Wednesday, June 09 2021
Contributors: Esther Ikpe & Isekhua Evborokhai
Today’s study provides a transition from focusing on the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus Christ to the superiority of His New Covenant ministry. Before we dive deeper into the particulars of the New Covenant, we need to follow the author’s argument in developing some of the major implications of Jesus’ current ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, His completed once-for-all sacrifice, and His mediation of a better covenant based on better promises.
Verses 1-2: Summarizing Points Previously Made About Jesus as Our High Priest
“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”
a. This is the main point of the things we are saying: Apostle Paul brings together the main point of the previous chapter. We have a High Priest – Jesus Christ – who serves us from a position of all authority in heaven (seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty).
b. Who is seated at the right hand of the throne: Additionally, Jesus is seated in heaven, in contrast to the continual service of the priesthood under the Law of Moses.
i. The tabernacle and the temple of the Old Covenant had beautiful furnishings, but no place for the priests to sit down because their work was never finished. The work of Jesus is finished; therefore, He is seated in heaven.
c. A Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle: Jesus doesn’t serve as a priest in an earthly tabernacle or temple. He serves in the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, the original made by God. The tabernacle of Moses was a copy of this original, and it was made by man (Exodus 25:8-9).
i. Some suppose the true tabernacle is the Church or Jesus’ earthly body. But it is best to understand it as the heavenly reality that the earthly tabernacle imitated.
Verse 3: Jesus’ Priesthood Had a Sacrifice – And A Better Sacrifice
“For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore, it is necessary that this One also have something to offer.”
a. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices: Sacrifice for sin is essential to the concept of priesthood. Jesus represented a superior priesthood and offered a superior sacrifice. He laid down His own life to atone for sin.
b. It is necessary that this One also have something to offer: Though Jesus never offered a sacrifice according to the Law of Moses He did offer a better sacrifice – the sacrifice of Himself.
Verses 4-5: Jesus’ Priesthood Had a Temple – And A Better Temple.
“For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
a. If He were on earth, He would not be a priest: Jesus was not qualified to serve in the inferior earthly priesthood. There are priests – plenty of them – who were qualified to serve in the priesthood according to the Law of Moses.
b. Who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things: There were plenty of priests who could serve in the copy and shadow on earth. Yet Jesus is the only One qualified to serve in the superior heavenly priesthood. The earthly service, though it was glorious in the eyes of man, was really only a copy and shadow of the superior heavenly service.
c. Copy and shadow of the heavenly things: Exodus 25:40 tells us that Moses’ tabernacle built on earth was made according to a pattern that existed in heaven. This was the pattern which was shown to you [Moses] on the mountain. Therefore, there is a heavenly temple that served as a pattern for the earthly tabernacle and temple. Jesus’ ministry as our High Priest takes place in this heavenly temple, not in the copy and shadow built on earth.
i. First century Jews took tremendous pride in the temple and did so for good reason: it was a spectacular architectural achievement. However glorious the Jerusalem temple was, it was of man (and mostly built by Herod the Great, a corrupt and ungodly man). Therefore, it was nothing compared to the glory of the heavenly temple that Jesus served in.
Verse 6: The result: Jesus presides over a superior priesthood with a better covenant and better promises.
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.”
a. He has obtained a more excellent ministry: No earthly priest could take away sin the way Jesus did. Therefore, Jesus’ ministry is far better than the ministry of the priesthood under the Law of Moses.
b. Mediator of a better covenant: Jesus has mediated for us a better covenant, a covenant of grace and not of works, guaranteed for us by a cosigner (Hebrews 7:22). It is a covenant marked by believing and receiving instead of by earning and deserving.
i. Jesus is our Mediator for this greater covenant. Mediator is the ancient Greek word mesites, which means “one who stands in the middle between two people and brings them together.”
ii. Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant because he “brought the two parties together.” Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant, a better covenant, bringing us to God the Father.
iii. Jesus’ covenant is a better covenant, better than any of the previous covenants God made with men. The covenant of Jesus fulfills the other covenants described in the Bible.
• There is an eternal covenant between the members of the Godhead that made possible the salvation of man (Hebrews 13:20).
• God’s redemptive plan was continued through the covenant He made with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3).
• The Mosaic covenant was another step in God’s redemptive plan (Exodus 24:3-8).
• The Davidic covenant was yet another step in God’s redemptive plan (2 Samuel 7:1-16).
• The redemptive plan of God was fulfilled in the New Covenant (Luke 22:14-20).
c. Which was established on better promises: Jesus has better promises for us. These are promises to see us through the most desperate and dark times. These are promises that become alive to us through the Spirit of God. These are promises of blessing and undeserved favor instead of promises to curse and judge.
What we have is the new covenant. It is "a better covenant, that is based on better promises" (Verses 6-8). The seed promise —the blessing of eternal life through Jesus Christ— was not delivered by the old covenant but the new. The new covenant is far superior as a unique ministry of eternal life in a heavenly kingdom foreseen in the blessing of Abraham, and believed in by him. (Galatians 3:15-18) says:
“Brethren, I say that even in human affairs nobody annuls or adds to a man-made covenant [a person’s last will and testament] once it has been ratified. 16Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his seed. It does not say, 'And to seeds' as though it meant the many. It refers to one alone, 'And to your seed,' meaning Christ. 17I say this: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God. The law does not void the promise [to Abraham]. 18For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise! But God gave it to Abraham by a promise” AMP
The new covenant is also better because it was ratified by better blood (Hebrews 12:24) and finally, it is a better covenant because it came through a better Mediator.
Wednesday, June 02 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
INTRODUCTION: In last week’s study we were looking at the greatness of Jesus’ Priesthood as it compared with the Levitical priesthood; that it was a far better way between us and God. In today’s study Paul continues with his logical argument as to why this is the case by referring to the permanency and perfection of Jesus’ priesthood in contrast to the continuously changing and imperfect Levitical priesthood
1. An Unchanging Priesthood Means a Lasting Salvation (Verses 23-25)
“Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
The Passion Translation kicks off verse 23 by saying: “As additional proof . . .” Paul, in these three verses presents additional proof is support of Jesus’ permanent and perfect priesthood.
Proof #1: He Continues Forever: There were many priests under the old system, for they eventually died and their office had to be filled by another but Jesus continues forever, as our High Priest even after He ascended into heaven.
Proof #2: An Unchangeable Priesthood: The priesthood under the Law of Moses constantly changed, and so it was either better or worse through the years depending on the character of the priest. But Jesus has an unchangeable permanent priesthood. He will never die and so we don’t need to worry about a “bad priest” replacing Him.
Proof #3: He Is Able to Save To the Uttermost: The unchanging nature of Jesus’ priesthood means that the salvation He gives is also unchanging, permanent, and secure. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost. Because He is our High Priest forever, He can save forever. He will save . . .
(i) Those who come to God through Him: This tells us whom Jesus is able to save. It means those who abide in the Son and have fellowship with the Father. It also shows where we have to come for salvation – to God. It is one thing to come to church; it is another thing to come to God. This shows the place of abiding in the security of the believer. When we come to God through Him, He saves us to the uttermost. In Jesus there is complete security of salvation.
(ii) He Ever Lives to Make Intercession for Them: It is strengthening and reassuring to know that Jesus prays for us, and that He ever lives to pray for us. This is tremendous encouragement to anyone who feels like giving up. Jesus’ intercession on our behalf is not a matter of pacifying an angry Father who wants to destroy us. It means that He continually represents us before the Father so that we can draw near through Him, and that He defends us against Satan’s accusations and attacks. Like He did for Peter in Luke 22:31-32
2. Jesus Is Better Qualified to Be a High Priest Than Any Priest from The Order of the Law of Moses. (Verses 26-28)
For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.
The Levitical priests had to offer sacrifices for their own sins, but Jesus did not, because he had no sin. When he offered himself, it was not for himself, but for everyone else. He was the kind of sacrifice we really needed — without blemish, fit even for the holiest place in heaven. In these last three verses, Paul presents four reasons why Jesus’ Priesthood was a perfect one
Reason #1: He is a High Priest Best Fit for Us: The priests under the Law of Moses did not have the personal character of the Son of God. Jesus is holy, harmless (without guile or deception), undefiled, separate from sinners (in the sense of not sharing in their sin). Jesus is far superior in His personal character than any earthly priest.
Reason #2: He has become higher than the heavens: Two facts prove the perfect character of Jesus. First, His exaltation in heaven. Second, that He did not need to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins – which the other priests needed to do daily.
Reason #3: He offered up Himself: This is totally unique. A priest may bring a sacrifice and offer it on the altar. But Jesus was both the priest and the sacrifice. This is the best sacrifice brought to God the Father by the best priest.
Reason #4: He has been Perfected Forever Verse 28 says: For the law appoints as high priests men who have weaknesses: Under the Law of Moses the priests were always men with weaknesses. But Jesus is a Son who has been perfected forever. Because He is a perfect High Priest, He was able to offer up Himself as a perfect sacrifice for our sin. Jesus is perfectly qualified to be our perfect High Priest – perfected forever.
Imagine for a moment the possible reaction of the Hebrews learning that the entire sacrificial system was no longer necessary and that it ended in this one sacrifice, Christ! It was therefore important for Paul to make this presentation that he had been on since chapter 1! In these last six verses he concluded the matter of the priesthood culminating in Jesus’ priesthood being perfected forever!
Parts of this study was culled from
Wednesday, May 26 2021
Contributor: Okwudili Prince-Isaac
INTRODUCTION: Following on from our previous topic where Apostle Paul dipped into the person of Melchizedek, in teachings in a concerted attempt to set forth the live-giving ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will progress toward emphasizing and proving His pre-eminence and the innate superiority of the covenant He mediates. Priesthood, in Israel’s throughout Israel history was one of the most revered institutions (Gen.14:18-20, Gen.41:45, Exod.18:1) and remained most untainted unlike the chronicles of many Judges, Kings and Prophets, who came and departed in irregularly pattern. The offices of the priest and the high priest were the sole reserve of the Levites and descendant of Aaron respectively (Num.3:10). Strangely, our Lord Jesus Christ came from a different tribe (Judah) which Moses never mentioned with priesthood, and neither did anyone from that tribe serve at an altar (Heb.7:14)
Text: Hebrews 7:15 – 22
“15 This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared. 16 Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. 17 And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”18 Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. 19 For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. 20 This new system was established with a solemn oath. Aaron’s descendants became priests without such an oath, 21 but there was an oath regarding Jesus. For God said to him, “The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow: ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22 Because of this oath, Jesus is the one who guarantees this better covenant with God" NLT
SUB-THEME: Verse 7: “This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared”.
