The High Priest of a Better Covenant
8:1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We have such a high priest, one who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
8:2 a minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up.
8:3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. So this one too had to have something to offer.
8:4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest, since there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.
8:5 The place where they serve is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, just as Moses was warned by God as he was about to complete the tabernacle. For he says, “See that you make everything according to the design shown to you on the mountain.”
8:6 But now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry, since the covenant that he mediates is also better and is enacted on better promises.
8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, no one would have looked for a second one.
8:8 But showing its fault, God says to them,
“Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
8:9 “It will not be like the covenant that I made with their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not continue in my covenant and I had no regard for them, says the Lord.
8:10 “For this is the covenant that I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and I will inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God and they will be my people.
8:11 “And there will be no need at all for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest.
8:12 “For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.”
8:13 When he speaks of a new covenant, he makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear.
Lord, You have provided a pathway to Heaven, where Your covenant is perfect and pure love and everyone dwells in it. May I be encouraged to mature here so that I may be an encouragement to others to seek after the same unique covenant.
Building upon Chapter 7 the text brings the reader to Moses on the mountain with the Lord God where he was shown an image of the “heavenly sanctuary” upon which he was to model the temporary sanctuary for sacrifice on earth.
The text instructs “But now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry, since the covenant that He mediates is also better and is enacted on better promises.”
The text describes how the failure of the first covenant “... because they did not continue in My covenant” ... created the need for a new covenant.
The condition of the new covenant is that “I will put my laws in their minds and I will inscribe them on their hearts”.
[Note: This describes one of the essential minimums of true salvation; we surrender our free will so that the Lord God may put His laws in our minds and inscribe them on our hearts”. It also describes one of the roles of the Holy Spirit inside of every believer. And it describes a non-negotiable of anyone permitted into Heaven; they must have been equipped to obey.]
Hebrews concludes with a powerful challenge to those who remained stuck in OT-legalism “When He speaks of a new covenant, He makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear.”
Hebrews 7 declared the old covenant ineffective as it made nothing perfect. It was not the covenant that fail but the human half of the covenant participants.
What are some practical ways to assist prospective new believers to understand one of the essential minimums of true salvation; we surrender our free will so that God may “... put His laws in our minds and inscribe them on our hearts”?
This is a powerful teaching “But now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry, since the covenant that He mediates is also better and is enacted on better promises.”
When did you learn that the non-negotiable of anyone permitted into Heaven is that all must have been equipped to obey (thus be incapable of rebellion)?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to someone who is stuck in OT-legalism.
Today I will use this text to explain the freedom that comes from understanding “When He speaks of a new covenant, He makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear.”
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
The Arrangement and Ritual of the Earthly Sanctuary
9:1 Now the first covenant, in fact, had regulations for worship and its earthly sanctuary. 9:2 For a tent was prepared, the outer one, which contained the lampstand, the table, and the presentation of the loaves; this is called the holy place. 9:3 And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies. 9:4 It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 9:5 And above the ark were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail. 9:6 So with these things prepared like this, the priests enter continually into the outer tent as they perform their duties. 9:7 But only the high priest enters once a year into the inner tent, and not without blood that he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.
9:8 The Holy Spirit is making clear that the way into the holy place had not yet appeared as long as the old tabernacle was standing.
9:9 This was a symbol for the time then present, when gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. 9:10 They served only for matters of food and drink and various washings; they are external regulations imposed until the new order came.
Christ’s Service in the Heavenly Sanctuary
9:11 But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation,
9:12 and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption.
9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.
9:15 And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant.
9:16 For where there is a will, the death of the one who made it must be proven.
9:17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it carries no force while the one who made it is alive. 9:18 So even the first covenant was inaugurated with blood.
9:19 For when Moses had spoken every command to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 9:20 and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that God has commanded you to keep.” 9:21 And both the tabernacle and all the utensils of worship he likewise sprinkled with blood.
9:22 Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
9:23 So it was necessary for the sketches of the things in heaven to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves required better sacrifices than these.
