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Chuck Smith :: Study Guide for Hebrews

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INTRODUCTION

The book of Hebrews was written for the Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah. They were in danger of slipping back into the traditions of Judaism because they had not put down roots in the soil of Christianity.

The author of Hebrews is unknown but we know that God inspired him, just as He inspired the authors of the other books in the Bible.

The book of Hebrews appeals to the Greek mind as well as the Jewish mind. The Greeks saw everything on earth as the shadows cast by what was real, so they were always searching for reality. Hebrews presents Jesus as the reality. The Jews were searching for a way to approach God because historically they had felt too unholy to approach Him. Hebrews presents Jesus as the approach.

HEBREWS 1: LET US DRAW NEAR TO GOD

v.1 "In many parts and in many ways, in past times God spake by the prophets unto the fathers."

1. This verse assumes the existence of God. The Bible never tries to prove His existence (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:20).

2. This verse assumes that God has spoken to man. If God created man, He had a purpose for him. Therefore, He would speak to man early in history and maintain a record of what He said. In 4,000 places the Bible refers to itself as God's word to man.

None of the prophets or fathers had the whole truth, but each had a part. The parts came to them in different ways: in dreams, in visits from angels, in a "still small voice" (Hosea 12:10).

v.2 God spoke to us by Jesus and in Jesus, for He is God's message to us (John 14:10). What was the message of God through Jesus? God is a God of love, grace, and mercy. He is a forgiving God who is not angry with man but wants to fellowship with man.

Jesus is superior to the prophets because He had the whole truth of God.

1. Jesus is the heir of all things. The world is not the way God created it; man's rebellion has brought it to this state. God gave the world to man but man forfeited it to Satan. The purpose of Jesus' coming was to redeem the earth back to God. When Jesus returns, we'll see the world as God meant it to be.

2. Jesus is the Creator of all things. He created the world and He maintains it (John 1:3; Colossians 1:17).

The Bible is God's revelation of Himself to man. First, He revealed Himself to the prophets and they wrote down what He told them. However, sometimes people misunderstood the nature of God as He was revealed by the prophets, so God sent His own Son to give us a more complete revelation of Himself.

v.3 Jesus is the "outshining" (outraying, effulgence) of God's glory (1 Timothy 6:16). Through Jesus, we see God as much as man can see Him.

The express image means "impression" as in making a mold (John 14:9).

Upholding here is "maintaining" (Colossians 1:17).

Purged here means "cleansed" (1 John 1:7) "Is continually cleansing" (1 John 1:9). This cleansing is not a license for us to sin; rather, it frees us from the power of sin so that we need not live the life of sin any more (Romans 6: 1,2).

Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34; John 17:24).

v.4 When we become conscious of the vastness of God, we become conscious of how nothing we are. The Jews reached this consciousness and it caused them to hold the angels in high esteem because of their position near God.

Being made so much better is "Having become so much better" in the Greek. Jesus was always higher than the angels.

At Jesus' excellent name, every knee will bow (Philippians 2:9-11).

v.5 The angels are created beings, not sons of God, as Jesus is.

v.6 "Firstbegotten" means first in honor and position, not first in order. In Revelation 5, the angels worship Jesus.

v.7 The angels are the servants of God; ministering spirits. Jesus emptied Himself of His heavenly glory and became a servant, but that is not His heavenly position.

v.8 God calls Jesus "God", Thomas called Jesus "God" (John 20:28), John called Him "God" (John 1:1), and Paul called Him "God" (Titus 2:13, 3:4).

v.10 God calls Jesus "Lord" here, and describes the work of Jesus in creation.

v.11,12 Even the creation shall pass away (2 Peter 3:10,11).

"But Thou art the same" refers to the nature of Christ. He is our rock in a changing world (immutability) and He is eternal (immortality).

v.13 This is the position God made for His Son and Jesus waits now for the Father to make His enemies a footstool. The writer of Hebrews quotes freely from the Old Testament because he had a good grasp of the Scriptures and could see the many references to Jesus that run through them (Hebrews 10:7).

v.14 This verse refers to the angels again.

HEBREWS 2: THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST

v.1 We should pay close attention to the words of Christ so there will be no danger of our drifting away from our salvation through Him. Backsliding usually occurs gradually, and the writer of Hebrews did not want to see the Jewish Christians slip back into the laws of Judaism with its legal bondage, and lose their joy and their first love for God (Revelation 2:4).

v.2 Since the word spoken by the angels in prophecy (Daniel 10) and in giving the law (Acts 7:53) came to pass.

v.3 We have even more reason to carefully consider the words of Christ (John 15:1) and to receive our salvation through Him. Jesus first spoke of His salvation, and the disciples who heard Him reported what He said.

v.4 God confirmed Jesus' words with signs and miracles, and the Holy Spirit confirmed His words by giving spiritual gifts (Acts 2:22).

v.6 Christ visited us when He became a man.

v.7 Man was made lower than the angels, but was put over God's creation.

v.8 Man forfeited the earth to Satan and now creation is not subject to man.

