The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Identifying and Entering Your Promised Land

"Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of the disobedient" - Hebrews 4:11
In Hebrews chapter 3 and 4 Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah were contemplating a return to the religious human reliant ways of their Jewish tradition and laws. In these chapters they were warned against leaving God's place of "rest" for a wilderness life. As a backdrop illustration to such sin Paul references the conquest of the Promised Land. This conquest has a great deal of valuable principles for living.

The Promised Land spoken of in the Old Testament and referenced in the New Testament is a type or symbol of  the abundant Spirit filled life promised by Jesus. When we look to the Old Testament account of how God's people came into the Promised Land therefore, there is a great deal of spiritual insight for us to gather in and apply to life.

God called Abraham to go to a "land that I will show you" (Gen. 12:1). This "land" was to be God's gift to His people, a place flowing with milk and honey and the blessing of His presence (Deut. 6:3). It was a place where God's people would find rest and peace in the presence of the Lord. God promised Abraham and his descendants this land.

God's Promised Land was a geographical location with real boundaries in the Old Testament. But that is not all it was. It was to be a place where God will dwell with His people. God called His people out of the world of Egypt to go to the Promised Land to meet with Him in fellowship (cf. Exodus). Along the way He led them with a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night. He was there leading them. He also provided a Tabernacle where they could experience His presence. God desires for His people to be with Him, in His presence.

In the New Testament the Promised Land remains a physical geographical destination prophetically promised to God's people. But in the New Testament the Promised Land is mostly used to describe a state of heart and mind. This does not preclude God leading us personally to a geographical location today in our lives. He very well might lead us to experience both in His process of fulfilling His plans and will in and through us. But while the material Land is important, the spiritual state of being it points us to is more important. The Land will pass away, our relationship with God will not. We should keep this in mind as we study on.  

Much of the Old Testament is a "shadow" of things to come or a symbol of greater spiritually eternal truths (cf. Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 10:1). For instance the sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament is a type of Jesus. The Old Testament priest is symbolic of the priestly role of Jesus. The Temple symbolizes how we approach the most holy presence of God. The feast days speak to us about various redemptive events to come in Christ. And the Promised Land is symbolic of the Spirit filled abundant life we can have walking by faith in Jesus.

There are three conquests or approaches of the Promised Land for us to consider in our study. In the first approach, Abraham the man of faith, follows the Lord by faith into the Promised Land (Gen. 12-13). In the second approach, led by Moses, the people missed out on the Land because of unbelief (Numbers 13-14). In the third approach, led by Joshua, the people were able to enter the Land (Joshua 3-4). Importantly we are told in the New Testament that Moses is symbolic of the ways of the law and Joshua - whose name is closely associated with the name of Jesus - is a type of Jesus (cf. John 1:17). We don't enter the Promised Land by human efforts or works to keep laws. We enter the Promised Land by grace through faith in Jesus.

When we inductively look at these passages we find a great deal of important treasure truths about living a life in Christ that is filled with the presence and promise of God. When we look at these conquests we learn about how to identify God's Promised Land before us as well as how to enter it and live in it. You see there is a Promised Land place of "rest" to experience now in Christ (Hebrews 3 and 4). This is a place where we no longer live relying on our works. We do work in this Land. There are battles to be fought. There are tests and trials in this place. But it is a place where like our Forerunner Jesus we can be at peace even though storms are raging around us (e.g. Mark 4:38). This is not a rest of laziness or a lack of care as some might assume. It is a place, a state of mind and condition of the heart that is completely at rest in the Lord. It is  a place of complete trust in the Lord; complete surrender to the Lord. It's a beautiful place and it is God's promise to us. So what is this Promised Land of rest and how do we enter into it?

First, God's promised land is revealed by Him to us. Abraham wasn't looking for a particular land to venture too. Abraham was minding his own business livin' the life. But God interrupted his life with a call to go to a land that He would show him (Gen. 12). God spoke this call to Abraham. God still speaks today. The Holy Spirit speaks to the human heart today (cf. Romans 8:26-27; 1 Cor. 2:9-16).

Later God would confirm the promise of His land to Abraham and his descendants by inspiring Moses to write words of God that contained opportunity for a covenant with God as well as a promised land. He speaks to us today through His word, by Jesus, by the Holy Spirit (Psalm 119; Hebrews 1:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). God is speaking. God is calling. Are you listening?

Second, God's promised land calls us to respond in faith. This call to the Promised Land required faith from Abraham (e.g. Romans 4; Heb. 11). It required obedience and a willingness to sacrifice from Abraham. This obedient faith of Abraham reveals he was a man of faith who had a relationship with God. Abraham's faith  suited him to be looked at by God and called to such a venture in faith. Abraham was living in a way that he was unaware such a call was coming, but nevertheless prepared him to follow such a call when it came. If we want to reach the Promised Land of God we will have to be alert, to be people who walk in faith and are ready to receive His revelation. How about you, how would you respond to an interruption of your life by God; to His call?

Third, God's promised land is a place He leads us to. God didn't give Abraham a five or ten year plan. God didn't give Abraham any old fashioned map or any modern GPS coordinates or address to the land. God simply said, "Get out," and "I will show you" the "land," the place "I want you to be." In the New Testament Jesus similarly called people to "Follow Me" (e.g. Mark 1:17). If you're going to reach the Promised Land you have to step out in faith and follow the Lord.

In this we learn from Abraham that if someone is ever to reach this destination of God their faith relationship with Him needs to be a current and constant. Abraham would have to walk with God, day by day, moment by moment, by faith. How's your walk with God, is it current, is it constant?  

Fourth, God's promised land is a place He leads us too over time. Abraham would follow the Lord to the Promised Land of Canaan. He would live there. But life would lead his descendants from the land into an Egyptian bondage. Hundreds of years would pass before God's people would be brought again to the Land of God's promise. God's timetable is different from that of human beings. Human beings have a limited life span and so tend to rush through life. They have biological clocks and appointments to keep. God has divine appointments. But there are no clocks in eternity where the Eternal One resides. Therefore His sense of timing and scheduling is different and often conflicts with ours.

