Wednesday, February 24 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Throwback to chapter one and the first few verses of chapter two. The writer of the book of Hebrews was making comparisons between Jesus (Son of God) and the angels. The purpose was to establish Jesus’ superiority over the angels. Having considered Jesus’ excellence and supremacy over; as well as His relation to angels and to mankind, the author moves in today’s study to draw some parallels between Jesus and Moses.
Why was this necessary?
The Jewish tradition considers Moses to be the greatest prophet who ever lived. He wrote the first five books of the Bible and was the one who led the Israelites out of Egypt and handed them the Ten Commandments from God; and acted as a mediator between them and God. Moses was Israel’s National Hero. He was without a doubt very important to the Jews. And so, the writer wanted to bring them to an important realization by offering a perspective of Moses in his proper relation to Jesus.
Verse 1 - Jesus the Apostle and High Priest of our Confession.
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, [thoughtfully and attentively] consider the Apostle and High Priest whom we confessed [as ours when we accepted Him as Saviour], namely, Jesus;"
Consider [thoughtfully and attentively]. To consider something requires time and effort. It doesn’t happen automatically. So the writer calls his audience to thoughtfully and attentively consider Jesus as the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. What is the meaning and importance of these two offices?
The Apostle of our faith brings God down to us (John 14:9b “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” and Col.1:15 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation”
The High Priest brings us up to God. Heb. 4:15 “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”
Jesus is the One who supremely represents us before the Father, and who represents the Father to us.
Verse 2 - Both Jesus and Moses Were Faithful
"He (Jesus) was faithful to Him who appointed Him [Apostle and High Priest], as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.” Emphasis mine
Moses was a deliverer. He led Israel out of Egypt but could not get Egypt out of them. (Numbers 14:4). But when Jesus sets anyone free that person is free indeed (John 8:36)
Both Moses and Jesus were “faithful” to God, but only Jesus was altogether obedient and never sinned or disobeyed. (See Num.20:8-12 & Heb. 4:15)
Moses was a faithful servant, but he was not a Son in the way Jesus is.
Verses 3-4 - Jesus Worthy of Greater Glory
“Yet Jesus has been considered worthy of much greater glory and honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.”
Moses received much glory from God. This is seen in his shining face after spending time with God (Exodus 34:29-35), in his justification before Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:6-8), and before the sons of Korah (Numbers 16).
But Jesus received far more glory from the Father, at His baptism (Matthew 3:16-17), at His transfiguration (Mark 9:7), and at His resurrection (Acts 2:26-27 and Acts 2:31-33).
A builder is more valuable than a building any day.
Verses 5-6 - Moses the Servant, Jesus the Son
“Now Moses was faithful in [the administration of] all God’s house, [but only] as a ministering servant, [his ministry serving] as a testimony of the things which were to be spoken afterward [the revelation to come in Christ]; 6 but Christ is faithful as a Son over His [Father’s] house. And we are His house if we hold fast our confidence and sense of triumph in our hope [in Christ].”
The MSG version says
“Moses did a good job in God’s house, but it was all servant work, getting things ready for what was to come. Christ as Son is in charge of the house. Now, if we can only keep a firm grip on this bold confidence, we’re the house!”
We must keep in mind here that this letter was addressed to the Hebrew brethren, converted from the Jewish to the Christian faith. They had grown up with only the Old Testament as their Bible. To them, Moses had been an exceptionally important man; a National Hero. But now they must understand and accept that the “great” Moses was only a servant in the house of God, governing and edifying God’s Church of the old dispensation, and that Jesus Christ was actually the Author of the Jewish salvation from slavery as well as the Saviour of the world and the Builder of the real house – Christian Church.
And that is why the author of this letter now stresses: “Moses truly was faithful in all His [God’s] house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken afterward. But Christ was faithful as a Son over his own house; whose house we are”
Whose house we are; if we hold fast: 1 Peter 2:4-5 says we are being built up a spiritual house. God has a work to build through His people, even as one might build a house.