v.9 Jesus identified Himself with fallen man by taking on a human form and dying in our place. He could not have died as God, so He had to become a man to suffer and die for us.

v.10 Jesus is the object of creation as well as the Creator. He is the captain ("trailblazer") of our salvation, for He has preceded us into glory and will lead us there. The word perfect here indicates "completeness", a full maturity.

v.11 The Lord sanctified (consecrated, set apart for exclusive use) us and calls us His brothers (John 15:15).

v.12 The verse quoted here is from Psalm 22, which is a prophetic psalm dealing with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (Psalm 22:22).

v.13 Isaiah 8:17-18.

v.14 Destroy here means "to put out of business." Jesus suffered and died to put Satan's power over us out of business. We have the power to reckon our flesh (our "old man") dead and give no place to sin in our lives. We can identify with Christ in His resurrection and enjoy life in the Promised Land for the Christian. We claim the cities in the land by faith and rejoice in the victory over the Enemy.

v.15 Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of our flesh.

v.16 Jesus did not take on the nature of angels because He would not have understood man so well and as an angel He could not die.

v.17 Since Jesus was a man, He is merciful and understanding because He knows what temptations and drives we are subject to.

HEBREWS 3: JESUS IS SUPERIOR TO MOSES

The Jews that Hebrews was written for thought that Moses was even closer to God than the angels.

v.1 "Holy brethren" does not refer to our virtue but to the righteousness God imputes to us because of our faith in Jesus Christ. As "partakers of the heavenly calling" we look not unto our earthly situation for fulfillment but to our final home with Christ (1 Corinthians 15:19). Consider means to "study carefully" in the Greek. It is the same word Jesus used in Matthew 6:28 when he said, "Consider the lilies of the field..." Apostle means "One who has been sent, ambassador". This is the only place Jesus is called an apostle. An ambassador represents all the power and authority of his country (Matthew 28:18). An ambassador speaks for his nation. Jesus spoke God's thoughts (John 14:10). Jesus is the high priest of our profession (confession). Job asked for a daysman to bridge the gap between God and man (Job 9:33). Priest means "bridge builder". God has built the bridge to man.

v.2-6 Moses was a faithful servant in the house of God but Jesus was the faithful Son who built the house. The house of God in the days of Moses was the nation Israel. The house of God that Christ built is the Church, for He dwells in us when we invite Him in. We are to hold fast to our hope in Christ but He also has promised to keep us (Jude 1:24, 2 Timothy 1:12; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

v.7-9 The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible (Acts 28:25).

The result of the tempting and striving of the children of Israel was that God was grieved with the people. He said that they always erred in their hearts and that they did not know His ways. They saw God's works forty years when He made them wander in the wilderness instead of allowing them to enter the rest He had prepared in the Promised Land.

v.12 The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13); The Parable of the Foolish Man and the Wise Man (Matthew 7:26).

v.13 To prevent our hearts from becoming hardened with unbelief, we need to exhort one another daily in the things of God.

v.14 We need more of Jesus in our lives as the solution to problems that arise, not more love, faith, or other gifts. We need more of Jesus Himself in us.

v.15-19 The story of the children of Israel is retold here to show us that unbelief can rob us of all the rich blessings God wants to bestow on us. The Israelites took their eyes off God and Saw only the obstacles before them, refusing to believe in God's beautiful provision (Hebrews 11:6). Their unbelief kept them from entering into the rest God had prepared for them.

HEBREWS 4: THE REST OF GOD

v.1-4 When we enter into the rest God has for us, we are able to relax and stop worrying. We have more time to set our minds on Him and to rejoice and praise Him.

v.4-8 The children of Israel had one day to make the choice to enter into the rest God had for them. When they tried to go in the next day by their own strength, it was too late.

v.9-10 After God created the world, He "rested" (ceased) from His acts of Creation, but His work in the world was not finished. When man fell short of God's ideal, it was necessary that God do a work of redemption to bring unrighteous man into fellowship with a righteous God. Jesus came to finish the work of redemption on the cross (John 4:34, John 19:30, Isaiah 53:6-10, 2 Corinthians 5:21). The righteousness of Christ is now imputed to us because of our belief in what He has done (Philippians 3:8,9). We do not need to struggle and labor to increase our righteousness because God is satisfied with the righteousness of Christ that He has given to us. When we learn to rest and trust in what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we glory in Him and have no chance to boast about our own righteousness.We have to work at staying in the place of rest in God because Satan will attack and try to destroy our rest.

v.11 The children of Israel are the example of unbelief that we should learn from, for they were not allowed into God's rest because of their unbelief. God's word helps us to know ourselves and to recognize our motivations (John 15:7; Psalm 119:9; Psalm 139:1-6; Matthew 6:1-8).

v.13 The New Testament emphasis is on attitude more than actions. Our righteousness depends on our attitude toward Christ.

v.14 Profession here means "confession." "Passed into the heavens" refers to the resurrection of Jesus and His ascension into heaven.

v.15 Since Jesus was a man, He knows what men are like and the temptations that we face and He has mercy on us. He was tempted by Satan beyond anything man has ever experienced (Matthew 4:1-11).

