A Better Hope with a New Priest

Hebrews Chapter 7 speaks of Melchizedek and his greatness.

Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. Hebrews 7:4 NKJV

However, Chapter 7 also refers to a new priest that has come who belongs to another tribe, from which no man as officiated at the altar. Plus, if there was a change a priesthood, there was also a change of the law. That man was Jesus, who came from Judah. Jesus did not become a priest because a man appointed Him either. Jesus’ life is eternal. Man is held back by death and sin. Therefore, priests had to offer up sacrifices for their own sins and then for the people. Multiple priests had been established because they would die and a new one would be appointed.

We are so fortunate to live under Jesus Christ as our High Priest. He is without sin and does not need to offer up sacrifices. He made the ultimate sacrifice by becoming the perfect sacrifice Himself. Jesus can save all who come to God through Him. He does not die and can always make intercession for us. The law made nothing perfect. Jesus is the one who brought a better hope through which we can draw near to God.

For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:18-19 NKJV

But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. Hebrews 7:24-28 NKJV

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Hope is an Anchor of the Soul

One of the most profound things I believe I have learned is that God’s promises are an anchor to our soul. In the past, I believed that hope was having faith in the “unknown.” In other words, we need to dive in to something believing that God will bless us no matter what – as long as we are doing what we “think” He wants us to do. If we are doing the “right” thing, why wouldn’t He bless our course of action and make it happen.

However, Hebrews chapter 6 speaks of God’s promises. God made a promise with Abraham, for example, that He would bless him and multiply him. The following passage reveals a lot about God and His promises.

For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. 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.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:13-20 NKJV

First, I noticed that God can swear by no one greater than Himself. So, what does He do? When He made the promise with Abraham, He swore to Himself. Oaths are important. When we enter into an oath, we need to be careful who we are making that oath with and what promises we are making. Our words are a very powerful thing.

Second, it is impossible for God to lie. If that is the case, then we can have complete confidence in what He says. God does not lie to us. There is one who does speak lies. And, does he ever make his words sound like that of the Father God. It is important to know when God speak because His words are true.

So, we can conclude that when God speaks a promise, He cannot lie. Therefore, hope is created in us when we have heard His promise and have faith that God is who He says He is. God’s promises set hope before us and it is up to us to “lay hold of” it. Then, when adversity strikes (as it surely will), hope is an anchor to our soul in troubled times. Abraham had to “patiently endure” time before he obtained the promise of God.

The most obvious example of this in my life (where this lesson made such a profound impact on me), was when my wife and I lost our baby boy. We knew he had a major medical problem. We sought the best care we could at the time and we prayed for him.  A friend and teacher of ours helped us find the words to express what we wanted to pray. However, I personally never received a promise from God that our son would survive. He only live about 34 days.

However, after my son had passed away, I did hear from the Lord that my wife and I would have another child. I specifically heard that we were young and that we would have another healthy child. Now, that was a promise from God! That was something that gave me hope in what was to come because of faith (because I believed God spoke to me and that He doesn’t lie).

That hope became an anchor to my soul as my wife and I were tested shortly after my daughter was born. Here she was, the promise of God delivered. However, we received a letter in the mail that she had a life threatening condition detected by her blood work. Confronted with this news, the fear and pain began to swell up  again.  The only thing that held those feelings at bay was God’s promise. The anchor was there and I stood on the promise He had given me for this little girl. I prayed God’s protection around my family and I was standing on the power of the promise He had given me. We would not accept this lie because God’s spoken word was true.

We took our daughter in to be tested, hoping and praying for a negative test result. Talk about patiently enduring on a promise. The pressure was on. But, I will never forget the peace I felt because of God giving me a promise this time around. Sure enough, the test results came back negative and our daughter is healthy. That is one of the closest encounters I have had with the Lord. I am so thankful that He spoke a promise to me and I will always treasure that.

 

Spiritual Immaturity

Having a young daughter helps me understand Hebrews 5:12. God’s word can be considered spiritual food. We need the word to live the life that God has for us. Ignoring His word leaves us starving for His truth.

Much like my daughter learned to drink milk first, there are first principles of God’s word that are key to obtaining spiritual maturity. As my daughter learned to drink milk, she also matured as she learned to eat solid foods – which is not a quick process. She must learn how to chew, use her tongue, swallow and use hand-eye coordination. These are all basic principles of eating.

Hebrews describes spiritual maturity as having the reason to be able to discern both good and evil. Can we recognize God’s righteousness? Knowing the basic principles of God gives us the building blocks for spiritual maturity – being able to think on our own two feet and discern good from evil. I believe that people have a responsibility to learn and to teach others so that spiritual maturity can be passed on from one generation, or one person, to another.

