The Last Days Calendar – Bible Prophecy & The Rapture

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The Last Days Calendar truly interprets end time Bible prophecy concerning the last days within the context of Jewish culture and the Hebrew calendar.

Studying Scripture in light of the historical setting and culture in which it was first proclaimed reveals fresh insight into events of the last days, the Book of Revelation, the timing of the Rapture, the identity of the Two Witnesses and the nature of the Millennium. Our web site provides detailed teachings concerning these topics.

Bible prophecies that concern the events of the last days, including the rapture, are foreshadowed in the Festivals of the LORD. The Festivals of the LORD are the ordained “Appointed Times” of God’s ceremonial calendar for Israel. These seasonal feasts are prophetic pictures of the Messiah.

The four spring Festivals of the LORD: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and The Feast of Weeks all take place within the first three months of the Hebrew calendar. The spring cycle of biblical festivals was literally fulfilled by the First Advent: Redemption (the Passover), Sanctification (The Feast of Unleavened Bread), Resurrection (Firstfruits) and the birth of the Church (Pentecost).

The first of the fall cycle of the Festivals of the LORD is the Feast of Trumpets. Yom Teruah (the day of shofar blasts) foreshadows the Rapture when God’s elect will be translated in the blinking of an eye and gathered into His presence to be forever with the Lord. The most solemn and holy day for the Jewish people is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), which is the day on the Hebrew calendar when Yeshua (Jesus) will return and rescue God’s chosen people. The final festival of the fall cycle of biblical festival and the final of the seven annual feasts is Sukkoth – The Feast of Tabernacles. This feast foreshadows the wedding supper of the Lamb and the Millennial reign of Christ.

To learn more about The Festivals of Yahweh (the LORD) check out the blogs in our “Feasts & Festivals” category.

A cult is a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader. Our “Cults and Religions” category (at the top of the page) includes:

  •        Christianity versus Cults and Counterfeits – Defining Cults   
  •        Church of the Latter-Day Saints, Joseph Smith & the Mormons  
  •        Is Catholicism True Orthodox Christianity or a Christian Cult?  
  •         Is this the Dawn of a New Age or just Old Fashioned Paganism?  
  •        Is Seventh-Day Adventism Christianity or is SDA Cultism?    
  •        ISLAM:  The Religion of “Peace” Bent on Conquest  
  •        The Claims of Freemasons vs. the Hidden Truth of Freemasonry  
  •        The Jehovah’s Witnesses: True Christianity or Christian Cult?  
  •        The True History and Practices of the Church of Scientology!  

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. Isaiah 46:9-10

Only the one true God and Creator is omniscient and knows the end from the beginning. Our expository teachings from the book of Genesis are not only historical accounts, but are often prophetic pictures of future events. Each month a new chapter from the book of Genesis will be posted until a verse-by-verse commentary on entire book of Genesis is completed.

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Hebrews Chapter 12 – Run the Race Fixing Ours Eyes on Jesus

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12:1

Chapter 11 of Hebrews is often referred to as “The Hall of Faith” or the “Faith Hall of Fame.” The accounts of many heroes of the faith listed in the previous chapter of Hebrews demonstrate that faith enables the people of God to accomplish many great things to fulfill the LORD’s purposes for their lives and to give Him glory – for nothing is impossible for God.

In light of this great cloud of witnesses (martyrs) from the Old Testament, the Hebrew Christians living in Jerusalem are exhorted to cast aside those things which would hinder their ability to persevere in their faith journey including observing temple sacrifices and avoiding the snare of sin.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16

The “cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 12:1 is composed of the disembodied spirits and souls of the saints. At the rapture, the bodies of those who have fallen asleep in Christ (the saints who have died throughout history) will be transformed into glorified bodies, will rise into the air to meet the Lord, and their souls and spirits will enter into their translated immortal bodies to be forever with the Lord.

 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3

The way that we can be like the Apostle Paul who said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” is to fix our eyes on Jesus. He was highly exalted and is now seated at the right hand of the Father because of His sacrificial love, endurance, and submission to the Father’s will in spite of great opposition. By following His example and having the assurance of heavenly reward, we will not grow weary in well doing or lose heart.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Hebrews 12:4

Addressed to the second generation of Hebrew Christians, this epistle would gain deeper significance in calling to remembrance the first generation martyrs by the reminder that his readers had not yet suffered unto the point of death as did Stephen and James.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Hebrews 12:5-6

Although the Hebrew Christians were being subjected to trials and persecution, the Lord was using their enemies as instruments of divine chastisement. Their heavenly Father sought to correct them because He loved them.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Hebrews 12:7-8

Only true sons and daughters of the Most High God are disciplined. Therefore, the believers are encouraged to persevere in their faith with the realization that their heavenly Father is fulfilling His divine purpose in their trials.

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:9-11

We respected our fathers on this earth, so certainly we should respect God. By their best efforts, they could only teach us what seemed right to them. But God knows what is right. He knows when to teach us, and he knows when to punish us. All his lessons will benefit us. Even when we suffer, we do not suffer without a proper purpose. God even uses our troubles to teach us lessons that will benefit us. God’s purpose is to make us holy and to conform us into the image of Christ.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:12-13

The believer is to walk in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3). A child of God is to walk in the Spirit and not gratify the flesh (Galatians 5:16) A believer is strengthened and matures through prayer, the study and application of God’s Holy Word, worship and praise. The “lame” is an allusion to the believer who is weak in faith and needs to practice the disciplines of the Christian faith.

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:14-15

“The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense” by John Bevere. He talks about the importance of fellowship with other believers. The author exposes one of the most deceptive snares Satan uses to get believers out of the will of God – offense.

And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. Mark 3:25

The author also points out that Satan is using what Jesus said concerning a house that is divided to cause the church to fall apart.

These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil,a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.  Proverbs 6:16-19

Note that the one who causes conflict among fellow believers has done an abominable act that the Lord hates.

The Devil doesn’t always use obvious and overt things to cause division. The following is taken from the introduction to John Bevere’s book:

“Anyone who has trapped animals knows a trap needs one of two things to be successful. It must be hidden, in the hope that an animal will stumble upon it, and it must be baited to lure the animal into the trap’s deadly jaws. Satan, the enemy of our souls, incorporates both of these strategies as he lays out his most deceptive and deadly traps. They are both hidden and baited.

Satan, along with his cohorts is not as blatant as many believe. He is subtle and delights in deception. He is shrewd in his operations, cunning, and crafty. Don’t forget he can disguise himself as a messenger of light. If we are not trained by the Word of God to divide rightly between good and evil, we won’t recognize his traps for what they are.

One of his most deceptive and insidious kinds of bait is something every Christian has encountered – offense. Actually, offense itself is not deadly – if it stays in the trap. But if we pick it up and consume it and feed on it in our hearts, then we have become offended. Offended people produce much fruit, such as hurt, anger, outrage, jealousy, resentment, strife, bitterness, hatred and envy. Some of the consequences of picking up an offense are insults, attacks, wounding, division, separation, broken relationships, betrayal, and backsliding.

Often those who are offended do not even realize they are trapped. They are oblivious to their condition because they are so focused on the wrong that was done to them. They are in denial. The most effective way for the enemy to blind us is to cause us to focus on ourselves.”

The writer of Hebrews urges his readers to make every effort to live in peace with everyone and not let bitterness and unforgiveness take root in their hearts. Many churches and even entire denominations have split because people have taken the bait of Satan and have become offended which has caused wounding, division and has defiled many.

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done. Hebrews 12:16-17

The first born son of Isaac and Rebekah was either ruddy in complexion and covered with hair, or covered with red hair. They named him Esau which means, “hairy.” His wild appearance may have been an indication of the coarseness of his character and roughness of his nature. His fraternal twin was named Jacob.

The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Genesis 25:27-28

Esau became an archer. He became skilled in the use of the bow and arrow for hunting and for protection against wild beasts. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau because Esau was a hunter who loved the outdoors. Jacob, on the other hand, was content to stay at home among the tents and was loved by his mother Rebekah.

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) Genesis 25:29-30

Esau was also called Edom which means red. Esau’s descendents were called the Edomites. Esau, who was an outdoorsman and walked in the flesh, was not merely hungry. He was famished – desperately hungry. Satisfying his fleshy desire was not to be postponed but immediately satisfied.

Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:31-34

The right of the firstborn to a double portion of the inheritance and a leadership position in the family when the father passes was Esau’s by birth but Jacob’s by promise. It entailed more than material blessings. The birthright had an important spiritual significance as well. The Messiah would descend from Isaac’s son who held the birthright. Jacob who now had the birthright would also insure that the future possession of the land of Canaan would be by his children’s children.

Esau refused to take on the responsibilities of the first born and treated his birthright with disdain. That is why Paul writing to the church at Rome reminds that God proclaimed, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Romans 9:13b

Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud. Genesis 27:34-38

Esau wept loud and bitterly and blamed Jacob for taking advantage of him for the second time. Yet, it was Esau’s own carnal character that led him to despise his birthright and sell it for a hot meal. Esau’s tears were not of repentance but of self-pity. He understood that his father’s blessing upon Jacob was irrevocable and asked for a blessing of his own. God in His foreknowledge and sovereignty chose Jacob to receive the blessing reserved for the first born.

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” Hebrews 12:18-21

The Torah (the Law) was given to Moses at Mount Sinai. This mountain was located in Arabia. All the Israelites trembled in fear as the mountain, which was enveloped in smoke, shook as fire billowed into the sky, and lightning flashed followed by peals of thunder and very loud trumpet blast. The LORD spoke His commandments in a loud voice to the whole assembly out of the fire, the cloud, and the deep darkness on the mountain. The Hebrew Christians, unlike the Israelites in the wilderness, were not present when the Old Covenant was ratified.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:22-24

The writer’s point is that instead of returning to Mount Sinai, the Hebrew audience is urged to continue their approach to Mount Zion, the spiritual mountain and city where the living God dwells and reigns. On Mt Sinai, God was a consuming fire. On Mt Zion, He is consuming love.

Under the Old Covenant, the Law exposed man’s sinfulness and his need for a savior. Under the New Covenant, by the grace of God and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, the spirits of those who have been imputed the righteousness of God by faith have been made perfect (complete).

THE BLOOD OF ABEL

And he said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.” Genesis 4:10

We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 1 John 3:12-13

Righteous Abel was the first martyr of the faith. Although innocent of wrong doing, he was unjustly killed and his blood was poured out on the ground. The blood of Abel cried out for just punishment.

