christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

Category Archives: hebrews

hebrews 7, our better hope

By so much more, Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.

Read Hebrews 7 at Bible Gateway.

With Jesus as our High Priest, we have a better hope, and are living in a better covenant. It is not that the “old” covenant has passed away – Paul taught us that a covenant enacted later cannot nullify a covenant which was ratified earlier (Gal 3:17). In our better covenant, instead of the blood of bulls and goats needing to be offered daily to atone for sins, the blood of Messiah Yeshua was offered once for all to atone for sins (Heb 7:27). In our better covenant, instead of the Law of God being written without us on tablets of stone, that same Law is written within us by the power of the Holy Spirit, on the tablets of our hearts (Jer 31:33). Now we are not compelled to obedience from without, out of fear or some other motive; now our own heart compels us to obedience from within, out of love for God.

When the writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood” (Heb 7:11), what is he talking about?

The purpose of the Levitical priesthood was to attend to the sanctuary. The purpose of the sanctuary, was so that God could dwell among Israel, even with Israel’s imperfections. The Levitical priesthood offered sacrifices for sins, to make atonement for the imperfections of the children of Israel. Aaron was charged to do the work of his priesthood, that no more wrath come upon Israel (Num 18:5).

However, the Levitical priesthood did not erase Israel’s imperfections. It did not make perfect. But through them, atonement was made for Israel’s imperfections, that no more wrath came upon Israel. So the Law concerning the priesthood and the sacrifices made nothing perfect. Obedience to the Law did not make perfect – it does not solve man’s fundamental problem of the sin nature.

However, making perfect, salvation, setting a person in right standing before God, was never the Law’s purpose, and I believe there was a misunderstanding about this ingrained into the Hebraic pysche and culture of Jesus’ day. You can see this misunderstanding manifest in Jesus’ clashes with the Pharisees, and Paul’s subsequent clashes with the circumcision party. The misunderstanding was that salvation can be obtained by obedience to the Law. They believed perfect obedience perfected, or made one perfect before God.

As we have seen over and over in Paul’s epistles, justification, right- standing, or salvation cannot be obtained by obedience. Salvation is a free gift of grace, not something that we earn or deserve. The Levitical priesthood cannot perfect, for the Law made nothing perfect.

However, just because obedience to the Law does not save a man, this does not mean obedience to the Law has passed away and is without a purpose. Moses was very clear to explain the purpose of obedience all through Deuteronomy, the book in which he undertook to explain this Torah (Deu 1:5).

To be continued …

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hebrews 6, two immutable things

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.Read Hebrews 6 at Bible Gateway.

Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. Heb 6:17-18

Immutable: unable to be changed; not capable of or susceptible to change. – Webster’s

The first immutable thing, is that every word of God is true. He spoke a promise to Abraham, and that promise was as good as fulfilled, since it is impossible for God to lie. God’s word is immutable, once spoken. It not simply that God won’t change His mind … His promise is not capable of or susceptible to change. He cannot change His mind.

The second immutable thing, is that God further confirmed His promise with an oath, in which He swore by Himself, since there is no one greater than Himself. To us oaths might not carry much weight, simply because people break their oaths all the time. But in time past, oaths were sworn in the name of the gods, or God (“by Jove,” “by Jupiter,” “by God,”). The one making the oath, invoked the name of the god or God he feared, who would require it of him should he break the oath. Therefore oaths taken in the name of a greater were not broken, from fear that the greater would bring retribution on the oath-breaker’s head, to preserve the honor of the name in which it was taken.

Now God, in making such an oath, did not do so for Himself, to keep Himself from breaking the oath. He is never tempted to break His word, and He needed no such encouragement. But He made the oath for our sakes, so that we would know just how sure a thing it is that His promise is as good as fulfilled. There is no breaking it.

Do you have a sure promise from God and His word today? It is as good as done, as it is impossible for it to be changed. Therefore do not fear to take strong consolation in its accomplishment, but rejoice in hope that at the right time you will see the fulfillment of all He has promised!

hebrews 5, our compassionate high priest

Read Hebrews 5 at Bible Gateway.

All of Heb 5 forms a chiastic structure with part of Heb 4:

Heb 4:12-5:14
1a) Heb 4:12-13, The word of God is living and powerful, discerning the thoughts + intents of the heart;
1b) Heb 4:14, Our great High Priest, Jesus the Son of God + hold fast to our confession;
1c) Heb 4:15, Our High Priest sympathizes with our weaknesses, being tempted as we are, yet without sin;
central axis) Heb 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need;”
2c) Heb 5:1-3, High priests among men have compassion for weaknesses + offer sacrifices for sins;
2b) Heb 5:4-11, High priests called by God, so also with Christ the Son, according to the order of Melchizedek:
2a) Heb 5:12-14, The word of righteousness is solid food for the mature, exercised to discern good and evil.