We tend to see God's timing as making us wait. God's timing makes us nervous. We frequently deal with God's prolonged timings by becoming anxious. This anxiety often leads us to succumb to the temptation to act in our own understanding. Abraham and his wife Sarah and future generations would learn this the hard way (cf. Gen. 16). Impatience leads to lunging out ahead of the Lord without the Lord. That is never a good thing. If we want to reach the Promised Land we need to remember God's timing is always right; it is always perfect; Gods' timing is always best.

Fifth,  God's promised land is a place whose journey begins with deliverance. God called His people out of Egyptian bondage. The road to deliverance from Egypt led through a miraculously parted Red Sea. This was how their journey to the Promised Land began. Typologically, Egypt represents the enslavement in sin in the world. God calls us out of this and miraculously delivers us from this slavery. Passing through the Red Sea is a type of baptism. The journey to the Promised Land begins as we are saved from the slavery of sin and baptized into newness of life in Christ by the spiritual second birth of the Holy Spirit (e.g. John 3).

Sixth, God's promised land is a place which requires we cross wilderness to get to it.  It was in the wilderness that God's people learned to depend on God. It was in the wilderness that God's people complained and rebelled revealing their fleshly sin nature ways. God's people had to be taught to follow Him, to depend on Him. The wilderness served this purpose. But God never intended them to remain in the wilderness. He always purposed to bring them through the wilderness.

After we've received Jesus as Savior and experienced the second birth there will be a time of spiritual growth where we need to learn to depend on God and walk with Him by faith. It will be a time with growing pains spiritually. While this is part of God's purpose for us, and we will always be growing in our walk with Him, He wants to bring us through this wilderness. God wants to bring us through to a better place. The saddest thing is when people choose to settle in the wilderness never growing in their faith and never continuing to pass into God's Promised Land. The wilderness is a place of settling for less, of fear, of struggle. Does that describe your walk with the Lord? Maybe He would have you move on with Him.

Seventh, God's promised land is a place He invites us to investigate. In Numbers 13 when Moses and the people of Israel have come through the wilderness God instructs Moses to select a "spy" from each tribe to go into and check out the Promised Land. Faith is never blind. Taking a "leap of faith" like Soren Kierkegaard coined is not scripturally sound advice. God called Abraham to follow Him. God didn't give Abraham a map or address to the Land but Abraham was not blindly following God. Abraham had the voice of the Lord, the presence of the Lord, and the unfolding evidence of God's working to guide his faith. Abraham was not blind to the fingerprints and footprints of God in his life.

Just as God invited Moses to send spies into the Land to confirm His truth and promise about the Land, we are invited by God to investigate His promises in His word as it plays out in life. God does keep some things secret. That is more for our protection and safety than any wrong intent on God's part. God has revealed what we need to know. And that is our part of His promise to us (cf. Deut. 29:29). God has invited us to investigate the truth about His Promised Land for our lives. If you aren't clear or are uncertain, do some investigation and research to see if God's promises are true. God invites you to do that. Go for it.

Eighth, God's promised land is a place of abundance. "Abundant" is probably the best way to describe God's Promised Land. When the spies returned they reported it was true, the Land "truly flows with milk and honey" (Num. 13:27). Jesus spoke of "abundant life" (John 10:10). Paul spoke of "exceedingly abundantly" (Eph. 3:20). Paul spoke of a strength in Jesus by which we could accomplish whatever God called us to do (Phil. 4:13). Peter spoke of "His divine power," by which we might be "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:3-4). John spoke of the possibility that "your joy may be full" (1 John 1:4), and being pure "as He is pure" (1 John 3:3), and of "perfect love" (1 John 2:5; 4:12, 17-18). We might not understand or have experienced all of that, but certainly it sounds like something abundantly wonderful! That is God's Promised Land for us.

Ninth, God's promised land is a place that involves temptations to be cowardly fearful and challenges to be courageously faithful. When the spies came back they all agreed that the Land of Promise was a place filled with abundance and blessing. But they also agreed, "Nevertheless, the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cites are fortified and very large. . . . The land . . . devours its inhabitants. . . all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw giants. . . and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight" (Num. 13:28, 32-33). There is evidence that the inhabitants of Canaan were indeed very large people. We know Jericho was a city with great walls. All of this was a true assessment. But the problem was how they resonded to these observable facts.

The Promised Land of God is not without adversaries and battles. It is a place of the presence of God in the midst of such adversaries and battles. That's why this is not a type of heaven. There are no more battles in heaven. But in the Promised Land state of being with God you are at rest as you battle and take ground. You are at rest as you trust in God to fight for you and provide for you. That's the difference. You are "more than a conqueror" (Romans 8:37-39). A conqueror enters battle, even bravely, even willing to give their life for the cause, but they are uncertain of the outcome. Someone who is "more than a conqueror" knows the outcome of the battle; is assured of the victory and fights on confidently, restfully, peacefully and courageously with this in mind and heart. That assuring certainty comes from their relationship with God and from His word. It's not a matter of whether or not there will be battles and trials and challenges in life. It's a matter of how you handle such things, or rather, how you surrender to God to handle such things. That's the difference. In the Promised Land you rest in His will.

Ten of the spies presented a "bad report" or discouraging report to the people (Num. 13:3). Their eyes were on the potential problems and the limitations of the people. Two however, Joshua and Caleb, presented the facts in light of the power and Person of God. These two said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it. . . . If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, 'a land which flows with milk and honey.'"(Num. 13:30; 14:8). It was all a matter of perspective. Ten spies kept their eyes down and saw life without God. They were fools failing to factor God into their life equation(cf. Psalm 14:1ff.). Ten along with the majority of the people chose to be cowardly fearful. They turned away from trusting in God. It wasn't that the foes in the land weren't indeed fearsome. They probably were. But their small faith made them look like grasshoppers. These chose fear and their fear drove them to "rebel against the LORD" (Num. 14:9).

Two on the other hand looked at the life circumstances with God as the Greatest Factor. To them these formidable and real obstacles and enemies were "our bread." They knew, they believed, they trusted that God would help them gobble their enemies up and possess the Promised Land. They trusted in God's word. They chose faith. The others distrusted God. Joshua and Caleb chose to be courageously faithful. Because they trusted God and looked at life through His capabilities and resources they would have gone up against an army of King Kong's.