The blood of Christ speaks with greater power and speaks for purification and atonement. God was the Avenger of “righteous Abel,” but Jesus Christ the righteous is our Advocate with the Father, and He is the propitiation for our sins.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? Hebrews 12:25

The terrors which accompanied the giving of the Law were designed to impress all hearts with the fearful peril of disobedience. Those who refused to obey the LORD’s voice could not escape the declaration of the Law or the terrible penalties which awaited all those who dared to transgress His Law.

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Hebrews 12:26-27

The promise (the prophecy that will be fulfilled) comes from Haggai 2:6:

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.

The things of the original creation that have been corrupted by sin will be removed.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 2 Peter 3:10

For behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. Isaiah 65:17

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29

The things that are unshakeable are God’s heavenly city and eternal kingdom (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 21:1). We need to be thankful for eternal life to be lived in an eternal kingdom with God our Creator; worshipping Him reverently in awe of His glory and majesty.

Hebrews Chapter 11 – Great Men and Women Who Lived By Faith!

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Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, “hope” is:

“Trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Biblical hope is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God’s guidance. More specifically, hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future. This contrasts to the world’s definition of hope as “a feeling that what is wanted will happen.” Understood in this way, hope can denote either a baseless optimism or a vague yearning after an unattainable good. If hope is to be genuine hope, however, it must be founded on something (or someone) which affords reasonable grounds for confidence in its fulfillment. The Bible bases its hope in God and His saving acts”

Simply put, the world’s understanding of hope is a longing for something that might or might not happen. On the other hand, biblical hope is an assurance that God is faithful to keep His word and fulfill His promises.

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

Faith is the foundation upon which biblical hope is built. Our confident assurance is that we believe in a good and righteous God who is omnipotent and omniscient. Since He is all powerful and all knowing, nothing and no one can thwart His plans. Faith is the evidence, the demonstration and convincing proof, that things which are hoped for and not yet visible will come to pass according to God’s sovereignty and in God’s perfect timing.

This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrew 11:2

The Old Testament records the exploits of the ancestors and predecessors of the Hebrew believers in Jesus as Messiah who were acclaimed for their faith.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:3

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

This first verse of the Bible is not only a summation of the narrative to follow but speaks of God’s supernatural intervention to create something from nothing. Before the beginning of the creation, only God existed. After the beginning, two realms were created including a supernatural abode for angels and a natural dwelling place for mankind.

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. Hebrews 11:4

Abel brought “fat portions from some of the firstborn.” He not only offered the “firstfruits” of his flock, he also offered the choicest parts. Abel was clearly giving the best of what he had to God. Cain, on the other hand, brought “some of the fruits of the soil,” and not the firstfruits. The portion he offered may have been damaged or what Cain considered “leftover.” Abel’s and Cain’s actions were a reflection of their attitudes towards God. Abel honored the LORD and was commended as being righteous.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:5-6

Drawing near to God and seeking Him are deliberate, intentional activities. You do not accidentally draw near to the Holy One. No one ever seeks God apart from God’s first choosing and calling that person (Romans 3:11; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31). But once God has called you to salvation and you have responded in faith to His call, you must exert deliberate effort and intention to seek the Lord. We are to seek God Himself, not just the rewards that He can give us. Knowing the living God is our reward.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith. Hebrews 11:7

This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. Genesis 6:9-10

Noah found favor (grace) in the eyes of the LORD. While the rest of mankind acting wickedly and their thoughts were evil, Noah was righteous and walked with GodSo make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. Genesis 6:14

Noah did everything just as God commanded him. Genesis 6:22

Noah was warned of God’s coming judgment upon wicked mankind wrought through a cataclysmic worldwide flood. By faith, he believed God and was obedient to build the ark and save his family.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8-10

Abram did not question the LORD, but faithfully obeyed and embarked on a journey to an unknown land hundreds of miles away. Abram, who was later named Abraham, became the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. They and their families lived as nomads dwelling in tents.

For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

By faith Abraham did not fix his eyes on his temporary earthly home but upon his unseen eternal heavenly dwelling.

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11:11-12

Nothing is too hard for the LORD. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise and He watches over His word to perform it. His promises are yea and amen. The LORD did for Sarah what He promised to do. Although she was ninety years old and beyond child-bearing age, by God’s grace she miraculously became pregnant and bore Abraham a son when he was one hundred years old.

Abraham which means “Father of Many” would be the patriarch of numerous natural children (like the sand of the seashore) through Ishmael (the Arabic tribes), through Isaac (the tribes of Israel), as well as through Keturah’s six sons whom he married after the death of Sarah. Abraham is not only the father of many natural children, but also the father of many spiritual children (like the stars in the sky) who by faith have undergone the circumcision of their hearts (Romans 4:11-12).

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16

The first readers of this epistle were tempted, under the threat of persecution, to go back to their Jewish religion. The implication of our text in its context is that to go back to Judaism would be like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob going back to settle permanently in Mesopotamia. God had promised them a new country, the land of Canaan. But, being men of faith, they looked beyond their temporary earthly dwelling place to the heavenly country that God had prepared for them.

These men of faith admitted that “they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” This refers to Abraham’s telling the Hittites, when he sought to buy a burial plot for Sarah, “I am a foreigner and stranger among you.” (Genesis 23:4). When Jacob, near the end of his life, met Pharaoh, he twice referred to his life as a pilgrimage (Genesis 47:9).

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. Hebrews 11:17-19

God told Abraham to take his “only son” Isaac to the region of Moriah. Yet we know that Abraham had another son Ishmael at that time. When Ishmael and Hagar were sent away it was clear that Ishmael was not to be the rightful heir, but it is also clear that Ishmael would remain Abraham’s son. God said, “Nevertheless, I will make the slave girl’s son into a nation, since he, too, is your offspring” (Genesis 21:13). Ishmael, though loved by Abraham and an offspring from his body, was not the promised heir. Isaac alone was the heir. He was the “only son” of the promise. Father Abraham was told to take his “only son” whom he loved and sacrifice him on a mountain in the region of Moriah.

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Genesis 22:6-7

Abraham did not place the wood for the burnt offering in Isaac’s arms, but placed it on his son Isaac’s shoulders. As they he walked up the mountain Isaac asked his father, “Where is the lamb?” This is a prophetic picture of God’s only Son whom the he dearly loved bearing the cross for our sins.

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. Genesis 22:8

Abraham declared that God himself will provide (future tense) the lamb that would serve as an atonement offering. Two thousand years later John identifies the promised lamb as God himself.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

Abraham who was well over 100 years old could not have forced Isaac to be bound and laid upon the altar. Isaac willingly laid down his life. Even if it meant that he had to die, Isaac submitted his will to the will of his father. This is another powerful prophetic picture of the coming Messiah.

Figuratively speaking, Abraham received Isaac back from the dead. The testing of Abraham and the submission of Isaac is a prophetic picture of the future atoning death and resurrection of the Messiah.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. Hebrews 11:20

Isaac gave the blessing to Jacob. Even after learning that it had been by means of a shameful deception that he had been tricked into doing so, Isaac confirmed the destiny regarding both his sons. Isaac had the uttermost faith that his inspired words of blessing which he had spoken concerning them would come to pass.

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. Hebrews 11:21

Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. Genesis 48:1

Jacob proclaimed from his death bed that he was adopting Joseph’s two sons. His grandsons would be elevated to the position of sons of Israel. Joseph would now receive a double portion, which is the privilege of the firstborn. When it came time for the tribes of Israel to possess the Promised Land, Ephraim and Manasseh would each inherit their own portion of territory.

By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones. Hebrews 11:22

When he saw his death approaching, Joseph comforted his brothers with the assurance of their return to Canaan according to God’s promise to the patriarchs. As a testimony of his own faith, Joseph charges his brothers to keep his remains unburied till that glorious day, when the twelve tribes would be settled in the land of promise. Thus Joseph, by faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, and the promise of Canaan, had them swear an oath concerning his bones.

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. Hebrews 11:23

Pharaoh had published an edict, ordering every Hebrew male child to be cast into the Nile River. Instead of obeying this order, by faith Moses was hidden for three months by his parents Amram and Jochebed (Numbers 26:59).

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Hebrews 11:24-26

As the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses enjoyed a position of high honor in Egypt. When he identified himself with the Hebrew slaves, he became the object of contempt and scorn. As a family member in Pharaoh’s court, Moses enjoyed whatever pleasures anyone could seek. He lived in luxury, ate the best food available and he was robed in royal garments. He had wealth and position. But by faith, Moses gave up the fleeting worldly pleasures of sin and sought the blessings of eternal reward.

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. Hebrews 11:27-28

At the time of the Exodus, Moses left Egypt not fearing Pharaoh’s anger because he saw a manifestation of the invisible God at the burning bush. He later spoke with God “face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11). Finally, he asked to see God, and God allowed him to see His “back” (Exodus 33:22-23).

At the culmination of the plagues, God gave Moses instructions for how Israel was to observe the Passover (Exodus 12). At the heart of that celebration was the sacrifice of an unblemished male lamb. Its blood was to be smeared on the doorposts and lintel of each house. God warned that He would go through the land on that night and kill every firstborn male in homes that did not have the blood on the doorposts. Moses by faith kept the Passover.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. Hebrews 11:29

The situation that the enemy thought would bring them an easy victory led to their defeat. God miraculously piled the water up as a wall on both sides for Israel to walk through on dry ground (Exodus 14:21-22). He moved the pillar of cloud behind them until they all passed through. Then He let the Egyptians pursue them in blind fury. The Egyptians abandoned reason and common sense and rushed into the sea to their own destruction. And so a helpless, defenseless, unorganized band of two and a half million slaves were delivered from a powerful, well-equipped army.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. Hebrews 11:30

On the seventh day of Joshua’s marching campaign at Jericho, the people awoke at daybreak and marched around the city seven times. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blasts, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city!” (See Joshua 6:15–16). Then the walls of Jericho fell down.

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews 11:31

The day Jericho fell to the Israelites, all the nation of Israel awaited Joshua’s orders. As the trumpets sounded, Joshua issued a loud command and the people shouted in response. When the great city wall collapsed, the men of Israel charged into the city, putting every living thing within to death. Only Rahab the prostitute and her household were spared.

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Hebrews 11:32-34

Just as the commander Joshua informed his men that Yehovah had given the Israelites the city of Jericho, and at the sounding of the shofar blast they were to shout; so did Gideon tell his men that Yehovah had given the Midianite camp into their hands, they were to blow their shofars and then shout.

Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. Judges 7:19-21

The pagans divided the duties of their watchmen into three watches of four hours each. The first watch was from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Most of the men would have gotten to bed early in order to rest up for the battle they expected to engage in on the following day. By 10:00 at night, they were sleeping soundly.

As one set of guards were leaving their posts and a new set of guards were taking their positions, the enemy soldiers were suddenly aroused out of their slumber. They were dazed and confused by the sudden blast of the shofars and the wild shout of a war-cry yelled from every side. They stumbled out of their tents, without leaders and without knowledge of the numbers of their foe. All around they saw the flaring torches and heard the trumpet-blasts which seemed to indicate an immense attacking force, so they fled crying out in panic and in the midst of chaos.

When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. Judges 7:22a

With only 300 men, Gideon’s weakness was turned to strength and by faith he routed foreign armies.

Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot. Judges 4:14-15

Barak led the Israelite charge of 10,000 men against Sisera’s army. It seems that the LORD’s intervention on behalf of the Israelites was in the form of a rainstorm causing the Kishon River to flood which made chariot travel for the Canaanites extremely difficult.

Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. Judges 4:16

As the chariots became bogged down in the mud they would overturn and the charioteers would be easy prey for the Israelite foot soldiers. By faith Barak and his foot soldiers defeated a Canaanite army and their charioteers.

Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. Judges 16:29-30

Despite all of Samson’s moral weaknesses and his disregard for the restrictions of a Nazarite, Samson turned back to God in faith before he died. God in His sovereignty used Samson to fulfill His purpose. Samson’s death did much to impede the oppressive actions of the Philistines against the Israelites by killing all five Philistine rulers in his final act of supernatural strength.

Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands. He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon. Judges 11:29-33

The Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah endowing him with an extraordinary measure of courage and wisdom, and all other qualities necessary to render him fit to be a ruler of his people. The people had chosen him for their leader and now God publicly declares his approval of their choice and anoints him as their judge.

Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah and Samuel were all judges of the Israelites before the time of the kings. The Judges were both prophets and warriors who sought to bring God’s people to repentance and deliver them from the hands of their enemies. Their role was to turn the people back from idolatry and thus restore the authority of the Mosaic Law. The judges were leaders or rulers who took charge of the affairs of several tribes in times of war. They also assumed leadership of their respective tribes in the subsequent times of peace. They through faith conquered kingdoms and administered justice as did King David.

Nebuchadnezzar had assembled musicians from all over the civilized world to form his orchestra. As soon as the sound of six instruments was heard, the provincial rulers and administrators from all the nations that comprised the Babylonian Empire were to bow down and worship the image of gold that he erected or be thrown into a fiery furnace.

At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:8-12

Even with the prospect of being thrown alive into a blazing furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not hesitate whether or not they should comply with the king’s command. They knew that must obey God rather than man. They believed that God would deliver them, either from death or in death. By faith they “quenched the fury of the flames.” They emerged from the furnace unharmed. Their robes were not burned, not even a hair singed, while the cords that had been used to bind them were consumed.

Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” Daniel 6:3-5

Daniel was taken captive to Babylon in 607 B.C. Forty-eight years later in 539 B.C., Babylon was conquered by the Medes and the Persians. For nearly half a century, Daniel had faithfully served his captors. His exceptional and trustworthy character was beyond reproach. King Darius was planning to place Daniel in the position of prime minister over all the empire to root out waste and corruption. The other administrators and the satraps were so concerned about having an honest man in a position of power and authority over them that they sought to discredit Daniel. Realizing that they could not bring charges of misconduct against Daniel because he was a diligent worker and a man of integrity; the other government officials sought to make it illegal for Daniel to follow his religious practices.

Using flattery, these administrators and satraps sought to persuade Darius into issuing a royal decree forbidding anyone to petition any god or man except the king for the following thirty days. The penalty for disobeying this edict would be a horrible death – being mauled and devoured by lions. The intent of these greedy officials was to ensure that Daniel would not live to oversee their corrupt practices.

Daniel, having learned that the decree forbidding prayer to anyone but the king was now officially enacted, went home and prayed to God. He did not pray in secret in a closet, but went upstairs where the windows opened towards Jerusalem and prayed as he had been doing previously.

Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” Daniel 6:21-22

Although the penalty for his actions would result in his being thrown to the lions, through faith Daniel trusted the LORD to deliver him.

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Hebrews 11:35a

Scripture records that both Elijah and Elisha raised the dead. Their actions were also a prophetic picture of the ministry of the Messiah. Elijah raised the son of the widow of Nain, while Elisha raised the son of the Gentile woman. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus also raises the son of a widow from Nain, placing himself in the company of the greatest of all the prophets.

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. Hebrews 11:35b-38

During the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, there was great persecution of the Jewish people and the temple in Jerusalem was defiled.

“He will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time. Daniel 11:21-24

The contemptible person was Antiochus IV Epiphanes. His self-proclaimed title, Epiphanes which means “God manifest” demonstrated his egomania. Because of his cruelty and irrational behavior many people referred to him instead as Antiochus Epimames (“The Madman”).

Antiochus Epiphanes outlawed the Jewish religion and ordered the Jews to worship Greek gods. His soldiers descended upon Jerusalem, massacring thousands of people, sold many more into slavery including women and children, and desecrated the city’s holy Second Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls. The persecution not only involved a complete abomination of the Temple and the altar, but copies of the Torah were burned, and Sabbath keeping and circumcision were forbidden. Possession of Jewish scriptures was made a capital offense.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40

Although these men and women were lauded for their faith, they did not live to receive the great promise – the coming of the Messiah and salvation in Him. No one was “made perfect” under the Old Covenant, because Christ had not yet died. They were saved, but not until Jesus’ work on the cross was complete could salvation be perfect. Their salvation looked ahead to what Christ would do. Ours looks back to what he has done. Ours is “more” perfect now but someday in glory it will be totally perfect.

Hebrews Chapter 10 – Christ’s Ultimate Sacrifice Once for All

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The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Hebrews 10:1

The Mosaic Law refers to the laws God gave Moses on Mount Sinai after releasing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. They include the Ten Commandments, ordinances for living in society, and regulations for worship (requirements for priests, sacrifices, feasts, and the temple).

The sacrifices that were offered were only able to temporarily cover sin. The law revealed the numerous ways humans fail to live up to God’s standard and humanity’s need for a savior.

Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10: 2-4

It was 3,500 years ago, 1,500 before Christ when God instructed Moses to build the tabernacle. The Tabernacle (Hebrew: מִשְׁכַּן‎, mishkan, “residence” or “dwelling place”), was the portable earthly dwelling place of God amongst the children of Israel from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan. The First Temple was built in 957 BC by King Solomon as the sole place of Israelite sacrifice. The Temple replaced the Tabernacle constructed in the Sinai Desert. The Second Temple was authorized by Cyrus the Great and began in 538 BC, after the fall of the Babylonian Empire the year before. It was completed 23 years later. Around 20 BC, the building was renovated and expanded by Herod the Great, and became known as Herod’s Temple.

For a millennium and a half (except during the Babylonian captivity) sacrifices for sin were offered. This purification offering temporarily dealt with disruption in the relationship between the children of Israel and God. If the sacrifices offered were able to permanently cleanse the worshippers, they would have ceased to be offered.

On Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), there were sacrifices made corporately for the nation of Israel as a whole. This most sacred and solemn annual event served as a reminder for both the nation and the individual of their sins that only could temporarily be covered, but not taken away by the blood of animal sacrifices.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, my God.’” Hebrews 10:5-7

What was written in the scroll concerning the coming Messiah is found in Psalm 40:6-8. This quote from David’s prophetic psalm is reminiscent of the words of Samuel to Saul (1 Samuel 15:22): “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying (literally, hearkening to) the LORD? To obey (literally, to hear) is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Hebrews 10:8

Why were sacrifices offered up according to the Mosaic Law not pleasing to the LORD? First of all, obedience is better than sacrifice. If the Israelites were capable of perfectly obeying God’s laws, there would be no need to offer up sacrifices in the first place.

The account of Cain and Able serves as an excellent example as to another reason why the LORD may reject (not desire) and be displeased with an offering.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. Genesis 4:2b

Abel was a shepherd while Cain cultivated the soil and became a farmer.

 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.  But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Genesis 4:3-5

The phrase, “in the course of time” (marginal note: “at the end of days” or understood as the end of the week) indicates that probably it was on the Sabbath that the two brothers presented their offerings to the LORD.

Some people have suggested that Cain’s offering was unacceptable because he offered plants while Abel offered animal sacrifices. Of course, without blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). While this passage foreshadows salvation by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and that we cannot be saved by our “works,” I don’t think that necessarily this is the reason that the Cain’s sacrifice was unacceptable. Although the grain offering was a bloodless sacrifice, God not only accepted grain offerings when the sacrificial system was instituted but in some cases required them. In fact there was a time in Israel’s history that because of the rebellious attitude of the people that animal sacrifices were meaningless in the eyes of the LORD.

“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals, I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. Isaiah 1:11

The passage does give us some insight into what made their sacrifices pleasing to the LORD or not. It says that Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn. He not only offered the “firstfruits” of his flock, he also offered the choicest parts. Abel was clearly giving the best of what he had to God. Cain, on the other hand, brought some of the fruits of the soil, and not the firstfruits. The portion he offered may have been damaged or what Cain considered “leftover.” Abel’s and Cain’s actions were a reflection of their attitudes towards God. Was the LORD God worthy to receive their very best offering or not?

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:6-7

When Cain’s sacrifice was rejected by the LORD, he became angry. He looked sad, depressed and dejected. He was obsessed with self. The LORD responded by saying, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” In other words, Cain’s unacceptable offering was a reflection of his unacceptable hard heart. Cain was told what was necessary to be accepted – to do what is right. Cain also was warned that if his anger was not mastered that he would be consumed by it.

Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:9-10

The author of the Book of Hebrews first illustrates that the tabernacle, and ordinances of the covenant of Sinai, were only symbols and types of the gospel. Then he concludes that the sacrifices the high priests offered continually could not make the worshippers perfect, could not blot out their sins, nor could their consciences be freed from guilt.

But when God manifested in the flesh, He became the ultimate sacrifice and his death upon the cross the payment for sin. Since the Lamb of God being of infinite worth, His atoning blood was of infinite value. His obedience to the will of the Father made His sacrifice both acceptable and pleasing to God.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:11-14

Under the Old Covenant, there were continuous, perpetual offerings being made that never were capable of taking away sins. But under the New Covenant, the one-time atoning death of Jesus Christ was able to completely satisfy the sin debt of the sinner, who by grace through faith, has been imputed the righteousness of Christ.

