The Book

Hebrews 10:7
“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God. ’”

Years ago I had a friend who worked in a local book store. Part of his job was to be familiar with the books so he could answer questions and make recommendations. The problem was he really did not enjoy reading. His solution was to read the book jackets which often gave a brief summary of the content of each book. While that did not make him an expert by any means, it did give him a good idea of what to expect if and when he ever ventured into reading one of the books. If the Bible contained an inspired summary of its content it would be but one word: Jesus.

John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”

While the Bible touches on, and even addresses, a wide variety of topics, it is primarily a book about salvation. The Old Testament is filled with promises of a savior coming to provide atonement for sin, and the New Testament tells the story of the Savior. The more you know the pages of your Bible, the more you will know Jesus. He is found on every page and in every story. Sometimes He is the main character of the event, other times He may rest in the shadows in the form of a type or illustration, but He is always is there. As you read the Word, be careful to observe the context so as not to make the Bible say something it does not mean, but also be careful to look for Jesus.

As you continue through Hebrews, keep in mind one of the key themes of this letter is that Jesus is better. That is why He is being contrasted with the Old Testament laws, covenant, priesthood and sacrifices. They all served the purpose of pointing to Christ, He serves the purpose of fulfilling the Law and sacrifices. As a result, we no longer live under them, but live in a relationship of grace.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Jeremiah 19- Shards Of Clay
Jeremiah 20- Get The Word Out

The Tabernacle

Hebrews 9:23
“Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”

Hebrews is dealing with the superiority of Christ. Here in Chapter 9, we see Christ is clearly superior to the Old Testament sacrifices, for they must be offered continually, but He was offered once to take away sin. We are even told, while it is appointed for all men to die once, then to face judgment, Jesus took the penalty on the cross, rescuing all who believe in Him from the judgment to come.

In discussing the superiority of Christ, the furnishings of the Tabernacle are listed; we are told they are “copies of heavenly things.” In fact, the Tabernacle and it’s furnishings, become a perfect illustration of the way of salvation. In Exodus, as the Children of Israel are working their way from Egypt to Canaan, God gave them plans for building the Tabernacle. This building would serve the purpose of making a way for man to be in right relationship with God.

The Tabernacle measured 15’x15’x45′ and was surrounded by a linen fence. Linen is not a durable fencing material. It is safe to say, none of our houses are surrounded by linen fences. The purpose of this fence was to symbolize the holiness of God, reminding the people they could not have access to God. However, on the eastern side of the fence, was an opening large enough for all to enter. Jesus told us, He was the doorway to heaven (John 10:7). Although God is holy and men are sinful, Jesus has provided a way, for any and all who will come to Him, to be forgiven and restored.

Once a person walked through the gateway, they would be face to face with the altar of sacrifice. This would remind them they are sinners in need a Savior. Just as the innocent animal was sacrificed for the guilty sinner, so Jesus, the Lamb of God, went to the cross to make a way for us. Right behind the altar was a large basin in which the priests would wash. Paul compared the Bible to water that washes the believer. Jesus told us that after He has cleansed us, we still need to have our feet washed (John 13:10a). The Word of God is the Christian’s cleansing agent. As we walk through this life, we get dirty, the Bible cleanses our mind and refreshes our spirit.

Inside the Tabernacle were five important pieces of furniture, each one symbolic of relationship with God. The Lamp-stand shedding its light, was symbolic of the work of the Spirit illuminating the Word, and was of God. The show bread speaks of Jesus as the bread of life, the incense altar is a picture of the prayers of the saints, and the Ark and mercy-seat, of the intimacy of relationship with God.

It can be helpful to use the Tabernacle as a roadmap, reminding us of our relationship with God that we now have because of the work of Christ. The High Priest, who alone entered in behind the veil once a year, speaks to us of the access we now have daily, to the very presence of God. Let’s take advantage and spend time with Jesus today.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Jeremiah 17- Bedrock To Build On
Jeremiah 18- Not Listening

The Main Thing

Hebrews 8:1
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, . . .”

Under the Levitical priesthood, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies bringing atonement to the Lord on behalf of the people. His job was basically to represent the people to the Lord, and the Lord to the people. If memory serves me, I believe the Latin word for high priest means “bridge builder.” The role of the priest was to make a way for man to be right with God. Hebrews 8 reminds us, Christ is our High Priest and having made a way for us to be right with God, He is in heaven representing us to the Father.

As the High priest’s garments were stained red with the blood of the sacrifice, so Christ bears the scars of the cross, as a reminder of the atonement provided at Calvary. When we sin and the devil brings charges against us, our High Priest bridges the gap, perhaps by showing His scarred hands and feet, declaring that the price has been paid, and forgiveness is given.