1. NATURE OF PRIESTHOOD
ii. JESUS (Melchizedek Order)
2. PROOF OF PREFERENCE/NEWNESS
NATURE OF LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD
The law which upon which the Levitical priesthood was instituted (Exd 28:1), revealed that the priests were fragile, dying creatures, not able to save their own lives, much less could they save the souls of worshippers who came to them. The law dictated that, upon the demise of the father, the office should descend to his eldest son, according to the order of carnal or natural generation. Indeed, none of the high priests under the law were without father or mother, or without descent (unlike Melchizedek), and they had not life and immortality in themselves. They had both beginning of days and end of life; and so, the carnal commandment, or law of primogeniture, directed their succession. They had no power or authority to convey spiritual life and blessedness to those who came to them. The record has
it that there were eighty-three high priests in regular succession from Aaron to the death of Phineas, the last high priest at the siege of Jerusalem AD 70.
Points to note-
1. The high priest had to offer sacrifices for his own sins, inclusive (Heb.5:3, Heb.7:27).
2. All every Levitical priest ended their tenure by death.
THE NATURE OF JESUS’ PRIESTHOOD
The life and immortality which he had in himself were his right and title to the priesthood, not his descent from former priests (unlike the very law instituting the Levitical priesthood which supposed the priests to be weak, frail, dying, creatures, not able to preserve their own natural lives). But the high priest of our profession holds his office by that innate power of endless life which he has in himself (Rev 1:18, Heb. 7:16) not only to preserve himself alive, but to communicate spiritual and eternal life to all those who duly rely upon his sacrifice and intercession. It appears the unchangeable God’s changed His way when it came to this priesthood (Mal 3:6). But that is not the case because he has expressly stated that a new covenant was on the way (Jer.31:31-34). He took an oath to Christ, which he never did to any of the order of Aaron. The anticipation in the priesthood of Christ reveals the true foundation of all the hope we have towards God for pardon and salvation. By this hope we are encouraged to draw nigh unto God, commune with and enter into a covenant-union with him (Heb.4:16) The result is a true heart, and with the full assurance of faith, having our minds sprinkled from an evil conscience (Heb.9:14). This was unimaginable within the Levitical priesthood, rather it kept men at a distance, and under a spirit of bondage.
Points to note –
1. Jesus our new High Priest, though sinless, offered Himself for sinful man (including the Levitical priest)
2. Jesus our new High Priest lives for evermore (Rev 1:18), though he suffered ‘death’ in His way to eternal victory.
COMPARISM/PROOF OF NEWNESS AND PREFERENCE
1. This change of the family lineage (from priestly to kingly tribe) strongly indicates a real change of the law of the priesthood (Heb.7:12)
2. There is a change in the efficacy of the priesthood. The Levitical order was feeble and unprofitable, made nothing perfect (Heb.7:19, Act 13:39) and could never justify men’s persons from guilt;
3. The Levitical Order could not sanctify the worshipper from inward contamination; it could not cleanse the consciences of the worshippers and the Levitical priests from dead works (Heb.10:2). However, the new Priesthood ushered healthy conscience (Heb.9:14), and victory over sin and death
4. Jesus’ priesthood rather brought in a better hope; one that emboldens the believer to draw near to God (Heb.4:16). In this instance, the sin barrier is removed
5. God took an oath to Christ (Ps 110:4), attesting to the eternal tenure of the Priesthood; which he never did to any of the order of Aaron which remain temporary
6. The new priesthood was a security and the priest a surety; a fundamental change in the dispensation of that covenant (Heb. 7:22, Heb.8:6). A surety is defined as a person who takes responsibility for another person performance of an undertaking.
7. The Levitical priesthood remains under the condemnation of the law and the sentence of death (Lev.18.5,1Cor.15:56). However, the new Priesthood fulfilled the requirements of the law and broke the power of death (Rom.5:12-14)
Apostle Paul urged the Hebrew believers (an all Christians) to be consistent in our belief to enable them (us) access the fullness of God in its currency. His argument that “If the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permits it” is reflective by Jesus’ admonition against ‘new wine in old-wine skin’ (Luke 5:37). Unlike the covenant of works by which every transgressor is shut up under the curse (Deut.27:26, Jer.11.3), the better covenant, of which Jesus was the Surety, is distinguished from the Sinai covenant with Israel, with its legal dispensation. The Church is free of ‘Sinai obligation’ by this better covenant and every believer now has access to light, perfect liberty, and abundant privileges. Indeed, the old had passed away, and the new has taken its place (2Cor.5:17)
Wednesday, May 19 2021
Contribution: Isekhua Evborokhai
In today’s study, Paul kicks off chapter 7 starting to explain a theme he introduced earlier in chapter 2:17 “Jesus as our High Priest.” Although the Jewish Christians would have been very interested in Jesus as their High Priest, there was a significant intellectual objection to the idea; because Jesus did not come from the priestly tribe (Levi) or the priestly family (Aaron’s). These intellectual objections were getting in the way preventing them from continuing on to maturity in Jesus. So Paul throws a character that the Jews would have been acquainted with into the works in the person of Melchizedek.
I. WHO IS THIS MELCHIZEDEK? (VERSES 1-3)
“1 This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. 2 Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” 3 There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.” (NLT)
In other words, Melchizedek is a “type” of Christ. Not the other way round. We can sum up these points under four headings that show how Melchizedek is a type of Jesus Christ:
1. Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the dignity of his person.
Everything we know about Melchizedek comes from Genesis 14:18-20, Psalm 110:4, and Hebrews 7. The first text is historical, the second is prophetic, and the third is theological. Melchizedek was the king of Salem (probably Jerusalem [Ps. 76:2]) and priest of the Most High. The first thing to note is that Melchizedek was both a king and a priest in the same person (7:1), which was not allowed in Israel. Like Melchizedek, Jesus is both king and priest in one person. The author makes the point that Melchizedek “was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.” Jesus is called “Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). When He comes again to reign, “in righteousness” He will wage war against the wicked (Rev. 19:11). Also see (Isa. 11:4-5) and (Isa. 9:7).
Jesus is also the king of peace (Eph. 2:14-18). He brings peace between sinners and God, and peace among all that live under His lordship. (Rom. 5:1) & (Rom. 3:26).
2. Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the derivation and duration of his priesthood.
Being a priest in Israel was totally dependent on your family lineage. All priests came from the tribe of Levi; and no other tribe could apply. If you could not establish your family heritage, you were excluded from the priesthood (Neh. 7:61-64). But Jesus was a descendant of the tribe of Judah; technically, He wouldn’t qualify. But Melchizedek was “without father, without mother, without genealogy” (Heb. 7:3). Yet he was “priest of the Most High God” (7:1). Is it not interesting that the book of Genesis; a book that book emphasizes genealogies and the number of years that the patriarchs lived did not have a record of Melchizedek’s ancestry? His family lineage is never mentioned, nor does Genesis say anything about the length of his life or his death. This silence however speaks volumes! And the author implies that the Holy Spirit deliberately omitted these facts from a book that emphasizes such, in order to make Melchizedek an appropriate type of Jesus Christ. That’s why he says that Melchizedek was “made like the Son of God” (7:3), rather than “Jesus was made like Melchizedek.” It is not that Melchizedek never died, but rather in what Genesis omits, that he “remains a priest perpetually (7:8).”
3. Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the dimension of his priesthood.
Melchizedek was greater than both Abraham and Levi, since he received tithes from both of these great men (Genesis 14:20). It implies that he was greater than them, which in effect implies that Jesus is greater still. As our High Priest, He is worthy not just of a tithe, but of all that we are and have, because He bought us with His blood. No gifts that we give can compare with His matchless worth!
4. Melchizedek is a type of Christ in the dispensing of his priesthood.
Even though Abraham was God’s chosen man and God promised to bless the nations through him, Melchizedek “blessed the one who had the promises. But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater” (7:6-7). Scripture uses the term “blessing” in different ways. In one sense, we bless God (Ps. 103:1), which does not imply that we are greater than He! We bless others by praying for them or rendering kind words or service (Luke 6:28; 1 Pet. 3:9), which is mutual. But here the sense is that of the priestly (Num. 6:22-27) or fatherly (Gen. 27:27; 48:15) blessing, which was not mutual. The one imparting the blessing is conveying God’s blessing through His authority onto the one being blessed. Since Melchizedek pronounced God’s blessing on Abraham, he is greater than him.
Another aspect Paul chose not to reference that is equally important in the dispensing of their priesthood is reference to the communion. The Bible in Genesis 14:18 says Melchizedek brought out bread and wine when he met Abraham. Although in the original story, it would be interpreted that Melchizedek was bringing refreshment to Abraham and his weary men after a battle, this is clearly a type of Christ giving bread and wine to His disciples!
II. FOUR PROOFS OF HIS GREATNESS (VERSES 4-10)
Paul, in these few verses displays one of his major characteristics. His knowledge and technicality in proving the greatness of Melchizedek over the great Abraham and consequently Jesus’ greatness. The Passion Translation clearly lists out
“4 Now let me show you proof of how great this Melchizedek is:
(a) – Even though Abraham was the most honoured and favoured patriarch of all God’s chosen ones, he gave a tithe of the spoils of battle to Melchizedek. 5 It would be understandable if Melchizedek had been a Jewish priest, for later on God’s people were required by law to support their priests financially, because the priests were their relatives and Abraham’s descendants. 6 But Melchizedek was not Abraham’s Jewish relative, and yet Abraham still paid him a tithe.
(b) – Melchizedek imparted a blessing on mighty Abraham, who had received the promises of God. 7 And no one could deny the fact that the one who has the power to impart a blessing is superior to the one who receives it.
