Understanding The Bible
Devotions in Hebrews
From the Book:
N O V E M B E R
Meditations by DR. DOUGLAS B. MACCORKLE, Dean,
Washington Bible College, Washington, D. C
"There's a Man in the Glory Whose Life is for me.
His peace is abiding; Patient is He.
He's joyful and radiant, Expecting to see
His Life in the Glory Lived out in me."
— AUTHOR UNKNOWN
NOVEMBER 1 Hebrews
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (13:8).
A Personal Look at Jesus
If you have ever longed to take the place of an original disciple, just to be near and to see Jesus, rejoice because the epistle to the Hebrews fills this need. Today, Jesus is the same. Today, you can look as long as you desire, Today, you can see Jesus as the Holy Spirit sees Him.
Most Bible Memory Association campers have thrilled to Dr. Woychuk's pointed adaptation of the familiar hymn Take Time to be Holy. "Take time to behold Him, speak oft with thy Lord; Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word . . ." Today, is your day to behold Him. The Holy Spirit bids you to "tie your mind down to the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus" (3: 1, original paraphrase). If you do, you will reap 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Hebrews provides us with three important looks at Jesus which we will look at personally during this month:
A look into Jesus—to learn the uniqueness of His person (1:1-7:28);
A look on to Jesus—to learn the uniqueness of His priesthood (8:1-10:18);
A look unto Jesus—to learn the uniqueness of His practice (10:19-13 :25).
A believer who looks well into the nature of Jesus' person will look on to Jesus' priesthood and not stop at lesser religious curiosities, and thus this kind of believer will look unto Jesus and depend upon Him for the techniques and the enablements for the practice of Christian life. The importance of this logical, systematic, meditative exercise will break like dawn as the yielded heart involves itself with the epistle.
Their failure to look at Jesus in these three ways, led the leaders of Jesus' day to underestimate and later crucify the only One who could possibly save, sanctify and glorify them. "He is truly wise who gains wisdom from another's mishap" (Syrus). Today is your day. Take time to behold Him.
NOVEMBER 2 Hebrews
"You remain the same and Your years will never end nor come to failure" (1:12b, Amplified N. T.).
A Preview Look into Jesus
We cannot see what is not there; but we should see what is there. This matter of observation is often a matter of life and death. The Sunday School Times once told of a sizable lump of rock that lay in a North Carolina brook. To all but one passer-by it was a mere rock. This one saw in it an ample door stop for his cabin. A geologist took a second look and saw in the door stop the biggest gold nugget found east of the Rockies.
The years have recorded many men who have seen "sparks of divinity" in Jesus—more than in the average man. But, Hebrews 1:1-7:28 confronts man with the fact that "God" or "deity" is what is actually to be seen in Jesus. This is pointed out, by the Holy Spirit, in a series of contrasts drawn from real life.
Today we merely look at them survey-style, leaving the detail for the following devotional studies.
In chapter one we are looking at Jesus as the God who is above and greater than all of His creation (read verses 4, 6, 7, 8, 10-12). In chapter two He is seen incarnating Himself—adding perfect humanity so as to be the God-man. In chapter three Jesus is shown to have in Him all that Moses lacked and more. In chapter four, Jesus is contrasted to Joshua—only He can bring us into throne-room rest (4:16). In chapter five, Jesus is contrasted to Aaron—He alone is the author (5:9) of eternal salvation. In chapters six and seven Jesus is contrasted to Melchizedek.
This deity, which is in Christ, is able to create (ch. 1), recreate (ch. 2), punctuate disbelief with death (ch. 3), prosper faith through His Word (ch. 4), make an eternal salvation "stick" (ch. 5-6), make an eternal salvation function perfectly during time (ch. 7). Let us decide to look further into Jesus.
NOVEMBER 3 Hebrews
"Appointed heir of all things . . . (He) sat down on the right hand (1:2b, 3d).
Christ in Office
In America, November is traditionally "election" time. The offices to which men are elected vary in importance. There is a vast difference also in the degrees of efficiency with which the officials execute their offices.
Jesus inherited three offices. They are the highest offices known to time or to eternity.
Christ executes the prophet's office. Until John the Baptist was through, God had spoken constantly to men (1:1) in varied ways but not one prophet told all or lived long enough to execute all of the prophet's office. Now and forevermore, Jesus is the only One to whom we must listen (2:1-4). God is not speaking anything through anyone else (this should end all confusion). Jesus is personally executing the Word of God right down to the minutest detail.
Christ executes the power office. Here (1:2b-3b) we learn that Jesus has the power to make His Word "stick." He, who once used His word to make the universe come into being and to program the ages which were to come to pass therein, is currently bearing all things along by the mere utterance of His power. There is no power higher or more striking in its might. What He begins, He will complete for He will be around forever to power these things into completeness. His power can speak to every situation of yours today—successfully.
Christ executes the priest's office. In Hebrews 1:3 two important points lie in the original text: (1) As priest, Jesus sacrificed the only perfect and efficacious sacrifice—Himself; (2) After completing the sacrifice of Himself, He sat down to execute the priestly power of this, His finished work.
In Jesus, we see everything we need. It will always be in Him, for He is the "heir of all things."
NOVEMBER 4 Hebrews
"To the Son, Thy throne, 0 God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Thy kingdom is a scepter of absolute fairness" (1:8).
