ENJOYING THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
(Revised 2 April 2012)
©2012 Dr. Irene Bonney Faulkes DD
When we read Hebrews we have to say that it is one of the most wonderful and interesting books in the whole Bible. It seems to be neglected by many and some say they cannot understand it.
The Holy Spirit will help us.
The book falls into several progressive categories. It was primarily written to Christians of Hebrew descent. For that reason it details Old Testament types and examples supplying the meaning as they are fulfilled in the New Testament order.
It deals with the Person of the Son of God from several perspectives. Then the example of the Children of Israel comes as a warning, followed by the hope for believers. Christ as High Priest after the Order of Melchizedek is portrayed, leading on to His present office in heaven and His position as Mediator of the New Covenant. We are shown how this New Covenant replaces the Old. It is for us through the way of faith, about which one chapter is devoted as a gallery of many Old Testament men and women of faith. Then follows the need to look to Jesus as God’s children. Believers now do not have any earthly city or Temple. Instead they have the heavenly Jerusalem and the kingdom of God. The book closes with a chapter of exhortation for living as believers look to Jesus. Their hope is for His coming again and for the eternal city that will be their portion.
The book of Hebrews marks the end of the Jewish State and that of its holy city, Jerusalem. The Old Covenant under which the State had lived for centuries had been faulty because of inability and failure to keep it. This resulted in the destruction of its Temple and the finality of its religious institutions, priesthood, animal sacrifices, feasts and laws to be obeyed and followed.
Instead, it reveals clearly the glories of the heavenly kingdom, the heavenly city, the church which is Mount Zion and the introduction of the New Covenant that will never fail because its Surety is the Lord Jesus Christ. There is to be no earthly temple but a heavenly one, the Sanctuary of which Moses’ Tabernacle was a type and shadow. There is to be no rigorous demands of Law but instead, the way of faith is emphasized with its heavenly hope. The Old Testament Levitical priesthood through Aaron and his descendants is removed. Instead there is a High Priest of a different order, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is seated at the right hand of God, as God, in the heavenly Sanctuary. He is in heaven on behalf of the saints with the promise of His appearing a second time to waiting believers.
We can see the following divisions in the book –
a. It is about the Son of God.
b. The household in which Moses was and the household over which is the Son.
c. Readers are to leave the Old Covenant showing elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity.
d. The difference between the Mosaic (Levitical) priesthood and the priesthood of Melchizedek.
e. The Old Covenant removed and replaced by the New Covenant.
f. Christ, our Great High Priest.
g. No longer an earthly city of Jerusalem but a heavenly city, Zion, the Jerusalem above and the church.
h. Faith to enter with Jesus its Author and Finisher.
i. We, with Christ, outside the camp of the Old Covenant.
j. Exhortations to believers.
We look at the whole book of Hebrews, chapter by chapter.
Verses 1-4 “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”
We can imagine the thoughts of the Hebrews to whom this letter was addressed. It is spelt out clearly that yes, for centuries God had used diversity to speak to the nation of Israel. It had been through the various prophets. To a Jew the Word of the Old Testament was sacred, even though it was disregarded to a large degree and replaced with the traditions of the Elders. As Jesus said, they even killed the prophets. Now these Hebrew Christians are being told that God has replaced the old manner of His speaking with another. He now speaks to them and us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. None could disregard His Son with impunity. Yet this is what many were doing. Hence we have the book of Hebrews. Sadly today, both Jews and Christians in many cases are taking more notice of many of the Old Testament prophets and their message instead of regarding totally what the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, says in the New Testament.
Here it is written in plain words that God now has another way of speaking. It takes precedence. This way is so important that it alone is God’s present way of speaking to Israel, who would not listen and to those believing Hebrews and Gentiles who would listen and obey.
This way is through “a Son”, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ is Creator. He existed before all creation. His Divine nature is explicitly pointed out, He being the exact representation or counter-part of God’s very being.
Then with His redemptive work finished, He took His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He accomplished what no other could do. His blood purifies from sin and the blood of no other person would suffice.
In verses 3, 5 and 6, there are quotations from Psalm 110:1, Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 17:2.
Christ is the only One who is called the Son of God. He is said to be “begotten”. The phrase means, “Today you have become My Son”. It is in the sense that accords with Romans 1:4 “Christ, descended, in respect of his human birth, from the line of David, yet, in virtue of the holiness of spirit which was his, shown forth to be (and that in a powerful manner) the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord”. It does not mean He was born. Neither does it mean that He did not become Son until that day.
The meaning is that He was installed and exalted as the Son. It shows His relationship to the redeemed, exalted in His glorified humanity. He was declared so for the redeemed and indeed before angels, in view of His holy attribute. Therefore He was resurrected from the dead. Never at any time during His incarnation, even during the scenes of His trial and crucifixion, did He have any sin or become sin. He had “holiness of spirit” at all times.
Verse 6 gives a clearer translation (by Cassirers) in “And then, there is this, that when, in his turn, he brings his firstborn into the inhabited world, he speaks thus, Let all God’s angels worship Him”. It could not have anything to do with creation. The verse shows it was after man was made, because the world is inhabited. It further shows the superiority of Jesus and of His being higher than the angels in verse 4.
We also see the meaning from verse 6 to be as some translate, “But when he brings again, or the second time, the first-born into the habitable world.” This has to be at the time of His resurrection. His human spirit and soul, as well as the fullness of the Godhead bodily, dwelt in the man, Christ Jesus. This was during the whole time of His incarnation on earth. When He died on the cross, both the Godhead and the human spirit and soul left His dead body. At His resurrection these were reunited in His resurrected humanity. This resurrection was a second bringing of Him into the world. The first time was at His incarnation in Mary, as said in Hebrews 10:5 “When Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me’.” This in verse 6 above is a second time.
In Hebrews 10:5 the Greek words used refer only to His being incarnated. This incarnation was for the purpose of suffering and dying for man. But the Greek word relating to His resurrection is changed on this second coming into the world in Hebrews 1:6. The reason would be because this second coming into the world was for the purpose to dwell with man after His ascension. Then He became a life-giving Spirit, 1 Corinthians 15:45.
He would quicken the dead in spirit who would believe in Him. He would be united in spirit to each one, 1 Corinthians 6:17 “Anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him”. He had said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age”, Matthew 28:19,20. As His disciples do this, He is with them. Also, He said on another occasion in Matthew 18:18-20, “Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you allow on earth will be allowed in heaven; Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them”.
The “first-born” is the “pre-eminent One”. He exists before all creation that becomes His heritage, as in Psalm 89:27 “I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth”. Also, Colossians 1:15,16 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible; all things have been created through (by) him and for him”.
It relates specifically as well to the fact that as in Hebrews 2:14 “Since therefore the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things”. These children were given Him by God, verse 13. Christ is the first-born of God’s family of redeemed men and women who were born of flesh as He had to be. It does not mean He was born again as indeed He was not, even though Kenyon, Hagin and Copeland heretically say it does. It shows His pre-eminence in His being “the first-born”. Although being the pre-eminent One, He took on the likeness of men. His children become new creatures or new creations in Christ Jesus as in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation”. He was pre-eminent in their natural creation as well as being the pre-eminent One in their spiritual creation.
God had said all the angels were to worship Him, in Psalm 97:7, “worship him, all you gods, or angels”. The Son is much higher than the angels who are not to be worshipped.
Hebrews 1:6-13 shows without doubt the greatness, the exaltation and the righteousness of the Son. In verse 8, the Father says of the Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. In verse 9, God has anointed Him, “with the oil of gladness beyond your companions”. The anointed One is He who is God and Man, Christ Jesus. His joy is so full and complete that it exceeds the joy of any of the millions of believers. Therefore, He is able to give each one of us joy.
Verse 10, “In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, verse 11 “they will perish, but you remain;” verse 12 “You are the same and your years will never end”. His deity is declared and His part as Creator confirmed.
Adam received an inheritance. He threw it aside and fell from that position. Christ, the second Adam, received the inheritance God has for redeemed mankind. This inheritance is not the same as what Adam enjoyed at first. It is quite different. This one is of heavenly glory, where the redeemed are changed into being like Christ, as in -
1 John 3:2. “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. When he is revealed, we will be like him for we will see him as he is”. This is our hope.
Hebrews 1:13 “But to which of the angels has he ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’?”
As God’s Exalted, the Lord Jesus Christ is Co-Regent. Romans 1:4 “Declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead”.
A remarkable thing about “the glory” is told in James 2:1 “While holding to your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is ‘the Glory”, do not exhibit partiality”, Wey. Cassirer reads “the Fount of Glory” whereas RWP cites the original as meaning “the Glory”. James says this to chastise them for showing partiality and judging between the rich and poor in dirty clothes by giving the rich prominence and the poor a seat on the floor at their feet. This was a certain “flattery of human greatness” and a kind of glory to those of human note.
Christ is the Glory, leaving no place for giving glory to any human being whatever the greatness, talent, charisma or position. We remember that the Shekinah Glory of the Old Testament was a created glory of God, visible to human eyes at the time of the Tabernacle of Moses. Christ is not created Glory, His is Divine, inherent glory. He is the expression of the eternal glory of the eternal Triune God.
God had never put the world to come in subjection to the angels as he had to the Lord Jesus. They were mere ministering spirits. All has been put under the dominion of the Lord Jesus. The angels are spirits who are sent to serve God “for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation”. We do not pray to angels. We cannot command angels, as Hagin has said. They are under God’s command. He is the One who sometimes without our praying and other times in answer to our prayers, commands them to in some way assist us. We almost never know when angels are doing their duty to God at His behest for our benefit.
This passage is taken from Psalm 110:1 and often quoted in this Epistle as referring to the Messiah. A footstool is what is placed under the feet when sitting on a chair, and the phrase here means that an enemy is entirely subdued. The enemies referred to are the foes of God and of the Messiah. Christ is to be exalted until all those foes are subdued. Then he will give up the kingdom to the Father as in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.
The exaltation of the Redeemer, to which the apostle refers is the throne of His mediation for His own. In this He is exalted far above the angels. His foes are to be subdued to Him, but angels are to be employed as mere instruments in that great work.
Verses 1-4 “Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. “How can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will.”
The writer now gives a dire warning. They and we are not to deviate from the gospel message. He informs them what they already knew that the Old Testament Law and its message came at the hands of angels. It was so strict that disobedience and sin by neglect of following it, led to punishment according to God’s justice.
This message of the gospel and the New Covenant has a warning. There will be just results if it is neglected because it gives such a great deliverance. The grandeur of the New covenant is such that it cannot be compared to the previous one.
The first declaration of it was by the Lord Jesus. This shows its high importance. It must be followed, 0therwise there can only be loss. Nothing can be added to or subtracted from this message He began to preach. It was preached by those who heard it from His own lips, the apostles, who later received the revelation of the Spirit. This included Paul who was given an extended and special revelation of it by God.
It was so wonderful that God testified to it through the operation of the Holy Spirit. There were signs and wonders. These were generally healings, miracles of healings, of turning water into wine, of calming the elements, of providing food, of walking on the water and of raising the dead. They were all performed by Christ. Then when the apostles preached it, He added the gifts of the Spirit. Anything today must conform to the Word of God.
The writer to the Hebrews takes the position that the New Covenant replaces and is better than the Old. Also that Jesus Christ as its High Priest is having the worship of angels and is of greater glory than Moses who instituted the Law.
It would therefore seem strange then to some Hebrew Christians who were immature and as babes in their new faith that the Lord Jesus Christ came from heaven to such a low state. He was made lower than the angels who had been used in bringing in the Law as in Galatians 3:19.
Moses instituted the Law after his descent from a mountain where the glory of God was revealed. It was so holy and wonderful that no man or beast could touch it without threat of death. This was under the Old Covenant.
Jesus came into the world without honour, of low esteem and eventually died on a cross of suffering and shame as a criminal. Where, they thought, was the glory in this and in the New Covenant of which He is Mediator? Moses had been Mediator of the Old Covenant in glory.
Many of these Hebrews had doubts. They would prefer to go back to the Temple with its sacrifices. The priesthood had garments of glory. The institutional sacrifices were visible. Christ’s work of redemption was not considered sufficient even thought there were witnesses to His death and resurrection. Its operative power is within, being spiritual, internal rather than external and not seen. The results in a person’s life are of course sometimes obvious. The new way of life, of service and of prayer or worship did not have any visible Temple. Spiritually, the Hebrew believers lacked eyes to see and ears to hear in a full measure. Many failed to see the teachings of Christ in the Old Testament material things of this world. Some even would deny Christ preferring rather the old scheme of things.
With these thoughts we can view Hebrews 2:9 “We do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” and -
Hebrews 2:5 “God did not subject the world to come, about which we are speaking, to angels. “
“The world to come” is the Gospel age and the time of the New Testament church. With the Old Testament, it was the Jewish state, under the Law, which was called a world. There was a worldly sanctuary, and worldly ordinances, which is now at an end. Towards the close of this world Christ came. Then came another world, here called "the world to come", as the times of the Messiah are frequently called by the Jews. We remember they were looking ahead when they said this in their day, the Old Testament day. It was not said only for our times, as many take it to have been.
Angels desire to look into the mysteries of it, and learn from the church the manifold wisdom of God. Not they, but men are the preachers of the doctrines of the gospel. Christ is the Head, King, Governor, and Father of this new world. Instead of using "everlasting Father", in Isaiah 9:6, the Septuagint (Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek, 8 B.C.) reads 6 "the Father of the age", or "world to come". Thus mention is made in the Jewish writings of “the world to come of the Messiah.” This world is what Jesus was referring to in John 3:16. Jesus said this in His response to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The whole portion verses 1-21, is addressed to this ruler. It is applicable to this verse, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” John 1:11 (LITV). It was the world of the Jews to whom Jesus came.
The Gospel as Paul said came to the Jews first and then the Gentiles. Jewry rejected Jesus their Messiah and only a remnant of the nation would believe. Paul discovered this in his preaching and turned to the Gentiles. It was always the purpose of God that redemption would go to the world that included Jews and Gentiles.
They connected it to the day when Messiah would arrive, despite their always having a false idea that He would come to be King to deliver them from all natural enemies and establish them as the foremost kingdom of Jehovah.
Hebrews 2:9 “For the suffering of death” shows the reason Jesus was crowned with glory and honour. His crowning was the result of his condescension and sufferings as in Philippians 2:6-9 “Though He was in the form of God, emptied Himself taking the form of a slave. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death”. Christ did not empty Himself of His Divinity, just the full exercise of it. He still had the attributes of Deity as a man. Born into this world, He took unto His Divine nature, the nature of a man. He was and is God and Man.
Hebrews 2:10,11 The purpose of God is to accomplish the bringing of many children to glory. Christ is the pioneer or file-leader who goes before. He was brought into perfection through the perfection of His suffering, (in His human nature). It was not the suffering that brought perfection even as suffering itself will never perfect us, despite the views of some. To live victorious Christian lives, we do not “die daily” as some say from 1 Cor.15:30-32. The Apostle Paul “died daily” in the sense that his body was daily subject to privation, persecution and/or hardship.
