Tag Archives: Hebrews

Through the Bible, March 29

Reading: Psalm 95, Hebrews 3:1-4:13

Summary: The writer of Hebrews draws upon the distinction between those people of Israel who were allowed to enter the promised land and those who were not (about whom we read in week one of this month).  He observes how those who died in the wilderness had been ones who had received God’s blessings, yet were not permitted to enjoy the ultimate destination.  Like that, Christians are such as ones who have been blessed by God, but they too may fall short of the ultimate destination.  “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11).

In Hebrews 3, the writer relies heavily on the words of Psalm 95.

Devotional Thought:

Why “No God” is So Popular

Do you ever wonder why people seem so ready and willing to accept the notion that there is no God?  I do.

I think Psalm 95 provides a good part of the answer.

Besides referencing the Israelites’ experience in the wilderness (the reason for which the Hebrews writer quotes from it in Hebrews 4:7), he first speaks of the creation:

 

In his hand are the depths of the earth;

the heights of the mountains are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

(Psalm 95:4-5)

 

The creation belongs to God because He made it.  Simple enough.

Now watch what he does: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” (v. 6).

Did you catch that?  He is our maker too.  If He’s our maker, then we belong to Him.  And if we belong to Him, we owe Him something–at the very least, reverence and praise and thanksgiving (see vv. 1, 2, 6).  We are answerable and accountable to Him.

That’s it.  That’s the reason why people don’t want God to be.  That’s the reason why humanity has latched on to explanations of origins (think evolution, big bang, etc.) that require no God.  If He didn’t make us, we are not answerable to Him.

But He did; and we are.

Through the Bible, January 31

Read: Hebrews 7

Summary: The Genesis account tells us only briefly of a rather mysterious figure, Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High (Gen. 14:17-24).  But in the New Testament book of Hebrews, the writer makes much of the fact that Abraham, from whom the nation of Israel would descend, offered tithes to this man.  Hebrews contends that the high priesthood of Jesus is based on the priesthood of Melchizedek, of whom we know little, and not Aaron of the tribe of Levi, of whom we know much.

Devotional Thought:

A Priest Too

Jesus is our Savior and He is our Priest.

God’s people have had priests before and even we, as Christians, are priests (2 Peter 2:9). But Jesus is different (of course!).

His priesthood is paradoxical–you know, a seeming contradiction that provides depth and breadth of meaning. On the one hand He is just like us.  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

On the other hand, He’s nothing like us. “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Heb. 7:26).

We need a Savior, and we need a priest.

And in the same way that only Jesus can be our Savior, only He can be the Priest we need.

“But he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:24-25).

My Delight is the Lord, October 11

Angelic Hospitality

October 11, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 13:1-21

Angels are a fascinating Bible subject, no doubt. One of the most titillating statements about them is that people have “entertained angels unawares” (v. 2). I wonder if I have? Or, has someone I know, unknown to them, been in the presence of angels? It does make one wonder. But have we missed the point? This isn’t a text primarily intended to teach us about angels, rather it is one of those insightful asides in Scripture that grab our attention, leaving us wanting to know more. The point is “Let brotherly love continue” (v. 1). Do that by not failing to show hospitality to strangers and remembering those in prison and who are mistreated (vv. 2-3). Have the angels distracted us? Has the mysterious diverted our attention from what is explicit and plain? Is my interest in brotherly love as great as my curiosity about angels?

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is marriage held in honor? (v. 4)
  • What poses a threat to our lives?  (v. 5)
  • What is good for the heart? (v. 9)
  • What sacrifice ought we to offer? (v. 15)

My Delight is the Lord, August 23

Where Are You Headed?

August 23, Tuesday: Following God’s Way

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 5:11-6:12

It’s not so much where you are as it is where you are headed. Not that where you are is unimportant, but you can be where you should be, and still be in trouble. As the bit of homespun wisdom goes, you can be on the right track, but you’ll still get run over if you just sit there. Spiritually speaking, too many have just “sat there” after they dried themselves from the water of baptism. This text contains some of the strongest wording in Scripture and it’s all about the failure of Christians to continually grow in the faith. The seriousness of their situation is also seen in other statements; such as warning about neglecting “such a great salvation” (2:3) or guarding against an “evil, unbelieving heart” (3:12) or the danger of “refusing him who is speaking” (12:25).  It’s all connected. If we are “just sitting there” spiritually, we put ourselves in an incredibly precarious position.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is these Christians’ condition described in 5:11?
  • What was their failing? (5:12)
  • What’s the difference between milk and solid food? (v. 12)
  • What makes up the “elementary doctrine” (6:1-2)

The Joy of God’s Presence, August 12

August 12, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Hebrews 13:1-21

One of our challenges as followers of Jesus is not only to accept and believe what He taught and to obey His commands, it’s also to embrace and develop His own priorities and attitudes within ourselves. When the book of Hebrews has reached its end, after having presented in such compelling and enthralling ways the superiority of Jesus, His person, work, position, covenant, etc., it addresses several practical matters of concern. First on the list—and do not miss the importance of the fact that it is first—is to let brotherly love continue. How often, in my own Christian walk, is brotherly love in the front of the line of my own concerns and interests?

