Wednesday, December 15 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
We have finally come to the last study of an incredible journey that has been spotted with amazing revelation offered in this letter to the Hebrew Christians.
Although not confirmed anywhere in the scriptures, we have come to “loosely” accept that this letter was written by the Apostle Paul because of certain styles of writing/argument spotted in different chapters of the letter.
Today’s topic, following on from verse 15, touches on the Apostle’s Final Admonishment, Benediction and Greetings to the Hebrew Christians and consequently us.
I. FINAL ADMONISHMENT (VERSES 16-19)
Verse 16: Pleasing Sacrifice
And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
In verse 15, we were admonished to offer a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name through Jesus. Here in verse 16, we learn that praise is not the only sacrifice that pleases God.
We also please God when we share with those in need. Praise and worship are important, but the Christian’s obligation does not end there.
Verse 17: Obey Your Spiritual Leaders
Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.
This is a very sensitive command that has been used for manipulation and control over the years and so, we must be careful. The KJV says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves . . .” the NIV says, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority”
How can we be careful about this?
We are to be submissive to the leaders God gives us (assuming they have the character mentioned in Hebrews 13:7). “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.”
Simply, their lives and character must model that of Jesus Christ and whatever it is that they ask from you must align with the Word of God. A teacher should teach us to submit to God, not to himself.
The second part of the verse is even more delicate.
Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God.
The responsibility God placed on spiritual leaders is a “huge” one and with what we are seeing around the world today, we realize that many of the spiritual leaders themselves don’t seem to understand the gravity of this responsibility. Of course, this does not relieve individual responsibility (every one of us shall give account of himself to God Rom.14:12) but it puts an additional accountability and responsibility upon leaders.
The third part is an appeal as well as a profitable advice.
Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.
The responsibility is a huge one, we should not make their task any more difficult or burdensome but create an environment where they can joyfully fulfil their calling. This cooperative conduct is not only a joy to leaders, but it is profitable for the whole body. It is for our own sake that we should obey and submit to God-appointed leaders. Because to do otherwise is akin to biting your nose to spite your face.
Verses 18-19: A Request For Prayer
“Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to live honourably in everything we do. And especially pray that I will be able to come back to you soon”
When we studied the book of Romans we came across a similar request from the Apostle Paul in chapter 15:30-31 as we see in these two verses where he called for the believers to pray for him. In both contexts, we see a leader who is clearly humble in making this request.
Very interestingly, his request for prayer was not just a cliché that we hear these days when someone says: “Please pray for me” without giving the prayer point. Here we see the Apostle being very clear about what the believers needed to pray about; again, a clear indication of his humility.
(i) We want to live honourably in everything we do
(ii) And especially pray that I will be able to come back to you soon
To live honourably (especially as a spiritual leader) is very important. Being honest with yourself, others and ultimately God! Paul understands this that is why he was coveting the prayers of the saints for he and the other leaders to be able to live honourably in “everything” they did.
The second prayer point implies that there were certain obstacles preventing him from returning to the recipients of this letter. He knew that prayer could remove those obstacles; so he urged the believers to specifically pray about this; showing how much he regarded their prayers for him.
II. BENEDICTION (VERSES 20-21)
Verses 20-21: A Blessing Is Pronounced.
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
After asking his readers to pray for him, Paul prays for his readers.
Verse 20: “Now may the God of peace”
This is a blessing in the style of the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27: The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
In this blessing God is first recognized in His attributes: His Peace, Power (brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead), Loving Care (that great Shepherd), and Ever Giving Love (the blood of the everlasting covenant).
Verse 21: “equip you with everything good for doing his will”
Other versions say “Make you complete in every good work”
This expresses the ultimate reason for the blessing of God. It is for fulfilling God’s will as He works in us through Jesus Christ.
III. FINAL GREETINGS (VERSES 22-24)
“Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly. 23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you. 24 Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.”
“. . . bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly”
At this final stage of the letter, the Apostle reminds us of his purpose. His desire was to write a word of exhortation to encourage discouraged Christians, both then and now.
“I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you.”
This final statement also “loosely” hints us of the writer’s identity. Although, they only tell us that the writer knew Timothy, but which other writer in the entire Bible ever mentioned Timothy in their writings except for the Apostle Paul?
“Grace be with you all.”
This is a definitely a fitting end for a book that documents the passing of the Old Covenant and the institution of the New Covenant.
And as we conclude this year’s Bible Study, I say, “Grace be with you all indeed, under what God has given through the superior Saviour, Jesus Christ! Amen!”
Wednesday, November 24 2021
Contributor: Adewale Abiona
As we consider some of the few remaining verses in last chapter of the book of Hebrews, and as the author has encouraged us to show the love of Christ towards all, both Christians and strangers, and to remember show empathy to those in hardship. He goes further to remind us to honour marriage, to be content with such things as we have, and to remember those that help build the foundation in our Christian lives.
Today, we will consider the consistency of God’s word under the heading “Jesus Doesn’t Change”
As you rightly know that the motto for this mission is the verse 8 of this very chapter taken from KJV version “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever”
Verse 8: Jesus Is The Same
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever”
When we consider the world today, in comparison to few years ago, you will realise how things has evolved. The magnitude at which things has changed and the rate at which the society look forward to new things is very interesting. Things people once loved yesterday has become a thing of the past today. If we consider Nokia Phones in their time and todays mobile technology, you will agree that Samsung and Apple has make life easier through their technology.
In like manner people change from time to time. The person that liked you yesterday, no longer want to see you today. The level of inconsistency with man or desire for new things seem to be what we expected of God.
We everything is going well; we believe God must be smiling at us but when thing isn’t going our way, we think He must be angry at us.
But He is the same,
"I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. (NLT)
His decisions are constant"
"Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." (NLT)
God is our rock - stable, unmoving, unshifting, unchanging.
2 Samuel 22:47
The LORD lives! Praise to my Rock! May God, the Rock of my salvation, be exalted!
Verse 9: Divers and Strange Doctrines
"Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them"
Because Jesus is the same, His teaching does not change either. It stays the same, generation after generation. Although society changes, trends shift, and styles go in and out, however, the gospel, the message, the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, remains the same.
In 2Tim. 1:13
"Apostle Paul told Timothy to “Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)
"A Pattern" is some that is repetitive. It is something that doesn’t change, done over and over again.
Now this kind of repetition is not exciting enough for some people, especially as we get use to the dynamics of thing. Many are always on the lookout for the new thing, new method, style, New wave of glory, new outpouring of the Spirit, new revelation, new truth, new understanding, and new way to tolerate and accommodate (even iniquity?) They want more and go off in search of " Divers and Strange Doctrines."
The Bible warned that this would happen in the last days:
"Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons." (NLT)
"3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths." (NLT)
We see it all around us today - Divers and Strange Doctrines surround us. They fill Christian world, all kinds of Christian TV stations, and Christian churches.
The Old Testament Law had much to say about which foods were clean and which were unclean and the early church observance of this becomes religious ritual on how to find favour with God. But did observing the food laws make a man any more holy or righteous?
Jesus said in (Mark 7:18-19),
18 “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? 19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.”
By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.
And in 1Cor. 8:8 Paul said
"It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do."
A lot of people like to be religious and be bound by or make such a big deal about following food laws, and judge anyone who claims to be a believer, but doesn't follow those same standards.
The Bible tells us in Col. 2:16-17
"16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality."
The Grace of God, which is His love and favour given to us does more to make us righteous than following any religious believe. Because His love in our heart will guide us into all truth.
Verse 10: A New Altar, A Better Sacrifice
"We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat."
The priests that served in the temple ate from the sacrifices on the altar. They are the people with more restrictions placed on them regarding what and where to eat
12 Then Moses said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take what is left of the grain offering after a portion has been presented as a special gift to the LORD, and eat it beside the altar. Make sure it contains no yeast, for it is most holy. 13 You must eat it in a sacred place, for it has been given to you and your descendants as your portion of the special gifts presented to the LORD. These are the commands I have been given. 14 But the breast and thigh that were lifted up as a special offering may be eaten in any place that is ceremonially clean. These parts have been given to you and your descendants as your portion of the peace offerings presented by the people of Israel. 15 You must lift up the thigh and breast as a special offering to the LORD, along with the fat of the special gifts. These parts will belong to you and your descendants as your permanent right, just as the LORD has commanded.”
But this verse declares to us that we have a new altar that our sacrifice is on. Our sacrifice is Jesus on the cross." This is a once and for all sacrifice that isn't allowed to be eaten of by the temple priests. He goes on to explain how Jesus was a fulfilment of the sin offerings in the temple
Verses 11-12: Bearing the Suffering all Alone
"11For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate."
"21 He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. 22 As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land."
The scapegoat was an illustration of Jesus Christ. The goat had all the sins of the people transferred to itself. It alone would bear them all. The same is true for Jesus:
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.
Then the goat was taken outside the city. So too with Jesus, who was led out of Jerusalem to be crucified on Calvary.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
This goes to show the consistent of God’s love for His children and how much he cares for us to the point of putting our sins away from us and laid upon His own begotten Son.
Verses 13- 14: Let Us Go Forth To Him
"13Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
Here we are been encouraged to leave the four walls of religion and go all out for Jesus bearing the pain and anguish that come with identifying with Christ. Establishing relationship with the Holy Spirit, who will guide us into the perfect will of God 14For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.
Knowing that our reward is not in this world, but of the new one to come. To forget about our comfort zone, our earthly Jerusalem, because the heavenly Jerusalem is waiting for us."
Verse 15: The Sacrifice Of Praise
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."
The only sacrifice that is required of you and I continually praise the King of Kings and the Lord of lords for all that is has done to redeemed us from ultimate penalty of sin and has blessed us, making all grace to abound unto us.
Since the fall of Man in Genesis, God sought to reconcile man back to Himself. Though He was frustrated at first that he created man but His unique intention for creating man cannot be derailed or defeated. God took three tremendous steps to carry out His original plan of imparting His eternal life into us so we could share His life and express Him.
Step 1—God became a man named Jesus Christ (incarnation)
Step 2—Christ died on the cross to redeem us (crucifixion)
Step 3—Christ rose from the dead (resurrection)
While the burden appeared to be too heavy for Christ to bear, he stayed focused, submitting to the course of redeeming you and I and this gives me the assurance that he will never leave nor forsake me. He is dependable, reliable, unchangeable, unbreakable and ever constant friend
The question for you and I is
• Can you stick to Him till the very end?
• Can you trust Him with your life?
• Will you remain loyal to Him as He is to us?
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Wednesday, November 17 2021
Contributor: Ngozi Roberts
Last week we treated the topic ‘Unshakable Kingdom” we were encouraged as believers to conscientiously continue to run the Christian race and not give up notwithstanding the everyday challenges that comes our way. We were reminded that as believers we have become part of Gods City calledMount Zion. As citizen of this city or kingdom we should be rest assured that our representative and Mediator has made available to us so much grace to live by and face whatever challenge that comes our way. The writer reassured us that Christ as a Purifier Himself will ensure that through His cleansing fire, He will not quit until He has purified us unto Himself. Therefore, we have a reason to be deeply grateful to Jesus Christ.
Today we are going to discuss the topic ‘Live to Please God’. And in this study, we are going to see how the writer brings to the believer some tips of how to live in brotherly love amongst themselves.
"Let brotherly love continue. 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body."
We see the writer starts to mention ideal ways that we can live to enable us be Christ like. The first being that we should love one another by being on good terms with each other strangers inclusive. This way some of us would have extended a hand of hospitality to angels without know it. This brings to remembrance the story of Abraham in Genesis 18: 1-33.
When Abraham unknowingly entertained angels through his hospitality. In fact, if you read to the end, we see how he was eventually rewarded, how he was given the opportunity to intercede for his neighbours – Sodom and Gomorrah – and through his intercession, his brother Lot was saved. So, you see when the bible encourages us to let brotherly love continue amongst us, its not only for us to visit each other, text each other but also to pray and intercede for one another genuinely as if we are praying for self.
So, the writer explains that our love for one another should be so deep that when we remember brethren that are in pain, prison or suffering it should be as if we are the ones in that pain.
"Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."
The writer was bringing home to us the meaning of the Love he is talking about that should exist among us Christians. You see, the bond between a man and a woman in marriage is based on this kind of Love. Marriage counsellors will tell you that there are different kinds of love. But the only type of love that as believers we should aim for is the Christ kind of love called Agape love. This is the unconditional kind of love. The kind of love that Jesus Himself showed by example by dying on the cross for us His bride. In Ephesians 5:25- 25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.