We are a part of Jesus’ household if we hold fast. The writer to the Hebrews was encouraging those who felt like turning back, helping them to hold fast by explaining the benefits of continuing on with Jesus
The Jews so idolized Moses, they forgot who he was and what he pointed to. The Jews were obviously carried away; lost in the cloud of the regard they had for Moses and forgetting that his entire purpose was a shadow of Christ’s. Also, in relation to the Passover and the Law Moses was a shadow, Jesus was the real thing
The author, and today’s study carefully points out that Christ is Lord and superior to Moses to realign their focus on the main thing, Christ as Lord. No doubt Moses is to be reverenced, but he is merely a commissioned messenger; Christ is the Message.
Many times you and I fall into the same category; when we over emphasize and "idolize" spiritual leaders today. Our joy and attention should not be based on our membership of a denomination or association with a man of God, but should be all about Jesus. As the writer of Hebrews realigns the thinking of the Jews back in first century Christianity, today we should do the same.
Wednesday, February 17 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study titled: “More about Jesus” we saw how Jesus, for the sake of humanity willingly made himself lower than angels howbeit for just a little while so that He would fulfil His assignment of taking us all along with Him when He rose from the dead. In today’s study we will be looking at the status we took on by what Christ did for us
Verse 11: Jesus is Not Ashamed of Us
“For both He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are being sanctified (you and I) are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,” NKJV Emphasis mine
This verse should create in us a very high level of excitement! But we mostly don’t consider some of the deep meanings such verses offer us! Why not pause for a moment and consider it? We are one with Christ because His Father is now our Father! An understanding of this puts everything else in the shade. He is not ashamed of us and we should therefore not be ashamed of ourselves and each other! There are those among us today; who would refuse to associate with us because they have attained a certain level of achievement or position. But the One who sanctifies all of us is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters! There are also others who are either oblivious, “religiously” humble or have become overly pious to accept, celebrate and bask in the joy of what Jesus did for us. But this should not be the case.
Verses 12-13: The Evidence
“For he says in the book of Psalms, “I will talk to my brothers about God my Father, and together we will sing his praises.” 13 At another time he said, “I will put my trust in God along with my brothers.” And at still another time, “See, here am I and the children God gave me.” TLB
Just in case someone may be thinking that verse 11 is just a hype, the writer provides evidence in these two verses, the writer refers to citations of the Old Testament where Jesus proudly talked about us! in the book of Psalms 22:22, “I will talk to my brothers about God my Father, and together we will sing his praises.”
If you read the entire Psalms 22, you will find it was Jesus’ own words
Again, He puts himself in the same family circle with you and I when in Isaiah 8:17 -18, He said, “I will put My trust in Him. . . Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”
Verses 14-15 Understanding What He Did
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” NKJV
The MSG version says:
“Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Saviour took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.” Emphasis mine
Now let’s consider what He did. To make the ultimate sacrifice, He first associated with us! Because we are made up of flesh and blood, He too shared in the same! It wasn’t only the shame and death of the cross or the beating and suffering that went ahead of that but just consider for a moment the King of kings reduced to a foetus for 9 months, born in a manger, and even though He was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things he suffered. (Heb.5:8)
John 1:14 tells us that The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
The only way mankind could be delivered from the power of death was for the one who had the power of death to be destroyed. The blood of animals couldn’t, neither could the law or angels. So He became one of us so that by His death, He destroyed Satan!
The fall of man in the Garden of Eden threw mankind into the bondage of sin and death. However, verse 15 tells us of the ultimate benefit we obtain from the death of Christ. It says:
“and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
A very important phrase to consider is the “fear of death”
Fear on its own is deadly! The Bible says “fear has torment” (1John4:18b). The MSG version says “fear is crippling.” Then introduce death to that fear; the combination of these two is what the enemy has used to keep the world in perpetual bondage! The fear of death rules over humanity as a tyrant. But Christians should have no fear of death because it is a defeated enemy who now serves God's purpose in the believer's life.
Verse 16: We Matter to Jesus
“For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.” (NKJV). The MSG version says:
“It’s obvious, of course, that he didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham.”