(c) – 8 Although the Jewish priests received tithes, they all died—they were mortal. But Melchizedek lives on!
(d) – 9 It could even be said that Levi, the ancestor of every Jewish priest who received tithes, actually paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham. 10 For although Levi was yet unborn, the seed from which Levi came was present in Abraham when he paid his tithe to Melchizedek.
III. THE NEED FOR A NEW PRIESTHOOD (VERSES 11-14)
The Jews had a high regard and reverence for the Levitical priesthood. And once again, Paul makes the Jews realize that even though God had setup this priesthood, it was by no means the ultimate solution for mankind that is where there was a need for a new priesthood.
“So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron? 12 And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. 13 For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests. 14 What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned priests coming from that tribe.”
The simple fact that God describes a priest … according to the order of Melchizedek shows there is something lacking in the priesthood according to the order of Aaron. Conclusively, the Levitical priesthood never made anything perfect; but Jesus’ priesthood has.
So How Does This Apply to the Hebrews Then and Us Today?
If Melchizedek, who was a sign and shadow, is preferred to Abraham and to all the Levitical priests, how much more Christ, who is the truth and the substance! If a type of Christ is greater than Abraham, how much more so is Christ Himself! If Melchizedek could bless Abraham, how much more is the Son of God ready and able to bless those who draw near to God through Him! If we want God’s blessings, we should seek them in Christ, because “as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes” (2 Cor. 1:20).
What you believe about Jesus Christ makes a huge difference! The Hebrews were in danger of falling away from the faith because they did not grasp how great Melchizedek is and therefore they did not grasp how much greater the One whom Melchizedek prefigured is. The most important question in the world is Jesus’ question to the Twelve, “Who do you say that I am?” That question has an objectively true answer. Our eternal destiny hinges on our response to that question. If we correctly say from our hearts by faith, “Jesus Christ is the Son of God who gave Himself on the cross as the only sacrifice for our sins,” we have eternal life! If we diminish Jesus to a lesser role, such as, “He is a great moral example or teacher,” then we do not have the High Priest that we need when we stand before God for judgment.
Parts of this study was culled from:
Wednesday, May 05 2021
Contributor: Ngozi Roberts
In the earlier verses of the book of Hebrews chapter 6 we have studied, the writer warned us against dwelling on: Basic doctrines which he referred to as the milk of the gospel. He encouraged us to grow above the primary state to the higher-level state of maturity in Christendom. He went on to encourage us believers to be mindful of our spiritual state and make sure we do not slip or backslide. He emphasised on our Hope being the basis for our perseverance and continuance in our faith. He reminded us that God is forever patient with us no matter how many times we fail therefore, we should be encouraged also to be patient and faithful and always make sure we rise from any weakness that may befall us so that we will inherit the promise. The writer also continued in this regard in Chapter 6:13-20. He went on to highlight on the reason why we should continue to hope in God just like in the case of Abraham our Father.
13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”
God had to swear by Himself since there was no other greater than Him. This brings to our memory Numbers 23:19 where the scriptures say:
“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a human being, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it happen?"
The writer in the bid to assure us that God promise will surely come to pass. That His promise can never fail, explained what he meant by referring us to the old scriptures where God repeated his promise to Abraham. This reference is seen in Genesis 22:15-18.
“And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice."
God had made this promise to Abraham when he did not withhold His Son from Him by sacrificing His son Isaac. Note that this was even a second time when He made the promise, earlier in Genesis 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee and will multiply thee exceedingly and in so many other places. So, it was not because of the works of Abraham that made Him repeat the promise it again.
Thus, with this reference it became very clear to all that This God means business whenever, He makes a promise. It was also clear and very reassuring that if we ever believe
and hope in this God, all that he promised us will surely come to pass. Evidence of this promise coming to pass was the fact that the Hebrews believers were already example of scriptures being fulfilled. They were the Promise being fulfilled. Abraham has already been multiplied as you and I are evidence of this Promise fulfilment.
"15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute."
He continues to emphasise on the fact that because of Abraham’s patience, believe, hope and endurance, he was rewarded with the promise. He received the promise in Isaac after so many years of waiting and even until old age, the promise of God still came to pass in his life. Note that it was a case of, if God could fulfil the promise and give him Isaac, then there is no promise He will not be able to fulfil. His trust in God was so concrete that even when God required him to sacrifice this same Son, he did not hesitate or question God because he knew that God will always make a way, so he obeyed. You see, I believe that he was so sold out to trusting God that he knew that if God had said it, he will surely be the father of many nations whether Isaac was sacrificed or not.
Furthermore, the author is stressing how important it is for us believers to be steadfast in our trust and hope in God without wavering. By bringing to light the meaning of the fact that God swore by Himself and likening it to we human beings. When humans swear, it usually would be by something that is Greater so that every disagreement or disbelief will come to an end. In the same way, by God swearing by Himself being the highest Personality that anyone can swear, then the matter of unbelief should be settled. God Promises must surely come to pass.
"17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us."
The writer went on to explain that because God wanted to reassure us (the Hebrews, you and I who are the inheritors of His promise to Abraham) of His rich and abundant support had to confirm it by an oath. Remember in Galatians 3:29 Paul also explained to us that:
“And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise”
So as Abraham’s descendants we should be very much reassured that knowing that firstly God has sworn this to us and secondly His promise knowing that God cannot lie as we saw earlier in Numbers 23:19, His promise will surely come to pass. So, bearing these two in mind, we ought to be strongly convinced that God does not break His promise. No matter the challenge that may come across our way, He is ever faithful to fulfil His promise to us and guide us through that challenge if we hold fast to Him.
"19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
The author still goes on the explain to us of this hope, in other words, that confidence that we have in our God being the connection or standing that cannot be broken but will lead us straight to the presence of God which is the most Holy place. So long as we are in His presence, all our fears of defeat in any challenge will disappear. This place, our Lord Jesus has already gone ahead of us being our High Priest in the order of Mechizedek. A High Pries that is forever and never ending.
In conclusion, the author in these verses explained to us in detail the need to hold on tight to our hope in God through His Son Jesus Christ. He argued that just as the promise made to Abraham was fulfilled as he hoped in God, we als
Wednesday, April 28 2021
Contributor: Peter Folikwe
The verses we are studying today will be better understood by reviewing the first eight verses of Chapter 6; besides it is a continuation.
Summary of Heb. 6:1-8:
We learnt from our erudite teacher last week that the writer of Hebrews warns the readers against dwelling on:
Elementary doctrines - the milk and not the meat of the gospel.
They were charged to grow beyond taking the milk of faith, repentance, baptism, laying on of hands & resurrection of the dead and move on to maturity.
The writer then gave us the readers a taste of the hard meat in Heb. 6:4 AMP saying “For [it is impossible to restore to repentance] those who have once been enlightened [spiritually] and who have tasted and consciously experienced the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit,”
It was noted that the letter of Hebrews was written to Jewish Hebrew Christians/believers of persecution & pressures who were at the verge of abandoning the Christian faith for fear Christians at the time; mixing and matching their Christian faith with the Mosaic -from non laws (Judaism).
In these first eight verses, the writer warns against compromising our faith in the gospel, by focusing on the cross as the only means of salvation.
Today’s bible passage review transited from warning to encouragement of the readers to diligently take care of their spirit man; avoiding spiritual slumber/sleep.
If care is not taken of the spirit man in us, the devil could explore our vulnerability to cause havoc.
“But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.” (NKJV)
The Writer here gives Comforting Assurance:
The writer here gives comforting assurance to the readers, referring to them as “beloved”, believers in Christ, confirming the confidence he had in the Hebrew believers that they are sure beneficiaries of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The earlier warnings were given was not to scare but to exude confidence in believers in order to navigate through the journey of life and experience Jesus and things that accompany salvation.
These warnings also help us to avoid those things that will drift us away from the benefits of salvation. As parents we keep warning our children against misbehaviour because we love them. Same is the case with God.
He gave us His only begotten Son as an assurance of His love for us.
Matt 7: 9-11 says “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
These warnings help us stabilize and sustain our faith in Jesus Christ.
It behooves on us to be assured confidently that despite our faults, we will experience what God has provided for us in Jesus Christ as our high Priest. Therefore, salvation as we know it is not about being born in a Christian home, not about baptism, not professing that you are a Christian. Salvation comes to you when you confess Jesus as Lord and personal savior and that He died for your sins, yet He was without sin. Our trust in the price He paid for our sins and confessing Him as Lord and Saviour gives us the confidence that God will accept us as His children.
Galatians 3:29 assures us "And if you belong to Christ [if you are in Him], then you are “ ndants, and [spiritual] heirs according to [God’s] promise.”Abraham’s descendants, and [spiritual] heirs according to [God’s] promise.”
“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.” (NIV)
God is indeed not an Unjust God.
This verse reassures is that God is not unjust to neglect our service in the faith, the works we do to propagate His kingdom here on earth; irrespective of our calling. It may be that all you do is to clean His sanctuary or feed the poor for instance. He will reward our labor of love.
Though we struggle in the faith God does not despise our struggle in the faith. Rather, God puts all our shortfalls on Jesus’ shoulder, and recognizes those good deeds we do for the edification of the body of Christ.
Even when we struggle in the faith, as is common to every believer, God does not despise our efforts in the faith.
Some of us may probably feel that our current struggles in faith disqualify us from the benefits that accompany salvation. However, God is not unjust in recognizing your efforts of faith. We are encouraged to keep striving in faith as God continues to lead us, never giving up. The writer encourages us to support the people of God. It could be in area of mission support, evangelism, giving towards church growth.
“But we very much want each of you to continue to trust God to the end. Show that you really want to serve him. Be sure that, in the end, you will receive all the good things that you hope for.” (Easy to Read Version)
Key words here are:
Trust God to the end. Unwavering despite struggles with our faith.
Sow service in His vineyard. Don’t be an onlooker/church-goer. Be involved in His service irrespective of your assigned role. Humbly accept it and be diligent, consistent and improve on it over time.
