Category Archives: A Beautiful Exchange

The Beautiful Exchange (2 of 2)

Let us now look at these two contrasting sacrifices in table form; an ‘a‘ in the center column indicates similarity, and a ‘r‘ indicates contrast; the comments in this are not made on the basis of a text from Hebrews, but express either a truth gained from the teaching of the Bible, or are expressions of the logical opposite. In some instances truths are listed here which were also listed in the table relating to the high priestly roles, because the high priest, and the sacrifices they offered, are intimately connected…

O.T. Sacrifices
Sacrifice of Jesus
5:3; 7:279:7 Had to be offered for the sins of the priest as well as the sins of the people r No sacrifice necessary for his own sins 7:27
7:11,18-1910:1-4 Could not make us perfect r Makes us perfect 10:14
7:27; 9:6,7,25; 10:1,11 Needed to be offered day after day, year after year r Once-for-all 7:27; 9:12; 9:25-28;10:10,12
8:1-69:1-109:11 Were offered in the earthly tabernacle which is a copy of the real presence of GodWere offered in a man-made tabernacle r Was offered in the real sanctuary – the very presence of God – not made by man.He entered heaven itself. 9:11, 24,
8:13 Belonged to an obsolete covenant r Belongs to the new covenant 8:8
9:7, 18-23 Blood offering required a Blood offering required
9:9; 10:2-4 Could not clear the conscience of the worshiper r Cleansed from a guilty conscience 10:22
9:13 Made the ceremonially unclean outwardly clean r Cleanses our consciences so that we may serve GodHe died as a ransom to set them free form the sins committed under the first covenant. 9:149:15
9:10;10:1-4,11 Were external, ceremonial regulations, pending the coming of the new order.Were temporary and repetitive pending the coming of the new order r Obtained eternal redemption Permanently effective – ‘for all time’ 9:1210:12
9:129:25 Blood of goats and calvesNot their own blood r Christ’s own blood He sacrificed himself 9:12,9:26
10:1 The law prescribing these sacrifices is a shadow r Is the reality itself 10:1
10:2,3 Continued guilt feelings for sin Annual reminder of sins r Does away with sinSins remembered no more 9:2610:17
10:4, 11 Impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins; can never take away sins. r We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ 10:10
10:9 Are set aside r Is established 10:9
10:11,12 Was never finished r Is finished and done 10:12,13
Many sacrifices r One sacrifice 10:12,14
10:1-4,11 Always more sacrifices needed r No longer any sacrifice for sin needed 10:18
No confidence r Produces confidence to enter ‘the Most Holy Place’, to enter the presence of God 10:19,22
Is an Old and dead way r Is a new and living way 10:20

The connotation of what the writer has taught us, and the reader – the Hebrews, about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ are innumerable and grandiose. He tells us of something that is complete, something that has happened once-for-all in the one act of Jesus Christ, something that never was and never could be done by the old sacrifices. Meditate again on the aftermath this one, once-for-all, never to be repeated, permanent in its denouement, sacrifice of Jesus Christ has on the readers then and us today; (Scriptures in order for section)

  1. The redemption it obtained is eternal (9:12).
  2. It cleanses our consciences/spirit (9:14).
  3. It liberates us to serve God wholly (9:14).
  4. It sets us free from past, present, and future sins [not an excuse to use Him as a visa card] (9:15).
  5. It does away with ALL sin (9:26).
  6. It is established by God (10:9).
  7. It makes us holy by the body of Christ (10:10).
  8. It is permanently effective, finished, and complete (10:12-14).
  9. It makes us perfect forevermore (10:14).
  10. God remembers our sins and lawless acts no more – cleaning us – making us white as snow (10:17).
  11. It makes any further sacrifice for sin redundant and unnecessary (10:18).
  12. It means that we have confidence to enter the very presence of God without fear of judgement or condemnation (10:19).
  13. It means we can draw near to God with the full assurance of faith (10:22).
  14. It means that our hearts are cleansed from a guilty conscience (10:22).

This must be the ultimate in salvation! Who would think of leaving this salvation for anything else – for anything else can only be less! Yet that is exactly what the original readers of this letter were on the brink of doing. Had they not really understood who Jesus actually was? Had they not really understood what Jesus actually did? But we could ask similar questions today as we look at the widespread lack of assurance of salvation,the focus of many Christians on their own religious performance, and the accompanying guilt in which they wallow and drown in. This salvation so powerfully described in this letter to the Hebrews leaves us with no doubts as to the permanence and completeness of the salvation obtained by the body and death of Jesus Christ – lavished as a sheer gift on everyone who believes in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is a good an perfect Gift from God; to me, to you, and to the whole World – just accept, understand, and believe.

I hope you enjoyed this study, A Beautiful Exchange, in the Book of Hebrews. Our next study Will be in the Book of Proverbs – specifically Proverbs 31 called Who Can Find? – we will be using this great chapter to apply being a Godly woman/wife and a Godly man/husband to our lives. It should only be about 3-4 posts at most, hope you will come join us! Thank you for this study and God Bless!


The Beautiful Exchange (1 of 2)

Just as the writer has presented us with a description of Jesus Christ as the ultimate high priest, whom is far superior to the old priesthood. The writer also presents us with a description of the one final sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is far superior to the many sacrifices offered by the old priesthood. In this study we will look firstly at the sacrifices offered under the old covenant, then at the one final sacrifice of Jesus Christ. For the second part of the study we will, again, set these side by side in a table for an easier comparison. Then we will wrap up the main points for the completion of this study.

Sacrifices under the Old Testament Ritual Laws; (NKJV Scripture in order for section)

  • 5:3 the high priest had to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as the sins of the people, not just once but daily (day after day)
  • 7:11 they did not and could not provide ‘perfection
  • 7:18 the law made nothing ‘perfect
  • 7:27 sacrifices needed to be offered daily (day after day)
    and needed to be offered for the priest’s sins as well as the people’s sins
  • 8:13 old ritual law sacrifices under the first covenant were made ‘obsolete‘ by the implementation of the new covenant, by Jesus Christ
  • 9:6 priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry
  • 9:7 only high priests entered the inner room, annually, only with blood, making an offering for himself and for the sins the people that they had committed in ignorance
  • 9:9 these gifts and sacrifices were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper
  • 9:10 were temporary ‘external regulations
  • 9:11 were offered in a man-made tabernacle
  • 9:12 using the blood of goats and calves
  • 9:13 the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer could only ‘sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean‘, this did not and could not help the inwardly – your spirit/soul
  • 9:18 sacrifices were not put into effect without blood
  • 9:22 the law required that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness from God
  • 9:24 they were offered in a man-made sanctuary, which was only a copy, and shadow, of the true one to come
  • 9:25 high priests enter the Most Holy Place over and over again, year after year
    high priests enter with blood that is not his own, but of goat, bull, or calve
  • 10:1 the law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves in present
  • therefore… it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship God. (10:2 – If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all by doing so, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins If so there wouldn’t have been need for the sending and sacrifice of Jesus Christ)
  • 10:3 the sacrifices are an annual reminder of their sins
  • 10:4 it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins
  • 10:5-8 God did not desire sacrifice/offering, burnt offerings, or sin offerings, nor was he pleased with them
  • 10:9 they are set aside by God
  • 10:11 the daily repeated sacrifices can never take away sins of the people