Christ's Superiority to Created Beings and Things
Hebrews 1:4-14 informs us that Jesus Christ is a higher Being than any other created being or thing. He Himself is uncreated and the Creator of all.
His name is superior (1:4). Observe what Jesus is called in this first chapter:
Son of God—v. 5 twice,
Men have eagerly grasped for the backing of angels (i.e., the angel Moroni in Mormonism), but angels are simply messengers (1:7, 14) and ministers who worship Jesus and from His presence go to minister to the heirs of salvation. Of course, the evil angels are not in view in this passage. The greatest evil angel, the devil, wants to be called "god" (Matt. 4:8-11) and in fact plays "god" (2 Cor. 4:4) to the unbelieving world. But there is only One who can rightly bear the name of "God," and Jesus is that One.
His nature is superior. This follows from what has been revealed above:
Jesus was brought into the world from somewhere else (i.e., heaven)-1:6;
Beside His eternal pre-existence already set forth, is His eternal future existence-1:8;
He receives worship from angels-1:6;
He is a King with eternal authority-1:8;
He is perfectly fair in exercising authoritative judgment-1:8;
He was able to create the universes-1:10-12;
He is able to sit in eternity's highest seat-1:13.
None of the angels have the capacity (nature) for these things. The God of all things wants to be actively the God of all of your things—your personal God who is eminently fair in the exercise of His authority. "He is thy Lord, and worship thou Him" (Psa. 45:11).
"Isn't He wonderful, wonderful,
Isn't Jesus my Lord, wonderful?"
NOVEMBER 5 Hebrews
"How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation" (2:3a).
Seriousness About Salvation
There are seven large and serious warnings about salvation in the epistle to the Hebrews (2:1-4; 3:7-19; 4:11-13; 5:11-6:20; 10:26-31; 12:25-29; 13:9-15). Our text of the day is central to the first warning. This is a warning against being drifted past the steadfast word which Christ came all the way from heaven to plant in our hearts.
There are two excellent ways to heed this warning successfully.
Let the Word of Christ dominate your thinking process. It will give you permanent stability. Tie your mind tightly (consider) to the Word of Christ. Read it. Memorize it. Study it. Recite it. Review it. Constantly pass it on to others. Only by use (cf. 5:14) will you come to know its real value. We must all be Bible students. Then, 2:2 speaks negatively to the same point—do not take life lightly in view of the Word of Christ. The word of Moses, the Mosaic Law, was severe on the transgressor. The Word of Grace contains far more advantages for the believer and far more severity for the one who takes it lightly.
Let the wealth of Christ delight your thinking process. The greatness of this salvation dawns as we add up the assets and advantages found in this salvation. While we must respect and avoid the severity-side of this salvation, we must see how attractive and great is its value. This means that we are delighted to get into the treasure house of this salvation and explore it for our own spiritual profit. God's salvation intends that we grow in Grace (2 Pet. 3:18).
We only see a little of the ocean,
A few miles distance from the rocky shore;
But, oh, out there beyond the eye's horizon,
There's more—there's more!
— AUTHOR UNKNOWN
This is striking, staggering and stimulating information. An uninformed person would never give the revealed answer of our text.
Rejoice! Believers are not afterthoughts. God's plan for us did not originate after we were born physically. He was not surprised by our coming. He did not suddenly have to adjust His plan to us. We were not late in coming to God's mind. He has had us in mind all the time. We are amazingly important to Him.
Rejoice! Believers are not little-thoughts. Notice in Hebrews 2:8 that God has put all things under the believing man's feet for eternity. This is how much God has in mind for the saved man—and more. Man is not little but great in God's thinking. God's mind is full of man. God's mind is full of great things for the saved man. These are days of conditioning to prepare you for all that God's mind is flooded with—just for you.
Rejoice! Believers are connected with Christ in God's thoughts. In 2:6, the Son of Man is Jesus the Messiah. What this particular One came to do was closely viewed (visitest) by God the Father. For a little while (Greek) the Father made Christ to be positioned lower than the angels (as you will see from 2:9 the Spirit interprets Psalm 8:4f of Christ as the second Adam, the representative man). Jesus is the head of a new generation (stock) of mankind (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17). In God's mind, it is only in Christ that man can enter into and enjoy God's plans. This day has not yet come (2:8b) in which this is visible; but it is already real.
"When Christ Who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in (the splendor of His) glory" (Col. 3:4, Amplified N. T.).
Jesus is the believer's One and only. Christian life is a love story indeed. The believer has eyes for no one else. As C. I. Scofield once said, "His perfection does not glitter, it glows." It is the glow of His personal magnetism. Our whole life's compass is regulated by His attractiveness.
We must see and explore Christ, first. There is a reason why we do not yet see all things subjected to man (2:8c). Things must be enjoyed in their proper order. But first we must see Christ and explore this One who is everything we need. Here (2:9-18) we are asked to behold His death and its success; His incarnation and its result in identification with mankind. This is the how and the why of the believer's relationship to Christ in the first place.
When we look further we see how complete our Savior is (2:10, perfect). He has experienced everything man ever suffers. His suffering was in a much more sensitive and extensive way than ours, however. He had more capacity to suffer greater pain than we have. Now, in heaven, He has a complete experiential understanding of your needs and knows how to give complete help (2:18) in every situation. Death is our greatest enemy because apart from Christ it keeps us in fear (2:15) and bondage; but Jesus delivers us from this as a merciful and faithful High Priest.
