problem. There still remained an unobtained rest for Israel, the people of God―the life and peace that comes from the soul’s submission to the love of God. It is as if they had never entered the Promised land, which God desired to represent to them the entrance into salvation. God wants to give us rest, His rest. His rest comes by our ceasing from our own resources to be good.
 
“For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Heb. 4:10,11).
 
The rest comes from ceasing from self, from producing fruits of our own will-power and then glorying in our own works of righteousness. The writer uses the Sabbath commandment, mentioned in verse 4, to articulate the method for obtaining the rest, that is, to labor for it. Just as we work 6 days in order to rest the 7th and enjoy time with God, so must we labor in order to enter into faith; we must fight for faith, we must fight the good fight of faith (2Tim. 4:7). Salvation doesn’t just happen by accident. God doesn’t redeem us without our consent and our effort to get to Him. We must flee “for refuge” and “lay hold upon the hope set before us.” (Heb. 6:18). Much activity is required of us. But, the exertion is in the way of forcing ourselves to be available to the Spirit of God through acquainting ourselves with Him. “Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” (Job 22:21).
 
Jesus said it this way, “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (Jn. 17:3).
 
Paul saw that knowing God was our highest goal and most important pastime with eternal ramifications. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him” (Phil. 3:8-10).
 
All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us. Desire of Ages, p. 668.
 
Know Jesus, and know victory over sin and likeness to God; No Jesus, and no victory over sin and likeness to God. If we neglect the effort to know God, we will “fall after the same example of unbelief” as did ancient Israel. Faith comes by the word of God. Unbelief and rebellion can’t remain for a second in the presence of the Word of God. It so pierces through the heart hardened in sin; it is sharper than a two-edged sword and alters the whole nature of the soul that receives it. “Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.” (Hos. 6:5).
 
To avoid the Bible is to miss infinite life now, and then eternity with Jesus in the future. “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: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Heb. 12:5-8).
 
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13).
 
This was Isaiah’s cry before the searching eyes of God, “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isa. 6:5). We need an intercessor; and we find that intercessor through the medium He left with us—the written word of God, which, by His truth and grace, slays sin by the breath of His mouth. So, let’s go to the Bible and sit at Jesus’ feet, and learn from Him and about Him. Let’s accept all of its promises of grace and discern His every mercy to the Bible characters that we may appropriate His mercy to us by faith.
 
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16).

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?