HEBREWS 5: THE PRIESTHOOD

v.1 The high priest was:

1. a man and,

2. ordained for men by God (v. 4).

The Jews were very conscious of their sin and the effect of sin in separating them from God. When they saw the sacrificial animal dying for their sins, it brought the awfulness of sin forcefully to their awareness. Usually the gift offerings were meal offerings given as peace offerings to bring them into fellowship with God, while the sacrifices were blood offerings for sin.

v.2 The word here translated "compassion" in the Greek means "being shocked at something and wanting to say something sympathetic but being held back." Since the high priest was a man himself "compassed with infirmity," he understood the temptations and trials of other men. God allows ministers to go through trials and testings to keep them in touch with their own humanity.

v.3 The high priest would offer a sacrifice first for himself and then for the people.

v.4 The ministry is a calling of God, not a career that one chooses.

v.5,6 God ordained Christ to be the high priest of the Church. Jesus did not exalt Himself or put Himself in this position.

v.7 In the days when He was a man, Jesus prayed unto the Father for help with the weaknesses of the flesh. This verse describes His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane when He wept deeply and agonized over the death God was asking Him to endure.

v.8 Obedience is doing something we really do not want to do. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, He laid down His own will and accepted the will of the Father.

v.9 The word perfect here again means "complete, of full age". Jesus was thoroughly prepared to become our salvation. We who obey Him and have made Him our Lord have eternal life through Him (James 1:22).

v.10 There were various orders of the priesthood. Jesus belonged to the order of Melchizedek.

The priest would stand before God to represent the people and would stand before the people to represent God. Jesus as our high priest brings us into direct fellowship with God.

v.11 The writer of Hebrews- wanted to elaborate on the subject of the priesthood of Christ but it was hard for him to simplify his teachings enough to be understood by the spiritually immature Christians he was writing to.

v.12 The Christians should have been ready to go into deeper spiritual matters but they were even drifting away from the "first principles" (elements, ABC's) of doctrine. They had to be retaught the basics of the Christian faith (the milk) when they should have been getting into weightier material (the meat). Their spiritual develop ment was arrested at the infant stage. The writer was anxious to get them into deeper teaching because God's word gives us strength and helps us to grow (1 John 2:14).

v.13-14 The translation "of full age" here is made from the same Greek word translated "perfect" elsewhere.

Baby Christians have no power to discern between good and evil and are, therefore, a prey to the wolves that sometimes enter the Church.

HEBREWS 6: A WARNING TO SLOTHFUL CHRISTIANS

v.1 Perfection here means "maturity".

v.1-3 The author of Hebrews is trying to lead the baby Christians beyond their first steps into a closer walk with Christ.

v.4 Many people are frightened by these next verses, but if we compare scripture with scripture, we find that there is hope for us.Here the word once comes from a Greek word meaning "once and for all." indicating finality. Those who were "enlightened" were brought to a knowledge of the sacrifice of Jesus for their sins. The "heavenly gift" is the gift of salvation (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8). Partakers means "partners

v.5 There seems to be a state where one has only "tasted" the things of God and not fully drunk (Matthew 7:21-23). In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13), the seeds that fell among the stones and thorns did not mature and produce fruit. When we produce fruit, it is the evidence that we have faith.

v.7 Herbs here means "vegetables".

v.7-8 These verses may refer to the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. If we allow God to mature us and produce fruit through us, we will make our "calling and election sure" and we won't have to fear the warning in verses 4-6 (2 Peter 1:2-10).

v.9-10 When we accept salvation through Christ, there are certain responses we should make.

v.11 We should strive, agonize and work until it is painful to do the things pertaining to godliness.

v.12 Many Christians today are slothful in their Christian walk and because of them the message of the Church is weakened. The Old Testament patriarchs are held up as examples of the life of faith and patience. Our faith is often tested in the times of waiting. Our faith is demonstrated when we have confidence while we wait for God to do something.

v.14 God made this promise to Abraham after the testing in the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:17).

v.15 Abraham had to wait many years for his child of promise to be born. When he tried to help God to fulfill His promise, Ishmael was born and his descendants, the Arab nations, continue to struggle with the descendants of Isaac, the Israelites, to this day. The four keys to the faith of Abraham are:

1. Abraham did not consider the human possibilities (or impossibilities).

2. He did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief.

3. He was strong in faith and gave glory to God, and

4. He was persuaded that God was able to do what He had promised (Romans 4:19-21).

v.16 Men swear by God because He is greater than we are, but He swore by Himself since there is no one above Him.

v.17-18 God gave His promise and an oath on the promise as two immutable confirmations of His word.

v.19-20 We who trust in Christ as our refuge have the hope of redemption through Him, for Christ's death gave us access to God without having to go through an earthly high priest who had to go through the veil into God's presence.