Have the assurance that you will receive what you had hoped for. Our service should not be targeted at the benefits; however, we should be confident that we would be rewarded for our service.
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” NIV
In the final verse for our review today, the writer urges readers not to lax in faith, but zealous for God. Key words are faith and patience.
Imitate/copy characters of those who persevered in the faith, patiently endured challenges therein. Then will we have an assurance that we will reap the benefits that accompany salvation. A good example of those who persevered through faith and patience were the younger generation of Israelites who persevered in the desert for 40yrs and made it to the promise land. They were not embittered by the errors of the generation before them, yet they partook in their sufferings, but saw the wilderness as opportunity to grow their faith and skills before entering into the promise land. The question is how long are we willing to wait by faith, patiently on God to inherit the benefits of salvation. I bet you it is worth waiting a lifetime for it, irrespective of circumstances that challenges our faith from time to time.
1Cor 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
In conclusion, the writer of Hebrews tells us that God is not interested in our failures/weaknesses, rather as a father He warns us against such things that will deprive us of the benefits of salvation, thereby encouraging us to have a taste of the goodness of God.
Wednesday, April 21 2021
Contributor: Hilary Ikpe
The normal Christian life is supposed to be one of spiritual growth and progression. Starting out as "babes in Christ," we feed on the "milk of the word." Then as our spiritual senses are exercised to discern good and evil, we are able to progress to "solid food" (or meat). In this way we are able to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Pet. 3:18). But not all of us grow as we should. And some of the indications of spiritual immaturity are: dullness of hearing, the inability to teach others, a diet of "milk" only, and the inability to discern between good and evil (5:11-14).
But if we do not grow spiritually as we should, so what? Is spiritual growth really that essential?
Is there a "danger" in not progressing spiritually? Well, in Heb. 6:1- 8 we find that indeed there is "The Peril of Not Progressing," and that it is possible for Christians to find themselves in a very precarious situation.
"1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.” (NKJV)
I. VERSES 1-3 DISCUSSION
• What is the connection between this passage and the last passage?
• Does he review the elementary teachings? Does the writer lay again this foundation?
• What are some of the foundational principles of the gospel that are mentioned in verses 2-4?
• What do you think the author meant by “dead works?” What does the washings and laying on of hands refer to?
Matthew 23:25-28 – The Pharisees appeared clean on the outsides, but were full of sin on the inside.
1 Corinthians 14:20 and Ephesians 4:13-15
In the last passage in chapter five, the writer is encouraging his readers to wake up from their spiritual lethargy. They need to start paying attention, start obeying, and start passing
on the things they have learned. Here is yet another encouragement for them to move forward, to press on for maturity. No matter what spiritual level we are at, either a newborn Christian, or a believer for decades, we must always be pushing on for a closer relationship with Christ. Do not be satisfied with your current spiritual level or allow yourselves to become complacent. Perhaps last year you read through the whole Bible, last week memorized a chapter, or today have already shared the gospel with 5 people. Still, do not rest in last accomplishment.
Be quick to forget the successes of the past so that you don’t get stuck reliving them over and over.
Elementary teaching/foundation – The readers have been exposed to the core principles of the gospel many times, especially some principles from the Old Testament. The writer doesn’t want them to get stuck on those same points and never move forward. When will a teacher review a lesson? When will a parent repeat an instruction? When the student/child doesn’t do what they were supposed to. When growing up, there were several instructions my father repeated many times. One was to turn out the electricity when we left a room. I probably heard that several hundred times growing up. Why? Every time I heard it because one of us had “forgotten” and not done it. He had to keep reviewing the “elementary” teaching because we weren’t listening/obeying. In verses 1b-2, the writer briefly summarizes some of those basic teachings they should have mastered by now. These include:
Repentance from dead works – This could include empty religious rituals which had become commonplace in New Testament times. The Pharisees had compiled instruction books with thousands of rules governing every area of life. There were rules on keeping the Sabbath, rules on giving, rules on vowing, and basically everything else. As we see in Matthew 23:25-28, they looked very respectable on the outside. They took great care to be honored by people. What are some things they did in the gospels to obtain honor? They stopped combing and washing their hair when fasting so that others would see them. They tried to sit at the place of honor at banquets. They showed others how much they gave. They prayed loudly on street corners to get attention. And so on. These could be some of the dead works which are referenced here. In general, dead works, would include anything good we do with ulterior motives or anything good we do to try to earn salvation by ourselves.
Faith toward God – In fact, as we have learned in James, faith toward God is proven to be genuine faith if it is accompanied by works. These are not the dead works just discussed but a natural outpouring of our love and appreciation for what God has done for us (Eph. 2:10).
Washings and laying on of hands – This could refer to the Old Testament Levitical rules for washing (Leviticus 16:4, 24,26,28). Laying on of hands may refer to a person who made a sacrifice. He would lay his hands on the animal being sacrificed to symbolically pass his sin to the animal (Leviticus 1:4, 3:8, 13, 16:21). In the New Testament washing could be the spiritual regeneration in the heart of the believer (Titus 3:5). Laying on of hands could be for prayer or to receive the Holy Spirit. Because these were topics that had recently been
covered with this group, it is hard for us to tell whether it is a reference to the Old or New Testament.
Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment (these two are linked)– In Acts 23:8 we see that the Pharisees believed this. This teaching comes from the Old Testament in Daniel 12:1-2
There are two possible ways to interpret this passage in Hebrews 6. One is that they were already believers having heard and believed these elementary principles. But they were not growing. The other is that they believed all of these things like most Jews did, but were not saved yet because they didn’t embrace Christ. A good Pharisee would actually believe all that we saw in verse 1b-2. But he wouldn’t be saved because he rejected Christ. It is possible that this group of Hebrews or at least some of them were in a similar boat. They believe in the Old Testament, but they have yet to fully embrace Christ (which is why the author would spend a lot of time on the superiority of Christ and warnings about apostasy). Most likely there were both real believers in the group/church as well as some who were on the fence who didn’t fully commit themselves to Jesus yet.
3. A statement of hope and dependence on God.
And this we will do if God permits.
a. If God permits: This should not be taken as implying that God may not want them to go on to maturity, past those basics common to Christianity and Judaism.
b. If God permits: Instead, this expresses the believers’ complete dependence on God. If we do press on to maturity, we realize that it only happens at God’s pleasure.
B. The danger of falling away
Satan knows Scripture, and this passage has rightly been called “one of the Devil’s favorite passages” for the way it can (out of context) condemn the struggling believer. Many Christians feel like giving up after hearing Satan “preach a sermon” on this text.
II. VERSES (4-6) The impossibility of repentance for those who fall away after receiving blessing from God.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
a. For it is impossible:
The word impossible is put in a position of emphasis. The writer to the Hebrews does not say this is merely difficult, but that it is without possibility.
i. Note the other uses of impossible in Hebrews:
• It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).
• It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats can take away sin (Hebrews 10:4).
• It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6).
ii. “This word impossible stands immovable.” (Alford)
b.Who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come:
The writer to the Hebrews speaks of people with impressive spiritual experiences. The big debate is whether this is the experience of salvation or the experience of something short of salvation. Looking at each descriptive word helps see what kind of experience this describes.
i. Enlightened: This ancient Greek word has the same meaning as the English word. It described the experience of light shining on someone, of a “new light” shining on the mind and spirit.
ii. Tasted: The idea of “tasting” may mean to “test” something. But other uses of this word indicate a full, real experience as in how Jesus tasted death in Hebrews 2:9. The heavenly gift is probably salvation (as in Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8).
iii. Partakers of the Holy Spirit: This is a unique term in the New Testament. Since it means “sharing” the Holy Spirit, it has to do with receiving and having fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
iv. Tasted the good word of God: This means they experienced the goodness of God’s word, and saw its goodness at work in them.
v. The powers of the age of come: This is a way to describe God’s supernatural power. The writer to the Hebrews describes those who experienced God’s supernatural power.
c. If they fall away, to renew them again to repentance: One of the most heated debates over any New Testament passage is focused on this text. The question is simple: Are these people with these impressive spiritual experiences in fact Christians? Are they God’s elect, chosen before the foundation of the world?
i. Commentators divide on this issue, usually deciding the issue with great certainty but with no agreement.
ii. One the one side we see clearly that someone can have great spiritual experiences and still not be saved (Matthew 7:21-23). One can even do many religious things and still not be saved. The Pharisees of New Testament times are a good example of this principle. These men did many religious things but were not saved or submitted to God.
These ancient Pharisees:
• Energetically evangelized (Matthew 23:15).
• Impressively prayed (Matthew 23:14).
• Made rigorous religious commitments (Matthew 23:16).
• Strictly and carefully tithed (Matthew 23:23).
• Honored religious traditions (Matthew 23:29-31).
• Practiced fasting regularly (Luke 18:12).
• Yet Jesus called them sons of Hell (Matthew 23:15).
iii. Yet, from a human perspective, it is doubtful that anyone who seemed to have the credentials mentioned in Hebrews 6:4-5 would not be regarded a true Christian. God knows their ultimate destiny and hopefully the individual does also – yet from all outward appearance, such Christian experience might qualify a man to be an elder in many churches. Yet beyond the knowledge hidden in the mind of God and the individual in question, from all human observation, we must say these are Christians spoken of in Hebrews 6:4-5. A good example of this is Demas.
· Paul warmly greeted other Christians on his behalf (Colossians 4:14).
· Demas is called a fellow worker with Paul (Philemon 24).