When we are facing trials, obstacles or temptations, and it looks as though we may fail under the pressure of the test, our High Priest stands in the gap and prays for us. Like Aaron and Hur holding up the hands of Moses, Jesus holds up our hands that hang down and strengthens our feeble knees. It is His constant prayer and encouragement that enables us to press through the trials and onward with the Lord.

With eyes of love, our High Priest watches our every move. Not because He is hoping we will fail and He might rebuke, correct, and chasten us, but because He loves us as a father loves his son. There is never a moment when we are beyond His gaze. In one of the most magnificent promises in the Bible, we are told He sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17). Imagine the throne room of God, where the songs of the saints accompany the angelic choruses giving praise to Jehovah God. Then a voice rises high above all others and begins to sing a love song, and you are the subject of His song.

It is no wonder the writer of Hebrews declares that this is a better covenant.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Jeremiah 15- Wrong Way
Jeremiah 16- Welcome Home

The Encounter

Hebrews 7:1
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, . . .”

Abraham and his nephew, Lot, experienced great blessings from the Lord. When they first arrived in Canaan they had very little, but as the years passed, they acquired great wealth. As nomadic farmers, great success meant an increase in livestock and increased livestock meant a need for larger pasture lands. Soon their wealth became so great they were forced to separate. Abraham chose to continue to live the simple life of a farmer, while Lot left the family business and began to dwell with his family in the city of Sodom. Sodom, and her sister city Gomorrah, was known for the wickedness that was practiced within the city walls. The king of Sodom had been conquered by Chedorlaomer, a powerful king of Mesopotamia, and along with other kings, paid annual tribute to keep from being attacked. A group of these cities including Sodom, elected to stop paying tribute and stand their ground. Soon, Chedorlaomer and his forces attacked the rebel cities and overthrew them. As the saying goes, “to the victor goes the spoils”, and Lot, along with the inhabitants of Sodom and all their wealth was taken captive. When news of this reached Abraham, he gathered his servants, other shepherds and farmers, and they went in pursuit of Chedorlaomer and his army. Overtaking them in the night, Abe and his men were able to do what the armies had failed to do, they miraculously conquered the enemy forces, and rescued the captives.

It was on the return from this great battle that Abraham met Melchizedek, king of ancient Jerusalem. Weary from battle, and perhaps somewhat frightened at the idea of the retaliation that may arise from Chederloamar’s troops, Abraham has one of the most interesting encounters of his life. We are told Melchizedek meets him with bread, wine and a blessing. The writer of Hebrews tells us Melchizedek is a type of Christ, and his actions illustrate the work of Christ. As the weary warrior is ministered to by bread and wine from Melchizedek, so the Christian is strengthened for future battle at the communion table. It was the night before His death when Jesus took bread and wine and instituted the sacrament of communion. He told us that as often as we want, we can partake of these elements and remember the work of the cross. My sins broke His body, and His blood cleanses me of my sins.

No matter what struggles, battles, or obstacles you may be facing, the secret to your success is found at the cross. Take some time today to reflect upon all that Jesus has done for you at Mount Calvary, and there at His feet, pour out your heart to Him.

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Jeremiah 13- It’s Ruined
Jeremiah 14- Wanderer

Falling

Hebrews 6:4-6
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”

When Jesus was in the wilderness he faced three severe temptations from the devil. Through His experience we learn a lot about how the devil seeks to trip up the Christian. One of his most effective tools is to twist the Scriptures into saying something they do not mean. This passage in Hebrews carries a very strong warning to all concerning the danger of falling away from the Lord. But the devil has used it to fill numerous Christians with fear over their past failures, or current struggles. Let’s take a minute or two to examine its content.

First, notice the text is clearly describing a believer. The person being warned is one who has been enlightened, has tasted the heavenly gift, and been a partaker of the Holy Spirit. The words enlighten and partake are used elsewhere in Hebrews referring to believers. To “fall away” is an idiom used to speak of returning to the sins from which we have been delivered. Earlier in the chapter we were told one of the elementary principles of Christianity is repentance, or turning from our sins to follow Christ. The person described here has turned from Christ and gone back into sin. Finally, notice the word “impossible”. It is a compound word, meaning able with a negative prefix. It means there is no way for something to be accomplished. it does not mean that it is unlikely, or difficult, but that a person who goes back to sin cannot return again to the Lord.