Jesus died but rose again. He is the pioneer of our salvation. Christ in perfection, is able to sanctify us. We with Him have one Father. We look at the fall of man in Adam and the redemption of the elect in Christ. God’s whole aim for us was that these things were ordained to occur so that Christ would have a body of redeemed saints with whom to share His glory. Adam was never in this state. It is not that man is restored with a restored Garden of Eden. Rather, God’s plans extend to the redeemed with spiritual bodies, being in the glory of heaven itself.
Verse 12 is a quotation from Psalm 22:22, a Psalm relating to Christ’s crucifixion. “Behold I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel.” This was fulfilled when Jesus and his disciples wrought a multitude of signs and wonders in Israel. The expression also may include all genuine Christians who are as signs and wonders throughout the earth.
There were miracles that happened at His crucifixion. Later there was the destruction of the Jewish state and its institutions foreshadowed by the supernatural tearing of the thick veil in the Temple as He was on the cross. What of the calling of the Gentiles, and the establishment of the Christian Church, as in Psalm 22:27 “The ends of the earth shall turn to the Lord (Jehovah); and all the families of the nations shall worship before him”. Are not these signs and wonders?
His sufferings were prophesied in verses 14,15 of this Psalm “I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax. My mouth is dried up. You lay me in the dust of death”. This last phrase refers to the grave, certainly not to Hell.
We could look and see about His crucifixion in Psalm 18:4,5 “The cords of death encompassed me; the cords of Sheol (Greek for ‘the grave’) entangled me; the snares of death confronted me”.
All these verses were prophetic of the death of Christ and given over a thousand years before it occurred. Surely this and all the many other prophecies about Him that were fulfilled, prove the Bible is true.
This Psalm in Verse 7 reads “The earth shook and trembled and darkness was under his feet.”, prophesying of His crucifixion. The gospels tell about an earthquake and darkness instead of the sun for a few hours. Regarding destruction of the Jewish state we read in verse 38 “I have pursued mine enemies and overtaken them; they are fallen under my feet” and in Verse 41 “Those who hated Me were destroyed”. These, His enemies, were Jews and Romans. Verse 43 shows the calling of the Gentiles (non-Jews) “You have made me head of the heathen; a people whom I have never known shall serve me; as soon as they hear of me; they shall obey me”.
The writer of Hebrews wants to show such scriptures are prophecies of the Messiah; that they plainly refer to His appearing in the flesh in Israel. They have all been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, even the calling of the Gentiles to the privileges of the Gospel.
Hebrews 2:13 “And again” is used because it is said in another place that the Messiah put confidence in God. It also shows that He partook of the feelings of the children of God, and regarded Himself as one of them.
Hebrews 2:14-18, “ Now since it was flesh and blood that these children shared, he too in like manner, partook of these, so that, through undergoing death, he might bring to nought the one who held death in his power, that is to say, the devil,
The truth is that it is not to angels but to the descendants of Abraham that he holds out his helping hand.
And that being so, it was necessary that he should, in every way, be made like these brothers of his, so as to become a merciful and faithful high priest in all matters pertaining to God, for the expiation of the sins of the people.
For inasmuch as he himself has undergone suffering, and has been put to the test, he is in a position to come to the aid of those who are being saved.”
On earth, He was poor, and despised. He had none of the external honour which was shown to Moses who was the founder of the Jewish economy. He did not have any of the apparent honour which belonged to angelic beings. The reason was that He came to redeem man. This was why He should be a man, and not take on Himself the nature of angels. For the same reason He was made to suffer, a Man of sorrows.
Nevertheless there were those who recognized and understood His glory. Some acknowledged He was Messiah because they heard His wonderful teaching and saw the miracles, healings and raising of the dead He performed. This latter was used by Jesus to convey as a message to doubting John Baptist in prison that He was indeed the Messiah, Matthew 11:2.
Regarding Verse 14 above they are all the children of God, the children given to Christ. They are the sons “brought to glory”. They "are partakers of flesh and blood" which means human nature common to all mankind. It is subject to infirmity and mortality.
“He also himself took part of the same”. Christ became man . He took on a human nature like theirs (albeit special). This shows He was the “I Am” before His incarnation as in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I Am”. It means He Himself of His own willingness, took on an individual of human nature. He took this into union with His Divine Person. He did not take on angelic nature.
It should be emphasized that because “He” took on human nature and also in verse 16 it is to “descendants of Abraham that ‘He’ holds out his helping hand” we understand that He Himself, as well as the Father and the Holy Spirit, created the human body that began to form in the womb of Mary. The Holy Spirit “came upon Mary and the power of the Most High” , Luke 1:35 while Hebrews 10:5 says “But you have prepared a body for me”, speaking of the Father. Christ is Creator, as in Colossians 1:16 “All things were created by Him and for Him (Christ)”.
The Colossians had accepted “the proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord”, 2:6. As God the Son (even while on earth (being then Jesus Christ) He was Creator of all things, including His own human body that was a special creation. This did not make the Son in anyway to be created, as the Jehovah Witnesses say. It was His body and human nature that were part of creation. He Himself from eternity, is the “I Am”.
We see His grace, mercy and condescension. He took on real flesh and blood. It was not spiritual and heavenly. It was complete, perfect, human nature, subject to mortality and human afflictions such as hunger and thirst. Christ took His human nature from a virgin, in a special act of creation and purifying of that seed of her flesh by the Holy Spirit. He was without sin. The reason of Christ's assuming such a nature was on account of the children. This shows His great love to them.
“That through death” i.e. by dying shows -
a. The work which He undertook of destroying him that had the power of death, was to be accomplished by “His own dying”.
b. In order to do this, it was necessary that He should be a man. An angel does not die, and therefore He did not take on Him the nature of angels. The Son of God in His divine nature could not die. Therefore He assumed a form in which He could die - that of a man. In that nature the Son of God could taste of death. Thus He could destroy him that had the power of death.
“He might destroy” or crush his power. This is the work which the Lord Jesus came to perform, to destroy the kingdom of Satan in the world, and to set up another kingdom in its place. This was understood by Satan to be His object.
“Who had the power of death”. This means that the devil was the cause of death in this world. He was the means of its introduction, and of its long reign. This does not mean he had the power to inflict death in particular instances but that “death” was a part of his dominion. He was the means of its introduction. He seduced man from God and was used in the curse on man with its troubles that result in death.
3:1-6 Cassirer’s translation gives this (in part) –
“Fix your minds on Jesus, on him who was sent forth
to make known the faith which we profess
“and to be its High Priest.
Christ is set over God’s household.
And we are that household, so long, that is, as we hold on firmly to the confidence that we have and
the hope in which we find our glory”.
From these verses we can see that we profess “the faith” that Jesus made known. We have “the hope in which we find glory”.
Firstly, it is obvious there is one faith. Jesus declared it.
Secondly, it is because of this faith that we have “the hope”. It is hope that is full of glory for us.
This faith is written about in the four Gospels, the book of Acts and all of the Epistles.
Can we not see how strange it is that nowhere in these writings is anything mentioned about the Great Tribulation, that the “raptured” church would spend seven years (or three and a half, depending on the particular view) in heaven?
This is said to be the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
There, they say, the Bride will feast with Jesus on the “fruit of the vine” according to His words at the Last Supper. He said, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom”, Matthew 26:29.
We should understand that Jesus meant spiritual fruit.
Romans 14:17 says “The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.
6:22 “Now being made free from sin, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
7:2 “You also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
How then can the words of Jesus be taken literally? Also, He used the word, “new”. It’s a new and different kind of wine. Cassirer’s translation supports this, when he writes, “when I drink it as something altogether new”.
Another thing to consider is that a period of merely seven years is not the extent of “my Father’s kingdom”. That is for eternity.
Jesus would have been referring to what He said in John 15:1 “I am the true vine”. Verse 16 “I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last”.
Is not this the “fruit of the vine”? In “lasting” it will be for eternity. He sups with us and we with Him, Spiritually.
How strange that in the one faith Jesus proclaimed and that was continued through His Spirit in Acts and the Epistles, there is no mention of His returning to the Mount of Olives?
There is no mention of His reigning for a thousand years from Jerusalem, to be the holy city, wherein there will be a rebuilt Temple. Neither is there any record that Israel will be restored to become the hub of the earth, as a people who have at last been restored. Many in our churches and T.V. preachers, give higher place to Israel than to the Lord Jesus Himself. The Bible is centred on Jesus Christ.
The record shows that Israel rejected their Messiah and that it was destroyed as a nation, its Temple entirely razed to the ground so that not one stone would remain, Matthew 24:2. Many like to think that the Wailing Wall is all that remains of the Temple. As Jesus said not one stone would remain it cannot be a wall of the Temple. Actually, some historians and archaeologists say it was part of the Roman soldiers’ garrison. It could not be part of the ancient Temple. Ignorance about this brought idle praying.
Also, in Matthew 24:15 “So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel”, Jesus is referring to Daniel 9:26. The events prophesied by Jesus occurred from 66-70 A.D. in particular.
We are to believe the “faith” that has been proclaimed to us through the New Testament. The Book of Revelation is apocalyptic, of ancient writing, an unusual style to us. It does not set out the doctrine of “the faith”.
Verses 1-6 of Hebrews 3, show the greatness of Jesus above that of Moses, greatly honoured but in reality part of the household. Jesus Christ is not part of the household. He is over God’s house as a Son. He brought the gospel.
This again proves that the message of Christ is far higher than the message of the Law and then the Prophets. Why has the Church gone astray in that it takes more notice of the Prophets than Christ regarding the End-time? Moses prophesied that Israel would be finished as a nation – never to be restored, in Deuteronomy 27:26 “Cursed be anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by observing them”. Is this not Israel?
Again he prophesied her bitter end in Deuteronomy 28:15-68 29:14-29; 30:17-20. Also, see Deuteronomy 32:15-26. Jeshurun is Israel, in verse 15. In verse 21, the Lord says He will bring in the Gentiles to be His people, as also in Hosea 1:10. As well in Romans 9:24-26 with Verse 27 showing Isaiah prophesied only a remnant of the nation of Israel would be included.
Is it not a serious matter that End-time preaching as we hear it is not included in “the faith” Jesus came forth to declare?
Instead of our looking for this proposed End-time to be fulfilled, according to Hebrews 2:6, we have something else as our goal and on which to pin our faith.
It is “the hope”. It is in that hope, “we find glory”. What is this hope? Chapter 2:10,11 declares it as God “in bringing many sons to glory” then speaks of “their salvation”.
2:3 “How can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord”.
The Scriptures speak of our “hope” in other places.
Acts 26:6 “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:” Verse 8 “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?”
Verses 22,23 “To this day I have had help from God, and so I stand here, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would take place: that the Messiah must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
Romans 5:1,2 “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. “
2 Corinthians 1:10 “who delivered us out of so great a death, and will deliver: on whom we have set our hope that he will also still deliver us …”
2 Corinthians 3:10-12 “Indeed, what once had glory (under Moses) has lost its glory because of the greater glory.
For if what was set aside came through glory, much more
Has the permanent come in glory”.
Seven years in heaven and a thousand years on earth as taught incorrectly, are not “the permanent come in glory”. Again, our hope is tied to heaven and not to anything of this earth which will be destroyed by fire.
Galatians 5:5 “ For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness. “
Ephesians 1:18 “having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling.”
Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; “
Colossians 1:5 “ because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.
You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth”.
Our “hope” is made very plain here. It is laid up in the heavens. It has nothing to do with this earth. Therefore, this hope can never include a thousand years so-called reign with Christ on earth, that was cursed by God.
Can we not see how the church has been deceived in this matter since 1828, through John Nelson Darby, found of the Exclusive and Open Brethren? He went to the U.S.A. often and indoctrinated many of the leaders who since then would have taught his aberration of Scriptural doctrines to 20,000,000 pastors, teachers, evangelists and missionaries. This may include laymen who went to the Seminaries and Bible Schools. And so we in turn digested it! We should know this so as to follow truth, not error.
His doctrine emphasizes that the Cross, the church and the gospel age are merely a “parenthesis”! That is a deceptive lie. Christ is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. That is the core of the gospel, so how could the cross be something that was only introduced because Israel failed to receive the Messiah? They indeed failed but only because it was predetermined by God to be so and because they did not want a suffering, crucified Messiah. They desired a King to remove the yoke of Rome. Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world at any time as He said.
Again, in a warning to us, we read –
Colossians 1:23 “that you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; whereof I Paul was made a minister.”
Colossians 1:27 “ to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”
This, indeed is our hope, as follows -
Titus 1:2 “in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal;”
Titus 2:13 “looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; “
Titus 3:7 “that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. “
Hebrews 3:7-19 give warning to these Hebrew believers and to us also.
On reading those verses, we can see from verse 7 that the Holy Spirit is saying something about today. Those Hebrew believers and we must listen. All of them did not and many of us do not. The rebellion of the early Israelites about to enter the promised land is set out as an example. Therefore, as in verse 11, the Holy Spirit says, “They will not enter my rest”.
All are to “take care” about this. If those Hebrew believers persisted in going back to Temple worship and sacrifices of animals, it showed they in fact had an “unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God”. Leaving Christ and His gospel with the New Covenant, to turn away to the Old, is leaving God Himself. It is possible to be “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”, verse 13.
Verse 19 shows the real problem is unbelief in the true gospel.
We can look at verses 1-11 from our Bibles.
The subject is the rest of God. He rested, verse 4, and we also must enter by faith into the rest of the gospel. It is possible to “fail through such disobedience as theirs” verse 11. Over the centuries there has been an emphasis by Protestants on keeping the Sabbath. The Seventh Day Adventists keep Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, which is in effect, law keeping. Many others have revered Sunday as the Sabbath. The early church did indeed meet on the first day of the week, as in the New Testament record. This was to replace Saturday because Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. To revere Sunday as the Sabbath and not to engage in anything other than religious matters shows misconception of the matter of “Sabbath rest” in Hebrews as well as the status of the Law for Christians.
The entire scope of the Old Covenant, that included the Ten Commandments with one regarding the keeping of the Sabbath holy, was to point to Christ. The details were fulfilled in Christ. The Sabbath rest is fulfilled in Christ and in the gospel. This is the rest spoken about in these chapters in this book of Hebrews.
Verses 12-14 “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.”
Now the writer introduces the Lord Jesus Christ as the Word of God. He is the spoken Word and the written Word. He said, “My words are spirit and they are life”. His Spirit is in the written word and we are to take note exactly what He says.
No one is outside of His gaze. That means also that no one is to be outside of His written word. All will be “naked and laid bare” in His eyes according to His Word given by His Spirit. Even the Old Testament prophets wrote as inspired by the Spirit of Christ, 1 Peter 1:10,11 “the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated”.
