Hebrews 1-13 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight HEB01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet-- Soaring Through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
I want to welcome those who are joining us online. Then just let me just have a few words for those who are joining us that way. You'll notice that when you get online now that there is a chat room that you can get involved in. There are pastors, who are there to meet you and greet you and answer questions and pray for you.
And so we want you to know whether you are from this area or you are outside of this area-- we have we have so many more people that have joined us online than actually in number in physical way ever came to our church. So if there is a way we can minister to you in the community you're in-- if you are making this a part of your spiritual menu during the week and we can minister to you, let us know how we can do that.
I told you last time-- I think it was last time-- that 64 churches from the Maasai tribe in Africa are going through The Bible from 30,000 Feet. So--
--just in case any of them would be joining us, we want to welcome everyone. Let's have a word of prayer. Father, how thankful we are, as Paul the apostle said from a prison cell, the word of God is not bound. There is a freedom to it. It takes wings. It penetrates, goes into hospital rooms and cars and churches around the world and people's devices. And we thank You, Lord, that as truth is being heard, which is found in Your word that lives are being set free, for you said, Lord Jesus, that you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
Lord, we pray that we would experience a little more freedom, as we gather around the text of the book of Hebrews in Jesus' name.
Amen. Now, it is true when you go through the book of Hebrews, you immediately discover it is different from other books in a number of ways. It has a completely different form than anything we have read up to this point in the Epistles of Paul or outside of the Epistles of Paul.
For example, in the Book of Hebrews, there is no salutation. It doesn't say who it's from. It doesn't say who it's to. It doesn't say grace and peace, et cetera. That is completely missing. There's no address at the beginning or at the end. Those particulars are gone.
The ending part of the book is not a typical ending from the epistles that we have read, the letters that we have read. An epistle is not a wife of an apostle. Epistle is just a letter. So the letters that we have read of Paul and the book of Hebrews-- there is a marked difference between the style of these two things.
Hebrews reads less like a letter and more like a sermon, more like an essay, more like a treatise or what was called in ancient times a homily, a short sermon. And I say short. It's 13 chapters, and yet, the author, whoever it is of this book, will say at the end, you see how few words I wrote to you, which I always laugh at, because there's 13 chapters here. It's not a short little letter at all.
The theme of the book of Hebrews is set forth very logically, pointedly. And he stays with that theme for a long period of time. Now, who wrote the book of Hebrews? You saw how that little video ended, because no one knows who wrote the book of Hebrews. It is not stated. There is no name given. It doesn't say who it's from. It doesn't say who it's to.
This is why it's so-- one of the reasons why it's so different from Paul's letters. See, it's really easy to say, well, it's Paul, because we have been reading Paul's letters. And so we read another letter and whether it says he wrote it or not, we just assume, because it's in the lineup of Pauline literature, that it must be Paul that wrote it.
But if Paul wrote it, it's very non-typical, because Paul always signed his letters. He would sign the end of it, even if they were dictated by an-- to an amanuensis, the secretary. He would say who it's from, who it's to, and then he would sign the end of it. That does not appear here. So it doesn't seem to fit something that Paul wrote.
Here's something else. And I know I'm probably just going to confuse you through all this, because I'm not going to really answer the question, who wrote it. But let's work our way through the logic.
Whenever the writer of Hebrews quotes an Old Testament text, he always quotes from the Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint version, which was considered a more modern version, translated down in Alexandria, Egypt.
And so every quotation in the book of Hebrews comes from the Greek translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek, whereas whenever Paul the Apostle quotes from the Old Testament, he most often quotes from the Hebrew text of the Old Testament.
Also, the style of the book of Hebrews is completely different from the letters of Paul. Though Paul was a very educated person-- he was a very passionate person-- and though he was very logical, as so is this book, the style of Hebrews is a higher level of Greek.
If you've ever studied the Greek language, especially Greek biblical literature, the easiest writings by far are the writings of John the Apostle-- John, 2 John, 3 John, Gospel of John. Those are easy. That's why beginning Greek students-- we always study those books first, to get a handle on it. It's easy to parse. It's easy to translate.
When you get into the writings of Paul, they're a little more difficult. He's giving to you lots of the usage of Greek participles, where he hangs thoughts on a participle. When you get to the book of Hebrews, it's a higher level still-- very, very polished, very precise in its use of the Greek language.
So who wrote the book of Hebrews? Don't know-- whoever wrote the book of Hebrews knew Timothy, because the last chapter of the book of Hebrews mentions Timothy, but mentions him not as my son or my true son in the faith, but our brother Timothy.