In these statements about the sacrifices offered under the ritual and traditional Jewish law of the old covenant – There are two recurring themes (1) the repetitiveness of these sacrifices (2) their temporary and superficial capabilities. By way of extreme contrast, consider what is said about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ…

The Once and For ALL Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior; (NKJV Scripture in order for section)

  • 7:27a was not needed daily (day after day)
  • 7:27b was not for his own sins but ours (the worlds)
  • 7:27c the sacrifice for the worlds sins was once and for ALL when he offered himself up
  • 9:9 (by assumption) is able to clear the conscience of, and give rest/peace to, the worshiper
  • 9:12 he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption
  • 9:14 the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself unblemished and unspotted to God. This cleanses, and purifies, our consciences/hearts from acts that will evidently lead us to death, this way we may serve the living God wholly and holy
  • 9:15 he died as a ransom to set them and us free from the sins committed under the first covenant law
  • 9:25 he does not have to enter heaven to offer himself over and over again
  • 9:26 he appeared once for ALL at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself
  • 9:28 Christ was sacrificed once to take away ALL the sins of many people (the world)
  • 10:1 (by assumption) makes perfect those who draw near to him in worship
  • 10:2 (by assumption) worshipers are cleansed once for all, and no longer need to feel guilty for their sins committed past, present, and future
  • 10:10 we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ – once for ALL and forever more
  • 10:12 Jesus offered for ALL time one sacrifice for ALL sins, then sat down at the right hand of God the Father
  • 10:14 by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (us that believe in him)
  • 10:17 God no longer remembers our sins and lawless acts, we are continually cleaned and purified – white as snow – from the day we believe
  • 10:18 where we have been forgiven there is no longer any needed future sacrifice for sin – it is Final and Done
  • 10:19 we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus
  • 10:20 we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by a new and living way opened for us through… his body, no longer set apart from God
  • 10:22 therefore … let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water .
  • 10:23 therefore … let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he is faithful who promised

The two efficacious and dominant qualities of the sacrifice of Christ are (1) its once and for ALL-ness and related immutability (2) its all inclusive and radical implementation in our lives, then and now.

For our next study we will look at these two contrasting sacrifices in table form, then wrap up the study at the end. Thank you for joining us and God Bless!

The Highest of the Highest – Hebrews 4:14-16 (part 2 of 2)

Ancient Bath House in Laodicea, Turkey

In chapters five to ten the writer makes two important contrasts of his time (1) the high priests of Israel and Jesus Christ the great high priest, and (2) the ritual animal sacrifices of the old covenant and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. For the rest of this study we will look first at what the writer says about the high priests of Israel, then at what he says about Melchizedek, then at the priesthood of Jesus Christ. In the next study we will look at the sacrifices of the old covenant and the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Lets compare and contrast now the High Priests of Israel to Jesus the Great High Priest…

About the high priests of Israel the writer states in chapter 5 verse 1 ‘For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.‘ and in verse 2 ‘He can deal gently… since he himself is beset (subject) with weakness‘, in verse 3 ‘he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.’, in verse 4 ‘but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.’, in chapter 7 verse 11 ‘Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise‘ – basically they could not mediate ‘perfection‘ established on the basis of the law, in verse 20 ‘For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath‘, in verse 23 ‘The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office’ – basically saying because they died they had to be replaced, many times, in verse 27 ‘to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people‘, in verse 28 ‘For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests‘ – basically they were weak men, in chapter 8 verse 2 ‘a minister in the holy places, in the true tent (tabernacle) that the Lord set up, not man‘ – Jesus served in a tent made by God whereas the High Priests of Israel served in a tent made by man, in verse 5 ‘They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.‘ – the High Priests of Israel serve a copy and shadow of what is prepared in heaven, in verses 6-12 the High Priests of Israel served under a faulty and inferior covenant, and in verse 13 ‘In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away‘ – meaning they serve under a now serve under an ‘obsolete’ covenant (remember this is a letter to the Hebrews who are being tempted to go back to this traditional and ritualistic way under the old law).

Lets move onto Melchizedek – First read the Old Testament record of the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18-20. Though the writer contrasts Jesus to the high priests of Israel, he also points out to the Hebrews a similarity between Jesus and Melchizedek. Now lets draw our attention to five facts about Melchizedek; in chapter 7 verses 1-2 ‘king of Salem, priest of the Most High God‘ and ‘by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace‘, in verse 3 ‘He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life… he continues a priest forever‘, in verse 4-10 ‘See how great this man wasIt is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior… One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham‘ – basically they he is stating that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham, and therefore greater than Levi, the priestly tribe, in verse 13 ‘For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe‘, and in verse 16 ‘who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life‘ – meaning his role as priest was all based on his conformation to regulations about ancestry

Let’s finish with the Greatest High Priest of them all, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in chapter 4 verse 14a ‘Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens‘ – not just the man-made curtain into the man-made sanctuary, 14b ‘Jesus, the Son of God‘, verse 15 ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.‘, in chapter 5 verses 5-6 ‘was appointed by him who said to him,“You are my Son, today I have begotten you…‘, in verses 7-9 ‘with loud cries and tears… he learned obedience through what he suffered’ – by experiencing the suffering, agony and temptations of man he is qualified as a perfect representative, in verse 9 ‘being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation, to all who obey him”, in verse 10 ‘being designated by God a high priest, after the order of Melchizedek‘, in chapter 6 verse 20 ‘where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.‘, in chapter 7 verse 11 ‘rather than one named after the order of Aaron?‘ – is not named after the order of Aaron, in verse 14 ‘For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests‘ – a tribe where priests did not come, in verse 16 his priesthood is based on the power of an indestructible life, in verse 17 ‘who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life‘ – in the order of Melchizedek, in verse 18 ‘For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness‘ – his priesthood sets the former law aside, in verse 19 ‘(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God‘, in verses 20-21 ‘but this one was made a priest with an oath‘ – his priesthood was affirmed and established by God, in verse 22 because of this oath ‘This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant‘, in verse 24 ‘but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever‘, in verse 25 ‘he is able to save to those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them‘, in verse 26 ‘indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens’ – not needing to offer sacrifices day after day, in verse 27 ‘since he did this once for all when he offered up himself‘ – he sacrificed himself for our sins once for all when he offered himself up, in verse 28 ‘but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever‘, in chapter 8 verse 1 ‘the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven‘, in verse 2 ‘a minister in the holy places, in the true tent (tabernacle) that the Lord set up, not man‘ – Christ serves in the ‘true tabernacle‘ set up by God, and in verse 6 ‘But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises‘ – he is mediator of a superior covenant, that was and is founded on better promises.

That’s it for Comparing the High Priests, from the Least to the Greatest of them all. Next study we will be comparing old testament sacrifices to the once and for all sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

Thank you and God Bless

The Highest of the Highest – Hebrews 4:14-16 (part 1 of 2)

Ancient Corinth

In Hebrews 4:14-16 the writer links all that he has said in chapters 3 and 4, and all the way back in chapter 2, where he has identified Jesus Christ as a ‘merciful and faithful high priest‘ who, by his real and perfect humanity, is qualified to ‘make atonement for the sins of the people‘. Here he argues;

(1) ‘we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens‘. This statement anticipates a great truth that he expands on later which is; that Jesus has not gone into the symbolic presence of God – in the tabernacle or temple – as the earthly high priests did, but he has gone into the real spiritual and physical presence of God, not just through the curtain, but through the heavens themselves.