It is to Jesus Christ we must render account. This was a revelation to the Hebrew believers. Under the Old Covenant they knew God saw them. He is Yhwh or Jehovah. Now under the New Covenant, they and we are told that it is Jesus Christ with whom we have to deal. The Jehovah of the New Testament is Christ. Paul has told us the rule of judgment, Romans 2:16 “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”
Back to Hebrews 4:14, because Christ is our High Priest as said here to be just as proclaimed in 2:17, we are to “lay hold of the faith we profess” rather than “confess”. The faith means all the doctrines of the gospel as presented in the Gospels and the Epistles.
The ideas of confession that have prevailed since about 1960 to this day, cannot be said to have their base in either Hebrews 3:1 or 4:14. One knows they use these verses as a source, from reading Kenyon, Hagin and Copeland. This idea of confession as taught did come from the latter two but it originally was the work of Kenyon, who had been a student at a Christian Scientist seminary.
Hebrews 4:15 “We have one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin”. This does not mean that Jesus faced temptations within to commit adultery, for example, to lie, to hate, to be proud etc. The Greek word means “tested, tried, proved, examined, assayed which is a determination of content of a substance. In the face of the sins of the human race, which humanity he shared, he was proved after examination by God to have no sin within. As gold is tested by fire to discover its purity or otherwise, He was found to have sinlessness. This is the real meaning. Jesus, as God, could not have had sin. His creation as a human from Mary as seed of a woman, was “that holy thing” as said by the Holy Spirit when He announced to her that she would bear a child without a human father.
In Romans 8:3 we are told “God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful man”. This is a better translation, “Sending his Son in a form like that borne by our own sinful nature, and doing so for the purpose of dealing with sin”. It means he resembled sinful flesh in that he partook of flesh or the nature of man but without any of its sinful tendencies or desires. The translation also could be “in all points according to the likeness, i.e. as far as his human nature could be like ours. He had a perfect human body and human soul. His mind or human soul was free from all sin. He was in every way perfect. It was impossible for Him to sin.
As He was in this way different from us, as man, he cannot sympathize with us in any of our sinful feelings. As God and Man, He has provided help for the body under all trials and infirmities. For the soul He has provided an atonement for our sin so that He cleanses the heart from all unrighteousness. He enables our spirits to receive His Holy Spirit when we are born again of the Spirit, as in John 3:1-8. He took our flesh and blood, a human body and a human soul and lived a human life. In was in this way He was in the “likeness of sinful flesh”.
Hebrews 4:16, I love Cassirer’s translation that reads -
“Let us draw near, therefore, in confidence to the throne from which grace flows, so that we may receive mercy and find grace coming to our aid in time of need”.
How wonderful! How marvellous!
Because of all that has been written previously, we should take advantage of the throne of grace flowing so freely. God through Christ will supply us with the mercy and grace our need requires.
The writer of Hebrews has been at pains all the time to this point to provide steps in his presentation that will make it all clear. So in chapters 3 and 4 he is pointing out the rest of the gospel. Israel had been offered the rest of the Promised Land, Canaan. That generation failed to enter in through unbelief that included rebellion. Is there to be no rest for God’s people? Yes, indeed. David prophesies of this rest. It has come to these Hebrews and to us in the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the Mediator of the New Covenant God has designed. This Covenant is clarified in chapters 7 to 10.
There is in Hebrews 4:9 ”So, then, a Sabbath rest still remains for the people of God”. This rest is of the gospel and remains for this age and reaches into the ages to come in eternity. Thus the rest supersedes that originally promised as the Promised Land of Canaan. That land was a type of what we enjoy as rest now but there awaits us who believe a far greater rest in the eternal heaven on the renewed earth. This rest awaiting us, is never intended to be a millennium as has been taught. I heard this teaching in my childhood through the old Pentecostals and believed it, but it was erroneous.
The belief is that there were to be seven dispensations, God having made the world in six days and “rested on the seventh (Sabbath)”so the seventh is the millennium and that, they say, is the “Sabbath rest”. Darby is called “the father of Dispensationalism” even though it came originally from a Jesuit then through the Scottish minister, Irving with others contributing at the many conferences held at Powerscourt, home of Darby’s aristocratic fiancé. As we heard in the nineties, it was supposed to commence at the beginning of 2000A.D. It did not.
This chapter focuses on a high priest. First there was Aaron, who was called of God. He did not choose this honour for himself. He was sinful and weak as those for whom he offered sacrifices. He thus needed to offer sacrifices for himself. He could understand the people.
Christ came in a similar way in some respects but He had no need to sacrifice for Himself. He understand us. He did not “glorify himself in becoming a high priest”. He was appointed.
God had said this to Him being recorded in Psalm 2:7 and also mentioned in the book of Hebrews 1:5. The other quotation is from Psalm 110:4. We quote –
Hebrews 4:5,6 “Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;
as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Then verse 7 speaks of the “days of his flesh” in the Garden of Gethsemane. Again it is specified that He suffered and was made perfect; not meaning He learnt ‘not to sin’. Rather, testing Him showed that He is sinless.
Now the order under which He operated is declared. It is a different order. It is the order of Melchizedek.
The writer would like to say very much more about this. He could not as they had “become dull in understanding”. Probably this is the state of very many in the church today. Because these Hebrews did not receive the gospel sufficiently enough not to desire for the old ways of the Temple and national Israel, they could only be given the “milk of the Word” and not “solid food “ that is for the “mature”. It is surely a serious matter to be merely on milk and not mature enough to understand the true and spiritual things of the gospel. This leaves no place for extra revelations outside of the true meaning of the Scriptures, particularly that of the gospel faith.
Verses 1-6 “Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And we will do this, if God permits.”
Bearing in mind this letter is first of all directed to believing Jews, we have to conclude that the “basic teaching about Christ” is what is found in the Law. It has little to do with the teachings from the gospel for us today. In any case, we all are to leave it behind to go on to “perfection”. This is all that is embraced by the New Covenant, as is clear from reading the remainder of the book of Hebrews.
Just a quick insertion of thought! Obviously perfection is found in the New Covenant. It has nothing to do with anything under the Law or the Old Covenant. Why then do so many anticipate that the nation of Israel will acknowledge Christ as Messiah by anything less than “perfection”? Hebrews clearly teaches that there is no “perfection” under anything that occurred under the Old Covenant. It is found only in the New Covenant.
Nevertheless, many believers are expecting the Temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem, the priesthood to be reinstalled, sacrifices to occur! Some have even discovered a “red heifer” in the U.S.A., such being necessary for one of the sacrifices in Leviticus. They obviously have negated the book of Hebrews to follow this absurd belief.
“Let us go on to perfection” under the New Covenant and remain there!
The “basic teaching” is in the ceremonies of the Law that were typical of Christ. The sacrifices portrayed Christ in His various ways of Being and suffering. That is the teaching to be left behind. It was as stated here, the beginning of the doctrine of Christ.
As shown later in Hebrews 10:1 “the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities”.
All had been abolished by Christ. These believing Jews wanted to go back to the shadow.
It was declared emphatically to them that they were not to lay again the foundation in Christ they had already left. They had to leave it all behind forever. This foundation included the six things mentioned in verses 1 and 2.
They commenced with “repentance from dead works”. These works were the sacrifice of animals for personal sin. They had confessed their sins while sacrificing the animals. This procedure was to show them repentance and remission of sins.
The Day of Atonement when the High Priest performed his duties going in behind the Curtain to the Holy of Holies, had provided an atonement or covering of the sins of the nation for another year. How could they go back to this?
In Mark 1:15, Jesus came, “saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe the gospel’.”
Now, under the Gospel dispensation, believing Jews, as these were to whom the apostle writes, were not to return to learning the doctrine of repentance from slain beasts. Jesus had come.
Also, they were not to lay again the second part of this foundation, which was “faith towards God” only. They had been brought to faith in Christ. The gospel commands faith in Him, as Paul indicated in Acts 16:31 to the Roman jailor, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved”. Jesus said in John 14:1, “Believe in God, believe also in me”.
The third thing they were to leave was all the instructions about “ablutions” (rather than baptisms as KJV) that were required under the Law. The laying on of hands on animals for sin was the fourth. Hebrews 9:10 mentions that “gifts and sacrifices” (v.9) “deal only with food and drink and various baptisms”.
The fifth and sixth had also to do with Old Testament teaching. There is clear doctrine on both resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment found there.
Under the New Testament, the resurrection of the dead is focused on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This connection was not shown clearly in the Old. We find something about it in 1 Corinthians 15:20,23 “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died” and “Each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ”. Teaching as this is what they were to pursue.
Regarding judgment, Jesus said in John 5:21,25,27-29 –
”Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. The hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
Judgment is mentioned in 2 Peter 3. Verses 9-10 “The Lord .. is patient with you (on your account, i.e. believers) not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief - the elements, all aflame, will dissolve into nothingness, no trace being left of the earth or of anything contained in it.” Verse 12 says we “should look eagerly for the coming of the Day of God and play our part in the hastening on of that day on which the heavens will be burned up and annihilated”.
Amazingly, we are to eagerly anticipate this time of judgment by the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to even try to hurry it along.
The Lord, is the Lord Jesus, as shown in verse 2, regarding “the commandment of the Lord and Saviour spoken through your apostles”. This is as Paul has taught, 1 Corinthians 8:65 “But to us God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” Judgment is in the hands of the Lord Jesus.
In Revelation 16:15 the Lord says, “See, I am coming like a thief”. Then the Scriptures go on to speak of the Battle of Harmagedon. This is His coming being for judgment.
Thus we have the New Testament teaching on judgment, somewhat different from that of the Old Testament. They were to embrace such instead of clinging to the Old Testament that did not mention Christ as Judge.
There is a teaching from New Zealand and probably as a result of the errors in the Latter Rain Outpouring, 1948, that these things in Hebrews 6:1,2 are needed in the “Restoration” that is here and still is to come. They relate the six parts to things evangelical and Pentecostal. We cannot follow their error of forging doctrines and new revelations from Scriptures clearly teaching otherwise. Always, verses of the Bible should be considered in context.
The whole issue is that the writer wants to show to these Hebrew Christians and us, how much greater is the Son than Moses or angels. Because of His greatness and exaltation, the New Covenant designed for believers with Him Exalted and as Mediator far exceeds the value of the Old given to Israel. They and we can never go back to the Old. There is none greater than this New Covenant that has a High Priest who “abides forever” as its Mediator.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ to whom the Old Testament order pointed. The Old finished because He has come. The priesthood has changed. Repentance now is necessary for the sinner who does not believe in Christ. He must repent from that position. The Sacrifice of Christ on the cross has been made, once for all. There are to be no more sacrifices.
All people will be resurrected by Christ. Believers will be transformed into His image while unbelievers will find themselves in Hell for eternity. In judgment, all must give account if they do not have Christ and believe in Him. Such will be judged by Him accordingly. The Old pointed to Christ. The New is centred solely in Christ.
There is another point for us who have heard the present End-Time doctrines regarding Israel, that these Hebrews never did hear because it was never taught to anybody in the early Church. Neither was it taught to saints of the Old Testament. It is that there will be no going back to anything under the Old Covenant with Jesus Christ reigning after His supposed descent on to the Mount of Olives.
The Old has been removed and replaced forever. Of course, the false teaching is that the Jews will accept Jesus as Messiah on the Mount of Olives and that they will go all over the world preaching the “gospel of the Kingdom” (another and new kind of gospel) for the thousand year reign of Christ.
Paul said, Galatians 1:6b-9
“Some – are turning to a different gospel
not that there is another gospel,
but there are some who are confusing you and want to
pervert the gospel of Christ.
but even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you,
let that one be accursed!”
There can be no other gospel that could be proclaimed by Jews during Israel’s restoration to glory in a millennium, can there!
What a travesty. If the New is far better than the Old how can anyone suggest the Old might be brought back? The gospel of the Kingdom that is said will be preached would mean a different gospel from that under the New Covenant as “begun to be preached by Jesus”.
Hebrews 6:3 includes “if God permits”.
Hebrews 6:4-6 “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt.”
The writer is aware of the dangerous position many of those Hebrews were in. They wanted to go back to the Old Covenant and probably some had. He is not sure that their danger has passed. Is there to be forgiveness for them? Is it possible that they will return to their whole-hearted reliance upon Christ, the New Covenant and the new Priesthood? He sets out the dangers.
He further on, in 10:38,39, shows a certain confidence that those of faith will not go back. If they do God will have no pleasure in them. Certainly to be in the “elect” does not eliminate the possibility of going back.
Mention should be made here that this verse does not oppose repentance to someone who has slipped. It speaks of those who finally leave the gospel faith to return to Temple worship with its priesthood and sacrifices. They had “been enlightened”. Those persons can never be “restored again by repentance” because they have deliberately turned their backs on the true Sacrifice for sins, the Lord Jesus Christ. They have rejected Him as their High Priest, preferring rather the priesthood they could see in the Temple.
The glorious part is that we have “tasted of the word of God and the powers of the age to come”. What manner of salvation is this? It is such that we dare not leave it behind.
The writer considered it a serious matter for those Hebrews then and for others in the future to return to the Temple worship. It means they have “crucified again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt”.
Verse 10 can have a comment. Believers who work for and show love to the saints will be rewarded. We are not to become lazy in this but imitate those of faith. They are the ones throughout the Old Testament and now into the church age, who believe the promises of God regarding the gospel of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and all it entails.
Hebrews 6:13-20 relates to the promise by God with an oath to Abraham. Abraham obtained the promise. It is guaranteed in the same way by God to the “heirs of the promise”. We believers are co-heirs with Jesus Christ. Romans 8:17 “If children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ”. Also, Galatians 4:6 “So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, all this by the will of God”. Verse 16 “the promises were made to Abraham and his descendant, that is, to one person, who is Christ.” In Christ we are heirs. Galatians 3:8 “And the holy Writings, seeing before the event that God would give the Gentiles righteousness by faith, gave the good news (gospel) before to Abraham, saying, In you will all the nations have a blessing.”
All the promises to Abraham in essence were not ultimately for the nation of Israel. They were fulfilled not in that nation but in Christ. He is the descendant and we believers, Jew and Gentile, are co-heirs with Him. All the promises to Abraham are fulfilled in believers, not Israel.
The promises are for believers in Christ. Because they are promises of God, there is a certainty of fulfilment. God has added a further guarantee, verse 17 “He provided a further guarantee by the swearing of an oath” showing “the unchangeable character of his purpose”.
Thus we are powerfully encouraged to “seize the hope set before us”, verse 18. This hope has been clearly set down in many paragraphs above.
The wonderful thing is that “We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain”, verse 19.
The place “within the veil”, the most holy place in the earthly Tabernacle or Temple, was regarded as God’s special abode - where he dwelt by the visible symbol of His created presence. That Holy of Holies was a type of heaven. Christ entered there when He ascended above.
The idea in this verse is, that the hope of the Christian enters into heaven itself. It catches hold to the throne of God. It is made firm by being fastened there. It is not the hope of future riches, honours, or pleasures in this life, for such a hope would not keep the soul steady. It is the hope of immortal blessedness and sinlessness in the world beyond.
