Wednesday, July 18, 2018
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel (Good News) of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand (has come near); repent (turn from sin and turn to God) and believe (faith) in the Gospel (Good News).” Mark 1:14-15, English Standard Version
Most scholars agree that the primary focus of Jesus’ public ministry was proclaiming the Goods News of God and His glorious Kingdom (e.g., see Matthew 4:17, 23; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; Luke 8:1; Acts 1:3). Jesus’ initial public sermon, His teaching in the form of parables, and His miraculous acts revealed the true Kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus primary message encouraged everyone to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God above all else (e.g., see Matthew 6:10, 33). The Kingdom of God is to be treasured and loved beyond all else (e.g., see Matthew 13:44-46, 52). Jesus anointed and sent out His disciples with His power to proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God (e.g., see Matthew 10:7-8; Luke 10:8-9). After Jesus’ death and ascension to heaven, His disciples continued Jesus’ message of announcing the Kingdom of God (e.g., see Acts 8:12; Acts 19:8; Acts 20:25; Acts 26:15-18; Acts 28:23, 31). Jesus taught the Good News of the Kingdom of God must be preached in the whole world to all the nations before the end will come (e.g., see Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:19; Mark 13:10).
The teachings of Jesus are a critical need in the church today. However, throughout church history, the church has somewhat ignored the teaching of Jesus. For instance, the Reformation in the 16th century that began with Martin Luther in Germany focused primarily on the rediscovery of Paul’s teachings that focused on justification (righteousness) by faith alone (e.g., see Romans 1:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:21). John Calvin’s teaching is largely an exposition of Pauline thinking and not the recovery of the teachings of Jesus. Even today in Protestant churches, many churches are governed by a Pauline bias and emphasize the centrality of justification by faith alone. In the Apostles Creed used by many churches, the earthly life of Jesus is given little attention. Significantly, the earthly life of Jesus that compromise His public ministry and His teaching is only briefly mentioned in the Apostles Creed.
Today, there has been a renewed interest in New Testament scholarship on the Jewishness and Jewish background of Jesus (e.g., see John 4:9). In particular, New Testament scholars argue that many people would have recognized Jesus in first-century Palestine as a Jewish Rabbi (e.g., see Mark 10:51; John 3:2). The Gospels support Jesus’ position as a Jewish Rabbi. In the Gospels, Jesus was often called a Rabbi, which means “My Master” or “Teacher” (e.g., see Matthew 9:11; Mark 10:17). In many ways, Jesus functioned as a first-century Jewish rabbi. Both Jesus and other Jewish rabbis taught the Law of Moses to their students (e.g., see Matthew 5:17-48; Matthew 19:16-19; Matthew 22:24-27, 29-31; Mark 7:1-16, 20-23). Unlike the Jewish rabbis, Jesus taught with confident authority and heavenly wisdom, and not as the scribes, who quibbled and quoted others religion scholars and the traditions of the elders (e.g., see Matthew 7:28-29; Matthew 13:54; Mark 1:22; Mark 7:1-23).
Primarily, the four New Testament Gospels revealed the realist and nature of the Kingdom of God. In the Gospels, Jesus described the Kingdom of God as the reign and rule of the living LORD God active NOW for redemption (salvation) among ALL PEOPLE, races, creed, sexuality, and nationalities (e.g., see Luke 4:16-30). The Kingdom of God came into human history through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ to overcome evil, to deliver people from evil’s power, and to bring everyone salvation by faith in Him into the blessings of God’ Kingdom (e.g., see Matthew 4:23-25; Mark 5:1-20). Equally, Jesus’ life and mission also described the future reign and rule of the Kingdom of God, which will appear as an apocalyptic act at the end of the age – Eschaton (e.g., see Matthew 25:31-46). Thus, the Kingdom of God involves two great moments: fulfillment within history through Jesus’s life and ministry and also completion at the end of history when He returns in great power and glory (e.g., Mark 1:15; Mark 13:26). The parables and teaching of Jesus reveal BOTH the present and future nature of the Kingdom of God (e.g., see Matthew 12:28; Matthew 25:31-33; Luke 17:20-21).
Yet, the mere fact that God proposes to bring His Kingdom to all people was no secret nor mystery. The Jewish apocalyptic writings and orthodox Jewish theology reflected that expectation in one form or another of the Kingdom of God (e.g., see Daniel 7:13-14). Many first-century Jews were waiting on the arrival of the Kingdom (e.g., see Luke 2:25, 38; Mark 11:9-10; Mark 15:43). However, Jesus taught a new disclosure or new truth about the Kingdom of God. Jesus declared in His life and mission the Kingdom of God, which is to come finally in apocalyptic power at the end of the age, entered into this human world with His first coming – the Incarnation (e.g., see Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 7:21).
In Jesus’ first public sermon, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Gospel (also known as the Good News) of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel is the Good News of God’s fulfillment of His Old Testament promises to bring His salvation (e.g., Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 52:7). The Gospel is proclaimed by Jesus the Messiah. In a secondary sense, the Gospel is the report about Jesus and God’s work through His Son Jesus to fulfill His Old Testament promises (e.g., Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-3).
Jesus declared, “the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the Good News!” (see Mark 1:15). Numerous biblical scholars have studies Jesus’ initial sermon at Mark 1:14-15 with parallels in Matthew 4:17. Most scholars agree Jesus’ initial sermon launches His public ministry. Importantly, Jesus’ initial sermon gave a simple summary statement of His life and ministry. The life and ministry of Jesus is the proclamation that the KINGDOM OF GOD HAD COME NOW, and He called upon EVERYONE to REPENT (change your life) and BELIEVE in the Gospel message. No one can enter God’s Kingdom unless one accepts and believes in Jesus the Messiah (e.g., see Matthew 21:31; Acts 20:21). Eternal life is virtually synonymous with entering the Kingdom of God and receiving salvation through our faith in God’s Son, Jesus (e.g., see John 3:3, 5, 15-16).
Before Jesus’ summary statement, the Gospel writers revealed a connection and continuity of Jesus’ life to the Old Testament. The Gospel writers connect Jesus’ life and ministry to the visible manifestation of what God promised in the Old Testament with the arrival of John the Baptist. The wonderful story of Jesus the Messiah (Christ) began with the Old Testament promises from God’s prophets (see Mark 1:1-3). In the Old Testament prophetic books of Isaiah and Malachi, God announced that He would send His Son to earth and that a special messenger would arrive first to prepare the world for His great coming (Mark 1:2-3; see also Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 14:33; Luke 1:76-77). This messenger was John the Baptist (Mark 1:3; see also Luke 1:17; 76; Luke 7:26-28; John 1:23). John the Baptist and Jesus were blood-related, as John’s mother Elizabeth was related to Jesus’s mother Mary (see Luke 1:36). Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were sent from the living LORD God as predicted in the Old Testament promises (e.g., 2 Samuel 7:12-16; John 1:6-7; John 3:16, 28; John 5:37; Acts 13:23).
John the Baptist announced a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins to get ready for the Lord Jesus’ arrival with the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:3; see also Matthew 3:2; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24). Repentance means a purposeful decision to turn away from sin and evil and turn to the living LORD God so that God could graciously forgive and release you from sins (Mark 1:4; see also Acts 26:15-18). Essentially, John the Baptist preached a baptism of life change that leads to God’s forgiveness of sins (see also Acts 2:38). Repentance comes before baptism. Thus, baptism was not the means by which sins were forgiven but rather as signs indicating that one had truly repented. Importantly, John the Baptist’s proclamation has a Kingdom message. In John the Baptist’s ministry, the living LORD God was fulfilling His mission for the human race and establishing His reign and rule in creation.
With John the Baptist’s preaching of the coming Kingdom, people from Jerusalem and from all over Judea traveled out into the Judean desert (wastelands) to see and hear John (Mark 1:3, 5; see also Matthew 3:2, 5; Luke 3:7). John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Messiah, and the LORD God was resending His prophetic Spirit after over 400 years of silence. Many people believed in God and confessed their sins and John baptized them in the Jordan River (Mark 1:5; see also Acts 19:18).
The setting of John’s proclamation is the “wilderness” or “desert” (Mark 1:4; see also Matthew 3:1; Luke 3:2). In Jewish thinking, the wilderness remained the reader of Israel’s Old Testament exodus experience during the wandering in the wilderness when Israel refused to trust God at Kadesh-Barnea (e.g., see Numbers 13:1-14:45; Deuteronomy 1:19-46). Israel’s wilderness wandering was not a meaningless time but a time where God’s people were shaped and formed through trial, testing, suffering, and temptations. For many Jews, the wilderness represented a place of danger where demons lived (e.g., see Revelation 12:6). Even during the wilderness wandering, the LORD God continued to reign and rule to the overthrow of evil. Many theologians see John’s wilderness proclamation as God’s new exodus not only for Jews but for all people as He delivers everyone through faith in His Son into His Kingdom.
Also, biblical scholars see a connection with the Old Testament prophet Elijah to John the Baptist. Both John the Baptist and Elijah wore clothes woven from camel’s hair with a leather belt, and they both lived in the wilderness desert (Mark 1:6; see also 1 Kings 17:5; 1 Kings 19:4; 2 Kings 1:8). John the Baptist clearly stated that he was NOT the Messiah, but His duty was to prepare the people for Jesus the Messiah (Mark 1:7; see also Luke 3:15-16; John 1:19-23). With His coming, John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus baptism into God’s Holy Spirit (Mark 1:7-8; see also John 1:33; Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16). John’s baptism in the Jordan River turned one’s old life in for a Kingdom life (e.g., see Mark 1:8; Acts 19:4-6). However, Jesus’ baptism —a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit — changes one from the inside out through faith in Him (e.g., see Mark 1:8; Acts 11:16).