Going back to the hardened heart, our aim must be that we do not become “dull of hearing”, as Hebrews says. For this does not allow spiritual maturity.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14

Unbelief versus Faithfulness

Hebrews 3 teaches us about the difference between faithfulness and unbelief in God’s kingdom. Moses was considered faithful in God’s eyes. He delivered God’s people out of the hands of Pharoah and was a testimony of events to come in the new testament.

And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward… Hebrews 3:5 NKJV

However, the people were an example of unfaithfullness, or unbelief in what God had spoken. When they faced trials, they hardened their hearts towards God and chose their own way. This is evil in God’s eyes. The consequence was that God determined they could not enter into His rest.

Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; Hebrews 3:8, 10-12 NKJV

I always tell my son, “Who builds homes?”

Of course, he answers “people.” Then, I ask him, “Who built people?”

To which he answers “God.”

I love that Hebrews 3 refers to this. It is this type of reminder that gets our thinking straight. It sounds so simple, but many people do not think or believe this way. They key is listening to God’s word, believing Him and obeying. We must learn to trust Him and align our will with His through that trust.

Hebrews 3 speaks to hardness of the heart. To understand this, I think of children. Their hearts are inquiring, pliable. They have an uncanny ability to believe. Sin is deceitful. The more we are deceived, the more we lose the ability to trust, or believe. I am always on guard of a hardened heart in myself. I want to enter into God’s rest.

Do I trust Him? Do I obey Him? Many times I miss the mark. But, I do believe. I keep my heart open to Him because I love Him, I trust Him. Hebrews 3 gives us great advice to hold steadfast in our confidence that comes from believing in Him.

For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:14-15 NKJV

What happened to those with unbelief? They used their free will to choose unbelief and the consequences were not good.

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. Hebrews 3:16-19 NKJV

Salvation of Man, Who is a Little Lower than the Angels

Hebrews Chapter 2 continues to reveal so many amazing truths. Imagine if we had to live a life following God’s word 100% of the time without failure. Now imagine that every time we disobeyed God, through thought and action, it was recorded. Now, I stand before God at the end of my life ready to receive my rightful reward. I know that for myself, this would not be something I would look forward to.

Hebrews 2 describes the “escape” from this snare.

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him… Hebrews 2:1-3 NKJV

We must cling to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the anchor that keeps us from “drifting away”, or forgetting what we’ve heard and living a life separate from Him. The only way for me to escape my sin (and death) is for me to trust in the salvation that Jesus shared with us. He experienced death so that we may live.

Who am I that should receive Christ? Who are we that God gave His only Son to save us?  We were made “a little lower than the angels” and yet, He has put all things of this world under us.

For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying:

“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” Hebrews 2:5-8 NKJV

If we trust the message of Jesus Christ, we become the “seed of Abraham.” Jesus calls us His brethren. Satan had the power over death and accused us to God, but Jesus destroyed his hold over death that we might escape bondage. What an amazing honor to partake in such a gift as this. He is loving, merciful and faithful. I also pray, let us not forget what He has done, what He has shared and who He is.

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, 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. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:14-18 NKJV

His Son, Appointed Higher than the Angels

This weekend, I visited with my son about angels and the great battle between Lucifer and Michael, the archangel.  Wondering how he would respond to all of this, he asked me whether or not I was making up a story (as I sometimes do when we read together because he loves stories) or if I was telling him something real. After explaining that the story is real and that this was from the scriptures, he commented how God is the real life superhero. I love how kids are innocent learners. They see the world differently than many adults do, with wonder and possibility.

As we were talking, I was again amazed at who Jesus is and what He had to give up to come to earth as a man. He is God’s son with all of the benefits. However, He gave up His power, became a man on Earth and lived according to what He saw His Father do. He did this perfectly until being crucified by us, man. As I read through Hebrews this morning, this became even more clear. Jesus is the “heir of all things.” It also says that God made the worlds through His son Jesus. Imagine that. Jesus made the worlds with His Father. Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person. We were made in that image.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-14 NKJV

That last sentence really sums up what I was trying to communicate with my son. Jesus is higher than the angels. He is God’s Son and has inherited a better name because of it. He has never said to an angel “You are my son.” The rest of Hebrews chapter 1 explains this very well, but I especially like the last two.

To the son He says:

…“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. But You are the same,
And Your years will not fail.” Hebrews 1:10-12 NKJV

Regarding angels:

But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:13-14 NKJV