(2) ‘Jesus, the Son of God‘. This great high priest is, as we have seen, a real human being and he is ‘Jesus‘ – the human son of and from a human mother, who walked the earth, cried our tears, and bled our blood. Although He is also more than this for He is the ‘Son of God‘ as the writer has shown in 1:1-14 and 3:1-6.

(3) ‘let us hold fast our confession‘. Therefore, the writer exhorts, that since we have such a high priest; that is fully and perfectly qualified to represent us as ‘man‘ in the presence of God, and is at the same time the exalted divine Son of God who came down to earth specifically be the sacrifice, intercession, and propitiation for our sins, ‘let us hold firmly to the faith we profess‘. The sheer excellence of our great high priest and his qualifications should stir and motivate us to hold fast faith in Him, which is what we profess. Why? Because there is no one who could be more committed to our good, better qualified, more equipped to represent us in the presence of God, and absolutely no one more capable of obtaining eternal salvation for us than Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the Son of God. To scorn and reject Him, the high priest, is to reject or turn aside the provision of God, which would become the final and absolute rejection of God and eternal living with Him.

(4) ‘we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin‘. This expands on the qualifications of our great high priest; he ‘can sympathize with our weaknesses‘. Why? How come he understands our weaknesses so intimately that he sympathizes? Is he not perfect and without sin? How can a perfect sinless person feel what imperfect people feel? Well, because this perfect person was not perfect because of a unrealistic monastic removal from the world and its temptations – this perfect person was not secluded, confined, head in the sand, ascetic who was severed from the honky-dory way of human existence. Rather, this perfect person, this flesh-and-blood Jesus, lived among us (John 1:14) – as John recorded in 1 John 1:1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life… ‘ – this perfect person experienced our rejection, our treachery, and our hatred. He heard our scorn and accusations, He felt our whips, our mocking thorns, and our nails. All of this without sin, he was a sinless man, undeserving of the beatings that were meant for us…. you and me. Imagine YOU taking on all the sin and punishment of that sin for the people on the street you live on? How about you taking on the sin and punishment for your neighborhood? For your city? Your county? The whole country? How about the sin and punishment of the whole World? I wouldn’t do it, no, not me… because our great high perist took on the physical punishment but He also took on the spiritual punishment, His soul went to Hell and back for us, over and over and over and over and over and over, AND OVER again. Not only this, but this high priest, this perfect man, was pushed to the very limit of temptation’s power by the great deceiver, until the tempter gave in. From the beginning and the end of His ministry Jesus’ commitment to his Father’s will was tested by the devil, continually. The pressure to give up their faith, which the readers (Hebrews) of this letter were experiencing and facing, was nothing compared to the pressure the devil put on Jesus to deviate Him from the way of the cross, and the Mission, appointed to Him by His Father in Heaven. He knows the strength and the power of temptation and testing – because he endured them in their most ultimate intensity.

(5) ‘Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need…‘ With such a high priest only one response is appropriate, absolute confidence. Rather than being shaken by the pressure being laid on by the Jews for the Hebrews to give up their faith and go back to the ritualistic traditions  of the Old Testament. The writer encourages the readers to put on the confidence of their salvation, rather than to be tormented by the possibility of defection under the persecution conducted by the Romans. These Hebrew believers are encouraged to a bold confidence in their secure relationship with God based on the absolute integrity and supremacy of their great high priest, Jesus, the Son of God, and the absolute effectiveness of Him being the consistent propitiation and intercessor on their behalf. Let us note the significance of the writer’s choice of words:

(a) He describes God’s throne as ‘the throne of grace‘ – for those who believe in Jesus Christ it is no longer a throne of judgement, where a strict tit-for-tat justice will be meted out and sin receive the just and legal punishment it deserves. Because of the sin-bearing, interceding death, of Christ – God’s throne is, for those who have acknowledged Christ, ‘a throne of grace‘. As Paul has pointed out in Romans 5:21…so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord‘. Grace is the operating principle in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, of which every believer is a member.

(b) Not content with describing God’s throne as ‘the throne of grace‘ which in itself should be enough to instil confidence? The writer goes on to assure us that, rather than receiving judgement and condemnation, we will ‘receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need‘. Mercy refers to God’s acknowledgement of our weakness, our inability, and our need. He is doing whatever is necessary for our good and our survival, despite anything in us that might disqualify us from his favor. Grace refers to the act of God in which he chooses not to pay us out our justly due punishment, according to what we deserve, but to grant us absolute freedom from the deserved penalty, and then BLESSING us continually, and giving us eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ. This is the unexpected and almost incredible confidence that all who trust in Jesus Christ can and should have, with no doubt or question. For it’;s and absolute truth. The ‘hold firmly‘ (found in verse 4:14) and ‘approach … with confidence‘ (found in verse 4:16) are expressions of the faith and rest to which the writer is calling us toward. Such faith and rest, such confidence, are the opposite of the sin and disobedience of unbelief against which we are being warned. The challenge confronts us – do we really trust Jesus Christ? Do we really believe God’s word about Christ? Do we really believe in the totality all that Christ did on the cross? For your own meditation re-read the previous paragraph and ask yourself the questions listed there. Identify whether or not you are experiencing the confidence and the rest that Jesus promised to give to those who come to him. If you do not have that confidence, if your soul does not have peace in the presence of God, then you need to re-learn the message of the gospel – in respect to both who Jesus is and what Jesus did. I suggest you start with the Gospel of John Here. Also Pray that God will open your mind and your heart to understand and embrace the massive, liberating, and convicting truths contained in this letter to the Hebrews, and indeed throughout the entire Scriptures and Gospel messages.

Thank you for joining today’s study and we will be seeing you so, finishing the second part of this section.

Hebrews 3 and 4 – A Rest for God’s People (part 2 of 2)

Before we dive into chapters 3 and 4 of Hebrews there are  two verses and a few key points you must keep in mind as to dismiss any confusion about what is written within the next couple chapters. Here are the ESV and NKJV interpretations for Hebrews chapter 4 so you may follow along with this study.

The two verses to keep in mind are Colossians 2:16-17 “…Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ….” and also Hebrews 10:1 “…For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near…..”