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:30

The three English words, “It is finished” are translated from the one Greek word, “Tetelestai.” The word tetelestai was also written on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to show indicating that a bill had been paid in full.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

The payment required for sin is death and when Christ said, “It is finished,” He was saying that the sin debt was “PAID IN FULL!”  We owed a debt we could not pay. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe!

After His atoning death, burial, resurrection and ascension, Jesus Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the LORD. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. Hebrews 10:15-18

Due to the infinite worth of the precious blood of the eternal Son of God being shed on the cross of Calvary, the “sin debt” has been pain in full and the blood sacrifices for sin prescribed in the Law of Moses are no longer necessary.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22

The thick veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies) was torn from top to bottom at the moment Jesus died on the cross.

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. Matthew 27:50-51

Of all the Israelites, only the High Priest could enter through the veil. He could only enter into the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement to come before the divine presence (Shekinah glory) that hovered above the Mercy Seat. But that earthly veil was torn from top to bottom symbolizing that, through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, all believers have direct access to God through the Son. Jesus is our great high priest who provided a new and living way so that we may draw near to God.

The earthly high priest would come through the veil and take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover and then he sprinkled some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover (Leviticus 16:14). We can draw near to God in confidence with a sincere heart because our hearts (souls) have been sprinkled with the blood of Christ. Our guilty consciences have been cleansed representing our inner purification. Our bodies have been baptized representing both our outer purity and our identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

In light of the persecution that the Hebrew Christians were facing, the author of this letter encourages his readers to be steadfast in their faith. The hope of their profession of faith is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Christ.

God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Numbers 23:19

Believers can be assured that God will perform His word and is faithful to keep His covenant promises.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Since each member of the body is given spiritual gifts for the common good, and no individual (except for Jesus) has all the gifts of the Spirit, it is essential that believers gather together on a regular basis. The purpose is to study God’s word, pray, worship corporately, and lovingly spur on one another to do the works of ministry each one using their spiritual gifts.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Hebrews 10:26-27

People who have heard the gospel have been made aware of the truth that they are sinners and in need of a savior. They have heard of the gracious gift of salvation that is available due to the finished work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. They have been offered the forgiveness of their sins and the promise of eternal life.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

The reason that they deliberately continued to keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth is that, although they knew the truth, they refused to love the truth that would save them. By rejecting the atoning sacrifice of Jesus which takes away sins, there is no other sacrifice for sins left but only eternal punishment.

Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:28-29

“Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses” is a reference is to Deuteronomy 17:2-7. The sin spoken there is that of one “who is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky.” The punishment was physical death.

The rhetorical question asked to the Hebrew believers in Jesus the Messiah is, “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:30-31

The warning is clear; the punishment is not merely physical death, but separation from God in outer darkness and eternal punishment suffering in unquenchable fire.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. Hebrews 10:32-35

The believers who had endured through personal insult, persecution, and confiscation of their property are exhorted not to cast away their confidence in eternal life and reward, or to become timid, disheartened, and discouraged.

For this momentary light affliction is working for us a far more exceeding and everlasting weight of glory; 2 Corinthians 4:17

The details of the momentary light affliction the Apostle Paul refers to is found in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27:

Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

The reason the Apostle Paul could exhort believers to always rejoice even when he was writing his prison epistles sitting in a dark, damp dungeon is that he had seen the third heaven – the paradise of God. He understood the brevity and difficulties of this life paled in comparison to the exceeding and everlasting weight of glory awaiting believers in Christ. In a similar fashion, the writer of Hebrews tells his readers, “… do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” Hebrews 10:36-37

These believers needed to see endurance as a necessity for persevering in the Christian life. The toughest and most discouraging trials are when we are called to obey God’s will when the fulfillment of His promise seems so far away. This is why we need endurance. Faithfulness during the time when the promise seems unfulfilled is the measure of your obedience and spiritual maturity. This endurance is built through trials, the testing of our faith (James 1:2, 3, 4).

And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Hebrews 10:38-39

The writer now quotes the words of Habakkuk 2:4b, “The righteous will live by faith,” repeated by Paul in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11. The quote from Habakkuk emphasizes that not shrinking back even in persecution equates with saving faith and that the person who has been declared righteous by God lives and will survive the coming ordeal by faith.

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Matthew 13:5-6

The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Matthew 13:20-21

In the “Parable of the Sower,” the “seed” represents the Word of God. The seed that fell on rocky ground (a stony heart), produced a plant that sprung up quickly but soon withered. When trouble or persecution comes, only a true born-again believer who is rooted and grounded because they have good soil (a softened heart) will not fall away but bear fruit. The Hebrew Christians to whom this letter has been written will not shrink back when faced with persecution because they have saving faith.

Hebrews Chapter 9 – Regulations for Worship in the Tabernacle

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Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Hebrews 9:1-2

The book of Exodus relates that at Mount Sinai, Moses was given instructions for a portable tent-like sanctuary that was to be the center of Israel’s worship (Exodus 25-30). The sanctuary was called both the “Tabernacle” (dwelling) and the “Tent of Meeting.”

Within the tabernacle’s first room (the Holy Place) was the golden lampstand. Symbolizing light from God, the intricately patterned lampstand was to give light continually, fueled by clear olive oil (Exodus 27:20). Revelation 1:12-20 indicates that the local churches were represented by golden lampstands. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). Christians are to be a light to the world, also (Matthew 5:14).

The table of showbread is a symbol of God’s omnipresence and provision. The table held the twelve loaves of bread that were a reminder that the tribes were constantly in the presence of God and that God saw all that they did (Leviticus 24:5-9).

The bread also reminded the people that God fed His people. God provides what we need (Matthew 6:25-34). We as Christians are daily in God’s presence. We are to “feed on” God’s truth (Matthew 4:4). Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35).

Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered Ark of the Covenant. Hebrews 9:3-4a

The golden altar was actually in the Holy Place where it stood before the inner veil (curtain) separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.

Hebrews 10:19-20 teaches that this veil represents Christ’s body which was given for us on the cross. When He offered up His spirit, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom, thus allowing anyone to come at any time into God’s presence (Matthew 27:50-51).

Aaron, the High Priest, was instructed to burn incense on the altar each morning and at twilight, every day, as a regular offering to the LORD (Exodus 30:7–8).

The altar of incense can be seen as a symbol of the prayers of God’s people. Our prayers ascend to God as the smoke of the incense ascended in the sanctuary. The fact that the incense was always burning means that we should always pray (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

The altar of incense can also be seen as a picture of the intercession of Christ. Just as the altar of sacrifice in the courtyard was a type of Christ’s death on our behalf, the altar of incense in the Holy Place was a type of Christ’s mediation on our behalf—Christ’s work on earth and in heaven.

Only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, would the high priest enter into the Most Holy Place through the inner veil. The high priest was first to make atonement on the horns of the golden altar of incense before entering the Holy of Holies. The writer of Hebrews places the altar of incense behind the second curtain because on the important significance of the Day of Atonement, the most solemn day on the Hebrew ceremonial calendar. It is when the smoke from the incense would shield the High Priest from the overwhelming divine presence – the Shekinah glory of God.

“When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat.”     

“He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites – all their sins – and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task.” Leviticus 16:20-21 

The Day of Atonement is the only day each year on the Hebrew calendar when the high priest offers up sacrifices for the corporate national sins of Israel including wickedness and rebellion.

This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. Hebrews 9:4b-5

A symbol of God’s law and authority, the ark was made of wood covered with gold. The ark was the throne of God where His glory rested above the Mercy Seat (top), a symbol of His loving kindness and compassion. The sacrificed blood was sprinkled on the ark to cover the sins of the people.

The phrase “Mercy Seat” also means “propitiation.” Propitiation means the turning away of wrath by an offering. In relation to salvation, propitiation means placating or satisfying the wrath of God by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Jesus is the propitiation for us today (Romans 3:25; I John 2:2.) His blood was shed to cleanse our sins. We come to God through Him and offer our spiritual sacrifices (I Peter 2:5,9).

The stone tablets of the covenant (10 Commandments) served as a reminder of mankind’s disobedience to Gods commandments.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10

Since no one is able to measure up to God’s holiness in his own efforts, the law pointed to the need for a savior.

A golden pot of manna was a reminder of ancient Israel’s rejection of Gods provision.

“But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:6

The budded rod of Aaron was a reminder of how the people questioned God’s appointed leadership.

Numbers 17:1-13 can be summarized as follows: The Israelites were constantly grumbling against Moses. God said, “Moses, get me twelve staffs, one from each tribe. The staff that sprouts belongs to the man I have chosen” Aaron’s rod was the one that budded.

When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:6-7

The high priest could not go within the veil, because he was not perfect. He had to be sprinkled with blood, and that made him ceremonially acceptable to stand before the divine presence. But when next year came around he was not fit to go within the veil till blood was sprinkled on him again. And the next year, though he was always a consecrated man set apart by God to the office of high priest, he was not a perfect man. He had to be sprinkled with blood again. And so, year after year, the high priest before he went within the veil, first needed to make atonement by the sprinkling of blood for his own sins and then for the nation in order that he might obtain access to God.

There are two types of unintentional sins. The first type is committed in ignorance. This occurs when there is any disobedience to a specific Biblical command because the offender was unaware of the command. The second type is unintentional known sin. This involves an unplanned or unintended disobedience to a biblical command which the offender knew. He accidentally did evil. Leviticus 4:1-12 and Numbers 15:22-29 refer to unintentional sin in general.

On the other hand, presumptuous or willful sins are deliberate known sins that occur when a person who knows God’s revealed will written in the Bible, yet chooses to disobey by doing what is prohibited or not doing what is commanded.

The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order. Hebrews 9:8-10

The first tabernacle was still functioning in a symbolic way since the second temple was still in use when the epistle (letter) to the Hebrew believers in Christ was written. The great weakness of the Old Covenant was that it dealt with external regulations. The worshiper who offered the proper sacrifices, washed himself ceremonially upon required occasions, observed the regulations as to meats and drinks was accepted into the commonwealth of God during that period. But none of those external ordinances did anything at all to cleanse the consciences of sinners. The blood of bulls and goats, the sprinkling of altars, the ashes of a red heifer, the burning of incense, the washings, etc., none of those things made the slightest change in people’s hearts.

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:11-12

The earthly tabernacle was built by human hands and was based upon the pattern of the preexisting perfect heavenly tabernacle.