Angels who are “righteous” were not considered in His redemptive plan;
Romans 5:7-8 says:
“7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Even those angels who left their first estate and sinned were not considered. See Jude 1:6
“And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.”
He didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. This goes to show us how much we matter to Christ.
Verses 17-18: Jesus Added Humanity to His Deity
“That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed." (MSG)
Why is it important that Jesus added humanity to His Deity?
Adding humanity to His deity, entering into every detail of human life; experiencing human suffering, implies that He is able to help us when we are tempted, and when we are
suffering because He knows exactly what we are going through! That is why the Bible says we should 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. (Heb.4:16)
Because “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.” (Heb.4:15)
Going through today’s study reminds us of the amazing privilege we have been given! And why we should be over the moon about our association with Christ. Regardless of the guilt and condemnation the enemy slings at us attempting to prevent us from embracing what Christ did for us fully. Don’t think for a moment that before Jesus Christ decided to associate with us, call us brothers and sisters and die for us, He was not aware that somewhere down the road you and I may struggle with our flesh. Do you for a moment think He is ashamed of us when we stumble and fall? He is not ashamed to still call you brother and sister. So let’s not be ashamed, or afraid to go to Him when we struggle with our weaknesses; don’t allow the guilt and condemnation of the enemy drag you away from His ever loving presence.
A song writer says:
“He hears every faithful prayer
He’s watching with tender care
He knows every pain we bear”
Wednesday, February 10 2021
Contributor: Ngozi Roberts
In the earlier verses of the book of Hebrews, we saw how the author warned us Christians not to drift off course. For us to be attentive to the truths in the word of God because if we deviate or despise the word of God which is meant to give us life, we will ultimately end up being punished. So today the author continues to admonish us and encourage us in verses 5-10. In these verses he expounds more on how Jesus brought Himself to the level of man to die on the cross just for the purpose of setting us free out of captivity and taking us along to rise above and higher than even angels. From the first chapter, it seemed obvious that the people of Hebrews were still having contentions and misunderstanding concerning some issues. Perhaps they were asking questions regarding Christ position as compared to angels. Remember, then in the Hebrew culture there seemed to be the belief that creation, humanity and all earthly things were inferior to heavenly things. This included humans and it would appear that surely, Christ who had a human body cannot be said to be superior to the spiritual angels. Referring them to the scriptures which the Hebrews were already familiar with, the author reminded them of where the Psalmist was acknowledging the awesomeness of God and in the process could not fathom why God loved man so much that He placed him so high and above all things except God Himself - Just a little lower than God himself. So, the author had to make it clear to them by reminding them of Gods original plan and purpose in creating human.
“It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.”
The Passion translation puts it like this:
"For God will not place the coming world, of which we speak, under the government of angels."
The author further explains to us that there is no way that God will place the coming government/world into the hands of the angels. Why? First, which government was the author talking about? Let us back up a little and remember what he said earlier in Hebrew 1:14. You see, when you relate it to what he was talking about in Hebrew 1:14 regarding the angels, where he explained the superiority of man over angels.
“…. Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation...?
Thus, he seems to be linking the salvation they were about to receive to the new government. In other words, the government that is operational once you inherit salvation. In Mathew 25:34, Jesus called this government, the kingdom of God, that is, the fulfilment on Earth of God's will. In Romans 14:17, Apostle explained that it was Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost. We know that these can be achieved once we receive or inherit salvation.
“But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet."
In verses 6-8, the author expanded more by bringing to their remembrance the scriptures from Psalm 8:4-6. Referring them to this scripture which the Hebrews were already familiar with.
Psalms 8:4-6 (TPT)
"Look at the splendour of your skies, your creative genius glowing in the heavens. When I gaze at your moon and your stars, mounted like jewels in their settings, I know you are the fascinating artist who fashioned it all! But when I look up and see such wonder and workmanship above, I have to ask you this question: 4 Compared to all this cosmic glory, why would you bother with puny, mortal man or be infatuated with Adam’s sons? 5 Yet what honor you have given to men, created only a little lower than Elohim, crowned like kings and queens with glory and magnificence.6 You have delegated to them mastery over all you have made, making everything subservient to their authority, placing earth itself under the feet of your image-bearers."