Then we can look at the things through Christ. What we do not yet see actualized, we can see through Jesus. The secret of it all is seen in the fact (2:10b) that He is leading many sons into glory first. This is how man gets to have all things under him. Heaven is where the assignments will be made. Today is the day to follow His leadership to that goal.
The best background to this statement is found on the mount of transfiguration. Peter was considering Moses and Elijah on equal
ground with Jesus. It took a call from heaven to leave him with only Jesus to look at and to listen to.
Tie your mind down to Jesus. This is the secret of successful spiritual thinking. It will provide you with a long view of every phase of your life. This is eternal thinking. It is new to life because it is found. only in Christ.
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and Grace."
pantheon of religious greats have had their day. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Elijah and all others must swiftly be put aside in full respect for the living Lord. He can accomplish His own purposes with His own people without help from any other quarter. To consider Jesus last is not sufficient for the redeemed heart. It also saves a great waste, of time, to consider Jesus first.
Tie your mind into your heavenly calling. Each of us believers has his own share (partaker) of the heavenly calling. Take part in it daily. Allow all of your plans and practices to be tied into this ultimate calling. This calling is eminently personal and practicable. It stems from Jesus, our Apostle and High Priest, who was sent to tie us into it and who alone is able as High Priest to execute this heavenly calling among holy brethren. This is the day to think of the part your heavenly calling should play in your earthly pilgrimage.
According to our confession, Jesus is both Apostle (the One sent to tell us of our calling) and High Priest (the One who died to put it in force).
"Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God" (3:12).
How to Get Heart Trouble
It appears from a lengthy study of the epistle to the Hebrews, that the sin that so easily besets us (12:1) is here defined. It does not consist in the sins of a life. Rather does it consist in the root or sin nature. The root or sin nature is the evil heart of disbelief. No wonder that this epistle places so much emphasis on faith (Ch. 11).
It starts with willful hardening of heart (cf. 3:8,13,15). The example of hardening is taken from Israel's wilderness life. God promised them Canaan land flowing with milk and honey. He proved its desirability in the report of the spies. But the people took a stand against the Word of the living God. This cannot happen without forming calluses in the heart—spiritual calluses from rubbing against God's Word without leading to faith. The process sets in when the clear Word of God is disbelieved. This is an attitude and action of the heart. It is evil. It is aggressive disbelief.
It drives a person from the living God. This is apostatizing—i.e., taking a stand apart and aloof from the living God. To allow a calloused heart is to ask for a fall (cf. Adam, Gen. 3). The sin nature within every believer has an easy time surrounding us when the Word of God is not eagerly believed. The sin nature majors in disbelief in the living God. It is fully experienced. Beware!
It runs directly into an oath of God (3:18). In Hebrews 3:11, God reveals that He is angry with an evil heart of disbelief. Furthermore He stands on an oath that such ones will not enter into His rest—a rest which belongs to belief, not to disbelief.
A believer must have a heart for God—for the just shall live by faith (10:38). This is the way to heart-health.
Although the knowledge of Romans 3:23is widespread, evidently not many realize the meaning of the second clause, "all are constantly falling short." Yes, even believing people fall short of the personal glory of God. He has a glory all His own. But here in our text we have the same terms, "to have come short." This time it is something we need not fall short of, for it is the rest of God that is set before the believer.
Here is a good use for fear. We are exhorted to fear falling short of full faith in God's clear promises. It is immature people who are afraid to believe God and yet who do not fear to believe everyone but God. Believers are to be afraid not to believe God fully. Why? Because disbelief always leaves man completely deficient at the end.
Here is the best use for ears. The word of hearing (4:2), which was the report of the spies, did not profit the people of Israel in the wilderness. There, many hundreds of thousands were afraid to believe God's proviso even when it was backed up by the report of the spies. They did not make good use of their ears. They used them to listen to everyone but God. They never allowed the report to be mixed with faith in their hearts. No wonder there was no profit to them.
Here is a good use for a gear. Faith (4:3) is a gear. It gears one into the Grace of God. The Grace of God is spelled out in the promises of God and it is worked out in the faith of the believer. One of these promises is that the believer should enter into the rest of God. Disbelievers will not enter into His rest, even though He has had the preparations finished from the foundation of the world.
Longpreparation lies behind the promise of God--profit awaits belief!
The rest of which Hebrews chapter four speaks, is called God's own rest (4:3). The plan for this rest was finished from the foundation of the world (4:3). The rest has been regularly offered. For instance it was offered in Joshua's day (4:8), and in David's day (4:7), but Israel failed to enter rest because of its disobedience (4:6). Therefore, there remains a rest for the people of God (4:9).
This rest is to be entered today (4:10). For a believer, to enter into the rest of God is to rest from his own works just as God rested from His. God rested in a finished work (4:3). We are charged to be finished with our own works, so that we may rest in the finished work of Christ—in which God is also resting. God does not need to do His work again. God believes in the completed work of Calvary. God is resting now and invites all believers to enter and enjoy this rest today.