The Heavenly Throne and Cherubim:

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. Revelation 4:7

The Earthly Ark, Mercy Seat, and Cherubim (patterned after the heavenly):

“Make an atonement cover of pure gold-two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. Exodus 25:17-19

The Earthly Twenty-Four Courses of Priests:

After Moses received the Torah by the hand of God, his brother Aaron was ordained as High Priest. Aaron had four sons. His oldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, were struck dead for offering profane fire before the LORD. Nadab and Abihu had no sons of their own. Aaron’s surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, served as priests. They and their male descendants after them served as priests before the LORD from the time that Israel wandered in the wilderness until the time of King David. There were a total of twenty-four heads of families from the tribe of Levi during the days of King David’s reign. The regulation of twenty-four courses of priests rotating to minister in the Tabernacle was established in the days when Solomon had the Temple constructed and continued to be observed until the Second Temple was destroyed by Rome in AD 70.

The Heavenly Pattern of the Priests:

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. Revelation 4:4

The twenty-four courses of priests serving in the earthly Temple were patterned after the twenty-four angelic priests who minister in the heavenly sanctuary.

Unlike the earthly high priest who entered into the Most Holy Place by the blood of sacrificed animals once a year over and over again, Jesus only had to enter once for all by his own blood. He was then able to obtain eternal redemption for those who by faith would place their trust in His work of redemption on the cross.

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. Hebrews 9:13

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a ritually pure red heifer were necessary to purify the furnishings in the temple. They were also used to purify people who may have become unclean by touching a dead body for example. But these rituals only sanctified the people outwardly.

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! Hebrews 9:13-14

People’s consciences could not be cleansed by doing the works of the law. The blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin. A good conscience becomes reality when a person receives the gospel of Christ through faith and repentance. He or she testifies of the inward work of grace by baptism, and rising to walk in newness of life.

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15

A mediator is one who intervenes between two people and serves as an intermediate and conduit of communication between these two contracting parties. Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant.

Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man (1Timothy 2:5). He makes reconciliation between God and man by his all-perfect atoning sacrifice. Such a mediator must be at once divine and human. Being divine, Christ’s obedience and his sufferings possess infinite worth. By his infinite wisdom, knowledge, and power, he can perfectly direct all things in the kingdoms of providence and grace which are committed to his hands. In his humanity, He is the perfect representative of mankind, and was capable of rendering complete obedience to the law and satisfying the requirement of justice. In his glorified humanity He reigns as the head of a glorified Church (Colossians 1:18).

In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. Hebrews 9:16-17

While a person is still alive, they can alter their last will and testament. Only after they die, are the provisions of the will put into effect. Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross and the shedding of His blood both ratified the New Covenant as well as put it into effect.

This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:18-22

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word “berith” is always translated as covenant. Berith is derived from a root which means “to cut,” and hence a covenant is a “cutting,” with reference to the cutting or dividing of animals into two parts, and the contracting parties passing between them, in making a covenant.

A series of events are set into motion when two people decide they want to “cut the covenant.” It is referred to as the blood covenant ceremony and is considered a most serious and solemn event.

The walk of blood: Each participant walks a path in the shape of a figure “8” between the halves of the slain animal, then stops in the middle in the midst of the pool of blood to pronounce the blessings and the curses of the covenant. The curses would be brought to bear upon the one who broke the blood covenant. It basically said, “The one who breaks this covenant will die just like this animal has died.” A pledge was also made that said, “Just as this animal gave its life so I will give my life for you if necessary.”

The LORD cut a covenant with Abram.

But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Genesis 15:2-3

According to the account found in the first two verses of Genesis chapter 12, Abram had been promised that the LORD would make him into a great nation and would bless him if Abram would leave his country, his people and his father’s household and go to the land that the LORD would show him. Abram had made the arduous and dangerous thousand mile journey. First Abram transported his family, servants, goods, and animals on a hard trek from the Chaldean city of Ur to Haran, and then from Haran to Canaan.

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars —if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:4-5

Abram had believed God’s promise that he would have an heir from his own body and numerous offspring. Abram was declared righteous because of his faith.

He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” Genesis 15:7-8

Abram asked for a sign that he would possess the Land of Canaan, but instead the LORD ratified His promise by entering into a covenantal relationship with him.

So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Genesis 15:9-10

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates — the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” Genesis 15:17-21

Both the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant involved the death of ceremonially clean animals and the shedding of their blood.

It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Hebrews 9:23-24

The earthly tabernacle and the later two temples in Jerusalem were patterned after the heavenly sanctuary. The man-made tabernacle was declared ceremonially clean by purification with the blood of animals. As the heavenly tabernacle is far superior to the earthly copy, so is the blood of Christ far superior to the blood of sacrificial animals.

Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:25-26

The hypostatic union is the term used to describe how God the Son, Jesus Christ, took on a human nature, yet remained fully God at the same time. Jesus always had been God (John 8:58, 10:30), but at the incarnation Jesus became a human being (John 1:14). The addition of the human nature to the divine nature is Jesus, the God-man. This is the hypostatic union, Jesus Christ, one Person, fully God and fully man.

Since Jesus is fully God and fully man, His blood has infinite worth. Unlike the earthly high priests who had to enter the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of animals, Jesus only had to be crucified once to shed his blood to do away with sin.

 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28

During the “First Advent”, when John was baptizing in the Jordan, he declared that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus rode into Jerusalem lowly on a donkey’s colt. Five days later, Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah 53 as the “Suffering Servant” who would bear the sins of His people by His death on the cross.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:23

At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:27-28

Note that this Bible verse does not say, “Redeemer” but “redemption.” He is coming back to redeem our mortal, corruptible bodies. Both those saints who are alive at His coming as well as those who are asleep in Christ will receive their glorified bodies to meet Him in the air.

He came the first time as a sacrificial lamb, but He is returning as, “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” When Jesus returns to the earth, the King of Kings and Lord of lords will be riding a “war horse.” He will be king over all the earth!

Hebrews Chapter 8 – Jesus the High Priest of the New Covenant

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Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,  and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. Hebrews 8:1-2

After His atoning death and resurrection, Jesus ascended into the heavens and is sitting at the right hand of God. He serves in the heavenly tabernacle as our High Priest.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25

Jesus is our eternal mediator and the great high priest who has an unchangeable priesthood.

Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. Hebrews 8:3

The gifts and sacrifices of the earthly priests were the bodies and blood of ceremonially clean animals, grain and drink offerings. The Son of God presented a far greater offering of infinite worth – His own body and blood.

If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 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.” Hebrews 8:4-5

The Levitical priests served in an earthly sanctuary which was only a copy and shadow of the perfect heavenly tabernacle. When Moses met with the LORD on Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah (the rules and regulations of the Mosaic covenant), he also received specific instructions concerning the measurements and materials used in the construction of the tabernacle, its furnishings, the utensils used for sacrifice, and even the clothing of the Levites and the High Priest.

But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. Hebrews 8:6

Just as the New Covenant is far superior to the Old Covenant, so is Jesus’ ministry as high priest of the heavenly tabernacle far superior to that of those in the line of Levi who served at the earthly sanctuary.

The Mosaic Covenant was forged with an entire nation. The Mosaic Covenant is a conditional covenant made between God and the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-24). It either brought God’s direct blessing for obedience or God’s direct cursing for disobedience upon the nation of Israel. Part of the Mosaic Covenant was the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and the rest of the Law, which contained over 613 commands. The pattern of this covenant is very similar to other ancient covenants of that time because it is between a sovereign king (God) and his people or subjects (Israel). At the time of the covenant, God reminded the people of their obligation to be obedient to His law (Exodus 19:5), and the people agreed to the covenant when they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” (Exodus 19:8). This covenant would serve to set the nation of Israel apart from all other nations as God’s chosen people.

The New Covenant is an unconditional covenant involving God and His people. The key aspect of this covenant is the blessing of salvation. There is provision for the forgiveness of sin. The New Covenant will do the very thing that the Mosaic Covenant was unable to do. The Mosaic Covenant was able only to cover the sins of Israel, but the New Covenant takes them away.

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20

The Law of Moses revealed that all people are sinful and in need of a savior. The New Covenant is a covenant confirmed by the blood of the Savior which would pay the price of sin.

Unlike the Old Covenant (Mosaic Covenant), in the New Covenant God’s law is not written on tablets of stone but written upon hearts of flesh by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2:10

The reason Israel failed to keep the Law under the Mosaic Covenant was that the people lacked the power to comply with the righteous standards of God.

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17

Only sinless Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) was able to keep the entire Mosaic Law perfectly.

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said:

“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. Hebrews 8:7-8

The writer of Hebrews quotes here from Jeremiah 31:31 to initiate his argument that Jesus, the Son of God, who he has already proven was superior to angels, Moses, and the Levitical priesthood, is also the high priest of a new and better covenant. This prophecy concerning the New Covenant was uttered under the inspiration of God over six hundred years before the birth of the Messiah.

It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. Hebrews 8:9

The LORD had delivered the children of Israel out of the bondage in Egypt with a mighty hand. He redeemed them from the land of slavery and from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Not only did they witness ten plagues that the Egyptians endured, they and their animals were not affected by them. When the Egyptian army pursued them, God miraculously brought them through the Red Sea on dry ground, but drowned their enemies. The LORD had repeatedly demonstrated His power and goodness towards them. At Mount Sinai, the LORD entered in to a covenant relationship with his people.

The Mosaic Covenant was forged with the entire nation of Israel. The Mosaic Covenant is a conditional covenant made between God and the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-24). It either brought God’s direct blessing for obedience or God’s direct cursing for disobedience upon the nation of Israel. Part of the Mosaic Covenant was the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and the rest of the Law, which contained 613 commands, rules and regulations.

At the time of the covenant, God reminded the people of their obligation to be obedient to His law (Exodus 19:5), and the people agreed to the covenant when they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” (Exodus 19:8).

When the LORD delivered Israel from slavery, He intended to bring them into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. The children of Israel, because of their lack of faith, complained and fought against God almost every step of the way. When Moses was receiving the law on Mount Sinai, they worshipped a golden calf. They complained about being thirsty, about being hungry, about the manna and about the leadership. In fear because of the bad report of ten of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, the people refuse to enter into the Promised Land. So the LORD declared on oath in His anger that that generation of Israelites would never enter His rest.

This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Hebrews 8:10

Jeremiah prophesied that there would be a “New Covenant” that was unlike the conditional Mosaic Covenant which the children of Israel or anyone else would be able to keep perfectly.

