Vs. 14, “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Lastly, we see that Jesus’ sacrifice is superior over all other sacrifices. The old sacrifices had their place for they reminded the people of their sins (vs. 3) But they were ineffective because they needed to be done year by year and day by day while Jesus’ sacrifice needed only to be done once to conquer sin. Before Jesus, the Levitical priests could only go behind the veil in the temple once a year…but we can have access anytime of the day! Yet at the same time, we are gravely reminded of the healthy fear of the Lord (vs. 31).
Regarding application…Encouragers. Vs. 25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Question: When was the last time you were a Barnabas to someone? We live in a day where there is constant bad news. North Korea is possibly planning on firing a test missile, 14 people died in a plane accident, the increasing drug traffic on the US/Mexico border, AIG bonus scandals, the Great Recession/New Depression, etc… Now more than ever we need to encourage our brothers & sisters to love & serve the Lord. We need to take time out of our day to place a phone call to someone we haven’t talked to in awhile, email a friend who needs encouragment, pray for our pastor’s, let our parent(s) know how much we love them, etc.
One of the things I really appreciate about the Promise Church is the desire to love the community around us. Two weekends ago, we helped out Foster parents by taking care of their kids one Sat. evening so they could go out. This coming Saturday the church is going to pass out water bottles and share God’s love, we’re planning another bbq for the community and of course reaching out for a big Easter push. It’s not easy work, but it is taking the time to encourage each other to love & doing good deeds not for recognition…but to simply please God. We will be singing the song “Not to Us” this coming Sunday…and I think the words express our application today.
Vs. 14, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.” In the past we have talked about how Jesus is superior to angels, Aaron’s priesthood, the old covenant and now we discuss Jesus being superior over the old sanctuary. The old sanctuary cannot compare with the new sanctuary in Christ. Let’s do a little comparing and contrasting….The first reason is that it was simply on earth (vs. 1), it was a shadow of what is to come (vs. 2-5), it had limited access (vs. 6-7), it was only temporary (vs. 8), and ultimately it could not change the heart condition (vs. 9-10). But the new sanctuary was heavenly (vs. 11), it was the real deal, not a shadow (vs. 23-24), it gave access to all, it is permanent and most certainly can change lives!
Regarding application…Waiting. Vs. 28, “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” When you think about it…we wait for many things in life. We wait in traffic (especially Southern Califonia), we wait in bank lines, we wait in food lines, we wait for class or work to be over, we wait for our favorite food in restaurants, we wait for our favorite television show, podcast or book, we wait for webpages to load, we wait to find a spouse, we wait for children we wait for others to come for an event, etc. Whew~~~and that’s probably just brushing the surface. Especially in a time when we want things NOW…waiting is not such an easy thing to do. I must confess that I don’t particularly like waiting in lines.
When Hyojin & I go to Disneyland, one of the things we know NOT to do is to go on the weekends. The lines are exponentially longer and wait times increase threefold. But if you go on a weekday you can really spoil yourself as you barely have to wait to go on Space Mountain, Soarin, Indiana Jones, etc. My favorite is the Toy Story ride where you get to shoot at targets (the technology is pretty cool on this one). The point is…let us not grow impatient in this life that we live. Sometimes I find myself longing just to finally be in Heaven and get this crazy life we live on earth completed. But, God has us alive on this earth to do His will. Let us wait patiently but also with an eager excitement for helping everyone else know why we wait with joy!
Vs, 6, “But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.” In the previous chapters we discussed how Jesus is superior to the Levitical priesthood…now we see that Jesus also brings the New Covenant (Promise) by way of the cross. God gave Moses the law and while it did not save them…it did point out to them and all of us that we all fall short of the glory of God. Don’t fall into the impression that God did not know what He was doing….His providence and and will do not always make sense to our finite minds. Consider the law like a Children’s picture bible..it prepares them for the full revelation of Scripture through the complete Bible.