· Yet Paul condemned Demas, at least hinting at apostasy (2 Timothy 4:10).
iv. Taking all this together, we see that it is possible to display some fruit or spiritual growth – then to die spiritually, showing that the “soil of the heart” was never right (Mark 4:16-19).
v. Therefore, eternal standing of those written of in Hebrews 6:4-6 is a question with two answers. We may safely say that from a human perspective, they had all appearance of salvation. Nevertheless, from the perspective of God’s perfect wisdom it is impossible to say on this side of eternity.
d. For it is impossible…if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance: Despite their impressive spiritual experience – or at least the appearance of it – these are in grave danger. If they fall away, it is impossible for them to repent.
i. If these are genuine Christians who “lost their salvation,” the terrible fact is that they can never regain it. In the early church some groups (such as the Montanists and the Novatianists) used this passage to teach there was no possibility of restoration if someone sinned significantly after their baptism.
ii. Others explain it by saying that this is all merely a hypothetical warning (in light of the statement in Hebrews 6:9). In this thinking, the writer to the Hebrews never intended to say that his readers were really in danger of damnation. He only used
a hypothetical danger to motivate them. However, one must say that there is questionable value in warning someone against something that can’t happen.
iii. Still others think that this penalty deals only with reward, not with salvation itself. They stress the idea that it says repentance is impossible, not salvation. Therefore, these are Christians of low commitment and experience who risk a loss of all heavenly reward, saved only “by the skin of their teeth.”
iv. This difficult passage is best understood in the context of Hebrews 6:1-2. The writer to
the Hebrewsmeans that if they retreat back to Judaism, all the religious “repentance” in the world will do them no good. Retreating from distinctive Christianity into the “safe” ideas and customs of their former religious experience is to forsake Jesus, and to essentially crucify Him again. This is especially true for these ancient Christians from a Jewish background, since the religious customs they took up again likely included animal sacrifice for atonement, denying the total work of Jesus for them on the cross.
e. If they fall away: There is a necessary distinction between falling and falling away. Falling away is more than falling into sin; it is actually departing from Jesus Himself. For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity (Proverbs 24:16). The difference is between a Peter and a Judas. If you depart from Jesus (fall away) there is no hope.
i. The message to these Christians who felt like giving up was clear: if you don’t continue on with Jesus, don’t suppose you will find salvation by just going on with the ideas and experience that Christianity and Judaism share. If you aren’t saved in Jesus, you aren’t saved at all. There is no salvation in a safe “common ground” that is not distinctively Christian.
ii. If someone falls away, we must understand why he or she can’t repent – it is because they don’t want to. It is not as if God prohibits their repentance. Since repentance itself is a work of God (Romans 2:4), the desire to repent is evidence that he or she has not truly fallen away.
iii. The idea is not that “if you fall away, you can’t ever come back to Jesus.” Instead, the idea is “if you turn your back on Jesus, don’t expect to find salvation anywhere else, especially in the practice of religion apart from the fullness of Jesus.”
iv. “This passage has nothing to do with those who fear lest it condemns them. The presence of that anxiety, like the cry which betrayed the real mother in the days of Solomon, establishes beyond a doubt that you are not one that has fallen away beyond the possibility of renewal to repentance.” (Meyer)
Wednesday, April 14 2021
Contributor: Clem Roberts
We have seen in our past study of the book of Hebrews that Christ better than the angels. We have also seen and established that Christ is a better prophet Moses, Leader Joshua and the entire prophets put together. That as a good priest He knows exactly what you and I are going through. Today we will be looking at the third day warning in the book of Hebrews.
“of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”
We can see the same references as quote by Jesus in the following scriptures:
John 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now”.
“For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.”
As believers it is our duty to develop our:
• Sensitive and discerning abilities
• Understanding heavenly things.
• Grow daily in order to handle the deep things of Bible
“For though by this time, you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”
• We must not fail to progress.
• We need to develop spiritually in order to
• Teach rather than be taught. – (1 Cor. 3:1,2, 1 Pet 2:1,2).
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.”
• Stronger food aid growth.
• We must go beyond the basics
“But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
As believers we are all supposed to make good of what we read, learn and know
• We need to be complete.
• We need to be mature.
3 John 2
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
Wednesday, April 07 2021
Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye
INTRODUCTION: Hebrews 5:1-10 talks about the basic identity of Jesus as the heavenly High Priest. Christ was first identified as High Priest in 2:17, and 4:14-16, (studied in the past bible study) where we saw the basic idea and implications of Jesus being High Priest. However, it is only here in chapter 5 that Hebrews begins to go into details with making the case for Jesus being High Priest.
Our study today has two sections to it:
Verses 1-4: Give the meaning of and criteria for being a priest; and
Verses 5-10 show how Christ meets these criteria.
1. The Nature of the Priestly Office – Verses 1-3
“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can [a]have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. 3 Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.”
The first verse gives the essential function of a High Priest (offering sacrifices for sin). This function seems to be the only one of real concern in Hebrews.
The next 2 verses then go on to highlight that a High Priest must have compassion with sinners. It gives the positive side that a high priest can sympathize with sinners because he himself has experienced weakness. We see this in Jesus’ character in Hebrew 2:17-18 also mentioned again in Hebrew 4:15-16.
It goes on to gives the flip side, that because a high priest is himself a sinner he must atone “for his own sins as well as for those of the people”.
2. The Proper Call There Must Be to This Office – Verses 4-6
“4 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” 6 As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”
In vs 4 we see how the high priest must be called of God. He must have both an internal and external - call to office. The office of the priesthood is a very great honor.
The individual is basically employed to stand between God and man (Representing God and his will to men and Representing man and his case to God), dealing between them about matters of the high importance on both sides.
He goes on to explain Christ’s divine appointment to the high priesthood and vs 6 mentions “Melchizedek” but who is Melchizedek? – Melchizedek appears in the story of Abraham in Genesis 14:18-20. He is said to be both a king and a “priest of God Most High.” He now appears here.
3. The Mandatory Qualifications for The Work – Verses 7-10
“7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,”
Verses 7-9 move on to talk about Jesus and how He met the requirement of the High Priest to be able to empathize with those He represents. Jesus’ suffering described in verse 7 puts Him in solidarity with those He represents by sharing their own experiences of weakness and suffering.
The prayers, cries, and tears clearly highlight this. He took to him flesh, became a mortal man, and counted his life by days, thereby setting us an example how we should live ours. The prayers that Christ offered up were joined with strong cries and tears, therefore setting us an example not only to pray, but to be fervent and importunate in prayer. How many dry prayers, how few wet ones, do we offer up to God?
Note that by these his sufferings he learned obedience. Christ! - He was a Son; the only begotten of the Father!! I would have thought this might have exempted him from ANY suffering, but it did not?! So why should we then who are the children of God by adoption expect an absolute freedom from suffering? Through obedience, He left us an example, that we should learn by all our afflictions a humble obedience to the will of God. We need affliction, to teach us submission. By these His sufferings He was made perfect and became the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. Christ by His sufferings was consecrated to His “office” – Eternal source of salvation (The shed blood of Jesus Christ opened the door of salvation). He was appointed by God.
Summary – Hebrew 5:10
Hebrews 5:1–10 explains how Jesus fits the requirements of a High Priest. Earlier verses showed that humanity allows Christ to sympathize with our temptations and weaknesses. Here, the writer of Hebrews points out that this also makes Jesus qualified to be our ultimate High Priest. Because of His humanity, His prayers, His sacrifice for sin, and His appointment by God, Jesus' status is far superior to any other figure.
Wednesday, March 24 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study titled “Promised Rest for God’s People”, we looked at some hindrances to entering into God's rest and why we must enter God’s rest. We also learnt that the rest is based on God’s word. (Isaiah 26:3-4 & Psalm 37:23) and that this promised rest is a “live promise”. Today we will be considering just two verses of chapter 4; verses 12 and 13.
TEXT: “For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. “And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.” Heb. 4:12–13 (AMP) Emphasis mine
In these two verses, we will consider five things the writer asserted about the Word of God.
1. God’s Word Is Living
Describing the Word of God as “living” implies that the Word of God is alive and current; and exists as a dynamic force with which the world must reckon. God’s revelation still speaks to our current needs and situation. That is why the writer often quotes Scripture by saying, “He says” (Heb. 1:5; 2:11-12), or “The Holy Spirit says” (3:7). Even though the Bible was written many centuries ago, the Spirit of God still speaks directly to us through it. It is never out of date or irrelevant. It speaks to the very issues that we face in our modern world. In addition, God is the living God (3:12), and His Word cannot be separated from Him, that makes His Word a living Word; that can never be exterminated. As Isaiah 40:8 proclaims, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Finally, as the Author of life, His living Word imparts life in three ways.
a) God’s Word Imparts New Life to Dead Sinners.
Eph. 2:1, tells us that we were all dead in trespasses and sins, and alienated from God. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Just as a corpse cannot revive itself to life, neither can an unbeliever revive his own spirit into new life. But God is pleased to use His Word to impart new life to dead sinners. James 1:18 states, “In the exercise of His will [not our will] He brought us forth by the word of truth …” 1 Peter 1:23 says, “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”
b) God’s Word Imparts Life onto the Dead.
The Word of God also imparts life to dead people. As we see in the case of Lazarus (John 11:43-44). Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:41), the Widow's Son (Luke 7:14), and Dorcas (Acts 9:40)
c) God’s Word Imparts Renewed Life to His Saints.
Jesus said in John 6:63b “The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.” God uses His Word to renew and revive us. David wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps. 19:7). The entire 176 verses of Psalm 119 talks of the benefits of God’s Word. Repeatedly the psalmist cries out, “My soul cleaves to the dust; revive me according to Your word” (119:25). “This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me” (119:50).
2. God’s Word Is Active
The English word “energy” takes its root from the Greek word translated as “active.” That God’s Word is active implies that it is operative, energizing, and effective. It accomplishes what God intends for it to do. Isaiah 55:10-11 states, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth out of My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Emphasis mine
The same Word that at creation set the elements of the universe to their appointed tasks and still governs the universe toward God’s desired intentions (Heb. 1:2–3), has the ability to effect change in people. It is not static and passive but dynamic, interactive, and transforming as it interfaces with the people of God.
3. God’s Word Is Full of Power.
Jeremiah 23:29 says: “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?"
God’s Word is full of power! It was by His Words he created the universe; speaking its entirety into existence. (Genesis 1:3). Romans 4:17 says God gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. God’s Word possess the following:
Power of Salvation to Save (Rom. 1:16), Power to Refute (2 Timothy 3:16), Power to Reproduce (Luke 8:11), Power to Re-Direct (1 Peter 2:25), Power to Reward (Hebrews 11:6) Power to Set Free (John 8:31-32), Power to Convict of Sin. (Acts 2:37), Power to Accomplish Purpose and Achieve Results (Isaiah 55:11), Power to Be Kept Pure (Psalm 119:9) and many more.