Christ being the husband and the church being the bride. Here we see the reference to this kind of love. Knowing that it is with Agape kind of Love that Christ demonstrated when He died for the Church. Likewise in Marriage, this undefiled agape love ought to be seen. I believe this is the kind of love the writer is encouraging us to show to one another. This kind of love we see in marriage. That is why he explained that it is an honourable thing. An admirable and a sacred institution therefore should be respected. Therefore, when we understand and practice this in our relationships and love for one another, it will be like practising how to be the bride knowing that Jesus is our bridegroom.
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."
The writer is urging us to be content with what God has provided us with. Always remember that God has assured us that in this Christian race He will never leave us nor forsake us.
The author invariable was encouraging the Hebrews in the same way Moses encouraged the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
He was telling the Hebrews not to relent in the face of adversity but to be consistent in their godly way of life knowing that it is not by their power or might but if they depend on God, He will never leave them nor forsake them. So long as we continue in this knowledge, we can always confess and prophesy continually that God is always ready to help us! We will not live-in fear no matter what!
"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."
The author went on to remind us of our Pastors and leaders and those God has placed in authority over us. These people God has used to tailor our faith in the right direction through the right use of the word of God. Let their faithfulness, mannerism and truthfulness teach us the way we should live and in so doing, there will be consistency in our Christian living as brothers and sisters!
In conclusion, the writer in these verses of scripture has shown us how to live a Christlike way of life in our mannerism, character, attitude, hospitality and boldness and fearlessness. Trusting God that He will always lead us aright and in the end when
Wednesday, November 10 2021
Contributor: Peter Folikwe
Last week the topic excellently treated was “A call to listen to God”.
We were admonished to make it a lifelong project to live in peace with everyone and at the same time honour our God with a lifestyle of holiness.
Furthermore, we are to look out for each other; supporting others where they are weak with our strengths, not exploiting their weaknesses for personal gains.
We were warned against the ‘Esau syndrome’ that tends to have a myopic view of the ‘now’: the consequence of which is mortgaging enduring blessing of the future for short lived, immediate gains.
The concluding verses anchored on the call to hear and listen to God. That, if we choose not to listen to Jesus, we become distracted by lots of negative voices. In those days the Jews requested Moses who was considered holy to approach the mount of God - Sinai to hear from ‘a dreaded God’ on their behalf.
Today’s study will be looking at the concluding verses of Hebrew chapter 12: mainly encouraging us as believers to painstakingly continue to run the Christian race and not relent despite challenges of our faith along the way.
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,”
Unlike the fearful and dreadful mount Sinai described in V18-21, we are encouraged to approach mount Zion (a place of friendship with God) - the heavenly Jerusalem to hear from ‘a loving and approachable God’, based on the finished work of salvation on the cross of Calvary.
The old covenant relationship God had with His people as described at Mount Sinai presented God as mean, dreaded and unapproachable God, because of their sins.
Reason being that the problem of sin still debarred people from approaching the presence of God in those days and Moses was the only one privileged to fearfully approach His presence to hear on behalf of his people; even though he trembled at God’s presence.
We thank God for the finished work of salvation on the cross of Calvary.
V22 reassures is that we have come to a spiritual and not a physical mountain: the spiritual presence of ‘the Holy, Living God’. Hallelujah!
It went further to describe this awesome presence of God as a place where innumerable company of angels dwell and worship the Almighty God. Imagine how dreadful mount Sinai was where God occasionally visited and talk with His people, compared with mount Zion where we have the audacity to approach His very presence and where innumerable company of angels dwell with Him.
The latter ought to be more dreadful, however our liberty to approach His very presence came through the blood of Jesus.
In addition, His word to save us, forgive us, heal us, transform us, encourage us when facing unpleasant circumstances, and ultimately translate us into His heavenly Jerusalem are freely available for us in the Bible.
“to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,”
You and I have our names -This verse gives us the exposé that the church of God registered in heaven, in the holy presence of God. Another good reason why we relentlessly.must keep running the Christian race
Apostle Paul says in Rom 8:35-39....
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ...... nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”
Reading further V23 states that God is the supreme Judge, not to be judged by Him, but allowed into the very presence of this awesome everlasting Judge; what a privilege!
A place where those who trust in God once physically alive but now dead, received their promise/reward dwelling the presence of God; enjoying the largesse of His eternal kingdom.
“to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
This tells us clearly that Jesus is the one that mediated or simply put reconcile our relationship with God, changing the dreadful relationship at mount Sinai into a caring and loving relationship at Mount Zion.
Please note that God remains unchanged - Holy, He is the same God at mount Sinai and same at Mount Zion. Man on his part has remained sinful.
The sinful nature of man is probably worse these days than they were during the days of Moses, but we are able to approach the very presence of God today because of the new covenant in the blood of Jesus.
While the blood of Abel and all those innocently murdered continued cry to God for justice and vengeance, the blood of Jesus continues to cry out to God for mercy and compassion.
Rom 8:1 further confirms that “
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
In the early part of our study of the book of Hebrews we read that the early Jews offered the blood of animals as an atonement for the sins of men year in year out, but with the blood of Jesus, it is a once and for all sacrifice for our sins that reconciled us to God permanently. His blood has paid for all our wrongdoings, enabling us to be in the approachable presence of and unapproachable God.
“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,” 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27 “Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
The unique gift God, He gave us in His only begotten son - Jesus according to John 3:16, brought us expressly into the presence of God unhindered. This verse admonishes us to listen to Jesus and not refuse His instructions in order not to lose he privileges to ultimately dwell in the presence of God.out in t
This tells of how valuable we are before God. Value as we know = Benefits less the cost. The higher the benefits, the higher the Value.
It means that God sees so much value in us that He decided to bear the cost of the life of His begotten Son for the benefit of our souls. In return, when we are offended by people, we bear those pains and forgive them as God did for us, considering the benefits ahead of us.
The second part of V25 however comes with a warning. Children of disobedience who refuse God’s word through Jesus face the consequence of the judgement of the wrath of God.
Meaning the inescapable way to avoid the wrath of God is to follow and listen to Jesus. John 10:4b says it is the sheep that hears the voice of the shepherd that follows Him.
This takes us to the promise of God in V26 which says God will shake away all our inadequacies and challenges: even the unpleasant circumstances that shake our faith
will be shaken away, if only we follow and listen to Jesus, clinging onto Him always.
V27 also emphasized things that cannot be shaken.
The word of God remains constant and unshakable. His promises are sure, His compassion they fail not. His kingdom is unshakable. Christ remains the solid rock in which we stand.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
The concluding verses assures us of receiving this unshakable kingdom here on earth by faith.
The Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11: 2 “.....When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”
We are therefore expected show gratitude to God by holy living.
Finally, the last verse emphasized that God, Who was feared and trembled at in the days of Moses has not changed from being a “Consuming Fire”. The only reason we are not consumed is because of Jesus our mediator of the new covenant. We therefore must offer a pleasing and acceptable worship to God with reverence.
We cannot afford to be playing church or behave like the hypocrites, just because Jesus has brought us to the presence of God unhindered by our sins.
God is a consuming fire.
Wednesday, November 03 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study titled “Understanding God's Discipline” we looked at the reasons that underlays God’s discipline and the benefits of such discipline. We learnt that trials are a part of the Christian walk and different from God’s discipline. God always has a purpose for allowing His children go through difficulties such as the teaching of obedience, the glory of His name, the building of our faith, etc. We also learnt that He only chastises or disciplines you and I because He loves us. Today we shall be considering A Call to Listen to God following from the admonishment in verse 13 to strengthen hands that are down and feeble knees . . .
VERSE 14: PURSUE PEACE, PURSUE HOLINESS
“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.”
This verse addresses two important aspect of the Christian life. The KJV leads with the phrase “Pursue peace”, the NIV says “Make every effort” Here the NLT admonishes us to “Work at it!” In other words, make it a project, make it your goal! Understand how to live in peace “with everyone” We have been commanded to seek and live in peace among ourselves. (See 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:13).
But is this ever possible? To live in peace “with everyone”?
There are those who you simply cannot live in peace with unfortunately. Not because of you, but because of them! That is why the Bible in Romans 12:18 says:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”
Having said that; we should ensure we are not the ones causing the strife. We should make every effort to live in peace. You should not be the one on the war path with another, the troublemaker and street fighter.
The second part of this verse addresses holiness. We are admonished to “work at living a holy life” We are meant to make every effort as well in living a holy life. Whereas righteousness is credited to us by the finished work of the cross, holiness is not credited to us; we are expected to work at it. 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV) says:
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (See Lev. 11:44-45)
The pursuit of holiness; that state of continual sanctification, that life of purity and detachment from the world and all its lusts, without this detachment and sanctity no man shall see the Lord. To see God, in the Hebrew phrase, is to enjoy Him; and without holiness of heart and life this is impossible.
VERSE 15: WE MUST BE THERE FOR EACH OTHER
“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
Each of us run personal races; but we are called to run in it together. We were made for community; for fellowship. It is truly not good for a man to be alone. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV says:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
The second part of this verse tells us that bitterness is poisonous; and we should watch out for it! it also tells us of three consequences of bitterness
1. The first is from the first part; which tells us that it could cause a person to fail to receive the grace of God
2. The second is that when the poisonous root of bitterness grows up, it becomes trouble to us
3. And finally it will lead to corruption.
VERSE 16: ABSTAIN FROM THE ESAU SYNDROME
“Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.”
Immorality and godlessness are snares that the devil uses to lure people away from their destiny into destruction. We should not indulge in them or accommodate them. It is usually the pleasure of a passing moment; but the result is deadly!
The MSG version says: “Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite."
We find Esau’s account in Genesis 25: 29-34. From this account we learn the following “Attributes of the Esau Syndrome”
We see that . . .
• He was only concerned about “the now”;
• He did not know the value of what he had so he treated it with levity;
• He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn Genesis 25: 34
• He was godless (Heb.12:16)
• He was driven by his belly and “fainted” under the pressure of hunger.
All these put together caused him to trade away God’s lifelong gift.
VERSE 17: CONSEQUENCES OF THE ESAU SYNDROME
“You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.”
There are consequences for every action we take. And when we suffer the consequences of our actions, we should know that it is not God punishing us! It because if we sow a lifestyle that is in direct disobedience to God's revealed Word, we ultimately reap disaster.
The consequences of sin may not come immediately but they will come eventually. And when they do, there will be no excuses, no rationalization, no accommodation. God does not compromise with consequences. So for Esau, when the time came for the blessing, he reaped the consequences of his actions.
The (b) part of this verse says:
“It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.”
VERSES 18-21: THERR ENCOUNTER WAS A MORE PLEASANT ONE
“You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. 19 For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. 20 They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”
Here the Apostle wanted the Hebrew Christians to realize what Jesus did in drawing us onto the Father by drawing their attention to the encounter their forefathers had in Exodus 19:12,13 & 19.
Right before their eyes, there was flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind. They heard the fierceness of God’s voice and were frightened to extent that they begged God to stop speaking! Even more frightening was the command they could not endure that even if an animal touched the mountain, it will be stoned to death not to talk of themselves!
The MSG version says in verses 19-21:
“The ear-splitting words and soul-shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. When they heard the words—“If an animal touches the Mountain, it’s as good as dead”—they were afraid to move. Even Moses was terrified."
So just in case the Hebrew Christians were thinking the Apostle was being too “harsh” on them; talking about discipline (verses 5-13) and the pursuit of peace and holiness; they should realize and so must we that they have it easy by virtue of Jesus’ blood granting us bold access to the Throne of Grace.
Wednesday, October 27 2021
Contributor: Clem Roberts
In our last study we were encouraged “That we should not be slothful, but followers of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises of God.” To lay aside the baggage of religion, nonchalance and sin. We were also admonished that we should keep on looking unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Today we shall be looking at understanding God’s Discipline, the reasons that underlays God’s discipline and the benefits.
Verses 5-6: "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
Yes The Righteous Do Suffer
• Job 5:7 - Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward...
• John 16:33 -… In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world...
• Psalm 34:19 - Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
• 2 Timothy 3:12 - Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution...
But Why Trials?
• For taking a stand for truth and righteousness (1 Pet 3:14).
• Because of our own behaviour that shows a lack of good sense or judgement.
• and our own sin (1 Pet 2:20).
• We suffer for sin in our lives (1 Cor 11:31).
• For our past sins (Gal 6:7).
• part of the sufferings that led up to His death (including his young years: Ps 69).
• Some lofty purpose of God (Job).
• For their faith (Heb. 11).
• For discipline (Heb. 12:6).
What’s The Purpose?
• To teach obedience and discipline (Acts 9:15-16; Phil 4:11-13).
• To glorify God (Dan 3:16-18, 24-25).
• Discipline for known sin (Heb. 12:5-11; James 4:17; Rom 14:23; 1 Jn 1:9).
• To prevent us from falling into sin (1 Pet 4:1-2).
•To build faith (1 Pet 1:6-7).