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why is hospitality important? (v. 2)
  • Why do you suppose these encouragements needed to be given regarding marriage? (v. 4)
  • From what should our lives be freed? (v. 5)
  • Where should we go and what should we do regarding Jesus? (v. 13)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 16

July 16, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Hebrews 12:1-17

Weary and fainthearted—nobody likes that. We want strength and endurance. We want courage and drive and confidence. But sometimes it just isn’t there. We are tired and discouraged and listless. What’s the remedy? The Bible encourages us to “consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself” for the very purpose that we not grow weary and fainthearted (v. 3). It’s not only what Jesus accomplished, the good He did and the positive impact He had on the world, it is also what He suffered, the shame He endured, and the injustice He bore. These negative experiences and how He met them are to serve as a positive force in our own lives when our faith tends toward weakness and lethargy. His negatives turn into our positives!

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who are the “cloud of witnesses”? (v. 1)
  • To what did Jesus look to be able to endure the cross? (v. 2)
  • If we are God’s sons, what will He do to us? (v. 7)
  • Without what will no one see the Lord? (v. 14)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 9

July 9, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Hebrews 10:1-18

We like to think about the power and perfection of God. His abilities are without limit. Speaking into existence out of nothingness the heavens and the earth far surpasses comprehension and adequate appreciation by man. Such is His power. Just as impressive is that God could not improve in any way or to any degree—not even the slightest. He cannot be stronger, more efficient, more loving, or possess greater knowledge. He is perfect. It is power and perfection that define Jesus’ sacrifice for sin. That single sacrifice is sufficient for every sin of every person throughout all time. It handles them all, from the slightest to the most heinous. By it He is able to fix broken man. “For by a single offering he has perfected for all times those who are being sanctified” (v. 14). Power and perfection.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What could the Law not do? (v. 1)
  • What did the annual sacrifices accomplish? (v. 3)
  • By what “will” have we been sanctified? (v. 10)
  • What is signified by Jesus having “sat down at the right hand of God” (v. 12)

The Joy of God’s Presence, July 2

July 2, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Hebrews 9:1-28

I like Jesus. Many people do. But why? I suppose there could be any number of reasons why a person might like Him. For some it is a matter of status. that is, liking Jesus allows me to fit in to the peer group that I like or want to be part of. For others it’s because they think Jesus is going to fix all their problems, provide for all their requests, and make their lives easier to live. We could go on with this list for some time, but, what about this: Jesus equips and qualifies me to serve God. “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (v. 14). That’s what we’re here for, to serve God, and Jesus makes it so that I can. I like that.

Questions to Ponder:

  • For whom and what did the high priest offer blood? (v. 7)
  • What could the gifts and sacrifices of worship under the old covenant not do? (v. 9)
  • With what did Jesus enter the holy places and what did He secure? (v. 12)
  • For what purpose did Christ appear? (v. 26)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 25

June 25, Thursday: Great Truths

Scripture Reading—Hebrews 8:1-13

The appliance repairman has advised us to never get rid of our washer and dryer. They are quite old. And that’s the key. They were built at a time when the idea was to repair them when something went wrong. That’s not true anymore. It’s called planned or built-in obsolescence. Products are built to have a limited life and when they break, they can’t be fixed so they have to be replaced. That translates, so the theory goes, into another product sale. Maytag and Kenmore didn’t originate this idea, God did. He made a covenant with His people at Sinai—with its attending Law, sacrifices, and priesthood—but never intended for it to stay in force forever. It had built-in obsolescence. Another covenant was necessary to accomplish what the first never could. Simply put, the second included Jesus, the first did not.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who, if he were on earth, would not be a priest at all? (v. 4)
  • Why is Jesus’ covenant “more excellent”? (v. 6)
  • Why was a second covenant necessary? (v. 7)
  • Why will each one not teach his neighbor and brother? (v. 11)

The Joy of God’s Presence, June 24

June 24, Wednesday: Discipleship

Scripture Reading—Hebrews 5:11-6:12

I hate change, but I love change too. Not all change is good, but neither is it all bad. In our present world, it seems that change is the new norm. We should not necessarily interpret the discomfort we feel when change comes our way as a valid reason to oppose it. Some of Scripture’s harshest words directed at Christians are given because of their failure to change. The Hebrews writer is compelled to give a very strong rebuke because his readers were exactly like they had been when they first decided to follow Christ. They were still on a spiritual “milk” diet when they should have moved on to “solid food.” A very necessary change had failed to happen. Some things we ought dare not ever change (Gal. 1:8-9) and some things ought dare not ever stay the same.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is the “this” about which the writer has much to say, but can’t? (5:11)
  • What should these Christians be by this time? (5:12)
  • What is included in the “elementary doctrine of Christ”? (6:1-2)
  • Why is it impossible to restore some fallen Christians to repentance? (6:4-6)