When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. Luke 22:14-20

The New Covenant is an unconditional covenant involving God and His people. The key aspect of this covenant is the blessing of salvation. There is provision for the forgiveness of sin. The New Covenant will do the very thing that the Mosaic Covenant was unable to do. The Mosaic Covenant was able only to cover the sins of Israel, but the New Covenant will take them away.

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20

The Law of Moses revealed that all people are sinful and in need of a savior. The New Covenant is a covenant confirmed by the blood of the Savior which would pay the price of sin.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Acts 2:1-6

Unlike the Old Covenant (Mosaic Covenant), in the New Covenant God’s law is not written on tablets of stone but written upon hearts of flesh by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. Hebrews 8:11

During the Millennial reign of Christ prophecies, such as Hebrews 8:11, which have not as yet been fulfilled, will be fulfilled. At that time:

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:9

The Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne in Zion at the renewal of all things. The capital of the millennial kingdom (Jerusalem) marks a renewal of the state of the Garden of Eden as it existed as very good before the fall of man. Both the saved remnant of the twelve tribes of Israel, as well as, the survivors from all nations that attacked Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:16) enter the Millennium. All of Israel will dwell in Zion on God’s holy mountain where animals will return to their docile state. Before the fall, the animals did not devour one another. They lived in harmony as herbivores.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. Isaiah 11:6

The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. Isaiah 11:7

There will be three classifications of people dwelling on earth during the Millennium. We, the glorified saints, who had been raptured will return to earth with Christ to rule and reign with Him over the nations. The survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:16) have taken the mark of the beast. They are in their mortal bodies and the subjects of Christ who rules over them with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27). The twelve tribes of Israel who have survived through the time of Jacob’s Trouble are in their mortal bodies and dwelling in peace on God’s holy mountain (Romans 11:25-26; Ezekiel 20:40).

Up until the time of the flood, the prediluvian patriarchs lived for hundreds and hundreds of years. Adam lived for 930 years. Methuselah who enjoyed the greatest longevity lived for 969 years. No one is recorded to have lived for a full 1,000 years. During the Millennium great longevity will be restored to those on God’s holy mountain.

Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought to be a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. Isaiah 65:20

The 1,000 year reign of Christ marks a time of world peace. All the cities of the world will collapse at the outpouring of the seventh bowl of God’s wrath. During the Millennium, people will return to pastoral living.

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12

After the time of “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), when the Lord returns to earth to rescue Israel, all those survivors from the twelve tribes will be saved.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.

As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” Romans 11:26-27

Because the survivors from the twelve tribes of Israel were not part of the rapture, and will be saved when the Lord returns with the glorified saints, they will enter into the Millennial Kingdom in their mortal bodies along with the survivors from all the nations who have taken the mark of the beast.

The Israelites will prosper and live in peace for 1,000 years in the Promised Land. People who took the mark will reluctantly bow their knee to Jesus Christ who will rule over them with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9; Romans 14:11).

By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; Hebrews 8:13a

In the Old Covenant (Old Testament) instructions for the performance of various types of sacrifices are found in the first seven chapters of the book of Leviticus. There are four main types of animal sacrifice, as well as a grain sacrifice.

These five sacrificial offerings, in their various forms, have one crucial element in common: the burning of some portion in the altar fire. This burning transformed the offering into smoke, which produced a “pleasing aroma.” Also significant is the fact that every animal sacrifice includes some special treatment of the animal’s blood.

The repeated sacrifice of clean animals and applying their blood for the temporary covering of sin has been replaced by Jesus’ one time sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:12).

and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. Hebrews 13b

What is considered “soon” in man’s understanding is not necessarily what “soon” means in God’s eyes.

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Revelation 22:12

Believers have awaited 2000 years for the “soon” return of Christ.

Beloved, do not let this one thing escape your notice: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some understand slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9

The “soon” disappearance of the Old Covenant will take a few thousand years also.

In my understanding and according to the following verses of Scripture, when the Lord returns and establishes His Kingdom on earth during the time of the Millennium, it will be a theocracy and the temple practices and Festivals of the LORD will be re-established. When the Lord returns, He will rule the nations from Zion seated on His throne in His temple and the nations will go up each year to Jerusalem to worship the King.

Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. Zechariah 14:16

Since the survivors have taken the “mark of the beast” and are in mortal bodies, for them to be able to worship the King Messiah, they will need a blood sacrifice to temporarily cover their sins or they would die.

From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. Isaiah 66:23

The saints will be ruling and reigning with the Messiah in glorified bodies, while the surviving children of Israel will be living in the expanded Promised Land in their natural bodies. The New Moon and Sabbath observances will be reinstated. Though the Israelites will be saved when the Lord returns and do not need to offer up sacrifices for sin, they will participate in fellowship and thanksgiving offerings.

This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until the day when I drink it anew with you in My Father’s” kingdom. Matthew 26:28-29

When the Lord instituted the New Covenant, He did it during the Passover Seder. During the course of the celebration, four cups of wine were shared. After the supper, He took the third cup, which was known as the “cup of redemption,” and instituted the New Covenant in His own blood. He did not drink the fourth cup, the cup of acceptance. Instead, Jesus proclaimed He would drink it anew during His millennial reign when all of Israel will have accepted Him as Messiah each year when Passover is observed.

The King of the Jews will reign in Jerusalem seated on His throne in the third temple. Instead of hanging stockings for Santa or hunting for Easter eggs, the weekly Sabbath, monthly New Moon festivals, and annual festivals such as the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles will be observed.

Then, after the thousand years are over, the Old Covenant will be obsolete and disappear.

Hebrews Ch.7 – Jesus is a Priest in the Order of Melchizedek

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This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Hebrews 7:1-2

Four kings from Mesopotamia went to war against five Canaanite kings who rebelled after having been subjugated to them for 12 years. Abram’s nephew Lot was taken captive and his possessions were taken as plunder by the four kings from Mesopotamia. Lot exposed himself and his family to danger by preferring to live in a fertile area near Sodom, even though the people who lived in the region were workers of iniquity. Not only did Lot suffer being taken captive, but so was his entire family. Ironically Lot, who sought to enrich himself by living in the plain of the Jordan, ended up losing of all his property.

Abram had a company of three hundred and eighteen trained men, born in his own house. This number of men is an indication of Abram’s wealth and power. Including women and children, there were probably more than 1,000 persons under his authority and enough corresponding numbers of flocks and herds to feed, clothe and provide shelter for all of them.

Although the armies of the five ungodly kings of the cities of the Valley of Siddim had fled in defeat, Abram was victorious. Gideon with a mere 300 men routed a great multitude of Midianites and Amalekites. In a similar fashion, because the LORD was with him, Abram not only defeated the armies of four kings with only 318 men but all the stolen goods and kidnapped people were recovered.

After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Genesis 14:17-20a

This is the first recorded appearance of the priest of the Most High God (Hebrew – Kohen El Elyon). The name Melchizedek is the compilation of three Hebrew words, melek, iy and tsedeq. Melek means “king.” Meleky or melchi means “king of. Tsedeq” means “righteousness.” The meaning of the name Melchizedek is “King of Righteousness.” Salem (shalom) means peace. The King of Righteousness was also the King of Peace.

Melchizedek brought out bread and wine which are the emblems of the communion table and blessed Abram.

The term “chazal” refers to the rabbinic sages who served as commentators on the Hebrew Scriptures. According to the Chazalic literature, specifically Targum Jonathan, Targum Yerushalmi, and the Babylonian Talmud, the name Melchizedek (מלכי־צדק) served as a title for Shem, the son of Noah.

He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.” Genesis 9:26-27

Noah declared that Yehovah – the Great I AM – was the God of Shem. Through Shem, the middle son, the “promised seed of the woman” (Messiah) would be transmitted. Shem not only was still alive during the days of Abraham, but actually outlived Abraham.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20

Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 110:4 which declared: The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. Genesis 14:20b

Abram gave a tithe of the recovered goods to Melchizedek.

Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. Hebrews 7:3

Jesus being 100% human has a genealogy that proves He is the promised descendant of David who is the promised seed of Eve. Jesus had both a natural mother and a father. But also being in very nature, 100% God the Son, Jesus is eternal. The phrase translated as “like the Son of God” in the NIV is translated as “resembling the Son of God” in the English standard Version and “but made like unto the Son of God” in the King James. The inspired author was trying to communicate the idea that God intentionally presented Melchizedek as a type of Christ, who foreshadowed the Son of God who was to come. The purpose of the phrase was to emphasize the unique nature of Melchizedek’s priesthood; that it did not pass from one person to another as did that of the Aaronic priesthood.

And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:6

The Scripture states that Jesus is our eternal High Priest “in the order” of Melchizedek, not that Jesus was Melchizedek.

Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. Hebrews 7:4-7

Abraham the patriarch of Israel received several exceedingly great promises.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3

Abram, who was later named Abraham, became the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Jacob went down to live in Egypt where he and his offspring were referred to as the Hebrews. When the Hebrews were delivered from the bondage of Egypt after 400 years of slavery, they emerged as the nation of Israel.

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates — the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” Genesis 15:17-21

The LORD’s covenant promise of land given to the descendants of Abram, the children of Israel, was made while Abram was in a deep sleep. This covenant was a unilateral, unconditional promise. There were no terms that Abram or his descendants had to fulfill to earn the right to the land of Canaan. The LORD told Abram that he should know for certain that the LORD would give his descendants the land. It was the LORD himself who verified the covenant through the testimony of two witnesses. God is a consuming fire. He himself, symbolized by the smoking pot and the blazing torch, passed between the pieces. The smoking fire pot also pictures the furnace of affliction that the Hebrews would endure in Egypt; while the blazing torch represents the Shekinah glory that would dwell among them during their wilderness journey and in the Promised Land.

the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. Romans 9:4-5

From God through the nation of Israel came the patriarchs, the divine covenants, the Law of Moses, the prophets, the apostles and Messiah Jesus. Surely all nations have been blessed through Abraham.

Although it was the high priests from the tribe of Levi, who would be among Abraham’s descendants, were the ones who received the tithes, as great Abraham was, he gave a tithe to Melchizedek and was considered lesser than Melchizedek who blessed him.

In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. Hebrews 7:8-10

The high priests from the tribe of Levi who collected tithes eventually died. In Genesis there is no record of Melchizedek’s birth, death or ancestry. Therefore, he is presented symbolically as “a priest forever” (him who is declared to be living).

For although Levi wasn’t born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham’s body when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him. Therefore, in a sense Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid the tithe to Melchizedek through Abraham.