Tenth, God's promised land is a place that not everyone enters. The ten spies and the majority of the people who chose to fear and follow them all were disciplined by God by being barred from entering the Promised Land.  Only Joshua and Caleb and the next generation of people would enter the Promised Land. Those who had "rebelled" against God and His Promise would wander in the wilderness until they died off.

The fearful faithless rebels would wander near forty years in a wilderness that some calculate should have taken them mere days to cross through. Those who choose to rebel against God in fear wander and spend their lives spinning their wheels. They never progress to where they should have been, could have been. Part of the discipline for such faithless rebellion is not only the lost opportunity of living in His Promise, but it is the conscious awareness and regret for such a faithless rebellion.

When God through Moses rebuked their unbelief and informed them of the consequence for their sin, it states, "the people mourned greatly" (Numbers 14:39). They even confessed and admitted their sin. Then they tried to right their wrong by trying to take the Land in their own strength. They failed miserably. That's because you can't enter or take the Promised Land by human strength. It isn't by our might or by our power but by the Spirit of God and His power that we enter the Land (Zech. 4:6). We can't and don't enter on our terms. To enter we must submit to Him.

Moses interceded on behalf of the people and God limited His discipline. With God "Mercy triumphs over judgment. . . . The Lord is very compassionate and merciful" (James  2:13; 5;12). God could have wiped out these rebels. But He did not. He did discipline them though. He did bar them from the Promised Land. They would lose this incredibly gracious opportunity and blessing of God. But thanks be to God we are no longer under law but under grace.

Today if we confess our sin God forgives us (1 John 1:9). The blood of Jesus is able to wash away our sins and keep us in fellowship with Him (1 John 1:7). James was inspired to write "Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:20). If we repent of our faithlessness and humbly come before God, perhaps He will cover such sin and remember the words of His prophet through whom He said, "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten" (Joel 2:25). God disciplines those He loves (Heb. 12). But the God of grace will give the repentant rebel grace too. Have faith. Seek God. Trust and obey. There is no other way. And there is always hope with the God of hope (Romans 15:4, 13).

It is this critical decision of faith or fear that Paul in Hebrews uses as a historical backdrop to illustrate the importance of trusting God and entering that state of rest in Him (Heb. 3-4). It is a magnificent eternal blessing to experience a second birth, a spiritual birth, forgiveness for our sins and eternal life in Christ with God. But that is only the beginning of a life Jesus described as abundant. How's your life in Christ? Would you describe it as abundant? Have you come to a crossroad where there is a formidable challenge before you. Are those fearsome challenges to your faith threatening to keep you from a promised land you just know God is calling you too? You have a choice to make. You can choose to be a foolish rebel grasshopper or step up in courageous faith into the glory of God's presence and provision. What's it going to be? Here's one last option for you to consider.

Lastly, God's promised land is a place we can enter by faith. When the faithless fearful rebellious generation died off and the mantel had been passed from Moses to Joshua, it was time to enter the Land. Joshua had big shoes to fill. He was Moses' successor. Moses was the preeminent leader of God's people to this point in history. This must have been intimidating to Joshua. The weight of responsibility for leading God's people into the Promised Land was on him. Joshua must have been tempted to fear. Why else would God repeatedly affirm him and encourage him to, "Be strong and of good courage" (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9).

God instructed Joshua, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Joshua 1:9). Trust in God and obey His word. That was the key to entering God's Promised Land. And that's exactly what Joshua did. He instructed the priests to lead on with the Ark of the Covenant. To enter the Land they needed to cross the Jordan River when its' waters were at flood level. But by faith and in obedience to God the priests stepped into the rushing Jordan and the waters parted, just as the Red Sea had parted. And they entered in.

In Hebrews 4 Paul opens the chapter concluding, "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it" (Heb. 4:1). If "a promise remains of entering His rest," then God must be speaking of a rest different from the original Old Testament crossing of the Jordan into the physical Promised Land. There is a rest of God for us today.

For those who might be confused or tempted to fear Paul, just like God did for Joshua, points us to "the word of God" which is "living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). Our sword for the battles of the Promised Land is the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (cf. Eph. 6:17). This sword, while "sharper than any two-edged sword" is not for physical altercations. It should never be used to hack at others like an explorer hacks with a machete through thick underbrush. This sword of the Spirit is for battles in the heart over the Promised Land.

This living and powerful word of God used in the power of the Holy Spirit and according to the Commander of the Lord's armies Jesus (cf. Joshua 5) will help us when doubts, fears, temptations, threatening obstacles, trials, and anything else threatens us or presents itself as an opponent or obstacle of God's promised rest. I hope and pray by now you see this. It's not about us, it's about Him. Rest in Jesus. Rest in His work. Rest in His ways and will. Rest in His timing and place. Rest in His plans. Take a deep breath. Have faith. Trust Him currently and constantly. Grab your sword and get ready for battle. Get ready to step in and through the Jordan before you. "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of the disobedient" (Heb. 4:11).

And don't ever forget these words as you journey to God's Promised Land for you: "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:14-16). Jesus is with you. Trust in Jesus. Talk to Jesus. Lean on Jesus. Follow Jesus. By God's grace through faith in Jesus identify and enter God's Promised Land for you. Amen.  

 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

God's Provision for Coming into His Presence - A Study of Hebrews

In his book Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews A.W. Tozer opens his book with the following words:

            In the deep recesses of man's soul lies an overwhelming yearning toward the Creator.        This is a common thread through all humanity, created in the image of God. Unless    and until that desire is fully met, the human soul remains restless, constantly     striving for that which is ultimately unattainable.

            To any discerning Christian, it is easy to see that men and women are in an awful   spiritual moral mess today. A person must know where he is before he can         comprehend where he needs to be. The solution, however, is not within the scope of     human endeavor. The highest ideal or accomplishment of man is to break from the             spiritual bondage and enter into the presence of God, knowing that you have entered        welcomed territory.