Here are four points to consider when following along with this study; (1) All things in the ritual (old testament) law find their reality and fulfillment in the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ (said here). (2) Even in the Old Testament the Sabbath law had spiritual significance, it was not an erratic and meaningless ritual, or a law for the sake of law. It was given by God to the Israelites as a reminder of an extremely important truth (scripture reference). Teaching us that the Sabbath was presented to the Israelite’s to remind them that it was not in fact they themselves, but the Lord, who made them His people. Literally all day long as they sat and did absolutely nothing, they were forcibly reminded that the Holy God made them, the Isrealite’s, His holy and chosen people. (3) Long before Jesus lived on earth, Sabbath keeping had been turned into a laudable act, by which one searched to earn or gain God’s favor by doing something. Plainly stated; Sabbath keeping evolved to a notion of one having to do something in order to become one of God’s people. The symbolic nature of the Sabbath had been completely reversed. (4) In this study of Hebrews 3:7-4:16 we learn about the connection between believing and obeying the Gospel and having rest with confidence. We are not presented with something that will be ours only when we ‘get to heaven‘. Nor are we presented here with a concept of the Christian life in which there are two levels of Christians; one level is where we struggle and strive with sin and temptation and the second advanced level where there is rest from such struggles. Rather we are being taught of a rest which is the gift of God to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:1-13

V.1-11 – What the writer states within this chapter is based on what he has previously established; that the sin of unbelief prevented the Israelites from entering into God’s rest. His back up argument is as follows –

(1) “Promise of entering His (God’s) rest still stands“, verse 1 – This immediately lifts the meaning of rest out of the physical plane and places it in the spiritual plane. Historically the opportunity to enter into the physical ‘rest‘ of the promised land has long since been gone. However the true rest, or spiritual rest, that was foreshadowed by physically entering the rest which the promised land provided, that is anticipated in Sabbath regulations, ‘still stands‘. The provision of God’s rest for his people is still available, meaning the opportunity to enter this ‘rest‘ is still open to all who believe.

(2) “Lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it” lets readers of the letter know to be careful that none of them miss out on this ‘rest‘, verse 1 – As the writer points out in the verses that follow, the way the Israelites fell short of God’s rest was by their failure to believe in Him and His promise to bring them to the promised land. The presence or absence of faith is the critical, so he continues by saying …

(3) “For good news came to us just as to them (Isrealites), but the message they (Isrealites) heard did not benefit them, because they (Isrealites) were not united by faith with those who listened” meaning that if you don’t believe, or are united by faith, the message you hear is of no benefit, verse 2 – The point made is that though they heard it, but because it was not united or combined with faith, it becomes of no value or worth. In this it is both a warning and a challenge. Hearing the message does not save a person, only believing God, which is demonstrated by believing His message, can save a person. Conversely; to fail to believe the message, disobeying its command to repent and believe, is to fail to believe in God and miss out on the spiritual rest promised by His Gospel, or good message.

(4) “We who have believed enter God’s rest“, verse 3a – Leaving aside the possibility that some of his readers lack genuine faith, the writer makes a confident affirmation. Contrastingly; it is just as certain that those who have believed do enter God’s rest, which is confirmed by God’s previously demonstrated oath that those who did not believe would not enter his rest (3b).

(5) The reality of God’s rest is confirmed, verse 3b thru 5 – In these verses the real existence of God’s rest is affirmed by one –  the fact that God has been ‘resting‘ since the completion of his work i.e. creation in Genesis 2:2, and two – the fact that God makes reference to ‘my rest‘. He grounds the certainty of the existence and reality of ‘rest‘ on the foundation of God’s action and God’s word.

(6) “therefore it remains for some to enter it….. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God“, verse 6a and 9 – Even though some missed out on it by their unbelief in verse 6b. Because God’s rest is a continual present reality, as seen in verse 3c,  it’s still possible to enter God’s rest today. The fact that some persons missed out does not mean the availability of spiritual rest has ceased, rather it points to the ‘disobedience‘ in their refusal to believe God. Therefore God, speaking through David, many years later, said “…Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…’ (found here). Whenever God speaks, that day is ‘today‘, and on that day we are challenged to believe in Him. Thus the opportunity to enter God’s rest persists wherever and whenever His good message is proclaimed.

(7) Remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God“, verse 9 – The eventual entry of the Israelites into the promised land, under Joshua, is not to be considered the real rest of God’s people, stated in verse 8, but only a prophetic foreshadow of the real Sabbath rest – which is still available for the people of God. When we consider the two verses quoted at the beginning of this study, Colossians 2:16,17 and Hebrews 10:1, we begin to understand that Jesus Christ IS this Sabbath rest. God’s Son is the reality to which the weekly Sabbath has pointed. In Him, the believer lives in a perpetual spiritual rest.

(8) “Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his“, verse 10 – Here is the key to understanding this passage… What does God mean when he holds before us the promise of entering his rest?

(a) The mindset of the Israelites, in Numbers 13 and 14, is instructive. They looked at the size of the task; they looked at their own ability; and they saw the impossibility of them ever going toward or entering into the land and winning it from its current inhabitants. Their mindset was the mindset of their flesh – the mindset which looks at their own performance or ability to perform, and acting on the basis of what they see. Focusing on themselves, though they had heard the word of God, they did not believe it. They made their choice on the basis of their own ‘work‘.

(b) Consider the two texts quoted earlier from Exodus 31:13 and Ezekiel 20:12 (found here). Here God specifically states that His Sabbaths were given to remind the Israelites that it was He who sanctified them, or made them holy. In other words it was not because of their works, but because of his action that they were His people, His chosen, set apart by Him to be His own special possession. It was a great gift, not an earned reward. It had nothing to do with human work and activity.

(c) The promise of Jesus is ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls‘ in Matthew 11:28,29 (found here).

(d) This rest, of which the Sabbath rest is a prophetic symbol and foreshadow, consists in establishing a relationship with God which is the result of His sheer and abundant grace and love for His children/people. No way is it caused by our own human works or deeds (reference here). In the mindset of grace we have ceased to give saving significance to our own works; we have ceased to credit our performance with the ability to gain or maintain for us the legal right to live in the presence of God, and we have also ceased to credit our performance with the ability to disqualify us from the legal right to live in the presence of God.

Thus the writer makes this bold and freeing affirmation: ‘…anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his...’

(9) Therefore we should “…make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience…“, verse 11 – The Gospel of Jesus Christ has told us to believe in Christ and to put no confidence in our flesh. The auto-pilot tendency of the human heart is to trust its own performance; to believe that we have to gain, earn, or maintain our own salvation by our own efforts and acts. This is the world view, and carnal,thinking of the salvation we’ve received by the saving grace of God. All world religions, all cults, all nominal Christianities try to relate to ‘god‘ and expect salvation to be on this basis. We humans do not like to have to depend on anyone else. We humans like to think that we have the necessary ability to be independent and save ourselves, or to keep ourselves saved. Accepting that we don’t have to earn or gain or maintain or salvation goes against our inclination. It cuts right through our pride and self-conceit so our hearts can be prepared to receive salvation as just a sheer gift from God’s hand. It is hard for us to do that. It is hard for us simply to believe it and receive it from God’s hand. But this is exactly what we have to do. This pure faith, this pure obedience to the command to believe the good news, is what we are here challenged to make every effort to do.

We must be careful to remember that the ‘disobedience‘ and unbelief that the writer is referring to here is the refusal to believe and trust God; the overall refusal to believe his promise. All other shapes and sizes of sin(s) stem from this main sin of unbelief and lack of faith in our all mighty and powerful God.

V.12-13 – Here the writer seems to digress into a eulogy about God’s word. It is however closely connected to what has just been said and what is about to be said. God’s word is able to penetrate the heart and discern if what is there is faith or unbelief. The outside of a person may look like that person is obeying the Lord – while all the time the heart can be empty of faith.

Thanks for joining and we hope to see you for our next study in Hebrews. Thanks and God Bless!