So there's a lot of contenders for it. You heard in the video a few of them. Some say it's Paul. Some say it's Barnabas. Some say it's Silas. Some say it was Luke. Some say it was Aquila. Some say it was Clement of Rome, because whoever wrote this book, it's obvious that he wrote from somewhere in Italy, because he says, the Saints in Italy greet you, probably Rome.
But if I had to pick-- if somebody forced me up against the wall and said, OK, right now you have to pick one person, who wrote the book of Hebrews my guess would be Apollos. And that is because of the description of Apollos-- he fits all the criterion that I just mentioned to you of knowing Timothy and the fact that he quoted the Septuagin version, which comes from Alexandria, Egypt. He himself came from Alexandria, Egypt.
In Acts, chapter 18, we're introduced to a Jew named Apollos. So I know one of them said in the video that, well, Apollos was Greek. Well, he spoke Greek, but he was Jewish, his background. So he was a Jew born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord. Being fervent in Spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord.
That description, though I can't be dogmatic, seems to fit the author of this book in my view closer than all the others. There have been different times throughout church history, where somebody leans on this person to that person. If you care for Martin Luther to weigh in on it, Martin Luther was probably the first one who said, I believe it was Apollos who wrote this book. So not that I'm siding with Luther, but if I had to pick one, I would probably pick him.
Something else-- whoever it was, it was someone to whom the gospel came not firsthand, but secondhand-- that is, he didn't hear it himself directly from the Lord. But somebody who heard it directly from the Lord told it to him. That's told us in chapter 2, but I cannot remember the-- I think it's around verse 3, I think. Let's see. Yeah, here it is.
How shall we escape if we neglect so greater salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him. So that indicates that whoever this was didn't hear it firsthand, but secondhand-- very different from Paul the Apostle, who made us aware that Paul, an apostle of God, not by man nor through men, but by revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father through the resurrection of the dead-- Galatians, chapter 1, verse 1. Paul made a big deal of the fact that he heard it firsthand. So I would weigh in and say it is not Paul the Apostle, though it is easy and convenient to say that. You can say whatever you want. But I won't agree with you.
Now, I want to get through this. So I'm going to attempt to cover the book of Hebrews in totality with you tonight in summary fashion. And I know I've barely gotten started, because I'm still in an introduction. Who was it written to? Hebrews-- where do they live? We don't know-- could be Jerusalem. Most people think it was Jerusalem, a letter written from Rome to Jerusalem, the Hebrews in Jerusalem.
We do know that the earliest converts of Christianity were all Jewish in Jerusalem. On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 souls were saved. When there was the healing of the lame man at the gate beautiful through Peter and John in chapter 3, another 5,000 came to faith. So it was a burgeoning massive group of Jewish believers in some place. I'm guessing Jerusalem, though it is not stated.
It is written to Jewish converts in the Messiah. They believe Jesus is the Messiah, though some may have been unbelievers, who were toying with and investigating the claims of Christ, but had not made a full commitment to him yet. We know it's written to Hebrews, because the entire book is bathed in the motif of sacrifice and the priesthood and the imagery that comes to us from the Book of Exodus and the Book of Leviticus. In fact, the author assumes that you have a working knowledge of the Book of Exodus and the Book of Leviticus, because he draws from that throughout the book.
And by the way, there is no mention of gentiles in this book. So it's safe to say, though it doesn't-- the title says Hebrews. Nowhere else does it say that. We can assume it is written to Jewish people, either converts or unbelievers, who are investigating it.
Here's the theme of the book. Jesus is all you need. Now, I'm going to flesh that out a little bit. The theme of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ is the full and final and best expression of God in history. There is a word that is used in this book 13 times-- the word better. Jesus is better than this. Jesus is better than that. Jesus is better than the other thing. And so that is the theme.
And the sub-theme-- Jesus is all you need. Jesus is the full, final, and complete expression of God. The sub-theme is that because of Jesus, we have full and unrestricted access to God. This is important. In Judaism, there was not full and complete instant access to God. You had to go through courts. You had to go through gates. You had to go through priests.
You had to go through moderators of the law, like Moses, et cetera, et cetera. You had to go through different stages. And only certain people were allowed, especially into the presence of God. The high priest could only go once a year under certain very strict conditions. All that is gone now. And Jesus is all you need, the full and final complete expression of God. And you have complete and unrestricted access.
Book is divided into two sections-- chapters 1 through 10, chapters 11 through 13-- 1 through 10, doctrinal instruction; chapters 11 through 13, practical exhortation. Now, Paul uses this kind of format. So that could tend perhaps for some people thinking it's very Pauline in its approach. But that's not an uncommon approach to writing a letter or writing an essay.