Then, Jesus arrived from Nazareth located in Galilee, and He was baptized by John there in the Jordan River (Mark 1:9 see also Matthew 3:13-17). The moment Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended onto Jesus (Mark 1:10; see also Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34). Truly, the Holy Spirit was upon Jesus as predicted by the Old Testament (e.g., see Isaiah 42:1-4; Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:18; John 3:34; Acts 10:38).
The coming of the Spirit revealed an important Old Testament promise. The Spirit’s coming upon Jesus is a reminder of Old Testament prophecy such as the prophet Joel where the coming of the Messianic age would arrive when God’s Spirit descended onto His people (e.g., see Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 11:18-19; Joel 2:28-32; Luke 24:49). In the Old Testament, the Jews believed that God lifted His Holy Spirit and was not speaking through the prophets because of their rebellion. With the ascent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus, the LORD God filled His Son Jesus with His Holy Spirit power.
Then, the living LORD God’s voice from heaven declared about Jesus, “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11, ESV; see also Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 3:16-17). The LORD God’s declaration commissioned and also affirmed the public ministry of Jesus. At the Transfiguration, LORD God also opened the heavens and reaffirmed His Son Jesus’ commission before His sacrificial death to bring redemption (salvation) to the world (e.g., see Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:7).
Then, immediately the Holy Spirit forcefully thrust Jesus into the wilderness desert (see Mark 1:12). There in the wilderness desert, for forty (40) days, alone except for desert animals, Jesus was subjected to Satan’s temptations to sin (see Mark 1:13). After His temptations, God’s holy angels came and cared for Jesus (see Mark 1:13).
Jesus’ temptation and testing reveals the active powers of Satan to stop and oppose the Kingdom of God (e.g., see Ephesians 2:1-3). Evil exists as an active force that opposes the rule and reign of God’s Kingdom. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, evil repeatedly attempted to stop the Kingdom of God working through Jesus. Jesus’ ministry revealed that He was STRONG, and He came to overthrow evil and evil’s kingdom ruling in the present world (e.g., see Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 5:1-20).
Interestingly, Mark’s account of Jesus’ temptation by Satan is brief. In the parallels of this story, Matthew and Luke’s Gospel fill out the temptation and testing of Jesus in great detail (see Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). For divine necessity, Jesus goes on the turf of Satan. The unknown author of Hebrews declares because Jesus suffered when He was tempted, He helps those who are being tempted and tested by Satan (e.g., see Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15-16). Satan is against everything that is right and good, and he is full of all kinds of deceit, lies, and trickery (e.g., see Acts 13:10).
By divine necessity, God’s Holy Spirit thrust Jesus into the wilderness to go into the habitation (den) of evil and do battle. The Kingdom of God does not come without opposition (e.g., see Matthew 11:12; Luke 11:18-20)! Instead, the rule and reign of God come with effort, pain, suffering, and testing. In this wilderness battle, Jesus proved victorious with the help of God’s holy angels (Mark 1:12-13; see also Matthew 26:53; Luke 22:43). The unknown author of Hebrews declares that God’s holy angels also protect those who are to inherit salvation (see Hebrews 1:14). At the end of the age – the Eschaton, the Lord Jesus will also prove victorious over the forces of evil (e.g., see Revelation 20:7-10).
Then after His victory over evil, Jesus went into Galilee to preach God’s Good News of the Kingdom (Mark 1:14; see also Matthew 4:12, 23). Jesus announced, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15, NKJV; see also Matthew 4:17). Essentially, Jesus’s proclaimed that God's Kingdom was NOW here in His life and mission.
In Mark 1:15, the word “time” in Greek means Kairos. There are two Greek words for time, Kairos and Chronos. Chronos means a length of time like chronology or how much time. Chronos is a quantitative time. However, Kairos is a special, critical, or unique time that requires immediate action or response that cannot wait. According to Jesus, the Kairos requires repentance. Repentance was a turning of one’s life – a changed life. The only response to the dawning of the Kingdom in Jesus was repentance and believe in the Gospel!
From the very beginning, the living LORD God invited everyone – Jews and non-Jews into His Kingdom to become a kingdom of priests for God (e.g., see Exodus 19:5-6). At Mount Sinai, God promised the Israelites that if they would submit and obey His voice and keep His commandments, they would be to Him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6; see also 1 Peter 2:5, 9-12). Interestingly, the book of Revelation identifies faithful believers as “priests of God and of Christ” (e.g., see Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6). These faithful believers submitted to God’s reign and rule and remained faithful to Jesus and did not submit to evil’s temptation for money, fame, and power are thus priests of God and Jesus (see also Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10).
Even more interestingly, Jesus came preaching His first sermon on the Kingdom of God and repentance in Galilee (e.g., see Matthew 4:12-16). In the first-century, Galilee was known as Galilee of the Gentiles, and many Jews considered Galilee as an unclean territory. Jesus began His proclamation that the rule of God was in our midst in Galilee. Although Jesus was Jewish, He wanted EVERYONE to REPENT and BELIEVE (e.g., see also Acts 20:21). Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God transcends prejudices and divisions such as ethnicity, gender, economic, and sexuality barriers and welcomes and loves EVERYONE through faith Him (e.g., see Matthew 21:31; Luke 4:16-30; Galatians 3:26-29; 1 Corinthians 12:13). The Kingdom of God breaks down and destroys the dividing walls that separate the people. Interestingly at the end of the story, Jesus is crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem in a public place, and His charge had to be written in three languages: Aramaic, Latin, and Greek (e.g., see John 19:19-20; Hebrews 13:12). Jesus is universal!
When Jesus announced the Kingdom of God was near, many people were looking for a visible, dramatic, and cataclysmic end of history with heavenly armies arriving and also the restoration of Israel to world dominance. The dominant view of the Kingdom of God in the first-century among the Jews and even the everyday people who were non-Jews was that the Kingdom of God would bring a radical and dramatic inbreaking of God into human history.
Instead of a radical and catalytic inbreaking of the Kingdom of God, Jesus went walking along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and called His first disciples, Peter, Andrew, James, and John (see Mark 1:16-20). Thus, the first-century people saw nothing earthshaking, dramatic, nor cataclysmic with Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom. Amazingly, these fishermen yielded their lives and hearts to the rule of God. For these fishermen, the Kingdom of God did arrive with Jesus!
One of the signs of the presence of the Kingdom of God is that people are set free from evil (e.g., see John 8:31-38). With the acceptance of God and His Kingdom comes full liberation and freedom from sin, sickness, and ignorance (e.g., see Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 10:7-8; Luke 10:8-9). When the Kingdom of God is present, there is deliverance, healing, and restoration (e.g., see Matthew 8:16-17; Mark 1:21-26, 29-34, 39-45; Luke 4:40-41). Our submission to the rule of God brings freedom, healing, and salvation!
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with (patient) endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion who initiates and perfects (matures) our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the Cross, disregarding (ignoring) its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s Throne…. 14 Work (strive) at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 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. Hebrews 12:1-2, 14-15, New Living Translation 2nd Edition
As the book of Hebrews draws to a close, the unknown author of Hebrews gives God’s people some final encouragements and guarantees. God’s people are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have also placed their wholehearted faith in the LORD God Almighty. These heroes of the faith are the men and women listed in Hebrews 11 who have remained faithful to the LORD God Almighty.
Accordingly, the writer of Hebrews instructs God’s people to run and strip off any weight that slows us down or holds us back, especially any sin and unbelief in our lives (Hebrews 12:1; see also Ephesians 4:22-25; Hebrews 13:12). Instead, the writer of Hebrews encourages God’s people to live each day with patience, perseverance, and persistence and run the race God has given us to run with total faith in God (Hebrews 12:1; see also 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:12-14; Hebrews 10:32, 36, 38; James 1:2-3, 12; James 5:10-11). The living LORD God is always faithful and gracious, and He will never leave us and never forsake us (e.g., see Exodus 34:6; Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 121:3-4, 7-8; Psalm 127:1; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Hebrews 6:18; Hebrews 13:5-6).
Most importantly, the writer of Hebrews encourages God’s people ALWAYS to keep our eyes and hearts focused on God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Messiah) (see Hebrews 12:2). The Lord Jesus Christ is our Captain, and He is the Founder and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2; see also Hebrews 2:10). As our example, the writer of Hebrews reminds everyone that the Lord Jesus also endured and lived by faith in His Father the living LORD God Almighty (see Hebrews 12:2). While He walked the earth, the Lord Jesus also suffered and endured many troubles, mistreatment, and even died a shameful death on Calvary’s Cross (Hebrews 12:2; see also Isaiah 53:3, 10-11; Luke 24:26; Acts 2:24; Acts 17:3; Philippians 2:8). Nonetheless, the Lord Jesus knew the coming joy in His Father’s Kingdom awaiting Him and His faithful followers (disciples) who stayed faithful and obedient to Him and His Father, the living LORD God Almighty (Hebrews 12:2; see also Matthew 5:10-12; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 10:32-34; Hebrews 13:14). Besides, even in our deepest pain and hardships, we have never suffered harsh conditions and pain as the Lord Jesus Christ suffered as He died an unfair death on Calvary’s Cross (Hebrews 12:4; e.g., see Mark 15:14-15; Luke 23:4, 14, 22, 40-41).