Hebrews 3 & 4 – A Rest for God’s People (part 1 of 2)

Before we dive into chapters 3 and 4 of Hebrews there are  two verses and a few key points you must keep in mind as to dismiss any confusion about what is written within the next couple chapters. Here are the ESV and NKJV interpretations for Hebrews chapter 3 so you may follow along with this study.

The two verses to keep in mind are Colossians 2:16-17 “…Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ….” and also Hebrews 10:1 “…For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near…..”

Here are four points to consider when following along with this study; (1) All things in the ritual (old testament) law find their reality and fulfillment in the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ (said here). (2) Even in the Old Testament the Sabbath law had spiritual significance, it was not an erratic and meaningless ritual, or a law for the sake of law. It was given by God to the Israelites as a reminder of an extremely important truth (scripture reference). Teaching us that the Sabbath was presented to the Israelite’s to remind them that it was not in fact they themselves, but the Lord, who made them His people. Literally all day long as they sat and did absolutely nothing, they were forcibly reminded that the Holy God made them, the Isrealite’s, His holy and chosen people. (3) Long before Jesus lived on earth, Sabbath keeping had been turned into a laudable act, by which one searched to earn or gain God’s favor by doing something. Plainly stated; Sabbath keeping evolved to a notion of one having to do something in order to become one of God’s people. The symbolic nature of the Sabbath had been completely reversed. (4) In this study of Hebrews 3:7-4:16 we learn about the connection between believing and obeying the Gospel and having rest with confidence. We are not presented with something that will be ours only when we ‘get to heaven‘. Nor are we presented here with a concept of the Christian life in which there are two levels of Christians; one level is where we struggle and strive with sin and temptation and the second advanced level where there is rest from such struggles. Rather we are being taught of a rest which is the gift of God to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 3:7-19:

V.7-11 – In this passage the writer refers to the unbelief of the Israelite’s recorded in Numbers 13 and 14 and uses that unbelief and its consequences to stir his readers to genuine faith. The quote from Psalm 95:7-11 compares with these verses in Hebrews, and in these few verses we can identify the sin of the Israelite’s;  (1) They had heard God’s voice v.7, (2) They hardened their hearts against God’s voice v.8, (3) They provoked God beyond the limit of his endurance v.9, (4) Their hearts were always going astray v.10, (5) They did not know God’s ways v.10, (6) God’s anger was against them v.11, and (7) They did not ever enter God’s rest v.11. Had these people ever believed? Probably not, for they had heard God’s message, but they had hardened their hearts against him.

V.12-19 – Further descriptions of their unbelief

It is clear from the Bible that sin, in its essence, is the rejection of God, of seeing God and turning away from him, of hearing his word and refusing to believe it. Here the unbelief of the Israelite’s, and the unbelief against which the writer is warning his readers, is described as; (1) A sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God v.12, (2) Being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness v.13, (3) Not holding firmly till the end the confidence we had at first v.14, (4) Hardening your hearts v.15, (5) Rebellion v.15, (6) Heard and rebelled v.16, (7) Sinned v.17, (8) Disobeyed v.18, and (9) overall Unbelief v.19.

The disobedience which caused the Israelite’s to incur the wrath of God, the sin which prevented their entry into the ‘rest’ – or the promised land – was the sin of their unbelief. It was not the disobedience of theft, adultery, or dishonesty, or any thing similar. It was overall disobedience of the one foundational command to believe in God. It is failure to believe God whcih produces all other sins.

Human Nature of Jesus (part 2/2) – Hebrews 2:11-3:6

In Hebrews 2:11 – 3:6 we are continuing the study on the Nature of Jesus Christ, and looking further into the dual references of man, and of Christ, in this writers’ letter to the Hebrews. Remember both man and Christ are being spoken of, but on 2 separate levels, for Christ is the ‘Lord of Lords’ and we as man are not. For reference; here are the ESV and the NKJV scripture texts for this section of the study an Beautiful Exchange.

V.11-18 – “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source…” – Sanctify means to purify, or to make holy, but there are three ways; [1] to cleanse externally, [2] to purify by expiation (free from the guilt of sin), [3] to purify internally by renewing of the soul.

(1) V.11 – So Jesus is here referred to basically as ‘the one who makes men holy‘. Ourselves, as Christians and followers/believers in Christ Jesus are ‘those who are made holy‘. This section speaks repetitively of the tangible and necessary humanity of Jesus Christ, and such is as follows; (1) ‘of the same family’, (2) ‘not ashamed to call them brothers’, (3) ‘I will declare your name to my brothers …’, (4) ‘in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.’, (5) ‘I will put my trust in him’,(6) ‘he too shared their humanity (flesh and blood)’, (7) ‘he had to be made like his brothers in every way’… In overview, Jesus here identifies with us, that his family is our family; we are his brothers; he joins the human congregation of those praising God; he puts his trust in God; he fully shares our flesh and blood; and he is like us in every way.

These verses also speak of our salvation in a number of ways as result of His obedience; (1) Christ makes us holy (v.11). This wondrous concept is also stated in; (1) Hebrews 10:10 ‘…and by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…’ (2) Ephesians 1:4 ‘…He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight…’ (3) Colossians 1:22 ‘…he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…’

Holy‘ has many meaning depending on the word with which it is paired up with. In reference to God it encompasses His uniqueness and otherness, being totally separate and distinct from all else that is. In reference to the tabernacle, or temple, and all it’s furnishings ‘holy‘ meant for sacred use only. In reference to us, to those who are made ‘holy‘ by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, it means that we are set apart by him and for him, his own special treasure that is distinct and separated. Part of that distinction and separation consists of spotless purity.In anticipation of what the writer will say later, he depicts the Christian believer as being ‘made holy‘. This is not a state of actual sinless-ness; which is made clear in the Scripture, but what it is will become evident later on.

(2) v.13 – God ‘gives us to Christ‘. The writer puts the words of Isaiah 8:18 into Jesus’ mouth. Telling us that those who follow Christ are ‘the children God has given me…‘. This ties in with Jesus’ prayer in John 17; in verse 2 ‘…since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him…’ also in verse 6 ‘…I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world…’. It is also expressed in other words by Jesus throughout the Gospel of John here. The point was not to expand on this truth, but to expand on the true and necessary humanity of Jesus. The writers’ point is that Jesus shared the same humanity, flesh, and blood as the ‘children‘ God gave to him.

(3) v.14 – Christ ‘…destroys him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil…’ Because he is truly human, true flesh, and true blood – Jesus is able to experience death. For this very purpose he came: ‘so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death.’ Here the writer focuses on the aftermath and result the death of Jesus had on Satan. This victory over Satan and his accomplices is described in Colossians 2:15 ‘… having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross..‘ In these words Paul uses the diction which was used to describe the ultimate defeat of a city by a conquering general. The invading victor would march the leaders of a conquered city through their own city, and they were strung together with fishhooks through their noses, this demonstrated to the general population their outright defeat. Such is like the victory of Christ over Satan and his demonic powers by the cross.

(4) v.15 – Christ ‘…frees those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death…‘. Here is on the effect of Jesus’ death on us, man. By destroying Satan, who holds the power of death, Jesus Christ frees us from the fear, slavery, and bondage of death in sin. Compare the following verses Romans 5:17, Romans 5:21, Romans 8:2, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57. The real human death of Jesus now liberates people from the autocratic reign of death.