            Within every human breast rages this desire, driving him forward. Many a person   confuses the object of that desire and spends his or her entire life striving for the           unobtainable. Very simply put, the great passion in the heart of every human being,   who are created in the image of God, is to experience the awesome majesty of God's             presence. The highest accomplishment of humanity is entering the   overwhelming             presence of God. Nothing else can satiate this burning thirst. . . .

            It is God's great pleasure for us to fully rest in His presence, moment by moment. God      created man expressly for the use of His pleasure and fellowship. Nothing in or of this   world measures up to the simple pleasure of experiencing the presence of God. . . .

            However, several things stand in the way of man's striving toward the presence of God in             personal, intimate familiarity. . . . The greatest hindrance, of course, is the fact that    God is unapproachable. Sin has created an unmanageable debt for all humanity. The good news, however, is that Christ has paid the debt and bridged the gap to God for all. .    . . Religion does it through what is referred to as 'good works,' resulting in emptiness         and a deep-seated sense of guilt that nothing can wash away. . . .

            The human heart knows that it cannot enter into the presence of God, because it has          rebelled against God. . . . The act of rebellion must be pardoned completely, and      the       rebel restored to full citizenship in the kingdom of God, to be made a child of the   Father.             All of that was done in Christ.

            . . . Man cannot enter the presence of God with the foul scent of sin upon him. . . . . To     come into the             presence of God, we must conform in every way to His standard. . . . The blood of Jesus Christ             accomplished this stupendous act! . . . He single-handedly purged   our sins. He alone could do it, so He did it alone. . . . the Son operated alone and         single-  handedly fulfilled all the requirements for man's redemption. Therefore, the foul scent of    sin upon man can be washed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the             cross. . . . [1]

Tozer goes on to say that humanity has slowly but surely lost a sense of the majesty of God. He blames Darwin and Evolutionary theory in part for this. And with the loss of the sense of the majesty of God humanity has lost the sense of the presence of God. His book and more importantly the New Testament book of Hebrews, fans the flame of holy desire to seek out and experience the holy presence of a very present God. He concludes the first chapter in his book by stating, "The good news is that the heart of man truly hungers for God's presence and that all of the great barriers prohibiting that striving after God have been overcome in Jesus Christ." [2] Then Tozer includes the following poem by Oliver Holden (1765-1844):

God is Present Everywhere

They who seek the throne of grace

Find that throne in every

place;

If we live a life of prayer,

God is present everywhere.

 

In our sickness and our health,

In our want, or in our wealth,

If we look to God in prayer,

God is present everywhere.

 

When our earthly comforts fail,

When the woes of life prevail,

'Tis the time for earnest

prayer;

God is present everywhere.

 

Then, my soul, in every strait,

To thy Father come, and wait;

He will answer every prayer;

God is present everywhere.

           

The book of Hebrews is about God's Provision for Coming into His Presence. Jesus is that provision and therefore it doesn't or shouldn't surprise us that Hebrews is a book centered on Jesus redemptive provision.

Why do we call this book “Hebrews”? What evidence is there that this book is written to Hebrew/Jewish believers in Jesus? Hebrews deals with many things of interest to Jewish audience, e.g. Law, sacrificial system, Temple. Hence the name Hebrews.

When was this book written? No mention of the destruction of the Temple (which occurred in 70 AD). It's not likely a book to this Jewish audience would not mention such an event if it had happened. Therefore it was written sometime before 70 AD between 30-37 years after resurrection of Jesus.

Who did God use to record His inspired word? There is no mention in the epistle of the human author's identity. The most popular candidates for the human authors (or amanuensis - secretary who recorded what God inspired) are Luke, Apollos, and Paul. Personally I see the hand of the apostle Paul involved. In reality and the thing to keep in mind is that it is "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past" who is the Author of this letter (Heb. 1:1). It is clearly a writing inspired by God. God is the Author. That is the most important thing to accept.

Hebrews is written to Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Savior-Messiah but who apparently were in danger of returning to their old religious ritualistic ways. The message of Hebrews is in part, “If you go back to the old religion and ritual, you nullify the work Christ did on the Cross for you. Don’t complicate your faith. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Keep it centered on Jesus.”[3] Hebrews is God's inspired response that Jesus is superior to the old religious system and His supreme solution to the problems of sinful humanity.

What issues are addressed in this book?

1.      Nature of Jesus versus Angels / Fallen Men – Hebrews 1-2

2.      Belief/Faith versus Unbelief  – Hebrews 3; 11

3.      Rest versus work – Hebrews 4

4.      Priesthood of Jesus (Melchizedek) versus Old Priesthood and sacrificial system – Hebrews 5; 7; 8

5.      Spiritual growth versus Lack of spiritual growth – Hebrews 6; 12

6.      New versus Old Covenant – Hebrews 8; 13

7.      Jesus' Sacrifice versus Animal sacrifice  – Hebrews 9; 10

 

Why was this book was written? What is at stake? What important issue is being addressed? The purpose of Hebrews is to clearly lay out God’s provision (Jesus) for coming into His presence. And a sub point is that the Old Covenant of works is not the way into God's presence, the New Covenant of grace through faith in Jesus is God's means and provision to come into His presence. Hebrews 4:16 as a primary verse window through which to study the contents:

·         Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) - Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

In order to facilitate a grasp of the content of Hebrews the chapters could be headed as follows:

Chapter Titles

Chapter 1 – Jesus – God’s Supreme Revelation

Chapter 2 – Jesus – God’s Great Savior

Chapter 3 – Jesus – One Greater Than Moses

Chapter 4 – Jesus - God’s Highest Priest Offers Rest

Chapter 5 – Jesus – God’s Perfected High Priest

Chapter 6 – Jesus – God’s Perfecting High Priest

Chapter 7 – Jesus – God’s High Priest of a Better Covenant

Chapter 8 – Jesus – God’s Heavenly New Covenant Provider

Chapter 9 – Jesus – God’s High Priest Provision (He offered Himself as Sacrifice)