Moreover, the author of Hebrews reminds God’s people not become discouraged, downcast, and depressed during life’s temporary hardships (Hebrews 12:3, 5; see also Galatians 6:9; 1 Peter 1:6). Sometimes the LORD God as our loving Heavenly Father disciplines, tests, and corrects His people to build and increase our faith, patience, and character and also install morals and integrity in His people (Hebrews 12:5; see also Psalms 94:12; Psalms 119:67, 75; Proverbs 3:11-12; Romans 5:3-5). All people experience suffering, pains, and hardships, even believers in Jesus, because we presently live in a fallen and evil world (see Hebrews 12:8).
As our loving Heavenly Father, the LORD God corrects, trains, and also punishes our sins, foolishness, and wrongs for our good (Hebrews 12:6-8, 10; see also Deuteronomy 8:5; Proverbs 3:11-12; Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 23:13-14; Revelation 3:19). Our loving Heavenly Father trains and disciplines His children, so they can grow and participate in His holy nature and also produce good fruit and godly lives (Hebrews 12:8-11; see also Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Peter 1:4). No discipline from our loving Heavenly Father is enjoyable but painful and hurts (see Hebrews 12:11). But afterward, God’s people receive from Him a growth in goodness, faith, and righteousness as well as conformity to God’s will and divine nature (Hebrews 12:11; see also Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:7).
Thus, the author of Hebrews encouraged God’s people to CHEER UP and REJOICE in the LORD God despite any temporary troubles, suffering, and pains (Hebrews 12:12-13; see also Isaiah 35:3; Matthew 5:12; Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:4). Instead of becoming bitter and pessimistic, the author of Hebrews encourages God’s people to seek peace, goodness, and live holy lives (Hebrews 12:14-15; Hebrews 13:15-16; e.g., see also Psalm 34:14; Matthew 5:8-9; Romans 14:19; Colossians 3:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Peter 3:10-11).
During times of troubles and hardships, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God and give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:15-16; see also Ephesians 5:19-21). The Lord Jesus taught during His public ministry no one will see His Father and Father’s glorious Kingdom without seeking peace, goodness, and holiness (Matthew 5:8-9; see also Micah 6:6-8; Romans 6:22; Hebrews 12:10, 14). Sadly, our grumbling, sinful behavior, sexual immorality (fornication), and bitterness cause even more problems and hurt our spiritual lives with God (Hebrews 12:15-16; e.g., see also Genesis 25:29-34; Deuteronomy 29:18). If such evils do occur, immediately repent and seek the LORD God, who forgives our wickedness and sinfulness (e.g., see 1 John 1:9). The face and favor the LORD God is against those who pursue and do evil (e.g., see Psalm 34:15-16; 1 Peter 3:12). However, those who honor and seek the LORD God and His righteousness lack no good thing (e.g., see Psalm 23:1; Psalm 34:9-10; Psalm 84:11; Matthew 5:6; Matthew 6:33).
Therefore, the writer of Hebrews encourages God’s people PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP but continue to love and trust in the LORD God and do good in the world (Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 10:39; Hebrews 13:16; see also 2 Corinthians 4:1, 16)! Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day (see 2 Corinthians 4:16). Best of all, believers of Jesus have the living LORD God Almighty and His Spirit to help and comfort us during times of weakness, struggles, and hardships (e.g., see Romans 8:26; 2 Corinthians 1:4).
Even more, the living LORD God Almighty works everything, including our suffering and troubles, for our good as we continually love and trust in Him (e.g., see Romans 8:28). In these temporary troubles, the LORD God is achieving for believers of Jesus an eternal and lasting glory that far outweighs momentary difficulties (e.g., see Psalm 30:5; Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17; 1 Peter 5:10). Therefore, look up and fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on the unseen LORD God Almighty and His Son Jesus, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (Hebrews 11:1; see also e.g., 2 Corinthians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 5:7). The LORD God's grace will sustain and strengthen His people through any temporary training and troubles (e.g., see Isaiah 43:2; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 2 Timothy 3:10-12).
Finally, the author of Hebrews reminds believers of Jesus that they are receiving from the LORD God Almighty entrance into His glorious Kingdom NOW and at the end of the age (the Eschaton) if we do not lose our faith and turn back into sin and unbelief (Hebrews 12:22-23, 28-29; see also Daniel 2:44; Colossians 1:23). Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus and enter the Kingdom of God NOW and at the end of the age will experience persecution, hardship, and suffering (e.g., see John 15:20; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12). But take heart because the Lord Jesus has overcome the world (e.g., see John 16:33). Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we are more than conquerors (e.g., see Romans 8:35, 37).
The writer of Hebrews reminds everyone that the living LORD God Almighty brings ALL PEOPLE through faith in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah) into a new and lasting covenant relationship with Him (Hebrews 12:24; see also Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 13:20). Moreover, our continual and wholehearted faith in Jesus gives believers entrance into the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the gathering of countless happy angels (Hebrews 12:22, 25; see also John 14:1-3). The church, which was created and headed by the Lord Jesus Christ, is now the children and true people of God (Hebrews 12:23-24; see also e.g., John 1:12-13; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18, 24). Everyone who believes and obeys Jesus and His message and repented of their sins are the “true Israel” and “true people of God” – whether Jewish or non-Jewish (Gentile) (e.g., see Mark 3:33-35; Luke 8:21; Romans 2:28-29; Ephesians 2:19-20). After the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, the Kingdom of God became available through the indwelling Spirit of God (see John 14:16-18). The Apostle Paul wrote to believers of Jesus Christ that the “Kingdom of God … [is] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17). To the Colossians, the Apostle Paul assured the church, who have never seen Jesus Christ, that they have been “delivered from the dominion of darkness and transferred … into the Kingdom” of Christ (see Colossians 1:13).
Therefore, the writer of Hebrews encourages believers to obey and seek the living LORD God Almighty by worshipping and obeying Him with reverence, goodness, and awe (Hebrews 12:28; see also Hebrews 13:15-16). Truly, the living LORD God is a jealous God and consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29; see also Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 4:24; Psalm 97:3). Even more, the living LORD God Almighty will give His comfort, relief, and blessing to those who remained loyal and obedient to Him (e.g., see 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7). But the living LORD God Almighty will eternally punish those who do not worship and obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus (e.g., see 2 Thessalonians 1:8). Therefore, the author of Hebrews encourages ALL PEOPLE to endure hardship, to keep on patiently doing God’s goodness, and NEVER turn away from faithfully following and loving the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:36, 38; see also Romans 2:7). Everyone who endures and remains faithful to the Lord Jesus to the end shall be saved and enter the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 10:39; see also e.g., Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:19; James 5:11; Hebrews 3:6).
In the grand chapter of Hebrews 11, the Old Testament heroes lived and also look forward to the Kingdom of God (see Hebrews 11:10; see also Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22; Hebrews 13:14; Revelation 21:2, 10, 14). These Old Testament men and women of God were Kingdom people, and they knew even better rewards were prepared for them in God’s Kingdom (see Hebrews 11:16, 39-40).
The writer of Hebrews minds believers of Jesus that these Old Testament heroes of God also suffered persecution, hardships, and many trials while on earth (Hebrews 11:35-38 see also Genesis 39:20; 1 Samuel 22:1; 1 Kings 18:4, 13; 1 Kings 19:4, 9-10; 1 Kings 21:13; 1 Kings 22:27; 2 Kings 1:8; 2 Chronicles 24:20-21; Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 26:23; Jeremiah 37:15). These great Old Testament heroes persevered, endured, and continually looked by faith and trust to the eternal yet invisible LORD God Almighty and their heavenly home (Hebrews 11:10, 27; see also Acts 7:55-56; Romans 1:20; 1 Timothy 1:17). Most important, these Old Testament heroes never compromised their allegiance and faith in the LORD God (see Hebrews 11:1-40). These faithful men and women of God were looking forward to their real home in heaven – the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 11:14; see also Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 2:19). These faithful men and women of God saw God’s glorious Kingdom including Jesus Christ awaiting them in the distance and were glad (Hebrews 11:13, 26; see also Matthew 13:17; Luke 10:24; John 8:56; Acts 7:52; 1 Peter 1:10-12).
20 Now may the God of peace — who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with His blood — 21 may He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! AMEN. Hebrews 13:20-21, New Living Translation 2nd Edition
Friday, June 22, 2018
1 Faith is the confidence (conviction, sureness, belief) that what we hope for (expectation, optimism) will actually happen; it gives us assurance (guarantee) about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation (testimony). 3 By faith we understand that the entire universe (worlds) was formed at God’s command (Word), that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen…. 6 And it is impossible to please (and be satisfactory to) God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. Hebrews 11:1-3, 6, New Living Translation 2nd Edition
In the great chapter of Hebrews 11, the unknown author of Hebrews gives an Old Testament history lesson on faith in the living LORD God and His Son, Jesus the Messiah (Christ) (see Hebrews 11:1-40). Then in chapter 12, the author of Hebrews encourages all believers to keep their hearts and minds on Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2). By faith, the writer of Hebrews declares that the universe, worlds, the ages, the stars, and all living things were made by the invisible yet eternal LORD God Almighty’s Word (Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 11:3; see also Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6, 9; John 1:3; Romans 4:17; 2 Peter 3:5).
