Saturday, September 17, 2011
Hebrews Chapter 5:11-6:20
vs. 5:11-6:3 MILK TO MEAT
- My heading for this section says “A Call to Spiritual Growth.”
- “There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don't seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”
- The readers were growing stagnant. They were being fed the same basic concepts that they'd started with. Granted, sometimes it is good to go back and review some of the basic things... as a reminder or a refresher. But to just dwell on the basics... doesn't get you anywhere.
- God has not called us to be stagnant waters... He's called us to be living water... flowing into the lives of other people so they too can have life.
- Instead... footnote- “These Jewish Christians were immature. Some of them should have been teaching others, but they had not even applied the basics to their own lives. They were reluctant to move beyond age-old traditions, established doctrines, and discussion of the basics. They wouldn't be able to understand the high-priestly role of Christ unless they moved out of their comfortable position, cut some of their Jewish ties, and stopped trying to blend in with their culture. Commitment to Christ moves people out of their comfort zones.”
-Have you ever heard this philosophy on religion? Basically, the belief is that “yeah... sure... there's a superior being. Maybe even a God. And if that Being wants something to do with my life, then that's fine... but I'm not gonna spend my time working toward anything more than that. Relationship with something you can't see? What's the point in that? I'm going to live my life the way I want and if God wants to help me out occasionally... that's fine.”
- There's no commitment in something like that. And there are Christians... who live their lives like that.
- “Yes God... I'll come to church, I'll put money in the plate, but don't ask me to pray... don't ask me to change my job... don't ask me to do something I'm not comfortable with... I'm just here for fire insurance... keep me out of hell and I'll give the church some money and a few hours a week...”
- Our pastor's been doing a set of sermons titled “Little Jesus, Big Me. Big Jesus, Little Me”.
- The main idea throughout has been making Jesus center of our lives in all things. Sometimes we make Jesus an accessory. We only take Him out when we really need Him. Mike used a sweeper as a prop one Sunday... a sweeper comes with all of these accessory attachments... and so he gave each attachment a name... and one of the attachments was Christ. And you know... when we live our lives based around us... we are the main sweeper... and Jesus... is just something we use every once in a while when the dust is in a corner we just can't quite reach...
- Like when our life starts spiraling out of control and we just can't seem to regain our hold on the wheel... like when somebody gets sick, or dies, or we lose our job, or our job is just getting crazier by the day, or our kids are doing crazy things and we don't know how to deal with them... those are the times when we come to the end of ourselves that we call for God. “Oh GOD! I need help! I'll do anything you want me to do! But I just really need help right now please!?”
- In John 3, John the Baptist said that “He must increase, and I must decrease.”
- okay so stay with me for a second... In the 1500's, Ferdinand Magellan sailed from the Atlantic Ocean, into the Pacific Ocean. Proving that the earth was round.
- Had Magellan not gone... or had other explorers not gone out to find out what else was in their world... we still would have thought that the earth was flat...
- You can live in your world... see everything around you... and yes I think you could believe the world was flat. The sky... the trees... the ground... nothing screams sphere... You can even take a journey... I can cross from one end of the US to the other... and never really see a spherical shape.
- Until you take a trip AROUND the world and come back to the place you started from... your world will stay 2 dimensional.
- The same applies to our Christian walk. If we stay in our comfort zone and never take a step out into faith... we will stay in our 2 dimensional world. God will never be bigger in our lives than He was in the beginning.
- So are you still drinking milk? Or are you moving on to solid food? How about a 4 course meal? Ready to move on to meat? Move past the 2 dimensional... “God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.”
- I Corinthians 13:8-13
- I Peter 2:1-12
- Ephesians 4:1-16
- Luke 8:14-15
vs. 6:4-8- ONE SACRIFICE
- “For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the power of the age to come—and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing Him to the cross once again and holding Him up to public shame.”
- This passage sounds SO condemning at face value...
- footnote- “In the first century, a pagan who investigated Christianity and then went back to paganism made a clean break with the church. But for Jewish Christians who decided to return to Judaism, the break was less obvious. Their lifestyle remained relatively unchanged. But by deliberately turning away from Christ, they were cutting themselves off from God's forgiveness. Those who persevere in believing are true saints; those who continue to reject Christ are unbelievers, no matter how well they behave.”
- In Hebrews 10:26-27, it says “Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God's judgment and the raging fire that will consume His enemies.”
- In Hebrews 9:11-28 speaks about Christ's sacrifice for sin.
