The Invitation to Come Closer

August 31, 2015 at 9:17 am | Posted in Hebrews | 25 Comments
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It is a wonderful and amazing thought that God would invite us to draw near to Him. We are to draw near to Him with diligence, with focused and rapt attention. Of course, even as we draw near to Him, we are also sent out from Him. Just as we are to draw near – to come to God – without doubt, we are to likewise go forth as His ambassadors – those sent by God – not with sluggishness, but with zeal and boldness.

Among the Old Testament types of the offices of Christ, which He fulfills in superior ways under His New Covenant, we have discussed the prophets, the angels, Moses himself, and Aaron. Aaron was the High Priest in the time of Moses, but Christ is the Great High Priest. Generally speaking, the people couldn’t go to Aaron the High Priest with their problems. They could, in a sense, draw near to God through him and the other Levitical priests, but, in another sense, the Law required that a wall of separation be maintained between the priests and the common people. As New Testament believers we can go directly to the Great High Priest.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Christ is also superior because He is on the throne. We are allowed and encouraged and commanded to come before the throne of grace – to come boldly – but He’s still the One on the throne. Even Aaron couldn’t sit on the throne.

The Christians to whom the Book of Hebrews was originally written went through extreme persecution, but they were encouraged to confess their faith. When we fail to confess our allegiance to Christ, we don’t change His character, but we do bring reproach to His name. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God…” The grace of God will never fail us, but we must not fail the grace of God.

As we study Jesus’s role as the Great High Priest, we probably don’t see the depth of all the meaning that the 1st Century Hebrew Christians did. They understood the Levitical system of sacrifices and atonement and what the priests did in the temple better than we do. There must have been times when these saved Hebrews were really being tempted to go back to that old system, but the Holy Ghost was telling them, no, Christ is superior to that system, for the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.

Jesus accomplished what the Law could not do in:

1. His propitiation. He satisfied and took upon Himself the wrath of God that was due to us for our sins against Him.

2. His expiation. He carried our condemnation away from us, and extinguished it in a way that was acceptable to God.

We were saved in a sense when Christ caused us to draw near enough to Him for Him to save us, not by standing aloof and trying to garner His favor or impress Him with our works. We drew near to Him by faith. When what saves you is effective, why would you want to try something else afterward? If drawing near led to salvation, then it stands to reason that the saved person can draw even nearer – that we can draw into confidence with God, into peace with God, into rest in God.

For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

Hebrews 4:8

Here the reference is mostly likely to Moses’s general and successor, Joseph, whose name looks like “Jesus” in the Greek, but, just as Joshua had a certain day to lead the people of God into Canaan, so Jesus is a better Joshua. He is the means to the rest that still remains for the children of God.

He’s No Angel

April 27, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 9 Comments
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For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Hebrews 2:2-3

The Word of God, prior to its cannonization in the Bible, was confirmed by signs and wonders. Many people today neglect the wonders of God’s Word, chasing after physical manifestations – visible signs and wonders – which is dangerous. Can God do today what He did in times past? No doubt about it. One of the messages of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). However, we must beware of a tendency to ignore the lessons taught in the Bible, while speculating about some kind of modern message that is touted as more “user-friendly.” Signs and wonders confirmed the Word, but the Word is perfect today. Don’t overlook the “miracle” of the Word of God, while vainly seeking some “new” miracle today. The Bible teaches that the angels are real, and they do minister according to the will of God, but, in the ranking of Heavenly beings, there is no doubt that God – the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – holds the highest (and only truly unique) rank.

There is a warning in Hebrews 2:3 not to neglect the salvation granted to you by God.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:17

Salvation is compared to a helmet, but a helmet is for wearing, not just having. The Hebrews to whom this book was originally written might have argued that Jesus had some authority, but He was human, and angels are above humans. Therefore, aren’t they above Jesus? The Bible clearly teaches that this is incorrect. Jesus, even in his humanity – incarnate – is still superior to the angels, in the following nonexclusive respects:

1. By His humanity He restored man’s dominion.

Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.

Hebrews 2:7-8

Since Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, man no longer completely controls the the fish, the fowl, the wild beasts, or the domesticated beasts, but Christ did.

2. Even though He was God, He tasted death.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Hebrews 2:9

No angel could conquer death, because no angel could die. Similarly, no angel could restore dominion or save lost sinners. Dominion was given to man, not angels, and Jesus did not die for fallen angels. He died for sinful men and women.

3. His humanity gave Him a unique priesthood.

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Hebrews 2:17-18

Jesus experienced the dependency of infancy. He experienced growing pains. He experienced puberty. He experienced rejection. He got tired. He got hungry. He got thirsty. He got angry. People told lies told about Him. He was falsely accused.

The word tranlated as “succour” in Hebrews 2:18 refers to what happens when a baby cries for his mother, but it also has a connotation of sympathy or empathy. Jesus – even though He was God – experienced every temptation we have, and many we haven’t, and He remained without sin. The fact that He never sinned, though, does not keep Him from identifying with my sufferings, or my feelings or sincere emotions. It is exciting to know that we have access to our High Priest at any time, and that the need for for a priestly class of human beings no longer exists.

It is good to confess our faults to one another. The Bible says to do that, but that must never take the place of a sincere time of confession with our One True High Priest.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15


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