No one can please and become satisfactory to the living LORD God Almighty, who is the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, without our wholehearted and open faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6; see also 1 Kings 8:61; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith in the living LORD God of glory also means faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus of glory (e.g., see John 12:44; John 14:1). The living LORD God and His Son Jesus are ONE (e.g., see John 10:30, 38; John 12:45; John 14:9-11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). The Lord Jesus Christ came from His Father, the true and living God of heaven and earth (e.g. see, John 1:1, 14, 18; John 17:3). Our faith must ONLY be in the living LORD God Almighty and His Son, who created the heavens and earth (e.g., see Acts 17:24-28; Colossians 1:15-20). Anyone who wants to come to the only true and living God must wholeheartedly believe that there is ONE God and believe He generously rewards those who love and seek Him, obey His commands, and do what is right, fair, and good (Hebrews 11:6; see also Deuteronomy 6:4-6; 1 Chronicles 28:7-9; 2 Chronicles 15:2; Micah 6:6-8; Zephaniah 2:3; 1 John 3:5-6; 3 John 1:11). The LORD God is pleased with our goodness, honesty, and blamelessness lives (e.g. see Genesis 17:1; 1 Chronicles 29:17-19).
What is faith? According to Hebrews 11, faith is the confident assurance and expectation that something we want is going to happen (see Hebrews 11:1). Even more, faith is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead (Hebrews 11:1; see also Romans 8:24). Essentially, faith combines both assurance and anticipation. Nevertheless, faith is NOT selfish ambition, “me first,” nor self-serving, but God-centered and others-centered (e.g. see Romans 10:10; 1 Corinthians 13:2).
Hebrews 11 summarizes the lives and labors of those great men and women of faith found in the Old Testament. By faith, the author of Hebrews notes these great heroes of the Old Testament gained approval from the living LORD God (see Hebrews 11:2). Their faith in the LORD God Almighty distinguished these Old Testament heroes above the crowd (see Hebrews 11:2). Amazingly, all these men and women of God shared these common characteristics: courage, obedience, goodness, allegiance, faithfulness, and dependence only on the LORD God and His mighty power (Hebrews 11:2, 4, 39; see also e.g., Genesis 6:9, 22; Genesis 17:1; Exodus 40:16; Deuteronomy 18:13)!
First of all, by faith and trust, Abel obeyed the living LORD God of glory and brought an offering that pleased God more than Cain’s offering (Hebrews 11:4; see also Genesis 4:4-8; Proverbs 15:8). Cain and Abel were brothers born of Adam and Eve (see Genesis 4:1-2). The Holy Scriptures teaches that Abel lived righteously and good before the living God and shun evil while his brother Cain lived unrighteous and followed the evil one (Hebrews 11:4; see also Genesis 4:7; Matthew 23:35; 1 John 3:12). Because of Cain’s evil ways, Cain murdered his brother Abel (see Genesis 4:8).
Also, Enoch trusted and lived in ways that pleased the living LORD God Almighty (see Hebrews 11:5). The Holy Scriptures teaches that Enoch walked faithfully with the living LORD God of heaven and earth and lived a life of goodness and righteousness, which pleased God (see Genesis 5:21-24). Because of Enoch’s goodness and righteousness, the LORD God took Enoch away to heaven without dying (Hebrews 11:5; see also Genesis 5:24). Similarly, the living LORD took his faithful prophet Elijah to heaven without seeing death (see 2 Kings 2:11). Amazingly, the Lord Jesus Christ promised that His faithful servants who obeyed His commands would also not see eternal death (e.g., see John 5:24; John 8:51; John 11:26; Hebrews 2:9).
Noah was another person who lived by faith and obedience in the living LORD God (Hebrews 11:7; see also Genesis 6:13-22). The Holy Scriptures teaches that Noah was a righteous man and the only blameless person living on earth at that time (e.g., see Genesis 6:9; 2 Peter 2:5). Noah walked in close fellowship with the living LORD God, despite all the corruption, injustice, and violence rampant in his world (e.g., see Genesis 6:9, 11-13; Genesis 7:1; 1 Peter 3:20). Because of the world’s corruption and violence, the LORD God decided to destroy the world with devastating floods (e.g., see Genesis 6:17; Genesis 7:4; 2 Peter 2:5). When Noah heard God’s warning about the future, Noah believed the LORD God Almighty and did all that God commanded him even though there was no evidence nor sign of a coming flood (Hebrews 11:7; see also Genesis 6:13, 17, 22; Genesis 7:5, 9, 16). Wasting no time, Noah built the ark and saved his family from death and destruction (Hebrews 11:7; see also Genesis 6:14-16).
Noah’s faith in God was in direct contrast to the sin, corruption and disbelief of the rest of the world (Hebrews 11:7; see also Genesis 6:11-13). The rest of the world refused to obey the living LORD God Almighty and was destroyed by the disastrous floods (Hebrews 11:7; see also 2 Peter 3:5-6). Because of Noah’s faith and obedience to the living LORD God Almighty, Noah became one of those whom God accepted (Hebrews 11:7; see also Genesis 6:17). Even more, the LORD God entered into a lasting covenant with Noah – the Noahic covenant – to never again destroy the world by flooding (see Genesis 6:18; Genesis 9:9-16). Truly, the living LORD God protects His honest, blameless, and righteous people from eternal destruction (e.g., see Psalm 15:1-5; Psalm 37:37-40).
Interestingly, the Lord Jesus used Noah’s story to warn people to be ready for His return at the coming end of the age – the Eschaton (see Matthew 24:36-42). The Lord Jesus taught that His return will be like Noah’s day (see Matthew 24:37). In Noah’s days before the great flood, the people were enjoying banquets, parties, and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat with his family and the animals (see Matthew 24:38; Luke 17:26). Jesus declared that the people did not realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away (see Genesis 7:7-23; Matthew 24:39; Luke 17:27). Similarly, Jesus declared His return would also occur while the people are enjoying banquets, parties, and weddings (see Matthew 24:39). Jesus warned EVERYONE to live good, righteous, and blameless lives because His return would come without warning and when least expected (see Matthew 24:40-48).
Abraham also lived by faith in the living God (see Hebrews 11:8-12). The LORD God Almighty appeared to Abraham when he was seventy-five years old and instructed Abraham to leave his homeland of Ur of the Chaldeans, which was beyond the Euphrates River or the Mesopotamian region, to go to Canaan, a land that He promised to give Abraham as an inheritance (Hebrews 11:8; see also Genesis 11:31; Genesis 12:1-4, 7; Genesis 15:7; Joshua 24:2; Acts 7:2-4). Abraham obeyed God’s voice, and he went to the distant land even though he did not know where he was going (Hebrews 11:8; see also Joshua 24:3; Nehemiah 9:7).
When Abraham reached God’s promised land, Abraham lived in tents like a mere alien or foreigner as did his sons, Isaac and Jacob (Hebrews 11:9; see also Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:3, 8; Genesis 18:1, 9; Acts 7:5-6). The living LORD God Almighty also gave Abraham’s sons Isaac and Jacob the same promise He gave His servant Abraham (Hebrews 11:9; see also Genesis 13:14-17; Genesis 17:19; Genesis 22:17; Genesis 26:24; Genesis 28:12-16). As a history lesson, Abraham became the father of Isaac, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob (later renamed Israel) became father of the twelve patriarchs (the twelve tribes of Israel) (see Genesis 21:2-4; Genesis 25:26; Genesis 29:31-35; Genesis 30:5-24; Genesis 35:18, 23-26; Acts 7:8).
While living, Abraham nor his sons Isaac and Jacob receive their promised inheritance of Canaan, the promised land (Hebrews 11:9; see also Acts 7:5). Yet, God promised to give the promised land to Abraham’s descendant (see Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:8). Abraham obeyed God’s voice and accepted His promises, and the living God declared Abraham righteous (see Genesis 15:1-6; Habakkuk 2:2-4; Romans 1:16-17). The Holy Scriptures teaches that Abraham was confidently waiting for the heavenly city – Mount Zion or the heavenly Jerusalem – that real foundations was planned and built by the LORD God Almighty (Hebrews 11:10; see also Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22; Hebrews 13:14; Revelation 21:2, 10, 14). Even more, Abraham with jubilant faith looked down the corridors of history and saw the coming Messiah and cheered (see John 8:56).
Abraham’s wife Sarah also had faith in the living LORD God Almighty (see Hebrews 11:11). By faith in the living LORD God Almighty, Sarah received power to conceive a child, despite her old age and her previous barrenness (Hebrews 11:11; see also Genesis 11:30; Genesis 18:11-14). Abraham was also old (Hebrews 11:12; see also Genesis 17:17; Romans 4:19). Against all hope, Abraham and Sarah by faith believed in the LORD God Almighty (e.g., see Romans 4:13, 18, 21). Abraham and Sarah never wavered in believing God’s promise, but their faith grew stronger, and in this they brought glory to God (see Romans 4:20). Both Abraham and Sarah realized that the LORD God Almighty, who gave them His promise, would certainly do what He said (Hebrews 11:9, 12; see also Genesis 21:2; Romans 4:21). Nothing is too hard for the LORD God Almighty, and He is faithful to keep all His promises (e.g., see Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Hebrews 10:23).
Because of Abraham and Sarah’s faith and hope in the living LORD God Almighty, a whole nation came from Abraham and Sarah (Hebrews 11:12; see also Genesis 17:4-6; Romans 4:18-19). This nation from Abraham and Sarah now has so many millions of people that, like the stars of the sky and the sand on the ocean shores, there is no way to count them (Hebrews 11:12; see also Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17). Through faith in the living God’s Son Jesus Christ, all believers are grafted into the family of God and become descendants of Abraham (e.g., see John 1:12-13; Romans 4:11, 16; Galatians 3:14, 28-29).