- Christ's sacrifice was the only sacrifice that covers sin. The only thing that rids us of our sin. Nothing else washes us clean. When we KNOW this... when we have walked this walk... and THEN choose to turn and walk away from the One thing that can save our souls... there's no more sacrifice! Nothing else washes us clean! And when we choose to walk away... that's it. There's no hope. We are just as lost as we ever were.
- Doesn't mean we can't come back... think about the story of the prodigal Son. The father stood waiting and watching for the wayward one to come home...
- However, as the footnote stated, no matter how good a life you live... if Christ isn't in your heart and you haven't been washed in the blood... you're still headed for an eternity in hell. You can be the best person ever... but without Christ as your savior... there's no hope after you die...
- “When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God's blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.”
- Even if we look like we're being productive... God knows what kind of fruit we're really producing... and if our lives aren't founded in Christ... then we're just producing thistles and thorns. We're not producing anything edible or useful...
- Our hearts are open books before the throne of God...
- Romans 8:1-17; 3:9-28
- John 15:1-17
vs. 6:9-12- PRESSING ON
- “Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don't believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and endurance.”
- In other words... even though the author(s) are speaking in way of a reprimand or reminder... don't get discouraged. Continue in the work. Even though sometimes it may seem like you're not making much progress... God doesn't forget you. Even if you do feel stagnant sometimes... God's still there... so if we continue in the work and continue to press on, then we will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. We will move past this stage of stagnancy and press on to the inheritance. (This is not an excuse to become stagnant for a time... everybody has low spots... but when you find yourself in a low spot... don't give up. Press upward and onward... no matter how easy it would be to just quit or take a break.)
- I Timothy 4:15-16
vs. 6:13-20- WAY PREPARED
- So what are God's promises? What exactly are we inheriting?
- “For example, there was God's promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in His own Name, saying: “I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.”
- This next verse cracks me up... not going to lie... “Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.”
- Seriously!? They left out the part about God showing up and reminding Abraham of the promise like 5 times... and the fact that Sarah didn't really believe it was gonna happen... and Abraham saying “God... we're old! We can't have kids!” And how about Hagar? Was that whole situation waiting patiently? I mean that verse makes it sound like once Abraham heard from God he just sat down and waited quietly until the fruition of the promise came... lol
- Abraham waited for 25 years for the promise to come about... and during that time... he wasn't always the most patient of men...
- However, Abraham did wait. And he did trust... and even in his moments of doubt... he turned to God for confirmation. God's timing is not our timing... Hardly ever does God do something on our time schedule. Lol Actually make that... never...
- But the point is that God always holds true to His promises... even when it seems like he's forgotten about them.
- “Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. God also bound Himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that He would never change His mind. So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
- The idea of oaths was that once you took an oath, you were bound by it. There was no getting out of it. And so when you took an oath, you got somebody who had more power than you, to hold you to the oath. In case you wanted to back out... you had somebody there who wouldn't let you.
- Well... God has no one greater than Himself... so when He makes a promise... He is making the oath by Himself. And God doesn't lie... He can't... it's not part of who He is... So when God makes a promise... you can be sure that it's going to come through.
- Thus, we can be sure that “in Whom we have believed”... is sure to save us. Christ has already gone on before us to make sure that the way is ready. He's become our High Priest through His sacrifice and death. He's paved the way... and He's promised that we can enter in...
- So come won't you? Accept His promise... even if you have to wait a little while for it...
- Galatians 3:15-22
- II Peter 3:3-16
- Luke 1:37
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Hebrews Chapters 4:14-5:10
vs. 4:14-16- THE BLOOD
- A high priest was an advocate. Before Christ came, the priest was there to talk to God for the people.
- Job 16:18-22
- I John 2:1-6
- John 14:15-29
- I Samuel 24:12-15
- The people were not pure. When God looked at them, He saw their sin. It hadn't been washed away. So God set up a system.
- One person, who had gone through all the purification rites. One who's supposed to be always clean (or is to complete the purification rituals on a regular basis) is to come before God and offer a blood sacrifice for the people.
- Now the blood, is the thing that purifies.
- I always wonder “why blood”? I mean it could have been water, or wine, or some formula—“Run in a circle 3 times, do 5 jumping jacks, then fall on your face before your God.” Why blood? Blood's not clean. It's messy. If you've ever prepared raw meat for dinner, you know... even just taking the meat out of the package, you end up with sticky stuff everywhere...
- However, blood is the one thing that is life-giving. (Leviticus 17:11)
- When we sin, we are dead to God. Our sin causes us to die Spiritually. Maybe not right that second... but just as Samson didn't realize that the Spirit had left him... so sometimes our Spiritual life slowly dies.
