Tags: chastening of the Lord, church attendance, church membership, commentary on Hebrews, drawing back from God, drawing near to God, Hebrews 10, John 10, perdition, Sunday School lessons on Hebrews
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Entering into the “holiest” is the ultimate in “drawing near” to God. Under the New Covenant, and its superior Sacrifice, we are allowed to come this close to God. “Drawing nigh” creates the image of pulling up forcefully and quickly and suddenly stopping – of getting as close as possible without becoming that to which we are drawing near. As Christians, we spend time preparing to draw near to God, and, even in our preparations, we are already “near,” but, as the shadows of the Old Covenant are fulfilled in the New, the sprinkling of the blood of animals becomes the sprinkling of our hearts from an evil conscience.
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
The washing in the laver becomes the washing of our bodies with obedience to the Word. We are motivated to try to keep ourselves clean (holy) in preparation for entering His presence, and abiding in His presence every minute of every day.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
If he said we could do it – if He PROMISED – then we CAN.
The next verses exhort us not to forsake some things: do not forsake considering each other; do not forsake provoking each other; do not forsake assembling with each other. That’s one reason why it’s so important to attend a local church. Three things that help us to abide in God’s presence are His Word, His Spirit, and His Body, the local church. If you forsake any one of these three, you are on a dangerous path, and are placing yourself at the mercy of one of your three enemies:
1. The devil, who we fight with the Word.
2. The flesh, which is fought against in the power of the Holy Ghost.
3. The world, which we fight against with the local church.
This brings us to the fourth admonition in Hebrews:
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
The Old Covenant provided no sacrifices for deliberate and willful sins.
He that despised Moses’s law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
The punishment was execution.
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Who is more accountable? The lost person who slanders God? Or the saved person, who knows the truth about God, yet slanders Him anyway? Even forgiven sins have consequences.
We are saved through faith, and the victorious Christian must also LIVE by faith.
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
The opposite of drawing near is drawing back. “Perdition” in Verse 39 is not eternal punishment or damnation, but it is a serious and severe punishment. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. He’s a living and a loving God. A saved person will never fall out of the hands of God – nothing shall pluck them out (John 10:28-29) – but a believer who slanders God by repeated willful deliberate patterns of sin – by drawing back farther and farther – WILL be dealt with by God.
Tags: commentary on Exodus, evangelism, Exodus 33, intercession of Moses, Moses, motivations for evangelism, revelation of God, seeing God, Sunday School lessons on Exodus
In instructing Moses to proceed into Canaan, the Lord said that He would withdraw His presence further from them, and that He would assign an angel to lead them and fight for them, because they were stiffnecked.
And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.
God expressed concern that He might be forced to destroy them when they disobeyed again. The people did not like this. In their repentance they wanted God near them. The Lord arranged for a new meeting place with Moses – a tabernacle outside of the camp.
And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door.
Here Moses continued to intercede for a full restoration of God’s presence with the people, to which God ultimately agreed
For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
This favorable response from God emboldened Moses to ask for “the big one:”
And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
Moses did not want fame, comfort, security, or even health. What he longed for was more revelation of God – a greater understanding of God. This came from spending time with God in whatever ways God had allowed already. It came from unquestioning obedience to God, and a love for others, in the sense of wanting to bring them into fellowship with God. May we want God Himself and not just what He provides, and may our evangelism be motivated by unselfish love. May our motivation for evangelism be centered on trying to get people to God for His glory and their good.
Tags: Crucifixion of Christ, death of Christ, eyes of faith, living by faith, Mark 15, mocking Christ, The Cross
The sight of Jesus hanging on the Cross must have been gut-wrenching for those who followed Him and loved Him (and who had not fled and abandoned Him by this point). For most of the spectators, however, including the chief priests and the scribes, it was an occasion for mocking and cruel derision.
And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.
They were not at all ashamed to look fixedly at the Cross, jeering and taunting the Lord, making a jest that, if only He could get Himself down from there right in front of their eyes, then they would become believers.
Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
You may have heard the expression “cross-eyed,” which is used for a person whose eyes both appear to look independently inward toward his nose, instead of looking in the same direction. Children who are able to make their eyes do this intentionally are sometimes warned by a parent or teacher: “You had better stop making that face, or it will freeze like that!”
Today, as Christians, we ought to look fixedly with our mind’s eye at the Cross, as we consider Christ’s great sacrifice there. Refusing to take the bait and get down from the Cross in His Own power, He instead remained there, paying our sin debt in full, and ultimately laying down His Own life before being taken down and buried, only to rise again victoriously from the grave on the third day! We don’t think of contemplating the Cross of our Savior as “getting stuck like that,” but we should often and regularly meditate upon it with hearts of gratitude, affection, repentance, faith, wonder, amazement, reverence, and obedience. Had He come down from the Cross before death, the religious leaders who mocked Jesus would have no more been convinced of His Deity and glory than they were by His miracles, compassion, and Words of Truth. For us, though, we place our trust in the crucified and resurrected King of Israel because He died and rose again.