 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? Hebrews 7:11

This is a rhetorical question. There was a need for another priest in the order of Melchizedek. Perfection could never be obtained through the sacrifices of bulls and goats by the Levitical priesthood, because the blood of animals could only temporarily cover sin.

It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:4

For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. Hebrews 7:12-14

The Torah clearly states that the priesthood was given to the tribe of Levi.

The Levitical priests–indeed, the whole tribe of Levi–are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the food offerings presented to the LORD, for that is their inheritance. Deuteronomy 18:1

The Levites did not receive an allotment of territory because they served in the temple and ate from the offerings. Jesus, the King of the Jews, did not descend from Levi.

And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 7:15-17

What has been said and been made even more clear is the impossibility for perfection to come through the Levitical priesthood, therefore the priesthood and the law must be changed. In addition, Jesus was from Judah and the Messiah would be a priest like Melchizedek, not like Aaron.

Levitical priests were priests according to mortal flesh, but Jesus is a priest because of “the power of an indestructible life.” While the Levitical priesthood was temporary and a type of the coming reality based on physical ancestry, Jesus is eternal and the reality.

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

“The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’”

Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Hebrews 7:18-22

Because the priests of the order of Levi were not sufficient, there was need of a still greater priesthood. This is the inspired testimony of David in Psalm 110, where he speaks of the LORD (Yehovah) Jesus as his Lord (Adonai), and exalts Him as king and priest. The Lord Jesus Christ was ordained to the priesthood, according to Psalm 110, in a manner distinct from all others. His ordination was unique, for neither Aaron, nor his sons, nor were any of the priests of the tribe of Levi ever ordained by an oath. But our Savior is made a priest by an oath. And it is written, as if to make it exceeding sure, that the Lord “has sworn and will not change his mind” (Psalm 110:4). By an oath that stands fast forevermore Christ is made a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:23-25

Numbers 20:28 makes it clear that Aaron’s priesthood was not forever. This is where Moses, Aaron and Eleazar go up the mountain, Aaron’s priestly garments are removed and given to Eleazar and Aaron dies there on Mt. Hor. Later in Joshua 24:33 Phinehas replaced Eleazar.

Josephus said that there had been 83 high priests from Aaron until 70 AD.

For if, when we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Romans 5:10

Jesus is the eternal mediator between man and God. He is the eternal savior who saves to the uttermost. He truly meets our needs.

Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 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. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:26-28

HALLELUJAH!

Hebrews Chapter 6 – The Things that Have to Do with Salvation

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Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. Hebrews 6:1-3

In chapter 5:12, the writer of Hebrews chastises his readers saying, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”

The purpose of “The Letter to the Hebrews” was to demonstrate the superiority of faith in Messiah and salvation by grace as opposed to the keeping of the Mosaic Laws. Again, He exhorts the Hebrew Christians to strive towards spiritual maturity and to move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ.

The first of these six basic teachings of the New Testament begin with the foundational doctrine of repentance from dead works. Even among these converted Jews there was a struggle because they had believed that keeping God’s laws was the only means of maintaining a right standing with God. They relied on the sacrificial system and strict law keeping to somehow pay for past sins and justify themselves to God. Later in the book of Hebrews the Jewish Christians were reminded that temple rituals had had their purposes, but that “the blood of Christ” was the only way to “cleanse your conscience from dead works” (Hebrews 9:14). Animal sacrifices could never forgive sin or cleanse one’s conscience.

Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:21

The second teaching concerns faith in God. The Jews believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but the acceptance of “One God in Three Persons” was foreign to them.

A stumbling block for Jews concerning belief in the Trinity is a misunderstanding of the “Shema.” Shema means “Hear O” and is taken from the first two words of Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is One” (Shema Yisrael Adonai eloheinu Adonai ehad).

The Shema is an affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in one God. An observant Jew is obligated to say Shema in the morning and at night according to Deuteronomy 6:7 – Impress them (the commandments) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

The Hebrew language has two words that can be translated “ONE”: echad and yachid. Whereas yachid (yah-keed) refers to the number one (i.e., absolute unity), echad (ek-kawd) refers to a composite unity. An example of this is in the book of Genesis chapter 2 and verse 24, where it says that a couple joined together in marriage shall become one flesh (baw-sawr echad). The one flesh is comprised of man and woman – a composite unity.

In Numbers 13 the twelve spies returned from Canaan – And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes….One cluster (eshkowl echad) of grapes is a composite unity of many grapes.

In Judges 20 verse 8 it reads: And all the people arose as one man, saying, “We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house” One man is ‘iysh echad in Hebrew. All the people – the many soldiers from the other eleven tribes were as one in purpose to fight against the tribe of Benjamin. As one man but many people – another example of echad meaning a composite unity,

Yehovah is one – Yehovah is echad. There is only one true God, but He is a composite unity of one God in three persons

The third foundational principle is instruction about cleansing rituals also translated as baptisms. The regulations concerning ceremonial cleansing were outward washings so that a person would be ritually clean in order to enter into the temple in Jerusalem and participate in the sacrificial system.

For from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. All these evils come from within, and these are what defile a man.”… Mark 7:21-22

As believers in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah (the Christ) we know that it is what is in a man that makes him unclean. Ritual washings only concern the cleansing of the flesh, not the heart.

He is to lay his hand on the goat’s head and slaughter it at the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered before the LORD. It is a sin offering. Leviticus 4:24

The laying on of hands is the fourth principle that the author of Hebrews addresses which is no longer necessary under the New Covenant. When each Jew offered up an animal sacrifice, he laid his hands on the head of the substitutionary animal in a symbolic transfer, confessing his sins. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would lay his hands on the scapegoat in a symbolic transfer of the sins of the nation of Israel.

The fifth element refers to the resurrection from the dead. The Jews, with the exception of the Sadducees, believed in the resurrection from the dead according to the prophet Daniel.

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2

The foundational principle in Christianity that the Hebrew believers needed to understand more fully is the critical significance of Jesus’ resurrection.

who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, Roman 1:4

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then at His coming, those who belong to Him. 1 Corinthians 15:22-23

Jesus proved He was the Messiah and the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. We who are born-again by the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead are assured of our resurrection to eternal life as well.

The last of the basic principles is the doctrine of eternal judgment. Eternal judgment encompasses both judgment for degree of eternal reward for the believer and judgment for degree of eternal punishment for the unrighteous. While those who have rejected God’s gracious gift of eternal life through the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son, will be sentenced at the White Throne Judgment.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10

The righteous will appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

For no one can lay a foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, his workmanship will be evident, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove the quality of each man’s work.

If what he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as one being snatched from the fire. 1 Corinthians 3:11-14

The believer’s rewards are based upon the quality of his works. When a believer’s intentions are out of pure motives by considering the needs of others, desiring to share the gospel and to disciple others in the faith, his works will be acceptable in the eyes of God.

If his works are revealed to be worthless because his motives were impure and his works were done out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, he will suffer the loss of rewards but not his salvation.

The unrighteous must face the White Throne Judgment.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15

Among the books that were opened (the words and deeds of each individual) as well as the Old and New Testament, was the Book of Life. There will be some at the White Throne judgment who will be spared from the Lake of Fire. The second resurrection, for the most part, will unite disembodied, spiritually dead souls with transformed immortal bodies. They will be ushered into the presence of God to be judged for degree of punishment. They have been resurrected to life (spiritually alive/no longer separated from God), only to be cast from his presence for eternity. They will suffer the second death as they are cast into the Lake of Fire. They will go from the glory of his presence to eternal separation and great torment.

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 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Hebrews 6:4-6

Judas was among the twelve disciples when Jesus gave them to authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness (Matthew 10:1).

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:5-8

Judas spent over three years with Jesus. He listened to Jesus’ sermons and he witnessed many miracles that Jesus performed. Judas tasted the goodness of the word of God and even tasted of the heavenly gift of the Holy Spirit who empowered him to heal the sick and cast out demons. Yet, Judas betrayed the Lord.

Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Matthew 26:34

Peter denied the Lord three times, but repented as was restored to an intimate relationship with Christ. Judas had fallen away. He was not brought back to repentance and hung himself.

Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica… 2 Timothy 4:9-10a

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 1 John 2:15

The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy stating he was abandoned by Demas because he loved the world. If Demas did not love the Father, Demas was not saved.

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 1 John 2:18-19

Just because a person studies God’s word, fellowships with believers, and is aware of the message of the gospel, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are born-again children of God.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Hebrews 6:7-8

The work of the Holy Spirit through the gospel of Christ is a work on the human heart intended to cause its recipients to bring forth fruit. Thorns and thistles were a result of sin and of God’s curse on the ground (Genesis 3:18). The writer of Hebrews warns that those who do not produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8), are in danger of hell fire.

But, beloved, we are persuaded of better things for you, and things that accompany salvation, even though we speak like this. Hebrews 6:9

The writer addresses the believing Hebrews, as “beloved.” They are loved by the Lord, not because they are the descendants of Abraham, but as the elect of God. They have been called by grace and chosen in Christ unto salvation. They were beloved by him, not merely as being his countrymen, but as fellow saints.

The previous warnings and admonishments to the Hebrew believers in this letter were to alert them not to stumble. The case for the supremacy of Christ above Moses and the high priest Aaron made it evident that they should not be tempted to return to the ceremonial law and offer up sacrifices for sin.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:10-12

God is just and true. He remembers how the Hebrew saints out of their love for him have been charitable and ministered to God’s people.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

The Hebrews are encouraged to remain steadfast in their labors of love. They must be patient and remain faithful as were their forefathers who awaited the settlement of the Promised Land and the coming of the Messiah. What they must wait patiently for is the promise of the return of Christ in spite of persecution for their faith.

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. Hebrews 6:13-15

When God made this promise, Abraham believed it, despite being quite old and his wife having attained the age of menopause. Abraham, after 15 years of waiting for the promise, was visited by God who assured him that the promise would be fulfilled in due time. It took another 10 years when Abraham was 100 years old for Sarah to give birth to their son who was named Isaac.

Abraham lived 175 years. He lived seventy-five years after Isaac’s birth and thirty-eight years after Sarah’s death. Keturah was the woman whom Abraham, the patriarch of the Israelites, married after the death of his wife, Sarah. Keturah bore Abraham six sons. After awaiting 25 years for the birth of Isaac, he awaited another 37 years to have his first son with Keturah.