•To keep us from Pride. Paul kept from pride by his “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Cor12:7-10).
•To cause growth (Rom 5:3-5).
•To equip us to comfort others (2 Cor 1:3-4).
•To demonstrate the reality of Christ in us (2 Cor 4:7-11).
•So we can testify to the angels (Job 1:8; Eph 3:8-11; 1 Pet 1:12).
•Profit from these trials. James 1:2-4
Verse 7: "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?"
Verse 8: "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons."
•Chastening is the moral training and education of children ;
•Chastening correct mistakes and curbing passions.
•Chastening is an evidence that we are sons.
Verse 9: "Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?"
•Earthly fathers may make mistakes but God never make mistakes
Verse 10: "For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness."
The pinnacle of it all is:
•spiritual maturity and to be partakers of God’s Divine Grace and Holiness!
Verse 11: "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
Verses 12 – 13: "Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed."
•The stronger members should assist the weaker ones (Ex 17:10-12).
•The path should be made straight so they don’t keep going in circles
CONCLUSION – culled from Matthew Henry’s Commentary
By steadfastly looking to Jesus, our thoughts would strengthen holy affections, and keep under our carnal desires. Christians should not faint under their trials. Though our enemies and persecutors may be instruments to inflict sufferings, yet they are Divine chastisements; our heavenly Father has His hand in all, and His wise end to answer by all. We must not make light of afflictions, and be without feeling under them, for they are the hand and rod of God, and are His rebukes for sin.
We must not despond and sink under trials, nor fret and repine, but bear up with faith and patience. God may let others alone in their sins, but he will correct sin in his own children. In this He acts as like a father. Our earthly parents sometimes may chasten us, to gratify their passion, rather than to reform our manners. But the Father of our souls never willingly grieves nor afflicts His children. It is always for our profit.
Our whole life here is a state of childhood, therefore we must submit to the discipline of such a state. When we come to a perfect state, we shall be fully reconciled to all God's chastisement of us now. God's correction is not condemnation; the chastening may be borne with patience, and greatly promote holiness. Let us then learn to consider the afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as corrections sent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good.
A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian's hands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him and discourage him; but against this he must strive, that he may better run his spiritual race and course. Faith and patience enable believers to follow peace and holiness, as a man follows his calling constantly, diligently, and with pleasure.
Wednesday, October 20 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In the last chapter we looked at what faith was and concluded studying about the faith of the Patriarchs. We saw how they endured hardship by faith and achieved great things for the Lord. Apostle Paul relayed all of their encounters as an introduction to today’s study. He started off verse 1 of chapter 12 by saying . . . “Therefore . . .”
Verse 1: Application Of The Demonstrations Of Enduring Faith
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”
The MSG version says:
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins”
a. Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
The Apostle Paul uses the example the previous champions of faith in chapter 11 as spectators from the heavens, cheering us as we press on to overcome present discouragement as in an athletic competition.We must picture those who have gone before us being witnesses to us of faith and endurance, in all they have lived and experienced. Their experiences should keep us encouraged.
b. Let us lay aside every weight
Sin can hold us back. But there are also things that may not be sin (every weight) but are merely hindrances that can keep us from running effectively the race God has for us.
Our choices are not always between right and wrong, but between something that may hinder us and something else that may not. Is there a weight in your life you must lay aside?
c. And the sin which so easily ensnares us
The words easily ensnares is translated from an ancient Greek word (euperistaton), which can be translated four ways: “easily avoided,” “admired,” “ensnaring,” or “dangerous.”
Let us lay them all aside:
• Some sins can be easily avoided, but are not
• Some sins are admired, yet must be laid aside
• Some sins are ensnaring and thus especially harmful
• Some sins are more dangerous than others are
d. Let us run with endurance
God has set before every one of us – a race. You must run it, and it will involve effort and commitment. The assumption is this race will not be easy, but the proper path to run has been set before us by God. The Aramaic can be translated “the race [personally] appointed to us.” God has a destiny for each of us that we are to give ourselves fully to reach.
Endurance is needed to run that race. Again, this “Endurance translates the ancient Greek word “which does not mean the patience which sits down and accepts things but the patience which masters them.” It is a determination, unhurrying and yet undelaying, which goes steadily on and refuses to be deflected.”
In Acts 20:24 Paul pictured himself as a runner who had a race to finish, and nothing would keep Paul from finishing the race with joy. In that passage, Paul spoke of my race – he had his race to run, we have our own – but God calls us to finish it with joy, and that only happens with endurance.
e. The race that is set before us
Race is the ancient Greek word agona, a word used for conflict or struggle of many kinds, and a favourite word of Paul (Philippians 1:30, Colossians 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Timothy 4:7).
Verse 2: The Ultimate Example - Jesus Christ.
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The MSG version says:
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”
a. Looking unto Jesus
We can only run the race as we look to Jesus and have our eyes locked on to Him. He is our focus, our inspiration, and our example. This implies a definite looking away from other things and a present looking unto Jesus.
b. The author and finisher of our faith
Jesus is not only the author of our faith; He is the finisher of it also. The idea of He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6) was comforting indeed to these discouraged Christians.
He is not only there with us at the starting line and at the finish line, but with us all along the way of the race that He sets before us.
c. Who for the joy that was set before Him
Jesus did not regard the cross itself as a joy. But He could look past the horror of the cross to enjoy the joy beyond it. The same mentality would enable these Jewish Christians (and we ourselves) to endure.
d. Endured the cross
Jesus was able to endure the ordeal of the cross because He understood the good that would come of it – the good of a redeemed, rescued people honouring God for all eternity.
Knowing all the good that would flow from this most agonizing experience, Jesus was able to do it and to endure it with triumph. Through the ordeal of the cross:
• He kept His tongue.
• He kept His course.
• He kept His progress.
• He kept His joy.
• He kept His love.
e. Despising the shame
One of the most prominent elements of the torture of the cross was its extreme shame. Jesus did not welcome this shame – He despised it – yet He endured through it to victory.
Shame is a significant trial. Daniel 12:2 says that shame will be an aspect of the terrors of hell:
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Jesus bore this hellish shame to accomplish our redemption.
• He bore a shameful accusation: blasphemy.
• He bore shameful mocking.
• He bore a shameful beating.
• He wore a shameful crown.
• He wore a shameful robe.
• He bore a shameful death on the cross.
This is a stumbling block to many. They will do just about anything for Jesus except endure shame or embarrassment.
f. And has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God
This speaks of Jesus’ glorification. The same promise of being glorified (though in a different sense) after our shame is true for the Christian.
Verses 3-4: Consider Jesus
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”
The MSG version says:
“When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed!"
a. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself
Even in their difficulty if they would consider Jesus they could be encouraged, not discouraged, knowing that they were following in the footsteps of Jesus. As Paul wrote, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:17)
Think of all the hostility Jesus endured from sinners:
• At His own synagogue in Nazareth they wanted to kill Him.
• The religious leaders constantly tried to trap and embarrass Him.
• They lied about Jesus, saying He was a drunkard and a glutton.
• He was betrayed by one of His own disciples.
• He was mocked and beaten by many.
• His own people cried out against Him, “Crucify Him!”
b. Lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls
Knowing that Jesus doesn’t ask more of us than what He has Himself experienced, and that He knows exactly what we are going through will keep us from becoming weary and discouraged in your souls.
c. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin
Many Jewish Christians then, like many Christians today complain and get discouraged when they face difficulties. Here the Apostle was not going to sugar coat the situation and pamper them with statements like “everything is going to be alright.” Instead, he pointed it out to them that they should continue to strive against sin and be ready to continue even to the point of shedding blood because others have suffered far worse, not to mention what Jesus went through!
The race set before us; though difficult, is not an uncommon race. The patriarchs of faith ran in it, Jesus did the same. And the proper path to run in it has been set before us by God. The Apostle Paul’s admonishment for us is that when we find our faith dwindling, what we need to shoot adrenaline into our souls and get us going again, is by going over Jesus’ story again, item by item, all the hostility he went through and how He was able to endure it with triumph.
Parts of this study was culled from: https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/hebrews-12/
Wednesday, October 13 2021
Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye
We have learned so far that faith is rooted in God’s Word (vs. 1–3), and therefore faith worships (v. 4), walks (vs. 5–6), works (v. 7) and waits (v. 8). We learnt that faith is deeply connected to waiting. We always get what God promised, but not according to our schedule as it’s always better managed by God.
Truth is God blesses those who have complete faith with remarkable results (11:32-35).
Some of the things Faith does are:
- Faith enables flawed people to accomplish great things for God.
- Faith enables us to accomplish things that are only explainable/doable by God’s power.
- Faith entitles us to God’s blessing of eternal rewards.
VERSE 32: FAITH REGARDLESS
“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets”
There are some names, in this chapter, which we should hardly have expected to see there, the characters mentioned having been so disfigured by serious faults, and flaws, and failings; but the distinguishing feature of faith was there in every instance, and especially in the case of Samson.
The first five men listed here all had some serious shortcoming but regardless of their flaws, God still honored their faith. (i.e.: Gideon (Judges 6-8) was a coward and had to be sweet-talked in the start to doing what God called him to do or Samson (Judges 13-16) directed the Philistines on many occasions, yet he was tripped up by his lust for women). In spite of all these men’s flaws God used them because they trusted Him in difficult/challenging situations.
In each case, these people listed here were of faith and held on to the conviction that God’s Word was true. They were confident in God, they understood, the covenant promise of the gospel and the kingdom. So, they faced difficulties believing that God would deliver on His promises, some way, and somehow.
Keep in mind that regardless of where you are, faith marches on and therefore our faith can keep us in check. Your environments/surroundings do not alter the truth and neither do they alter God’s character. It is for this reason that you should march on confidently, clinging to God’s word, trusting him every step of the way.
Discussion: Where is the balance between tolerating our shortcomings and yet striving by faith to overcome them?
VERSES 33-35a: FAITH CONQUERS
“who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to fight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.”
God did these wonderful deeds, but He did so in accordance with the faith of those involved. Doesn’t minus the fact that God is sovereign, but it is equally true that He has freely determined that He will work through means. And faith is a prescribed means.
The point of application that we can draw from these accounts is that, when faced with tough difficulties, faith stands from generation to generation because the Lord does not change. The past faithfulness of God to reward responses of faith should encourage us that He can and will do the same today – unchanging God.
Discussion: Does faith replace planning, preparing and hard work? How can we know if the power is from God or from our planning and effort?
VERSE 35b: FAITH IS CONFIDENT
"Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection."
The word “tortured” can be literally translated, “beaten to death.”
So, how does one develop such confidence? By growing in our knowledge of God. Read, study and meditate on the Scripture. Love and get to know God, and as you know God you will love God and will desire to please God, regardless of the cost. Our confidence in Him will grow to the degree that our relationship with Him develops.
VERSES 36-38: SUFFERING FOR FAITH
Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
Here, the writer informs us of those who, like those in v. 35, suffered for their faith apparently without pardon. He tells us that some “had trial of mocking and
scourging, yes, and of chains and of imprisonments.” Thinks of Jeremiah, who was imprisoned for proclaiming God’s Word.
These great individuals were mistreated as they were “afflicted” and “tormented.” Such suffering on the part of faithful saints can be confusing to us all. It can be alarming, but the fact remains that the scripture did not promise a rosery garden to Christian—not yet, anyway. One day, the roses will bloom continuously, and the scent will delight our senses. But in the meantime, we may have our share of affliction, loneliness and even torment.
Discussion: Any reasons why God may not deliver those who trust Him?
VERSES 39-40: FAITH IS COOPORATIVE
"And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us."
Here we are encouraged to keep on believing. We are reminded that God has provided something better for us. The writer has told us all along what this “better something” is: a better hope (7:19); a better covenant (7:22; 8:6); better promises (8:6); a better sacrifice (9:23); and a far better country (heavenly country) (11:16)
In conclusion, let’s look back at verse 32 which speaks of those who “through faith” accomplished great things. Yet when you consider men such as Barak (who seemed rather cowardly at one point), Jephthah (who was rough and rash), Samson (who was often characterised by the flesh), David (who broke the Ten Commandments), and Samuel (who failed horribly as a father), you might wonder how they made the list? But thank God they did! Because these believers resemble the likes of us: sinful believers.
Remember the issue is not the quality of our faith or the quantity of our faith but rather the object of our faith - The great news. Bear in mind also that at the end of the day, all the glory goes to the one who makes faith possible: God. Believe in GOD.
Wednesday, October 06 2021
Contributor: Alex Kokobili
The previous discussion in the preceding verses in Hebrews 11 showed the inward power of faith displayed in the lives of the patriarchs of the Old Testament. The lives of the likes of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, etc. revealed faith as an unseen weapon that is seen in miraculous manifestations. Their lives changed and challenged all odds from the ordinary to the extraordinary through their unbending trust in God. They were not born as perfect people, but they believed God for who He is and tarried on until the manifestation of that which He promised them.