How to enter into this rest today (4:11). This requires diligence (not labor) on the path of the believer. It calls for diligent attention to the Word of God which is (4:12) alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword and which penetrates to the (or, through the) soul and spirit, to both joints and marrow, and is quick to discern the reflections and insights of the heart. So you see thatthe Word of God leads the way into this rest. It leads the way aggressively, stabbing our hearts to awake to the real reasons why we do or do not respond to the Divine promises. It leads us to see that the believer in the finished work of Christ will desire to give all diligence to enter into the constant enjoyment of such a work.
Faith gives the believer a tremendous advantage. Think of the wide expanse you have in God's Word. The exercise of your faith on this Word will bring you great profit (see, 4:1,2 in contrast).
Now the Word of God is by nature good news. It is on a Divine mission. It will accomplish its mission (Isa. 55:11). It is irresistible. Here's why:
It is living. The Word of God is saturated in reality. It is not only an account composed of facts, but also a full quota of truth on the point of which it speaks. You can put your finger on the pulse of this Word and feel it throbbing with life. It is throbbing with a life which is not corruptible (1 Pet. 1:23).
It produces and promotes life wherever it is mixed with faith (4:1-2). This Word is not dead or dying; neither is it dull. Many are dead who have heard the Word, but the Word still lives actively. In this Word is all the wisdom of eternity.This Word spells out the will of God so that you may do the work of God in God's way.
It works best in the heart of man. Like a seed it germinates in the soil of the heart (Matt. 13:3-9; 18-23). Because it is a living seed, the Word of God goes to work in a directed way (the term "active" means "in-work").
The Word of God is keener (sharper) at getting to its objective than even a two-edged sword. It penetrates even through the soul and spirit (the joints and marrow of the inner man). Thus, it is able to judge or discern (discriminate) the inner feelings and thinking process of the heart. In giving us God's Word (account of things), it demands of us an accounting (4:13c). Later, before Him with Whom we have to do, we must give our account of the work of the Word of God in our heart.
NOVEMBER 13 Hebrews
The section from Hebrews 4:14-16 is rich in triumphant excellencies. See (1) Jesus splitting the heavens to pass through to the throne in heaven (v. 14); (2) Jesus as your great high priest; (3) Jesus, as He is in truth, the Son of God; (4) Jesus, completely aware of our continuing infirmities; (5) Jesus, able to care for these infirmities completely, having triumphed over them in His testings; (6) Jesus, as the sinless one (not having a sin nature).
The New Testament Joshua, our Jesus, leads us into rest at the throne of Grace. Here we can know Him as our priest with power on high. Is this not a sufficient matter to cause us to lay hold (hold fast) of our advantages in Him?
There is confidence issuing from this throne of Grace. Confidence is boldness, openness of face. This is the mood to be in before Him (remember 4:13—before Him with whom we have to do). We are to put our confidence here, not in our own little plans and works (4:11). At the throne of Grace we can rest—we can rest our case.
Help is timely at the throne of Grace. The throne is a place of power. It is the power of God's Grace. Grace is God's freedom (based on Calvary) to lavish upon the believer all the treasures of His glory. The treasures of glory consist in all of Christ's excellencies brilliantly alive and aggressively extended to the exploring believer.
How wonderful to know God's timing. If we rest our case with Him, our hearts can slow down and rest also. Thus we wait for the power of Grace to work in our behalf on the schedule of God's exact timing.
O the pure delight of a single hour
that before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God,
I commune as friend with Friend!
-FANNY J. CROSBY
NOVEMBER 14 Hebrews
"He became unto all them that obey Him the author of eternal salvation" (5:9, A. S. V.).
Know Your Salvation and Its Priest
People who do not interpret Scripture in its context understand from 5:9 that Jesus is "author of temporary salvation." For such a salvation, Jesus wasted His time dying. As C. H. Spurgeon said, "If they die on one of their good days, all will be well." This is because "temporary-Salvationists" make salvation to depend upon continuance of good behavior instead of upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. But this leaves out the contexts. Jesus was especially appointed to a higher order than the Aaronic priesthood for just this reason (5:1-10)—to provide eternal instead of temporary salvation.
We have a complete priest. As in 2:10, so here in 5:8, Jesus is said to be a complete Savior through His sufferings. There is nothing missing in Jesus. It is obvious that this was not the case with the defunct Aaronic line. Jesus alone satisfies because He alone is sufficient forever. Hebrews 1:3 says "He purged our sins by offering Himself as sacrifice for our sins" (free trans.).
We have a constructive priest. Jesus is the author or cause of our salvation. Notice that He undertook an eternal task, not a temporary one. Jesus saved us for eternity. We are constructed anew, and this time forever. He is leading us into glory—He is not leading us astray. He knows the way. He leads the way. He takes us personally all the way. Of course it is quite a task! It takes an eternal priest to accomplish it (see 5:10 and 5:6). This attests Griffith Thomas' observation, "salvation in this epistle refers to the believer and not to the sinner—and comes through Christ as priest, not as Saviour." That which makes our salvation eternally efficient is an ever-living priest.
While a prophet is representing God to man, a priest is representing man before God (5:1). Know your priest and you will know your salvation—that it is eternal in both its extent and in its quality.
NOVEMBER 15 Hebrews
"Ye ought to be teachers . . . someone teach you" (5:12, A. S. V.).