This hope from our inner spirit enters in and fixes upon the person of Christ. Being anchored there, we can carry the simile further by saying that the anchor is part of the boat. We each represent a boat, whose anchor, part of us, is in heaven, joined to Him. It is a truth that we have entered there, because we are joined to Christ with our hope also connected to Him. He has entered there. He appears in the presence of God for His people. His blood is there which he carried within and by which he entered. He has for us a righteousness that justifies. The law is fulfilled. We are spiritually there also, in Him.
The mentions of the material things within the Old Testament Temple speak of heavenly things. The mercy seat is the throne of grace, on which Jehovah sits as the God of grace. All the glories of heaven which we hope for are spoken of as being within the veil.
They are hidden and invisible at present. The things we see are temporal but those unseen are eternal.
Having brought the readers to this point, the author of Hebrews introduces in verse 20 Jesus as High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Verses 1-3 “King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him; and to him Abraham apportioned one-tenth of everything. His name, in the first place, means “king of righteousness”; next he is also king of Salem, that is, “king of peace.” Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.”
The story of Melchizedek is found in Genesis 14:8-24. We should note the salient points in order to understand what is recorded in Hebrews. Abram’s nephew Lot and people, with their goods had been captured. Abram went to rescue them.
The first thing to notice is Genesis 14:16 where it states that Abram “brought back all the goods”. These were the property of Lot, as told us in verse 12. They did not belong to Abram and were not the fruit of his toil.
Abram gave to King Melchizedek a tithe of these goods that did not belong to him. He was following a prevalent custom of those times. When this is mentioned in verse 7 above, it is not referring to anything like the tithe that the Children of Israel were commanded to give in later centuries. Theirs in one particular tithe, for instance, was of the entire produce of the fields and livestock. In other words it was of the profits of their own industry.
The name “Melchizedek” has the meaning as shown above. He is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is King of righteousness, King of peace and as God, without genealogy.
There is an odd belief around that Melchizedek was in actuality, the Son of God who appeared as him to live on earth all those years. It is an impossibility. Christ did not have two incarnations, only one, when born of Mary.
The proponents of this belief follow verse 3 above. The meaning is not that Melchizedek was eternal. It could never mean that Christ appeared on earth. The main reason they are wrong is that the Scriptures say of Melchizedek, “resembling the Son of God” or “Thus bearing a likeness to the Son of God he remains a priest forever”. He is not the Son of God he was only like Him for all the reasons stated.
Because he had “neither beginning of days nor end of life” it plays out the type as being one of Christ who is eternal. The significance is that this whole verse shows there was no record of genealogy. He is said to be a Priest forever because there is no genealogical record if his birth or death. It was as if he was without a beginning and that there was no end for him.
The Old Testament type in this feature introduces us only to the eternality of the order of the Melchizedek priesthood. Jesus Christ is the anti-type who fulfils this as He is of that order and had neither a beginning and has no ending. He said in Revelation 1:8 “’I am the Alpha and the Omega’ says Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”. Chapter 22:12,16 show this I Am is Jesus.
Hebrews 7:4-7 “See how great he is! Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils. And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to collect tithes from the people, that is, from their kindred, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man, who does not belong to their ancestry, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.”
The King, Melchizedek, occupying this office of “priest of the Most High God” is greater than Abraham, who was never a priest nor a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. His descendants from Levi were never priests after the order of Melchizedek. They were priests according to the “order of Aaron”, shown in verse 11. We also know that fact from reading the books of Exodus, chapter 39, and Leviticus. Therefore the conclusion is that the priesthood of Aaron was far inferior to the one of Melchizedek.
It would appear that in the wisdom and fore-ordination of God, He placed in history, this Kingly Priest, Melchizedek. He is there to show to Israel, to Hebrew believers and to we Gentile believers, that this Melchizedek priesthood would far overshadow the one of Aaron. The verses above explain this. It underlines the eternal essence of Jesus who is Priest and King, bestowing righteousness and peace with our God as we believe in Him.
Hebrews 7:8-10 “In the one case, tithes are received by those who are mortal; in the other, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.”
This portion is used often by certain pastors and tele-evangelists to talk believers into parting with tithes for them. It is a wrong use of Scripture and one that in actuality “cons” money out of the unwitting saints.
Obviously, the purpose of these verses is not to show that tithing is in place under the New Covenant. There is no suggestion in the whole of the New Testament of the legal demand and necessity to tithe. Tithing was under the Law of Moses and given only to the nation of Israel, Leviticus 27:30.34 “All tithes from the land, they are holy to the Lord.” and “These are the commandments that the Lord gave to Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai”.
The believers’ position is stated as being quite different from the Hebrews of old, in chapter 12,v.18 “You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom and a tempest” – referring to Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:2,3 and on.
The whole purpose of the chapter and in particular these verses 8-10 is to prove to all, the superiority of the priesthood of Melchizedek over that of Aaron. This of necessity thus proves the superiority of the High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, over that of the series of High Priests who fulfilled that office under Aaron’s order.
Hebrews 7:8-10 prove this. Abraham, the inferior, the progenitor of Aaron and Levi, was blessed by the superior, King Melchizedek, High Priest of the Most High God, King of righteousness, King of peace – without beginning of days and end of life!
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only One in human form who could be accounted as having this eternality. He is the I Am, eternal God.
We are informed “it is testified that he lives”, this conclusion being because there was no record of “end of days”.
Melchizedek was a type of Christ as He is, now in heaven.
The Aaronic priesthood was mortal. The Melchizedek priesthood is eternal and immortal.
The fact that Levi was yet to be born, shows in a sense he was in Abraham and thus paid tithes, the inferior priesthood to the superior and eternal, ever living priesthood of Melchizedek. The whole point of the matter was not tithing. It used Abram’s action to reveal clearly the greatness of the order of Melchizedek as against that of Levi.
This was the type. The anti-type is Jesus in heaven as Mediator and High Priest for us. He Himself acts in this capacity. On earth, He operated through His Spirit. While ministering on earth, He sometimes acted as God. Even this was through the Spirit as He is the Source of the Spirit. The Spirit was given without measure to Him. John 3:34, “He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure”.
Acts 10:38 declares that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Here, the Name “Jesus” emphasizes the humanity of Jesus, even though the meaning of “Jesus” is who “shall save His people from their sins”. Only God can forgive sins. It is also a form of Jehoshua, meaning “He will save”.
On earth, he did not act generally as God, even though all that time He was God and is God. In Luke 7:18-23 there is one occasion when He acted as the Son of God in His Divinity. The miracles He did were proof of His being the Messiah according to His answer to John’s disciples.
As we read about the ministry of Jesus we are impressed with the fact that this was not just a man, anointed of the Holy Ghost. We can easily see Him as God. Many people said, “No man speaks like this man”. They wondered at the words of grace that fell from His lips. Luke 19:48 reports that “all the people were hanging on to His words” and as the NRSV translates, “All the people were spellbound by what they heard”.
There were at least three other very clear occasions that speak of His Divinity. One is in Luke 8:39 when He cast the demons out of the man who had a Legion of them. He as much as said He was God in that verse when He said to the man – “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you”.
We can consider Matthew 12:28 “But if it is reliance on the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then there is only one safe conclusion: the kingdom of God has already made its appearance in your midst”. This He said on the occasion when He healed a man with a demonic spirit who was blind and dumb.
The Pharisees had accused Him of casting out demons by Beelzebub. He used this to demonstrate that He, Christ, had come bringing the kingdom of God. To enable it to be established, He as the Stronger One had to first of all tie up, or bind the strong man, Satan. This He was accomplishing before their eyes and finally on the cross. There is no Scriptural validation for any believer “binding Satan”. He is already bound, Christ having done so.
Jesus cast out many demons, more demons than we see possessing people in our country when they attend church. The reason was that the Jewish people were very involved with the occult and therefore heathen practices. It is noticeable that demons are far more prevalent in countries today that are full of idols, animistic worship and demonic religions.
Another time He acted in His Divinity, was at the wedding in Cana when He turned the water into wine -
John 2:11 reads “Jesus did this, the first of His signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed His glory”.
Then there is the witness of Jesus Himself, as in –
Matthew 26:63,64 “Then the high priest said to him, ‘I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God’. Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you,
From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven’.”
It occurred when the Lord Jesus Christ acted from heaven in judgment on Israel 66-73AD.
Jesus had quoted Daniel 7:13. See Revelation 1.7, written before this judgment mentioned. It proclaims also the fulfilment of this coming as the Son of Man.
Hebrews 7:11-14, when read, can show us that there was never any perfection through the Levitical priesthood. It was under that priesthood the people received the Law.
“Before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian (school master) until Christ came so that we might be justified by faith”. Galatians 3:23,24.
“The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”, John 1:17. This is preceded in verse 16 with “We have seen His glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth”. He came to bring us to the New Covenant, leaving the Old one behind. As James 2:1 says the Lord Jesus Christ is “the glory”. That glory sourced in His very Divine Person is far more excellent than what was given under Law.
Law had to give way to grace through God-given faith. The Levitical priesthood had to give way to the Melchizedek priesthood. Moses and Aaron had to give way to Christ. There can be no going back to the first principles of Christ. There has to be a going on to the maturity and perfection of the Melchizedek priesthood and the New Covenant.
No one in any age or dispensation, past, present or future, can retrace steps to go back to what has been replaced by the far better order and covenant.
Abraham was of faith and not under Law. Even he had to submit to the Melchizedek priesthood. He submitted to Christ of the gospel preached to him. Christ is all and to be all in all in the aeons of eternity.
Hebrews 7:12, provides these two points a. A change in the priesthood and b. Necessarily thus a change in the law.
The Melchizedek priesthood replaces the Levitical one. With that of Levi, there was a legal requirement under Law as to the particular tribe from which the priesthood came. Our Lord came out of Judah. Under Law, Judah had no right to produce priests.
Hebrews 7:15 shows “another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek, Verse 16 ”One who has become a priest not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life”.
Then it is declared by quoting Psalm 110:4 “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
The writer of Hebrews shows this was confirmed with an oath. Definitely the New Covenant is a better one .
Because there were many priests previously, generation after generation, we are told this about Jesus –
Verse 23 “He holds his priesthood permanently”.
His priesthood is in heaven. It is not on earth and never will be. It is said to be held “permanently”. How then could Jesus leave such a priesthood in heaven and come down to the present earth to reign as King for a millennium? This is another proof of the absurdity in the prolifically taught End-Time doctrines that we hear.
Verse 25 “Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them”.
This verse is about our eternal, spiritual and supernatural salvation. We are saved and delivered from the power of sin, death and hell for eternity. We are saved from the consequences of our sin that revealed the wrath of God in all its fierce display, when we found ourselves confronted with death in our spirits, death in our souls and death (with its scientifically proven death gene) in our bodies.
We come to God only through Christ, our High Priest. I should mention that we do not come to God through singing. A pastor’s wife said to me recently, “I thought music was meant to bring us into the presence of God”. The Bible says it is Christ who brings us there through His blood, by faith.
Verses 26-28 show the continuing holiness of this High Priest. At the time of His suffering and crucifixion, followed by death, He was never touched by sin. He did not become sin itself. He had no inherent sin. He did no sin. He was never a sinner. I cannot emphasize this enough because of the present Word of Faith teachings that He experienced all these things, even to sin by the Roman soldiers in homosexuality. Their teachings include heretically that Jesus was in hell, overcoming Satan and arose as the first man to be born again!
I was told by one of them that I was not born again because I did not believe Jesus had become actual sin.
We quote verses 26,27 “We should have such a high priest,
Holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners
and exalted above the heavens.
Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices
first for his own sins.”
Under the Law, the priests were subject to weakness.
There had been from God “the word of the oath”.
It appointed “a Son, who has been made perfect forever”.
I like Bruce’s commentary on this -
“The divine acclamation, given under oath, of a new and perpetual priesthood after Melchizedek’s order, was designed to supersede the earlier priesthood established by the law.
This came into effect when the Messiah appeared and vindicated his high-priestly title on the basis of a perfect sacrifice.
Fully equipped to discharge an intercessory ministry at the right hand of God, this is no high priest subject to all the conditions of earthly frailty; this is the one whom God addresses as Son, whose High Priesthood is absolutely efficacious and eternally suited to meet His people’s need”.
I should say this about "perfected", or "perfect". It brings out the perfection of His obedience and sufferings, of His sacrifice. He is perfect as He is, now, in heaven. There He is absolute as High Priest evincing far more than the earthly Aaronic High Priests did in their wondrous garments. He is full of heavenly glory. Praise His Name.
Cassirer’s translation of James 2:1 uses these words, “our Lord Jesus Christ, the fount of all glory”. Weymouth writes like this, “our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Glory”.
NOW WE COME TO ‘MATURITY’ OF THE DOCTRINE
AND EXPERIENCE - CHAPTERS 8-10
Verses 1,2,3a,4,5b “Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain’.” (“in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one”).
I wonder how conscious we are of the fact that our prayers, intercessions and worship with various ministries, are heavenward? The sanctuary is in reality, not our church building, although some do call it that. It has not been erected by any human, as these verses tell us but by the Lord Himself.
This sanctuary is in heaven, the dwelling place of God.
Christ sits on the right hand of the Majesty there.
Priests on earth had to offer sacrifices under the Law. After Christ died, there was no necessity for these sacrifices and indeed there was no Law in operation to demand them. All was abolished. As a Priest in heaven, He also had to offer something. He offered Himself to God, the perfect sacrifice for our sins, as in chapter 10:1-8.
The earthly tabernacle, institutions and priesthood were symbolic being shadows only, of heavenly things.
Hebrews 8:6,7 “Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one.”
Christ’s ministry is superior. There is now a better covenant. It stands on better promises. Throughout the Old Testament there had to be a looking forward to a better one as the Old was faulty. The Old Testament saints were those who looked forward with faith to what is quoted in Hebrews 8: 8-12 from such places as – Jeremiah 31:31-34 “I will make a new covenant, not like the covenant with their ancestors” and “I will put my law within them”; “they shall be my people”; “No longer teach one another”; “I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more”.
Verse 13 “In speaking of a new covenant, has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon (or is nigh to) disappear”. The Old Covenant has finished.
We quote verse 1, “The first covenant did indeed have its regulations for dealing with Divine worship and an earthly sanctuary.”
The remaining verses describe the Tabernacle of Moses and things pertaining to it.
It is called “earthly” and in the
KJV “worldly” because that former Tabernacle was here, consisting of material
things. “Worldly” in the Greek means “mundane, corrupt”. The only other place in
the New Testament where this Greek
word is used is in Titus 2:12 where we are “to deny worldly lusts”.
All the services and sacrifices were “worldly”, of this world. The ministration in everything to do with the New Covenant is called “heavenly”. Its Priest, its tabernacle or sanctuary, its sacrifice and its altar, are all heavenly. It makes one wonder how the rock music now in the church can fit into this heavenly arrangement. Of course, it cannot. Is it not realised that the origin of rock music, coming out of heathen Africa, is drugs, sex and rock? It seems to contaminate the picture just to mention it amongst these wonderful heavenly scenes and ministrations.
