Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:7-8)
Faith depends on what we know about God from a combination of personal experiences and stories from other people. There are so many examples of how God has kept His promises, and we can take comfort in knowing that He is faithful. He has also promised us many things through His word. We know that because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He will keep His promises. To live with faith is to completely reorient my life around the constancy of God’s promises. Father, thank you for being constant and for revealing yourself to me. Thank you that you desire to be known, and you have made yourself known. Thank you for your many promises that you have given me. I know that you will be faithful to complete every single one of them. Please help me to live with full faith in these promises.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
After talking to my girlfriend last night, I was motivated to overcome lust to keep myself pure for her sake. This is a good reason for actively fleeing temptation, but God is reminding me that ultimately, Jesus is my motivation. Because of the victory of so many people in the old testament who had faith in God, I know that I can also be victorious. I need to conquer every bad habit and temptation so that I will not be weighted down. I need to persevere and endure. Father, thank you for running the race before me and showing me everything that I will face. I know that I will be victorious in you. Please help me to persevere with unwavering faith.
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. (Hebrews 11:24-25)
This chapter is often referred to as the hall of faith. There is a lot that can be learned about what faith is through the stories of these old testament characters. I will be writing about pursuing faith soon as part of the series on 2 Timothy 2:22. But the part that stuck out to me the most is where Moses gave up the Egyptian lifestyle in faith of a more complete life with the God of Israel. He chose a more difficult life that was void of earthly pleasures. He was heavenly minded, not considering himself a citizen of this world. Father, thank you for the home that you are building for me in heaven with you. I am sorry for pursuing worldy pleasures that distract me from you. Please remind me that eternity with you is far better than all the things this world can give.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29)
Under the new covenant, we are transformed through the knowledge of Jesus. Sacrifices in the old testament would only cover unintentional sins. Israelites who disobeyed the law in full knowledge of the existence of that law could be sentenced to death. But I know that I often disobey God’s laws although I know what they say. Or rather, under the new covenant, I am not acting in accordance with the will of God. Sometimes I dismiss this disobedience as imperfections that have not been fully corrected through the process of sanctification. But I think the issue is deeper than that. In the days of the law, if I did not know about the law, my sin would be considered unintentional. The new covenant is based on a knowledge of Jesus instead of the law. If I am not obeying His will, it is because I have an incomplete knowledge of Him. This knowledge is more than just knowing about Him in my head. It is a knowledge that deeply convicts my heart, mind, soul and spirit. I am sad for my disobedience, and the only solution is to run to Jesus so that I will know Him more fully. Father, when I disobey you, please teach me more about yourself so that I will not displease you again. I am sorry for intentionally running away from your will and ignoring your voice. I want to know you fully so that I will not disobey you.
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15)
I have previously been confused by all the ritual sacrifices and offerings that God required during the days of the tabernacle. Why does God require that an animal be sacrificed in order for us to receive forgiveness? God has made us joint heirs of righteousness with Christ, but inheritance does not take affect until a death occurs. The sacrifices represented the death of Jesus. When He died for us, we were able to receive His righteousness. But the new covenant that Jesus establishes requires that we lay down ourselves so that we would be saved not from our sinful deeds, but from our sinful nature. Father, thank you for the new covenant that you have made that relies on a living relationship with Jesus. Thank you for giving your life for me so that I may inherit your righteousness.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:10-12)
The new covenant with Christ applies to the entire church as a whole, but affects each person individually and specifically. No longer does our knowledge of God come through word of mouth or reading books, but directly through a personal encounter with Jesus. Our relationship with God cannot be from someone else. It is interesting to think that the most natural response to encountering Jesus is to tell others about it. God promises to write the law into our minds and hearts. This does not mean that He will make us legalistic, but that we would become intimately familiar with the law, which is defined by the person on Christ Himself. Father, thank you that you desire to have a personal relationship with me. You want me to know you fully, just as you fully know me. You have done everything to pursue me and draw me towards you. Please continue to grow my desire for you so that I will know you more and more.
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:25-27)
It is comforting to know that Jesus became like us so that He can identify with us, but it is even more comforting to know that He is nothing like us so that He can be our great high priest. Because He is righteous and holy, He is able to save even someone as desperate and devastated as me. He is the final priest because He still lives and rules today. Even when I am struggling, Jesus is interceding for me. Father, I praise you for you are holy. You deserve all of my attention, devotion, reverence and respect. Thank you for giving yourself for me. Please keep me in your fold as I abide in you.
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. (Hebrews 6:1-3)
Honestly, going through the book of Hebrews has been very difficult for me. I doubt this book was written by Paul, who so clearly lays out his doctrine and theology. Hebrews is elaborate poetry that takes a while to unravel. The premise of the book is that Jesus is better than everything. Hebrews 6 says that a relationship with Jesus us better than religion. If we have really come to know Jesus, we will not settle for anything less than Him in this world. This is a relationship that He has initiated with us. As with any relationship, I need to grow in my knowledge of Jesus in order to grow in my love for Him. Father, thank you for reaching out to me to begin a relationship with you. Please continue to draw me to yourself and remind me to spend more time with you.
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:8-10)
Another way to say that God is omniscient is to say that He cannot learn anything. But these verses are saying that Jesus learned obedience and was made perfect. This even seems to do against the immutability of God. What does it mean for Him to learn something? I think that it cannot be more than what He knew before, but somehow less. He was tempted only because He was given the option of being separated from Himself. This might be something that I can never fully understand, but I am thankful that Jesus is my priest who knows what I feel, but never sinned. Father, thank you for being my priest. Without Jesus, there is no way for me to come to you. Thank you that you love me so much that although you already know everything, you learned obedience. Please teach me obedience that I will bring glory to your name.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:11-13)
I have heard Hebrews 4 :12 pretty often in the context of the pertinence of scripture, but I have not fully understood the verse in context. The chapter is talking about entering into God’s rest, which is closely related to doing the work that He has appointed to us. The ultimate goal is to find rest in God, but this is fine through diligently living in accordance with His will, having united our faith with our knowledge of Him. Our work will be tested by the word of God. I must become intimately familiar with scripture because the Bible is the word of God. Jesus is the Word, so I am developing my relationship with Him as I meditate on His words. Father, thank you for so clearly revealing yourself to me and defining my purpose for me. Help me to be diligent in living according to your will. I long to rest in your presence.