(5) v.16 –  Christ ‘…helps Abraham’s descendants…‘. Abraham’s descendants are, Firstly – it was humans, not angels, whom Jesus came to rescue. Secondly – Abraham’s descendants are not limited to his physical descendants, nor are all of the physical descendants of Abraham defined by the Bible as the true, spiritual, descendants of Abraham. For more on the Covenant with Abraham here are some Scripture References.

(6) v.17 – Christ ‘…became a merciful and faithful high priest…‘ in His service to God. The writer once again introduces a concept which he explains in detail later. But here the point made is that in order to represent us and mediate for us in the presence of God as our high priest, it was essential for Jesus to become one of us in flesh and blood – just like us. Note in that he is a ‘merciful‘ and ‘faithful‘ high priest.

(7) v.17 – Christ ‘…made atonement for the sins of the people…‘. Not only was real humanity necessary for Jesus to even qualify as our merciful and faithful high priest, it was also needed to qualify Him to make atonement for us and wipe away our sin in the sight of God. In other word Jesus had to live a life like us, experience the life, temptation, emotions, etc… we experienced, and had to be brutally beaten, horrendously punished, and die the ultimate excruciating death (taking upon him all the worlds sin that was, and is, and is yet to come) in order for Him to turn God’s wrath away from us. How he made that atonement, how he turns God’s wrath away from us, is also fully explained in more detail later on.

(8) v.18 – Because ‘…he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted…‘. In the context of this letter, certainly in the whole of Scripture, ‘tempted‘ has a much deeper significance than ‘temptation to commit a moral sin‘. Only a small handful of Biblical references to temptation are relative to ‘moral temptations‘. The large majority of the word refers to our fleshly and worldly desire that pressures us to ‘give in‘, or pressuring us to ‘give up‘ on one’s faith and deny the Lord. Here in the letter to the Hebrews the writer’s whole purpose is to prevent them from doing just that. Pressured by the Jews to return to full devotion and trust of the traditional Jewish ritual laws. Also they were pressured by physical persecution by the hands of the Romans (and also some Jews) to outright deny their faith in Jesus Christ the Lord of Lords. No just think and imagine yourself in these desperate times of suffering and loss of hope, you could see how convenient and easy it would have been to just give up, give in, and toss in the Jesus towel. The writer is comforting them by identifying that Jesus suffered the same kind of pressure as they did. He knows how the feel and how they are thinking. But reassuring them how He survived and triumphed over it. He not only made the atonement for their sins, but also understands, supports, aids and intercedes for those sins.

V.3:1-6 – Having told the readers that Jesus is the eternal Divine Son (1:1-3), that this Son is far greater than, and far above, the angels (1:4-14), warning them to not turn aside from the salvation which was mediated on by this Son (2:1-4), describing the real humanity of Jesus (2:5-18) and now his resultant adequacy as high priest to represent and intercede for man in the presence of God (2:14-18), the writer now warns them again of the pure essence of keeping their faith focused on Jesus Christ alone….

(1) He addresses them as those who have genuinely trusted in Christ, they are ‘holy brothers who share in the heavenly calling‘ and they ‘confess‘, or in other words they profess, in Jesus Christ – verse 3:1. (2) He urges them to‘fix your thoughts on Jesus‘, or n other words consider Jesus Christ and to not even contemplate returning to the old ritual salvation from which they have been freed from by Christ – verse 3:1. (3) The writer refers to Jesus as ‘the apostle and high priest‘ drawing the readers ears, eyes, and  hearts to the two roles that Christ performed upon as God’s messenger to us (referenced here) and as our propitiation in the presence of God (referenced here) – verse 3:1. (4) He then refers to the faithfulness of Moses and the superior faithfulness of Christ verses 3:2-6. Both were faithful to the one who appointed and established them, but Christ is worthy of greater honor than Moses on two counts; the first – Moses was apart of the ‘house‘ whereas Christ was the builder of the ‘house‘, the second – Moses was a servant in God’s ‘house‘ whereas Christ is a Son over God’s ‘house‘. (5) The writer then includes himself, and his readers, as the building blocks of God’s house – verse 3:6 and also referenced in 1 Peter 2. (6) We learn that this ‘house‘ of God, of which God and Jesus Christ are the builders, includes all genuine believers from both the before Christ and after Christ eras. (7) He states a stipulation that ‘we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast‘ bringing us right back to his warning in verse 3:1 to ‘fix your thoughts on Jesus‘. Like the other warnings in Hebrews this stipulation is not intended to teach us that salvation can be lost. Rather its main intent is to encourage those who believe in Jesus Christ to hold fast to the truth of the Word, because that is what faith does. Failure to to do so is one of many other indicators that there possibly was no genuine faith in Christ to begin with. If that is you do not lose hope or tun away from Christ, for as we have learned that is a dangerous and destructive road to be found on. Instead continue reading your Bible, listening to pod-casts, reading online Bible studies, and going to Church. Also continue praying and asking God for wisdom to come onto your heart and soul – so that you may understand what it means to be a true follower of Christ, rather than the contrary of being just a fan. Only those whose apparent faith is not genuine, will let go of  their faith. This will be further expanded in a later study. So be steadfast in your faith to Jesus Christ, do not waiver but take captive your thoughts, focusing on the promises made to you by God, and staying strong in your faith in the Lord.

Thank You for taking the time to read and join the study A Beautiful Exchange. The next study will be posted soon as we continue through the book of Hebrews, discovering the meanings of the Sacrifice of Christ and also His Divine sovereignty. God Bless!

Human Nature of Jesus (part 1/2) – Hebrews 2:5-10

In Hebrews 2:5-8 it is difficult to sift through how much of what is being said refers to man, and how much of it refers to Jesus . It may well be that the writer, under the inspiration of God, speaks of both, but each at a their own level, yet within the same words. Rather than stating these are being said of Christ, and those are being said of man, it would be easier to study it as though they were being said of both Christ and man. SO that’s what we’ll do! Scriptures for reference in ESV and NKJV form.

V.5-6 “For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come…” – Looking at the human, 1 Corinthians 6:3 indicates that in the new heaven and the new earth men will judge angels. It is also stated that believers will reign with Christ . Now looking at Christ, this phrase refers to ‘the new world-order’ ushered in by the enthronement of Christ at the right hand of God. The ‘world-order’ over which He reigns from that place of exaltation, the ‘world of reality’ which replaces the previous world of shadows. It has been ushered in by Christ’s enthronement, although it has not yet been presented in its full glory. This ‘world to come’  is the kingdom of Christ. His church is not under the authority of angels, but under the authority of Jesus Christ. But not only is the church under the rule of Christ, but He is the Lord of Lords which every knee must bow, and which every tongue must acknowledge as Lord and Savior. This authority is on a far different level than the authority given to man. Man’s authority is a granted and established authority by God, and we are subject to the authority of Christ, given by grace, not merit. Christ’s authority is an authority by divine right.