Hebrews 9:9 “This is a symbol of the present time – sacrifices offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper.” Then the writer shows how the things then were outward “until the time comes to set things right”. That time came after the resurrection and glorification of Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament tabernacle was a type of the incarnation of Jesus Christ who came in the tabernacle of His flesh and dwelt among us, showing His glory, John 1:14. The Tabernacle of Moses with its ornate appointments and Priestly procedures cannot begin to compare with the glory of this Tabernacle who is Christ.
Verses 11-14 can be dealt with thus –
The good things have come. Christ has come as a High Priest. He entered through the heavenly tabernacle that does not belong to this creation. It was never created.
He did not take the blood of animals with Him. He entered once only into the Holy Place in heaven. He took in His own blood. It was for all who believe. For them He obtained eternal redemption. This is the crux of our Christianity. It is different from the modern day preaching that lacks a heavenly outlook. Such follows the emphasis of psychology on “relationships” one to the other in the worldly scene.
Christ would have entered in as soon as He died, “with His own blood because when He died, He uttered these words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. Also, he had said to one of the thieves, “you will be in paradise with me today”.
We go back to the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 to see how the type was performed. Verse 15 shows how the High Priest slaughtered the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and brought “its blood inside the curtain”. He went in.
Then he came out again, as in verse 17.
This day presents a type of the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sanctuary of heaven. He also, “went in”. It was into the Holy Place in heaven. He also “came out” to return to earth when He entered His resurrected human body.
It was as He went in, His Spirit ascending from the cross, that He took His blood into the heavenly Sanctuary, as stated in Hebrews 9:12 “He entered – with his own blood”. Apart from the example on the Old Testament Day of Atonement, this was the only time blood could have been taken in. He had just died. His human blood had fallen to the ground. It was as the “blood of God” it would have been carried into heaven, in some “Spirit” form. Acts 20:28 “to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (the blood of God).” and Romans 3:25 “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood”.
This is something we naturally cannot fully understand. His blood is there for us today and is applied when we confess our individual sins to Him, as in 1 John 1:7 “and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin”.
John says in verse 7, chapter 5, “There are three that bear witness in heaven, Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree. KJV. Young’s Translation says “There are three that are testifying in heaven, the Spirit and the water and the blood”. The verse is not spurious and brings an interesting dimension to what we have just said about this.
It is notable that the Scriptures report in John 19:34 “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” To me, it would appear that His blood in heaven would consist of water and blood, divine and not natural but in spirit form, incomprehensible to we mortals.
A difference is shown between the offerings of animals under the Old Covenant and that of Jesus. In verse 11, the blood of animals and “sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified”. This is taken from Numbers 19. I preached on this chapter once in Pakistan in an outdoor meeting, when some Moslems in the meeting were greatly impressed.
The red heifer, one without defect, was taken outside the camp and slaughtered. Some of its blood was sprinkled seven times towards the front of the tent of meeting. Then the heifer was burned. The priest took cedar wood (imperishable), hyssop (for purification) and crimson coccis wood (for cleansing) and threw it into the fire. The ashes were to be placed ready to place in the water for cleansing.
Anything to do with death and corpses made the persons touching them unclean. The priests were to follow verse 17 “For the unclean they shall take some ashes of the burnt purification offering, and running water – take hyssop, dip it in the water, and sprinkle in over the tent, the furnishings and the people.”
This is why David cried, after his sin of adultery and murder that leads to eternal death (in hell), “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow”, Psalm 51:7.
Then to Hebrews 9:14 “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God”.
Even under the Old Covenant, it was the blood shed that was important as in Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you (says the Lord) for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement”. How much more worthy and valuable is the blood of Christ to make atonement for sin.
The conscience is the mind and soul at work, despairing over the person’s guilt. He knows he is a sinner. He has offended a holy God.
It is only the person convicted by the Holy Spirit who would have these feelings.
The works of the carnal nature that is dead through sin, can never purify our conscience. Religious works are useless even for the person who has been awakened by the Holy Spirit to realise his condition of sin before God.
Those in Israel knew they were sinners because of the fact that they were required to offer sacrifices. Yet some would have been like the Pharisee who said, “Thank you God, that I am not like other men” whereas the humble saint would pray, “God be merciful to me a sinner”.
The blood of Jesus alone can cleanse the inward part of the person. The blood of animals could never touch that. The cleansing also is to enable us to “serve the living God”. He is living so we are to have life before Him. Christ is our life. He is living so our worship must not come from death but from life after the conscience is awakened and cleansed to have Christ living within. It would appear that this is within the spirit of the man who believes. The death is removed. Life is imparted through Christ.
Our service is throughout one’s life on earth. Of course, it continues in heaven in a more complete, full and perfect manner. It has nothing to do with outward works of religion, with form or ceremony, with human efforts or legalistic endeavours. It is because of the cleansing by the blood, the life of Christ within and the Spirit operating with the “works prepared by God”, as in Ephesians 4:23,24,
“You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed
in the spirit of your minds”, NRSV
or “with yourselves spiritually and mentally remade” Phillips
24 “and you must clothe yourselves with the new nature
which has been created after God’s likeness,
and which expresses itself in righteousness and devotion
to God founded upon the truth”. Cassirer
“Put on the new man to which God has given life, in righteousness and a true and holy way of living”. BBE
Hebrews 9:15-27 concerns the Mediator of the New Covenant, Christ Himself. “Covenant” in the Greek also means “will”.
The purpose of redemption is declared – “the promised inheritance”. We are redeemed and given eternal life in the earth or land that is renewed to which John saw the Holy City, the church come down. This is how eternity is shown as eternal life or existence in that heaven prepared by Jesus with its mansions. They are not like the mansions of earth. What they are we do not know.
For the covenant or will to be “probated”, the One had to die. There had to be the shedding of blood. Even under the Old Covenant, Moses had to sprinkle blood.
Verse 23 “While it was requisite that these things, which are in fact nothing more than copies or sketches of the heavenly things, should be cleansed in the manner described, the heavenly things themselves had to be cleansed by virtue of a sacrifice of a much greater value”, the blood of Christ.
Or from various translations:
“That the copies of the things in the heavens”
“that the figures of the things” “the outlines of the things”
“only copied from the originals in heaven”
“the earthly reproductions of heavenly realities”
We notice that what they had in the Old Covenant was indeed only worldly, carnal, earthly. The realities are even to this day, in heaven.
Should not our gaze be ever heavenward?
Then again, how can we earthly mortals understand heavenly and spiritual things with clarity? Even though born again, we are still living here as earthly people. We are told our position in 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part: then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known”.
Verse 24 “Christ entered into heaven itself” and not into a “sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered in the presence of God on our behalf”.
Verse 25 “Nor was it to offer himself again and again” – it was only once. The Roman Catholic Church with its sacrifices of the body of Christ in the Mass regularly, whereby the communicants partake of the “literal body and blood of Christ’ changed into such by the earthly Priest, is in grave error and heresy.
Verse 26 “He has appeared once for all at the end of the age, to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself”.
It is a sacrifice once only. We note “at the end of the age”. We can see from its use that if we speak about end-times as we know them we are in error. He was given as a sacrifice, nearly two thousand years ago “at the end of the age”! This is the end of the Old Covenant times.
Verses 27,28 indicate the parallel between mortals dying once “and after that the judgment” and “Christ having been offered once to bear the sins of many” who “will appear a second time
not to deal with sin,
but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him”.
One day, death for all believers, will be totally destroyed. Death really died on the Cross and in the Resurrection. Its power still remains because of the curse ever existing on the human bodies of all mankind. This curse is to be removed at the wind-up of all things terrestrial at the second coming and the judgment of the multitude of unbelievers. How these will occur in juxtaposition is not clarified in Scripture. Some men, of course, make many conjectures. None would be correct.
When Jesus died, Life continued in life. He as Life and in life, was living. He could never cease living. He, as God, is the Life. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life”.
When Christ returns, believers will be changed in their bodies from mortality to immortality. The spirits of those who have died are with Christ, living and worshipping, as seen in Revelation 7:15-17-
“For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat;
for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Thus we are comforted when our saved loved ones depart and go to be with Christ. Their spirits have not died and will never die. They are clothed with some form that is of a spirit being, as stated in –
2 Corinthians 5:1-4 “We know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling — if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life”.
We notice this is not speaking of the second coming and the resurrection as the phrase says, “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life”. It does not mention a change of the body as is done so in –
1 Corinthians 15:20,44, 50-55 “In fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died”.
“It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body”.
“flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
Verses 1 “The law has only a shadow of the good things to come”.
From this verse one has to say that present-day emphasis in certain places on teaching of the Tabernacle is outside of the focus of New Testament truth. Actually, in Indonesia, we discovered that the prevalence of its teaching there had kept them in legalism. Pentecostal churches with their millions of adherents, were void of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
It is far better to teach the realities rather than teach from the shadow. It is amazing how earth-bound Christians, pastors and churches can be. Probably all of us at some stage, were caught up in such a sin. Undoubtedly we walk on earth, in the now and also in the eternal future’s experience. We have partaken of the glories of heavenly things, which come to full bloom for us in the “age to come” (chapter 6). We are in union with Christ being one spirit with Him. That, of course, does not mean we have His eternal, infinite attributes filling us – otherwise we would be as the Divinity of Christ. That will never be. We are not little “gods”. We personally are not “Christ”, as many teach.
Our true position is as in Ephesians 2:6 “seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” and Colossians 3:2,3 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on this earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”.
Hebrews 10:3,4 shows that the old sacrifices kept the worshippers in memory of their sins because the blood of those sacrifices was not sufficient. With the sacrifice of Christ in the New Covenant, we are told in Romans 8:1 ”There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.
As we saw previously Christ has purified our consciences.
Hebrews 10:5-9 declare that God had no desire for the sacrifices and offerings of the Old Covenant. How then can the millions of followers of the usual End-time beliefs concerning Israel and the millennium, expect and look for a rebuilt Temple on the Temple Mount where today stands a mosque of Islam? God has said that He has no desire of the sacrifices that these people anticipate will be offered there under the old priesthood, that indeed has been abolished.
Verse 9 reads, “then he (Christ) added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’
He abolishes the first in order to establish the second”.
It has been totally abolished. No one will ever be under the Old Covenant again or anything like it. Also, the New Covenant has not only replaced it but as the Spirit says He has “established” this New Covenant.
The reason was not only that Christ obeyed the will and counsel of the Father but that He died for our sins. It was because He was a sacrifice that made full atonement for the sin of His redeemed in obedience and according to God’s will. It was a perfect sacrifice, without spot or blemish.
The sacrifices under the Law with the revolving priests and the Old Covenant have been abolished forever.
Christ came according to the will of God so that the second, the New Covenant, His Will, is established.
Then God’s will is further proclaimed –
Verse 10 “And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified
Through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”.
We once heard Benny Hinn say that the body of Jesus was not offered for sin but for sickness. That is rank heresy. Ephesians 5:2 says “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” as also does -
1 Corinthians 15:3 “And it was this: that Christ died for our sins”. This means His death was on behalf of our sins, to expiate them. Also in 1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross”.
His body was offered once never to be offered again. This shows the perfection of the offering. This has produced our sanctification and that by the will of God. Many are always looking for the will of God for their lives. Here is the most important revelation of the will of God for all believers.
It is being set apart for God. It means peace with God because through the offering of His body, our sins have been atoned. Our inner beings have been purified and cleansed, made holy. Included are all the benefits of grace through the gospel.
It is the act of God, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit. It is not anything that we have done. The believer has been placed into the position of having been saved. Sanctification and access to God here are spoken as being through His body. They are referred to as through His blood, in verses 19,29.
This sanctification has taken place once in our lives, forever, according to verse 14. It has brought about our perfection.
Verse 14 “For by a single offering he has made perfect forever those who are sanctified.”
This means that He has brought the believers into the perfection of the state of His grace (unmerited favour) and position into which the Old Covenant Law, priests and sacrifices could never do. They are in a position of favour. He has obtained forgiveness for their sins, such as the Old Covenant sacrifices could never do. He has brought deliverance from the carnal ordinances to which the Israelites were subjected.
He has brought all believers into the freedom of being under His grace, with all the blessings mentioned in the New Covenant. It has been done forever. This freedom before God has been obtained for the now of this life to continue throughout the life to come in a grander way. The privileges have been given to us for now and forever throughout eternity.
Verses 15-18 include quotations from Jeremiah 31:31-34. The Holy Spirit is the witness. Using the Word, He witnesses to us regarding our sanctification and also to the forgiveness of our sins. This New Covenant is vastly different. It has to do with the inner being as well as the renewed mind placed within at the time of the new birth. God writes it within.
Verses 19-23 “Since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.”
These verses show the heavenly aspect and indeed the true existence we are to have as believers. We enter the sanctuary! It is not in our church building. It is not with mere mouthed prayers. There has to be a consciousness of these truths, in faith. Being lukewarm in our approach, through lack of faith or spiritual wisdom, or through lack of the Spirit’s fire, makes us not realise the glory of what is occurring.
The sanctuary is in heaven. We are on earth. It is not a matter of “feeling”. That is one of our natural senses. Natural senses are not sufficient. We need Spiritual perception and understanding as well as acting on the Mind of Christ we have been given, This mind is never contrary to or outside of the given Word of God.
The writer leaves no doubt as to the fact “we have confidence”. It is by virtue of the blood of Jesus that we enter. There is no other way. It is always because the blood of Jesus was presented in that Sanctuary. We are confident because it was wholly pleasing to God and accepted by Him. The way is “new ” and “living”.
The writer is still speaking primarily to Hebrew believers. He endeavours to keep them true to Christ and the gospel so that they do not go back to the Temple and animal sacrifices. Sadly, many went back into apostasy. “New” means it is “lately made”. This was only made possible after the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the descent of the Holy Spirit and the introduction of a manner of prayer and worship never known before.
It is a “living way” into heaven itself. This is the opposite of a way into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and Temple of the Old Testament that was through the death of animals to shed their blood. The blood of Jesus is ever-living. He Himself entered in because of His fullness of resurrection life and because He, as God, is “the life”. It is a spiritual way. It has living results. It is the only way of approach to God through which we obtain eternal life.
It is through the curtain even as there was a curtain in the earthly Tabernacle. This curtain is in heaven. It is not made of curtain material. It consists of His earthly flesh. The only way into this heavenly Sanctuary could only be through He who although having the form of God, took unto Himself a veil of human flesh. This was torn on the cross. From that dead body, His Spirit ascended, “through His torn earthly flesh” into the Sanctuary, bearing His own shed blood in spirit form. He entered as High Priest and when He did ascend to heaven in His resurrected body, He went in on our behalf. He is over the house of God. Unless this had occurred we would never be able to approach God in His sanctuary.