4. God’s Word Is Sharp and Penetrating.
The writer describes God’s Word as being sharper than any two-edged sword. A two-edged sword is one whose blade is sharpened on both sides. That means it is able to penetrate and cut in any direction; and therefore applicable in all situations; for blessing or curses (Psa. 1 & Deut.28), for edification, inspiration, instruction, or chastisement (2 Timothy 3:16), God’s Word is sharp and it cuts deeply, to the very core of our being. It can separate truth from error, eliminating the blurriness introduced by the devil; when he twists the truth and tries to blur the line between the truth and his lies (Matthew 4:1-11).
And finally, it reveals to us who we truly are by penetrating to the deepest parts of us; separating joints and marrow, soul and spirit. Unless a person’s conscience is hardened beyond remedy, there is no way they will read God’s Word or hear it preached faithfully without getting cut in the conscience. Acts 2:37 says: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
5. God’s Word Judges the Thoughts and Intentions of the Heart.
Although in verse 13, the writer refers God Himself, and not the Word; as the One who sees everything; we cannot hide from Him (Adam and Eve tried to hide from God after they sinned, but they could not do it, and neither can we). And finally, that we have to give account to Him. Jeremiah 17: 9-10 asks rhetorically and provides the answer: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
Having said that, the Word of God also judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Jesus in John 12:48 says: “Those who reject me by not accepting what I say have a judge appointed for them. The words that I have spoken will judge them on the last day.” (GW) Emphasis mine
Psalms 8-19:7 NLT says: “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.”
The Word of God is not only potent when spoken by Him, but also in our mouths. In Isaiah 59:21, God says He has put His Words in our mouths. Jesus asks us to “speak to the mountain” (Mark 11:23), Peter healed a lame man by speaking the Word (Acts 3: 6), Job 22:28 says when we decree a thing, it will be established.
Having realized the awesomeness of God’s Word, it is very important that we do not become hearers alone (James 1:22). Let’s put God’s Word to practice in our lives. Here is what Jesus said in Matt. 7:24-27 (MSG)
“24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. 26-27 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”
How do we work the word of God into our lives?
James 1:22-25 says: “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” Joshua 1:8 also says: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read [and meditate on] it day and night, so that you may be careful to do [everything] in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be successful.” (AMP)
So we work God’s Word into our lives by (i) speaking, confessing and professing it (looking into the Word); (ii) reading and meditating on it day and night (continuing in it), and (iii) doing everything that is written in it (being a doer of the work).
It is not one out of three, but all of the three.
Parts of this study was culled from:
Wednesday, March 17 2021
Contributor: Esther Ikpe
In last week’s study titled “Consequences of Unbelief”, we learnt that unbelief was the reason why the Church in the Wilderness was excluded from the Promised Land. Today we will be considering the first 11 verses of Hebrews chapter 4 in this study titled Promised Rest for God’s People. A rest many of them missed out on.
VERSES 1-2: REST & FAITH
“For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith." (MSG)
What Is Rest?
It is a profound peace that does not affect whether you are rich or poor, intelligent or unintelligent, black or white. It is a rest that heals and makes you whole. Rest and peace are synonymous. I will use both words here. It is a rest that calms your fears and gives you a sense of stability to face the future with confidence, regardless of what is happening around you.
It is not a rest from work—it’s a rest in work. It’s partnering with God to do what He is calling you to do by His grace, and leaving the part you can’t do in His hands, trusting Him to do it. Hebrews 4:3 says it this way: For we who have believed enter that rest…So we start by believing.
What Is Faith?
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and the assurance that the Lord is working, even though we cannot see it. Faith knows that no matter what the situation, in our lives or someone else’s, that the Lord is working in it.
The Hebrew word for faith is emunah which means “support.” Faith is “the Lord’s support” to us because we know God is working in every situation for his glory. Regardless of what we think, or see happening around us we hold on steadfastly to this knowledge and see things through the eyes of faith and not our own eyes.
VERSES 3-6: HINDRANCES TO ENTERING INTO GOD'S REST & WHAT IT MEANS TO CEASE FROM YOUR WORKS
"If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Remember that God said, Exasperated, I vowed, “They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.” God made that vow, even though he’d finished his part before the foundation of the world. Somewhere it’s written, “God rested the seventh day, having completed his work,” but in this other text he says, “They’ll never be able to sit down and rest.” So this promise has not yet been fulfilled. Those earlier ones never did get to the place of rest because they were disobedient." (MSG)
• Lack of faith in God's word, rejection and unbelief in His word.
• Lack of knowledge of God's word.
• Trying vs Trusting
• Hardening of heart (this could come from past disappointments failure of people in authority over you etc.)
• When we start depending on our own wisdom, intelligence and manipulation of events in whatever we do, we ought to rely wholly on the Lord.
• When we also become arrogant to think we are something due to our past success or promotions or God’s grace we are enjoying and play down God’s glory.
• When we fret and worry and are anxious, unable to relax or have peace, even we claim God is in control yet we find that we cannot release the reins to God for His will to be done in our lives. Even though we know we serve a living God who promised “never to leave us or forsake us:” “who also said: “no good thing will He deny those who walk uprightly.” 'Those who trust Him are not put to shame.’ We struggle
VERSES 7-11: WHY WE MUST ENTER INTO GOD’S REST
"God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David’s psalm, centuries later than the original invitation: Today, please listen, don’t turn a deaf ear . . . And so this is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience." (MSG)
• It gives rest that is profound and that involves all our faculty. It is a rest based on HIS WORD Isaiah 26:3&4. Psalm 37:23
• It is the opposite of "akatastatos"- meaning unstable and restless in Greek. This is when a person is always scheming, plotting; very unstable and restless to do their own thing in their own wisdom, for their own glory. God is not glorified in their lives. They boast about who they are and what they have achieved, forgetting without God, they will be nothing.
• The opposite of chaos
• God is Alpha and Omega. He knows the beginning of any matter and the end
• His thoughts towards us are thoughts of good and not of evil to bring us to an expected end
• He has finished the work even before the foundations of the earth.
• It is still a LIVE PROMISE
An Illustration of Rest
Taken from a short piece in a book by Madam Guyon, author of “Her Sole Crime Was That of Loving God,”
She was a French godly and rich woman unjustly imprisoned by the Catholic Church in the 17th century. They deprived her of everything -material possession and she suffered so
much. Despite all these, she was still at peace and joyful- her mind and body at rest. This is what she said in her prison cell:
“I shall not speak of that long persecution, which had made so much noise, for series of ten years imprisonments, in all sorts of prisons, and of a banishment almost as long, and not yet ended through crosses, calumnies, imaginable sorts of sufferings. While I was prisoner at Vincennes and Monsieur De La Reine examined me. I passed my time in great peace, content to pass the rest of my life there, if such were the will of God. I sang songs of joy, which the maid who served me learned by heart, as fast as I made them. We together sang thy praises, O my God. The stones of my prison looked in my eyes like rubies. I esteemed them more than all the gaudy brilliancies of a vain world. My heart was full of that joy which Thou givest to them who love Thee in the midst of there greatest crosses.” This kind of peace or rest does not emanate on bases of material opulence, or fame, or political ingenuity, or intellectual acumen, or other things that exalt humans. This kind of peace and rest can only come from a supernatural and divine God, who only can give this kind of rest through obedience to His word and love for Him through faith.”
When We Possess God's Rest:
• It eases the pain we bear daily
• It refreshes and relaxes our minds and bodies
• We are able to lay down in peace, instead of torn by inner struggles
We are able to operate our lives in peace and achieve our vision and goals Our minds are calm and restful, not rattled by anything because we have God's rest.
Parts of this study was culled from: https://joycemeyer.org/everydayanswers/ea-teachings/living-in-gods-rest
Wednesday, March 10 2021
Contributor: Martins Olubiyi
INTRODUCTION: Last week, we were warned against unbelief as we studied the Church in the Wilderness. They experienced the miraculous manifestation of God’s power, yet when the going was getting tough, they lost their focus. Today, we shall examine the consequences of their unbelief and disobedience to God’s instructions.
“For we [believers] have become partakers of Christ [sharing in all that the Messiah has for us], if only we hold firm our newborn confidence [which originally led us to Him] until the end,”
For, - enforcing the warning in Heb. 3:12.
Have become partakers of Christ/ We are made partakers of Christ, - means we are spiritually united to the Saviour. In other words, we become one with Him. John 15: 1-7; John 17:21, 23; Eph. 5: 30; 1Cor 12: 27. We partake of His Spirit and his apportionment. It is a union of feeling and affection, a union of principle, dependence and love.
If only we hold firm- hold fast, tenaciously
our newborn confidence – the believing confidence (our subsistence, our life) with which we began our Christian life Heb. 1: 3. We should maintain the same confidence which we had in the beginning, or which we showed at the commencement of our race that revealed true and strong attachment to our Redeemer.
Until the end- means to the final consummation. It is more than mere termination. It is the point into which the whole life of faith finally gathers itself up. Read Romans 6: 12; 2 Cor.11: 15; Phil 3: 19; Heb. 6: 8; 1 Pet 1: 9.
“while it is said, “Today [while there is still opportunity] if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart, as when they provoked Me [in the rebellion in the desert at Meribah]”
Do not harden your hearts / Harden not your hearts; by refusing to hearken to Christ.
In the provocation; when the Israelites provoked God. Numbers 14:2-11. It is evidently clear in this passage that the children of Israel could not persevere in believing in God’s gracious acts.
Reference to Numbers 14 is significant because it indicates that unbelief is not a lack of faith or trust. It is the refusal to believe God. It eventually culminated to a turning away from God in a deliberate act of rejection.