Psalm 8 says ‘What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?‘ – Looking at the human, in relation to man this question is conclusively understood. It reminds us of the insignificance of man and the sinfulness of man. What reason is there that God should give any essence or connotation to man? Why should he care about us so greatly? None at all, God doesn’t need to, but He loves us and wants to have that. Now looking at Christ, because of the reference to ‘the son of man‘, some teachers believe this question also relates to Jesus Christ, (also known as ‘the Son of Man‘). This question seems a strange one to put to God about his respect for His son, because the Christ is exalted in the presence of God, and by God. On the other hand, the Son of Man is also the one of whom it was said: ‘we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted‘ in Isaiah. He is the servant who came to suffer and be rejected, giving his life as a ransom for many, and the one who cried, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” as He hung from the cross in which he was crucified upon. The deep mystery of the answer to this question ‘what is man … the son of man … ?’ unfolds as we read on through this chapter of Hebrews 2.

V.7-8What is man, that you are mindful of him,or the son of man, that you care for him?You made him for a little while lower than the angels;you have crowned him with glory and honor,putting everything in subjection under his feet.” – Continuing on Psalm 8, in concordance with this section of Hebrews, it says, ‘You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet…‘.  – Looking at the human, and speaking of man, both David and the writer of the book of Hebrews remind us that God created man in his own image, and gave him dominion over all other created things (Genesis 1:28). The second part of verse 8 indicates that God established everything on earth to be under man’s dominion, even though we do not see everything subject to man at this present time. The phrase ‘you made him a little lower than the angels‘ in the Hebrew text of is most naturally translated ‘you made him but little lower than God‘. The Greet text reads ‘you made him, for a short time, a little lower than the angels.’ The intention is to draw our attention to the high role and nature of man in God’s world. We recall that God created man ‘in his own image‘ and ‘after his own likeness‘ and gave him dominion over everything in the world (Genesis 1:26). Now, looking at Christ, in reference to Jesus this sentence speaks firstly of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, in which he who was God became a man, walking around camouflaged, clothed in human flesh, and limited to time and space. The second half of the sentence speaks of his advance to the right hand of God which we have already looked at in verse 5.

But while everything is ‘under him‘ not everything is willingly subject to him. He is on the throne at the right hand of God the Father but not everyone submits to his authority. The day when that will happen is yet to come. This rebellion against Jesus Christ, this rejection of his authority, is part and parcel of the current world we live in. This began in Genesis 3 and will come to its end in God’s good time. In the meantime we live in an over-lap of the ages – which are (1) since the coming of Christ we live in ‘these last days’ and (2) we also live in ‘the age to come‘. We live in a state which is already the kingdom of Christ, but we do not yet the ultimate realization of that kingdom. We are even now in his kingdom though we pray for his kingdom to come (Scripture reference).

V.9-Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone…” – Here the writer leaves aside his two levels of speaking, and speaks only of Jesus Christ, and the importance of his humanity. We do not see man playing out the role for which God created him, but we see Jesus… We do not see man basking the favor and acceptance of God, but we see Jesus… We see Jesus, the one who was made as a man, and a little lower than the angels, the one who put aside his visible eternal glory, and became one of us… this real human Jesus… we now see the honor that is due to him because of what he did as man. Here he tells the Hebrews that Jesus is ‘crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.‘ Here the One True man, the man who lived as God ordained, so obeyed the will of God, so submitted to the authority of God, even to the point of dying to fulfill God’s plan of salvation for mankind. Because of that God has exalted Jesus Christ. Here is the reason, purpose, and result of Christ’s suffering in death;

1) God’s grace: God, in an act of incredible grace, sent his Son to die as a man, for man. We must never forget this reason for our salvation: God did not send Jesus to die for us because we deserved it; he did not send Jesus to die for us because he owed it to us. It is a totally gratuitous act. And it is totally an act and an initiative of God. God thought of it, God willed it, God desired it, God implemented it – totally apart from any thinking, willing, desiring, or action on our part. Our writer tells us that Jesus’ dying was ‘by the grace of God’. Because of God’s grace, Jesus does this incredible thing: he dies for us.

2) The purpose of this action of Christ is this: that he might taste death for everyone. Some limit the meaning of these words to mean that Christ needed to experience everything that we experience, so that he can understand us and our suffering. He did indeed do that, as we will see later. But such a limitation of the meaning of this phrase ignores the teaching of Jesus himself, and the apostles, on the significance of the death of Christ (click here).

Jesus ‘tastes’ death – not just in its physical aspect, but in its castigating and brutal aspect as the penalty for sin – as the ransom and intercession for ‘everyone‘ who accepts this gift.

3) The result of His actions is that those who receive him do not have to taste death, spiritual death or otherwise the eternal separation from God who is the source of life. This result is referred to in the next verse as ‘bringing many sons to glory‘ (click here)

V.10 – “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering….” – What does all of this mean? It means that in ourselves, through our rebellion against God and our rejection of him, we have forfeited and rendered impossible our role as God’s image-bearers. As long as our back is towards God, as long as the sin-barrier is between us and God, we cannot see his glory, we cannot enjoy his glory, we cannot live in the presence of his glory (click here), and we cannot reflect his glory. When God reveals himself to us in his Son and when we, through God-given faith, receive Jesus Christ, in other words when God strips away our blindfold and we see the truth and glory of his Son (click here), and when he, at the moment of our believing, credits to us all the work of Christ on the cross, in which the sin-barrier falls and the chains are broken, then he brings us to glory. We see his glory, we rejoice in his glory, we can live in the presence of his glory, and we begin to reflect his glory. We begin again to fill and to enjoy that role for which we were initially created. ‘ God, for whom and through whom everything exists …’ The writer speaks of the Father, note the similar places in scripture where this description of the Father is used in comparison to the Son.”  It was fitting that God…” should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Meaning it was the right and necessary thing to do in keeping with his righteous and perfect  justice. ‘the author of their salvation‘ . Now ‘Author’ in KJV = ‘captain’ and in ESV = founder. The Greek word is archegon (the chief leader, prince, a predecessor, or pioneer) which is made of ‘arche’ (beginning, authority, prince, first place) and ‘ago’ (I lead or go). Thus, Jesus Christ, a prince whom authority is given from the beginning, was and is the pioneer and chief leader who leads  us to our salvation.

‘He is the Savior who blazed the trail of salvation along which alone God’s ‘many sons‘ could be brought to glory. Man, created by God for His glory, was prevented by sin from attaining that glory until the Son of Man came and opened up by His death a new way by which man might reach the goal for which he was made. As His people’s representative and forerunner He has now entered into the presence of God to secure their entry there.’  – FF Bruce.

It was fitting that God should make the author of their, and our, salvation perfect through suffering. This does not mean that Jesus was not perfect until he was made ‘perfect through suffering’. We know that he was without sin, that there was no wrong with which the Jews could accuse him in His time. What he is saying is that in order to be the high priest for us, in order to stand in our place in the presence of God, in order to be a perfect representative and propitiation for us and our sins, it was justly right and proper for him to experience the sufferings that we all experience to be made perfect as our substitute.

‘In order to be a perfect high priest, a man must sympathize with those on whose behalf he acts, and he cannot sympathize with them unless he can enter into their experiences and share them for himself. Jesus did just this.  – FF Bruce.

Thanks for joining us today and we hope to see you back again soon! God Bless!