Chapter 10 – Jesus – God’s Confident Way to Enter His Presence

Chapter 11 – Jesus – God’s Promise worth Trusting

Chapter 12 – Jesus – Author and Finisher of our Faith

Chapter 13 – Jesus – The One who will Never Forsake You

Hebrews can be outlined as follows:  

I.                   God Making His Presence Known: Jesus - God's Supreme Revelation of Himself – 1-3:6

II.                God Making His Presence Accessible: Enter the Rest He Provides – 3:7-4:13

III.             God Showing The Way Into His Presence: Jesus - A High Priest Superior to Any Other – 4:14 – 5:11

IV.             God Declaring The Only Way Into His Presence: Jesus - A Reliable High Priest Not to Be Rejected – 5:12 – 8:6

V.                God Explaining His Way Into His Presence: Jesus - A New Covenant Superior to the Old – 8:7 – 10:18

VI.             God Defining His Presence in Terms of Relationship: Jesus – Covenant of Faith Relationship – 10:19 – 12:29

VII.          God Revealing the Practical Nature of His Presence: Jesus – Inspired Practical Ways – 13:1-25

 

 

 

God's Provision to Come into His Presence

Jesus – God’s Supreme Revelation – Hebrews 1

The book of Hebrews is about coming into God’s presence. It contrasts the Old versus the New Covenants in light of this. Jesus is the prime and sole means of coming into the presence of God. Therefore it isn’t a surprise that Hebrews begins with the first two chapters devoted to establishing the supremacy of Jesus.

The first two chapters of Hebrews are of great value in establishing the supremacy of Jesus and establishing His nature. Jesus is higher and distinct from created angelic beings. Jesus is the God-Man. Jesus is the God-Man so that He can serve as the perfect priest; an arbitrator and representative between God and humanity.

Hebrews 1 (NKJV)

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

God speaks. The word "spoke" (Greek laleo) means to talk, utter words, preach, say, speak, talk, tell. God speaks.

God is present and makes Himself accessible. God is not far off and mysteriously unapproachable. Quite the contrary, God speaks to humanity from the beginning of creation. God interacts and makes His heart known to humanity. If we want to know God, He will allow us to know Him. He states through Jeremiah, " And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). Interested? If you are listen to the promise of Jesus:

·         Luke 11:9–13 (NKJV) - “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

God is here. If you want to know Him just ask in faith; ask in Jesus name and trust in Him. God is here. God is knowable. That's what Hebrews is all about.

God speaks to us through history through inspired written words. While He used human agents, and we may argue about such human agents or authors, God is the ultimate Author of what we find in the Bible. The Bible is God-breathed (cf. "inspired" - theopneustos - 2 Timothy 3:16-17). What we find on the pages of our Bibles are His words that reveal His heart and His truth, His way.

You may be in dire straits or going through deep depression. You may feel as though God is silent when you call. But these opening words of Hebrews fly in the face of those who accuse God of being silent. These words proclaim loud and clear God still speaks!

How does God speak? God speaks at "various times," and in "various ways."

Various times” would refer to the times of Genesis through Revelation. There remains a spiritual gift of prophesy for today whereby a person with this gift is empowered by the Spirit to edify, exhort and comfort God’s people (1 Cor. 14:3). The gift of prophesy can also be predictive of future events. A predictive prophetic word that is genuinely from the Lord will not contradict God or His word (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). It will be measureable and 100% accurate (cf. Deuteronomy 18:21-22). That is the standard of God for the prophet. Persons speaking prophetically are to be assessed by those in the church (1 Corinthians 14:29).

Various ways” would generally refer to how God has revealed Himself in nature (e.g. Psalm 19; Romans 1), through human conscience (Romans 1 and 2) and angelic beings More specifically, "various ways" refers to God speaking to and then through prophets (e.g. 2 Peter 1:16-21). To Joseph (Gen. 37 and 40) and Daniel (Daniel 2; 7-11) God revealed His plans through dreams and the ability to interpret dreams. Ezekiel was instructed by God to use models (Ezekiel 4) or act out God’s message (Ezekiel 12). God also empowered prophets to do miraculous signs such as with Elijah and Elisha (1 and 2 Kings). There are many ways God discloses Himself to humanity.

This opening verse speaks to the inspiration of the prophets. Those books of the Old Testament written by prophets were inspired by God and accepted as canonical. They were without error and there was a continuity with God’s revelation.

God's greatest and central theme of His revelation is Jesus. Hebrews opens with statements on these attributes of Jesus.

has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,

First, Jesus is God's Supreme and Clearest revelation of Himself. God is not silent. God speaks. God has spoken to humanity "by His Son" Jesus. God’s greatest most holy and pure revelation of Himself and His will is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the word made flesh (cf. John 1:1-3 and 14). God's word is truth (John 17:17). Therefore Jesus is the embodiment of God's truth about Himself and our existence. This is the stated purpose of Jesus for His incarnation (cf. John 18:37).

I like how Jon Courson illustrates this point when he says:

I see them coming, marching rather orderly up the steps. The ants are definitely headed this way.

“Slow down,” I say. “Back off. Run! I know after third service, the boys will bring the vacuums out, and you’ll be sucked up and cast into outer darkness. You’ll go into that black bag, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of ant teeth. Turn away! Flee while you can!”

But not a single ant heeds my warning. Why? Because I’m so big they don’t even acknowledge my presence.

So I go backstage and start flicking the lights on and off. Thus, the heavens declare to them that someone is masterfully working the controls. But the ants just look up and don’t get it.

So I grab a couple of them and say, “You have to speak to your brothers. You have to tell them that a vacuum is on the way and that destruction is imminent. But even these prophet ants don’t clearly understand my message.

My next plan is to hope that maybe some of them will come to their senses and their consciences will stir them to see that they belong not in the sanctuary, but outside. Some do, and they say, “You know, guys, we really shouldn’t be in here.”

“Oh, come on,” the others say. “That’s old-fashioned.”

So I see I have only one option left to bring about their salvation: I need to become one of them. As an ant, I need to go into their midst and say, “Listen, guys. I know where I’m coming from. I know what happens in this sanctuary on Sunday afternoon. I’m the boss. You’re going to get sucked up. But if you follow me, I know where the back door is. I’ll lead you to salvation.” That is the Incarnation—God becoming Man, the Word becoming flesh.[4]

When fallen sinful humanity was too dull to see the order of the Creator in His creation, and when they ignored His promptings in conscience, and when He sent prophets and they too were resisted, finally God came Himself in Jesus.

