We’re not sure who the author of Hebrews is but there is no doubt about the fact that it’s inspired by God. It’s a brilliant letter, a masterpiece that presents the unparalleled greatness of Jesus and the superiority of the new covenant.
The writer begins with the fact that Jesus is God’s final Word to mankind. Since the beginning of time God spoke through the various prophets, but now in these last days He’s spoken through His Son (keep in mind the entire NT is somehow connected to an Apostle of Christ). I like the way C.H. Spurgeon worded it, “Other men had the threads of truth; but Christ took the threads, and wove them into a glorious robe, put it on, and came forth clothed with every truth of God.”
God the Father has given us the final Word through God the Son – Jesus is the heir of all things, the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person. Jesus holds everything up and together – He’s the One who purged us from our sins and then sat down (meaning He finished the work) and He just happens to be seated at the right hand of the Father.
Some are gravely mistaken in thinking that Jesus is a mere angel; the writer goes on to show us from the Scriptures that Jesus is not an angel, He’s infinitely superior.
Jesus is God’s Son, Jesus is to be worshipped by the angels, Jesus is called God by the Father with an eternal throne, and Jesus is called LORD (the quote from Psalm 102:25-27 in context is a reference to Jehovah God).
The angels, on the contrary, are ministering spirits, created by God and sent forth, not to save us, but to serve God by helping us in our Christian life.
Since this Word (the New Testament) is the final Word, spoken through God’s only Son, we must give even more earnest heed…lest we drift away. And that is what this letter is all about, trying to prevent these believers from drawing back (Hebrews 10:38). The Hebrews we’re drifting away, they were going back to Judaism because they were being persecuted.
Over the past 30 years I’ve seen so many who used to come to church service, they used to serve, even preach and teach, who are no longer walking with God…this can happen through mere neglect (3). Drifting usually happens gradually – not suddenly.
Like the Galatians, these Hebrews were turning away from Jesus (Galatians 1:6) and it’s for that reason the writer goes on to present Jesus and His absolute superiority.
Jesus humbled Himself (Philippians 2:6-8) and was made a little lower than the angels while here on earth, to be tempted as we are and to die for our sins, but don’t let that mask His absolute greatness and future reign as the King of kings. One day all things will be in subjection to Him, we don’t see it yet, but the day is coming – why would anyone leave the Lord?
In v. 10 we even see that Jesus becomes the perfect Savior through suffering and when we’re born-again we become His brothers and sisters. All this was prophesied in the Old Testament. As our brother He came to die and in doing so He has defeated the devil and even death itself. As Christians we don’t have to be afraid to die, for us, death is simply a departure into the glory of heaven where we will forever be with God Himself.
Jesus was made like us in all things, so He could experience temptation, defeat it, and then help us to be overcomers. What are you being tempted in? Whatever it is, look to Jesus, He can help you because He’s been there, He really has.
The writer to the Hebrews continues to point these Christians to Christ. Why would they return to the law considering the superiority of Jesus? Moses was indeed faithful in all his house (calling and ministry) but Jesus is the one who built the house! And indeed Moses was faithful as a servant, but Jesus is the Son! Jesus is the builder and owner of the house (the people of God) and we Christians prove to be the people of God if we hold tight and continue to believe in Jesus firm to the end.
So the chapter serves as a warning to these Hebrew Christians – today – if you hear the Holy Spirit telling you to stay and abide in Christ…don’t harden your hearts as they did in the “rebellion.” Even though the children of Israel saw God’s amazing work they persisted in unbelief, so that generation was slain in the wilderness. They went astray in their hearts.
O Lord, let our hearts be sure of You, pure and sincere.
If you take these words at face value, the writer is addressing “brethren” and warning them to guard against an evil heart of unbelief departing from the living God! Heavy, heavy warning. And he repeats the warning for TODAY (v. 7, 13) don’t wait until tomorrow to get your heart right, to hold tight, we need to believe today and till the day we see Him face to face.
Again, the writer goes back to the example of Israel in the wilderness, they heard God, they were redeemed out of Egypt with His strong arm of 10 plagues; He provided for them in the wilderness, but they hardened their hearts, they went astray and ended up with an evil heart of unbelief, so their corpses fell dead in the desert, they did not enter God’s rest.
The writer to the Hebrews is simultaneously wooing and warning them to enter God’s rest.