Every Believer Teaching
Dr. S. L. Johnson of Dallas Theological Seminary once told me, "We really never learn so well as when we prepare to teach others." The truth of God's Word was built for communication to others through conditioned believers. "What you have learned from me ... this you commit to reliable men such as shall be qualified to teach others as well" (2 Tim. 2:2, Berkeley Version).
Good teaching causes a delight in the Word of God. This case of dullness of hearing (5:11) is a sad commentary on the hearer, but it also shows that the teacher perhaps gave up too soon (5:12c), for the teacher needs to get at these hearers again on the simple rudiments. There is no contradiction here against 1 Peter 2:2. These people were living on milk alone (5:13). It is not an option of milk or solid food. It is a matter of both. Those who really know the taste of the milk of the Word have a delight in it and a desire for more besides. These were not even getting sufficient milk (5:12c).
Good teaching leads a person to the solid food of the Word of God. This kind of teaching exercises the senses so as to make them discriminating—able to tell the difference between good and evil (contrast, Gen. 3). This is the sign of maturity (full grown, 5:14a). This is evidence of experience in the Word of righteousness (5:13b).
Good teaching lays the grounds of full-assurance (6:9). There are many things which accompany salvation from sins. We, are to press on (6:1) unto completeness (maturity). Then we can know our hope and all of its strong wonder (6:19) in our daily experiences. God wants us to have our full measure of satisfaction from our hope right while we live here (6: 1 lb).
Resolve in the Spirit, to come to a knowledge of the truth so that you may in turn teach others of the excellencies of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:9).
NOVEMBER 16 Hebrews
"Wherefore having left the elementary account about Christ, let us be borne along to the point of completeness—which was designed" (6:1a, original paraphrase).
The Believer Who Arrives
It is clear in Scripture, that many start out who never finish in spiritual things (Matt. 7:22). True believers have a race to run (12:1,2) in which a genuine start is proven by a winning finish. Salvation is concerned with our past-present-future. While salvation is complete at any point, in itself, it must complete the work it starts in every believer.
There is only one foundation to be laid (cf. 1 Cor. 3:10,11). This foundation is not only Christ, but the body of truth concerning Him (the elementary account about Christ)-6:la. These elemental facts about Christ and Christianity are absolutely essential and foundational or fundamental; but a man must go beyond these to completeness and maturity. He must not only be rooted and grounded; he must be built up. The foundational elements are the six facts mentioned in 6:1,2. These are elements of Christianity, not of Judaism.
There is One who bears believers along (cf. 2 Pet. 1:21). Read Heb. 1:3 and see that Christ "upholds" (bears along) all things by the mere utterance of His power. Here, the Spirit would move us along to completeness. Our yieldedness is needed. This is illustrated in 6:7,8 both positively (v. 7) and negatively (v. 8). The genuine believer responds to the blessing from God (v. 7) and bringeth forth its product. The false professor brings forth trash (v. 8) because he will not receive (or yield to) the blessing from God. So God provides the rains of blessing, in spiritual form, for the genuine believer. The false professor also knows the rains of blessing (read 6:4,5) but does not yield to them. The latter is further illustrated in Hebrews 3 where the wilderness carcasses give their testimony.
So if you would be a true believer, who arrives—yield yourself to the Holy Spirit, who alone can bear you along to completeness.
"But beloved ones, we have long been persuaded concerning you better things, even the things which salvation has, even if we are speaking in this manner"(6:9, Literal Trans.).
Salvation Has It
This is a key verse in the difficult passage of 5:11-6:20. It reveals the attitude of the writer to his addressees.
For beloved ones. This is the only place in the epistle where this endearing term is found and never is it more revealing. Beloved ones are divinely-loved-ones. About such the writer says he stands persuaded. They will allow God to bear them along to completeness (6:la,3). This persuasion, according to the Greek text, has been the author's long before the writing of the epistle and so is not a mere hope built upon the success of his epistle.
For saved ones. Salvation is more than education, reformation, renaissance, revival, etc. It may contain all of these and more, but it carries the idea of complete regeneration of the whole man—his inner as well as outer man. When it first deals with a man it changes his position before God (justification). Once this has been accomplished, salvation moves upon the saved man's daily life. There are certain things which stem from salvation. These things are spelled out in the promises of God (6:12-20).
From an interested One. "God, being -minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of the promise the immutability (unchangeableness) of his counsel, interposed an oath" (6:17). Nothing could show God to be more interested in you, as a genuinely saved one. If you have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before you, you can teach others (5:12f) what salvation has. Ask yourself the question, "What does have that salvation does not have?" You'll find that no matter what you test by this question, salvation in Jesus Christ, has it more. Like the confident Greek politician of yester-year you can say, 'Whatever he (the other politician) promises, I will do." So with the believer, "whatever other things promise, salvation will do." Salvation has it!
NOVEMBER 18 Hebrews
"We may have a strong encouragement who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us" (6:18b, A. S. V.).
The reader may recall the old story of the preacher who questioned the boy with the kite string in his hands. The kite was out of sight. The string was in the boy's hands. How did the boy know the unseen kite was in the sky? By the tug on the string, of course. So also may the believer know that he is anchored to heaven's throne.
The two immutable things which provide strong encouragement. These are (1) God's promise (6:13,17), and (2) God's oath (6:17b). Notice God's favorite illustration: Abraham. He ideally illustrates why encouragement is needed by today's believers (6:13-15). There is a time gap between the promise and its complete fulfillment which calls for endurance. But God is always willing to give His people the strongest possible encouragement to await what He has promised.