They were willing to lose their lives and served God with their best not taking for granted the supernatural experiences of God. The faith of Abraham earned him the title “friend of God”, and he was willing to sacrifice his son in obedience to God, and also gave a tithe to Christ in the Bible in the representation of the King of Salem. Abraham’s testimony showed he was an intercessor, a soldier, a father of nations, a successful businessman, etc., which were all rooted in his journey of faith. We sing and lay claim to Abraham’s blessings which was a shadow of the Godly inheritance in the Old Testament now manifested in Christ Jesus, but are we willing to manifest the Abrahamic faith?
Today’s focus on Moses would help us understand his life and the journey of faith which distinguished him as a prophet haven survived childhood and progressed to be the leader of a nation. The miracles associated with his ministry are overwhelming of which I would call “strange faith” of supernatural exploits which we can best describe with the gift of faith (1 Corinthians 12: 9).
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.”
The kind of faith portrayed by Moses’ parents confirmed that they believed that God had chosen their child for a special purpose. They were not the only parents who gave birth during that period, as we understand that other male children were killed but they risked their lives to save Moses (Exodus 2:1-10).
Verses 24 – 27:
“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible”
Moses did not spend too much time with his parents, but I believe that with the little time they spent with him, they were able to plant the seed of faith in him as we noticed his sibling also had a divine assignment. How do we know this? Aaron his brother was chosen as his mouthpiece (Exodus 14: 12-17) and he later became a priest (Num. 17: 1-7), likewise, Miriam became a prophetess (Exodus 15:20-21). Moses’ outside the palace proved to him and the people of Israel that indeed God is sovereign. Bible scholars believe
Moses had learned a lot of astrology as the prince of Egypt as Pharaoh’s son which focused on the spiritual climate of Egypt and that is why we hear about the mystical books of Moses or the seven Books of Moses which are not in the Bible because he abandoned all this for the true Jehovah El-Shaddai. This point is important because Moses had tasted the spiritual architecture of the gods of Egypt and that of the God Yahweh and was convinced beyond doubts about the power of God starting from the burning bush experience (Exodus 3:1-6).
“By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days”
The people of Israel still had faith in God despite their inconsistency but Moses was unwavering because he had a relationship with God beyond the signs and wonders that God did through Him. We need a steady relationship with God for our faith to be consistent! Moses had faith to the point that he wanted to see God, but Israel would complain at the slight inconvenience. Their faith was limited in several ways and they paid dearly for their moment of unbelief. But one must acknowledge that they had faith in the word of God through Moses. For instance, they believed Moses when he asked them to sprinkle the blood of the animals on their door their firstborns would not be killed. They believed him also at the crossing the Red Sea, and the walls of Jericho, etc. But despite this, they were often difficult to handle (Exodus. 32: 9-10) “They are stiff-necked people”.
“By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”
Faith comes with obedience and in this verse, we see Rehab believed the spies were God sent and Israel God’s chosen people to possess the land of Jericho, and she also obeyed the spies by putting the scarlet cloth attached to her window (Joshua 2: 17-21) believing they would come back for her.
Unknown to many, Moses focused on a Godly relationship which eventually embolden him to function at the miraculous levels of faith as God’s prophet over Israel. He was privileged to write the law as directed by God and his counter with God revealed to him the creation of humankind and it was not a surprise to read about his appearance on the mount of transfiguration with Elijah and Christ in the New Testament.
Thursday, September 30 2021
Contributor: Wale Abiona
INTRODUCTION: In 1 Cor. 10, the apostle Paul reminded his readers of the things that had happened to the people of Israel during the Exodus. He highlighted their unfaithfulness to God, and the things they suffered as a result. And then he told his readers, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11).
God preserved the Old Testament stories for us so that they would serve as illustrations to us—in that case, illustrations of what to avoid.
As we come to Hebrews 11, we find some other great Old Testament examples given to us. But in this case, they are illustrations of what to embrace. The writer of Hebrews had stated his main proposition in verse 1—“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
And in order to illustrate that proposition, he took his Jewish readers back to those Old Testament stories, highlighted the acts of the Jewish patriarchs, and asked them to learn from their examples of faith in the promises of God. He wanted his readers to see how these Old Testament saints embraced the promises of God from a distance, and looked ahead to their fulfillment—even if the fulfillment of those promises would be past their own lifetimes. As he wrote in verse 13;
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13).
In the passage before us, the writer continued this theme. He taught his believing Jewish readers about the need to keep true to God’s promises in Jesus Christ. And he illustrated this lesson to them through the faith of the four most important patriarchs of the Jewish Scriptures—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.
I. ABRAHAM, AND HIS OFFERING OF ISAAC AT GOD’S COMMAND (Verses 17-19).
One of the most powerful of all illustrations of faith in the promise of God is found in these verses.
A. The writer would have immediately captured the interest of his readers when he reminded them of one of the most important stories they had ever learned. A story that would have been taught to them from the earliest days of childhood:
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son . . .” (v. 17).
It was to Abraham that God made the promise “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” That was a promise that found its ultimate fulfillment in the birth of his biological descendant Jesus the Messiah—even though, at the time, Abraham was childless and far along in years. In due time, God kept His promise to Abraham, and his wife gave birth to a son from his own body. But after many years—when the boy was thirteen, and when there was no other son—God put Abraham to the test. He commanded him, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2).
B. This must have been a dreadfully difficult command for Abraham to obey. God had finally given him a son through whom the great promise He made to him would be kept. But was He now commanding that his only son be sacrificed by him on the altar and put to death?—the one, as the writer of Hebrews puts it, “of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called’” (see Genesis 21:12)? If Abraham obeyed, and sacrificed his only son—and he himself being well over 100 years old—what then would happen to God’s promise? Yet we find no evidence that Abraham resisted or delayed. We’re told, “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3).
He did this by faith in the God who made the promise. As James 2:21 puts it, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?”
That is to say, didn’t his faith in the promise of God prove itself by the fact that he obeyed God’s command? And wasn’t he then proven righteous by the fact of his active obedience?
C. The greatness of Abraham’s faith was hinted at in what he said to the young men who travelled with him. As they came to the place that God commanded the sacrifice to occur, Abraham told them, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5).
Note carefully that he said, “we will come back”. How could this be? The writer of Hebrews explained that he said this, “concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead . . .” (Hebrews 11:19).
Abraham had so trusted in the promise of God that, if God commanded that he sacrifice of his only son through—whom the promise must be fulfilled—he believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead; “from which”, the writer explained, “he also received him in a figurative sense.” As Genesis 22:12-14 says, the Angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham just before he was about to sacrifice his son and said;
“Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided” (verses 12-14).
D. Later in time, it would be near that very spot that the Lord Jesus Himself would be crucified.
In this respect, then, the ram caught in the thicket by its horns was a picture of Jesus Himself; and this would give special meaning to the writer’s words concerning his trust in God regarding Isaac, “from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (v. 18). Isaac became a picture of God’s sacrifice of His only begotten Son for us—whom also God literally raised from the dead. This may even explain Jesus’ remarkable words to the Jewish leaders;
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).
That is, perhaps, the greatest example that can be pointed to of an Old Testament saint’s faith in God’s New Testament promises regarding Jesus. But there are others. The writer also points to the example of . . .
II. ISSAC, AND HIS BLESSING TO HIS SONS WITH RESPECT TO THE FUTURE (In Verse 20).
A. No doubt Isaac never forgot the event of his father’s faith on the mountain of sacrifice.
And as he grew, he surely would also have remembered the promise that God renewed to Abraham concerning him after the event was over:
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18).
Isaac lived as the inheritor of this great promise from God; and he knew that he must also pass that promise on to his children.
B. But like Abraham, Isaac lived for a time without offspring. He pleaded with God that his wife Rebekah would bear children. In due time, God answered the prayer in the births of the twin sons Esau and Jacob. When they were in the womb, they struggled together; and God told Rebekah,
“Two nations are in your womb, And the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).
Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other,
And it was with respect to these two sons that the writer of Hebrews said, “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come” (v. 20).
C. But the promise only applied to Jacob. He—not Esau—was the ascendant of the Lord Jesus. How then did Isaac’s blessing to both sons relate to the promise? It helps to remember that Isaac originally intended to give the blessing to his firstborn son Esau—in spite of the fact that God had told Rebekah that the older (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob). As it turned out, through the encouragement of Rebekah, Jacob deceived his father and pretended to be Esau; and Isaac, thinking he was blessing Esau, passed the blessing on to Jacob instead. He told him—in words that clearly reflected the promise God had given to Abraham; And nations bow down to you.
"Be master over your brethren, And let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you," (Genesis 27:29).
By deceit, then, Jacob usurped and received to himself the blessing that Isaac was placing on Esau. But even though it was through the misguided intent of Isaac and the deceit of Jacob, God nevertheless fulfilled His promise to Rebekah concerning Jacob. And Isaac—without realizing it—demonstrated a faith in God’s promise to the son that God had appointed with respect to things to come. For Isaac, the promise was sure; even if his application of it was mistaken.
The writer next points to the example of . . .
III. JACOB, AND THE BLESSING OF HIS GRANDSONS WHILE STILL IN EGYPT(In Verse. 21).
A. After the event, Jacob lived many years with the fact that he had deceived his brother. Nevertheless, he went on to have twelve sons who were the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. The last two of his sons—from the wife of his first choice, Rachael, were Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph, through the providence of God, became the Prime Minister of Egypt; and he made it possible for Jacob to live out his final years in comfort and prosperity. But he lived in a foreign land—far from the land that God had promised Abraham.
B. The time finally came for Jacob to die.
And perhaps it was the remembrance of his deception that led him to do what he did when it came time to bless his grandsons. Jacob called the sons of Joseph to himself, and placed his right hand on the younger son Ephraim—instead of on the older son Manasseh; and passed the blessing on to the younger. Thus the writer of Hebrews wrote;
“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff” (v. 21).
He made sure that they too were included in the promise of God to Abraham. And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth (See Genesis 48:15-16). 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day, 16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
C. The significance of this might be seen in what the writer says at the end of verse 21 That Jacob passed on this blessing, “and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff”. Genesis 47:31 tells us that before he died, he asked Joseph to swear to him that he would not bury him in Egypt, “but let me lie with my fathers; you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.”
Jacob wanted to be buried in the land of promise—not in the foreign land of Egypt (see also 49:29-33). Joseph swore to do as his father Jacob had asked; and indeed kept that promise (see 50:1-14). And at the time when that promise was made, we’re told that “Israel [that is, Jacob] bowed himself on the head of the bed” (Gen. 47:31). This same faith was also expressed by the next generation; as we see from . . .
IV. JOSEPH, AND THE INSTRUCTIONS HE GAVE CONCERNING HIS BURIAL
(Verse 22). A. The writer tells us that, “By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones” (v. 22).
Joseph had lived for many years in the highest position possible in the land of Egypt. And yet, his heart was inclined to the land of promise. Just as his father wanted to be buried next to Abraham and Isaac in the land of promise, so also did Joseph. He told his brethren; “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here” (Genesis 50:24-25).
B. Joseph requested this because he had faith in the promise of God and knew that God would do as He said. As God had told Abraham;
“Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:13b-16).
And when that promise to Abraham finally came to pass, and the people of Israel departed from Egypt under Moses’ leadership, they made sure to take the bones of Joseph with them (Exodus 13:19).
Those bones were passed on to the stewardship of Joshua, and then to the leaders of Israel who—after they took possession of the land—buried his bones in Shechem; “in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph” (Joshua 24:32).
Each of these patriarchal fathers placed their faith in the promise of God from afar. They didn’t see the fulfillment of these things in their own lifetimes; but trusted that God would do as He said. And their faith proved justified; because God did indeed fulfill His promises—not only concerning the land, and not only concerning the offspring, but also concerning the Lord Jesus who is the blessing to all the earth.
Study, Courtesy of: https://bethanybible.org/new/bible-study/pm/2016-03-09/four-patriarchs-who-had-faith-%E2%80%93-hebrews-1117-22
Wednesday, September 08 2021
Contributor: Martins Olubiyi
Last week we studied about the “Faith of the Patriarchs”. We learnt that faith is indispensable; it gives substance to spiritual things and the things God is doing in our lives. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives God’s gift of salvation (Eph. 2:8; Acts.16:30, 31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal 2:20). Faith sees the invisible and believes the impossible. In today’s study, we want to learn the motive behind the faith of the Patriarchs.