This is a Psalm of Praise and wonder of how God who made the heavens in its splendour should honour us, humans by putting all these creations under humans. The psalmist could not fathom why God loved man so much that He placed him so high and above all things except Himself, God. - Just a little lower than God himself - Now, in the original translation Psalm 8:5 and some translations, the word used there is “…created only a little lower than Elohim.” Now this Elohim is the same Elohim that was used to refer to Creator -God in Genesis 1:1.
Remember also in Psalm 91:11 “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”, when it was said that angels have been given charge over us. In other words, they are meant to be our servants at our beck and call. So, this tells me that this is indeed the original state that man was meant to be in – above angels.
Furthermore, even when Jesus was on the earth, He was both man and God, that is why in during the His temptation in Mathew 4:6-7
“And saith unto him, if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, it is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
…when Satan asked him to fall because the angels will pick him up, but Jesus knowingwho His stand did not fall for his temptation. Why, because He knew these angels were beneath him. Therefore, Jesus when living on the earth was already superior to all including the angels.
So why the use of the word Angels? For the author of Hebrews to use ‘the angels’ tells me how the mindset of the Hebrews was then. You see, the Jewish people in Jesus’ days had a deep-rooted identity in their past relationship with God: their laws—both written and oral, their worship system, and their festivals and traditions. But the Author in using the word Angels perhaps meant to convey and bring a better understanding to them. Remember as I said earlier, then in the Hebrew culture there was the belief that creation, humanity, and all earthly things were inferior to heavenly things. So, for them, for Jesus to be able to die as man, surely then, He must be lower than angels?
That is why, the author using this Psalm, explains the original intention of God towards man. Even though it seems humans were a little lower than angels but its only for a short while (death). His original plan is that all things, including angels will be subject to man.
"But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."
He proves this through explaining further in Verse 9 by confirming that Jesus for a little while, i.e., during His death had taken the body of humanity which brought Him lower than the angels. Remember, angels do not die. Therefore, Jesus for the sake of humanity willingly made Himself lower than angels for just that little while so that He can be able to fulfil His assignment of taking us all along with Him when He rose from the dead. Note that in rising, He and us rose above all things including angels.
Hence, in the bid to restore man to the original stand of being superior to all things, God Himself, had to die on the cross and rise again, ultimately conquering death. He rose above all carrying us along to be seated with Him above all things.
"For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
In verse 10 he explained that God Himself saw to it that this was a perfect sacrifice that Christ made. In doing this, Christ bought us sons and daughters to glory. The author explained that Christ became the ‘captain’, another translation called it ‘pioneer’, and in Greek, it means ‘author; or ‘founder’ of our salvation. In other words, Christ had to connect to our death through his own death to enable us become sons of glory. Awesome!! Therefore, all of us sons and daughters who have accepted Him are brought to glory. To corroborate this fact, Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:20-22 said:
"20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,"
In conclusion, it is important for us to understand as children of God that we did not just become sons and daughters in glory by chance. We must acknowledge and totally embrace the death and resurrection of Christ to be able to qualify for Salvation. As saved children of God, we are already received by God just as He received Christ hence, siting in heavenly places with Christ and as such all things including angels, principalities and powers are under us as we are re-assured in Ephesians 1:21-22.
Thursday, February 04 2021
Contributor: Peter Folikwe
Today’s study opens as a continuation from chapter 1 with the phrase “for this reason”.
• During last week’s review of the latter part of Hebrews Chapter 1, the writer stated clearly that Jesus is superior to the angels. The argument was reverent to the Hebrew audience who had always revered Angels.
• Unlike angels that were created by God, Jesus is the only begotten son of God.
• The writer also stated that Jesus was to be worshiped by angels. The Hebrew belief is that only God can and should be worshiped.
• In the concluding part of Chapter 1, the Angels were referred to as “ministering spirits” meaning they were created to be servants to those who will inherit salvation. As joint heirs with Jesus Christ, the angels were created to serve Jesus and us.