HEBREWS 7: THE SUPERIOR PRIESTHOOD OF JESUS CHRIST

v.1 In Genesis 14:18-20, we read that Melchizedek was a priest of God long before God had established the priesthood through Aaron or Levi. Melchizedek gave bread and wine to Abraham as a forerunner of the sacrament of communion.

v.2 Melchizedek means "King of Righteousness". King of Salem means "King of Peace".

v.3 "Without descent" refers to the fact that no genealogy was given for Melchizedek, and the Jews were very careful to keep their records of genealogies, especially where the priesthood was concerned. Since Melchizedek's appearance in the Bible is so mysterious (having neither beginning of days nor end of life), some people think He may have been Jesus Christ. The titles, King of Righteousness and King of Peace certainly would apply to Jesus. Also, in the prophetic Psalm 110, which speaks of Jesus, verse 4 states, "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek".

v.4 The Jews traced their faith back to Abraham as the founding father.

v.5 The priests received a tithe from the people rather than an inheritance of land.

v.6 Melchizedek received a tithe from Abraham, and also from Levi in the sense that Levi descended from Abraham. The author is seeking to establish the superiority of Melchizedek over the Levitical priesthood because he knew the issue of Christ as our high priest was a sensitive one. He could see that the weak and immature Hebrew Christians might easily slip back into the security of the traditions of Judaism.

v.7 The one who gives the blessing is greater than the one who receives it.

v.11 If the Levitical priesthood could bring people into a perfect relationship with God through the Law, there would have been no need for God to speak of another priesthood when He spoke through David in Psalm 110:4.

v.12 If the priesthood changed, then the Law governing it would have to change also.

v.13-14 Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, and Moses did not include that tribe when he spoke of the priesthood, so Jesus could not be a priest under the Law. The author of Hebrews was acquainted with the concerns of the Hebrew Christians and wanted to resolve their difficulties so that they could enter in more fully.

v.16 Carnal means "fleshly".

The order of Melchizedek is contrasted with the order of Levi rather than compared to it. The Law made men priests, but Jesus did not need the Law to make Him a priest because He had the power of eternal life and, thus, an unchanging priesthood.

v.18-19 The Law was given to the Jews, not to the Gentiles. When the Gentiles became Christians, some of the Jewish Christians thought the Gentiles should keep the Law, but the Church elders decided not to yoke the Gentiles with a burden they found impossible to bear (Acts 15). The purpose of the Law was to show us our sin and to demonstrate that we cannot hope to approach God on the basis of our own righteousness (Galatians 3:24). Since we have come to God by our faith in Jesus, we have no place to boast of ourselves (Galatians 6:14). We seek to obey and please God because we love Him, not because of the Law (1 Corinthians 6:12).

v.20-21 God made Jesus a priest forever by an oath, but the Levites were made priests by birth.

v.22 God's oath made the new convenant through Jesus even more sure than the old covenant. The new covenant depends on what Jesus has done, not on what we have done. It is based on His love and faithfulness, not on our works (Hebrews 9:13-14). Jesus is the proof of God's love for us.

v.23 This verse refers again to the Levitical order. The priesthood was not continual because of human frailty, as the old priests died their sons took their places. The people could not be sure of their priests because the priests brought their own concepts into their positions. The priesthood was subject to change.

v.24 The priesthood of Jesus is constant and does not pass from one man to another.

v.25 The salvation through Jesus can reach to anyone, anywhere. Jesus stands before God and represents and intercedes for us. He does not have to go through a veil or make sin sacrifices for Him self or for us (Romans 8:31-34). The heart of the message of the New Testament is that Jesus is a living Lord.

v.26 Jesus is holy, harmless ("not to hurt" sensitive), undefiled (unstained, unsullied by sin), separate from sinners (He never sinned but He was always approachable, the sins of others never sullied Him), made higher than the heavens (John 17:5).

v.27 Every morning and evening the priests had to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. Jesus did not have to offer for Himself because He was sinless. The Levitical sacrifices were shadows that looked forward to the ultimate, once and for all sacrifice of Jesus. He became the sacrifice and the high priest but He only had to be offered once to bring eternal salvation to the world.

HEBREWS 8: THE NEW COVENANT

v.1 Sum here means "chief" or "total". Jesus Christ is in heaven at God's right hand (Matthew 26:64; Acts 7:56; John 17:5).

v.2 Jesus is a minister in heaven, not in the earthly temple.

v.3,4 Jesus did not serve as a priest on earth, but in heaven.

v.5 The priests were always only representing in earthly form the heavenly scene about the throne of God (Colossians 2:14-18).

v.6 The law barred the door to God but Jesus opened it for us.

The covenant of God with the Jews is different from His covenant with those who come to Him through Christ (Romans 11:25-29). The old covenant was conditional upon man's doing something, but the new covenant is based on man's believing what Christ has done.

v.8,9 God spoke of a new covenant since the people were not keeping the old covenant properly and He could not accept ("regard") them.

v.10 The new covenant would have its laws written in people's hearts, not on tablets of stone. The old covenant failed because the urgings of the flesh superseded the urgings of the spirit in man. The new covenant is based on God making us new creations so that we are Spirit-controlled rather than body-controlled. God makes His will the desire of our hearts (Psalm 40:8).

v.11-13 Jesus spoke of the new covenant in Mark 14:22-25. Soon after Hebrews was written, the temple was destroyed and the sacrifices of the old covenant ceased.