Hebrews 2:1-4 – The Warning

Hebrews 2:1-4 ESV or NKJV – The warning to Pay Attention!

Here the writer is giving the readers a chance to heed this very important warning on giving up on Christ. Previously, it has been written in the first chapter of  Jesus being God’s final revelation, Jesus is the Message and the Messenger, He is the eternal creator, the One in whom all authority is given to, and having told us that even the angels worship Him. The writer begins this chapter with, “Therefore…”

V. 1A – Give more heed to what has been heard…

We must not take the things we have heard lightly, hold them with us loosely, or assume that we have understood the full power behind the meaning. We need to head, and pay attention to it, more closely. The good News is so deep, powerful, unexpected, and contrary to the world view of thinking that you must constantly and consistently be immersed with the word. Have you ever read one scripture verse and is applied to a portion of your life, then months later you read it again and it just so happens to apply to a different portion of your life? If you answered yes, well so have I! The scripture and it’s full meaning is unsearchable, it’s infinite, and its majestic. God gives you wisdom for the day, He lets you know what He wants you to know at that very moment, no more and no less.

If you answered no, and if you are on the brink of turning your back on Christ and the salvation He has for you, there is a high probability that you haven’t really understood or possibly received either Christ or His salvation with a genuine heart. This final word of God, this word of the Gospel that fulfills all other words, cannot be improved upon. This is not just one more piece to the revelation puzzle,  or a continually on-going progressive revelation of God. This is the final revelation to which all other words from God pointed, and in which they will find their fulfillment and their goal.

V.1B – So that we do NOT drift away…

If we have picked Jesus as just one option among many equally steady religious leaders, or if we have picked Him as merely one of any number of gods we might have chosen to worship, if we have not really comprehended that Jesus actually is the one and only way, truth, life, light, etc… Then we stand in quicksand and are in danger of letting go of Him, and sucked up by a previous belief system, or moving on to whatever catches our religious interest next. We are warned of this by Jesus in Matthew with the parable of the sower. V.19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.” Our minds and our hearts must be steadfastly focused on Jesus Christ and his salvation, without wavering from the truth that He is precisely who He claimed to be, in order to avoid our drifting away from the way, truth, and everlasting life.

V.2 – The proven, reliable, message…

This verse refers to the word of God given to Moses on Mount Sinai, which the New Testament writers state was mediated through angels (click here for reference). If that message which was meditated by the angels was violated, penalties and punishment would be incurred. How much more terrible a thing is it to abandon the this message. A message that is not only spoken by the Son of God but actually is the Son of God. The message given to Moses on Mt Sinai was merely a foreshadow to this new message, and the Old Testament salvation was prophetic to this New Testament salvation.

V.3-4 – Neglect and there is no escape…

The New Testament salvation is the ultimate and final one. There is nothing more to add to it, and nothing less that can be taken away, this message was established by God and it is perfect. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows…” (James 1:17). To scorn, ignore, or drift away from this salvation is to let go of mankind’s best and only hope. But also it is to let go of God’s only and final provision for you. All other types of salvation that you can muster up are nothing and none can compare to something as great as a GIFT of eternal life. The warning is that there is no escaping later down the road if you chose to reject the escape being given now.

In the case of the Hebrews, which whom this letter was written to, they stood on the brink of deserting the New Testament salvation to return to their former religion of Jewish ritual. But to do so would reveal that they had never really understood this salvation to begin with.

The writer then gives four points of validation of this new salvation:

  1. Announced by the Lord.
  2. Confirmed by those who heard.
  3. Confirmed by miracles of God.
  4. Confirmed by the distribution of Gifts of the Holy Spirit by God.

Within the first four verses he begins to show his readers the foolishness and danger of their position of deserting this message of salvation. The writer continues to reveal more of this, as we see in our next study…

Thank you and God Bless!

Christ the Soverign Son- Hebrews 1:4-14

Angel, or aggelos, means messenger.  In this section it is seen that the Son is higher, and greater than, the Angels. Well if God has angels to be the Messengers why send Jesus Christ to be both the message and the messenger? It is answered in this section (v.4-14) where the writer speaks of the sovereignty of the Son in terms of his divine son-ship, the adoration and servitude with which the angels relate to him, eternal nature of his kingdom, righteousness with which he rules, his creative power, endurance, and overall victory….

“Continuing with the thought in verse three that Christ is the brightness of his glory, being made higher than the angels. The angels worship him, and we are not to worship the angels. There seems to be a certain fascination with angels these days. There are movements aimed at them and Mary as well. We have T.V. shows about them. I think some would rather worship the ground Jesus walked on instead of Jesus.” – Del Blanchard


He is superior because he is the Son of the Living God – Jesus was the Son before ever he came to earth…”but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” The name, The Son, alone makes it his inheritance; it is his by right, and by the divine establishment from God the Father. This makes him superior which the writer argues from this Old Testament psalm. All of Psalm 2 is a prophetic reference to the coming of Christ as seen in verses  2, 3, and 6-12. When the Son was baptized verse 7a of Psalm 2 is recited. When Satan was attempting to temp the Son be saying “if you are the Son of God the…..” is seen in verses 8-9 of Psalm 2, by the testimony of God, the temptation of the devil, and the world wide authority of the Son. The writer then quotes 1 Chronicles 17:12-14, asking if God has ever said this to any of the angels, ” … I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.” It is evident that Christ is above not just the angels, but over all things, both physical and spiritual.


Son is superior because angels worship him – In verse 6a he is referenced as God’s ‘firstborn’, as prophesied in Psalm 89:27 “And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth…“. When God ‘brings his firstborn into the world’ the angels shall worship him as foreseen in Deuteronomy 32:34a “Rejoice with him O Heavens; bow down to him all gods…” So it’s not just the nations and the people who worship Christ, but also the angels and all that is in the heavens. Rather than being objects and recipients of worship, the angels are called God’s ‘servants’. Also they are called ‘winds’ and ‘flames of fire’,  things which are no more than transient tools in the hands of their divine and holy master.


Son is sovereign as Divine King of the Eternal Kingdom – Here the Son is addressed as God, has a throne and scepter therefore making him King, that the throne he is given lasts forever and ever, he is above his companions, and is reminded that he has been anointed by his God who is God the Father.


The Son is superior because he is the Lord and Co-Creator – The Son is again addressed but this time as ‘Lord‘ and creation is ascribed to him and then he is contrasted to the things of his creation. As seen in Psalm 102. These verses display the truth that the Son is eternal and goes forever but his creation will become old and worn out then perish. Though his creation changes through the seasons, and through time, he will not change he will always be the same; the sames love, grace, justice, righteousness, forgiveness, and all the characteristics of him will never ever change and they will always endure.


He is sovereign because he is seated at the right hand of God – This position is held because of who he is and not by his divine right to rule over creation as seen in verse 6. God has said to the son “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” also prophesied here. We are also told he is exalted to the right hand of God elsewhere in Bible scripture by what he has done and accomplished for the world. By his sin-bearing death and resurrection he confirmed his power and authority, and demonstrated that there is nothing that can stand against him. Having defeated sin and death, Satan and hell, Jesus rose up victorious and now sits at the right hand of God in the kingdom of Heaven not solely by the virtue of who he is, but also by virtue of what he has done for ALL.

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