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. Hebrews 6:16-18

God is uniquely supreme and holy and there is no one that is superior to Him. Since there was no one greater to swear by, He swore by himself and confirmed his promise to Abraham with an oath. God bound himself by his oath in his covenant promises to Abraham

 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20

Here are two illustrations that are beautifully combined to encourage believers of their secure and firm hope. For the non-believer, the word hope means that something desired may or may not come to pass. But for the child of God, hope is the confident expectation that God will perform His word and work all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

The soul is the ship and the world is the sea. The distant coast is heaven. The hope resting on faith is the anchor which prevents the vessel being tossed to and fro. The encouraging consolation through the promise and oath of God is the cable connecting the ship and the anchor.

The world is the outer court of the temple, while the Holy of Holies represents heaven. Christ is the High Priest who has gone before us. So, through Him the veil was rent and now we can enter into the Most Holy Place.

Hebrews Chapter 5 – A High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek

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Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Hebrews 5:1

God first appeared to Moses by means of a burning bush on Mount Horeb (which is another name for Mount Sinai). As Moses approached the bush God told him not to come any closer, but to take off his shoes for he was on holy ground. God met with Moses, called Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery, and revealed that His name is Yehovah. Among the signs that Yehovah gave Moses was that one day the Israelites would worship Yehovah on this mountain.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Exodus 19:10-11

Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. Exodus 19:16-17

After the Exodus, the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai. Instead of meeting with just Moses, the LORD (Yehovah) was going to meet with the all the people of Israel. Instead of just a burning bush, the whole mountain was on fire

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Exodus 20:18-19

The people of Israel trembled in fear and they refused to have God speak to them directly. Moses became the first mediator between God and the children of Israel. Moses in his roles of redeemer and mediator is a type of the Messiah (the Christ). His brother Aaron became the first high priest.

Only once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), could the High Priest enter into the Most Holy Place. He would enter through the curtain and stand in front of the atonement cover (mercy seat) where the Shekinah (the manifestation of the glory of the LORD) appeared in a cloud.

The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.

“This is how Aaron is to enter the sanctuary area: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.” Leviticus 16:1-4

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! Philippians 2: 5-8

Jesus our Messiah is not only the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, but is also our High Priest. Aaron, the brother of Moses, had to remove his ornate priestly garments and put on plain white linen garments before he could enter the Most Holy Place. Bathing and then putting on clean white linen was symbolic of being purified from sin and then being clothed with righteousness. Only after purification, could Aaron come before the mercy seat to first offer up an atonement offering for himself and then for his people Israel.

Just as the earthly high priest removed his ornate priestly garb on the Day of Atonement, Jesus removed His garments of glory and took on the nature of a man in order to provide atonement for sinful mankind.

He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. Hebrews 5:2-4

As a fallible mortal, the high priest was imperfect and had to first offer up sacrifices for his own sins before he acted on behalf of the people of Israel.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10

The high priest could emphasize with those who committed sins of ignorance (not knowing particular laws and regulations in the Torah), because he knew the Law of Moses and yet was unable to obey all of it.

In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”

And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:5-6

In the same way that Aaron and his sons were chosen by God among the Levites to hold the office of the high priest during their lifetimes, the Son of God was chosen by the Father to be an eternal priest not in the line of Levi.

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Hebrews 5:7

On the night that he was betrayed by Judas, Jesus and his disciples headed to the Mount of Olives after partaking of the Passover meal. They entered into the Garden of Gethsemane

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:38-39

Jesus was obedient to the Father’s will even unto His suffering, humiliation and death.

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:8-10

How could the Son of God who is omniscient and knows all things learn anything? Although Jesus understood that He would have to endure mental and emotional anguish, and excruciating physical pain leading up to and including His crucifixion and death, in obedience to the Father’s will, He actually experienced it. Through living a sinless life of obedience, He was uniquely qualified to be the source of eternal salvation as an acceptable sacrifice for our sins.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

Jesus is not only the Lamb of God who was sacrificed but also the high priest in the order of Melchizedek who offers up sacrifices. He is the Alpha and Omega. Jesus is the Beginning and the End. Jesus is both the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 who came and the Conquering King Messiah who will be returning. Hallelujah!

According to Israel’s temple ceremonial system, a tremendous weight of significance and emphasis was placed upon the glorious office of the high priest. The writer of Hebrews understood that it was necessary for the encouragement of Jewish Christians who were tempted to revert to Judaism, to show that Christ was and is indeed a great high priest, not merely equal, but vastly superior to any of the high priests of Israel.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Hebrews 5:11-12

These Hebrew believers had many great advantages over the Gentile converts. They were descended from Abraham, had the Law of Moses, and the writings of the Old Testament. Some of them experienced the ministry of Christ or His apostles. It was now about thirty years from the day of Pentecost when the gifts of the Holy Spirit were poured out. At that time, a large number of Jews were converted and the congregation of Jerusalem was established. Considering the length of time, the opportunities and advantages they had enjoyed, it might have been expected that many would have been sharing their knowledge of the gospel. Instead, they needed to learn the basics principles of the faith all over again.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:13-14

After fasting for 40 days, Jesus was incredibly hungry. When tempted by the devil in the wilderness to turn stones into bread, He did not give into temptation:

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

Physical nourishment is not sufficient in itself for a healthy and godly life. Mankind also has spiritual needs that are only met by hearing and obeying the Word of God. The Hebrew believers were immature in their faith. The author of Hebrews chastised his readers for spiritual immaturity. Because they were not grounded on the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, they were not ready to consume the deeper concepts of the Word of God.

Hebrews Chapter 4 – A Sabbath Rest for the People of God

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Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Hebrews 4:1-2

The writer of Hebrews proceeds with his exhortation to the Hebrews, and all professing Christians, to faith, obedience, and perseverance. As God finished his work, and then rested from it, so He will cause those who believe, to finish their work, and then to enjoy their rest. There is a more spiritual and excellent Sabbath remaining for the people of God, than that of the seventh day. This rest is, a rest of grace, comfort, and holiness that is available to everyone who receives the gospel of their salvation.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

The good news of the forgiveness of sins and the promise of heavenly reward has no value unless it is received by faith.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. Hebrews 4:3

The writer of Hebrews was quoting from Psalm 95:

Today, if only you would hear his voice, “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did. For forty years I was angry with that generation: I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” Psalm 95:7b-11

“Massah” means trial or temptation and “Meribah” mean “quarreling or strife.” Exodus 17:1-7 gives the details of the account where the children of Israel provoked Yehovah to anger in their wilderness journey.

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.

Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Exodus 17:1-7

The LORD had delivered the children of Israel out of the bondage in Egypt with a mighty hand. He redeemed them from the land of slavery and from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Not only did they witness ten plagues that the Egyptians endured, they and their animals were not affected by them. When the Egyptian army pursued them, God miraculously brought them through the Red Sea on dry ground, but drowned their enemies. The LORD had repeatedly demonstrated His power and goodness towards them.

When they Israelite community became thirsty when they camped at Rephidim, they could have waited on the LORD in faith or asked Moses to inquire of the LORD. Instead, they protested and complained angrily to Moses and accused him of bringing them out of Egypt only to die of thirst in the wilderness. They questioned the faithfulness and goodness of Yehovah by saying. “Is the LORD among us or not?”

When the LORD delivered Israel from slavery, He intended to bring them into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. The children of Israel, because of their lack of faith, complained and fought against God almost every step of the way. When Moses was receiving the law on Mount Sinai, they worshipped a golden calf. They complained about being thirsty, about being hungry, about the manna and about the leadership. In fear because of the bad report of ten of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, the people refuse to enter into the Promised Land. So the LORD declared on oath in His anger that that generation of Israelites would never enter His rest.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 1 Corinthians 10:11

We who are born-again believers in Christ are admonished to learn a lesson from the failings of the Israelites who provoked God to wrath by their unbelief.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

In Christ, we have authority in His name, in the Word of God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit to stand in faith and not be anxious. Instead, we can let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15).

For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” Hebrews 4:4-5

God rested from all his works on the seventh day and made it holy.

“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:11

The LORD is omnipotent. He is all powerful.

The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. Isaiah 40:28

God is the sum of perfection; He is never diminished in any way, and that includes being diminished in power. The Hebrew word translated “rested” in Genesis 2:2 includes other ideas than that of being tired. In fact, one of the main definitions of the Hebrew word Shabbat is “to cease or stop.” In Genesis 2:2 the understanding is that God “stopped” His work; He “ceased” creating on the seventh day. All that He had created was good, and His work was finished.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews again was referring to Psalm 95 when he wrote that God rested on the seventh day but the rebellious children of Israel would not enter into His rest.

The “rest” originally intended was that of Canaan, when “the LORD gave rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about.”

After a long time had passed and the LORD had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, Joshua 23:1

Canaan was a type of God’s heavenly rest. The warning given to the Israel of his day by the psalmist is to be regarded as a warning that, if they followed in the steps of their forefathers, they might miss that final and crowning “rest.”

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, Hebrews 4:6

Once we have passed through the wilderness of this sin-stained world, there is an eternal rest that awaits those who by faith receive the promise.

God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:7-11

There was a period of time of nearly five hundred years between the peace established by Joshua’s victories over the inhabitants of Canaan and the inspired words of King David speaking about another day. The writer of Hebrews reveals that there still remains a Sabbath-rest for God’s people apart from the weekly Sabbath. Disobedience will disqualify any person from entering into that heavenly rest and that person will perish.

For the word of God is alive 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. Hebrews 4:1

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17

Puritan Writer Thomas Brooks said, “The Word of the LORD is a light to guide you, a counselor to counsel you, a comforter to comfort you, a staff to support you, a sword to defend you, and a physician to cure you. The Word is a mine to enrich you, a robe to clothe you, and a crown to crown you.”

Since God is the living God, and His Word cannot be separated from Him, that Word is a living Word. It is eternal. As Isaiah 40:8 proclaims, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Since God is the author of life, His living Word imparts life in two ways. His Word imparts life to those who are dead in their trespasses and sins and His Word renews and refreshes His saints.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

The truth of God is all-penetrating and searching, and that the real thoughts and intents of the heart will be brought to light; and that if there is insincerity and self-deception, there can be no hope of escape.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:14-15

Since Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, He is the perfect mediator between God and man. Since Jesus has experienced every type of temptation, He can identify with the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes of mankind. Although Jesus was sinless, He can sympathize with us sinners.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Because our great High Priest empathizes with our weaknesses, we can approach God’s throne of grace boldly and receive mercy and grace in our time of need.

What an honor and privilege that believers in Christ can speak to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God anytime, day or night in prayer.