HEBREWS 9: THE OLD COVENANT AND THE NEW COVENANT

v.1 The ordinances concerned the way the priests were to conduct their duties and the way the people were to come to offer their sacrifices and gifts to God.

v.6-9 The earthly ceremonies were symbolic representations of heaven.

v.10 "Until the time of reformation" means until the time of "setting things right"

v.11,12 "Building" here also means "creation".

Jesus did not go into the earthly model (the temple), but into the actual heavenly scene the temple represented. He did not go into the holy of holies on earth, but directly into the presence of God. He did not need to sprinkle the blood of bulls and goats to pardon His entry into God's presence, and He did not have to go in once each year, but once forever.

v.13,14 The purpose of both covenants was to bring man into relationship with God. Sin is disobedience to God; the exercise of my will in conflict to the will of God. Sin separates a man from God (Isaiah 59:1,2; 1 John 1:6-10). God set up the animal sacrifices for sin in the first covenant (Hebrews 9:22), but the blood of bulls and goats only covered sin, it did not do away with it. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice of the second covenant (1 Peter 1:19), whose death finally put an end to sin. When we accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins, our conscience is cleaned and we are free from the laws of "dead works" in the first covenant.

v.15 Jesus is the mediator Who brings us to God (Job 9:33; John 10:7,8; 14:6). We are promised eternal redemption and an eternal inheritance if we believe in the work God has done for us.

v.16,17 A man's last will and testament is not in force until the man dies.

v.18-20 The sprinkled blood indicated that the covenant with God was in force because the substitutionary animal had been slain.

v.22 2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:6.

v.25 Jesus offered His own blood, not the blood of animals, when He made His sacrifice.

v.26 The Old Testament atonement for sin was an annual covering but the New Testament atonement through Jesus is putting away sins once for all. His one sacrifice was sufficient to wipe out our sins forever.

v.27 Romans 6:23, Ezekiel 18:20.

v.28 Christ experienced the wages of sin for us.

Jesus is returning to establish the kingdom of God on the earth. His second coming will have nothing to do with sin or reconciling man to God because He resolved the sin issue with His death.

HEBREWS 10: THE PERFECT SACRIFICE

v.1 Image here means "clear likeness".

The law was not an image of heavenly things but a shadow.

v.2 If the law could make people perfect, they wouldn't need to keep offering sacrifices.

v.3,4 The sacrifices reminded the people of their sin every time they offered them. Their guilty consciences were not cleansed by the sacrifice (Psalm 51).

v.5-7 The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 40:6-8 from the Greek Septuagint (the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek by 70 scholars), and has Christ say the verses. Psalm 40:6 speaks of "opening" the ear, which was the piercing of a bondservant's ear when he wanted to stay with his master. God is looking for people who will obey Him, not for sacrifices (1 Samuel 15:22). The "volume of the book" is the Old Testament. There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to Jesus and His birth, life, and resurrection. There are another 300 that refer to His second coming. Jesus taught and demonstrated that the law is actually spiritual.

v.9 When Jesus did the will of God, He did away with the first covenant and established the second.

v.10 Sanctified means "set apart for God". We are sanctified through Jesus Who did the will of the Father when He sacrificed His body.

v.12,13 Jesus is now in heaven at the Father's right hand, resting in the finished work of the cross, and waiting for the day that God will give Him the ultimate victory over His enemies.

v.14 God sees us in the fully mature, completed state that we will be in when we are presented to Him by Jesus Christ, not in the imperfect state we are in now.

v.15,16 This new covenant works from the inside out since God puts His thoughts and desires in our hearts. The old covenant worked from the outside in and consisted of a list of do's and don'ts that made carnal man rebel (Jeremiah 31:33,34).

v.17 The word sin means "to miss the mark" or "not a witness" Iniquities are a combination of sin and transgression. Transgression is willful disobedience. Sin can be a failure to be or to do something, whereas transgression is deliberately not being or doing something (Psalm 32:1, Romans 8:1).

v.18 Since the blood of Jesus had done away with all our sins, there is no need for offerings to be made to obtain forgiveness.

v.19 We have boldness to enter into the presence of God because of the work of Christ for us. The high priest only dared to go into the presence of God one day a year, and that after many sacrifices had been made and much blood was shed.

v.20 "New" here refers to "newly slain". Under the old covenant, a man could approach God immediately after the animal had been slain for his sins and before he could commit new ones. He always felt most comfortable in his relationship with God right after the sacrifice had been offered. Christ's death works in our lives as a perpetual sacrifice, so that each time we commit a sin, it is as if an animal were immediately sacrificed to cleanse us from that sin.

v.21 Jesus is our high priest.

