Scripture reading for December 15th: Hebrews 8-10
The Jewish believers being addressed by the writer of Hebrews needed help understanding the work of Jesus Christ in bringing atonement for their sins. They were under the Old Testament law and knew that the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. He went in to offer the blood sacrifice for the sins of the people and even for his own sins. This High Priest could only come from the line of Aaron or he would not be qualified to be a priest. (Hebrews 9:6-7)
Their questions about this came from the fact that Jesus Christ was from the tribe of Judah, rather than from Levi and Aaron. Jesus did not offer an animal sacrifice in the earthly temple like the Aaronic priests. Jesus offered His own blood in the heavenly tabernacle. The shed blood made forgiveness of sins possible for all who would put their faith in Him. (Hebrews 9:21-26) Jesus also offered this sacrifice of His own blood just once and then He sat down because His work was finished. The writer of Hebrews had previously shown that Jesus was of the priesthood of Melchizedek. This was because of the resurrection from the dead and the power of an endless life!
“But now He has appeared once for all to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are awaiting for Him.” (Hebrews 9:26-28)
Jesus Christ came the first time to take away sin and destroy it’s power to bring eternal death to mankind. He offered His sacrifice of His own blood in Heaven itself before God’s throne. But Jesus Christ is coming again! This next time it will not be to bear our sins, but to bring the fullness of salvation to all those who have put their trust in Him. Those who are waiting for Him gather together regularly to encourage each other to love each other and do good deeds. (Hebrews 10:23-25) Are you eagerly waiting and regularly gathering with God’s people? The time is near!
Scripture reading for December 14th: Hebrews 5-7
It is a wonderful comfort to know that we have a perfect Savior who has been tempted and tested in the same manner that we are. Jesus Christ was truly a human as well as God. His suffering was part of the process that God used to help us to become all we need to be through faith. Today’s readings help us to understand a little better what Jesus went through on our behalf.
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of his reverent submission. Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what he suffered and , once made perfect, be became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:7-10)
Jesus prayed passionately because He faced trials and temptations that buffeted His soul. The last great wave of temptation was to save Himself from the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:36-44) According to Luke, Jesus’ sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground and an angel came and strengthened him. (Luke 22:42-44) While Jesus wrestled passionately in prayer, the disciples were sleeping and deserted him in the night watch. Jesus desired to have the cup of suffering removed from him, but reverently submitted to the Father’s will that He taste death for all sinners.
He was made perfect through suffering. His suffering brought Jesus to perfect obedience and humble submission to the Father’s will. He was then able to become the source of eternal salvation for all who would humbly look to Him in faith. Because of Jesus’ submission, God designated Jesus a high priest of the order of Melchizedek! Melchizedek had no recorded genealogy and appeared to live eternally. His priesthood was of a different order than Aaron’s and came before Aaron’s. It was based on the power of an endless life!
We can fully trust Jesus Christ as our high priest. He is a man who is now alive forever in God’s presence. God declared Him a high priest forever! He was tempted in every way like us, but was without sin. His blood is the perfect sacrifice for sin. We owe Him our reverent submission!
Scripture reading for December 13th: Hebrews 3-4
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Jesus Christ is God’s living Word! Jesus is alive and active today, having risen from the dead and now seated at God’s right hand to intercede as our High Priest. God has always used His Word to accomplish His purposes. In Isaiah, the Word was likened to rain that came to water the earth, making it bud and sprout. (Isaiah 55:10-12) God sent His Word, Jesus Christ, to earth to accomplish restoration for fallen man and to bring him back into God’s family again. He came to bring peace between sinful man and Holy God and remove the curse of sin.
As the living Word, Jesus is active today in the hearts of men and women around the earth. The Word preached by His church is likened to a sword that is sharp on both edges. It can cut going in and cut going out. The Word can penetrate where no metal sword is sharp enough to enter–the soul and spirit! It can divide the thoughts and intents of the heart, revealing truth to the inner man by revelation. This “Sword” sees us as if by x-ray. We are naked and bare before Him and He knows just where to cut to bring healing and deliverance.
Since Jesus Christ has gone through the heavens, we must hold firmly to the faith we possess that came from hearing the Word. (Romans 10:17) Jesus is a faithful priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. He can help us when we are tempted and we can come boldly before His throne now without fear. (Hebrews 4:15-16) One day we must give an account before Jesus at the judgment seat of Christ, where we will receive reward for our deeds done in our bodies. (2nd Corinthians 5:10) This will be a time of reward, not of condemnation, for those who know the Lord. The living Word intercedes for us, guides us, and guards us, taking us safely to our eternal home! What a comfort and joy Jesus is!