Verse 13: Motive That Transcends the Ephemeral.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
This verse might appear to express tragedy. For instance, Abraham and those with him spent their whole lives longing for things they were promised, longing to have a land of their own. They trusted God for this and believed the promises He gave them, yet they died without having received them. What a travesty of tragedy! What an appalling commendation for the faith they professed and represented! If this is what our faith is about, dying with only unfulfilled hopes, then we are, as Paul said “of all men most miserable” (1Cor. 15:19). One thing this tell us is that Christianity is not a religion focused on the mundane and this present life. Paul says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (Col. 3:2).
Dying in faith: Writing about “These”- “Saints” Spurgeon made this startling remark in his devotional from Morning and Evening- “In faith they lived-it was their comfort, their guide, their motive and their support; and in the same spiritual grace they died, ending their life-song. Dying in faith has distinct reference to the past - They believed the promise and assurance of their sins forgiven and blotted out through the mercy of God. Dying in faith has to do with the present - These saints were confident of their acceptance with God, they enjoyed His love and rested in His faithfulness. Dying in faith looks into the future - They fell asleep, affirming that the Messiah would surely and He would on the last day appear upon the earth, they would rise from their grave to behold Him. To them the pains of death were but the birth-pangs of a better state”.
Jesus taught, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20). This run contrary to a view that that is prevalent in our time: a packaged version of Christianity that offers mainly temporal benefits. Such as, if you trust Jesus, you will get this; you will have that. Of course, Christianity does give us spiritual resources that transform this present life. Resources like righteousness, peace and joy. But we are quick to forget that to be a Christian means to be persecuted in this world. Our blessings are
spiritual rather than material (Eph. 1:3). To be a Christian means: living as an alien and a pilgrim; it means not being able to fit in with others who are slaves to sin; it means denying yourself and picking up your cross; it means a life of struggle and fellowship in the suffering of Christ. The Christian life means, peace with God, but war with the flesh, the world, and the devil. The primary blessings Christianity offers do not lie in this life at all, but in the life to come, in the resurrection from the dead. Indeed, even our present blessings, abundant and wonderful as they are, are located in heaven, and are accessed by the exercise of faith.
The Vision of Faith: The characteristic of those living by faith is that they have a “Visionary Faith” in other words; they see the promises from afar off. Through our vision with eyes of faith, we get a proper perspective on this short time on earth versus the time forever in the future. It is obvious that the Patriarchs have eternal perspective in their expectation of God’s promises. Their perspective informed what they see with the eyes of faith. Their perspective informed their persuasion. It informed their acceptance (embrace). It informed their confession. It also helped them to know who they are and where they were. We could learn and gain from Job’s encounters on God’s eternal perspective on death and judgement. Read Job. 1:21. Job kept eternal perspective in a temporal world. He speaks of three profound realities: (i). “Naked”- he knew material blessings are temporary. (ii). “My mother’s womb”- he knew life is brief. (iii). “I will depart”- he believed in heaven.
Verse 14 & 15: The Patriarchs Were Goal Getters:
"For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned."
When Abraham came to Haran, he could have turned around and journey back into Babylon. But with the eyes of faith, he obeyed unquestionably the commands of God, from whom he received repeated promises and a covenant that his seed would inherit the land. Recall, Col. 3: 2: “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”. Similarly, in Luke 9:62, Jesus said “No man who puts his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Verse 16: Desire That Births Expectation
But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.
It takes grace and desire to obey God. As we step out by faith, then our expectation will be on God’s promises. Here the ultimate promise is heaven.
Things to Do:
We Must See God’s Promises - Before we can believe in God’s promises, we must see them. Before we can see them, God must open our spiritually blinded eyes (Mat 13:11-15; 2Cor 4:4, 6)
We Must Welcome God’s Promises - Having seen God’s promises, the Patriarchs welcome them. They greeted God’s promises with open arms.
We Can Only See and Welcome the Promises from a Distance - This means that the patriarchs did not receive the total fulfilment of God’s promises in this life. They only received a taste of them. The same is true of all believers. God Has promised us eternal life and yet, like the Patriarchs, we all die. The only exceptions are those who will be alive when the Lord returns.
Seeing And Welcoming God’s Promises Alienates Us from This World - The reason that Abraham left his homeland and migrated to Canaan was because he had seen and welcomed God’s promises. When he left his family and friends, he then lived as an alien in the land of promise, casting down shame and reproach because of eternal reward of a prepared city.
As Christians, we need to think of ourselves as travellers who are just passing through this sinful world. We are not permanent residents, but Pilgrims on a journey to a better land. Therefore, we need to “travel light”, not burdening ourselves with an undue attachment to the material things of life. The more we care for the luxuries and possessions of earth, the more difficult will be our journey to heaven. Christians must centre their affections on Christ, not on the temporal things of this earth. Material riches lose their value when compared to the riches of glory. (D.C. Egner).
Material culled from www.precetaustin.org/Hebrews_1113-16
Wednesday, September 01 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Last week we started on the topic of faith where faith was unveiled and the first two patriarchs of faith; Abel and Enoch were mentioned as well as the testimonies of their faith. Today’s study is a continuation of the faith of the patriarchs, and we will continue with the next three patriarch’s. But first the Apostle Paul interrupts the flow with an amazing interjection in verse 6 . This interjection was deliberate! If the Jews believed that the patriarch’s pleased God, then they should know that it was by faith because “without faith it is impossible to please God”
VERSE 6: FAITH IS INDISPENSABLE
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” KJV
If it is impossible to please God without faith. The opposite is also true; faith is what pleases God. Faith is a must, it is the entrance point to a relationship with God. He interacts with us based on His grace, we respond in faith. Faith is a key element for life. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus commented on people’s faith because it was important to Him, He looked for it and responded to it everywhere He went. (Matthew 8:26, “O ye of little faith”), (Matthew 8:10, “I have not seen such great faith,” (Mark 5:34 "your faith has healed you”), (Luke 18:8, “But, when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the Earth?”)
So the underlying truth to draw from is that God responds to faith. It pleases Him, it moves Him to act and it is essential in the life of the believer because whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
There are two parts to faith in this verse which show why it pleases God. First, the Apostle says that faith believes that God exists. Second, he says that faith believes that God is the rewarder of those who seek Him. In other words, we please God by being expectant.
VERSE 7: NOAH’S FAITH
"By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God." (MSG)
What Noah Did By Faith:
• He built a ship in the middle of dry land (Genesis 6:13–22)
We need to understand the optics to appreciate how the command to build an ark would have been received by Noah and everyone else – building a ship in the middle of dry land. How in the world are you going to move it to the sea?
No mention is made of rain on the earth until the Flood (Gen. 7:4,12). The original earth and the Garden of Eden were watered by streams, rivers, and mist instead of by rain (Genesis 2:5,6,10). So, the faith of Noah described in this verse was very strong. Noah was warned about things not seen, if it had rained before then the Bible would not have referred to the warning as of something not seen implying that rain was not part of humanity's early experience. That is why God made a covenant with the rainbow so humanity is not afraid whenever it threatens to rain. Genesis 9:8-17
If the earth did not experience rain before the Flood, then Noah's ark-building must have appeared especially foolish to his critics. Just imagine the ridicule!
How Did He Exercise His Faith?
• By acting on what he was told; even though it was something he hadn’t seen before
What Noah Gained By His Faith:
• His family was saved. (Genesis 7:7)
• His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world.
• He became intimate with God. (Genesis 9:8-17)
VERSE 8-10: ABRAHAM’S FAITH
"By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God." (MSG)
What Abraham Did By Faith:
• He said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. (Genesis 12:1-5)
• He lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. (Genesis 13:18)
• He passed the same belief to his children and grandchildren (Genesis 18:19)
How Did He Exercise His Faith?
• By keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.
What Abraham Gained By His Faith:
• He became father of many nations (Genesis 17:5)
• His offspring inherited the Promised Land (Numbers 34:1-12)
VERSE 11-12: SARAH’S FAITH
"By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said. That’s how it happened that from one man’s dead and shriveled loins there are now people numbering into the millions." (MSG)
What Sarah Did By Faith:
• She was able to become pregnant in her old age against all odds.
Just imagine the pressure today people of child bearing age face when they are trying to conceive. It's not uncommon for such people to become depressed.
How Did She Exercise Her Faith?
• By believing the One who made a promise would do what He said.
What Sarah Gained By Her Faith:
• She helped Abraham become father of many nations and by that mother of many nations too! (Genesis 17:5)
• Her offspring inherited the Promised Land (Numbers 34:1-12)
Faith is indispensable; it gives substance to spiritual things and the things God is doing in our lives. For the Christian Jews, who were being accused and persecuted by family members and their rabbis that they were abandoning their heritage, it was important that they knew that a life of faith is a mark of their Hebrew heritage and not a departure from it. so the apostle wrote this chapter to link them to this heritage. In verse 2 of this chapter he said that it is by faith that the elders obtained a good report.
Having this faith we have discussed today means nothing without works. The faith these patriarchs exhibited was not by the words they said but by their actions. The ultimate practicality of faith is that the way we live is consistent with what we believe.
James 2:14 says: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”
And in verse 26: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
• Noah believed and built the ark without seeing
• Abraham believed and moved from his home without knowing
• Sarah received strength to have a baby when it was humanly impossible
You and I can learn from this patriarchs and please God by our “active” faith. Believing He exists and being expectant that He will come through
Wednesday, August 25 2021
Contributor: Okwdili Prince-Isaac
INTRODUCTION: At the close of the foregoing chapter the apostle recommended grace of faith and a life of faith as the best preservative against apostasy, and further expounded on the nature and fruits of this excellent grace and the honour it reflects upon all who lived by it and died and suffered extraordinary things by the strength of His grace (v. 1-3). (2Pet:1:4).
A definition or description of the grace of faith is in two parts.
1.It is the substance of things hoped for. Faith and hope go together; and the same things that are the object of our hope are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion and expectation that God will perform all that he has promised to us in Christ; and this persuasion is so strong that it gives the soul a kind of possession and present fruition of those things, as well as a foretaste. The result is that believers are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1Pet.1:8). Christ dwells in the soul by faith, and the soul is filled with the fullness of God (Eph.3:17-19).
2.It is the evidence of things not seen. Faith demonstrates to the eye of the mind thereality of those things that cannot be discerned by the eye of the body. Faith is thefirm assent of the soul to the divine revelation and every part of it, and sets to itsseal that God is true (Jn 3:33). It is a full consent of all that God has revealed asholy, just, and good and helps the soul to apply itself fully and suitably. Faith isdesigned to serve the believer instead of sight, and to be to the soul all that thesenses are to the physical body (2Cor.5:7).
FAITH (THE TESTIMONY)
An account of the honour bestowed upon all those who have lived in and exercised faith
By it the elders (ancient believers) obtained a good report: - Firstly, true faith is not a new invention, but rather a grace that has been planted in the soul of man ever since the covenant of grace was published in the world. Secondly, their faith was their honour; it reflected honour upon ancient believers and God has taken care that a record shall be kept and report made of the excellent things accomplished in the strength of this grace. (Mal.3:16-18).
OUR STAND Verses 1-3
In the first three verses, we have one of the first acts and articles of faith, which has a great influence on our entire belief system (i.e. all believers around the word irrespective of era); namely, the creation of the worlds by the word of God,- not out of pre-existent matter, but out of nothing, (v.3). The grace of faith has a retrospect as well as prospect; it looks not only forward to the future/end of the world, but back to the beginning of the world. By faith we gain a much healthier understanding of the world than ever could be understood by the naked eye of carnal reason. We understand that;
1.These worlds were not eternal, nor did they produce themselves, but they weremade by another. (Gen.1:1-2)
2.The maker of the worlds is God; he is the maker of all things.
3.He made the world with great exactness; it was a framed work that expressesthe perfections of the Creator. (Gen.1:1-31)
4.God made the world by His Word, i.e. by his indispensable wisdom and eternal Son, and by his active will, saying, Let it be done, and it was done, (Ps. 33:9).
5.The world was basically framed out of nothing, out of no pre-existent matter(Gen.1:2).
These things we understand by faith. The Bible gives us the truest and most exact account of the origin of all things, and we are to believe it, and not to wrest or run down the scripture-account of the creation, as some learned but conceited people remark in their infidelity.
EXAMPLES: Verses 4 & 5
Two names of illustrious examples of faith in the Old-Testament times are mentioned.
ABEL: Abel is the leading instance and example of faith here recorded, as well as the first martyr; one who lived by faith, and died for it. He was a healthy example for the Hebrews (and Christian audience) to imitate.
What Abel did by faith:
He offered up a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, a more weighty and acceptable sacrifice. Hence, we learn that;
(1.) After the fall, God opened a new way for the children of men to return to him in religious worship, and Abel was instant at seizing the opportunity. (Gen.4:26)
(2.) After the fall, God must be worshipped by sacrifices, in such a manner which carries in it a ‘confession and desertion’ of sin, and a profession of faith in a Redeemer, as a ransom for the souls of men.