Jesus is the key to understanding God's word and revelation:

            You will never understand the Old Testament, Paul’s epistles, or the Revelation of            John if you don’t understand the language in which they were written. And the language      is “in the Son.” This is where Bible teachers and students really miss the boat in many    cases. They let the apostle Paul or the prophets interpret Jesus. Wrong. Jesus interprets           the law. Jesus interprets Paul. Jesus interprets the Old Testament prophets. If you want             the Bible to have a full message and if you want to share it effectively, you’ve got to        understand that it’s written in the Son. That’s the key to unlocking the whole Bible. Any    interpretation of any passage of Scripture that contradicts the nature of the Son as seen in        the gospels is amiss. But those who look at everything in the Word through the lens of        Jesus will be amazed at how clear the Word becomes.[5]. . .

            When you come to a crossroads of wondering what God’s will is, look at Calvary and be reminded once again that if God loved you enough to die for you, there is no doubt He     will do what’s best for you.

 

      “Why aren’t I hearing from God?” people ask. “I’m going to prayer meetings. I’m             reading lots of good books. I’m reading the Bible.” The answer could be they’re not          listening for Him through the Son.

 

      Amazed to be standing in the presence of the miracle-worker and the lawgiver on the        Mount of Transfiguration, Peter said, “Let’s build booths for Elijah and Moses—and       one for Jesus, too.”

 

But God interrupted Peter and said of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son. Hear ye Him.      And when Peter looked around, he “saw no man save Jesus only” (see Matthew    17:8)—for as vital as the law and the prophets might be, they are inconsequential in     comparison to the Word made flesh. Therefore, as you study the Law and the    prophets, the Gospels and the Epistles, look for Jesus in every passage. For truly in       these last days, God has spoken. He has spoken in His Son.[6]

Notice too that the writer of Hebrews refers to the times of his writing as the “last days.” Therefore we can say that the “last days” began sometime in close proximity to the writing of Hebrews up until our day. Some might question the duration of the last days and that it seems long, but to God a thousand years is as a day and a day as a thousand years (e.g. 2 Peter 3). To One in eternity "last days," holds a different perspective than to those living finitely. We are living in the “last days.” Come Lord Jesus!

whom He has appointed heir of all things,

Second, Jesus, God's Heir, owns all things. An "heir" (Greek kleronomos) is someone apportioned an inheritance, a possessor, inheritor. Humanly speaking a person inherits what is left behind by a parent. Since God is eternal and will never cease to exist He is simply condescending to the use of words that humanity can relate to. By using the idea of an "heir" God is simply stating that Jesus is the Possessor of all things. Jesus owns it all; everything  in the universe.

Jesus is “appointed” by God. “Appointed” (Greek tithemi ) means to be set in place or be put in position. God has put Jesus in this position of prominence. Hebrews is a perfect revelation of the prominence of Jesus. Muhammad, or Krishna, nor any other figure is mentioned with such centrality. Jesus is the One appointed by God to represent Him. Who better to represent God than God Himself?

Jesus is the “heir of all things” because he is the “firstborn” (Col 1:15) in that He is in the preeminent position of humanity and therefore the heir who oversees all things. Jesus is eternal in nature. We will see this later in Hebrews (cf. Hebrews 13:8).

I like what Bible teacher Jon Courson comments on this revealed aspect of Jesus. He states:

             The Father has willed everything to the Son, and we are His inheritance (Ephesians           1:11). This explains the parable Jesus told in Matthew 13 about a man who walked        through a field, found a treasure, and bought the field in order to take out the treasure.            What is that parable about? It’s not about us selling everything to buy the treasure of the       gospel. No, for in an earlier parable in the same chapter, Jesus says the field is the world.             Jesus bought the world with His own blood. Why? Because He wanted the world? No,    because He wanted the treasure. What is the treasure? We are. We are His inheritance. Amazing![7]

You might not think of yourself in terms of "treasure," but Jesus does. From the beginning God has revealed in His word that His people are His "special treasure" (e.g. Exodus 19:5; Deut. 7:6). Remember that next time you feel worthless or like you're nothing. God sees you as "treasure."

through whom also He made the worlds;

Third, Jesus is our Creator. Jesus (e.g. John 1) and God the Father (e.g. Genesis 1) worked together in Creation. "The Father as the Architect (Genesis 1:1), the Son as the Contractor (John 1:1), and the Holy Spirit as the Carpenter (Genesis 1:2). The analogy is far from perfect, but the fact is all three Persons of the Godhead were involved in the creative process. Creation occurred from the Father, by the Son, through the Holy Spirit." [8]

Worlds” (Greek aion ) means ages and by implication the worlds of the ages. Paul writes of Jesus' creative nature in Colossians stating, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17).

who being the brightness of His glory

Fourth, Jesus is God's glorious reflection of Himself. Jesus reflects the brightness of the glory of God. “Brightness” (Greek apaugasma ) is reflected glory. If you want to see the glory of God look to Jesus. Jesus reflects the nature and therefore glory of God.

The glory of God was revealed to Moses when God walked before him, proclaimed His name, and permitted Moses to see God's back (Exodus 33 and 34). But God explained back then to Moses (Exodus 33:20) and Paul reiterated similarly (1 Tim. 6:15-16) that man cannot see God face to face in the fullness of His glory. For a man, as presently constituted, to see God in His complete glorious essence would be too much for him.  Jesus however is the brightness of the glory of God. And when we are with Him in glory, having received glorified bodies, we will see God as we should (e.g. 1 Cor. 13:12). The apostle John explains this saying:

·         1 John 3:1–3 (NKJV)  - Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

John is speaking of Jesus when he says this. We may not understand yet all of what this means. It is pretty heady stuff to contemplate the glory of God. Suffice it to say as God says in Hebrews, Jesus is, " the brightness of His glory."

and the express image of His person,

Fifth, Jesus is exactly God. Express image” (Greek charackter ) means exact likeness. The idea is derived from how metal was imprinted with the image of Caesar's "express image," or exact likeness." The comparison made through the word is not of the image on the stamp to the human likeness but the stamp to the imprint made. Again we see God's condescending to humans with words chosen to help us understand that when we look at Jesus we see God as He actually is (compare John 14:8-9).

and upholding all things by the word of His power,

Sixth, Jesus is our Sustainer. Jesus “upholds” (Greek phero) or bears, carries, upholds all things by the word of His power.” Creation was spoken into existence by God (Genesis 1-2). One of the prime attributes of God is His creative capability. But what follows from that is the attribute of God to maintain that which He has created. Both of these attributes are associated with Jesus here. Jesus is God.