v.22 We don't have to fear that God will reject us when we come before Him, as the Jews feared when the high priest went into the holy of holies to offer the sacrifices for them (John 6:37). The sacrifice of Christ rids us of a guilty conscience and continually cleanses us (Romans 8:1; 1 John 1:7).

v.22-24 Verse 22 begins a series of admonitions beginning with "Let us." Since Jesus made His sacrifice for us, we should draw near to God, hold fast our faith, and be considerate of one another.

v.23 The new covenant depends on the promises of God, not on our works.

v.24 It is important that Christians take thought and care for one another and exhort each other to good works.

v.25 Regular gathering with other Christians helps to keep the whole body of believers functioning and developing properly. "The day approaching" is the day of the second coming of Christ. We need more strength as the times grow more troubled.

v.26-29 These verses should be read carefully. Verse 29 defines "willful sin." The only sin that will condemn a man is the sin against God's love and His provision for our salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (Matthew 12:31,32; 26:39; 7:14; John 10:7; 14:6) The only sacrifice God will accept for our sins is the sacrifice He prepared for us in Jesus. We need only to accept the sacrifice of Jesus as our salvation.

v.30,31 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 33:11.

v.32,33 Many of the Hebrew Christians were persecuted for their faith in Christ.

v.34 The Hebrew Christians were disinherited by their families but they took the "spoiling of their goods" joyfully because they could see the material world in its proper perspective (Mark 8:36, 10:29,30) from the spiritual viewpoint.

v.35 We are not to cast away our boldness to enter God's presence since there is a great reward in free and intimate fellowship with Him.

v.36 The return of Jesus Christ is being delayed by God so that all those who want to accept His salvation will have the opportunity (2 Peter 3:3-9; James 5:7,8).

v.37,38 The author of Hebrews quotes from Habakkuk 2:1-4, who was also tired of the evil he saw all around him.

HEBREWS 11: THE HALL OF FAITH

v.1 This verse defines faith. Substance here means "the confident expectation." Faith rejoices without seeing or understanding what God is doing (2 Corinthians 4:18).

v.2 The "good report" was that their faith was a witness of their relationship with God.

v.3 God created the world from materials that are invisible to the naked eye.

v.4 The Hall of Faith begins here. These are people who were known for outstanding faith. Abel's sacrifice was offered in faith, Cain's was not.

v.5 Just as Enoch was spared from the judgment of God upon the earth during the Flood, so the Church will be spared from the Tribulation. In pleasing God, Enoch fulfilled the purpose for which man was created (Revelation 4:11).

v.6 We limit the work of God in our lives through unbelief (Psalm 78:41). When we realize how mighty God is, our problems are put in perspective.

v.7 When God warned Noah about the rains to come, Noah accepted His word by faith, though it had never rained before. He so believed God's word that he was motivated by fear to build the ark. Noah's building of the ark condemned the people around him for their unbelief, and made him an heir of righteousness. Noah's faith prompted him to positive action. Faith and works go hand-in-hand. Righteousness by faith produces works that are consistent with what we believe whereas the righteousness in God's eyes is the result of our faith, never our works.

v.8 Abraham is called the Father of those who believe. His first step of faith was to leave the land of his father to journey to the Promised Land.

v.9 Abraham lived in tents in the Promised Land and owned very little land, but he believed that God had promised all the land to him for his descendants.

v.10 Abraham's heart was in the City of God, not in earthly treasures or buildings.

v.11 The birth of Isaac was based on God's faithfulness in performing that which He had promised, not on Sarah or Abraham's faith, for they laughed when God told them He would give them a son.

v.12 Sarah was past childbearing age (over 90) and Abraham was over 100 years old, "as good as dead", and yet God gave them a child and innumerable descendants.

v.13 The members of the Hall of Faith all died without receiving the promised Savior and the eternal Kingdom, but their faith in the promises of God saved them. They saw the promises, were persuaded that they existed, and held onto them.

v.14,15 The Old Testament saints could have returned to the lands they left if their hearts were still there, but they believed that God had a better place for them and they were content to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

v.16 The spirits of the Old Testament saints could not go into heaven until Jesus died for their sins, so they went into Sheol (hell). Jesus taught that Sheol was divided into two parts, with Abraham the head of the part for those who believed in God's promises (Luke 16:19-31; Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 27:52,53).

v.17 Though Abraham had another son, the son of his fleshly attempt to fulfill God's promise. God did not recognize the other son (Genesis 22:1-14) just as He ignores our sins as we believe in Jesus (Romans 4:8). God was only testing Abraham's obedience and faith and He never intended for Isaac to actually be sacrificed.

v.18,19 God had told Abraham specifically that Abraham would have descendants through Isaac, and since Isaac did not have children at this point, Abraham knew that God would restore Isaac to life if necessary (Genesis 22:5- "I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you"). There are parallels between Abraham offering up Isaac and God sacrificing His beloved Son. Abraham thought of Isaac as dead for the three day journey to Mount Moriah. Jesus was dead for three days. Isaac carried the wood for sacrifice on his back. Jesus carried the cross on His back. Both sons were submitted to the will of their fathers. Both sacrifices took place on Mount Moriah. Abraham had called the place "the Lord will provide" and said, "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen" (Genesis 22:14).