Religion is tiring. The concept of having to work for our salvation and/or earn it has nothing to do with the rest of salvation that God offers us. The recipients of this letter were in a state of flux. It’s challenging to discern whether they were people who were on the brink of salvation and had not entered-in, or if they had experienced salvation and were on the brink of going back to Judaism (please see Hebrew 10:38). I believe if you read this book with an open heart, you’ll see both of these types of people being addressed. This chapter emphasizes the former, those who have not yet entered in. These people heard the gospel, but they didn’t mix it with faith – and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
The writer emphasizes the fact that the work is done. In one sense the work was done from the foundation of the world. This is seen even in the creation account, when God rested on the seventh day and ceased from all His works. This is not just creating but also redeeming. An interesting parallel passage would be Revelation 13:8 which tells us that the Lamb (Jesus) has been slain from the foundation of the world. The work is done – creation – the cross – salvation – redemption, the work is done, all we have to do is believe and receive, this is how we enter in to that rest.
It’s not something that Moses, or Joshua, or any of the other patriarchs could have given, otherwise David wouldn’t have been writing about a future rest in Psalm 95. This rest comes only under the new covenant – under the cross of Jesus Christ.
The writer to the Hebrews exhorts the people to make sure to enter that rest, to be diligent to do so (v. 11).
We learn all of this by the living Word of God, the sword of the Spirit, which can also be likened to a scalpel, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit. How can we tell if something we experience is merely emotional or truly spiritual? The Word of God! His Word reveals the intricate details of our life, things we cannot hide from God. It’s so important to keep in mind that God sees everything! We are naked before His eyes of omniscience and one day we will give an account of our lives. Let this truth purify us, but let it also encourage us to come to Him for help.
This is how the chapter closes. We have Jesus, our great High Priest who has gone before us – He’s the Son of God – so let’s hold tightly to Him and our confession of faith in Him. And as we’re temped day by day, keep in mind that we don’t have a God who doesn’t have a clue of how we’re feeling and what we’re experiencing, but He’s been there, He Himself has been tempted and therefore able to help us every single time.
Be bold to run to Him, it’s a throne of grace, it’s the only place to find help in time of need.
We now begin to take a look at Jesus as our High Priest. The High Priest was to be a direct descendant of Aaron. He was called and appointed by God to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. He was to deal gently with those who sinned since he himself was also a sinner. As a matter of fact, not only was he to offer a sacrifice for them, but he was also required to offer sacrifices for himself.
Pastor Chuck Smith comments, “None of us is perfect and we should have compassion for others. Sometimes we become very judgmental and God then forces us to see our own failures, so we can be more understanding.”(see also Galatians 6:1)
Jesus also held the position of High Priest, called and anointed by His Father. The writer quotes from Psalms 2:7 and 110:4 and points to a mysterious figure in the Old Testament by the name of Melchizedek (King of Righteousness). Who is this person? I believe it to be a theophany, an appearance of God, and more specifically a Christophany a literal appearance, visitation of Christ to earth. (we’ll see a lot more of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7)
In speaking of Jesus, the writer gives us insight into His prayer life, it wasn’t nominal, or casual, He prayed vehement cries, He shed heartfelt tears, He learned to be the perfect High Priest, through the things He suffered. Warren Wiersbe said this, “Jesus had to prepare for His priestly ministry by experiencing the trials His people experience as they walk by faith (4:15). Because of the life that He lived and the death that He died, He is able to identify with your needs and give you grace to see you through. He understands!”
Not only did Jesus become the author of salvation by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, He’s also the finisher of salvation as He sits at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us, and ready to help at any time.
These Hebrew Christians were having a hard time understanding the modern ministry of Jesus because they were going backwards, back to legalism, back to Judaism, back to the baby-believer basics.
By this time (after all these years) these Christians should have been teachers, but legalism had stunted their growth, and now they had to go back to the elementary things, the A, B, C’s of the Christian life, they needed to go back to milk instead of solid food, much less meat. Milk is okay to start our life, but we need go on and mature, to be skilled in the Scriptures, to know what it says, what it means, and how it applies to our lives.
Allow me to close with a quote from Sandy Adams, “How do you graduate from milk to meat? Obedience is the spiritual growth hormone. Take what you learn, apply it to your life, and you will learn more. The more you exercise your spiritual reflexes the sharper they become.”
Warren Wiersbe said, “The ABC’s of the Christian life are important, but they must be a launching pad and not a parking lot, for the challenge is, ‘Let us go on to maturity.’”I like to say that the best way notto go backward, is to “grow forward.” The writer to the Hebrews has already pointed out the fact that by this time they ought to be teachers (5:12) but instead, they needed to relearn the basics of their Christian belief.