The point is that the provocation took place in the face of God’s great and wonderful deliverance. Their past experience of God should have reinforced their faith for the present. But because hardship came, instead of encouraging each other to trust their great God in the midst of their difficulties they looked at their present hardships and hardened their hearts, and encouraged each other to murmur. In spite of the wonders, they had previously seen in Egypt and at the Red Sea, they murmured against God. They revealed an evil heart of disbelief and disobedience, not a heart of trust and faith in God, resulting in faithfulness in
response. They demonstrated that instead of being caught up in love for God in view of what He had done for them, so that all else was seen in that light, they were just taken up with themselves and their own short-term advantage. Let anything go wrong and His past goodness was forgotten immediately. Is this not the same attitude we have in this last day? It becomes imperative for us to examine ourselves in the light of God’s word. The standard of God remains unchanged.
“For who were they who heard and yet provoked Him [with rebellious acts]? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?”
When they had heard - Had heard God speaking to them, and giving them his commands.
Did provoke - Provoked Him to anger; It indicates that their conduct was such that incurred the anger or indignation.
Was it not all - The word ‘all’ here is not to be taken in the strict sense, it is often used to denote the great body; a large proportion; or vast multitudes, as it was used in Matthew 3:5, ‘Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan.’ Similarly, in John 3:26, ‘The same baptize, and all people came to him.’ Although many in the wilderness that heard the voice of God, provoked Him, yet not all (Number14:30 & 31). God always Has, and ever will reserve a remnant of faithful and undefiled souls unto Himself to bear witness by their faith and obedience, to maintain and keep up His own kingdom in the world.
“And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose dead bodies were scattered in the desert?”
But with whom was he grieved forty years? – The church in the Wilderness. They consist of leaders, fathers and others from above 20 years in age. Heb. 3: 8-10.
Was it not with them that had sinned – Those that had sinned in various ways - by rebellion, murmuring, unbelief. As God was angry with them for their sins, we have the same reason to conclude that he will be angry with us if we sin; and we should, therefore, be on our guard against that unbelief which would lead us to depart from Him; Heb. 3:12.
Whose carcasses fell … Numbers 14:29. That is, they all died, and their carcases were left in the desert. The whole generation were cut down along the way to Canaan. All of those who had seen the wonders that God had done in the land of Ham; who had been rescued in so remarkable a manner from oppression, were cut down, and died in the deserts through which they were passing; Numbers 26:64-65. Such an example of the effects of unbelief and disobedience against God. There example was well suited to admonish Christians in the time of the apostle, and for us now, so that we don’t end up in the wilderness.
“And to whom did He swear [an oath] that they would not enter His rest, but to those who disobeyed [those who would not listen to His word]?”
The book of Hebrew presents obedience and belief as key concept in our relationship with God. It affirms that even Christ was made perfect by it. (Hebrews 5:8,9). In vs 18, disobedience is the basis of God denying Israel the right to enter their promised land. The word ‘disobedience’ and ‘unbelief’ were used interchangeably by different versions. However, congregational murmuring at Kardeshbarnea (Numbers 14:11); unbelieve to sanctify the Lord at water of Meribah (Numbers 20: 12) prevented them to enter Canaan. It was not the sware of oath by God that prevented them, not want of strength to enable them, not deficiency of divine counsel to instruct them. All these they had in abundance. But they chose to sin, and would not believe. Unbelieve produced disobedience, and disobedience produced hardness of heart and blindness of mind. All these brought the judgements of God and eventually His wrath. Deut. 1: 26-32,.9: 23; Psalm 106: 24, 25; Ezekiel 20: 15-18
“So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest-the promised land] because of unbelief and an unwillingness to trust God.”
God in His sovereignty never acts by any kind of whim or caprice; whenever He pours out His judgments, there are the most positive reasons to vindicate His conduct. 1 Sam 2: 3. Those whose carcasses fell in the wilderness were they who had sinned. And those who did not enter into his rest were those who believed not. Ezekiel 20: 15 -18. God is represented here as swearing that they should not enter in, in order to show the determinate nature of His purpose, the reason on which it was founded, and the height of the provocation that occasioned it. Rom 8: 5.
Consequences of unbelief- The church in the wilderness in perspective.
The Party grieved: God; The Parties grieving: The people of Israel; The time: forty-year period; The occasion of this grief: Sin in general, Unbelief in particular, Hardness of heart, & finally apostasy; The punishment of their sin: Their carcases fell in the wilderness.
Lesson 1: That sin is proper object of God’s displeasure, the only thing He is displeased with for Himself, and with the sinner for sin’s sake.
Lesson 2: That Public sins, or the sin of societies, are great, very great provocations unto God: It was not their personal and private sins that God was thus provoked, but for their confederacy in sinning.
Lesson 3: From their exemplary punishment, their carcases fell in the wilderness; that God sometimes makes men who have been wickedly exemplary in sin, to be righteously exemplary in punishment.
Lesson 4: That unbelief is the immediate root and cause of all provoking sins. Did men believe the happiness of Heaven, they would not neglect it; did they believe the torments of Hell, they would avoid them.
Lesson 5; That the oath of God is engaged against all unbelief, and no unbeliever shall enter into the rest of God. Heb. 3:19.
CONCLUSION:We should have seen from the testimony of the Church in the Wilderness that unbelief was the reason why they were excluded from the Promised Land. Let us who profess Christ be careful against indulgence of unbelief in our hearts. The beginning of murmuring commences when we lose confidence in God, and doubt His promises. Let us live a life of faith. Let us persevere to the end. Let us live in anticipation of our eternal rest with the Lord.
Wednesday, March 03 2021
Contributor: Okwudili Prince-Isaac
The backdrop centres around the rest promised by God to His people, and the dangers/consequences of disobedience and apostasy (the falling off from the faith), as cited from what God had declared through King David in Ps.95:7-11. We are encouraged to lovingly and caringly exhort each other daily and to take special care against “an evil heart of unbelief” so that sinning in whatever form will not harden our hearts. Because it is so easy to become like those people of old and repeat their mistakes, we must hold firmly onto the faith that we started out with.
SUB-THEMES (Verses 7-9)
“7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did.” (NIV)
In the verse preceding our Text (verse 6), the writer strongly admonished the Hebrews (Us) to “hold fast the confidence …firm unto the end”. The apostle proceeds in pressing upon them serious counsels and cautions; and he recites a passage out of Ps. 95:7 as an anchor for his exhortation.
3) REFERENCED EXAMPLES
4) GOD’S RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT
5) BE ON YOUR GUARD/WATCH OUT
1. COUNSEL: What he counsels them to do— be prompt and give present attention to the call of Christ. "Hear his voice, assent to, approve of, and consider, what God in Christ speaks unto you; apply it to yourselves with appropriate affections and single-mindedness. We ought to set about it in the present (i.e. this very day), for to-morrow it may be too late.’’
2. CAUTION: We are cautioned against—hardening our hearts, turning the deaf ear to the calls and counsels of Christ: "When he tells you of the evil of sin, the excellency of holiness, the necessity of receiving him by faith as your Saviour, do not shut your ear and heart against such a voice as this.’’ Take note that in this case, the hardening of our hearts give impetus to all our other sins.
3. REFERENCED EXAMPLES: Reference is made to that remarkable encounter at Massah Meribah, (Ex. 17:2-7) —that of the Israelites fathers in the wilderness. This incidence is commonly referred to as the Provocation and Day of Temptation. Take note:
a) Days of temptation are often days of provocation.
b) To provoke God, when he is trying us, and letting us see that we entirely depend andlive immediately upon him, is a provocation with a witness. Deut. 8:2-3
c) The sins of others (sins and punishments), especially our relations, should be awarning to us, to deter us from following their evil examples.
Pertinent observations on the experience of the Israelite believers;
1. Their state of transition should have restrained them from sinning seeing that theywere brought of bondage but (still) in the wilderness i.e. not yet in Canaan.
2. Their sin? They tempted and provoked God because they distrusted Him, wenton to murmured against Moses. Simply, they rejected the voice of God.
3. Their miraculous deliverance out of Egypt, and their day-to-day support and supplyin the wilderness stood to testify of God goodness: but notwithstanding, theysinned in the wilderness, and continued so for forty years.
4. The source and spring of such aggravated sins, were,
a. Error: heart-errors manifested on their lips and actions.
b. Ignorance: Even though He walked before them, God’s ways, his providenceand precepts remained unknown to them.
4. GOD’S RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT (Verses 10-11)
“10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” (NIV)
All sin, especially sin committed by God’s professing privileged people, does not only anger and affront God, but it grieves him.
a. Although the Lord greatly resented their sins, yet He exercised great patiencetowards them (v.10).
b. God is reluctant to destroy his people in or for their sin, he waits long to begracious to them.
c. God keeps an exact account sins and the ensuing grieves; ultimately, if thesesins continue to grieve the Spirit of God, these sins shall be made grievous to the sinner’s own spirits.
God passed an irreversible doom passed upon them at last. He swore in His wrath that they should not enter into His rest, (either of an earthly or of a heavenly Canaan).
a. Prolonged sinful behaviour will kindle the divine wrath, which will flame outagainst sinners.
b.God will swear in His wrath, (not rashly, but righteously). This wrath will be a righteous resolution to destroy the impenitent. No rest can be found under the wrath of God.
5. BE ON YOUR GUARD/WATCH OUT (Verses 12-13)
“12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (NIV)
We are given serious caution on verse. 12, verse. 13, etc.
a. Be circumspect! Take heed. "Be upon your guard against enemies both withinand without; You see what kept many of your forefathers out of Canaan, andmade their carcasses fall in the wilderness; take heed lest you fall into the samesin and snare and dreadful sentence”. We are reminded that in as much as Christis head of the church, (a much greater person than Moses) our contempt of him
must be a greater sin than the Israelite’ contempt of Moses.
b. The predicament of the Israelites should be a warning to us who came afterthem; and should serve as an example (1 Co. 10:11 ).
c. Again, take heed! "Brethren, not only in the flesh, but in the Lord; brethren whom I love, and for whose welfare I labour and long.’’ Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. We note here that (i) unbelief is evil and a great sin, it mars the heart of man. (ii) an evil heart of unbelief is at the bottom of all our sinful departures from God; it is a leading step to apostasy (iii) if once we allow ourselves to distrust God, we may soon desert him. (iv) Christians that ‘think they stand firm’ should take heed lest they fall.
d. A helpful remedy (in addition to the cautions): against this evil heart of unbelief— is to exhort one another daily, while it is called today, v. 13.