Jesus our High Priest is the living and powerful Word of God made flesh. He discerns the thoughts and intents of our hearts, yet sympathizes with our weaknesses, since He too has been tempted with the same weaknesses as we are. Even though He is the Son of God, He learned obedience by the things He suffered. In other words, He suffered while being tempted; He suffered with the weaknesses of the flesh that did not want to obey God. But He chose obedience to God despite suffering in every case.

Therefore, let us come boldly to the throne of grace. Our great High Priest, who sympathizes with our weaknesses, will grant us mercy toward our weaknesses, and also give us grace in our time of need, our time of temptation, to choose obedience to God as He did. Temptation is not the time to run from God, but straight to Him with confidence, and He will send us mercy and grace to help us through it.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

hebrews 4, there remains a rest

Read Hebrews 4 at Bible Gateway.

There remains therefore a Sabbath keeping for the people of God, for he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

The greater portion of this chapter forms a chiastic structure:

Heb 4:1-12
1a) Heb 4:1-2, The promise of rest, lest any come short of it + the gospel preached/ the word they heard:
— 1) Heb 4:1, A promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any come short of it;
— 2) Heb 4:2, The gospel was preached to them + the word they heard not mixed with faith;
1b) Heb 4:3-6, We who have believed do enter that rest:
—- 1a) Heb 4:3a, For we who have believed do enter that rest;
—- 1b) Heb 4:3b, As He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest;’”
—- 1c) Heb 4:3c, Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world;
 —- central axis) Heb 4:4a, He has spoken of the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day;”
—- 2c) Heb 4:4b, “From all His works;”
—- 2b) Heb 4:5, And again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest;”
—- 2a) Heb 4:6, Some must enter it /those did not enter because of disobedience.
1c) Heb 4:6, It remains that some must enter it/ those did not enter because of disobedience;
1d) Heb 4:7, He designates a certain day, “Today,” after such a long time;
central axis) Heb 4:8a, For if Joshua had given them rest;
2d) Heb 4:8b, Then He would not afterward have spoken of another day;
2c) Heb 4:9, There remains therefore a rest for the people of God;
2b) Heb 4:10, For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His;
2a) Heb 4:11-12, Enter that rest, lest anyone fall + the word of God living + powerful:
— 1) Heb 4:11, Let us be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall by the same disobedience;
— 2) Heb 4:12, The word of God is living + powerful/ discerning the thoughts + intents of the heart.

The writer of Hebrews is making the point, that the rest established on the seventh day from the foundation of the world, is prophesying of a future rest, which Joshua did not fulfill by bringing Israel into the Promised Land. There remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God to enter.

Sabbath rest is prophesying of a future rest. When Adam sinned and disobeyed God, he earned painful labor by the sweat of his brow until the day of his death for himself. Painful toil until death is the reward of sin. But God by His grace, established a day of rest from painful toil until death even before Adam sinned. Rest from the reward of sin is the gift of God by grace, not what we earn or deserve.

Sabbath rest then, is prophesying of the gospel of grace. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, not by works, lest any man should boast. We cannot earn life in Him by works, but it is given to us freely as a gift, because God is a gracious and merciful God from the foundation of the world.

Sabbath rest is also prophesying of the millennial reign of Jesus our Lord as King of kings and Lord of lords. It has been close to six millennia since Adam fell and consigned the natural universe under sin, to decay and death, the wages of sin. But the seventh millennium will be a millennium of rest from sin under the kingship of Messiah Yeshua. He will rule the nations with a rod of iron, and the Law of God is the Law of His Kingdom (Psa 2, Rev 2:27, Isa 66). He is the Living Torah which has put on flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth (Joh 1:1, 14).

The people of God enter His rest. They are believers, who receive the Word of God with faith. Their obedience to His Word flows from their belief in His Word from their hearts. So they enter salvation by faith through grace, yet while still here on this earth, they do good, they seek peace and pursue it. They do not abandon good deeds and revel in wickedness just because they do not receive salvation by good deeds. Likewise they rest on the seventh day from Adam’s painful toil, since it is a commandment of God, to remember Him as God and Creator, worthy of service and worship, on the seventh day. They do not abandon rest and worship on the seventh day just because they do not receive salvation by that rest. But as long as it is called “Today,” they continue to prophesy by their seventh day rest of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the millennial rest He will establish for the earth.

hebrews 3, the root of rebellion

Today, if you will hear His voice: "Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness."Read Hebrews 3 at Bible Gateway.