These Hebrew Christians had gone so far backward, that a heavy warning is issued to them, because not everyone who backslides is so easily reached, and for some it’s actually impossible.
Some might say that he’s not speaking about true believers, but notice the list he gives…those who:
- Were enlightened
- Tasted the heavenly gift
- Were Partakers of the Holy Spirit
- Tasted the Good Word of God
- Tasted the powers of the age to come
I’m of the opinion that this letter is written to Christians who were going back to Judaism, they were drifting away and on the very verge of falling away.
The writer warns them, and then offers a word of encouragement, optimism by saying in v. 9, “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes things that accompany salvation.”By giving them this vote of confidence the writer is saying that I believe you’re going to navigate through these difficult waters, stay the course, and keep believing to the end. God would be there to help them (and us) every step of the way because He’s seen our labor of love toward the people of God – this faith and hope is something we need to hold on to, til the very end. Sometimes Christians get sluggish or lose patience (endurance) and they run the risk of not inheriting the promise.
The author closes the chapter by ensuring us that the promises of God are true. We already know God is not a liar (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2) but He’s also sworn by His name, He’s issued an oath, and we can therefore be even more certain of every promise He’s ever give to us, especially our home in heaven. The fact that God cannot lie, that He’s sworn, and He’s given us His Word is an anchor for the soul to keep us sure and steadfast in all the stormy seasons of life; it keeps us in that intimate fellowship with God, “behind the veil” in the holiest of holies, where Jesus has gone before us, of whom the High Priest Melchizedek has much to teach us.
We now enter-in to a more detailed study of this mysterious figure named Melchizedek who is first mentioned in Genesis 14:18-20; he appears to be an appearance of Jesus in the OT. God had given Abraham victory over his enemies and then, after the battle, seemingly out of nowhere, appears the King of Salem (King of Peace) who also happens to be the Priest of God Most High. Interesting!
About 1,000 years later Melchizedek is mentioned in Psalm 110:4, “The LORD has sworn and will not relent, ‘You area priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”This is a Messianic Psalm, written by David, telling us that the Messiah would be a perpetual priest according to a different priesthood, the priesthood of Melchizedek. He had no beginning, no genealogy, definitely sounds like God to me. Abraham tithed to Him (sounds like God to me). And something not mentioned in Hebrews but found in Genesis, is that while this brief interaction was taking place, Melchizedek appears with the bread and the wine (where have we seen that before?) looks like communion to me.
And then there’s that passage in John 8:56, Where Jesus said to the Jews that, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw itand was glad.”When did Abraham see Jesus? I believe that Melchizedek was none other than Jesus Christ appearing in the Old Testament (scholars refer to this as a theophany, or a Christophany).
The writer to the Hebrews explains that if the Levitical Priesthood was sufficient, there wouldn’t have been any need for a new Priesthood spoken of in Psalm 110:4 according to the order of Melchizedek. This new priesthood annuls the former (the Old Covenant) and ushers in the fresh and final covenant, by which we, even we can draw near to God (remember Hebrews 4:16?).
This is a better covenant for many reasons but one which is mentioned here is the fact that the priests of the old covenant all died and were unable to continue, but this Priest never dies, He continues forever, He has an unchangeable priesthood and is able therefore to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him.
This High Priest who is holy sinless and perfect, unlike the other priests, was able to offer up one sacrifice, once and for all, the sacrifice of Himself, and in doing so He has finished the work of perfecting us…forever.
How beautiful are Jesus’ words in John 19:30, He finished the work, it was always His heart! (John 4:34).
Jesus is an infinitely “better” High Priest, establishing a better covenant, with better promises.
It’s interesting how the writer to the Hebrews emphasizes the fact that this is the “main point,” that we have a Mediator who is seated at the right hand of the throne of God, in the true and heavenly Temple, Jesus Christ.
Back in the day, every one of the Jewish priests would be the ministers of sacrifices and offerings for themselves and the people, that’s the heart of their ministry. Jesus also had something to give, but it wasn’t according to the Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood, His offering wasn’t of this world, for all those individual offerings were just shadows of the substance, they all pointed to Jesus. It’s fascinating that when Moses was commanded to build the tabernacle, he was commanded to build it according to the pattern that was shown to him (Exodus 25:9, 40; 26:30).
So now, Jesus establishes a better and final covenant for His people.