v.20 Though Isaac was not known as a spiritual man, he is listed in the Hall of Faith because of the prophetic blessings he pronounced upon his sons.

v.21 Jacob claimed Joseph's two sons as his own, thereby giving the double portion, the birthright, to Joseph. Jacob's eldest son was the child of the wife who was forced on Jacob, while Joseph was the first child of Jacob's chosen bride. When Jacob blessed Joseph's sons, he purposely crossed his hands to give the greater blessing to Ephraim, the younger son. The tribe of Ephraim was greater than that of Manasseh.

v.22 When Joseph was dying, he asked that his bones be returned to the Promised Land when the children of Israel finally returned, for he believed they would someday leave Egypt and live as a nation in the land God had given to them.

v.23 The parents of Moses hid him by faith and defied the Pharaoh's decree. As Christians we are to obey the laws of the land unless they conflict with God's laws, and then we must obey God rather than man.

v.24,25 Moses rejected possible rulership in Egypt when he chose to join the children of Israel in their difficulties.

v.26 Moses valued the worst aspect of the godly life more than the best the world had to offer. He chose God's riches rather than the pleasures and riches of Egypt.

v.27 The men of faith always see more than those who rely on their natural intellect.

v.29 By faith the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea and followed Moses into the wilderness. Our lives inspire other people to trust God or to distrust Him. God sometimes allows His children to get into places of testings and trials that are very frightening. In impossible circumstances we have nowhere to turn but up. God wants us to stand still and watch Him work and then to go forward in faith.

v.30 God promised Joshua that every place he put his foot in the Promised Land would be his. The people followed Joshua by faith. The defeat of Jericho demonstrates that God is not confined to our rational ways of doing things (Isaiah 55:8). The faith of the children of Israel was:

1. Daring, because there was no turning back.

2. 0bedient, because they did not understand why they were to march around the city.

3. Patient, because the walls did not fall down for the first several days, and

4. Anticipating, because they knew God would act on the seventh day when they shouted. When we meet the Enemy in an entrenched stronghold against us, we need this kind of faith to claim the victory.

v.31 When God used Rahab to help the spies, it demonstrated:

1. The sovereignty of God, because He chose Rahab and her family out of all the people of Jericho, and

2. The grace of God, because he chose Rahab despite her profession.

Rahab believed in the reports she had heard about the children of Israel and their God and by faith she believed that they would conquer mighty Jericho. Since the Israelites promised to spare all those in her house, Rahab's house became a house of faith. The red cord hanging from her window represented Christ's blood and Jesus descended from Rahab through His mother, Mary.

v.32 God often chooses men who lack confidence in their own abilities to do His work because He is made strong in our weakness.

v.33,34 These verses refer to the men of faith listed in verse 32 and to other men of Israel.

v.35-37 The men of faith suffered various punishments at the hands of unbelievers, thus assuring themselves a special place in the heavenly kingdom.

v.38 Those men who are pleasing to God are often displeasing to the world.

v.39,40 The members of the Hall of Faith did not receive the promised Messiah, so our relationship with God is even better than theirs was, because we are able to approach Him through His Son.

HEBREWS 12: THE PATIENCE OF THE SAINTS

v.1 This verse refers back to verse 36 of Chapter Ten where the author began to encourage the believers to be patient. Chapter Eleven listed the Old Testament saints (the great cloud of witnesses) who waited patiently for God to keep His promise in His good time. We are waiting in faith for God to keep His promise of the second coming of Jesus Christ. God is waiting for the perfect time. God has a plan for each of our lives-the race that is set before us. We are to remove any weights and sins that would impede our progress or slow us down. Some activities are not sin but they do encumber us and make the race more difficult. Our choices are not always between right and wrong but are sometimes deciding whether something will be a hindrance in our race (Philippians 3:13,14).

v.2 Jesus not only began our faith but He finished it, too. Our salvation depends upon the finished work of Christ and not upon any work of ours. Suffering is something we all experience. When trials come, we don't need to fear that we are out of God's will. Instead, we should allow God to refine us through our sufferings and look beyond the pain to the eternal work He is doing in us (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 1 Peter 1:6,7 and 4:12,13).

v.3,4 We are exhorted to consider what Jesus had to suffer, both physically and mentally, during His time here on earth. Contradiction is also translated "rebellion Jesus was persecuted and we will be also (John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12).

v.5 The Jews who chose to follow Christ were persecuted by their families, friends, and the government, and were beginning to grow discouraged. God chastens His children, so when we are chastened, we have the comfort that we are His own. His concern is for our eternal benefit, not our temporal ease. We are not to despise the chastening of the Lord or to become bitter when He rebukes us. The chastening of God is corrective, not punitive. We should accept correction without getting stubborn or rebellious, for God's chastening is motivated by love.

v.7,8 If we have never been chastened, then we should be concerned. Those who do not belong to God are often able to get by with things that we are chastened for because God has different rules for His children than He does for them.

v.9,10 God chastens us to make us fit material for heaven.

v.11 He chastens us to keep us on the right path and to protect us from the bitter fruit of our errant ways. When we are chastened, we should discover the reason for it and look ahead to the peaceable fruit that will result. Sometimes we wonder whether a trial is chastening from God or buffeting from Satan. Sometimes God allows Satan to buffet us as a form of chastisement. He allows us to experience the bitter fruit of a path we have followed. When we pray and ask God to remove a trial, it He takes it away then it was not of God, but if it persists then we know He wants to teach us something through it.

v.12,13 The exhortation is to get back on the straight path and start running again.

v.14 Follow here is "pursue".