(3.) That there has been a remarkable difference between worshippers approaching God. In this case, two brothers who are vastly different in that - Cain was the elder brother, but Abel the preferred. A preference not based on seniority of birth, but grace. Their personalities and works spoke of their faith or lack of it. Abel was an upright person, a righteous man, a true believer; Cain was a formalist, with little regard for grace. It is observable in their principles: Abel acted under the power of faith; Cain only from the power of carnal education, or natural conscience, at best. This was manifest in the difference in their offerings: Abel brought a sacrifice of atonement, acknowledging himself to be a sinner who deserved to die, and only hoping for mercy through the great sacrifice; This gesture takes faith to accomplish. On the other hand, Cain brought only a sacrifice of acknowledgment, a mere thank-offering, the fruit of the ground- no ‘confession’ (and certainly no desertion) of sin, no regard to the ransom; (Gen.4:7, Luke 11:18). Cain's offering was deficient in his self-sufficiency.
What Abel gained by his faith:
The original record is in Gen. 4:4, God had respect to Abel, and to his offering; first to his person as gracious, then to his offering as proceeding from grace, which is an
extension of grace through faith. Verse 4 of Hebrews 11 informs us that Abel obtained some special advantages by his faith; e.g.
(1.) A Witness that he was righteous, a justified, sanctified, and accepted person;
(2.) God gave witness to the righteousness of his person, by testifying his acceptance of Abel’s gifts. When the fire, an emblem of God's justice, consumed the offering, it was a sign that the mercy of God accepted the offerer. (Gen.4:4)
(3.) By it he, being dead, yet speaketh. And this speech testifies that;
(a) Fallen man must approach God in worship, and with hope of acceptance.
(b) If our persons and offerings be accepted, it must be through faith in the Messiah. (Lk 7:6-10)
(c) That acceptance with God is a peculiar and unique favour. (Judges 13:23)
(d)That recipients of this favour from God must expect the envy and malice of the world. (Jn 15:18-21)
(e) That God will not allow damages inflicted on the redeemed to remain unpunished, nor their sufferings unrewarded. (Gen 12:3)
ENOCH: Enoch is the second of those elders that through faith have a good report.
What Enoch did by faith:
What is here reported of him. In this place (and in Gen. 5:22, etc.) we read,
(1.) That he walked with God, that is, that he was really, eminently, actively, progressively, and perseveringly religious in his conformity to God, communion with God, and gratification in God.
What Enoch gained by his faith
(2.) That he was translated, that he should not see death, nor any part of him be found upon earth; for God took him, soul and body, into heaven, as he will do to the saints who shall be found alive at his second coming. (1Jn 2:28) (3.) That before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. He had the evidence of it in his own conscience, and the Spirit of God witnessed with his spirit. Those who by faith walk with God in a sinful world are pleasing to Him, and he will give them marks of his favour, and put honour upon them. (Gal 6:17)
The Christian walk is hard work, and only faith in the eventual fulfilment of God’s promises can keep us going. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb.11:1). We need faith that the promises God made are true, however unlikely that might seem in the present circumstances.
Our study gives us the practical examples of Abel and Enoch. Their faith was not wishful thinking. It is taking seriously God’s self-revelation in Scripture, combined with a “repen-tance from dead works”, perseverance in “love and good deeds”, and an ability to see the hand of God at work in the world, despite the evil and brokenness around us. Ultimately, faith is a gift from the Holy Spirit, for we could never hold on to such faith by our own force of will.
Wednesday, August 18 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Up to this point, from our previous studies, the Apostle has been establishing the superiority of Christ and the New Covenant over the Old Covenant and its priesthood. He posed several strong arguments:
• That Christ is a better High Priest (after the order of Melchizedek) than that of Aaron and the many who made up the Levitical priesthood. (Heb. 7:17)
• That through Christ, there is a better place of worship (in the heavens, at the right hand of the Father) than that which was possible in the tabernacle. (Heb. 10:12)
• That through Christ, we have a better covenant (the New Covenant, inaugurated by Christ’s sacrificial death) with better promises than the Old Covenant. (Heb. 8:6)
• And finally, that through Christ, we have an infinitely better sacrifice, the oncefor- all sacrifice of a man (God-man) who was without sin, rather than the continual offering of animal sacrifices. (Heb. 10:12)
• The result of this superior work of the Messiah is that our sins can be forgiven once for all. As a part of this cleansing from sin, the believer is also granted a cleansed conscience, so that he or she may boldly approach God without fear (the fear of judgment which comes from guilt) or hesitation. (Heb. 9:14)
The warnings in Hebrews Chapter 6 and today’s verses of chapter 10 are for believers and not unbelievers; and can be interpreted as very harsh judgment. That is why the Apostle Paul exhorted us to purposefully draw near, hold fast, and consider how to encourage others in their Christian walk. (Heb. 10:25)
Today’s study is divided into two main parts. The first being sobering words of warning while the second, words of encouragement and exhortation.
I. SOBERING WORDS OF WARNING
Verses 26 and 27
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
The warnings in verse 26 are closely related to the exhortations of the verses which precede them. If the work of Christ is full and final, so that “there is no longer any [other] offering for sin” (10:18), then to reject the supreme and ultimate sacrifice of Christ is to leave oneself with no other means of forgiveness.
The Apostle warns of a specific kind of sin, rather than of sin in some more general sense. This specific sin is described for us in verse 26 as that which is conscious, deliberate, and persistent. This sin is committed in spite of the fact that the sinner had received the knowledge of the truth. Not only is this sin wilful, it is also persistent and ongoing; deliberately rejecting Christ. Such a person has become an apostate and not a believer anymore! Such a person does not sin because of ignorance, nor is he or she carried away by momentary temptations he or she is too weak to resist. The wilful sinner sins because of an established way of thinking and acting which he or she has no desire to give up.
Having turned their backs on the truth, and with full knowledge choosing to wilfully and continually sin, the apostate is then beyond salvation because they have rejected the one true sacrifice for sins: the Lord Jesus Christ. If Christ’s sacrifice is rejected, then all hope of salvation is gone. To turn away wilfully from this sacrifice leaves no sacrifice; it leaves only sin, the penalty for which is eternal death.
This passage is not speaking of a believer who falls away, but rather someone who may claim to be a believer, but truly is not. Anyone who apostatizes is proving he never had genuine faith to begin with (1 John 2:19). “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
“Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
The violation of the Mosaic law was a desecration, it is a much greater defilement to despise the New Covenant. Both have their respective discipline. The argument of this verse refers to the practice in the Old Testament whereby people were put to death for idolatry and murder. (Numbers 15:27–31)
By analogy, the New Covenant believer who violates the doctrine of the sacrificial death of Christ subjects himself to severe discipline from God. Premature death of the believer may be an option (Acts 5:1–11; 1 Cor. 11:28–31; 1 John 5:16). It could also mean that the believer will lose his rewards in heaven. But for the apostate, he or she is subject to eternal death. This verse provides us three more characteristics of this particular sin also referred to in verse 26:
•It expresses contempt for the Son of God
•It profanes the blood of the covenant, the very blood that sanctified him or her
•It insults the Spirit of grace
“For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
“To fall” into God’s living hands is to come under His absolute authority. David would rather be judged by God than man (2 Sam 24:14). In David’s case, God sent pestilence that caused 70 thousand Israelites to die. Falling into the hands of God here is chastisement, not eternal damnation. This is a warning to believers, not unbelievers. God takes upon Himself the responsibility for dealing with believers who distort doctrine.
II. WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND EXHORTATION
In this section the Apostle Paul gives us five points for endurance.
1. Remember Your Past (Verses 32-34a)
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property,
The first point of encouragement is to remember your past. Here, Paul reminds these Christians of all they had endured for the cause of Christ up to this point. They “endured a hard struggle with sufferings.” Sometimes they were exposed to public insults. Some experienced persecution. Some were put in prison and some endured the confiscation of their property. Some of these Christians showed love and courage by standing side by side with those who were treated this way. Why is the writer reminding them of what they went through in the past and how they handled it? The point is that you have endured in the past and you can continue to endure now. You showed love and compassion during those difficult times. They had a joyful response to what they experience. You did not give up when it was hard to be a Christian. You did not quit when the pressure was significant. Not only did you not give up, but you even rose to the challenge in how you handled the trials and how you helped others through the trial. We can endure when we remember how we have endured in the past.
2. You Have Something Better! Hold on and You will be Rewarded! (Verses 34b – 35)
“because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”
The second point of encouragement Paul shares is why they were so successful at that moment of trial they experienced in the past. It was because of the confidence they had; that they possessed something better; a lasting possession in heaven. He now admonishes them not to throw that this confidence away because in the end they will be richly rewarded.
3. You Need To Endure/Persevere (Verse 36)
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
The third point of encouragement is simply a call to endure. Endurance is the call of life. Nothing about walking with God is ever pictured as easy or simplistic; but the
reassurance is that at the end we will receive what God promised us. Suffering is not an excuse for not doing the will of God. We need to endure and continue to do the will of God so that we can receive our great reward.
4.Jesus Is Coming (Verse 37)
“For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”
The fourth point for endurance is knowing that Jesus is coming and He will not delay. God does not stop evil from ever happening, but He does judge it. The context of this quotation comes from Habakkuk 2. “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).
5.The Righteous Live By Faith (Verse 38)
“And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”
The final point for endurance is to understand that the righteous live by faith. Endurance is persistence in this life of faith despite hardships and persecution. What other way do we show faith? What other way do we show our trust in God except when life is hard, continuing to be faithful in our righteous living to God? When you go through hardships and you remain faithful and continue to show the love of Christ in all you do, God takes pleasure in you. There is not a better thought to encourage our continued endurance.
Apostle Paul concludes his encouragement with verse 39.
“But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
The destruction mentioned here is not the eternal destruction of the soul. Although it can refer to either eternal destruction in hell, the meaning in this context is “ruin.” To draw back will ruin the believer who does this in his present life. The believer cannot draw back to eternal ruin. However, the Christian can ruin their testimony of walking by faith and keeping the clarity of their message if they minimize the finished work of Christ. An apostate on the other hand leaves himself/herself no other option than the penalty of eternal death.
Parts of this study was culled from:
https://bible.org/seriespage/24-should-there-be-second-class-saints-hebrews-1026-39 https://westpalmbeachchurchofchrist.com/new-testament/hebrews/hebrews_10_26- 39.html
Wednesday, August 11 2021
Contributor: Ngozi Roberts
Review of last week’s study:
During the last studies, we have established the fact that covenant under Moses was all about the sacrifices made repeatedly for sins. However, with the crucifixion of Jesus introduced the new covenant was only one sacrifice made for all our sins once and for all. With this unique sacrifice abundant mercy has been provided for us all having confirmed the writing of His laws in our hearts so that we walk with him in perfection.
Today’s study captioned “A Call to Persevere in Faith”
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. NIV
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, Here the writer is encouraging us to establish our faith.
In Verse 19 he emphasises on how we can come to Him:
• By the blood of Jesus - having been given birth together through the blood we are now brothers and sisters in Gods family and as a result it’s natural that as our Father, God will welcome us to himself. Therefore, we should be bold enough to come to Him in His Holy Sanctuary without hesitation or bashfulness.
• by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body - Here the writer confirms that the way to God is now open. There is no longer the bus stop from one holy place to another and to the holy of holies as it was during the Moses covenant. However, with the crucifixion of Christ we can say that we now have an express way to Him which is a devoted/dedicated life-giving way for us to approach God.
• and since we have a great priest over the house of God- This is because we now have Jesus Christ as a High Priest. Remember, in the earlier verses, we established how in the Moses’ covenant that the priests would offer sacrifices using animals for atonement of sins but in this new covenant our High Priest is Jesus Himself and the writer makes us to know that He is the only High Priest over all of us that can welcome us into the presence of God.
Verses 22 – 23
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful
• Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart – so we are encouraged to come to him with an open heart, be sure not to let anything keep us far from him. Just like James 4:8 – “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
• with the full assurance that faith brings – be fully convinced that nothing will keep us at a distance from Him
• having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience – another way would be by having faith and of certain that our hearts have been cleaned by the sprinkled blood of Jesus. This blood removes impurities and helps us to be free from any king of accusing conscience.
• having our bodies washed with pure water - In this unstained state, we can be sure to be presentable to God inside and outside.
• Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess – The writer goes on to encourage us that once we are in this state of purity, we should hold on to it tightly. Just as Joshua say in 23:8 “But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.” In other words, we should stay strong and steady. Obediently do everything that is written in God’s word missing no detail. Making sure we do not get mixed up with the ways of the world that are still around.