In verses 8-12 the writer quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34 where God gives an amazing prophecy of a new covenant He will establish with His people; it would be a covenant written on their hearts and not on stone, it would be very intimate with all the people, not simply the priests, it would be a personal relationship (they will “know” the Lord) and by the blood of this one final and formal sacrifice, God would wash away, ALL their sins, imagine that, He remembers them no more!
This new covenant makes the old obsolete…and hence the transition from Judaism to Christianity. Jesus didn’t destroy the law, He fulfilled it. Christianity wasn’t something invented by Christians, it was God’s intention all along, with amazingly clear prophecies in the Old Testament, here’s one of them in the book of Jeremiah (there are hundreds of others).
Why would any Christian ever even think of going back to Judaism, to religion, or anywhere else for that matter?
Can’t help but think of John 6:67-69, “Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”
Verses 1-5 of chapter 9 describe the furniture found in the Holy Place, and Most Holy Place in the Old Testament Tabernacle. The truth is, every single detail and every piece of furniture has Spiritual significance – sermons could be preached on each, but the writer to the Hebrews doesn’t have time to elaborate on this – instead he focuses on Jesus’ sacrifice and contrasts it with the sacrifices the Jewish priests had to offer.
Under the Old Covenant the descendants of Levi were able to minister in the Holy Place daily, but only the High Priest (who was to be a descendant of Aaron) was able to enter the Most Holy Place and he was only allowed to enter in once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The Most Holy Place had the Ark of the Covenant which symbolized the throne of God and there the High Priest would sprinkle the blood on the lid of the Ark, in-between the two Cherubim. All this indicates that there wasn’t a way for every believer to enter in to the presence of God. This meant that all the laws, ordinances, sacrifices, and offerings couldn’t truly cleanse the people from sin, it only provided a temporary covering.
It all pointed to Christ who would one day be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29; Revelation 5). Jesus entered in to the true tabernacle, not with the blood of an unwilling animal, but with the blood of a willing God, and He died in our place, suffering for our sins, experiencing the wrath of God and the judgment we deserved – He redeemed us eternally. Acts 20:28 reminds us that we’ve been purchased by the blood of God. I love the passage in Revelation 1:5 which speaks of Jesus’ love and the way He’s washed us from our sins in His own blood.
As I search my heart, I know the wretched man I am, but Hebrews 9:14 lifts me up and gives me hope on how I can serve my Savior, how the blood of Christ cleanses my conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
In one sense part of the “testament” is similar to a will in that it doesn’t really take effect until the death of the testator takes place. This is why we see so much blood and death in the Old Covenant – pointing to the new. As a matter of fact, the blood is so important that we read in Leviticus 17:11, “‘For the life of the flesh isin the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it isthe blood thatmakes atonement for the soul.’”And then in Hebrews 9:22that “…without the shedding of blood there is no remission”(forgiveness).
Nowadays there is no Tabernacle, or Temple to offer blood sacrifices, so how do the Jews hope for remission (forgiveness). The Jews hope that by their good works they can earn their righteousness with God, but according to the Scriptures, there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. This is why Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He appeared before God to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once (no, there’s no such thing as reincarnation) so Christ only had to die once to bear our sins and save our souls.
Do you believe? (John 3:16)
In verse 1 of chapter 10 we come across that word “shadow” again; we also saw it in 8:5. The Jewish Old Testament Law was merely a shadow of the substance; the substance was Christ. For that reason, the Old Testament sacrifices were insufficient, they could never cleanse anyone completely from their sins. The shadows could never ever finish the work.
The blood of bulls and goats couldn’t wash us – it had to be the blood of God (Acts 20:28). When we sin, we sin against an infinite God and therefore the punishment had to be infinite. It’s for that reason the only way to satisfy God’s holy justice was for the sacrifice to be infinite – it had to be God on the cross. Now, under the New Covenant there’s no condemnation, there’s not even a consciousness of sin, in the sense that I don’t wonder if I’m saved, free, or forgiven – I know I am. Under the Old Covenant however (and any other type of works oriented righteousness) there’s not a remission of sins, it seem that on the contrary there’s only a reminder of sin. Warren Wiersbe put it this way, “The sacrifices under the Old covenant brought a reminder of sin, not a remission of sin. The blood of God’s Son took care of sin once and for all. Because there is no more offering for sin, there is also no more remembrance of sin (v. 17; Jer. 31:34), and we can rejoice that we have a righteous standing before God.”