Having the above as a background on which Chapter 2:1 is premised, that Jesus is superior to angels, let us consider today’s verses.
“For this reason [that is, because of God’s final revelation in His Son Jesus and because of Jesus’ superiority to the angels] we must pay much closer attention than ever to the things that we have heard, so that we do not [in any way] drift away from truth.” (AMP)
• Chapter 2 began by warning us to pay closer attention to all of the above otherwise we drift may away from the truth. The writer was warning the Christians at the time who were drifting away, and by extension, to us today who profess Christianity.
• To pay particular attention means avoiding distractions .
• Furthermore, failure to pay attention will lead to drifting away from the gospel of Jesus and miss to target or objective of our calling as believers of the gospel. The writer is warning believers that there is a strong possibility of wandering away from the truth in God’s word.
• “Drifting away” could be in several respects for a Christian. It could be in form of irregular study of the Bible, dwindling fire power on the altar of prayer (weak prayer life), complacency of the Christian faith. Naturally as humans we get easily distracted.
• Apostle Paul cautioned in 1 Corinthians 10:12 AMP “Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation].” As Christians, we are the target of the devil - the accuser of the brethren in Rev 12:10.
• We are being warned to take our relationship with Jesus seriously and eternally valuable. Therefore, relaxation is equivalent starving the body of food.
• We need to cultivate our relationship with Jesus on a day to day basis, just as a farmer cultivates his farm, lest weeds outgrow his good crops and choke them to death. If we leave our relationship with Jesus fallow, without paying serious attention, we expose ourselves to the wiles (tricks) of the devil. The reason Apostle Paul again warned in Eph. 6:11 to “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil”
• Jesus our Saviour in Mark 14: 38 also warned the apostles (Peter, James & John) who were sleeping at garden of gethsemane to “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. The greatest challenge of man is his flesh. The flesh is often at war with the spirit. We therefore need to constantly weed our flesh of every semblance of sin/ weakness to stay connected to Christ. We all have our area of weaknesses. It is important that we constantly “watch and pray” to avoid drifting away from Christ.
“For if the message given through angels [the Law given to Moses] was authentic and unalterable, and every violation and disobedient act received an appropriate penalty,” (AMP)
• The writer here is saying that if the law of the Old Testament delivered by angels were considered authentic, unchangeable and must be obeyed, and violations came with consequences of severe punishment.
• Examples include angels appearing to Father Abraham declaring God’s covenant to make him “father of nations”; the angels of death visited the camp of the Egyptians and spared the children of Israel in Goshen who had the blood of the lamb on their lintel. The last straw before the children of Israel were liberated from their taskmasters for hundreds of years. Etc.
“how will we escape [the penalty] if we ignore such a great salvation [the gospel, the new covenant]? For it was spoken at first by the Lord, and it was confirmed to us and proved authentic by those who personally heard [Him speak],” (AMP)
Verse 3 is therefore emphasizing the earlier warning that if messages and decrees/lerse Vdelivered by angels come with severe consequences when violated, how will we escape the punishment, if we ignore the new covenant in Christ Jesus.
• The author here is saying it’s all about Jesus. Rather than focus on the law and the consequences associated with flouting them, focus and attention should rather be shifted to Jesus, who is superior to angels that delivered the law.
• Jesus, while responding to “doubting Thomas” in John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
• The question is what is your stand & my stand with Jesus? The verse went further to say that Jesus our saviour was first spoken about by the Lord, referring to Matt 17:5 “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Furthermore, there were witnesses who have account of Him as the only begotten son of God.
“[and besides this evidence] God also testifying with them [confirming the message of salvation], both by signs and wonders and by various miracles [carried out by Jesus and the apostles] and by [granting to believers the] gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” (AMP)
• Finally, in V4 it was stated that the efficacy of the message of salvation through Jesus was backed up by miracles, signs and wonders. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit before His departure to heaven in John 14: 26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
• Starting with the disciplines in the upper room and on Pentecost day this promise came to pass. Till date several gifts of the Holy Spirit