Because of all this we are exhorted and encouraged to approach the Presence and throne of God. We are to have a true heart the meaning of which includes “sincerity, gladness, freedom, enthusiasm and bold appropriation of all the privileges of sonship”. We have faith that assures us our entrance is not only by the blood but because our sins have been dealt with. The blood of Jesus “keeps on” cleansing us from all sin. We need a continual cleansing of His blood because of our tendency to sinning daily in some form or other. Sometimes when a person sins, say for example, tends to be angry, he or she will confess that sin to the Lord, as told in 1 John 1:6-8. The emotion of anger may still be there. The act of confession and trust in the cleansing of the blood will eventually cause the feeling to disappear. We are to consider “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
“Our bodies washed with clean water” refers to the Old Testament order as explained previously. For us, in the anti-type, we have this assurance as Jesus said, in John 15:3 “You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.” Also, Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:26 “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word”. It is an emphatic word by Paul and seems to exclude that Christ could have given Himself for anybody other than he who is in “the church”, the mystical body of Christ.
We are told to hold fast to confession, rather profession – of our “hope”, i.e. of eternal salvation and eternal life in Christ Jesus. We are to believe in and hold continually to the “faith we profess” as laid out for us in the Scriptures, This faith is the whole body of the Truths of the gospel as shown in the gospels, Acts and particularly in the epistles. We are not to be like the one in James 1:6,7 “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord”, We can stand upon His promises for us.
Verses 24-25 tell us how to behave now. We are to consider one another and not neglect to meet with other believers (of some kind or other as we are discovering today). We are to encourage one another, the encouragement becoming stronger and stronger.
Verses 26-31 point out the danger to those who go back to Temple worship – or anything other than what the Epistles teach about the gospel – something that is deliberate sin in the face of known Truth. They will find they have no sacrifice for atonement of sins. They only have left the fury of the fire of God’s judgment.
Those who do are “spurning the Son of God”. They are looking at the Blood of the New Covenant which was the means of their consecration, as something unholy. This blood is before the throne through the Eternal Spirit. “Jesus offered Himself as an offering through the Eternal Spirit”, Hebrews 9:14. It makes one wonder about the hymn, “All to Jesus I surrender” in the face of this consecration already by His blood. We can only confirm and believe in something that has occurred. Can we “do” anything such as “surrender everything” in one act of faith? What it does is to show our willingness to know a continuous submission to the Lord.
The people who go back will be “offering outrage to God’s Spirit” who is the Source of grace. When preachers teach over and over that we need grace, the emphasis should be placed on the fact that it is the actions of the Holy Spirit in and to us Who performs this grace. Grace is “benefit, favour, gift”. It is not sufficient just to say, “Grace” unless we explain what it means contrary to the error I have heard on T.V. and in John Bevere’s DVDs. That teaching follows the one of the early Puritans of New England who had it down to such a fine art that it was unscriptural and taken to low levels in ordinary living.
Grace comes from “charis” meaning “a gift”. Any grace He supplies must be distributed as a specific for the need. We must have God’s power operating within us. His grace is not the power. Rather because of His grace we receive a certain manifestation of His power in a specific way. It is always the Holy Spirit who will operate whether in holiness, sanctification, victory or power. The need would be His fruit, help as in prayer or a particular gift, declared for what it is in the Word. Ephesians 3:20 shows how it happens, “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine”.
Hebrews 10:31 We must remember that the Scriptures say, “Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord. I will repay. The Lord will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. This is in accordance with the infinite holiness and justice of God. The verses are taken from Deuteronomy 32:35,36 - see Romans 12:19. They are about the sin of “unbelief” in the truths of the gospel.
Hebrews 10:32-36 relate what occurred to these believers in the early days of their conversion. They had “spiritual warfare” if we consider Ephesians 5:10-17. They suffered physically, they were abused, were laughed at and had persecution or their relatives experienced these. Some were in prison. There were those who cheerfully accepted it when the enemies of the cross stole their possessions, “knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting”. As Ephesians puts it, they were against, not flesh and blood, but principalities and powers of demons in the unbelievers.
They were not to leave the cheerful courage, boldness and faith they had when going through these trials. There is great reward for those who endure opposition, which today is often from our brethren in the Lord over heresies and worldliness in the church.
There is One who is coming. It is always said to be “soon”. Our lives normally now last seventy to ninety years. They are a mere trifle compared to the “soon” of eternity. He is the hope of the church, to come and take us all to heaven to be with Him forever, as it says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 “For in view of the fact that we believe that Jesus died and arose, thus also will God bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through the intermediate agency of Jesus.
For this we are saying to you by the Lord’s word, that as for us who are living and are left behind until the coming of the Lord, we shall by no means precede those who fell asleep,
because the Lord himself with a cry of command,
with an archangel’s voice
and with a call of a trumpet sounded at God’s command,
shall descend from heaven
and the dead in Christ shall be raised first,
then as for us who are living and who are left behind,
together with them we shall be snatched away forcibly in (masses of saints having the appearance of) clouds
for a welcome-meeting with the Lord
in the lower atmosphere.
And thus always shall we be with the Lord.”
This is what we are waiting for.
Hebrews 10:38,39 “My righteous one will live by faith.
My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.
But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.”
The just living by faith is mentioned three times in the Bible apart from here – in Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11. It is not speaking about faith for answered prayer or faith for material prosperity. It is to do with faith in the truths of the gospel so that we know we are saved for time and eternity through believing in Christ and His redemptive work on the cross for our salvation.
Faith is the opposite of unbelief. Throughout the epistle or letter, there have been warnings against unbelief and disregard for the gospel.
Hebrews 2:1 “Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”
v.3 “How can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”
3:1 “Consider the apostle and high priest of our confession”.
v.7 “As the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts’.”
v.12 “Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God”.
v.13 “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’.
“so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”.
v.14 “if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end”.
v.15 “As it is said, ‘Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’.”
v.19 “So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
4:1 “Let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it”.
v.2 “The message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith”.
v.3 “As in my anger I swore, ‘They shall not enter my rest’.”
v.5 “They shall not enter my rest.”
v.6 “failed to enter because of disobedience”.
v.7 “Again, saying through David – ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts’.”
v.11 “Let us make every effort to enter that rest”.
v.13 “to whom we must render an account”.
v.14 “Let us hold fast to our confession”. – N.B. always “profession”.
5:12 “You need milk and not solid food”.
6:4 “It is impossible to restore again to repentance”.
v.6 “and then have fallen away”.
v.12 “So that you may not become sluggish”.
10:29 “How much worse punishment will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant and outraged the Spirit of grace”.
v.35 “Do not abandon that confidence”.
v.38 “My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back”.
After all these admonitions we now have chapter 11 on faith. It is a whole chapter and shows the importance of having faith in Christ and the gospel as against going back into unbelief, rebellion, not holding to our confession and falling away into neglect.
Hebrews 11:1-3 “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.”
Let it be noticed that contrary to what Copeland says, God did not use faith to create the world. It was His Word. It is by faith that we believers know He created the world. That belief would have been common to Old Testament people.
The faith spoken about in verses 1,2 has to do with what has been said from the beginning of the epistle, particularly in relation to the preceding verse, Hebrews 10:39 “But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved”.
It is faith in Christ and His redemption that brings the approval of God. This is how the old time saints received approval from God. As we read chapter 11 we can see that their faith had to do with spiritual things and not those that were carnal, earthly and material.
This faith in Christ is set out by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3,4 as “what I in turn had received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures”. We should notice that he says “our sins”, indicating Christ died for the sins of the believers. These must be those of the “elect”. The following verses use the same Greek word for “elect”. One, when it is spoken of Christ. We would not deny how chosen of God He was. The other two examples are in relation to we believers. Therefore, in the way Christ is “elect” so also are we the “elect”.
1 Peter 2:6 “ Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
Colossians 3:12 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering”.
1 Peter 1:2 “ Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied”.
It covers these promises, first in 2 Corinthians 1:11,12 “In him it is always ‘Yes’ For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes’.” Also, there is 2 Corinthians 7:1 “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God”.
With regard to all of our needs, we have this promise in Philippians 3:18,19 that assures us of help in every part of our living, “You sent a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. Help in our time of need, in whatever form is necessary, the answer to spiritual requirements, is all laid up for us in Christ, our Great High Priest.
Redemption covers spiritual blessings for the now that also have their fulfilment in material and natural things. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down. By faith men and women of God accomplish things great and small.
There is saving faith, given by God and necessary for us to receive redemption and salvation.
There is the fruit of faith as recorded in Galatians 5:22, KJV but stated to be faithfulness in other translations, The Greek-English says “faith”. Vincent’s records “trustfulness”. One dictionary says “Belief, faith in God for salvation and by extension, the body of Truth of the gospel”. This faith is a fruit of the Spirit.
Also faith comes into the picture in Mark 11:19-24 –
“Have faith in God. Truly I tell you,
if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea’, and if you do not doubt in your heart
but believe that what you say will come to pass,
it will be done for you.
So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer,
believe that you have received it,
and it shall be yours”.
Also in John 16:24 “Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete”,
Faith has works as in James 2:14,17,21,22,26 “What good is it, if you say you have faith but do not have works?” (These are works of kindness to our brethren). “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead”.
“Was not out ancestor Abraham justified by works
when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works and faith was brought to completion by the works”.
“For just as the body without the spirit is dead,
so faith without works is also dead”.
Faith acts and this applies to every area, spiritual, material and/or natural.
Then there is the Gift of Faith, operative through the Spirit and the faith for its purpose. This is one of the nine Gifts of the Spirit, enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10. God has made provision for us to be men and women of faith.
We remember Samson, whose needs for faith were met when in Judges 14:6;15:14 where in both places, “The Spirit of the Lord rushed on him”. His example and those of other saints in the Old Testament and also in the New, are given to us for our instruction and help.
We come now to a gallery of those with faith.
Hebrews 11:4 Take Abel as the first one. He had faith in a sacrifice that pointed forward to the sacrifice of the One promised on the cross. He offered a slain animal whereas the fruit of the ground, the works of Cain offered by him were rejected. He still speaks to us today regarding sacrifice by the shedding of blood and it is “through his faith”.
Hebrews 11:5 Enoch is spoken about as the next in line. This virtually was about 1 Corinthians 15:50,49 “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable”, relating to the resurrection day for all believers. Jesus Christ was the first, as in verse 44. Then “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven”. Enoch was the first to experience this. He took part in a foreshadow of 1 Thessalonians 4:14,16,17 “God will bring with him those who have died” and “and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, will be caught up together with them”.
We are told in Genesis 5:24 “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him” or “He did not experience death”. It happened because of his faith illustrated in Jude 14-16 -
“It was they whom Enoch, the seventh in descent from Adam, had in mind when he uttered these prophetic words: ‘I have seen the Lord come with his myriads of angels to call everyone to judgment, and to convict the impious of all the deeds of impiety which they have perpetrated and of all the callous words spoken by them against the Lord, impious and sinful men that they are.’ They are a set of grumblers, ever dissatisfied with their lot. In the conduct of their lives they are wholly led by their own appetites, and from their mouths there ever proceeds talk which is nothing but bombast. Moreover, it is a policy of favouritism they resort to whenever that happens to suit their ends”.
This was the grace of God given to Enoch so that he was given such a revelation by the Spirit of Christ. He saw Him in vision. No one else in the Old Testament had such a vision of the end of the world, not even Daniel. Daniel’s visions were to do with the first coming of Christ in His incarnation, Daniel 9:24-25a.. Then it was to His subsequent return to heaven to the Ancient of Days, (or the Ancient One) mentioned in Daniel 7:9. This verse, connected to Daniel 7:13,14, relates to the judgment on Israel as in 9:25b-27, at the hands of the Roman Caesars and his armies.
Because of the revelation given to Enoch, as a result of his walking with God, he was taken to heaven without having to go through death. It was a living illustration of what he prophesied and preached.
Firstly, for saints to come with the Lord, they must have been “caught up” previously. Enoch was “caught up” as expressed by “he was not for God took him”. He can be a type of those taken to heaven with the second coming of the Lord. His prophecy was lived out in his exit from the world before some godly but mostly ungodly men.
Secondly, this action by God proves that there will be a time indeed when the Lord, who is Jesus Christ, will come with His saints to bring judgment and destruction on the world. There is no indication in Scripture how this will all play out or when it will actually happen in relation to the second coming, except that it would appear to be after that event. The people of his day, and particularly those who were destroyed by the flood, should have realised that because Enoch went up in accordance with his prophecy, the things preached by Noah, might indeed occur in accordance with the prophecy of Enoch and the fact that he had disappeared.
This prophecy became a heavenly reaction as it were to the wickedness of men. The generation three generations down from him, was destroyed by flood, after Noah of that generation had preached to them for one hundred and twenty years while he built the ark as in Genesis 6:13-22;7:24;1 Peter 3:20;2 Peter 2:5.
Enoch in his prophesying and subsequent translation to heaven was a living example to them all. We should remind ourselves that those people lived quite a few hundred years in each generation and would have seen, heard or heard of his prophecies and preaching.
Enoch pleased God. Thus, Hebrews records of him –
11:5,6 “By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death. He had pleased God”.
We come to the building of the ark by Noah . Before this, the writer to Hebrews makes the statement –
verse 6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him”.
This was before the type given to us of the ark, verse 7.
Again, let us remember faith concerns all that has gone before in the epistle, viz. about Christ and His redemption.
We read of Noah that he “condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith”.
Verse 7 “By faith, Noah”.
The following comments about him are somewhat lengthy.
The world was condemned because they did not believe Noah’s preaching of the gospel for one hundred and twenty years while he built the ark in preparation for the flood. It was in fact Christ preaching through Noah as recorded in –
1 Peter 3:18,19 spoken of Him, “He was put to death in the flesh
but kept alive in the spirit,
in which also he went and made a
proclamation to the spirits in prison
who in former times
did not obey,
when God waited patiently in the days of Noah,
during the building of the ark,
in which a few, that is eight persons,
were brought safely through the water.
and baptism, which this prefigured”.
This baptism is not in water but baptism into the death of Christ, according to Colossians 2:11,12. Verse 11 shows His “circumcision” was to do with His death. That was His baptism He had spoken about to His disciples.
Verse 12 lets us know we were buried with Him in that baptism of death, in the putting off of the flesh. The carnal nature is the flesh and as in circumcision, it was cut. Its supremacy and power were destroyed in our death, as “the elect”, personally, with Christ. We are to “put it off” continuously, by faith, and to “put on” the new man, by faith in our daily lives.
Young’s Literal Translation of Peter that shows the tenses of the original Greek, reads –
1Peter 3:18-21 “because also Christ once for sin did suffer having been put to death indeed, in the flesh, and having been made alive in the spirit in which also to the spirits in prison having gone he did preach, who sometime disbelieved, when once the long-suffering of God did wait, in days of Noah--an ark being preparing--in which few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water;
also to which an antitype doth now save us--baptism, (not a putting away of the filth of flesh, but the question of a good conscience in regard to God,) through the rising again of Jesus Christ”.