9:24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands – the representation of the true sanctuary – but into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us.
9:25 And he did not enter to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the sanctuary year after year with blood that is not his own, 9:26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice.
9:27 And just as people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment,
9:28 so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation.
Lord, Your sacrifice was more powerful than the millions of sacrifices of millions of Israelites for hundreds of years, and those whose names are in Your Book of Life will welcome Your return to make-complete the salvation You have brought. May I be faithful to tell Your story so that many will choose to share in the Gospel promise of salvation.
Hebrews documented the need for The Christ “...gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. ”
The sacrifice of Jesus the Christ was unique “For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands – the representation of the true sanctuary – but into heaven itself,”
And His work while “finished” (in the sense that the sin-death mandate had been broken) is not done “… and he appears now in God’s presence for us.”
Our Lord Jesus the Christ “... has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice.”
“Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation.”
The repeated message of Hebrews was that “... the law perfected nothing”, here rephrased “... gifts and sacrifices ... could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper.”
What are some practical ways that one might describe the contrast between the OT sacrificial system and the provision of Christ, and His unique capacity to “... purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.”?
Take note of the volitional aspect of both actions; Jesus the Christ as “... the mediator of a new covenant”, replacing the temporary blood of the old covenant with his own “... once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation.” -- Christ voluntarily sacrificing for others, and those who will be saved first being in a receptive state “... eagerly await”.
When have you observed an example in your own life, or in that of someone whom you know, moving from “... dead works to worship the living God.” because of a newfound understanding of this text?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an opportunity to share this text with someone who is still trapped in works-righteousness
Today I will describe to them the contrast between the OT sacrificial system and the provision of Christ, and His unique capacity to “... purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” who alone can “... bring salvation.”
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
Concluding Exposition: Old and New Sacrifices Contrasted
10:1 For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship.
10:2 For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin? 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. 10:4 For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins.
10:5 So when he came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.
10:6 “Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in.
10:7 “Then I said, ‘Here I am: I have come – it is written of me in the scroll of the book – to do your will, O God.’”
10:8 When he says above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you did not desire nor did you take delight in them” (which are offered according to the law), 10:9 then he says, “Here I am: I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first to establish the second.
10:10 By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
10:11 And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins.
10:12 But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, 10:13 where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet.
10:14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy.
10:15 And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after saying, 10:16 “This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds,”
10:17 then he says, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer.”
10:18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Lord, You have set me free, I owe my eternal life to You. May I live here and now in grateful thanks for the then and forever that awaits.
“For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship.”
[Note: God repeats Himself yet again, always evidence that He really wants us to get the message, “... completely unable ... to perfect those who come to worship”.]
The text instructs that if sacrifices under the law had the power to “perfect” then they would have ceased long ago as all would have been perfected. It goes on to remind that Psalms 40 said that God did not “...take delight” in the offerings made under the law.
[Note: The purpose of the law and sacrifices was to press His people to recognize their dependence upon Him and to point ahead to Jesus. When Jesus began His ministry He specifically pointed to His purpose in fulfilling what the law and sacrifices which attempted to fulfill our need for perfect forgiveness, but failed.]
“He does away with the first to establish the second. By His will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all ... when this priest (Jesus) had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, where He is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for His feet.”
“Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer. Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
The Lord God places great importance on our understanding that “the law and sacrifices are ... completely unable ... to perfect those who come to worship”.
What are some practical ways to explain the linkages between the work of Jesus and the historic OT law and sacrifices?
We have been given freedom from the condemnation of the enemy because Jesus the Christ declared “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer. Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
When have you experienced an example of God’s forgiveness in your life which has set you free from something in your past - liberating you to live a life at peace with God and to serve Him more effectively?
Ask the Holy Spirit to search out any place in your life where unforgiveness in your past, despite the your efforts at sacrificial service as a form of works-righteousness, may have become unforgiveness in your present.