Scripture reading for December 12th: Hebrews 1-2
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1-3a) The letter to the Hebrews was written to Jews who had been saved and became followers of Jesus Christ. They suffered intense persecution, some had their own families disown them, and some were being put to death. The persecution caused some to begin to question their salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ. The writer encouraged these Jews to pay careful attention to the word of God and the truth that had been preached to them. Careful attention would keep them on the narrow path of life.
The writer of Hebrews reminded these believers that the the Son of God had brought the message of salvation to the Jews first. He confirmed it with signs and wonders and miracles. (Hebrews 2:3-4) Jesus was raised to a position of glory and honor after suffering death for everyone. God made the author of their salvation perfect through suffering and He is in the process of perfecting those who follow Jesus as well.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15) As Christians, we now have no more fear of death. Christ has freed us from that fear by conquering death and the grave. He destroyed the devil and took the keys of death and hell away from him. (Revelation 1:18)
All men have been held by the fear of death because all have sinned and know that death is the penalty for sin. The second death is the real fear because it is appointed to men once to die and then comes the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) Christ took our sins and paid the penalty of death for all who believe on Him. He can help us now because He is our faithful high priest, having offered His own blood for our sins! (Hebrews 2:17-18) What a blessing to be freed from this enslaving fear!
Scripture reading for December 15th: Hebrews 11-13
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 11:1-3
One of the foundational aspects of our faith is trusting God as creator of all things. God alone has the wisdom and power to create the universe or cosmos out of nothing with his simple command! This particular aspect of faith is attacked in our land today by those who put their faith in the theory of evolution. Evolution is a type of religious system that puts time and chance as key ingredients to finding the basis of beginning in all things. A creator is ruled out and intelligent design is believed to be the simple product of chance or random happenings over millions or billions of years.
We who trust God and His word know by His revelation how creation began. God simply spoke a command and it happened. Faith trusts what we cannot see but what God has said. Faith’s object is always God or His word. God does not lie. He is absolute truth and His word is also truth! The Bible records a number of human beings who trusted God’s word and were commended by Him. There is a portion of that list in the rest of Hebrews 11! I want to focus on just one of these ancients, Enoch, who was the seventh generation from Adam through Seth.
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:5-6)
Enoch was known as a man who walked with God. He was a prophet who warned of the coming of the Lord with His holy angels in judgment. His only recorded message is found in Jude 14-15. Enoch began to walk with God after the birth of his son, Methuselah. (Genesis 5:21-24) The name “Methuselah” has a meaning of judgment coming when he dies. The flood came in the year Methuselah died and he lived longer than any other man recorded in Scripture. Enoch so walked with God, that he was snatched up to heaven without death and became a type of faith-walker that would inspire others throughout the ages!
There is no other means of pleasing God! Jesus is coming again. Will you walk with God today as if that were true and warn others about this coming event? Your reward will be better than Methuselah’s! We have a better resurrection in Jesus Christ! (Hebrews 11:39-40)
Scripture reading for December 14th: Hebrews 8-10
I love new things! Sometimes old things are nice to collect, but new things are nicer to use because they have all the latest technology and all the parts are new. Everything we were used to with the old has to be relearned with the new things. Sometimes this shift is difficult for us because we are set in our ways. This is what happened to many Jewish believers in the time of the letter to the Hebrews. The author spent some time and effort explaining the new covenant and how it was so much better than the old covenant.
The old covenant had laws and regulations for those who broke those laws. The old covenant had promises for those who obeyed and warning for those who didn’t. Moses was the mediator of the old covenant and Aaron and the Levites were the high priest and priesthood. These were men who had failings themselves and eventually died. The old covenant had a mobile tabernacle carried by the Levites, and God could only be visited at prescribed times by a certain few people. In fact, only Aaron the high priest could go into where God’s dwelling place was in the Holy of Holies.
Under the new covenant, things were much easier and better. Jesus Christ is the mediator of this new covenant. He revealed it to us by His life, teaching, and sacrificial death on a cross. He was God’s Son, not just a servant. He was perfectly obedient to the old covenant while here on earth and then became the sacrifice for laws broken under the old covenant.
His sacrifice was better because His body and blood were without sin. He offered it once for all to put away sin. (Hebrews 9:14) His blood was offered in heaven on the heavenly mercy seat when He rose from the dead. He lives forever and is able to be a perfect high priest of a different order, that of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:20) He can identify with us because He is a man and has lived here on earth, experiencing our temptations. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
When we trust in Christ and His sacrifice for us, God gives us a new heart and sends His Spirit to live in us. (Hebrews 8:10-12) We become priests of the new covenant here on earth–a kingdom of priests! Our sins are forgiven and erased from God’s memory. We become the new dwelling place of God, living stones in His new body the church. We become children of our Father and can approach Him boldly without fear to find help in times of need or just to worship and have fellowship.