Holiness here is "separated". We should be separated from the world for God's exclusive use.

v.15 Bitterness often comes when we cannot understand the ways of God. Our trials can make us bitter or better. If we are bitter, we make those around us miserable, too.

v.16,17 Esau was not crying tears of repentance; he was crying because he had lost the blessing. Esau had shown his spiritual indifference when he sold his birthright for the food his brother made.

v.18 Our relationship to God under the new covenant is not material, but spiritual (John 4:22).

v.19-21 The people under the old covenant asked Moses to mediate with God for them because the evidences of His presence were so terrifying to them.

v.23 Our names are written in the heavenly register which gives us the rights of citizenship in the Kingdom.

v.24 The blood of Jesus cries out for God's mercy and grace to be extended to us, while Abel's blood cried out for vengeance.

v.25 Jesus is the One we are to listen to (Mark 9:7). Moses spoke for God on earth, and those who did not obey the laws he gave from God were lost. Since Jesus came directly from heaven to give God's message to us, we should consider His message even more carefully.

v.26-28 If our lives revolve around material things, then when God shakes the earth to destroy it, we will lose everything. We should keep a light touch with the world as we develop and strengthen our spiritual man (James 1:27).

HEBREWS 13: APPLICATION OF SPIRITUAL TRUTHS

v.1 Continue here is "abide" (John 13:35; 1 John 3:14).

v.2 We demonstrate our love for others when we are friendly to strangers at church. Entertaining in Biblical days included taking a person into one's home.

v.3 There are Christians in prison in other countries whose only "crime" is loving our Lord Jesus and who need our prayers and help (1 Corinthians 12:26). There are so many ways that we can minister love to our neighbors if we will take the time and let His love flow through us (1 Corinthians 13:13).

v.4 God made Eve to be Adam's companion to bring completeness, love, and beauty to his life in marriage (Genesis 2:20-24). 1 Corinthians 6:15-19; 2 Corinthians 6:14.

v.5 Conversation here means "manner of life".

v.7 Those who teach us the word of God have spiritual authority over us, but not to the point of the Nicolaitanes, who lorded over the lay people (Revelation 2:6,15).

v.8 Jesus has the same divine characteristic of immutability (changelessness) that God has. We are anchored to Him in this changing world.

v.9 We do not need "new truth". The sound doctrine of God's word is enough. Our standing with Christ is based upon His grace, not upon outward observances, such as eating or abstaining from meat.

v.10 The altar we have is spiritual, and the high priests have no right to serve or partake there.

v.11,12 The animals' bodies were taken outside the camp to be burned and Jesus was also sacrificed outside the city walls.

v.13 When we go "without the camp" we are going outside the system of Judaism to find Jesus. The Jews find it particularly difficult to bear the reproach of Christ.

v.14 We are looking for the glorious City of God.

v.15 As Christians, we also offer sacrifices to God. but sacrifices are from our hearts rather than a tradition (Isaiah 1:11-15). God wants joyful, willing sacrifices, not grudging service. We can also offer God "a broken spirit and a contrite heart" (Psalm 51:17), and our bodies (Roman 12:1).

v.16 We offer the sacrifice of praise to God and the sacrifice of doing good to others.

Communicate here means "to help out, to distribute what we have to those in need" (James 2:14-17; 1 John 3:18; Proverbs 19:17).

v.17 This verse has been carried to extremes, with a "shepherd" who oversees all a person's activities. Actually, a teacher should teach us to submit to God, not to himself. If we know God's Word and follow it, our teacher can give a good account of us.

v.18 Pastors and teachers need prayer, too.

v.20 Paul is the only New Testament author to use the term "God of Peace". He also used the term "Lord Jesus" more than any other author. We make our peace with God when we accept God's salvation of us through Christ, but the peace of God is a further step. We need to appropriate the peace of God in every situation by committing ourselves totally to Him. Jesus is the Good Shepherd (Ezekiel 34; John 10:1-29). The everlasting covenant is between God and Christ, for God promised to raise Jesus from the dead.

v.21 Perfect here again is "complete, of full age."

God does the work in us that He pleases, so we do not have any room to boast (Ephesians 2:10). We are the instrument in His hands.

v.22 Suffer here is "give heed, allow with obedience."

v.23 Timothy was Paul's frequent companion.


Used With Permission

© The Word For Today. We thank Chuck Smith, The Word For Today and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for their permission to utilize this work.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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