- In order to have Life, life must be given.
- Our sin condemns us to death. We are living life, waiting for execution. There's no hope... A price has to be paid.
- Until someone takes your place... And in your place, gives their life to pay the price... we are still condemned to die.
- Have you ever read Charles Dickens' “A Tale of Two Cities”? The story is set during the French Revolution. By accident, two men, who look almost identical, are brought together. Charles Darnay, and Sydney Carton.
- Darnay, is a French aristocrat with everything he could ever want. Carton, is a British lawyer assistant who has drank his life away.
- Both men fall in love with the same woman... Darnay marries her. So Carton yet again loses out...
- However, the two men remain friends.
- Darnay, against advice... goes to France... Where he's arrested... and thrown into the Bastille to await his execution. He writes his goodbye letters and prepares himself to die.
- In walks Carton for a visit. He's come to see his friend before he dies... And he offers himself to his friend to take his place. He argues that Darnay has everything to live for and he has nothing. Darnay refuses adamantly. So finally Carton requests that they have one last drink together... and he drugs Darnay. When Darnay passes out, Carton changes their clothes, and calls the guard saying that his visitor has passed out because he was so upset and to take him out to the carriage please...
- So Darnay... the condemned man... is released... and Carton... the free man... takes Darnay's place at the guillotine.
- Sad? Sure. But a pretty good parallel...
- Christ didn't deserve to die. He didn't have to walk into our world and offer Himself for us... but He did. We were sitting in prison awaiting execution... and He walked in and took our place. He came as we are... human... and took our place.
- Without the blood... there is no Life redemption...
- And it couldn't be the blood of something else... how many sheep and goats and bulls were sacrificed? How many times a year? And yet... they still had to keep sacrificing... because the blood of bulls and goats just wasn't enough. It wasn't a pure blood... and it wasn't enough to wash away the sins of the people. It didn't change their hearts any toward their sins. They were still the same sinful people, despite all the sacrifices.
- Hebrews 9:11-15
- John 3:16-21
vs. 5:1-3- HIGH PRIEST
- “Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs.”
- A high priest in the old system, was still a man. He was just like you and I. And because he was just like you and I... he was supposed to understand the people. He was supposed to feel sympathy and empathy when they came to him to make the sacrifice for their sins... because he too had to make sacrifices for his own sins. He was not a perfect man. And as such... he was to be a compassionate, understanding Spiritual leader to the people.
- In order to be our high priest... Christ came to earth as a man. He had to make a sacrifice for us. He was indeed perfect. He was sinless... but He still had to come so He could understand us in a very personal way. Not just a “I created you, thus I understand you...” It's a “I walked in your shoes. I lived on your earth. I know what it is to be hated, to be loved, to feel afraid, to feel pain, to feel betrayed... I KNOW... because I walked it out.”
- I love the line that says that “he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people...” Cause we SO fit that description... lol
- Hebrews 8:1-13
- Zechariah 3 (This is SUCH a good chapter...)
- Okay... so this is going to be kind of an add in... I was doing cross references and I stumbled on this verse in Numbers... it's 35:26-29. It's talking about the cities of refuge. These cities were made as cities of refuge so that if accidentally or unintentionally you killed someone, then you could run to these cities for safety. You couldn't be hunted down and killed by the victim's family. But I have to show you what this says...
- “But if the slayer ever leaves the limits of the city of refuge, and the avenger finds him outside the city and kills him, it will not be considered murder. The slayer should have stayed inside the city of refuge UNTIL THE DEATH OF THE HIGH PRIEST. But after the death of the high priest, the slayer may return to his own property. These are the legal requirements for you to observe from generation to generation, wherever you may live.”
- Okay, wow... We are the slayers. When we were kicked out of the garden... we were kicked out of paradise. There was no more direct communion with God. We couldn't ever go back. To look on the face of God as a sinner... means definite death... We had no right whatsoever to try to go home... If we tried... in our unclean state... we were going be killed on sight.
- But NOW! With the death of our High Priest... we can again go home. WOW!
- If we look at the old law and the first covenant as the city of refuge... it was a temporary safety until the ultimate sacrifice could be accomplished. We don't have to hide behind man-made walls anymore... We are FREE to go HOME!
vs. 5:4-5- CONFIRMED
- “And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was. That is why Christ did not honor Himself by assuming He could become High Priest. No, He was chosen by God, who said to Him, “You are my Son. Today I have become Your Father....”