Tags: child-like faith, commentary on Matthew, humility, humility of Jesus, Mark 10, Matthew 17, Matthew 18, pride, Romans 5, Sunday School lessons on Matthew
Matthew began showing us the humility of the King in Chapter 17 with the account of the King Who paid tribute. Jesus helped Peter to understand the practicality of glory. God’s glory, if it is to reflected in a way onto men, must be a disciplined glory which always points back to God. As Christ’s disciples we must be loyal to the One Who loves us enough and is gracious enough to shine His glory on us.
Did you know the word “shed” is used in 50 different verses in the King James Version of the Bible? Every single time up until Romans 5:5 it is used in reference to blood (except II Samuel 20:10 where it’s talking about guts). Guess what it refers to in Romans 5:5.
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
After this experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the coin in the fish’s mouth, they must have really “got it,” right? After the Disciples saw their King transfigured in their midst, you would think their question would be, “Lord – King Jesus – what would You have us to do?” But that was NOT their question. Their question was, “Which one of us will get more than the others in this Kingdom?”
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
This was not a very humble question. In fact, it appears to have been evidence of pride. Pride is thinking too much of ourselves. Humility is not thinking too little of ourselves. It’s not really even thinking realistically about ourselves. A better definition of humility would be not thinking of ourselves AT ALL. We can’t be trusted to have an opinion about how great or how little we are (Jeremiah 17:9). Our hearts are wicked and we are too biased and prejudiced to conduct a fair examination of ourselves – to see if we are humble or not.
The humblest person is the happiest person because he only sees opportunities for God’s glory. He’s not tired, not frustrated, not boastful, not depressed, not discouraged, not ashamed – because it hasn’t occurred to him to be those things – because he hasn’t thought about himself at all.
Pop psychology says that we should start exhorting people to be happy with themselves just the way they are, and it sounds good. It mixes a little truth with a little leaven – contentment mixed with self-esteem – so it even sounds kind of spiritual. “Be all that you can be.” “Get everything that God wants you to have.” “Have your best life now.” Saul of Tarsus had prestige, wealth, friends, a great career, a job he loved, room for advancement, respect. Then he met Christ – and he took his “best life now” and he threw it away to live like the scum of the earth for Christ’s sake, and for God’s glory.
Jesus wanted to show the Disciples what He thought about their argument over who would be “greatest” in the Kingdom, so He called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said:
… Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
This child was not spoiled. I cringe when I think what would have happened if He called one of my children to sit on His lap! Would she be laughing at her friends, sticking her tongue out? This child apparently exhibited the virtue of childlikeness, rather than the vice of childishness.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
The quality of childlikeness that Jesus was pointing out was not playfulness, nor embarrassment, nor shyness, nor boldness. The quality that He wanted to illustrate was unselfconsciousness, which is another word for humility. Unspoiled children have a desire to please. They want to please their fathers, and others. Many times, as parents, we are guilty of causing them to lose this quality. We must not cause them to stumble.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
We should be stepping-stones, not stumbling-blocks. We should be blessings, not burdens.
Tags: Biblical sacrifices, commentary on Hebrews, Hebrews 10, Jesus Christ, John 17, John 6, Matthew 17, New Covenant, Old Covenant, Sunday School lessons on Hebrews
Priests went into the Old Covenant sanctuary to make sacrifices. These sacrifices had to be repeated time and time again, but the New Covenant Sacrifice is superior. It is an everlasting Sacrifice. It is sufficient and efficient to open the way into the Holy of Holies in Heaven – to allow believers to have confident and eternal access to God the Father. In the Old Covenant animals were sacrificed, but in the New Covenant the Sacrifice was Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Christ was a better Sacrifice because He actually took away sins.
But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Old Covenant sacrifices had to be repeated over and over because they did not cause God to stop “remembering” the sins of the people. These sacrifices served to cover sin, but not to cleanse the sinner. Christ was a better Sacrifice because God had prepared the Sacrifice Himself.
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
Christ did what it was not possible for anyone else to do: He pleased God with His mind, His heart, His desire to obey, and even with a body of flesh. He did ALWAYS the will of the Father.
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.
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Old Covenant sacrifices were accepted, but they had no will of their own to be sacrificed, and they had not been especially prepared by the Father in the way Christ had.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
Why would God have no pleasure in sacrifices which were done in obedience to His Word? These sacrifices were often made with an outward show of obedience, but without an obedient heart. Remember, God sees the heart. There’s no drawing near by way of a sacrifice in form only. There must be a humble heart, a desire to please, and a true obedient ATTITUDE: a desire that the Lord God would accept this sacrifice as a sign of true repentance and a resolve not to disobey again. This did bring about blessings, but it did not pay the sin debt once and for all. The sacrifice of Christ did.
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Tags: Book of Life, Book of the Living, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 32, God's books, God's mercy, Moses, price of forgiveness, Romans 9, Sunday School lessons on Exodus
And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
Moses acknowledged the seriousness of the people’s sin, and he admitted that it was not just a vague general sin, but a specific breaking of God’s revealed law (“made them gods of gold”).
Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
He broaches the idea of forgiveness, but does not make excuses or rationalizations (“forgive their sin”), and he leaves this thought incomplete, because it is too amazing a thought that God would forgive sin, and because, really, what can we possibly offer as an exchange for God’s forgiveness? How can we “pay Him back?” Or bribe Him? We are bankrupt when it comes to righteousness.
Moses was forced to bring up the alternative: “if not…” And he then stated a desire to be judged with the people – to lose his own life. For all Moses knew, he could have been referring to eternal life. This reminds us of Paul’s statement in Romans 9:3: “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:” As a missionary to the gentiles, Paul saw many converted, but his own people – the Jews – were for the most part rejecting the Gospel. He wished he could be accursed if it would mean salvation for Israel.
Moses referred, in Exodus 32:32, to “Thy book,” which lets us know that God keeps books. From the entirety of Scripture we can glean that God keeps at least four books: The Book of the Living; The Lamb’s Book of Life; a book of sins; and the Bible. (There is possibly also a book of works and rewards.)
This was a very pious and unselfish plea by Moses, and there is no reason to think he was not being sincere, but God set him straight:
And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
God is in charge of deciding who will and who will not be blotted out of His book. God also distinguished Moses’s relative innocence compared to the idolaters.
Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
God was telling him that it was time to get moving toward Canaan. Having the “Angel” lead the way was an invitation to see how people would react to having God’s presence somewhat removed from them. “The day” referred to a future time when God would allow the nation to be taken captive to Babylon. This was a yet-to-come judgment against the nation for its sin. Their immediate consequence was a plague.
And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
People probably got sick and some may have died. In this plague even the bystanders were affected – not just the active participants in the idolatrous revelry – because passive onlookers who fail to speak out against their nation’s sin are sinners, too – just as the spectators of a violent crime who did nothing to help the victim would be next in line for punishment after the perpetrators.
Tags: 1 John 2, 1 John 4, 1 John 5, 2 Corinthians 5, Deuteronomy 4, James 4, John 17, Mark 4, Matthew 13, Psalm 119, Psalm 12, Revelation 22
The “world” is often the Bible’s word for the ungodly system of this world, which opposes Christ and His Kingdom.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
I John 2:15-17
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
I John 4:4-5
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
I John 5:5
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
Worldly cares and concerns can crowd the truth of the Bible out of a person’s mind.
And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
However, we must not let the animosity that exists toward the Word in this world keep us from diligently getting out into the world as evangelists and witnesses and missionaries.
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
II Corinthians 5:19
Christ Himself is the Living Word of God, and His mission to reconcile lost and otherwise hopeless sinners to the holy God was and is accomplished by the power of His Word.
Finally, we need to make sure that we keep the “world” out of the Word. The canon of Holy Scripture is closed, and our complete Bible in 66 books is sufficient to show us everything that God wants us to know about Godly living and the plan of redemption in this life. We must not let the transmission of God’s Word in our day be corrupted by faulty modern translations, by extra-Biblical false prophecies such as the Book of Mormon or the NWT Bible used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor by the influence of referential texts of false religions such as the Koran.
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Only one little letter makes the difference between “world” and “Word,” but that letter could have an eternal impact. We need to:
1. Get out of the world and get into the Word.
2. Get the Word out into the world.
3. Get the world out of the Word.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 8, Biblical taxes, commentary on Matthew, Galatians 5, Galatians 6, giving offense, Matthew 17, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, taxes
Born-again Christians have great freedom in Christ Jesus (Galatians 5:1). This freedom allows us to fulfill the law of Christ, which is not burdensome for those for have experienced Christ’s love (Galatians 6:2). Within this freedom and this law there is room for different convictions, or degrees of conviction, over some personal standards, even among unified believers.
Matthew Chapter 17 records the Lord’s amazing journey as He goes – in the space of a few short verses – from the glory of the Mount of Transfiguration to being faced with the apparent inability to even pay a small tax.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
This would have been a perfect opportunity for a worldly king to say, “ME???? Pay tribute? I’m the King. Subjects pay tribute to the King – they don’t exact it from him!”
This was not the way of the Heavenly King, however. Instead, He taught Peter a lesson about the importance of not giving offense in matters where it is unnecessary to do so.
Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
Jesus was and is God. Couldn’t He have just caused the piece of money to materialize in Peter’s pocket, rather than the complex miracle with the fish? Of course He could have! However, Peter’s fishing trip emphasized not only Christ’s dominion over the fish of the sea, but also the idea that the King’s followers should be willing to go to great lengths to keep those with different convictions from stumbling. Never lord your freedom over a brother or sister in Christ when it seems that they perceive themselves to have a higher conviction from you in a relatively minor matter – even if you must go to great lengths to keep your liberty from being a stumbling-block to your brother or sister (I Corinthians 8:9-13).