Moreover, the author of Hebrews teaches that Abraham and Sarah trusted in the LORD God Almighty and His promises even during times of persecution and testing (Hebrews 11:17; see also Genesis 22:1-10). While God was testing him, Abraham was willing to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice (Hebrews 11:17; see also James 2:21). Through Isaac, the living God had promised to give Abraham a whole nation of descendants (Hebrews 11:18; see also Romans 9:7). Abraham believed that if Isaac died the LORD God Almighty God would resurrect Isaac back to life (Hebrews 11:19; see also Romans 4:16-21). Because Abraham’s obedience to God’s voice and righteous commands, the living LORD God declared Abraham righteous and promised to bless Abraham and his descendants (see Genesis 22:9-10, 12, 15-18; Genesis 26:5). Yet, the living God also chose our father Abraham so that Abraham will direct his descendants to obey Him and to keep His righteous ways by doing what is right and just (see Genesis 18:18-19; Luke 3:8; John 8:39). Truly, faith in the living God requires a continual obedience to the LORD God Almighty, which ultimately leads to God’s blessings and favor (e.g., see Psalm 119:1-3; Proverbs 11:20)!
By faith, Abraham’s son Isaac believed that the living God would give future blessings to his two sons, Jacob and Esau (Hebrews 11:20; see also Genesis 27:26-40). When Jacob was old and dying, Jacob blessed each of Joseph’s two sons Manasseh and Ephraim as he stood and prayed, leaning on the top of his cane (Hebrews 11:21; see also Genesis 48:1, 5, 16, 20). Amazingly by faith, Jacob’s son Joseph, as he neared the end of his life, looked ahead and confidently spoke of the LORD God Almighty bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt (Hebrews 11:22; see also Genesis 50:24-25; Exodus 13:19). Joseph was so sure that the LORD God Almighty would redeem and save God’s people in the future that he made God’s people promise to carry his bones with them when they entered God’s promised land (Hebrews 11:22; see also Joshua 24:32).
Next, the author of Hebrews teaches the great story of Moses and the Exodus. As the LORD God Almighty previously promised Abraham, Abraham’s descendant grew and multiplied. While living in Egypt, the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong and mighty, so that the land of Egypt was filled with Abraham’s descendants (Exodus 1:7, 9, 20; see also Genesis 12:2; Deuteronomy 26:5; Acts 7:17). Then, the evil Egyptians gave an order to kill the Israelites baby boys at birth to stop God’s multiplication of the Israelite people (Exodus 1:15-16, 22; see also Acts 7:18-19).
However, Moses and his family had faith in the LORD God Almighty of heaven and earth (see Hebrews 11:23). Moses’ parents disobeyed the evil Egyptian’s order to kill Jewish baby boys and remained faithful to the living LORD God and His people (Hebrews 11:23; see also Exodus 1:15-16, 22; Acts 7:19). The Holy Scriptures teaches that Moses’ parents knew their son was no ordinary child, and they protected their beautiful son Moses for three months from the evil Egyptians (Hebrews 11:23; see also Exodus 2:2-3; Acts 7:20). By God’s grace and sovereignty, Moses’ sister Miriam delivered Moses to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted Moses, yet Moses’ mother cared for Moses while Moses lived in Pharaoh’s household (Exodus 2:3-10; see also Acts 7:21-22). Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in both his words and deeds (see Acts 7:22). By faith, Moses grew older, and he refused to be treated as the grandson of the Egyptian king (Hebrews 11:24; see also Exodus 2:10-12). Instead, Moses remained faithful to the living LORD God Almighty and God’s people (see Hebrews 11:25).
For Moses faithfulness to the living LORD God, Moses was appointed by the LORD God Almighty ruler and savior of His people Israel (see Acts 7:35). The LORD God performed many wonders and miraculous signs through Moses and Moses led Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years (e.g. see, Exodus 11:10; Exodus 12:41; Exodus 14:21, 27-31; Exodus 33:1; Acts 7:36). Importantly, Moses received from the LORD God of Hosts at Mount Sinai the life-giving words (oracles) to give Israel and the world (see Exodus 19:3-6, 17-18; Deuteronomy 32:47; John 1:17; Romans 3:2; Acts 7:38, 53; Hebrews 4:12).
Amazingly, the writer of Hebrews noted that Moses saw the LORD God’s coming Messiah (Christ) (see Hebrews 11:26). Moses prophesied the coming Jesus as the Great Prophet and Savior whom the LORD God would speak through (see Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19; Matthew 17:5; Acts 3:22-23, 26; Acts 7:37). Because Moses foresaw the coming Christ, Moses believed it was far better to suffer for the promised Messiah (Christ) than to own all the treasures of Egypt (Hebrews 11:26; see also Luke 14:33; Philippians 3:7-8). As with other faithful servants of the living God, Moses was looking forward to the LORD God’s great rewards in His Son Jesus the Messiah (Hebrews 11:6, 26; see also Matthew 6:33; Hebrews 10:35).
Because Moses trusted in the LORD God Almighty, Moses left Egypt and sought the living LORD God Almighty (Hebrews 11:27; see also Amos 5:4-6). The writer of Hebrews notes that Moses sought the LORD God Almighty, though invisible, as if God was right in front of him (Hebrews 11:13, 27; see also 1 Timothy 1:17). Because Moses believed God would save His people, Moses instructed Israel to kill a lamb and sprinkle the blood on the doorposts of their homes so that God’s terrible Angel of Death could not touch but Passover the oldest child in those homes (Hebrews 11:28; see also Exodus 12:21-30). Even more, Moses instructed God’s people Israel to trust in the LORD God Almighty, and the living God protected His people from the dangerous Red Sea as though they were on the dry ground (Hebrews 11:29; see also Exodus 14:21-30).
Moreover, the writer of Hebrews notes that by faith in the LORD God Almighty the Israelites destroyed the walls of Jericho after they walked around the Jericho walls seven days as God had commanded (Hebrews 11:30; see also Joshua 6:15-16, 20). By faith, Rahab believed and obeyed the LORD God Almighty, and the LORD God protected her and her family from destruction (Hebrews 11:31 see also Joshua 6:23-25; James 2:25). However, the writer of Hebrews noted that the disobedient and unbelieving were destroyed (see Hebrews 11:31). Rahab kindly welcomed God’s people into her home and gave God’s people the Israelites shelter (see Joshua 2:1, 8-13).
In summary, the author of Hebrews noted there were many other faithful servants of God, such as Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and all the other great prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, and Daniel (Hebrews 11:32; e.g., see Judges 4:6; Judges 6:11; Judges 13:24; Judges 11:1; 1 Samuel 1:20; 1 Samuel 16:1, 13). These faithful servants obeyed and trusted in the living LORD God Almighty and His power and as a result they won battles, conquered kingdoms, ruled their people well, escaped death by the sword, shut the mouths of lions, overcame sickness, defeated their enemies, and raised the dead to life (Hebrews 11:33-35 see also e.g., see Judges 14:5-6; 1 Samuel 17:34-37, 45-47, 50-51; 2 Samuel 5:17-20; 2 Samuel 8:1-6; 2 Samuel 12:29; 1 Kings 17:22; 2 Kings 4:35; Daniel 3:23-25; Daniel 6:22).
Yet, the author of Hebrews also noted that some of God’s faithful servants were tortured, beaten to death, and unjustly imprisoned, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection and life with the God of glory (see Hebrews 11:35). Even more, the author of Hebrews stated that some of God’s faithful servants were laughed at, their backs cut open with whips, chained in dungeons, stoned to death, wandered over deserts and mountains, lived in caves, went hungry, suffered mistreatment, and sawed in two (Hebrews 11:36-38 see also Genesis 39:20; 1 Samuel 22:1; 1 Kings 18:4, 13; 1 Kings 19:4, 9-10; 1 Kings 21:13; 1 Kings 22:27; 2 Kings 1:8; 2 Chronicles 24:20-21; Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 26:23; Jeremiah 37:15).
The author of Hebrews proclaims that the world was not worthy of these faithful and obedient servants of God (see Hebrews 11:38). These faithful servants of God sought justice and performed acts of righteousness in the world (Hebrews 11:33; e.g., see 1 Samuel 12:3-4; 2 Samuel 8:15). Even more, these faithful servants of God endured mistreatment rather than give into sin, evil, and wickedness (see Hebrews 11:25, 37). Most important, these faithful servants of God continually trusted and obeyed the living LORD God of glory and His righteous commands (see Hebrews 11:37). Even in their weaknesses, these servants of God were made strong by their faith in the LORD God Almighty (see Hebrews 11:34). Because of their continual faith in God, these faithful servants gained God’s approval (see Hebrews 11:2, 39).
Nevertheless, none of these faithful men and women received all that God had promised them for they all knew even better rewards were prepared for them in God’s Kingdom (see Hebrews 11:16, 39-40). These great men and women of faith listed in Hebrews 11 died without ever receiving all in hand that God had promised them, but they continued to believe in the LORD God Almighty (Hebrews 11:2, 13, 39; see also Acts 7:4-5). These faithful men and women of God saw God’s promises including Jesus Christ awaiting them in the distance and were glad (Hebrews 11:13; see also Acts 7:52). The Holy Scriptures teaches that our father Abraham, the prophet Moses, and many other great prophets and righteous servants of the Old Testament saw in a distance the coming Messiah (e.g., see Matthew 13:17; Luke 10:24; John 8:56; Hebrews 11:26; 1 Peter 1:10-12). These great Old Testament heroes persevered, endured, and continually looked by faith and trust to the eternal yet invisible LORD God Almighty and their heavenly home (Hebrews 11:10, 27; see also Acts 7:55-56; Romans 1:20; 1 Timothy 1:17).