As I mentioned, this is both a strong warning, as well as a text that the devil has used to beat down the struggling believer. On many occasions, I have been approached by believers who had once walked with the Lord, only to backslide for long periods of time. They have now come back to the Lord, but come across this verse and begin to doubt their salvation. I think the key to this text is the word “impossible”. It is employed because of the gripping nature of sin, and the deceitfulness of the human heart. Falling away is not something that happens suddenly; but something that is the result of neglecting the Word, prayer, fellowship, and service. It is something caused by sowing little seeds of sin over a long period of time. When we first begin the downward slide, the Spirit of God speaks to us, warning us, and convicting us. It is only when we ignore the warnings and harden ourselves against conviction, that we can continue to sin. The problem with hardening our hearts, is that our hearts become hard. Soon, we cannot hear the voice of God, or sense the conviction of the Spirit. We have seared our conscience with an iron, and the voice of God is lost to us. At that point, even when confronted directly by others, we are so hardened, we keep going on in sin, unwilling to listen or repent. For that person, renewal is impossible. Before fear strikes you, keep in mind, it is not the only thing that is impossible.

Jesus said it is impossible for the rich to be saved because they trust in riches, yet many wealthy men and women have laid down their riches to trust in Christ alone. Salvation itself is impossible. There is no way sinful man could ever be restored to fellowship with a holy God. But Jesus reminded us that,

“The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27

While it is true, sin will harden our hearts; we are capable of becoming so hardened we will not listen to the conviction of the Spirit, the warnings of the Word, or the pleas of others. It is also true, the Bible is filled with stories of those who have fallen into sin and returned. One of the most well-known of all the parables Jesus told, is the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24). It is the story of falling away and returning. It is so well-known because it strikes a chord in all of us. We might go so far as to say, the whole Bible is the story of falling away and returning.

If we are to properly apply this text, we must take serious the warning against sin. We must examine ourselves to see if we have been hardening ourselves against the warnings of God, and we must repent. If we have returned to the Lord, we must accept the grace of God and not think we are destined to live as second class Christians, unable to ever truly experience His grace or be used by God.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Jeremiah 11- Should I Follow My Heart?
Jeremiah 12-Do The Wicked Prosper?

The Call Of God

Hebrews 5:1
For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.”

Hebrews 5:4
“And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.”

The purpose in referring to the old testament priesthood was to show that the ministry of Jesus is far superior to their ministry. However, by bringing these verses to our attention the text gives some key insights into serving the Lord. There are four words in these two verses that are worthy of our consideration. We are told the priests were “taken” and “appointed.” This means they were chosen out of the tribe of Levi, and the family of Aaron, and set apart for the service of God. Next we are told their service was an “honor” and a “calling.” No one could step into this service apart from the sons of Aaron. It was the highest of all callings and carried with it the greatest honor.

I think in some ways we have lost sight of the call of God. It seems to me many of us have a “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to serving the Lord. We may sense that God is stirring us to get involved in serving in one capacity or another only to put it off because we think we are not qualified, it is not important, or we will one day get around to it. We need to have a better understanding of the call of God.

Notice we are told, “no man takes this honor unto himself”. When it comes to Christian service the sovereignty of God plays a critical role. In the Priesthood it was God who selected the family of Aaron from the tribe of Levi. When it comes to New Testament ministry we are told the Holy Spirit gives us gifts “individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11 KJV). Those gifts are given so ministry might be accomplished. When you sense a stirring within you to get involved in service recognize that as the high call of God.

When this life comes to its end we will care very little about the time we kept for ourselves but we will revel in the time given to the Lord, in the service of others.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Jeremiah 9- Crime And Punishment 
Jeremiah 10- Navigation

Throne Of Grace

Hebrews 4:16
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

It seems the Apostle Thomas sometimes spoke what the others were thinking. On one occasion, when Jesus spoke of where He was going, Thomas replied, “Lord we don’t know where You are going or how to get there” (John 14:5). To which Jesus stated, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:6). It was through the cross that Jesus made a way. On the cross He bore our sins and their penalty, opening a doorway, for any and all who trust in Christ, to have access to God. That access to God has two applications. First, when we die, we attain heaven. Jesus was declaring, as emphatically as possible, that heaven is awarded to those, and only those, who trust Christ for salvation. This is not the only time this truth is declared.

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”

Acts 4:12 “Nor is their salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

But there is a second application this doorway into heaven provides. Hebrews 4 states, while we live, we have access to the throne of God. For the Christian, this is not a throne of judgment, where we are penalized for the things we have done wrong, or things we have neglected to do. Instead, it is a throne of grace, where we are able to receive from God the things that we need while here on earth. The word grace speaks of the giving nature of God. Because of His love for us, and our relationship with Him, He desires to give good things to His children. He will not hold back anything from us that would help us to become more like Him, or assist us in making it to the end of our journey and enter glory. Notice, at the throne of grace, we receive two things. First, there is mercy provided for the failures of the past. Second, there is grace given to help us not fall into those same snares in the future.

The way has been made to a throne of magnificent grace. All that remains is that we come boldly, consistently, and expectantly. I want to encourage you to take some time right now to sit before the Throne of Grace, pouring out your heart and receiving mercy and grace to help.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Jeremiah 7- Should I Pray?
Jeremiah 8- Perpetual