The matter in which we need this encouragement (6:18-20). It is the hope which lies ahead of us (cf. also 12:1,2). This hope is intended to be the anchor of our soul. Because it lies just out of sight—within the veil of heaven—just as the anchor lies beneath our sight in the ocean, we must be assured of its reality for so much depends on an anchor or on hope. And what is the nature of this hope? This hope is Jesus who is said here to be (1) our anchor of the soul, (2) our hope both sure and steadfast, (3) our forerunner within the veil, (4) our eternal high priest.
The manner in which we respond to this encouragement. Recall that it was to the seed of Abraham, the man of faith, that Jesus (2:16) came to give help. Thus he became every believer's only hope for help.
We are, then, to accept this help. The current form in which we need help is encouragement that the promise of God will be fulfilled and we will be His heirs (6:17).
NOVEMBER 19 Hebrews
These are factors which cannot be found even in the only God-given religion of Israel: (1) the power of an endless life, (2) the permanence of an unchangeable priesthood, (3) the perfection of an unequaled priest.
The power of an endless life (7:1-17).This is the subject to which the author of Hebrews has been continually desiring to address himself (see 5:11). It is set forth here against the background of two Old Testament orders of priesthood: (1) Melchizedek (7:1-10), (2) Aaronic (7:11-28). The Aaronic priesthood naturally loomed largest to the Hebrew. Fifteen hundred years under Aaron eclipsed any knowledge of the other priesthood. During these years Israelites saw that their many Aaronic priests failed to live long. The situation cried for one who had the power that derives from an endless life. Men need a priest who will not he interrupted by death (see 7:23).
The permanence of an unchangeable priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood was not the first priesthood. It was a temporary arrangement at best. Because (7:24) Jesus had the power of an endless life, His priesthood will not and need not be changed. Thus (7:25) He is able to save to the full consummation all who draw near to God through Him. This means also that He performs a sustaining priestly ministry to believers, called "intercession," while we are walking here below.
The perfection of an unequaled priest (7:28). We have seen the importance of the endless life which He has, and the unchangeable priesthood which He holds. Now we are asked to note that He stands as the perfect or complete priest. There has never been another like Him. This is the kind of high priest that fits our need (7:26). No wonder that He is the surety (7:22) of a better covenant (i.e., better than the Mosaic covenant). This is especially wonderful when we recognize that this power, permanence and perfection are for our profit.
"We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle" (8:1b,2a, A. S. V.).
Looking on to Jesus
In the first seven chapters of this epistle we have been looking briefly into the person of Jesus. It is now necessary to look on to Jesus with reference to His priesthood. We must look on to Jesus past certain Old Testament fixtures in which so many have put their whole confidence. There are five of these religious fixtures that are surpassed by Jesus single-handedly. Observe them well for many forget that these are now mere shadows.
Look past earthly sanctuaries (8:1-6). The Tabernacle of Moses' day was a mere copy (8:5) of the original in heaven. We must worship in the heavenly sanctuary where Jesus officiates as high priest. The scene of His ministry.
Look past earthly covenants (8:7-13). The Mosaic covenant was weak because of their heart troubles. Israel could not continue in this covenant (8:9b). We must look past the Mosaic covenant to the new covenant administered only by Jesus. The secret of His ministry.
Look past earthly emblems (9:1-10). The furniture of the earthly scene only signified that the way into God's presence was not yet open (9:8). Emblems have today been replaced with Jesus Christ who is Himself the new and living and open way (10:20). The significance of His ministry.
Look past earthly atonement (9:11-28). The blood of animals secured only temporary relief. Only the blood of Jesus secures eternal redemption (9:12). The seal of His ministry.
Look past earthly offerings (10:1-18). No earthly offerings of the Old Testament could provide positive sanctification (10:1). Jesus' one offering at Calvary did (10:10,14) what the other offerings could not do. The sacrifices of His ministry.
Recall the importance of the: (1) scene (8:1-6), (2) secret (8:7-13), (3) significance (9:1-10), (4) seal (9:11-28), (5) sacrifices (10:1-18)—all of which are highly involved in Jesus' current ministry (7:25).
Jesus is high priest where it counts and He has what it takes to really change the situation in man's heart and life.
The scene of Jesus' ministry (8:1-6). The ritual and regulations of Judaism did not permit Jesus to enter the holy place of the temple in Jerusalem even though it was His Father's house. This was in the hands of other ministers who acted under law (8:4) and who were limited to animal blood. The earthly scene was a mere shadow of the original heavenly one (8:5)—a mere copy. Within earthly precincts only earthly promises could be administered. Now, there has been a major change. Everything eternal is administered from heaven itself —the scene of Jesus' mediatorial ministry (8:6).
The secret of Jesus' ministry (8:7-13). The fault of the first covenant (i.e., the Mosaic covenant) was in the people. They had no help to carry it out. The enablement was missing—making the first covenant faulty (8:7). When Jesus died, He became the mediator of a new covenant—new as compared to the old Mosaic covenant (8:13). Therefore, we are not to live under the Mosaic with its faults, but under the new covenant with its perfect mediator—administrator, The secret of Jesus' ministry of mediation is that He can provide the perfect enablement and enrichment to the heart which the old covenant was unable to do. Thus it is not a constant matter of dealing with the problem of sin; but rather the sin problem has been dealt with eternally (8:12); and now time can be spent on the positive teaching (8:10) and conditioning of the believer who is freed from his load of sin. Here indeed is the secret of perfect salvation—a covenant-guarantee of positive enrichment. All shall come to know (8:11) the Lord personally. This (2 Peter 3:18) is the secret of positive strengthening.