Even more, these faithful men and women of God all knew that this earth was not their real home, but that they were only aliens, exiles, and foreigners here on earth (Hebrews 11:13; see also 1 Peter 2:11). These faithful men and women of God were looking forward to their real home in heaven – the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 11:14; see also Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 2:19). Thus, these faithful men and women of God did not focus on the temporary pleasures of this world, but they placed their whole hearts, desires, and minds towards the heavenly Kingdom, where the living LORD God had made a heavenly home and serving others (Hebrews 11:10, 15-16; see also Ecclesiastes 5:10-11; Matthew 6:33; Matthew 13:4-7, 18-22; Matthew 25:34; John 14:1-3; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 18; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17). Similarly, the Apostle Paul also instructed believers of Jesus to stay focus continually on heaven while doing everything on earth for God’s glory and honor (e.g., see 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:1-2, 17).
Therefore, the author of Hebrews reminds believers of Jesus we are never alone, but we are surrounded by a huge crowd of faithful servants of God (Hebrews 12:1 see also Hebrews 11:1-40). Consequently, the writer of Hebrews encourages all God’s people to continually live by faith in the LORD God and His power and continually turn away from sinfulness, evil, and selfishness (Hebrews 12:1 see also Romans 13:12; Ephesians 4:22). Even more, the writer of Hebrews encourages God’s people to endure any hardships and trials and run with endurance and perseverance the race God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1 see also John 16:31-33; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 10:36).
Most importantly, the author of Hebrews encourages all believers of Jesus to stay faithful and keep our eyes and hearts on the LORD God and His Son, the Lord Jesus of glory (Hebrews 12:2 see also Psalm 25:15). When we take our hearts and eyes off the Lord Jesus of glory and focus on our surrounding problems, we will sink and fell (e.g., see Matthew 14:28-31). The Lord Jesus Christ is the Source, Completer, and Perfecter of our great faith (Hebrews 12:2 see also Hebrews 2:10). Therefore, we must ALWAYS live by trusting and looking upon the Lord Jesus and not by the stressful circumstances surrounding us here on earth (e.g. see, 2 Corinthians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 5:7).
Even more, the Lord Jesus is our example in suffering. Because of the heavenly joy awaiting Him in His Father’s Kingdom, the Lord Jesus courageously endured hatred, persecutions, and misfortunes and continually trusted in His Father and His Father’s power (Hebrews 12:2-3 see also Isaiah 53:3, 11; Luke 24:26; Philippians 2:8-9; Hebrews 2:9). Most important, Jesus kept His eyes and heart on His Father’s Kingdom (see Hebrews 12:2). Now, the Lord Jesus is living in His Father’s glorious heavenly Kingdom at His Father’s right hand (Hebrews 12:3; see also Mark 16:19; Acts 7:55-56; Hebrews 1:3).
Therefore, the author of Hebrews encourages all believers of Jesus not to become weary but continually do what is right and good in the world for God’s glory and honor (Hebrews 12:3 see also Matthew 10:22; 1 Corinthians 10:30; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:13)! IF WE LOOK TO JESUS, YOU WILL WIN (see Hebrews 13:5)!
Saturday, June 9, 2018
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By His death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place…. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate (stir up, stimulate, promote) one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near…. 35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurances is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised. Hebrews 10:19-20, 24-25, 35-36, New Living Translation 2nd Edition
The unknown author of Hebrews encourages everyone to always love, hope in, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:23, 35-36; see also e.g., Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; Hebrews 6:11-12; Hebrews 12:14-17). The Lord Jesus Christ gives all people through faith in Him and His sacrificial blood salvation (redemption, recovery, and restoration), God’s heavenly rewards, and a better way of life now and for eternity (Hebrews 5:9; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:35-36; see also Mark 10:29-31; Titus 2:14). Wholehearted faith and obedience in the Lord Jesus Christ transforms and cleanses our lives and hearts by the life-giving Holy Spirit and make us ALL NEW with a willing and obedient heart for Jesus’ Father, the living LORD God of heaven and earth (Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:16, 22; see also John 3:3-8; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 1:7).
The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth the first time – First Coming or Advent – to establish a new covenant relationship between the living LORD God and humanity by giving EVERYONE (Jews and Gentiles) through faith in Him all God’s rewards (graces) and to deliver (free) us from evil and the power of sin by His sacrificial death on Calvary’s Cross (Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 8:6, 8-12; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 10:5-7, 15-18, 35; Hebrews 12:24; see also Jeremiah 31:31-33; Matthew 1:21; Matthew 26:28; John 1:14, 16; Luke 22:20; John 8:36; 1 John 3:5). At His First Coming to earth – the Incarnation, the Lord Jesus Christ willingly gave His sinless life and precious blood as a final and complete sacrifice to His Father, the living LORD God of heaven and earth, to expiate and atone for all our sins (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12, 26, 28; Hebrews 10:12, 14, 17-18; see also Isaiah 53:12; Mark 10:45; Romans 3:24-25; Romans 5:6; 1 Peter 3:18; Revelation 5:9). Through our faith and obedience in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been forgiven, being made holy (sanctification), and adopted into Almighty God’s eternal Kingdom (Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 10:10, 14, 29; Hebrews 13:12; see also Luke 8:21; John 1:12-13; John 17:19).
Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death cancelled the Old Testament sacrifice system contained in the ceremonial law but NOT God’s moral law (e.g., the Ten Commandments) (see Hebrews 8:13; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 10:9). As to God’s moral law, the living LORD God has now placed His moral law in our hearts by the Holy Spirit when we trusted and believed in His Son Jesus Christ, which means the “Anointed One” or “Messiah” (Hebrews 8:8-12; Hebrews 10:16; see also Jeremiah 31:31-34; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 John 2:27). Our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ permanently removes ALL our sins and transforms our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit for God’s glory (see Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:17-18). Even more, the Lord Jesus Christ anoints faithful believers in Him with God’s Holy Spirit to teach believers God’s truths and obedience (e.g., see John 14:26; 1 John 2:20-25, 27).
Because of the Lord Jesus Christ’s final and complete blood sacrifices for our sins, believers in Him have access and may walk into His Father’s Presence and find the living LORD God’s mercy and grace in the time of need (Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:19; see also Ephesians 2:15-16, 18; Ephesians 3:12). At the Lord Jesus’ death, the massive thick curtain in the Temple was ripped in two that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (see Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). The Lord Jesus Christ gives ALL BELIEVERS IN HIM a new and life-giving way into the very Presence of the living LORD God of heaven and earth with His sacrificial death on Calvary’s Cross (Hebrews 10:20; see also John 10:9; John 14:6). As our GREAT High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ now rules over the living LORD God’s household – the true people of God, the Church (Hebrews 10:21; see also Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 4:14). Therefore, faithful and obedient believers of the Lord Jesus Christ can come into His Father’s Presence because we believers have been made clean, washed, and made holy by Jesus’ blood and the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:22; see also 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5).
In response for all the Lord Jesus Christ has done for believers, the unknown author of Hebrews encourages believers to be filled with good deeds and continually love and encourage to one another (Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 10:24-25; Hebrews 13:1; see also Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14; Titus 3:8). The Lord Jesus Christ’s clearest command to His people was to love one another (e.g., see Matthew 22:34-40; John 13:34-35) because our sincere love for one another reveals our genuine love for God (e.g., see Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Peter 3:8; 1 John 3:10; 1 John 4:7, 20-21). Even more, the writer of Hebrews encourages believers not neglect our church meetings and regular attendance as the Lord Jesus Christ’s return draws closer with each passing day (Hebrews 10:25, 37; see also Acts 2:42).
Most importantly, the writer of Hebrews encourages everyone not to continue the life of intentional and deliberate sin and disobedience (see Hebrews 10:26). Our continual and deliberate sinfulness blasphemes and saddens the living LORD God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit and cuts off such person from God’s Presence and grace (Hebrews 10:29; see also e.g., Numbers 15:30-31; Proverbs 13:13; Proverbs 19:16; Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit brings God’s grace and mercy to His people (see Hebrews 10:29). Our deliberate and intentional sinfulness trample underfoot the Son of God and treated His cleansing blood as though it were common and unhallowed (see Hebrews 10:29). The Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins and freed us from the power of the evil one (e.g., see Romans 3:24-25; Romans 4:25; Romans 5:6, 8; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 2:2). Through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have been given a salvation, God’s graces, and a foretaste of heaven by the Holy Spirit (e.g. see Hebrews 6:5).
For if we deliberately sin after receiving the truth about Jesus Christ and a holy life, there no longer remains a sacrifice for your sins and the only thing left is doomed to the blackest darkness with fire and God’s wrath (Hebrews 10:26-27; see also Ezekiel 18:24; Matthew 12:45; Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:17, 20-22). Even worse, our continued and deliberate sinfulness rejects the Lord Jesus Christ and His final sacrifice for your sins and re-crucifies Christ to Calvary’s Cross (e.g., see Hebrews 6:6). Remember, it is sin to know you ought to do right and then not do good but evil (e.g., see Luke 12:47-48; John 9:41; James 4:17). To deliberately reject God’s goodness and grace, grieves God’s Holy Spirit and leaves nothing but God’s wrath and punishments (Hebrews 6:8; Hebrews 10:26-27, 29-31; see also Romans 11:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Truly, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living LORD God (see Hebrews 10:31).