The writer to the Hebrews quotes from Psalms 40:6-8; how ultimately God wasn’t pleased in the sacrifices and offerings of animals; there would one day be the One who would come, the whole Old Testament (volume of the book) pointed to Him. The writer is redundant, he wants to make it clear, God takes away the first so that He may establish the second – the New Covenant replaces the Old (Jeremiah 31:31).
Jesus finished the work, which is why He is able to sit down (see also Hebrews 1:3; 12:2) just waiting for His enemies to be His footstool; the day is coming when Jesus will reign (Psalm 110:1).
If you’re a Christian, you are now welcome into the full-on presence of God. I’ve always been blessed by the fact that when Jesus died, the veil that separated God from us, was torn in two, from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38) the moment Jesus died He made a way into the Holiest of All. Let’s keep going to Him in prayer, in fellowship, and let’s keep going to church service. In Hebrews 10:25 the writer exhorts us not to stop attending the fellowship of the saints, on the contrary we are to gather together and encourage others! Yes, God will bless you when you go, but that’s not all, God wants to bless others through you. Approach people, meet new people, pray for them, stir them up to love and good works – how awesome it is when God’s people go to church service not just for what they can get, but also for what they can give.
The chapter closes with a warning – don’t draw back, please don’t ever stop believing. Sandy Adams put it this way, “To be saved you must not only have faith, you must continue in that faith. Draw back from Jesus and you forfeit God’s favor.” (10:38)
Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the “Hall of Faith.” Here we have example after example of people throughout history who have exhibited a genuine active faith in God. It’s true that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17) but have you ever noticed that faith is more “caught” than “taught?” – that it’s contagious. There’s something about being around Christians who REALLY believe – so hang out with them as much as you can, maybe even hang out here…in this Hall of Faith.
Verse 1 describes faith as the substance of our hope and the way we realize with spiritual eyes, the invisible realm (both present and future) (sounds pretty important to me). Some would say that faith is the way we “attain the impossible and see the invisible.” Ponder that for a moment.
This whole letter has been about faith – ultimately in Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 10:38). May we never, ever stop believing, knowing that faith is way we please God, faith is the way we possess every promise along the way, it’s by faith the saints of the past were able to live their lives for the glory of God, and it’s by faith we will have that home in heaven.
Faith was the foremost ingredient there at the dawn of history for Abel, Enoch, and Noah. This is how Abel was made righteous, how Enoch was raptured, how Noah found grace in God’s eyes, built an ark, saved his family, and preserved the human race – it was all founded on faith in God’s Word.
Faith was the heart and soul of the patriarch Abraham, who is given the biggest portion in this “Hall of Faith.” Imagine leaving everything behind! That’s what Abraham did, “…and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”When we walk by faith, we don’t always know where we’re going, but that’s okay because we know the One who’s leading. We give God all the credit and all the glory for His gracious sovereignty, but we must also learn from the way Abraham rose to His responsibility, and the truth is, because of His faith, the whole wide world has been blessed (Genesis 12:3). Your faith will make a difference too!
When you study the life of Abraham, you’ll find that he was tested many times along the way and I believe the same is true for you and me. Abraham wasn’t a perfect man (so there’s hope for us) but at the end of the day, when the truth was revealed, he honestly, wholeheartedly believed in the living God – he held tight to God’s promises. That’s the key to faith.
By faith Jacob worshiped when he was dying (v. 21). By faith Moses endured as seeing Him who is invisible (v. 27)
By faith they lived, they conquered, they suffered, they died (Isaiah was sawn in two – v. 37) all this is mentioned to us, that we also might live and die by faith. Take God at His Word, His promises are true, Jesus will always be with us, and one day we’ll be home in heaven…we can see it, we can even see Him with the eyes of our heart.
I’m not sure, but maybe there’s still that opportunity for usto make it into the hall of faith. The chapter begins with the words, “we also…”
I like what Warren Wiersbe said, “The people listed in chapter 11 are the ‘cloud’ that witnesses to us, ‘God can be trusted!’ When you read the Old Testament, your faith should grow, for the account shows what God did in and through people who dared to trust His promises (Romans 15:4).”
Again, we have that analogy, that reality of running in our Christian life. As we run this race, we must run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) (to be the best possible me) so we need to travel light. When was the last time you saw an Olympic runner running with a backpack on? The writer commands us to lay aside every weight. I believe the weights that need to be laid aside might not be straight-out sin, but they’re things that slow us down, that weigh us down, even tear us down. As you go through life and choose what to include along way, each and every day, ask yourself, “Is this a wing or a weight? Does it build me up, or slow me down?”