Today I will partner with the Holy Spirit, and I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me and to assist me with accountability - so that once I accept the forgiveness of Christ I do not give-away power to the enemy by accepting any of the enemy’s accusations against me for something the Lord God has forgiven.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
Drawing Near to God in Enduring Faith
10:19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,
10:20 by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
10:21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
10:22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.
10:23 And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy.
10:24 And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works,
10:25 not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.
10:26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins is left for us,
10:27 but only a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God’s enemies. 10:28 Someone who rejected the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
10:29 How much greater punishment do you think that person deserves who has contempt for the Son of God, and profanes the blood of the covenant that made him holy, and insults the Spirit of grace?
10:30 For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
10:31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
10:32 But remember the former days when you endured a harsh conflict of suffering after you were enlightened.
10:33 At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and afflictions, and at other times you came to share with others who were treated in that way.
10:34 For in fact you shared the sufferings of those in prison, and you accepted the confiscation of your belongings with joy, because you knew that you certainly had a better and lasting possession.
10:35 So do not throw away your confidence, because it has great reward.
10:36 For you need endurance in order to do God’s will and so receive what is promised.
10:37 For just a little longer and he who is coming will arrive and not delay.
10:38 But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him.
10:39 But we are not among those who shrink back and thus perish, but are among those who have faith and preserve their souls.
Lord, You saved us, You disciple us, You defend us, You bless us, You have given to us Your indwelling Holy Spirit, and You allow us to be Your instruments in this world – You expect that we will not deliberately rebel. May I continue to mature so that I will contemplate rebellion less-often and stand when tested (so I am not tempted) more-often.
The text encourages believers to draw near to God because our faith is in the One Who opened the way to Him and Who has made us spiritually-pure.
We are exhorted to “spur one another on to love and good works ... not abandoning our own meetings”
[Note: This necessarily requires that we be intentional about what we say and do - in order to both present a positive role model and effectively teach and encourage others. There is also an implication that believers were choosing to gather with non-believers instead of gathering with believers, for reasons not clear in the text, but the need to gather-together is emphasized again here as elsewhere in the NT. The Lord God repeats messages He wants us not to miss.]
The text then gives a warning to those who remain in rebellion, through intentional and unrepentant sin, despite receiving the Word of truth. It reminds the reader of the OT consequences of rebellion against “the law of Moses”, summarizing “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Believers are cautioned to remember that they endured troubles early on in their faith, and that more endurance may be required of them, but despite their losses they have remained standing “... because you knew that you certainly had a better and lasting possession.”
Hebrews 10 concludes with a contrast between those who have heard the Word yet failed to respond and live with perseverance through faith “... if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him” versus those who heard and responded and persevered “But we are not among those who shrink back and thus perish, but are among those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
It is a remarkable contrast between those who have heard the Word yet failed to respond and live with perseverance through faith “... if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him” versus those who heard and responded and persevered “But we are not among those who shrink back and thus perish, but are among those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
What are some practical ways to “spur one another on to love and good works ... not abandoning our own meetings”?
The consequence for those who do not live under the grace of the salvation of Christ is that they remain in slavery to sin and under the judgment of law-without-mercy of the former covenant.
When have you experienced or observed a practical example of being intentional about what is said and what is done in order to both present a positive role model and effectively teach and encourage others?
Ask the Holy Spirit to examine your faithfulness in spurring “one another on to love and good works … not abandoning our own meetings” and in being intentional about what you say and do.
Today I am choosing to both present a positive role model and effectively teach and encourage others. Where I find a lapse in my faithfulness to the Word of God I will ask the Holy Spirit to find me a willing follower of His leading to a more righteous place in my daily walk.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
People Commended for Their Faith
11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.
11:2 For by it the people of old received God’s commendation.
11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible.
11:4 By faith Abel offered God a greater sacrifice than Cain, and through his faith he was commended as righteous, because God commended him for his offerings. And through his faith he still speaks, though he is dead.
11:5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he did not see death, and he was not to be found because God took him up. For before his removal he had been commended as having pleased God.