• for he who promised is faithful. - When we hold on tightly and steadfastly to this hope inside of us, God will surely keep His promises. - Psalm 145:13 says– “The Lord is faithful to ALL His promises and loving toward ALL He has made”
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
• spur one another on toward love and good deeds - The writer went on to explain further how we can hold on tightly the hope that we confess. One of the ways would be by way of encouraging one another. Motivating one another and helping each other by doing the works of compassion, doing godly works that helps us express the love of God.
• not giving up meeting together - He advised us to avoid pulling away from meeting together as brothers and sisters. We should not form the habit of despising our meeting together. We should desire always to be around other believers as it will encourage us in our walk-in faith. This brings to remembrance the practice of the saints of old in Acts 2:42 which told us “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”. Also, Colossians 3:16 encouraged us to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
• but encouraging one another – So we ought to form the habit of meeting together and be eager to always encourage and urge one another. This was also emphasized in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 which say “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do “
• and even more as you see the Day approaching - This way we can through our encouragement help each other to anticipate the coming of our Lord and be ready for His coming.
In conclusion, the writer is encouraging us as those who have found confidence, trust, and faith in Jesus Christ to enter His presence freely as we have been purified and washed clean by the blood of Jesus. This is our confidence because God will surely accept us. We as believers have a great and secure hope for the future until we meet Him face to face in glory. But until then we are encouraged to keep on going in the right direction, encouraging one another in love with good deeds. In other words, our lifestyle should be very active and never a dull moment or idle time so that we do not give room to the enemy and as we do so God will continue to help us and strengthen us in Jesus’s name Amen.
Wednesday, July 28 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study titled “The Abolishment of Sin” we learnt that the sacrifices of Christ were infinitely better than those of the law, which could neither pardon for sin, nor impart power against it. As we compared the old testament and new testament tabernacles and the sacrificial offerings made by the high priests and the Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s study is the somewhat of a conclusion of last week’s study as we go ahead to look at Christ’s Eternal Sacrifice and what it means to us.
I. VERSES 1-4: THE SACRIFICES PRESCRIBED BY THE LAW COULD NOT COMPLETELY REMOVE GUILT AND SIN
“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (NIV)
In the first two verses, Paul argues that the Law was only the shadow of good things to come, and not the very form of things. For this reason, the repeated sacrifices could not make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, they would have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had a consciousness of sins. “To make perfect” refers to our standing in God’s sight. It includes total cleansing from sin, so that we have a clean conscience. If our consciences are aware of sins that have not been confessed and forgiven, we will hesitate to draw near to God. We see this same response with Adam and Eve. As soon as they sinned, they tried to hide from God’s presence. They didn’t want to face Him because of what they had done. As parents we would have had the same experience. You come home and your child avoids you. When you track him or her down, they won’t look you in the eye. They don’t want to draw near to you because of a guilty conscience.
Next in verse 3, Paul goes on to argue that the annual sacrifices (on the Day of Atonement) only provided a yearly reminder of sins. The fact that every year the people had to go through this ritual sacrifice again and again only showed that it had not completely removed their guilt.
Then in verse 4, he states plainly, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Animal blood has no permanent efficacy for human sins. God designed that system of animal sacrifice to point ahead to His provision of the sacrifice of His Own Son. As eternal God, His sacrifice has infinite value. As man, His sacrifice atones for human sin in a way that the blood of animals never could.
II.VERSES 5–10: CHRIST’S OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WILL AT THE CROSSSET ASIDE THE OLD TESTAMENT SACRIFICES AND PROVIDED PERFECT STANDING FOR US BEFORE GOD
“5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’” 8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Apostle Paul started off with Jesus’ quote prophetically penned down in Psalm 40:6-8. These verses show us the pre-existence of Jesus Christ as eternal God. But not only this, from these last 6 verses of today’s reading, we learn three key points:
1. THE CROSS WAS THE DIRECT WILL OF GOD.
The cross was not an accident or an unforeseen tragedy that took Jesus by surprise. It was not a temporary setback that God figured out how to turn for good. Rather, the cross was God’s predetermined plan, before the beginning of time, to deal with our sin. The Son of God would come into this world as a man, would fulfil through His obedience the complete Law of God, and then would die as the sacrifice that the justice of God demands as the payment for sins.
There is a great mystery here that we must submit to: even though God ordained the cross, down to minute details (e.g. casting lots for Jesus’ clothing), He is not in any way responsible for the sin of those who crucified Jesus. As Acts 4:27, 28 puts it: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.”
By coming into this world specifically to go to the cross, Jesus not only provided the sacrifice for sins that we need. He also provided a supreme example of resolute obedience to the complete will of God. Twice Paul repeats Jesus’ words from this psalm, “I have come to do Your will, O God.” As Luke 9:51 puts it, “He set His face to go to Jerusalem”. As Jesus prayed in the garden, “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We cannot imagine how difficult it was for the sinless Son of God to be made sin for us. But His determined obedience to God’s will, no matter how difficult, teaches us to commit ourselves to obey His will, whatever the cost.
You don’t decide to obey God at the moment of temptation. It has to be a rational commitment that you make before you find yourself facing temptation.
2. CHRIST’S OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WILL AT THE CROSS SET ASIDE THE OLD TESTAMENT SACRIFICES ONCE AND FOR ALL.
“He takes away the first [O.T. sacrifices] to establish the second [the will of God at the cross]” (Vs. 9). When the psalm states that God did not desire or take pleasure in sacrifices (Vs 5-6), it reflects a frequent theme in the Old Testament, that God did not desire sacrifices for their own sake. Rather, the sacrifices should reflect a repentant heart (1 Sam. 15:22; Ps. 51:16, 17; Isa. 1:11-13). God is displeased when people go through the outward motions of worship, but their hearts harbour sin that they are unwilling to forsake.
In modern terms, you can go to church and partake of communion, but if you are living in disobedience to God or if you are covering some sin in your heart, God is not pleased with your worship.
3. BY CHRIST’S OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WILL AT THE CROSS, WE RECEIVE PERFECT STANDING BEFORE GOD ONCE AND FOR ALL.
In verse 10, the Apostle Paul uses “sanctified” to refer to “inward cleansing from sin” and “being made fit for the presence of God, so that …[we] can offer Him acceptable worship”. “Have been sanctified” is the Greek perfect tense, signifying a past action that has ongoing results.
By way of contrast with the often-repeated Old Testament sacrifices, the one offering of Christ on the cross conveys to believers perfect standing before God for all time.
This perfect standing before God for all time refers to our position before God, not to our daily relationship. As we will see (later in verse 14), even though we are perfect in our standing, we are progressing in our growth in holiness.
The author piles up a number of synonymous phrases which show what the Law with its sacrifices could not do. Firstly, that the sacrifices of the Law could never “make perfect those who draw near.” Secondly, the sacrifices could not completely cleanse the worshipers and take away their consciousness of sins. Thirdly, the sacrifices provided a yearly reminder of sins; and finally, that the sacrifices could not take away sins.
He then went ahead to show us what Christ’s sacrifice did accomplish. That by God’s will through the cross, “we have been sanctified” once for all. In Christ we receive a complete, final, once for all pardon for all of our sins, past, present, and future!
Christ’s Sacrifice was made once for all!
In contrast to the repeated Mosaic animal sacrifices, Jesus came into the world according to God’s will (Psalm 40:6-8) in order to eternally sanctify a people through offering himself as a sacrifice once for all.
Parts of this study was culled from:
Wednesday, July 21 2021
Contributor: Clem Roberts
Last week we studied how Jesus ratified the will of the Father, the differences and similarities between the will and the testament. How Jesus' death made God's Will valid, making it legally and heavenly binding in all manifestation and operation. We also, looked at how "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." As we progress further in our study on the book of Hebrews, we will be looking the Hebrews 9:24-28.
Verse 24; For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; This verse elaborates the difference between the holy places.
- In the Old Testament the tabernacle was made by man
- In the New Testament the tabernacle was made by God
Verse 25; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another”
This verse tells us that:
- High Priest enters again and again
- Jesus entered once and for all
- High priest entered the most holy place
- Jesus is the most the Holy place.
Verse 26; He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
Another pointer is that
- Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice
- If the blood of bulls and goats can clean, how much is the blood of Jesus.
- No end to the potency of His sacrifice.
- Jesus’ sacrifice puts away sin and does not cover it
Verse 27; And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
This is clear indication that all men and women are appointed to die once, which is a contradiction of reincarnation and the paganistic belief that people can die and come back to this world as something or someone else. But the fact is that physical death is for everybody (except for those who will be alive at the second coming) whether you are saved or not, death is inescapable. To the Christian is called sleep.
Verse 28; so, Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
This salvation referenced in this verse is in the future tense. As we earlier studied regarding the three components of Salvation.
- Justification is the gift of God,
- Sanctification is the progressive work of a Christian and
- Glorification – result and benefits of 1 and 2 above.
“It is evident that the sacrifices of Christ are infinitely better than those of the law, which could neither pardon for sin, nor impart power against it. Sin would still have been upon us, and have had dominion over us; but Jesus Christ, by one sacrifice, has destroyed the works of the devil, that you and I may be made righteous, holy and happy. As no wisdom, learning, virtue, wealth, or power, can keep one of the human race from death, so nothing can deliver a sinner from being condemned at the day of judgement, except the atoning sacrifice of Christ; nor will one be saved from eternal punishment who despises or neglects this great salvation. The believer knows that his Redeemer liveth, and that he shall see him. Here is the faith and patience of the church, of all sincere believers.”
This conclusion was culled from Mathew Henry’s commentary on verse 24-28 of Hebrews 9.
Wednesday, July 14 2021
Contributor: Isekhua EVborokhai
In last week’s study we saw how Christ Himself was the perfect sacrifice. Today’s study we will be looking into understanding the terms “will” and “testament.” The KJV uses the word testament in verse 16; interpreted from the Greek word used to represent covenant and testament. However, in context, it refers to a slightly different idea. The NLT and other versions use the word “will” instead which is less prone to confusion. The point being made here is that certain legal agreements only take effect upon the death of the one who wrote the will.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that sets forth a person’s wishes regarding the distribution of property and the care of any minor children.
What is a Testament?
A Testament is a tangible proof or tribute; an expression of conviction; an act by which a person determines the disposition of his or her property after death.
There is no difference between a testament and a will these days. In recent times, the words “testament” and “will” are often seen together as “last will and testament.”
Verses 16-18: Jesus’ Death Made God’s Will and Testament Valid
“16 Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead. 17 The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect. 18 That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal.”
Obtaining a family inheritance for instance only comes after the death of the family member and after the will is read. The same is true of the both the Old and New Covenants. They were put into effect after death, and always with blood. This is an amazing truth about the Covenant we enjoy through Jesus. His death put the will of God into effect and made it legally binding and in operation. It is important for us to know what this Last Will includes so that we will understand what we have inherited through Jesus. To do this we must look at what Jesus said His mission, or God’s will for His life was.
Luke describes this perfectly.
“The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-21).
Jesus came to preach the gospel, free the prisoners (Mark 10:45, Hebrews 9:15), restore sight, (John 1:18, II Corinthians 4:6, Colossians 1:15;19, Hebrews 1:1-3), release the oppressed (Romans 6:6, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 4:24), and announced the Lord’s favour to mankind (Luke 2:14). This was God’s will concerning the life of Jesus. He came to bring us into fellowship with the Father through the gospel. The good news is that our sins are forgiven and paid for through Jesus, and that we have been redeemed and purchased back by His blood.
Verses 19-22: Without the Shedding of Blood There is no Forgiveness
“19 For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. 20 Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.” 21 And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. 22 In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”
Both the Old and New Covenants were put into effect by blood. The blood proved the death, thereby enforcing and enacting the will of the one who died (Heb. 9:17). Leviticus 17:11 explains why the blood was used, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life”. So it was necessary for both Covenants to be ushered in by blood, because first it proved the death because the blood is the life force. And secondly, it was given for atonement. So without it, there could be no forgiveness for sins.
Verse 23: Jesus Entered Heaven Appearing Before God on Our Behalf
“23 That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.”
Every time the priest made atonement for the people, it was merely a dress rehearsal for the real thing. The High Priest was the “stand in” for the "star". They merely showed a glimpse of what truly would take place at the pinnacle of history when Jesus entered into the heavenly tabernacle, in full view of God the Father Himself to offer a perfect sacrifice for us. This was the means to bridge the gap and usher in the New Covenant founded on, and made perfect in His blood.
It is important to note that sacrifice—represented by blood—has always been necessary to confirm a covenant with God, and to forgive sins. Not only did Jesus’ blood prove the death and put the Covenant into effect. Part of the New Covenant that God spoke of through the prophets included the forgiveness of sins (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Isaiah 54:13, Hebrews 8:8-12, Hebrews 10:16-18).