We must maximize ‘today’ and exhort one another daily, against the dangers of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The time is short and uncertain, since to-morrow is not guaranteed. There is a great deal of deceitfulness in sin; it appears fair, but is filthy; it appears pleasant, but is evil; it promises much, but performs nothing. It can so harden the soul that one sin allowed prepares way for another; every act of sin confirms the habit leading to searing of the conscience. Let us beware.
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
Wednesday, January 27 2021
Contributor: Hilary Ikpe
Last week we considered the first part of today’s topic – “About Jesus”
We looked at the character of Christ and compared Him with the angels. We concluded
that in order to reign with Christ, we need to hate and be totally disgusted about sin.
We shouldn’t polish it, don’t embellish it Just hate it. In today’s study we will delve
deeper into more about Jesus.
Vs 10 -Who Then Is the Son?
“And: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens
are the work of Your hands.”
• The Son is the Word made flesh. John 1:1
• Through the Son everything was created. John 1:2
• The Son is the Power of God. Jer. 51:15a
• The Son is the Wisdom of God. Ps. 136:5, Jer. 51:15b
Vs 11 - The Eternal Nature of the Son
“They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment;"
• The Son is eternal in existence and power. Isa. 9:7
• The life The Son gives is everlasting. John 3:16, John 6:47
• The covenant He bought for us with His blood is everlasting. Heb. 13:20
• The temporariness of earthly things and possessions
• Everything we are striving for now will one day perish.
• Our current brand new cars will one day become junk
• Our current houses will one day be deemed too old, unsafe, outdated or
• Anything we can see with our physical eyes are temporary. 2 Cor. 4:18
• That is, we should put our minds on things above: Col. 3:2
Vs 12a - Like A Cloak You Will Fold Them Up
"Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed."
• There is always an end to every situation
• Change is constant and expected
• For the believer the change is always for the better. Prov. 4:18, Job 11:17
• We are being changed from glory to glory. 2 Cor. 3: 11
• God’s purpose is to bring us to glory. Heb. 2:10
• We will therefore arise and shine. Isa. 60:1
• Jesus is the King of glory. Ps. 24:8,10
Vs 12b - Our Lord is Unchanging
“But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.”
• He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Heb. 13:8
• He cannot change because He is perfection personified
• He is perfect in all His ways. Ps. 145:17, Duet 32:4, 2 Sam 22:31, Ps. 18:30
Vs 13 - The Right Hand of God’s Power
“But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?
• Jesus is the Power of God.
• The power of the Godhead flows through Jesus Christ to every creation
• Without Jesus, no one can access the Power of God
• Every knee will bow at His name. Phil 2:10
• Jesus is not just sitting at the right hand of God; He is the right hand of God Himself. Isa. 48: 13
Vs 14 - Angelic Ministry
“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”
• We are kings and priests unto God. Rev. 1:6
• Ministers are officials who carry out the king’s instructions.
• Angels are assigned to minister in our courts and carry out our instructions.
• We must therefore be very careful of what we say at all times
Thursday, January 21 2021
Contributor: Clem Roberts
Last week we looked at the introduction to the book of Hebrews and an overview of what we should expect as we study this great book of the Holy Bible.
Who wrote the book of Hebrews? Some say Priscilla, Apollos, Paul, Timothy, or Clement, etc. I would rather we concentrate on the message and the fact it made in the canon of scriptures than any other summation.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:”
The first three verses of chapter one gives us the entire idea or summary of what the book is all about. In this chapter we get to understand the three main offices that Jesus occupies, that should be replicated in our Christian lives. That is:
• The Kingly Office of Our Lord Jesus Christ
• The Prophetic Office of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
• The Priestly Office of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Characteristics of Jesus
• He is the image of the Father
• First Begotten Son
• He is the heir of all things
• Through the Son the ages were made
• He is brightness of God’s glory
• He upholds all things by His power
• He made purification of sin
• He sat down on Majesty on High
Son Exalted above Angels - Vs 4 – 7
“Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. 7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.”
•The Provision of Salvation
Why the comparison to Angels?
Our perception of angels is largely influenced by a composite of Biblical insight and also misconceptions from English literature.
From the perspective of the Jews looking at the old testament, they regarded angels as the most exalted of all God’s creatures. So, the Hebrew writer was reminding them of the more Exalted One.
Verses 8 – 9
“8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore, God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
“The sceptre of thy kingdom”: vs 8; There are two characteristics of this sceptre:
Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
In order to reign with Christ, we need to hate and be totally disgusted about sin. Don’t polish it, don’t embellish it Just hate it. God has given us the ability to hate sin and He sent the Comforter to help us in all situations. Read John 15:26, Amos 5:5 and John 14:21.
Thursday, January 21 2021
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
The letter was written to the Hebrew or Jewish Christians. King James credited Apostle with authorship of this epistle, but historian and theologians disputed this fact because of notable theological variations, and a lack of Paul’s customary signature (2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; Eph.1:1)
The author had extensive knowledge of Jewish traditions, which he references frequently throughout the book and did not personally witness Christ’s ministry (Hebrews 2:3).
The Main Theme
This book is the bridge that connects the Old Testament and the New. The words “better” and “superior” in their Greek forms are scattered throughout the book fifteen times, clearly demonstrating that, as the Messiah, Jesus Christ is the only priest, sacrifice, and covenant the Jews need. The main purpose was to encourage Jewish Christians to hold to their faith in the face of persecution and not return to the Law. The entire book is about Jesus and how He is the guarantee of a new and better covenant. It is essential for every Christian to understand this book.
1) Chapter 1 - God’s Supreme Revelation
Hebrews 1 is about the supremacy of Christ Jesus vs 1-4. It paints a wonderful picture of how He is superior to the angels because of His redemptive work on the cross. Jesus is the exact representation of the Father and was sent to communicate to us the true nature of God. By understanding who Jesus is and what He said, we can know the fullness of God's nature and character.
2) Chapter 2 - The Role of Christ in Salvation
Hebrews 2 talks about the role of Christ in salvation. Jesus was briefly humbled and took on human form so he could taste death for everyone. It was fitting that Jesus, through whom everything exists, was the author of salvation. He shared in humanity so that through His death he might destroy him who holds the power of death. We must pay close attention to this so we do not ignore such a great salvation.
3) Chapter 3 - Jesus is Greater than Moses
Hebrews 3 conveys the fact that Jesus is our faithful high priest who eternally resides over the house of God as a son. It shows His superiority to Moses and the covenant of the law. This chapter also serves as a warning, quoting Psalm 95, we are admonished not to go astray and harden our hearts, as the wilderness generation did. We are to encourage each other daily and stand strong until the end with confidence in Christ.
4) Chapter 4 - The Believer's Rest
Hebrews 4 offers true Sabbath rest for the people of God through faith in Christ. This rest for God's people is what was promised throughout the entire Old Testament. True Sabbath rest does not come from adhering to the law or taking a break from work one day of the week. The believer’s rest comes to fulfilment in our lives by fellowshipping with Christ.
5) Chapter 5 - Jesus is the Perfect High Priest
Hebrews 5 shows Jesus as God's appointed High priest who became the source of eternal salvation for everyone who believes. He was subjected to the weakness of the flesh yet without sin. He learned
obedience through what he suffered so in the same way he is able to help those who will inherit salvation. Jesus was designed by God to be our high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
6) Chapter 6 -Warning Against Falling Away
Hebrews 6 serves as a warning against walking away from the truth and becoming reprobate (damned). Falling away makes it impossible to come back to repentance because it subjects Christ once again to open shame. However, there are better things accompanying salvation for us who continue on with Christ. We can proceed toward that steadfast hope entering through the veil which Christ has opened to us
7) Chapter 7 - Melchizedek's Priesthood like Christ's
Hebrews 7 compares Jesus and Melchizedek, a priest forever without lineage. Abraham paid honour and tithes to Melchizedek and by doing so the Levitical priesthood was blessed by him as Levi was still inside of Abraham. In this fashion, Jesus is also a priest forever like Melchizedek. However, He is not of the tribe of Levi. With a change in priesthood there must also be a change in the law. Jesus has proven His priesthood by his indestructible life. Because of this He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him since He always lives to intercede for them.
8) Chapters 8 & 9- Superiority of the New Covenant
Hebrews 8 shows that Jesus is the mediator of a new and better covenant which has been enacted on better promises. Jesus is ministering in the heavenly tabernacle at the right hand of God not in an earthly one (which was a copy and shadow of heavenly things). The New Covenant is written on our hearts and enables us to know the Lord in an intimate way. Jesus has promised to forgive our sins and remember them no more. The New Covenant has made the Old one obsolete.
Hebrews 9 shows how worship in the Old Testament could not perfect the worshipper because it related only to food, drink, various washings and regulations for the body. However, when Christ appeared He entered into the heavenly tabernacle and poured out His own blood on the mercy seat.
9) Chapters 10 & 11 - Christ's Sacrifice Once for All and The Faith Hall of Fame
Hebrews 10 shows that the Law was never able to make perfect those who draw near because it was a shadow of the good things to come and not a reality in itself. Otherwise the sacrifices would have ceased to be offered. Instead they served as an annual reminder of sin. But when Jesus came He offered one sacrifice for sin for all time and then sat down at the right hand of the Father. Now we can draw near to God through the veil of Christ's body, having our hearts sprinkled clean and our conscience clear.
Hebrews 11 paints a wonderful picture of the men and women who triumphed by faith; people who believed God and pursued His promises even though many didn't see them come to pass in their lifetime. This chapter defines faith and shows that it pleases God.
10) Chapters 12 & 13 - Jesus is Our Example
Hebrews 12 is a call to persevere looking to Christ as our example. He endured the shame of the cross to bring us into fellowship with God, in the same way we should keep our eyes on him as we run the race of life.
Hebrews 13 is a mixture of warnings, requests and final exhortations. It is a reminder to the fellowship of Christ, to let love remain, show hospitality and honour each other. As well as remembering to pray for leaders in the church. This book ends on a wonderful note by reminding us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.