11:6 Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
11:7 By faith Noah, when he was warned about things not yet seen, with reverent regard constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family. Through faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out without understanding where he was going.
11:9 By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise.
11:10 For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
11:11 By faith, even though Sarah herself was barren and he was too old, he received the ability to procreate, because he regarded the one who had given the promise to be trustworthy.
11:12 So in fact children were fathered by one man – and this one as good as dead – like the number of stars in the sky and like the innumerable grains of sand on the seashore.
11:13 These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth.
11:14 For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
11:15 In fact, if they had been thinking of the land that they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
11:16 But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He had received the promises, yet he was ready to offer up his only son.
11:18 God had told him, “Through Isaac descendants will carry on your name,”
11:19 and he reasoned that God could even raise him from the dead, and in a sense he received him back from there.
11:20 By faith also Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning the future.
11:21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped as he leaned on his staff.
11:22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the sons of Israel and gave instructions about his burial.
11:23 By faith, when Moses was born, his parents hid him for three months, because they saw the child was beautiful and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
11:24 By faith, when he grew up, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
11:25 choosing rather to be ill-treated with the people of God than to enjoy sin’s fleeting pleasure.
11:26 He regarded abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed on the reward.
11:27 By faith he left Egypt without fearing the king’s anger, for he persevered as though he could see the one who is invisible.
11:28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the one who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.
11:29 By faith they crossed the Red Sea as if on dry ground, but when the Egyptians tried it, they were swallowed up.
11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after the people marched around them for seven days.
11:31 By faith Rahab the prostitute escaped the destruction of the disobedient, because she welcomed the spies in peace.
11:32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.
11:33 Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained what was promised, shut the mouths of lions,
11:34 quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, put foreign armies to flight,
11:35 and women received back their dead raised to life. But others were tortured, not accepting release, to obtain resurrection to a better life.
11:36 And others experienced mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.
11:37 They were stoned, sawed apart, murdered with the sword; they went about in sheepskins and goatskins; they were destitute, afflicted, ill-treated
11:38 (the world was not worthy of them); they wandered in deserts and mountains and caves and openings in the earth.
11:39 And these all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised.
11:40 For God had provided something better for us, so that they would be made perfect together with us.
Lord, Your list of faith-models is instructive, the martydom of Christians a sobering testimony to the hate-filled fury of the enemy and the power of truth to prevail. May I learn from those who have come before, share their testimonies, and model my commitment after theirs.
Hebrews challenges the reader with a powerful statement “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” The text then sets out to explain and “prove” this through the lives of OT persons.
In the OT “... people of old received God’s commendation”. A prime example is Abraham in Genesis 15:6 “Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord considered his response of faith proof of genuine loyalty.”
“... we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible.
“Now without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who approaches God must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who seek Him.”
“By faith Abel ...”
“By faith Enoch ...”
“By faith Noah ...”
“By faith Abraham ...”
“These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth ... they were seeking a homeland ... a heavenly one”
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning the future.”
“By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped as he leaned on his staff.
By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the sons of Israel and gave instructions about his burial.”
[Note: Joseph prophesied the Exodus and that his bones should travel with his people to the Promised Land.]
Hebrews 11 reports the faith that caused Moses’ parents to hide him without fear of Pharaoh, Moses to leave Pharaoh for God’s people, and on through the generations leaders of faith; Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel. It also describes the deprivation and suffering and death of the faithful over time.
Hebrews 11 concludes “For God had provided something better for us, so that they would be made perfect together with us.”
The Lord God places great importance on a genuine faith.
How might we disciple a genuine faith like that which empowered these OT persons to be used so mightily of the Lord God?
These people of faith recognize the dividing line of value between the things and faith.
When have you experienced a difficult choice you have made, knowing that the consequences would likely not be to your temporary benefit here on earth, but that based on faith you knew to be right before God?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you one place in your life where you have placed worldly comfort or convenience above faithfulness to God’s call.