Regarding application…Perspective. Vs. 5, “They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Key words here to look at is “copy” and “shadow”….they are not the real thing. In fact, shadows can actually be pretty scary in a dark street alley. Likewise…pictures are like copies of what we see. When Hyojin & I visited one of the 7 wonders of the world on our honeymoon…the Grand Canyon…it was breathtaking to say the least. Yet, all the pictures we took were beautiful but they did not capture the majesty and beauty of truly being there. We only have shadows and copies of what truly exists and will come. We live by faith not by sight…that is why we must always keep a proper perspective in this life. Yes, shadows are scary and copies just don’t tell the true story…but know that there is an unseen world that exists around us. We have promises that have already and come and will come that will be beyond description!
Vs. 27, “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” The author of Hebrews continues to stress the importance of understanding that Jesus is superior to the priesthood of Aaron. Jesus is not only a priest but he is also a King! To expound upon Melchizedek….He was the priest who blessed Abraham after returning from a battle. He is considered by some scholars to be a supernatural figure forshadowed Jesus…while others believe it was Jesus himself. Going back to Aaron…the priesthood was not perfect…but Jesus’ priesthood is not only perfect, but eternal.
Regarding application…Intercession. Vs. 25, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” The Easter season we focus on the death & resurrection of Christ (rightly so)…but it’s important for us to realize that the story of Jesus did not end there. Jesus is alive (Amen?!)…and He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us! On the dictionary website “Onelook” it actually defines intercession as the act of intervening. Jesus intervenes/prays on our behalf. In a recent bible study with my community group at church we were discussing the wonderful encouragement of knowing others pray for us. My pastor’s mother is a praying woman and has encouraged the church planting team by praying for us daily. Not only are we backed by the strength and prayer of other saints (Christians)…we are backed by Jesus! When no one else will stand up for us…Jesus will…he took one for all of humanity. So when life gets difficult and the road is unknown, always remember that Jesus is praying for you!
Vs. 4-6, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” I am sharing this long passage because it is one that is confusing to most of us. The key to looking at this is to remember to step back and look at the full context of Hebrews as well as the the whole of Scripture. When we have an elementary faith (Vs. 1)…it is harder to understand the concept of Salvation. Does this mean we can lose our salvation? Does it mean that there were people that thought they were saved but really were not (Matt. 24), is it referring to certain people who lived in specific times, is this just a hypothetical situation? The main subject of this chapter is not salvation but repentance. I will die on this earth believing to the end in “once saved, always saved.” If we could lose our salvation…this nullifies the Cross of Christ. I think we can most definitely disappoint our Heavenly Father and lose some of the rewards and treasures that could be given to us…but I do not believe we are chastized from Heaven. A Greek study of the word “fall away” would show us the meaning: parapipto, which means “to fall aside, to turn aside, to wander.”…some can interpret this as falling away from salvation, but that is not the case. Does this make sense?
Regarding application…Eternal Security. Vs. 19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” Question: How does the knowledge “Eternal Security” affect the lives of Christians? To put it in simple terms: We can either take it for granted (like the Hebews) or turn all the more in repetance and spiritual maturity. I would like to think the majority of Christians would continue to grow…but sadly, this does not seem to be the case. With great things brings great responsibility. Eternal Security is one of the most incredible gifts of assurance we could ever ask for. It takes the burden of worry off our backs. It helps us to know that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.
When I became a Christian at 16, I knew in my heart of hearts I was truly saved….BUT…I did what so many of us have done, Vs. 6 “…are crucifying the Son of God all over again…” We will be starkly reminded of this as Easter is soon upon us. You see…while we have “Eternal Security”…it is very possible to die in this life totally having done little for Jesus….and yet….go to Heaven! Some may cry out injustices…but that is just one of the amazing things about the Love of Christ. The repentant thief on the cross never got the chance to live for Christ…for he would die that same day. He never did anything….yet was still saved because he believed and put his trust in Christ. We have done that too….but we are not dying on a cross. We must take the short time we have on this earth and grow & mature in the Lord so that others will see Christ in Us!