Jesus didn’t enter a man-made tabernacle, patterned after the heavenly one. He entered into heaven itself. His blood was the entrance fee (Hebrews 9:12). His blood was the cleansing agent (Hebrews 9:14), His blood sealed and ratified the New Covenant made by God on our behalf (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22). His blood took care of the sin issue once for all (Hebrews 10:10, Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 10:14, Hebrews 10:18). His blood bought us eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 10:14). His blood was the exchange that took our sin and bestowed on us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). His blood made everything alright and since it was offered in the presence of God the Father it was a one-time deal (Romans 5:1-2). His blood undid everything that sin and death ever took, ruined or stained (Romans 5:15; Romans 5:17; Romans 5:21). And His blood gives us the confidence to approach God by faith so we can find grace and mercy just when we need it (Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:19-22).
Parts of this study was culled from: https://www.jcblog.net/hebrews/9/23-24/jesus-entered-heaven-appearing-before-god-on-our-behalf
Wednesday, June 30 2021
Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye
We see in verses 11–15 the superiority of Christ, Mediator of the New Covenant, as our High Priest. The sacrificial death of Christ marked the beginning of the New Covenant, of which He is the Mediator.
"But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation."
But - The “but” here makes a contrast to Old Testament rituals that could not make the believer’s conscience “perfect” (Heb. 9:9-10). Christ’s finished work on the cross as our High Priest resolved that problem. Here it focuses on what is real rather than what is symbolically anticipated.
Christ [the Messiah] came as High Priest – Christ arrived in the presence of God to minister as our High Priest. This refers to His ministry in heaven. Giving us access to our Priest-King in glory.
of the good things to come, - The “good things” (redemption privileges we have in Christ) refer to the new privileges whereby the believer can relate to God through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
with [in connection with] the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, - This “tabernacle” is heaven itself. It is where Christ went into the presence of God as High Priest. No mere human being could construct a tabernacle like this. God constructed this tabernacle, not man.
that is, not of this creation - Christ’s role as High Priest links with the heavenly tabernacle, not the earthly material order. Our perfect High Priest serves in a perfect heaven to make perfect those who believe.
"Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption."
Verse 12 speaks of Christ’s means of entry into the eternal Most Holy Place. The blood of atonement was the difference between life and death when entering God’s presence.
Jesus shed his blood and offered it on the altar in order to provide us with eternal redemption. Read verse 12 again: He says that Jesus “Entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption,” What does that mean? - It means that through the blood of Jesus, he secured for us complete and permanent redemption. Perhaps any other kind of redemption done in the past had been temporary. The priests had to sacrifice time and again and enter once a year into the most holy place of the earthly tabernacle in order to purchase forgiveness and relief for sinners. But it did not last, and the whole process had to be repeated year after year. But the moment Jesus
entered the real sanctuary in heaven bearing his own blood, it was once for all time. And it was complete, and permanent. Redemption for those who seek refuge in Jesus would be prefect and would never have to be repeated.
"For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
Jesus shed his blood and offered it on the heavenly altar that we might be sanctified at heart and cleansed in our consciences. The apostle talks about outward cleansing! And many people are only concerned about that. They care about how they appear on the outside. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they care about their own appearance, but they care about outward things that make them feel good about themselves and makes others see them as righteous people. They don’t see themselves as hypocrites, but they see themselves as people who are really trying hard to please God with all the outward things they do for God and for each other and for the church.
Jesus shed his blood and offered it on the heavenly altar that—all this that we might serve the living God. There’s is nothing in this universe more precious than the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ gives us Eternal Redemption. The blood of Christ sanctifies our hearts and cleanses our consciences. The blood of Christ restores our Eternal Inheritance. It frees us from the power of sin. Satan’s strategy has been to keep us locked up in sin. And as long as we are bound by sin, our consciences are guilty. And no one with a stained conscience can fulfil his or her purpose to serve God. That’s why Jesus shed his blood so that our conscience may be cleansed, so that we might be able to serve God in our lives.
"And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."
Jesus shed his blood and offered it on the heavenly altar that we might be called by God. The blood of Jesus has the power to effect one of the greatest callings in human history. Jesus had once said regarding his crucifixion: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32) Ever since then everyone whose sins have been washed by Jesus’ blood and through faith in him have been mysteriously drawn to the Lord Jesus. We who are drawn to the Lord Jesus automatically know that we belong to him.
Our calling is not random neither does it rest on who we are or what we do. You cannot belong to him by your choice or by your works, no matter how righteous your works might be. God’s calling to belong to him rests on God’s grace through his shed blood. If it were not for the blood of Jesus sprinkled on the heavenly altar not one of us who are called to belong to Jesus would belong to him. Our calling is uniquely connected to that Holy blood offered in heaven.
Jesus shed his blood and offered it on the heavenly altar that we might receive an eternal inheritance. Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary to offer his Holy blood so that we might finally receive that eternal inheritance lost to us at the fall of our ancestor Adam but promised to us through the faithfulness of our God.
We have a calling to belong to Christ Jesus and to act and behave like those who belong to Christ Jesus. In other words, Jesus expects you to live and act like one who belongs to him, not like a selfish indifferent person who cares only for yourself. Adam had lost us everything in a moment of rebellion against God’s word and God’s rule in his life. He lost us all the privileges we had in God’s presence and kingdom and confined us to this world. He reduced our once glorious lives and inheritance to nothing but a fight for survival in a dog eat dog world. But Christ shed his blood to restore what we lost to us— That Eternal Inheritance—An inheritance that most people are so blind to.
Christ’s sacrifice was effective in paying for sins. Israel’s sacrifices were only ceremonial; the atonement sacrifice only covered sins and did not remove them like Christ did. Christ’s ministry was superior because it was spiritual, not material.
Wednesday, June 23 2021
Contributor: Alex Kokobili
The previous lesson (Hebrews 8: 7-13) revealed the necessity of a New Testament in Christ Jesus which was not the previous one that became obsolete. We understood the constraint of keeping the requirement of the Old Covenant was embedded in the law and while the New Covenant was based on Christ Himself. Today’s study of Hebrews 9:1-10 focuses on the Old Pattern of Worship which was a major component in the Old Covenant as required for a relationship between God and Israel. This pattern of worship involved a priest being the mediator between the people and God. Some things we observed in this pattern of worship involved purification, the priest, a sanctuary, or tabernacle, and items for the sacrifice, e.g., such as grains, oil, incense, bulls, pigeons, etc.
• Verse 1: The Ordinances of Divine Service of the First Covenant.
“Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.”
We see here that the old covenant involved regulations that the people had to observe as required for their service to God. This means they had to obey the Ten Commandments and alongside ordinances (what the priest had spelled out for it to be pleasing to God) in all areas such as purification, petitions, and supplications, etc. If the requirement was not followed, the worship of the people or their household would be rejected and sometimes with terrible consequences. See example in Leviticus 10:1-3
Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. 3 And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’” So Aaron held his peace.
The earthly sanctuary was the dwelling place for God’s tabernacle (Ark of the Covenant). This was a sacred place with partitions, i.e., outer court and the holy of holies (Ezekiel 41: 1-4) and it was built to specifications as directed by God.
There were various occasions that the people of Israel carried the Ark of the Covenant outside the sanctuary but it was also with caution. At numerous times during wars, and while they moved from Egypt, etc., but the sanctuary, or the temple as we see in other parts of the Old Testament, is the residence of the Ark of the Covenant. The structure for worship was replaced with a better covenant in which we now worship God in Spirit
and Truth (John 4: 24), and also because we are now God’s tabernacle (2 Corinthians 5:4).
• Verses 2-5: Description of the Earthly Sanctuary
“For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
• Verses 6-7: The Old Pattern of Worship Had Limitations
“Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;”
This pattern of worship had its constraint and it was only the priest that was assigned and must always be available to lead the people as required for worship, offering, or sacrifice to God. The priest must first be purified before ministering before the Lord. Once a year the priest went into the Holy of Holies and if he is unworthy while inside the Holy of Holies, he would be struck dead. The hem of the garment of the priest had bells (Exodus 39:26) and if the priest dies for any reason in the holy of holies, he was dragged out with the extension of the rope that was attached to his leg. In Numbers 16: 1-40 we see that a rebellion came against Moses by Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and on the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben. What a foolish way to die from the wrought of the Lord. They either forgot about the sons of Aaron who died in Numbers 10: 1-3, or they were not born then. They declared themselves holy and burnt incense in the tabernacle of meeting and God’s glory appeared before the congregation and they did not know that it was not a sign that we were holy, then God’s anger rose against them without mercy.
• Verses 8-10: The Holy Spirit Is the Gift of God for The New Pattern of Worship
“8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation."
We realize that the Holy of Holies was very significant in the old pattern of worship. That part of the tabernacle was a dwelling place of the divine presence of God. But now, we realize we have greater access to God’s Holy Spirit in this New Covenant different from the old, and that is why the veil in the temple was torn apart (Mathew 27:51).
In Romans 15: 4, 2 Tim 3: 16, we learn that all things in the scriptures are for our learning and perfection. Haven learned about the old pattern of worship, we are now God’s tabernacle (2 Corinthians 5: 4) and we no longer have any hindrance to His presence except sin which He has already given us the grace to overcome in Jesus’ name.
Wednesday, June 16 2021
Contributor: Wale Abiona
From the previous lesson, titled “A Better Covenant”, the superiority of Christ position and location (Our High Priest, seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty) was made clear. Even clearer was the fact that while somethings are generally good, others are simply better. And that is what we will be looking at today, old versus new.
Obsolete means old, unfit, outdated.
“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.”
Genesis 3:7, 21
Their inner eyes became closed and their physical eyes became open. So, what they could only come up with as covering for their now naked body was fig leaves.
Since then, God’s plan was to empower man to be able to correct their own error
“Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah”
Man continued to fall into divers kinds of errors, with the enemy taking advantage.
So God made a promise with a selected few, Abraham’s generation, hoping to use them as a specimen that will provoke the rest of mankind to forsake their way and seek Him.
He made a special promise to them (a good deal or what we would call treaty in today’s world between 2 or more nations)
A quick look into the promise in Genesis 12:1-3
We saw Abraham move from Ur until he finally arrived at the Promise Land. Abraham had some concerns, fears and worries around the promise because of her wife’s barrenness, which made God sentence his seed into 400 years of slavery. But in Genesis 17:1-3 we saw exactly what God expected from Abraham unwavering trust. Series of rules and standards were given as a checklist. Yet this checklist could not prevent them from sinning.
“not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.”
Now because of His promise and covenant, which expresses God’s own faithfulness to His Word, He delivered them out of Egypt, and performed many wonders in their sight throughout their wilderness journey, hoping they will remember His special love for them, but they complained still. He gave them a new set of rules to guide them and added some
practice by which they can be cleansed if they accidentally fall into error. Exodus 20 to Leviticus
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
The laws will no longer be written on a tablet for them but will be in their mind and printed in their heart.
Relationship between the mind and the heart.
- The mind is connected to our senses
- The heart keeps the soul alive
See Proverbs 2:10, Psalms 1:2, Joshua 1:8
“11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
The implications of these verses is that
• Nobody will need to be taught to avoid sin
• Believers will be in pure and constant fellowship with God.
• We will abide in perfect love, our past will be forgiven
• We will experience God's love in our lives and share it with others without fear1 John 4:18
• The future punishment that awaits those who do not believe does not concern the abiding believer.
“In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”
The Old Covenant was the “working arrangement” that God had with Israel. He had chosen them for a special relationship that He did not have with any other group of people on earth. He took just a few patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and grew their descendants into a great nation and gave them a land (Canaan) and His law to live by (see Exodus 20 and following). The Israelites were to remain loyal to God, obeying Him and worshipping Him alone. If they did, He promised to bless them, and if they did not, He promised they would be chastened (see Deuteronomy 27—28).
In this new covenant, God said, Israel will be restored, sins will be finally forgiven, people will know God directly, and they will have His law written on their hearts so that they will want to obey Him.
Romans 11:11, Acts 15:14–18:
Another aspect of the New Covenant is that Gentiles can be “grafted into the tree of Israel” by faith in Jesus, the King and Messiah of Israel.
The Old Covenant was governed by a law that prescribed to correct behavior and that the people continually broke. It contained a sacrificial system that only temporarily removed sins. The sacrifices were administered by priests who represented the people of Israel to God, but the people could not enter God’s presence themselves.
The New Covenant is governed by a law that is internalized by the people of God and energized by His Spirit. The sins of the people are forgiven and removed once and for all by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the people of God have direct, intimate access to Him.
Finally, Gentiles who believe are included in the New Covenant.
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.