Today I will study the OT people of faith to prayerfully reflect on how I may bring more of my life into line with felicity to the call of the Lord God on me.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
The Lord’s Discipline
12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us,
12:2 keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
12:3 Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.
12:4 You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed in your struggle against sin.
12:5 And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons?
“My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline or give up when he corrects you.
12:6 “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.”
12:7 Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?
12:8 But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons.
12:9 Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life?
12:10 For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness.
12:11 Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it.
12:12 Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees, 12:13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but be healed.
Do Not Reject God’s Warning
12:14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord.
12:15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up and causing trouble, and through him many become defiled.
12:16 And see to it that no one becomes an immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
12:17 For you know that later when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance, although he sought the blessing with tears.
12:18 For you have not come to something that can be touched, to a burning fire and darkness and gloom and a whirlwind 12:19 and the blast of a trumpet and a voice uttering words such that those who heard begged to hear no more. 12:20 For they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” 12:21 In fact, the scene was so terrifying that Moses said, “I shudder with fear.”
12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly 12:23 and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel’s does.
12:25 Take care not to refuse the one who is speaking! For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less shall we, if we reject the one who warns from heaven? 12:26 Then his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “I will once more shake not only the earth but heaven too.”
12:27 Now this phrase “once more” indicates the removal of what is shaken, that is, of created things, so that what is unshaken may remain.
12:28 So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe. 12:29 For our God is indeed a devouring fire.
Lord, Your discipline purifies, and all who are truly Yours will welcome Your purification – no matter the cost. May I welcome learning and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit so that I will not require the harsher discipline of the Lord God as He purifies me.
The Lord God purifies “... we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses ... we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus”
We surrender the easy stuff but avoid the difficult “You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed in your struggle against sin. Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons.”
“But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons.”
[Note: It is often considered a test of our value to God that the enemy feels threatened enough to divert resource to attack us, but here it is the discipline of the Lord which defines us as His and therefore worthy of re-direction when we drift toward sin, though it is sometimes the case that the Lord will allow the enemy as a tool of His discipline of us.]
“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord.”
[Note: This does not intend to promote pacifism in the face of a violent threat, it is about relationships and about our half of the relationship, we cannot control the actions of another - though we can model peace and not respond in-kind to those who are not acting in a peaceful manner. Also, the last phrase refers to us, that is that “no one will see the Lord” in us if we do not seek peace and holiness in our daily walk.]
“See that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up and causing trouble, and through him many become defiled.”
[Note: The NET translator’s notes link this to Deut. 29:17 which refers to someone with a self-serving conditional relationship with God - which is not an acceptable relationship at all and will poison them and others around them.]
And see to it that no one becomes an immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you have not come to something that can be touched [as in the Exodus 19:12-13 experience of Moses on the mountain] ... But you have come to Mount Zion ...”
[Note: The contrast here is between a law-based relationship and an intimate relationship, the first driven by fear-based obedience, the latter on love-based awe and obligation.]
“I will once more shake not only the earth but heaven too. Now this phrase “once more” indicates the removal of what is shaken, that is, of created things, so that what is unshaken will remain.”
[Note: The Lord God, through Jesus, brings us into the “unshakable kingdom” of eternity with Him, He then will obliterate everything that was created and rendered sinful through the twin rebellions of the enemy and of Adam and Eve. Nothing will remain.]
“... let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe.”
The Lord God expects us to resist sin “... to the point of bloodshed”, not the blood of others but our own. He also expects us to have an unconditional relationship with Him, for if we harbor selfish motives we will become bitter toward Him when discipline comes and will spread that bitterness.
What are some practical ways to “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord.”? Consider intentionally avoiding conflict by being vessels of His peace and intentionally combining a peaceful attitude with a holy walk so that people may see Christ in us and want what we have.
The Lord God will return to judge the world and to obliterate everything of earth and Heaven that is not part of His eternal perfect kingdom. This includes not only the physical world but also unsaved humans and the rebellious angels who followed the enemy.