NOVEMBER 22 Hebrews
When Jesus entered into the holy place in heaven, He was able not only to say "it is finished" but also "eureka" (i.e., "I have found it"). The latter is what the Greek term underlying "obtained" means. It is the shout of victory—eureka!
Victory through blood (9:12). The first ten verses of this ninth chapter state the situation demanding Jesus' perfect priestly work. The Holy Spirit was teaching through these Old Testament items (9:8) that the way into the holiest place of all was not yet manifest or visible. These things were a parable (9:9, "figure") looking toward Jesus' day. But Christ is high priest of good things to come (9:11). These good things are provided in a non-worldly set of arrangements (9:11b). They are purchased by blood that is absolutely efficacious. It is, of course, the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The blood transacted the business once for all.
Victory in life. The result of the victory of blood as it relates to our sins before God is a victory in daily life for us. Jesus did not secure temporary redemption for us. He did not secure conditional redemption for us. He did not secure unreal redemption for us. Here is what this means "cleanse your conscience from dead works, with a view to your serving the living God" (Original trans., 9:14b). Jesus died (9:16) so that the new covenant could be put in force. In that covenant is bequeathed all the riches of Grace. Better still, Jesus arose and lives to mediate or administer these riches or blessings daily in the life of the believer. Count on Jesus to execute the covenant which He sealed with His own blood. The covenant is in force (9:17). What force does the covenant have with you?
NOVEMBER 23 Hebrews
Every high priest who went into the earthly sanctuary's holiest place of all came out again. Outside, around the tabernacle, the people eagerly looked for him and waited until he came out. Had the offering not been accepted, the priest would not have come out alive.
Christ successfully put away sin at His first coming. He appeared before the face of God for us (9:24) and still does. This is for our profit (Greek for "for us"). Think of the glory on His face when He returns for us. Note also the timing of God. The Scripture says "at the consummation of the ages" (Amplified, 9:26)—the very fullness of times (Gal. 4:4). Jesus died on time—God's time. Jesus died just in time—as far as we are concerned. Time would have run no longer had Jesus not died when He did. In dying, He left time for you to be born and to be born again.
Christ will return successfully to the scene of His victory. Man's denial of Jesus' return will have no effect any more than crucifixion defeated the program of God in salvation. You were not here when He first came. You will be related to the second advent in a personal way. Eagerly expect Him and know that He brings all the capstones of salvation with Him. He is bringing "full salvation" (Amplified, 9:28). It will be the time when we will enter with full freedom and abandon into the full dimensions of our salvation. We got away from sin and sins at Calvary. What did we get into? Why, the length, breadth, depth and height of God's Grace—His treasure house!
NOVEMBER 24 Hebrews
The object of Hebrews 10:1-18 is to show how God can make perfect those who draw near to Him (read 10:1). The term "perfect" is variously understood but it contains the ideas of (1) bringing to a designed completeness, (2) maturing to the point of ripeness. In a common word, it means "to be all there."
Jesus came to do all the will of God (10:7). When God saves us, this is to position us so that He may lavish His sanctifying Grace upon us. "Sanctification" is a term which has two folds: (1) it means to set apart positionally—to draw a circle around a person, so that God may pour His enriching Grace into the one encircled; (2) it means to enrich the fabric of the person's life who has been set apart. Sanctification is first positional and then it is an experiential thing. Thus 10:10 states clearly that this will of God which Jesus did, and does, has sanctified us through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. God's will is that the saved person should be brought to completeness through the positioning and processing of sanctification. Jesus came to do all the will of God perfectly. Read the great burnt offering Psalm (Ps. 40) from which Hebrews 10:5-7 comes, and take note of the delight Jesus put into it (Ps. 40:8). It is a delight in the full flow of God's will.
There is no other offering possible or applicable to this will of God. Hebrews 10:18 is grossly misunderstood as teaching loss of salvation. It actually teaches that God accepts no other offering than Calvary. There He can see sins taken away. There He has grounds for bringing a saved person's life to completion by sanctifying Grace. Jesus' offering is superior to all others because it brought enriching Grace into the picture and thus into the believer's heart.
We come to the last major section of this epistle (10:19-13:25). In this applied section of the epistle we are thinking of our own practice which can only be spiritually successful when we look unto Jesus who is its author (architect) and completer (contractor).
Look unto Jesus for true liberty (10:19-25). This is liberty to enter the holiest of all under the Son of God and with the fullest possible confidence based upon a blood-dedicated path.
Look unto Jesus for tested endurance (10:26-39). After a warning against despising Grace-truths, endurance is discussed in relation to waiting for the fulfillment of the promises of God. Not all of God's promises are slanted at this present day—some are prophetic and must be awaited in faith.
Look unto Jesus in faith (11:1-40). Here faith is so illustrated as to prove to every believer that it "works" in all the experiences common to this life.
Look unto Jesus in hope (12:1-24). Our hope is to sit down in glory with our Lord. He alone knows how to get us there, through all of the vicissitudes of this life.