A portion of this chapter forms an interesting chiastic structure:

Heb 3:6b-17
1a) Heb 3:6b-9, Hold fast our confidence to the end + Today, do not harden your hearts:
— 1a.1) Heb 3:6b, If we hold fast the confidence + rejoicing of hope firm to the end;
— 1a.2) Heb 3:7-8a, “Today, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,”
— 1a.3) Heb 3:8b-10a, “Wilderness + your fathers tested Me forty years/ I was angry with that generation;”
1b) Heb 3:10b, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways;’
central axis) Heb 3:11, So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest;’”
2b) Heb 3:12-13, Evil heart of unbelief/ departing from God + hardened through the deceitfulness of sin;
2a) Heb 3:14-17, Hold confidence steadfast to the end + Today, do not harden your hearts:
— 2a.1) Heb 3:14, Partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end;
— 2a.2) Heb 3:15, “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion;”
— 2a.3) Heb 3:16-17, They rebelled who came out of Egypt + angry forty years with those who sinned.

Rebellion is man’s second- oldest problem. It caused Adam’s Fall and his (our) expulsion from Eden and the presence of God. Rebellion is merely, the unwillingness to receive a command from God, and obey it. Adam did not obey the command to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Disobedience to God is sin, for sin is lawlessness (1 Joh 3:4) – refusal to obey God’s Law or commandments.

But we learn from Israel’s example, that rebellion comes from a hard heart, and a hard heart comes from unbelief. God speaks a command. The heart which hears it and believes in God, and in God’s right, responsibility, or wisdom to express truth by His Word, including commandments, receives His Word and His command, and obeys it. The heart which hears it and does not believe in God, or does not believe that God has the right as Creator and Ruler to speak commands, or that God has the responsibility as Creator and Ruler to direct His creation according to His will, or that God does not have the wisdom to know what is true or best, hardens his heart so that His word cannot penetrate his heart, and he does not obey Him. He rebels.

This is why obedience is an accurate measure or test of the one whose heart is circumcised toward God (one who is saved, Mat 7:21-23, 1 Cor 6:9-10), but it is not what makes a heart circumcised toward God (works of the Law do not save us, Gal 2:16).

Therefore do not fear to obey God or to walk in His commandments, beloved. Obedience does not disqualify our faith, but illuminates it so that it is evident to all, even as Abraham’s obedience in the binding of Isaac illuminated the extent that his heart trusted in the Lord his God. *smile*

hebrews 2, our merciful and faithful high priest

Read Hebrews 2 at Bible Gateway.

I am working on the chiastic structures for the book of Hebrews. What amazed me today, was a theme I found repeated twice for emphasis toward the end of the chapter:

For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why He is not ashamed to call them brothers.1.1) Heb 2:14a, Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same,
1.2) Heb 2:14b-15, That through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
1.3) Heb 2:16, For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.

2.1) Heb 2:17a, Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren,
2.2) Heb 2:17b, That He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
2.3) Heb 2:18, For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Let’s just think about this for a minute. The Creator and Ruler of the universe put on flesh and blood for our sake, so that He might:

Know through experience the struggle of being flesh and blood, so that He might remain merciful and faithful (not that I believe His mercy or faithfulness would ever waver, but so that we might trust in the extent of His mercy and faithfulness);

Experience death as we all must experience death, but to the purpose of destroying the power of death and the devil who wields the power of death;

Release us from the bondage of the fear of death … for because of His death which made propitiation for us, our death cannot hurt us any longer, but only opens the door for us to enter into greater life and greater glory;

Suffer temptation so that we might trust in His desire and ability to aid us, not punish us, in our temptations and weaknesses.

When we are faced with a test or temptation, our first instinct is often to hide ourselves as Adam did in the Garden, when he faced his first test and temptation, and failed. But the Creator and Ruler of the universe, in being made like us in all things, knows and understands the pain and difficulty of facing tests and temptations, having faced them Himself, but without sin. This is to encourage us to run TO HIM instead of away of from Him, for He has aid waiting for us from the throne of grace, mercy to help us in our time of need (Heb 4:16).

I have known and understood these things for 45 years, but it never ceases to amaze me, when I am reminded of them!