God creates with His word (Genesis 1 - "Then God said. . ."). Jesus is God and therefore He creates with His words. When we think of the sustaining power of Jesus (compare Col. 1:15-17) to hold all things together we can apply such power to how the very smallest of sub-atomic particles of atoms are held together. We owe the universal order and cohesion to Jesus. God is orderly by nature (e.g. order of creation; order of the Tabernacle and Temple; order of God's sacrificial system and Law; and the order of His work in the church - 1 Cor. 14:33 and 40). AS the Second Person of the Trinity Jesus orders things too. But the upholding together of Jesus goes beyond the material universe.

Jesus sustains with His Word. Jesus holds our relationships together.  Jesus holds our marriages, families and friendships together. When a tear in the fabric of our relationships occurs, we need to turn to Jesus for mending. And the particular instrument of mending Jesus uses to restore and strengthen relationships is His word or "the word of His power." God's word is our guide in life. God's word is also the needle used by Jesus to transplant His new hearts for our old sinful one, to suture our cuts and perform surgery on our soul. Jesus uses His Word to hold us together (e.g. Psalm 119).

I want to encourage you to get into God's word and let it get into you. "The Bible can be read aloud from cover to cover in seventy-one hours. That’s only twelve-and-a-half minutes a day for one year."[9] There is no better and more spiritually beneficial discipline than to prayerfully read through the Bible each year. year after year you will grow deeper and deeper in your understanding of God and your relationship with God.

when He had by Himself purged our sins,

Seventh, Jesus alone is Our Purifier. Jesus “by Himself” and by Himself alone, “purged our sins.” “Purged” (Greek poieo) means lighten the ship of, have purged, shoot out, purged. Jesus threw out our sins at the cross. He did all that was necessary to make a way for our sins to be thrown away. Satan tries to throw back into our lives and thoughts the sinful things we, through Jesus, have thrown out. Don't let him do it! Don't take back what in Christ has been thrown away.

When it states specifically that Jesus purged our sins "by Himself," it is likely meant to address right from the start that no work needed to or could be added to the completed purifying work of Jesus. It is pointless to return to the old religious ritualistic works of the past when by faith all that is needed to receive purification from all sin is available in and through Jesus. The high priest and the priests of the Temple under the Old Covenant had to perform a lot of work to sacrifice animals and maintain the rituals. Those were all a shadow and illustration of what Jesus would fulfill on the cross. Now that Jesus had completed what God pictured and prophesied in the Old Covenant, they had fulfilled their purpose and all focus and reliance for salvation from sin could and should be placed on Jesus. Jesus alone is our Purifier.

sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Eighth, Jesus is our King. Jesus sat down at the “right hand of the Majesty on high” which is the highest position; a position equal with God. He sat down because His redemptive work to deal with sin was completed. On one can add to it through works or human authored traditions. Jesus' redemptive work is complete. All humanity is to do is by faith receive it as a gift of God's grace.

From the opening verses we are told that the work of redemption is completed in Jesus. This is important because later on it will become the basis for showing that there no longer is a need for animal sacrifice (Hebrews 7-10).

What is Jesus doing at the right hand of God? Sometimes He stands to welcome martyred saints as He did with Stephen (cf. Acts 7:54-56), but according to what is later stated in Hebrews, Jesus is interceding on our behalf before the Father (cf. Heb. 7:25; and also Romans 8:34). Jesus is praying for you and for me. Thank You Jesus. Your prayers get us through!

having become so much better than the angels,

Ninth, Jesus is Superior to angels. Angels are created beings (and this would include Lucifer or the devil). As such they are below their Creator. Jesus is eternal in nature; He has no beginning or end; He always was, always is; and always will be (cf. John 1; Rev. 1:8, 11; 22:12-13). No angel could claim what is claimed about Jesus in this first chapter of Hebrews. It is very clear from what God inspires and reveals in these opening words that Jesus is no angel.

Jesus is not an angel as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim. Jesus is not the brother of the archangel Michael as they claim. Jesus is not the brother of Lucifer like the Mormons say. Jesus is “so much better than angels.” “Better” (Greek kreitton) is a word that means of better in nature and quality. Eternal Jesus is better than finite created angels. When the Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons knock on your, take them to the book of Hebrews chapter one and two and show them who Jesus really is.

Another important interesting piece of information to deduce from the contrast of Jesus to angels is that the Old Covenant seems to have been provided to Moses by God through angels (cf. Deut. 33:2; Heb. 2:2; Gal. 3:19). But the New Covenant is delivered by God Himself in Jesus to humanity. This will be further noted later in our study of Hebrews but it should be mentioned here that the New Covenant is superior to the Old based on God's personal deliverance of it.

It's important we see Jesus for Who He is. He is not an angel. God did not send an "angel" to die on the cross. God sent His only Son, the Son of Man, the Perfect Representative sinless Man, God in the flesh, to atone by death on the cross. And we know Jesus' atoning substitutionary sacrifice on the cross was perfectly acceptable and met all of God's just requirements because He arose from the dead just as He said He would. God's revealed mystery of salvation is God manifested in Jesus dying on the cross for lost humanity (e.g. 1 Tim. 3:16).

as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Tenth, Jesus has a better resume than angels. Jesus is “better” than angels in that He has accomplished far more than they ever could, e.g.  in creation, in sustaining what He has created, and at the cross and resurrection. And because of His redemptive work His name is exalted and everyone knee will bow before it (cf. Phil. 2:9-11).