Therefore, the author of Hebrews encouraged everyone to faithfully love and worship the Lord Jesus Christ and never to forget His loving sacrifices for our sins, even during times of intense suffering and persecution (see Hebrews 10:32-35). Truly, the living LORD God Almighty brings His blessings and graces now and for eternity for faithful and obedient believers in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:34-35; see also Matthew 5:12; Revelation 21:1-22:21). The author of Hebrews encouraged believers of Jesus to endure hardship, to keep on patiently doing God’s goodwill, and NEVER turn away from faithfully following and loving the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:36, 38; see also Romans 2:7). Everyone who endures and remains faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ to the end shall be saved and gain life (Hebrews 10:39; see also e.g., Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:19; James 5:11; Hebrews 3:6). Through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been made righteous and saved in the living LORD God’s eyes (Hebrews 10:38-39; see also Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:30). The living LORD God takes now pleasure in those who shrink back and turn away from His Son Jesus (see Hebrews 10:38).
With each passing day, the Lord Jesus Christ’s coming draws closer (see Hebrews 10:37). At His Second Coming – Parousia, the Lord Jesus Christ will not come to deal again with our sins but to bring His eternal salvation and inheritance to everyone who patiently endured trials and faithfully obeyed Him (Hebrews 9:28; see also Titus 2:13). With all confidence and assurance, the Lord Jesus Christ will return in His Father’s glory with His holy angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done – good and bad (e.g., see Daniel 7:10, 13; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:30; John 14:3; Acts 1:11; Jude 1:14; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 22:7, 12, 20). The living LORD God has appointed everyone to die once, and after our death ALL PEOPLE must face the living God and His Son Jesus in final judgment (Hebrews 9:27; see also 2 Corinthians 5:10).
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Monday, May 28, 2018
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…. 24 But because Jesus lives forever, His Priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore He (Jesus) is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede (petition, mediate) with God on their behalf. 26 He is the kind of High Priest we need because He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. 27 Unlike those other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They (other high priests) did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when He offered Himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. 28 The Law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the Law was given, God appointed His Son with an oath, and His Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever. Hebrews 7:16, 24-28, New Living Translation 2nd Edition
In Hebrews chapters 7 through 10, the unknown author of Hebrews explains why Jesus is BETTER than the Old Testament priesthood and Old Testament system of gifts and sacrifices. The Lord Jesus’ coming brought a BETTER or new covenant relationship between His Father, the living LORD God of heaven and earth, and ALL PEOPLE (e.g., see Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 8:13). During His public ministry, the Lord Jesus announced His coming to earth was NOT to destroy nor cancel the Law of Moses and the Prophets but to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17; see also Luke 24:25-27, 44-47; Romans 3:31). The Lord Jesus proclaimed like His Father the living LORD God that until heaven and earth pass away the Law and the Prophets will continue until the Law and the Prophets’ purposes are achieved and fulfilled at His Second Coming – Eschaton or End of the Age (Matthew 5:18; see also Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8; Isaiah 55:11; Luke 16:17).
With the Lord Jesus’ first coming, the living LORD God appointed His Son our only perfect and eternal High Priest (Hebrews 7:15-16; see also Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 7:11, 15, 17, 21, 24, 26; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 9:11). As our GREAT High Priest, the resurrected Jesus lives and reigns FOREVER (Hebrews 7:17, 20-21, 24-25, 28, see also Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6, 10; Hebrews 6:20; 1 Peter 2:22). Now, the old system of priesthood based on the Levitical family lines with its various gifts and sacrifices have been set aside and canceled by the living LORD God because of His Son Jesus appointment as High Priest and Jesus’ final sacrifice to save the world from sin (Hebrews 7:11, 18, 25, 27; see also Romans 7:4-6; Romans 10:4; 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Galatians 3:23-25; Hebrews 10:9-10).
Sadly, the old system did not work to remove our sins and declare us right with God permanently (Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 9:9; see also Romans 3:20; Hebrews 10:11). This old priesthood system with its gifts and sacrifices were weak, powerless, and faulty for permanently saving and removing people’s sins (Hebrews 7:11-12, 18; Hebrews 8:7; see also Romans 8:3). Even more, the old priesthood system with its gifts and sacrifices never made anyone permanently right and reconciled with God (Hebrews 7:18-19; see also Galatians 2:16; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:1).
Under the old system, the sacrifices and gifts only temporarily cleansed the people’s sins (see Hebrews 9:13; Hebrews 10:4; e.g., see, Leviticus 16:14-16; Numbers 19:2, 17-18). Under the old covenant, the priest stood and ministered before the living LORD God day after day, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices again and again, which were powerless and weak to took away one’s sins and bring permanent forgiveness (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:1, 4, 11; see also Micah 6:6-7; Romans 8:3; Hebrews 5:1; Hebrews 9:9). Essentially, the old priesthood and sacrificial system were only a copy, shadow, and a foretaste of the BETTER things to come with our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 10:1; see also Exodus 25:40; Colossians 2:17).
However, the living LORD God has provided a far BETTER hope, BETTER promises (covenant), and BETTER Priesthood through His Son Jesus (Hebrews 7:19, 22, 28; see also Hebrews 8:6). First of all, the Lord Jesus Christ makes EVERYONE acceptable, perfect, and righteous with His Father, the living LORD God, through faith in Him (Hebrews 7:19; see also Romans 3:24, 28; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:5, 8-9). Through our faith in Jesus, ANYONE, not just priests, can now draw near to the living LORD God of heaven and earth and find God’s grace and mercy (Hebrews 7:19, 25; see also John 14:6; Hebrews 4:16).
Best of all, the resurrected Jesus Christ saves completely, permanently, once and forever, ALL who repent and come to His Father, the living LORD God, through wholehearted faith in Him (Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 10:12; see also Luke 24:47; John 14:6; Acts 2:38; Acts 5:31; Acts 13:38-39). Truly, salvation is found in no one else other than Jesus our Lord and Savior (e.g., see Matthew 1:21; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Acts 10:43)! Essentially, the Lord Jesus became the Source of salvation now and for all eternity for EVERYONE who REPENT and TURN AWAY from sin and TRUST and OBEY Him (Hebrews 5:9; see also Acts 20:21, 24; Acts 26:15-18, 20, Romans 6:1-2, 11, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:34; Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 2:24). Even more, the Lord Jesus assures all believers (disciples) who call on His Name in REPENTANCE and OBEDIENCE permanent forgiveness of sins with His Father, the living God (e.g., see Luke 8:21; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; Acts 4:12; Acts 5:31; Acts 10:34-35; 43; Acts 13:38-39). Through our continual faith and obedience, Jesus Christ gives EVERYONE salvation FOREVER (e.g., see Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12). As God who became flesh – Divine, the Lord Jesus guarantees our forgiveness, reconciliation, and acceptance with His Father, the living God, when we trust and believe in Him (e.g., see John 1:1-2, 4, 12-13, 14; John 3:15-17, 36; John 14:6; Acts 10:43).
The Lord Jesus our Savior died and gave His life for ALL PEOPLE to bring God’s salvation (restoration, redemption, and renewal) both now and for eternity for all who believe and trust in Him (e.g., see Matthew 20:28; Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 17-18; Hebrews 9:28). The living LORD God of heaven and earth was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and no longer counting people’s sins against them through faith in His Son (e.g., see 2 Corinthians 5:19). The living LORD God made His Son Jesus, who never sinned, to become our perfect sacrifice and offering for our sins, so that we could be made right with Him through our faith in His Son Jesus (e.g., see Romans 8:3; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:5).
Therefore, the Lord Jesus is exactly the kind of High Priest ALL PEOPLE need (see Hebrews 7:26). The Lord Jesus is holy, pure, and blameless, and unstained by sin and sinners (Hebrews 7:26, 28; see also Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22). Consequently, the living LORD God has given His Son, the resurrected Jesus, the place of highest honor in heaven (Hebrews 7:26; see also Hebrews 4:14).
As the sinless sacrifice, the Lord Jesus never needs to offer the daily blood of animal sacrifices, as other priests did, to cover over first their own sins and then the sins of the people (Hebrews 7:27; see also Hebrews 5:3). Under the old system, the Law appointed high priests who were limited by human weaknesses and sins, and these men could not keep themselves from doing sin and wrong (Hebrews 7:28; see also Hebrews 5:2). The resurrected Jesus finished and ended all such sacrifices, once and for all, when He entered the heavenly Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) and sacrificed Himself for our sins and the sins of the whole world once and forever (Hebrews 7:27; see also John 1:29; Hebrews 9:12, 28; 1 Peter 2:24). The Lord Jesus as our High Priest offered Himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time (see Hebrews 10:12, 14). Through our faith in the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice, we as believers are declared holy (sanctified), righteous, and perfect in His Father’s eyes (Hebrews 5:9; Hebrews 10:10, 14; see also e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Because Jesus died once for all, He brought the priesthood and sacrificial system to an end (e.g., see Hebrews 7:18-19). Through His sacrificial death, Jesus brought in a better covenant – new covenant – for the permanent forgiveness of sins (e.g., see Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20).