Look unto Jesus with love (13:1-25). After a warning against denial of God's authoritative Word, the emphasis is upon love: (1) in social relationships (13:1-8), (2) in spiritual relationships (13:16-25).
No matter what the situation calls for, in the actual practice of the Christian life, the Scriptures teach us to look unto Jesus. He authored and originated Christian life and He alone can bring it to completion. This completion requires attention to endurance, liberty, faith, hope and love. Jesus knows how to treat each of these perfectly. Look unto Jesus in your practice of the Christian life.
"Enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus by the way which He dedicated for us, a new and living way, through ... His flesh" (10:19b-20).
The Way Is New and Living
Of course you have never seen anything like the Christian life before. It is completely new (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17,18). It has a pulse that will never quit.
It brings the believer into God's presence (10:19). Jesus dedicated Himself to getting us to God (cf. John 14:6b). He is now a great priest over the house of God (3:6; 10:21). We are not to draw near to should not see death (compare John 11:25,26 for yourself). Life from God issues in a walk with God—a walk all the way into glory.
Noah working with God (11:7). Working with God involves eternal details. Noah's work was: (1) invited by God—in the midst of great apostasy; (2) identified with the Grace of God—in view of faith-righteousness; (3) inheriting the riches of God—in spite of a disobedient world.
Abraham waiting for God (11:8-12,17-19).Not just waiting, but waiting for God's big moments—God's perfect timing. Abraham, and lees not forget his princess of the faith, Sarah, waited for God because: (1) a promise had been given, (2) a pilgrimage had been started, (3) a prospect bad been made vivid. God is never late. He comes through every time He makes a promise to His own—and always on time (4:16). Like many of us, they were heirs together of the Grace of life in Christ.
NOVEMBER 29 Hebrews
"Let us run . . . looking unto Jesus" (12:1,2, A. S. V.).
This Salvation Is Great
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation (2:3)? Look at this greatness from three standpoints:
The cloud of evidences. God has enveloped every believer with a cloud of witnesses. (1) The nature of this cloud—seen in its scope and size. These witnesses cover a wide scope of different situations requiring faith. The size of this testimony is measured by the size of the problems faith conquered. (2) The need of this cloud of evidences was obvious to the Spirit and should be to us. Our faith needs to be exercised (cf. Heb. 4:1,2; 5:11,12). (3) The nearness of this cloud forbids our faltering excuses.
The contest of endurance. Christian life grows best when opposed. Two chief matters are dealt with in this connection: (1) The contest requires conditioning. First, the believer must be clean-cut: laying aside every thing that weighs him down, and also the sin which so easily besets every believer (an evil heart of unbelief?). Secondly, the believer must be confident enough to run with endurance. (2) The contest requires a set course--which is laid out before us by God. This is not a short dash but a marathon against time and things.
The conquest of Evangelicals. This is the salvation that is great. It is centered in the good news of which Christ is the subject. It is the good news people who are the victors in this contest. See: (1) their magnet—Jesus. (2) their mood—joy before them at the throne.
The greatness of our salvation lies in the complete ability of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to get us on the mark, to get us set, and to give us the go in the Christian contest to conquest. The greatness of this salvation is known only by those who by faith accept he cloud of evidences, get into the contest and come out with a conquest for Christ.
NOVEMBER 30 Hebrews
This is the great high priestly benediction of Scripture. It is rather breath-taking when understood properly.
The finished work (13:20). Peace is positive harmony. God is its Author. Calvary is its fountain. Easter is its manifestation of excellence. But Jesus ministers it in the role of Shepherd to His own sheep. More than the cessation of hostilities. Peace, or reconciliation, is intimate integration into the mind, will and emotions of God. With this condition of life within, the external situations of any shape, size or color cannot ruffle or defeat the believer.
The work to be finished (13:21). This is the completing of the believer's life through experience under the great Shepherd. This completeness is brought about by His supply of every good thing which our need reveals. It is an inner work. He is practicing this work in every believer's experience today. Look for His touch. Listen for His tone.
It is the application of the finished work at Calvary to the individual believer that has filled our minds as we have briefly studied this epistle. It takes a Shepherd-King to carry out the task in a priestly manner. This is a very high order of priest—the Melchizedek order—which guarantees endless care. This is why we have: (1) Looked into Jesus, to come to know His person; we have found Him to be very God of very God. (2) Looked on to Jesus, to get to know the power of His priesthood; we have found Him to be greater than any institution or religious item. (3) Looked unto Jesus, to learn how to practice the correct Christian life; we have found that this practice is set out in a course which ends at His throne of grace and glory.
Devotions on the book of Hebrews
Prophetic Peaks, Exposition of the Olivet Discourse. Copyright 1968 by Douglas B. MacCorkle. Third Printing 1972. Printed by Careers With Christ Press, Philadelphia College of Bible, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Printed in the United States of America. Published by the not for profit MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc. Books. P.O. 320909, Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0909. Used by permission through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle.
God's Own VIPS, Copyright 1987 by Douglas B. MacCorkle. MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc., Printed in the United States of America. Published by the not for profit MacCorkle Bible Ministries, Inc. Books. P.O. 320909, Cocoa Beach, Fl 32932-0909. Used by permission through the generosity of Judith and Ray Naugle.
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