For to which of the angels did He ever say:

“You are My Son,

Today I have begotten You”?

Eleventh, Jesus is endorsed by the Father. Jesus is better than angels because He is God’s “My Son” (cf. Psalm 2:7).  Cultists may try to say, "See, Jesus was 'begotten.' That means he had a beginning." But that is not the way the word is to be applied here. Similarly in Jeremiah 31:9 Ephraim is referred to as the firstborn of Joseph. But Manasseh was Joseph's firstborn. What gives? What gives is that the idea of a "firstborn" child is not limited to precedence but also is used to emphasis or express priority. While Manasseh was actually birthed first, Ephraim was given priority in inheritance and the outworking of God. This is how "begotten" is being used regarding Jesus here. (cf. also Genesis 48 and Jacob's blessing of Joseph's sons.)

And again:

“I will be to Him a Father,

And He shall be to Me a Son”?

God is Father to Jesus His Son (cf. 2 Sam. 7:14). No angel could ever make such a claim. As the direct offspring of the Father Jesus is by nature linked to the Father and therefore God.

But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:

“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

Twelfth, Jesus is worshipped as God. God instructs the angels to worship Jesus (Psalm 97:7). Worship is restricted to God alone (Deut. 6:13; Matthew 4:10). Therefore, again Jesus is asserted and equated to be God.

And of the angels He says:

“Who makes His angels spirits

And His ministers a flame of fire.”

But to the Son He says:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

Thirteenth, Jesus is righteous as God. Angels and Jesus are contrasted (cf. Psalm 45:6-7). God makes His angels spirits; He creates and empowers them. But Jesus is eternal in nature not created. He is referred to as enthroned and “O God.” Jesus is “forever and ever.” Jesus holds the scepter of righteousness and rules the Kingdom. If God the Father refers to His Son Jesus as "O God," then that's the end of the story.

If we ever wonder how God will judge all individual humanity with all of their individual circumstances and do it justly, we need only look to this verse. The scepter or symbol of authority of Jesus, according to the Father, is a "scepter of righteousness." Jesus will judge righteously and equitably when the time comes to judge the world (cf. Rev. 16:7).

9     You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;

Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You

With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”

Fourteenth, Jesus is a reservoir of gladness. Because of Jesus' love of righteousness and hatred of lawlessness He was anointed with gladness. "Gladness" (Greek agalliasis) means gladness, exceeding joy, extreme joy, exulting joy. Jesus is a model for us here. His anointing with gladness and joy is directly linked to His love of righteousness and hatred of sin. "Happiness and holiness go hand in hand." [10] Jesus is described as the "Man of sorrows" by Isaiah (Isaiah 53:3). But He was also characterized a magnetic gladness and joy the drew people to Him. Jesus was and is holy. His holiness wasn't a stuffy legalism. Jesus had genuine joy and this was the fruit of His holy living. If we want to be joyful and glad, seek to walk as Jesus walked in holiness (e.g. 1 John 2:6).

Jesus is anointed “more than Your companions,” or more than angels or mere men. As God-Man He is greater not only than angels but men. And His greatness is revealed in His holy life that led to His happy life.

10 And:

“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,

And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

Jesus is Creator.

11    They will perish, but You remain;

And they will all grow old like a garment;

12    Like a cloak You will fold them up,

And they will be changed.

But You are the same,

And Your years will not fail.”

These words speak of the eternal nature of Jesus. One day Jesus will provide a New Heaven and a New Earth (cf. Rev. 21-22). But the One constant and eternal presence will be Jesus.

13 But to which of the angels has He ever said:

“Sit at My right hand,

Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?

Jesus is superior to angels. God told Jesus to sit at His right hand; the place of equal honor and glory. He said that to no angel because it would not have been appropriate to do so (cf. Psalm 110).  Jesus is God. And Jesus, as God, incarnated to reveal God Himself to humanity in a very real, up front and personal, present way. Jesus is God Himself providing a way to come into the presence of God. Through Jesus we have fellowship with God (e.g. 1 John 1).

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

Angels are God's servants. They have a place, a real place, in His work. Angels are used by God to protect (e.g. Psalm 91:11), they rejoice when sinners are saved (e.g. Luke 15), they bring people to their eternal places (Luke 16), and they open prison doors and set captives free (Acts 5 and 12). But Jesus is not counted among their number. Jesus is their Master. Jesus is superior and supremely above them. Jesus is God. Jesus is God's Supreme revelation of Himself.

As we come to the end of chapter one in Hebrews maybe you noticed something in the context that is a valuable lesson for us. From verse five to the end of the chapter eight verses of scripture are quoted or alluded to as the basis for what is being asserted about Jesus (verse 5: Psalm 2:7 and 2 Sam. 7:13-14; verse 6: Deut. 32:43 and Psalm 97:7; verse 7: Psalm 104:4; verse 8-9: Psalm 45:6-7; verses 10-12:Psalm 102:25-27; and verse 13: Psalm 110:1). What does this tell us? It tells us inspired scripture is the basis of God's revelation and should be quoted or referenced as the basis of any God ordained, God approved, God authorized authority about His truth. A point being made is as powerful and authoritative as it is based on scripture. Just like we see scripture referenced here to make a point and substantiate a point we should rely on scripture when we make points too. There is no getting around God's word. If we want the truth, if we want to know God, if we want to know His will, we must go too His word and base our decisions and doctrine on His word. Context teaches us this in this first chapter and therefore context is shown as an important aspect of God's word as well as our studies in God's word. Remember that as you continue in the study of His word and pursuit of living in His presence.

 

 



[1] A.W. Tozer, Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews. (Bethany House Pub.: Bloomington, Minn.) 2010. Kindle edition  2011.  Excerpts from chapter one "Striving Toward God's Presence."
[2] Ibid. Tozer at the end of chapter one.
[3] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1435). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
[4] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (pp. 1440–1441). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
[5] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1442). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
[6] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1443). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
[7] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1436). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
[8] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1436). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
[9] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1446). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
[10] Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1438). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.