New covenant people love to gather together and encourage each other. We know Jesus Christ is coming soon! We want to be ready and reach as many as possible before the full reality is unveiled when He appears! (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Greetings on another day of rest. This is the third Sunday of Advent. Joy is the theme for today. The angels rejoiced at the birth of Jesus and sang joyful hymns of praise! The shepherds heard the angel’s announcement, went to find the baby and rejoiced with Joseph and Mary. As we prepare our hearts, we are filled with joy anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ. This time He will come with the hosts of heaven and we who believe in Him will be caught up to meet Him in the air! So shall we ever be with the Lord!
Today’s reading to help us finish on time comes from Hebrews 5-7. Here are a few of my favorite scriptures from this section. I hope that they will speak to you of the character and love of Jesus Christ! May they inspire joy on this day of rest.
“No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon Himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to Him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And He says in another place, ” You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:4-6
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and , once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:7-10
“God did this so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:18-20
“Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:23-25
May the Lord bless your day of rest and reflection with great joy and peace through Jesus Christ! In His Love, Pastor John
Scripture reading for December 12th: Hebrews 3-4
“Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed Him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor that Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.” Hebrews 3:1-3
How we need to fix our thoughts today! There is so much confusion from this world bombarding us with it’s worries, demands, and fears. The Bible is clear about where to fix our thoughts–on Jesus Christ! By focusing on Jesus we can have rest from worry, fear, and religious works that try to gain God’s favor. We can rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ to bring us into God’s glorious rest!
Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest that we confess. Jesus is the one sent by God to this earth to bring good news. He is the good news from the Father! He rose from the dead and became a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:8-10) His perfect obedience enabled Him to be made perfect through suffering death on a cross for our sins. He is a great High Priest who knows what we are going through and how to come to our aid! (Hebrews 4:14-16) He lives forever and never sleeps. He can intercede for us day or night. His priestly ministry is always available and we have access by His own blood!
Jesus is greater than Moses, who led the people out of Egypt and gave them the law of God. Moses was supposed to lead the people into the promised land, but the people rebelled. They would not listen to God’s Word and rebelled. Their unbelief kept them from their inheritance! (Hebrews 3:19)
Jesus is greater than Joshua who also failed to lead God’s people to the full conquest of the promised land. Jesus ushers each of us into a new day–today! (Hebrews 4:6-7) We can enter the rest by faith in Him! As we hear His voice and respond in faith to His word, we rest from our religious works and place our full trust on God’s provision through Jesus Christ!
This theme of rest is one of my favorites! I have been programmed to work for everything all my life. I must be diligent to enter this rest by placing my faith in Christ’s work for me. It takes humility and respect for God’s sovereign plan to enter in. What a glorious rest! Today is the day if you need real rest! Share this rest with someone close to you!
Scripture reading for December 11th: Hebrews 1-2
What is God like? God is a spirit and we are not equipped naturally to see or understand the character of a spirit-being. God sent His first-born Son, Jesus Christ to fully reveal His character. As we look at Jesus and His completely humble and obedient character, we can begin to know and understand God. The writer of Hebrews opens his letter with a wonderful statement about Jesus.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Hebrews 1:1-3
Jesus Christ is God’s last word for us. You might look at it like this. In the Old Testament times God spoke the language of “prophet” at various times and in various places. In New Testament times, God speaks “Son”. His Son is His exact representation. His Son made the universe! His Son sustains everything with His powerful word! If you really want to know about God, then look to Jesus and listen to His word. It is truth and full of power!
Not only is Jesus Christ the creator and sustainer of all that is, He also made purification for sins. His life of total obedience and reverent fear of the Lord made Him the only one capable of being a sacrifice for our sins. He willingly and obediently obeyed His Father and offered His body and blood to atone for sin. His sacrifice was sufficient and provides the only way to be cleansed from sin.
After offering Himself on the cross and tasting death for us, He was buried in a tomb. On the third day, He rose from the dead. He ministered for forty days to his amazed disciples and over 500 other followers before ascending to heaven on a cloud. Once there, He was seated at the right hand of the Majesty of God the Father. He took the place of the exalted first-b0rn Son of God. He is seated because His work is finished. He is there to intercede for us until He comes again for us.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15
This is the last word from heaven for us! We are free from the fear of death and the devil because of Christ’s death! May God have the “last word” in your life today and every day!