The sin which easily ensnares us might be in reference to our own unique vulnerabilities (some struggle with anger, or jealousy, pornography, laziness, etc.) we’re all uniquely wired with different strengths or weaknesses. It could also be the sin of unbelief. Some would lean in this direction by saying that this is the warning of Hebrews (3:12).
One thing about this race is that we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Don’t look around you’ll be distressed, don’t focus on yourself you’ll be depressed, just look at Jesus and you’ll be blessed. As we keep in mind and heart that Jesus died for us, we’ll always remember that He loves us, even though we go through some pretty tough trials in life.
The Hebrews we’re being persecuted but they were also being chastened by their heavenly Father. This was another proof of their Father’s love for them, He cared enough to correct them. Whenever we experience Divine discipline, we shouldn’t just cry, kick, and complain, we should conform and ask the Lord what needs to change in our lives. I agree wholeheartedly with G. Campbell Morgan who said, “We cry too often to be delivered from the punishment, instead of the sin that lies behind it. We are anxious to escape from the things that cause us pain rather than from the things that cause God pain.”Let’s also remember the words of Pastor Chuck who said, “The chastening of the Lord is never punitive, but always corrective.”
So, the writer says, cheer up and grow up, take heed to the warnings. He’s trying to prevent them from ending up like Esau, who for a morsel of food, sold his birthright. The New Covenant is not the one established in earth on Mt. Sinai, it’s the one established in heaven on Mt. Zion. The figure is not Moses the lawgiver, but Jesus the Mediator of a better covenant rooted in love and faith. The writer mingles some beautiful promises and some heavy warnings, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks…for our God is a consuming fire.” I pray we would simply stay close and cling to the Lord Jesus all the days of our lives.
They say it’s easier to “fall” in love than to stay in love, which is why the writer exhorts us to let this brotherly love continue. We can apply this to a spouse, a friend, and even a church.
Imagine the privilege of showing hospitality to an angel! We have an example in the Old Testament book of Genesis 18 and 19, but apparently, it’s still possible under the New Covenant!
We should remember the Christians who are imprisoned and persecuted all around the world…how about a prayer, a letter, a donation, or even a visit?
Pastor Chuck Smith said this about v. 4, “Marriage is an institution that God invented. There are those who teach that marriage is a less spiritual way of living than the ascetic lifestyle of a celibate. This is not true. If God calls you to be celibate, that’s fine. But don’t do it because you think it will make you more spiritual. It won’t. Marriage is honorable.”I remember one time my cousin, who comes from a Catholic background said that I should have never gotten married IFI wanted to be a faithful spiritual leader. I thank God that we have His Word to guide us!
There are those who mistakenly believe that sexual intimacy is carnal, but it’s not, it’s holy, it’s beautiful, it’s a gift given to us from God when it’s practiced within the heart of holy matrimony. On the other hand, however, if anyone practices sexual intimacy outside of marriage (that’s not love it’s lust) the Bible says that God will judge such people – they will not inherit the Kingdom of God (see also 1 Corinthians 1:6:9-10).
Hebrews 13:5 has always been one of my favorite passages in the Bible. The only way to be set free from covetousness is to remember that Jesus is with me, He will alwaysbe with me, He will never, ever leave me or forsake me…and Jesus is enough for me. He’s all I (we) will ever need. “O the beauty of such contentment!”
Regarding verses 7-8, Warren Wiersbe said, “This may refer to leaders now dead, but their ministry goes on. Remember what they taught you, how they lived, and what they lived for. Church leaders may come and go, but Jesus is the same; and we must fix our eyes on Him.”
We need to guard ourselves from all the strange ascetic and legalistic doctrines out there, it’s good when our hearts are established by grace. Even in the OT, the animals bodies’ were burned outside the camp – pointing to the way Jesus died outside the human temple; it’s not about those Levitical sacrifices. After the one sacrifice of Christ, we’re actually set free to offer sacrifices of praise and good works, not to earn our salvation, but because we’re saved. It’s okay to follow faithful leaders who follow Jesus (v. 17). I love the way the writer asked for prayer (18-19) to live honorably and to then – to be set free from prison. He then prays for the people, that Jesus finish this wonderful work. Not sure if this was written by Paul (would he call Timothy a brother?). We do know it was written from a Roman prison…closing with that word – may we get a good grip on it – grace– and never let go!