christine's bible study

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

Tag 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 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 1, the consistency of God

Of old you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but you will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment, like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.

Read Hebrews 1 at Bible Gateway.

A portion of this chapter forms a chiastic structure:

Heb 1:5-14
1a) Heb 1:5-7, To which of the angels did He ever say + angels spirits/ ministers:
— 1a.1) Heb 1:5-6, Has He ever said to angels, “You are My Son;” (2 Sam 7:14)
— 1a.2) Heb 1:7, He makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire; (Psa 104:4)
1b) Heb 1:8-9, Your throne, O God, is forever + righteousness the scepter of Your kingdom; (Psa 45:6-7)
central axis) Heb 1:10-12a, “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed;”
2b) Heb 1:12b, You are the same + Your years will not fail; (Psa 102:25-27)
2a) Heb 1:13-14, To which of the angels has He ever said + angels ministering spirits:
— 2a.1) Heb 1:13, Has He ever said to angels, “Sit at My right hand;” (Psa 110:1)
— 2a.2) Heb 1:14, Angels are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.

This chapter makes a very strong case for the deity of Messiah Yeshua. For some this presents a problem: if God is One, then how can He be three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)? I see it a little differently. It is not that He is three and not One; but rather, One, expressed in three distinct and identifiable ways, for His own purposes and glory.

The Son is the express image of His person (vs. 3), which is thematically connected to:

This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. Gen 5:1-3

Meaning, the begotten Son is the express image of the Father.

Angels are not sons, but servants (vs. 7, 14); who are called to worship the Son (Deu 32:43, Psa 97:7). The Psalmist addresses Messiah as God in Psa 45:6-7. Since it is God only whom we worship, the Son must be God. These facts are established from the Old Testament; the New Testament merely points them out from the Old.

That the Father and the Son are One God is not just a curious bit of trivia but a foundational doctrine of Scripture. What happens when we separate them into two distinct beings as some do? We get two gods of two testaments, a God of the Old Testament who is angry, vengeful, wrathful, and judgmental, and a God of the New Testament who is merciful, gracious, and forgiving. We get an Old Covenant of works which has passed away, and a New Covenant of grace which replaces it. None of these scenarios are biblically accurate. Just as there is One God, there is one Testament which is internally consistent from Genesis to Revelation; there is one faith of the one people of God.

Just as the Father loves righteousness and hates lawlessness (Torah- lessness), a characteristic commonly attributed to the God of the Old Testament, the Son loves righteousness and hates lawlessness or Torah- lessness (vs. 9, and Mat 7:21-23).

Just as the Son extends mercy, grace, and forgiveness, the Father is slow to anger and abounding in longsuffering, mercy, and grace (Exo 34:6). His seat is a mercy seat (Exo 25:17-22).

keys to contentment, part three

Previously: keys to contentment, part two

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."

Psalm 95:8

We saw yesterday that the Lord calls Israel’s contentions in the wilderness their ten tests of Him:

Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?” Num 14:11

“… all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.” Num 14:22-23

Here the Lord reveals to us that the root of Israel’s contentions with Him was their rejection of Him. They complained ten times, and their complaints amounted to the rejection of Him.

How do complaints and contentions — dissatisfaction with one’s possession, status, and situation — amount to rejection? God provided for Israel all they needed — freedom from Egypt, a leader in Moses, His own presence to go with them, water from the rock, bread from heaven, protection on the road and victory over their enemies — but it was not good enough. They found fault with His deliverance, provision, protection, and leadership, and not just once, but over and over again. Finding fault with His deliverance, provision, protection, and gifts, is the same as reproaching His choices, wisdom, and ability. It is the same as rejecting His choices, wisdom, and ability, which is the same as rejecting Him.

This rejection came from a root of unbelief:

Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?” Num 14:11

… while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Heb 3:15-19

They did not believe that the Lord would care for them, pure and simple. They did not believe He would keep His promises. That unbelief caused them to reject His care, choices, provision, and gifts. That unbelief caused them to reject Him as their God. Therefore they had complaints with His care. They were dissatisfied and had contentions with their possessions, status, and situation.

How does this insight affect us wives?

Continued: keys to contentment, part four