However, the living LORD God has appointed His Son Jesus, who is perfect and sinless, as our GREAT High Priest FOREVER (Hebrews 5:5-6, 9-10; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:17, 21, 24; 28; see also Psalm 2:7; Psalm 110:4). At His resurrection from complete death on Easter, the Lord Jesus ascended to the great and perfect Tabernacle in heaven to become our High Priest at the throne of grace FOREVER (e.g., see Isaiah 9:7; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 7:21, 28; Hebrews 9:11). Since the resurrected Jesus lives forever, He is always at His Father’s right hand making continual intercessions before His Father for us and to remind His Father the living God that He has paid for our sins with His precious blood (Hebrews 7:25; see also Mark 16:19; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:1). No Old Testament priest ministered to God forever because each priest died and surrendered the office to his successor (e.g., see Hebrews 7:23-24). However, the Lord Jesus did not appoint Himself as High Priest, but He was appointed by His Father, the living LORD God of heaven and earth – Yahweh – by His oath (Hebrews 7:17, 21, 28; see also Hebrews 5:5-6, 9-10).
In summary and to make clear why Jesus is BETTER, the writer of Hebrews explains that the resurrected Jesus Christ is our GREAT High Priest (Hebrews 8:1; see also Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 3:1). The resurrected Jesus lives in heaven at the place of greatest and highest honor at the right hand of His Majestic Father, the living LORD God – Yahweh (Hebrews 8:1; see also Mark 16:19; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). In heaven, the resurrected Jesus ministers, petitions, and intercedes for faithful believers to His Father in the heavenly Tabernacle (Hebrews 8:2; see also Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 9:24). The heavenly Tabernacle is the true place of worship built by the Lord and not by human hands (Hebrews 8:2; see also Exodus 33:7; Hebrews 9:11).
And since every high priest of God is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices, the resurrected Jesus must make an offering too (Hebrews 8:3; see also Hebrews 5:1). The sacrifice of the resurrected Jesus offers far BETTER than those provided by the earthly priests (see Hebrews 8:4). With His own blood — not the blood of goats and calves, the Lord Jesus entered the Most Holy Place in the heavenly Tabernacle once for all time and secured all faithful believers’ redemption, righteousness, and deliverance not temporarily as the old system but FOREVER (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:11, 24; Hebrews 10:10; see also Acts 20:28; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 6:20). The Lord Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection purchased our salvation FOREVER (e.g., see Romans 5:6, 8; Galatians 2:20). For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Jesus Christ offered Himself to His Father the living LORD God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins once and for all (Hebrews 9:14; see also Ephesians 5:2).
Importantly, the living LORD God has given His Son the resurrected Jesus a BETTER and new covenant (testament, agreement, or promises) that He makes available to ALL PEOPLE through faith in His Son Jesus (Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 8:6; see also Luke 22:20). This new covenant contains BETTER and more wonderful promises than the old covenant that is mediated by the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 8:6, 8, 13; Hebrews 9:15; see also 1 Timothy 2:5). The new covenant with the living LORD God mediated by His Son Jesus is not a covenant of written laws, but of the eternal Holy Spirit that brings our new life and righteousness (Hebrews 8:8, 13; e.g., see Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 3:3-8, 15-17, 36; John 6:63; Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6, 8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Through our faith in Jesus, the transforming ministry of the Holy Spirit writes God’s laws in our minds and hearts and gives us new desires and help want to obey the LORD God (Hebrews 8:10; see also Philippians 2:12-13). Under God's new covenant, the living LORD God’s eternal Law is written on our minds and hearts by His Holy Spirit and no longer on external wooden tablets (Hebrews 8:10-11; see also Jeremiah 31:31-34). Now, the Holy Spirit activates our internal hearts, minds, and motives that not only makes us want to obey God but HELPS us to obey God and His righteous laws. Even more, under the new covenant, the living God promises to be merciful and permanently forgive our wrongdoings and remember our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12; see also Hebrews 10:17)!
In the first covenant (Old Testament) between God and His people, there were rules, ordinances, and regulations for worship and there was a sacred Tent (also called Tabernacle) down here on earth where the living God dwelt amongst His people (Hebrews 9:1; see also Exodus 25:8). The living LORD God instructed His servant Moses on Mount Sinai to designed and construct the earthly Tabernacle exactly as the heavenly Tabernacle (Hebrews 8:2, 5; see also e.g., Exodus 25:8-9, 40; Exodus 26:30; Exodus 27:8; Exodus 39:32, 42-43; Numbers 8:4; Acts 7:44). The sacred Tent was later replaced by the Temple built by Solomon (First Temple) (see 1 Kings 5:1-9:10; 2 Chronicles 2-7). Then Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians (see 2 Kings 25:817), and then the Jews returning from Babylonian exile rebuilt the Jerusalem Temple (Second Temple) (see Ezra 6:14-16).
Inside the Tabernacle and later the Temple, there were two rooms separated by large and heavy curtains that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 9:2; see also Exodus 26:1, 33). The first one room was called the Holy Place (sanctuary), and the Holy Place contained the golden candlestick and a table with special loaves of holy bread upon this table (see Hebrews 9:2). Then, there was a curtain, and behind the second large and heavy curtain was a room called the Holy of Holies – the Most Holy Place, Holiest of all (Hebrews 9:3; see also Exodus 26:31-33; Exodus 40:3, 21). Inside the Holy of Holies, there were a golden incense-altar and the golden chest, called the Ark of the Covenant (Hebrews 9:4; see also Exodus 26:31-33; Exodus 40:3, 21; Revelation 11:19).
The Ark of the Covenant was completely covered on all sides with pure gold (Hebrews 9:4; see also Exodus 25:10-22; Exodus 30:1-5). Inside the Ark of the Covenant was the tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments of God, a golden jar with some manna (heavenly bread), and Aaron’s wooden cane that budded in the wilderness (Hebrews 9:4; see also Exodus 16:33-34; Exodus 25:16, 21; Exodus 40:20; Numbers 17:10-11; Deuteronomy 10:2, 5; 1 Kings 8:9, 21; 2 Chronicles 5:10). Above the Ark of Covenant were statues of angels called the cherubim (Hebrews 9:5; see also Exodus 25:17-19). The cherubim were the guardians of God’s glory, and their wings stretched out over the Ark’s golden cover, which is called the mercy seat (Hebrews 9:5; see also Exodus 25:18-22; Leviticus 16:2; 1 Kings 8:6-7).
Every year, the earthly priests went in and out of the first room without restrictions to perform their daily ministerial duties (Hebrews 9:6; e.g., see, Numbers 18:2-6; Numbers 28:3). However, only the high priest went inside the second inner room, the Holy of Holies and only one time a year on the Day of Atonement (Hebrews 9:7; see also Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:15, 34; Hebrews 10:3). On the Day of Atonement, only the high priest entered the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9:7; see also Leviticus 16:11-19). The high priest always entered the Holy of Holies with blood that he sprinkled on the mercy seat as an offering to God to cover his own mistakes and sins and the errors and unintentional sins of the people (Hebrews 9:7; see also Hebrews 5:2-3).
Under the old covenant system, the common people could never go into the Holy of Holies (see Hebrews 9:8). Also, under the old covenant system, the priests and the people offered their gifts and sacrifices to God, but these gifts and sacrifices never cleansed the people’s hearts (Hebrews 9:9; see also Hebrews 7:19). Moreover, the old system dealt only with various external rituals, ceremonies, and food restrictions (Hebrews 9:10; see also Leviticus 11).
However, the resurrected Jesus has now come as our GREAT High Priest with a good and better system (Hebrews 9:11; see also Hebrews 2:17). The resurrected Jesus went into that perfect heavenly Tabernacle not made with human hands (Hebrews 9:11; see also John 2:19). Inside the heavenly Tabernacle, the resurrected Jesus has provided a final sacrifice – His body – inside the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the mercy seat with His own blood (Hebrews 9:12, 24, 26, 28; see also Hebrews 7:27). With His own blood, the resurrected Jesus obtained believers’ eternal redemption (salvation) FOREVER (Hebrews 9:12; see also Romans 3:25).
As mentioned earlier in the old system, only the high priest could “draw near” to God, and that only once a year when he entered the curtained-off Most Holy Place (Hebrews 9:7; see also Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:11-19, 34; Hebrews 10:3). However, the Lord Jesus entered that inner room on our behalf (see Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 9:11). Before ascending into the heavens, the Lord Jesus destroyed the veil or curtain that separated humanity from the living God and brought humanities’ peace and reconciliation with God through faith in Him (Hebrews 10:19-22; see also Romans 5:1-2). At Lord Jesus’ death, the massive thick curtain in the Temple was ripped in two that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (see Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). The unknown author of Hebrews looked on the miraculously torn curtain in the Temple as symbolic representing EVERYONE’S immediate free access to the living LORD God made possible by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross (Hebrews 9:11-10:22; see also Ephesians 2:15-16, 18). Therefore, EVERYONE can enter the Most Holy Place by our faith in the blood of Jesus, who has opened for ALL BELIEVERS a new and living way to His Father, the living LORD God of heaven and earth (see Hebrews 10:19-20).
Sadly, under the old system, the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of young cows could only temporarily cleanse a person’s body from sin (Hebrews 9:13; see also Hebrews 10:4). However, the sacrificial blood of the resurrected Jesus permanently cleanses our sins (Hebrews 9:14; see also Ephesians 5:2; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 3:18)!
Disciple's Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1988).
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).