We note that the “spirits in prison” were those who at one time did not believe – when? “once the long-suffering of God did wait, in the days of Noah – an ark being preparing”. This is obvious as we read it. Christ, in His spirit that never suffered death and could not as He is the Life, preached through Noah. He preached to a long-suffering God who waited for one hundred and twenty years, while the ark was being prepared.
No wonder that Peter in that chapter, verse 28, says he proclaimed Christ, “warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom”.
Salvation was in the Ark, a type of Christ, our Ark of safety.
The eight souls were saved as they went through the water in the Ark.
The water was the judgment of God. This judgment did not touch them as they were in the Ark. All the millions of people who rejected the preaching of Christ through Noah, died in the judgment.
John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.”
John 5:24 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
The eight souls, believed, so they did not come under judgment because they were in the Ark of safety; thus they passed from death to life.
Most do not understand this portion in Peter because they are firmly settled in the belief that it is applicable to water baptism. Therefore, having given the passage a carnal and external meaning, such as water baptism, eyes and ears remain closed to the truth. Another belief many have is that Jesus descended into hell at His death. Unfortunately, the 6th century Athanasian creed, used by the Anglican Church, does say this. However, the Nicene creed, of the fourth century disregards it. As well, the Bible does not say He went down into hell, rather as He said to the thief, He went up into paradise. Acts 2:27 is a quotation of Psalm 16:10 that reads “You did not give me up to Sheol (the grave), or let your faithful one see the Pit (hell)”.
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Hebrews 11:8-12 - Then when we come to Abraham, we see he had a heavenly hope rather than an earthly one. Even though he was promised land on this earth for himself and his descendants, he knew about his treasure that was in heaven. Today, his natural descendants, do not and even the majority of his spiritual descendants do not. They have their eyes and hopes on a natural Israel to be re-established, on this earth.
Abraham showed no indication that he anticipated his descendants as a nation would find their final inheritance on this earth. The reason is that God did not tell him such as it is not in His plan or according to His purpose. In looking for a city built by God Abraham would expect it to be also be for his progeny. The treasure of believers is in heaven. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also”. Obviously many believers do not know where there treasure really is.
He believed for a son from God. Therefore he is now the “father of the faithful”, those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He believed in God’s power to raise the dead.
Hebrews 11:13,16 “All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.”
Their eyes were on that eternal city, their true home. That is where our eyes should be.
Verses 17-19 show Abraham tested by God. He offered up Isaac but that was replaced by the Lord with a ram. which is a type of the heavenly Father of grace offering up His Son, the Lamb of God.
Verses 20-22 portray Isaac, Jacob, Joseph as men of faith concerning the promises of God to them personally.
Verses 23-28 reveal Moses as in Verse 25 knowing he had rights to become a Pharaoh, chose rather the path of suffering with God’s people, leading them out of Egypt, a type of the world of sin, as far as the Promised Land, a type of redemption. He instituted the Passover by faith. This pointed to 1 Corinthians 5:7 “Has not Christ been offered up in sacrifice, our Passover Lamb”: also to 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 as our example.
Israel was given supernatural manna and Christ is our Manna or Bread, sent down from heaven. She was given water supernaturally out of the rock, whereas in reality they drank of Christ. The people ate because Christ did the miracle of sending down Manna. They drank because also Christ performed the miracle out of the rock.
Hebrews 11:29-39 lists other heroes of faith. One, Rahab, was a prostitute, who pleased God through her faith in Him even though she was an inhabitant with the enemies of Israel and had served idols. In these verses there are mentions of deliverances, raising of the dead and persecution under faith.
Everyone in this chapter was highly praised for his or her faith. Nevertheless, none received the promise of knowing perfection and salvation in Christ. Verse 40 concludes with:
“God, bearing us in mind, having made an even better provision that it was only in company with us that they were to attain to perfection.”
This perfection is the sanctification mentioned in 10:14 that will ultimately be furthered and made eternal for us in heaven. It is our “rest” our place in the “better country” and “city built by God”.
Those set out in the previous chapter are witnesses to us of faith. We also must follow them, by “divesting ourselves of sin by which we are so prone to be ensnared”. One wonders at all the emphases on demons and Satan that accost believers, as taught amongst Charismatics. The Word of God teaches otherwise. Sins are weights that hinder us in our race. We are to be “having our eyes fixed on him who is the founder of our faith and the one who brings it to perfection, Jesus”.
Jesus disregarded suffering and shame because He looked at the joy set before Him. We also will do this in and for us as we envision Him.
Hebrews 12:4 “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
“Resisting to the point of shedding your blood” indicates they had not yet suffered and sacrificed to the hilt. They would have had trials but their faith had not yet been put to the complete test. Therefore they were not to give in to sin but resist it. The whole point was that they had not yet and would not suffer as Christ did in the garden of Gethsemane. There He had great drops of blood fell down to the ground in His severe struggle, Matthew 26:36-44.
Hebrews 12: 5,6 “My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by Him for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.”
We hear very little about the chastening of the Lord. The popular way is one of positivity with never a negative word. It seems to be overlooked that the Bible surely is more than seventy five percent negative! According to popular preachers and mega televangelists, we should always be healthy, prosperous, even wealthy, with troubles having all disappeared. This is not the Bible way.
David said, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray”. Many a child of God finds the right path after affliction. There is such a thing as human suffering in this life, poverty, illness and death. It cannot be avoided. With one third of the world’s population Christian in name, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the majority of them live in poverty, illness and all of the people of God, enter death until the second coming of Christ to take us all to heaven forever.
The verses above refer to Proverbs 3:11,12. We should familiarise ourselves with the whole book of Proverbs. The writer of Hebrews carries forward the emphasis on our position as each one a child of our Heavenly Father. He encourages us in the discipline and chastening that will surely occur. Often we do not realise it for what it is. We do not expect it. We do not think it has come or will come. These chastenings occur in the ordinary run of life shared by the whole of mankind but in this case are sent by God. Pentecostals and Charismatics would never allow sickness as a discipline. Their belief of healing for every ailment is not backed up by Scripture. We do pray for healing. We can pray for healing. Sickness is the lot of life and the human race will never be free of it while this world lasts. Perhaps it can be allowed by God as a chastening to bring the person back from his ways of error. It is the individual who has to find out for himself.
Verse 7 “If you are called upon to endure, that is because you are being disciplined. God is dealing with you as sons of his, and what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”
In the face of these disciplines and problems of life, read
Verses 12-17 It commences with “Therefore”, or “On account of all that has been said about discipline by God” they were to maintain a stalwart attitude and not give in to what was happening. The Word of God in the heart will assist in this as will prayer in the Holy Ghost, in other tongues and in one’s own language.
We are to be in peace with everyone and to follow a course of holiness. Unless we do this we will “not see the Lord”.
They should keep faith and not retract or allow weakness in their Christian profession. They should “obtain the grace of God”, His assistance as promised in 4:16 by going to the Throne of grace with boldness, to receive mercy and grace to help. This provision has been made by the Father through the Son as Mediator and the Holy Spirit who is our ever-present Comforter or Counsellor as in a legal profession.
We should never allow bitterness to settle within, whether it is bitterness at our lot in life, against our families, friends, churches, Pastors or anyone else. It will hurt ourselves and those against whom we hold the bitterness. Fornication is not to be indulged in.
Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.”
Do not follow the example of Esau, whose story is in Genesis 27. He considered the lusts and needs of the flesh more important than heavenly treasure. This seems to point back to chapters 3 & 4 and 6:4-6 and 10:39.
Hebrews 12:18-24 “You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
These verses are most wonderful.
We are not like the Children of Israel who had to approach Mount Sinai for the giving of the Law in the hands of angels to Moses, when the Son of God, the Angel of the Lord descended to that mountain. The consequences were drastic.
We have already come to another mountain. That is said to be Mount Zion, not the one in Palestine. It is something different. It relates to the city of the “living God” that is not Jerusalem on earth, now or for evermore. It is the “heavenly Jerusalem”. John saw it in vision in Revelation 21. Galatians 4:26 relates that “The other woman (Sarah) corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother”. As for the Jerusalem on earth, “the present Jerusalem she is in slavery with her children” verse 25.
We have come, to the rejoicing angels in heaven and “before an assembly consisting of firstborn sons who have their names recorded in heaven”. Their names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. This is the church of Jesus Christ on earth. Then we have come to the Judge of all, God. We only dare come because the judgment we deserved has passed from us due to Christ Himself bearing that judgment on the cross.
We have also come to “the spirits of righteous men made perfect”. This is the church of Jesus Christ in heaven. The departed saints are living there with their spirits clothed and also perfected in and by Christ.
We have come before Jesus, “the mediator of a new covenant”. The old has finished. There was no heavenly mediator in that one. No one came to a heavenly mediator who had opened the access to the Father with His own blood spilt on the cross. “And there is his blood to be used for sprinkling”. It is living, it is powerful, it is cleansing and it speaks before God. Our hearts are sprinkled with it, as in 1 Peter 1:2.
The blood of Jesus “speaks better word than the blood of Abel”, whose blood “shrieked from the ground”. It was the blood of the murdered by the sinner, the result of sin and its guilt. It tells of the hatred of religious works by the unsaved against the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. It is against the blood of Jesus because it speaks of righteousness and holiness, of the sinner cleansed of his guilt because of the work of redemption. That was completed when Jesus uttered as He died, “It is finished” – “I have paid it to the full”. It speaks of approach to God through that living blood.
These verses have reference to Isaiah 49. All of Isaiah 49 relates to the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the subject. He states His message in verses 1-6 calling all nations to hear and showing His rejection by national Israel. He is called to be Messiah from the womb. Though He labours in vain to Israel yet His future success would be glorious. He would gather the remnant of Israel and many of the Gentiles.
He would rescue the prisoners and those in darkness. He would supply their needs and remove hindrances in the way. There is a song of praise about this in verse 13. Jehovah had not forgotten Zion as He has engraved her name on the palms of His hands. She would yet be adorned as a bride and not desolate. This Zion would be greatly increased to include many Gentiles, so that “the place where she dwelt would be too small for her”, verses 19-21. He speaks of the church of God, verses 22-26.
The whole of Isaiah 49 features the Messiah. It is about His mission to the world of Jews and Gentiles, to take unto Himself a people out of both classes, called Zion, as in Hebrews 12:22-24 “You have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the new Jerusalem”. The true Israel of God in Galatians 6:16 is spoken of as being believers in Christ, who is their Head. The book of Hebrews shows in an extensive manner that this is the case..
Verses 25,26 tells us never to refuse the One who is speaking from heaven. Israel was warned as they heard the sounds of heaven on Mt. Sinai. They took no notice and immediately retreated from Him, following instead a golden calf that they worshipped. This met with judgment. Now, again, there is a voice from heaven through Jesus Christ. He is the Son. He is exalted as recorded and dealt with in the first chapter.
God will again do His shaking. All created things will be removed. This earth is reserved to be destroyed by fire. We cannot save “the planet” as they wish! In the shaking something will remain. It is the kingdom of God and of heaven. It is enduring. It is eternal. It lasts forever. We give God thanks for our inheritance and worship Him with reverence and awe. Just singing “God is an awesome God” does not mean this kind of prescribed worship. One may ask, “Is there much reverence in many church services of ‘supposed worship’?”
All that is seen will fade away. What is unseen is eternal and permanent. The chapter closes with “That God of ours is a fire devouring all”.
In verses 1-9 there are different admonitions with regard to living. I would point out that “God will judge fornicators and adulterers”. Those are serious matters and sins even though many believers think they are no worse than say “jealousy” or “bad mouthing”. The Epistles never say He will judge those who are doing those things yet He judges the above-mentioned sins. They are against the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, against the spouse, against the children, against the church, against society and against Christ.
We are not to be overtaken with “love of money” and must be content! He will look after us because He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. That is such an important statement that we should let it sink into our hearts. We can even repeat it aloud, confidently. This is taken from Psalms 27:1 and 118:6.
We are to obey leaders only in this manner, “Keep your leaders in mind, the ones who first proclaimed God’s message to you, and, while contemplating what the outcome of their lives have been, let it be their faith which you take for your model”. This does not mean obedience to errors of doctrine, heresies and unscriptural teaching. We look at their lives and how godly they are, at the same time we model ourselves on their faith. This faith is according to all that is proclaimed throughout the book of Hebrews. Anything else, we should disregard and ignore, even speak against where necessary. It does not mean blind obedience. Of course, we always respect others as persons. It certainly never means that we place a leader, pastor, singer, musician or evangelist on a pedestal. They have feet of clay! They are not to be considered as “idols” or “stars” as frequently occurs in Pentecostal and charismatic churches, very sadly.
Verse 10 “We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat.”
Jesus Christ is our altar, with its sacrifice of Himself, and He as Priest. We come to God through this altar. The Old Covenant had only a material altar. Ours is eternal and heavenly. The Hebrews were being told of the wonder of this new altar and that they could not go back to any other altar in any Temple. New Testament saints have this new altar which is Christ Himself. Through Him we are to offer sacrifices, not animals, money or even ourselves in service but praises with our lips – Hosea 14:2..
Verses 11-13 “For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured.”
They show that Jesus as the sacrifice was not offered in accordance with the four main Old Covenant offerings for He did not suffer for our sins on the cross inside Jerusalem or the temple. He went outside so that He could sanctify His people not with the blood of animals but with His own blood that was not offered in accordance with Old Covenant demands.
The writer stresses again, that Jerusalem is not the Holy City anymore. There is no lasting city here for “we are looking for the city that is to come”. We can see the connections that are woven throughout the whole book.
Also, when we do good and share with others, these are sacrifices pleasing to God. The sacrifice is not oneself but one’s serving of others.
Regarding obedience to leaders and submission, verse 17, we should point out that this does not mean a leader is “to lord it over the flock” which is forbidden by Peter. He is not to be an autocrat or dictator. His preaching and life according to the faith of the gospel will place him in a position where if obedience does not follow, it becomes disobedience to God. It does not include obedience to “wolves” who preach heresies or those who lead God’s people away from the truths of the gospel.
In verses 18,29,22-24, again there are exhortations for living in the church community.
Finally, verses 20,21 “Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
This completes all that has gone before in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
THE SEVENTY WEEKS
I will take this opportunity to explain these verses in the way I see them. As they were virtually the foundation of Darby’s, Schofield’s, Chafer’s, Dwight Pentecost’s and all the others’ doctrines of End-times, we should understand them as they are written. In the Book of Hebrews as well as different ones I have authored, my disagreement with them is obvious. From a personal point of view these writers are to be considered as having led astray almost the whole evangelical and fundamental churches in Christ.
In the previous portion of this chapter, Daniel has read the prophecy in Jeremiah how that after seventy years of captivity in Babylon, there would be a return to the land of Israel. He acknowledges his and the people’s sins and seeks the Lord for forgiveness as in Verses 11,13,16 & 17.