- When it talks about Aaron being chosen as High Priest, it refers back to the fact that God specifically requested Aaron. In the beginning, Moses said that he needed someone to go with him to Egypt. So God said to take Aaron and he would be Moses's mouthpiece. After that time... Aaron was sort of the assumed priest. God always spoke to him and he performed all the rites of sacrifice etc. When they were setting up the temple, God's directions for priestly garments etc. were for Aaron and his sons.
- In Numbers 16, there was a rebellion of sorts. There were other members of the tribe of Levi that thought they could do just as good a job as Aaron... God had Moses take the staves of the leaders of each tribe and put them in the temple overnight. “Buds will sprout on the staff belonging to the man I choose.”
- Guess who's rod budded? And not only budded... grew almonds... LOL the dead walking stick grew fruit... If that's not confirmation... I don't know what is...
- Boys entered their father's business at age 12. Which is when Jesus was at the temple teaching and Mary and Joseph thought they lost Him...
- However, priests, didn't enter the priesthood until age 30... which is when Jesus started His ministry. Which was about the time that He was baptized and God spoke the words above...
- Numbers 4:2-3 (beginning and ending ages of a priest.)
- Just as God confirmed Aaron's priesthood, He confirmed Christ's.
vs. 5:6-10- MELCHIZEDEK
- It says that God also said to Christ that “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
- I had heard this said many times before... but I never really knew who Melchizedek was. He's only mentioned in three books in the bible... Genesis 14, Psalm 110, and Hebrews 5 and7. And he doesn't exactly have the longest biography...
- In Genesis, there was a war. The kings of the area (4 against 4) went to battle and Lot was captured. So Abraham got all his men together and they went out after the enemy. They recovered all the lost goods... and Lot.
- When they got back, the king of Sodom went out to meet Abraham. And so did Melchizedek... Melchizedek brought Abraham bread and wine, and blessed him. Then Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of what he had captured. (a tithe).
- The king of Sodom said he wanted all his people back, but otherwise, Abraham could keep whatever he wanted... but Abraham refused to take one thing... not “a single threat or sandal thong from what belongs to you.” because he was afraid that the king of Sodom would then say that HE was the one who made Abraham rich... when in fact... it was God.
- Melchizedek was indeed a priest. It says that he was a priest of the God Most High.
- So other than this little story... there's nothing on Melchizedek.
- His name means “King of Righteousness”. And he was King of Salem... and Salem means “Peace”. So he was the king of Righteousness and Peace.
- There's more than a few theories on who Melchizedek was... but... just this short story shows me a couple of things...
1. Of all the kings in the valley who went up to rebel against the enemy... Melchizedek wasn't numbered among them. He was not a king of rebellion. He submitted to the authority over him regardless of what the general feeling of the population was.
2. Salem was another name for Jerusalem (Psalm 76). So Melchizedek was the king of Jerusalem. Which is always seen as the seat of God's throne.
3. Melchizedek came out to meet Abraham with bread and wine. Which were used to form covenants... one in particular... the last supper... when Christ formed the new covenant with us... and then finalized it with His sacrifice.
4. His first response to the situation was praise. He came out and blessed the man who had stepped up and went about things the way he was supposed to... Abraham didn't walk into battle thinking he was high and mighty. He had a righteous cause... and he went, not because he wanted to rebel, not because he wanted possessions... he went to save a life. And with only his 318 men... he beat the four kings' army that had just beat out another 4 armies...
5. Whoever this king was... whether it was just because he was a man of God or because of the blessings, Abraham felt compelled to give a tenth of the recovered possessions to this man. Everything else, he gave back to the original owners.
- This was a man who was looked up to. He was a man respected. He in turn showed respect and gave honor where it was due. He was a God-focused man intent on following.
- (Chapter 7 goes into more detail on Melchizedek and we'll get there in a couple weeks... so I don't really want to keep going... but there's a few things from chapter 7 that I want to point out... It says that there is no record of Melchizedek's father or mother or any of his ancestors. There is no beginning or end to his life... thus he remains a priest forever. In this way especially... Christ is of the order of Melchizedek.)
- So moving back to Christ as priest...
- “While Jesus was here on earth, He offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue Him from death. And God heard His prayers because of His deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God's Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. In this way, God qualified Him as a perfect High Priest, and He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him. And God designated Him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
- Because Jesus lived out a human life... He learned the necessary elements for being a priest. He learned obedience. He learned prayer and supplication. And because He did these things... God qualified Him to be our High Priest... but a perfect one. No more yearly sacrifices or sacrifices every time we sin. His sacrifice covered it all. He payed the dept now and forever. ETERNAL salvation for all who obey God. An eternal Priest for an eternal salvation.
- Jeremiah 33:15-26