Vs. 7, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” We are now reminded that Jesus is greater than any of the high priests inculding Aaron. Jesus played different roles for us…he was a prophet, a priest and a king. For the direct audience, they could relate better than we can to this illustration. Not only was he above Aaron, Jesus was a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Gen. 14)….this was a greater priesthood than Aaron…one that had no beginning or end. But I think we all begin to understand that this was not a role Jesus selfishly took upon himself. Our Father in Heaven chose this role for His Son.
Regarding application…Solid Food. Vs. 14, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” One of the measures of maturity in Christ is our intake of God’s Word (Food). We had previously discussed from the earlier chapters the drifting away from God’s Word and doubting the Word. A couple of weeks ago I had a some stomach issues that got so severe I had to go to the emergency room. It turned out I had a milder form of Ileusus (sp?). One of the remedies the Doctor prescribed was that I wasto not intake many solid foods. My stomach was so weak that any solid foods would cause very unpleasant reactions. So far a whole week, I followed the Doctor’s orders and lo and behold…my stomach began to feel better. I had lost alot of weight, but my desire after that full week of weakness was to get healthy again. I was craving foods like crazy (especially Korean B.B.Q.)…and now eating solid foods has gotten me back to being fully healthy again. Likewise, we cannot gain spiritually when we are not eating solid bilblical foods (Word of God, prayer, fasting, accountability, etc.)
Vs. 12, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Memorize this verse! The author of Hebrews continues the theme of rest in this chapter. We review the Sabbath rest (vs. 4), rest after wandering the desert for 40 years (3:11), the rest of the believers salvation (Vs. 3, 10), rest in victory (Vs. 11), and the future rest (vs. 9). Unfortunately not everyone will enter this rest because of unbelief. We are aptly reminded of the power of God’s Word and the fact that we cannot hide from his sight (Vs. 11-13). By His grace, Jesus has endured this world and sympathizes (to suffer with) our struggles. The key to this is that Jesus did this without sinning.
Regarding application…Throne of Grace. Vs. 16, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” I love how this verse gives us the encouragement we need to approach our God! For any of us who can relate to “doubting” Thomas, this passage puts to rest any of our fears. None of us has what it takes to truly competently approach the Lord with confidence/boldness. Yet, it is not what we have done…rather what He has done. Glance with me at John 1:17, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
To come before the throne of a king was not an everyday occurrence for any normal person throughout history. While we don’t have a king, we have a President. How many of you have had an audience with such a dignitary? President Obama is coming to So. Cal this week and I already heard on the news Monday that people were lining up just to get a glimpse of the President. It is an intimidating thought of coming before any King/President…yet we are coming before the King of Kings! We would do well to come before the ultimate throne with such awe and reverence. We don’t have to endure long lines and cold and hot weather to have an audience with the King. May we never take for granted the throne of grace and He who sits upon it!
Vs. 17, “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” The writer of Hebrews continues to put Jesus as the focal point and remind us that He is higher than angels in authority. Jesus is better than the first Adam (& Eve)…he is the perfect Adam. The first Adam brought death and sin…the perfect Adam (Jesus) brought life and delivered death to the enemy. While we know that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us…I think we should take a bit more time to appreciate Jesus’ humility. I love how we are reminded that Jesus can help us when tempted because he was tempted too (Vs. 18).
Regarding application…Drifting Away. Vs. 1, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” How do we drift away spiritually? By neglecting the power of the Gospel and His Living Word…basically doing nothing with the salvation that was given to us. The people at the time were unwilling to hear…essentially they were became lost. A very long time ago when I was probably 4 years old…my family had gone tubing down a river (like rafting but with a inner tube of a truck instead.) One of my siblings at the time, Joelle, who must have been around 10-12 years old somehow got away from the crowd and before we knew it, we didn’t see her anywhere. She had drifted away so far without realizing it. Fortunately, she is here today…so someone must have ran down the side of the river to find her. She wasn’t paying attention and drifted so far…there could have been a giant waterfall down the river. We must be careful not to drift spiritually. I think we underestimate the power of the spiritual currents (evil) that can send us drifting from God.