The angel Gabriel (in appearance a man) came to him to give him wisdom and understanding.
What Daniel will hear must have come as an unpleasant shock. He learns that although the Lord God has apportioned out the years, Daniel’s people will experience in future history, there is tragedy and doom for them.
There is very good news in the midst of it, but not the kind perhaps he was looking for. As for his nation, all he hears is doom.
Verses 25,26 & 27 centre on the “Anointed” One. This is Jesus Christ, their Messiah.
Verses 24-27 “Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. 26After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolate.”
We notice it is for “your people”, that is, Israel and for “your holy city” which is Jerusalem. It is not for the Christian church. It is not for New Testament saints but the nation as Daniel knew it. It also concerned what would happen to Jerusalem in the future.
He is told it is – “to finish the transgression”. This means that the gravity of his people’s transgression over the centuries, will be dealt with and there will be no more transgression. The reason for these two mentions is –
a. It will be as Jesus said in Luke 11:48,50,51 “So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 50so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation.”
Daniel was informed of those things which would happen to that generation yet to come. Instead of restoration of the nation, he was learning of more judgment to come. The parables of Jesus dealt with these matters quite frequently.
b. There would be no more transgression of the nation from that point in time because there would never again be a nation. In addition, the Temple, the Law and religious institutions would be finished.
Daniel was informed there would be a “putting away of sin” and an “atonement for iniquity”. We have no trouble in seeing that this concerns the redemptive act of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection. Through this, He would bring in everlasting righteousness. Another thing was the sealing of “vision and prophet”. After Jesus came and indeed for the four hundred years prior to that from the time of Malachi, there were none who had visions or who prophesied to the nation. Jesus Himself would be the final Prophet.
Then there would be an anointing of the “most holy”. This could be heaven itself on His ascension, which was my immediate thought. Again, it could be the body of Christ, the redeemed, some say but that is not what I tend to perceive.
We notice that seventy weeks were planned for the nation and their holy city, to which place, some had returned after their captivity in Babylon. This occurred 458 B.C. on the edict of Cyrus. He is even mentioned in Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1,13. He was raised up by the Lord to bring deliverance to His people, or more exactly, the remnant who returned. Ezra 1:1 speaks of him also.
Daniel is told that from the time of the announcement by Cyrus would be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks until “the time of an anointed prince”. A week is considered in Scripture to be the representation of seven years.
The restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem would take around 7x7 = 49 years. We can read about it in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah. This leaves 62x7, which maybe brings us to around 25 A.D. As there is a question about the exact birth of Christ and as sometimes in dealing with time, there is somewhat of an anomaly around it in the Scriptures, we can accept this date.
I have studied a few different ways of calculating these years and which one would be correct remains a puzzle. The important thing for us today does not concern the time factor. It has come and gone. It definitely finished around 70-73 AD, That is history. The leaders of the day would have been able to calculate the time. For us today, the importance lies in whether it referred only to Israel and its past history or if it did that and still remains to be fulfilled again. There is no indication in the Scriptures that God did or would ever do such a thing. Prophecies are given. The fulfilment takes place. History rolls on. The world, Israel and the church are faced with ever changing historical data.
Regarding the exact dates, I feel we should not venture out into shaded areas about which our knowledge is incomplete. We have the approximation of all this and as I said, it is all past history.
The “anointed one” can only be the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He is also of the House of David. There is no other figure in history to warrant being called “anointed” which is always an act of God. It could only rest on a holy person, one of Supreme authority. In this instance it could never be an Anti-Christ. God would never anoint such a one. Such a one would be the epitome of all evil. He would be too unholy to be anointed. We are left with the logical fact and Holy Spirit’s teaching that it is indeed the Lord Jesus Christ who is “anointed” and who was “cut off”. We are merely told that He comes after the sixty-two weeks.
E-Sword on computer, gives a parallel version. It reads like this - “25 Know therefore and understand, from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Having just read this, I have to say it confirms what I wrote above.
I then opened to Young’s Literal Translation and this is how it reads –
Daniel 9:25 And thou dost know, and dost consider wisely, from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem till Messiah the Leader seven weeks, and sixty and two weeks: the broad place hath been built again, and the rampart, even in the distress of the times.
Daniel 9:26 And after the sixty and two weeks, cut off is Messiah, and the city and the holy place are not his, the Leader who hath come doth destroy the people; and its end with a flood, and till the end war, determined desolations.
The time of the fulfilment was the day He was anointed of the Holy Ghost in Matthew 3:16,17 “And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
With regard to “it shall be built again” and “in a troubled time”, verse 25, this would refer to the building of the restored temple under Ezra and Nehemiah, with Joshua and Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4). Nehemiah 6:a and Ezra 4:23 show opposition from enemies. Centuries later the glorious temple at the time of Jesus was built by King Herod, it being an extension of the former. Its magnificence was renowned. Those times were troubled. Israel was under the yoke of Rome.
Gabriel informed Daniel, “After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing”. That was the fulfilment of the end of what he had said in verse 24. By now we are in the seventieth week, which is 70x7. It is not specified how long after the end of the sixty-two weeks this “anointed one” was to be cut off, in other words, die. It happened in Jerusalem. This “Messiah had nothing. Spurrel’s translation records “in the midst of the week” as indeed does the KJV. This makes the time somewhat elastic.
I have just found this commentary by JFB –
“Daniel 9:27 he shall confirm the covenant, meaning Christ. The confirmation of the covenant is assigned to Him also elsewhere. Isaiah 42:6, ‘I will give thee for a covenant of the people’ (that is, He in whom the covenant between Israel and God is personally expressed); compare Luke 22:20, ‘The new testament in My blood’; Malachi 3:1 ‘the angel of the covenant’; Jeremiah 31:31-34 , describes the Messianic covenant in full.
Contrast Daniel 11:30 with 32 ‘forsake the covenant,’ ‘do wickedly against the covenant.
‘with many’ - See Isaiah 53:11; Matthew 20:28; 26:28; Romans 5:15; 5:10; Hebrews 9:28.
In … midst of … week The seventy weeks extend to A.D. 33. Israel was not actually destroyed till A.D. 79, but it was so virtually, A.D. 33, about three or four years after Christ's death, during which the Gospel was preached exclusively to the Jews. When the Jews persecuted the Church and stoned Stephen, Acts 7:54-60, the respite of grace granted to them was at an end, Luke 13:7-9.
(I am somewhat dubious as to the exactitude of all the above comments re dates but provide them to you for your consideration).
Israel, having rejected Christ, was rejected by Christ, and henceforth is counted dead (compare Genesis 2:17 with Genesis 5:5; Hosea 13:1,2), its actual destruction by Titus being the consummation of the removal of the kingdom of God from Israel to the Gentiles, Matthew 21;43.
He shall cause the sacrifice … oblation to cease - distinct from the temporary "taking away" of "the daily" (sacrifice) by Antiochus Daniel 8:11; 11:32. These two scriptures were fulfilled by this Ruler and the “ceasing” also must have a fulfilment. It was done by Christ.
Messiah was to cause all sacrifices and oblations in general to "cease" utterly.
“for the overspreading of abominations” – this shows it was to be on account of the abominations committed by the unholy people against the Holy One, He shall not only destroy the city and sanctuary, Daniel 9:25, but shall continue its desolation until the time of the consummation "determined" by God Christ refers to this passage Matthew 24:15, ‘"When ye see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place" (the latter words being tacitly implied in "abominations" as being such as are committed against the sanctuary).”
With the above part of his commentary I would concur.
These times as prophesied would have been understood by the Scribes, the Pharisees, the Elders, the priests and probably even some ordinary people. They would have done their calculations. Therefore, it is not surprising that Herod was ready to give the Wise Men the answer as to where the “King of the Jews” would be born, Matthew 2:1-6. It was not unknown to many that when the Messiah did come, He came at the right time. Daniel 12:9-13 also relate to the destruction of all at “the time of the end”.
Jesus even proclaimed in Mark 1:15 – “The time is fulfilled
And the kingdom of God has come near”.
Darby would have us believe that the “kingdom of God” is for national Israel and restored in the millennium and that the “kingdom of heaven” alone is for Gentile believers in Christ, the church. This is a grave error, as Jesus said a similar thing in Matthew 3:2 as, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Both “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” mean the same thing.
This is recorded in Mark 9:1 “And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”
We connect all this to the Roman troops of Titus -
Daniel 9:26 “The troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary”. This was Titus who had not yet become Caesar when he did bring his armies against the city and the Temple. Titus said after destroying it all that surely God must have helped him because it was impossible to have destroyed the temple and the city alone, so strong and inviolable had been the building of them. It had been built as an impregnable fortress.
The stones were enormous and yet as Jesus prophesied, “Not one stone shall remain”, in Matthew 24:2, “You see all these”; Mark 13:2, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another”. Luke 19:41-44
Every stone was removed to other places – probably some would have been used to build the Roman macadamised roads!
Previously his father, Vespasian, who then became Caesar, had invaded the land and it was made desolate. Its cities and towns were ruined and its inhabitants either killed or taken off into captivity.
We read about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple from Josephus, a Jewish historian and in other sources. The end portrays scenes of atrocities, famines, murders, cannibalism, fire and much slaughter. This came not only from the Romans but it was also Jew against Jew, killing each other. It truly was a “flood” of destruction. There was war indeed right to the end. The decree had been given. Israel, its people, its holy city, its Temple and its treasures would not escape, as prophesied in verse 26.
History tells us it was all fulfilled. The Jews did not escape the fulfilment of this prophecy. Jesus further prophesied in accordance with what we read here. Matthew 24 and Luke 21 along with many of His parables, give an insight into the desolation that would come and did come.
It is very probable that the Book of Revelation, as some scholars assert, was written before 66 A.D. and that it was written to portray events regarding the then future destruction and war. Caesar’s number was 666! An interesting point is found in Revelation 15:2-4
“Those who had conquered the beast
standing with harps of God
And they sing the song of Moses,
Great and amazing are your deeds Lord God the Almighty
for your judgments have been revealed’.”
The song of Moses is found in Deuteronomy 32 just prior to his death. Excerpts are – “May my teaching drop lie the rain, my speech condense like the dew; A faithful God without deceit; the Lord alone guided him; Jacob ate his fill; He abandoned God. They sacrificed to demons; You were unmindful of the; Rock that bore you; they are a perverse generation;” then we have the promise about the Gentiles
“So I will make them jealous with what is no people”
Regarding Israel - “I will heap disasters upon them;
they are a nation void of sense; vengeance is mine;
for I lift up my hand to heaven, and swear: As I live forever,
When my hand takes hold on judgment; I will make my arrows Drunk with blood,
He will repay those who hate him
and cleanse his land his people.”
Here, Moses prophesies judgment on Israel. When John wrote Revelation, judgment was still ahead and was fulfilled on Israel in 70A.D.
Daniel 9:27 gives a little difficulty to some. The real reason is that we all have had much error inculcated into our minds from preachers, teachers, pulpits and books, radio and Television, to this day.
Regarding “For half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease”, in Daniel 9:27a, we can see that His crucifixion was around the date often mentioned, 33A.D. or even 30 A.D. depending on His birth date. He was thirty three years of age. While He was on the cross, the veil in the Temple was rent in two by the hand of God. He no longer would accept any animals that might be sacrificed, so they ceased as prophesied. Christ had caused them to be finished. The way into the Holy of Holies was opened to the gaze of anyone. The old Jewish order of worship came to an end that day at the hand of God Himself. It is in Matthew 27:50,51 “Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split”.
It is really quite simple in its meaning.
Jesus Christ came to be Mediator of the New Covenant. From the time of His anointing, He was offering this Covenant to those who were drawn to Him by His Father. This Covenant was in force until “the decreed end” was “poured out” on the “desolate” (not the “desolator”. The end of Jerusalem came in 70A.D. but wars continued until 73 A.D. when it was all over for Israel.
Ten thousands of slaves were sent down to Egypt. The Jews were not considered to be a good kind of slave and they sold for next to nothing. Israel as a nation did not participate in the New Covenant. Those who believed in Christ, obeyed what He said when there was a lull in the attack and they could escape. They left the doomed city. He said this in Matthew 24:15-28. Here is a portion –
15 “So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”
These verses of prophecy by Jesus are not about what most have considered to be as the End-time of this world. Rather they were about the End of Israel and the Temple with the Holy City. What is now there is not a Holy City.
It is a historical fact that the believers in Jerusalem did flee as Jesus had told them to. They all escaped from the city with its ensuing destruction.
The last verse here speaks of the “corpse”, meaning “Israel” and the “vultures” which were the soldiers of the Roman Army and its pennants of “eagles”.
When the Roman soldiers entered the Temple as victors forty or so years later, they accomplished its total destruction. Before its ruination, even though Titus had not wished it, “an abomination that desolates” polluted the Temple until the end came.
One amazing feature is that the bondage in Babylon, extended for seventy years, as stated in 2 Chronicles 21:21, “until the land had made up for its Sabbaths” because for all those years of previous history, 490, they had disobeyed the command to let the land lie fallow every seven years. Now we have a period of around another seventy years, from the birth of Christ until 70A.D. whenever, during which there was another test and this time, no restoration, only complete destruction. There never will be a restoration of national Israel – under God. Those who are there, are only a minimal number of Jews and they cannot trace their descent genealogically to before 1300 A.D. or even that far back. The truth is that many of them have descended from Azariah, a nation north of the Caspian Sea that became Jewish by religion. A few centuries afterwards, Russians invaded and conquered. The people, as Jews, then spread all over Europe.
It is quite overlooked that Jesus Christ is the Israel spoken to by God in Isaiah 49:3 “And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified’.” Verse 8, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth”.
As shown in the book on Hebrews the whole of this chapter 49 has as its subject, the Messiah, who would come to bring salvation to Jew and Gentile, individually. He would not be born to be King of a natural nation of Israel, at any time. That would not be His vocation. His mission was never to be a King on earth but King of the heavenly Kingdom of God or Kingdom of heaven, both names being interchangeable, contrary to Darby’s beliefs. His kingdom is not of this world or indeed on this earth.
In addition, we have these facts that John Nelson Darby, an aristocrat, is the acknowledged “father” of all these beliefs. He said he had a revelation from God of something new. Such revelations are not from God. What he did not disclose publicly was that some of his ideas originated from Irving, a Scotch minister.
This minister had translated a book written by a Jesuit priest round about the 1500s A.D. The Roman Catholic priest set out in detail what he considered to be an End Time theology and that was the original basis of Darby’s supposed “new revelation”.
My personal opinion is that John Nelson Darby being the cause of its spread throughout the U.S.A., the hand of British Imperialistic Zionism can be found there.
As we look at the fulfilment exactly of Daniel 9:24-27 some few hundred years later, we stand in awe and amazement. It was Christ who did the judgment. John 5:27 shows God “hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.”
This is our God. This is the One we serve. “Our God is a consuming fire”! He dwells in the history of nations and directs it.