When have you struggled to resist sin and lived-out the fruits of a good witness – by seeking peace and holiness - for Christ?
Ask the Holy Spirit to use you to draw someone nearer to a decision to surrender to Him and thus to share in the joy of your salvation.
Today I am choosing to resist sin and to seek peace and holiness so that the fruits of a good witness for Christ will make it possible for the Holy Spirit to use me. I will share the results of this with at least one other believer so that they may be encouraged to do the same.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
13:1 Brotherly love must continue.
13:2 Do not neglect hospitality, because through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.
13:3 Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them, and those ill-treated as though you too felt their torment.
13:4 Marriage must be honored among all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, for God will judge sexually immoral people and adulterers.
13:5 Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.”
13:6 So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
13:7 Remember your leaders, who spoke God’s message to you; reflect on the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith.
13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!
13:9 Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings. For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not ritual meals, which have never benefited those who participated in them.
13:10 We have an altar that those who serve in the tabernacle have no right to eat from.
13:11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as an offering for sin are burned outside the camp.
13:12 Therefore, to sanctify the people by his own blood, Jesus also suffered outside the camp.
13:13 We must go out to him, then, outside the camp, bearing the abuse he experienced.
13:14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging his name.
13:16 And do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.
13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.
13:18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to conduct ourselves rightly in every respect. 13:19 I especially ask you to pray that I may be restored to you very soon.
Benediction and Conclusion
13:20 Now may the God of peace who by the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, 13:21 equip you with every good thing to do his will, working in us what is pleasing before him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
13:22 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, bear with my message of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you briefly. 13:23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he comes soon, he will be with me when I see you.
13:24 Greetings to all your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy send you greetings. 13:25 Grace be with you all.
Lord, it is reassuring to know that You are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. May I walk in faith with Your strength and wisdom, a willing instrument, and absolutely surrendered.
Hebrews 13 begins with a list of instructions:
“Brotherly love must continue.”
“Do not neglect hospitality, because through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
“Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them ...”
“Remember ... those ill-treated as though you too felt their torment.”
“Marriage must be honored among all ...”
“... the marriage bed kept undefiled, for God will judge sexually immoral people and adulterers.”
“Your conduct must be free of the love of money and you must be content with what you have ...”
“Remember your leaders who spoke God’s message to you; reflect on the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith.”
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings.”
The text reminds us that rituals “... have never benefited those who participated in them.”
“... Jesus ... suffered outside the camp.”
[Note: According to the ancient OT regulations one was put out of the camp if ritually unclean, and if they were traveling and did not return in time to be ritually prepared they were required to wait outside and miss the cleansing rituals. Jesus was outside of the traditions of the religious leaders.]
“... do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for god is pleased with such sacrifices.”
“Obey your [Biblical] leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.”
As was common to the NT books Hebrews concludef with a prayer/benediction “Now may the God of peace who by the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, equip you with every good thing to do His will, working in us [or working together with us or working in all of us] what is pleasing before Him through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever. Amen.”
A sort of postscript asks that they “... bear with my message of exhortation” as it was somewhat more terse than the author desired. It also notes the release of Timothy and sends greetings from “Those in Italy ... to all your leaders and all the saints.” Finally concluding “Grace be with you all.”
The list of instructions at the beginning of Chapter 13 is challenging but is critical to civilization, especially a God-honoring one.
What are some practical examples of “... do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.”
How does “Obey your [Biblical] leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.” show up in the relationship of members and elders/deacons with the shepherd of your fellowship?
What is an example of “strange teachings” as referenced in this phrase “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings.”?
Ask the Holy Spirit to assess where you need to make changes to get right with the Word of God
Today I am committing to the list of instructions at the beginning of Chapter 13. I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit I will ask at least one other believer to pray in agreement and to assist with accountability so that I meet the goals I set for greater spiritual maturity.
Be Specific ______________________________________________________
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study – Section 2 of 2 the series, “Hebrews” – prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in April of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.