So we begin in chapter 1, verse 1 again. We're just going to touch on a few verses. And I'm going to make summaries of this section, because we're going through the whole book. This is, after all, The Bible from 30,000 Feet, although I've been at 3 feet level for the last 10 minutes. I apologize for that. OK.
The theme of the next few chapters in this doctrinal instruction is that Jesus is better. He is superior. He is a better messenger, first of all. Chapter 1 and 2-- he's a better messenger. Chapter 1 verse 1, God-- oh, by the way, how about we start there?
We're wondering, well, who wrote the book of Hebrews? I suggest the first word gives you the answer. God is the author of the book. Whomever it came through is irrelevant. Typically, it says Paul, an apostle. Here it says, God. So I like to think of it as an inspired book of God, given through probably Apollos, but maybe Barnabas or Paul or Luke or Clement. God, who at various times and in various ways, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days
Spoken to us by his son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds, who, being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power when he had himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High, having become so much better than the angels, as he has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
God spoke, the author says, in different ways at different times through different messengers. In the book of Genesis, God spoke through angels. God spoke directly. But then God used an angel to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden. God used the Angel of the Lord to speak to Abram, later on Abraham. In the Book of Exodus, God used angels in the giving of the Law. God promised He would send his angel with him. But also in the Book of Exodus, God spoke through Moses.
And then also in that section of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, God spoke through the priests, through the high priest. He had these two stones called an Urim and a Thummim, which would discern the voice of God in a positive or negative way. So God spoke through that way-- angels, Moses, high priests with the Urim and Thummim-- and then much later on prophets. The Old Testament has 17 different prophets. Some of them were just straightforward. Some of them were in your face. Some of them were quite colorful and weird.
Isaiah walked naked and barefoot for three years. That would get your attention-- guys streaking through the streets of Judah. Jeremiah took a pot in front of the priesthood and busted it on the ground. Ezekiel played war with a clay tablet, besieging a model of Jerusalem.
Some of these guys were just quite odd to get people's attention, but God spoke through them in a variety of ways. But ultimately, God speaks through His Son. He has, in these last days, spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things through whom also He made the world. Jesus is the full and final expression of God. You might say after Jesus, God put a period or an exclamation point.
Verse 4-- having become so much better than the angels-- we covered that. Verse 5-- for to which of the angels did He ever say, you are my Son? Today I have begotten you. And again, I will be to Him a Father. And He shall be to me a Son. And when He brings the first born into the world, he says, let all the angels of God worship Him.
Angels were prominent in the Old Testament, in the Old Covenant, in the Garden of Eden, as I mentioned. Two angels guarded the way so that Adam and Eve couldn't get back in and eat of the tree of life and live forever in their sinful condition.
Angels were embroidered into the veil in the tabernacle. Angels were affixed above the Ark of the Covenant on the mercy seat. The motif of angels were used even then. In the Book of Isaiah, where he gets the vision of the Lord high and lifted up, he hears angelic beings, seraphim, a classification of angels, saying, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole Earth is filled with His glory. But Jesus is better than the angels, he writes to these Jewish believers and seekers.
That was important, because there were communities in Israel like the Essene community, who almost worshipped angels. In the Essene communities, those Essectic people, who lived down by the Dead Sea, they taught, they believed, and they promulgated the idea that the archangel, Michael, had the same authority, or even in some cases, superseded the authority of the coming Messiah so that the Messiah was obscured by the presence of angels.
It's interesting when you go into the Sistine Chapel, and you see that great work of Michelangelo. It's pretty cool. I mean, it's pretty-- he was awesome. But on a theological level, though God is there in the center and touching mankind, He's obscured. There's so many other beings and cherubs and angels around. It's just like the ceiling is cluttered with angels. It's as if the main character is obscured by lesser beings.
So the writer of Hebrews strips off those lesser beings and says, the angels worship him. Jesus is a better messenger than the angels. Verse 13-- but to which of the angels did He ever say, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool? Are they that, as angels-- are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation? Therefore-- now, he makes that application-- we must give the more earnest he to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. He's using a nautical term of a ship in a harbor untethered to the dock that drifts out, drifts out, and then crashes, becomes shipwrecked.
For-- now, watch this-- if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward-- now, he's referring there to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. Deuteronomy 33 mentions that when God spoke and gave the Law to Moses, it was accompanied by 10,000 angelic beings.
So the idea of the law being given through angels-- that's the idea. So if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard?
Do you get his logic? He's going from lesser to greater. If disobedience to an inferior covenant, like the Law, brought swift retribution and judgment, how are we going to escape if we push away the New Covenant? You see, the danger of these Hebrew believers is, though they had a faith in Christ, most of them, or they at least tasted it and were starting to believe in it, the persecution against them was pushing them back to the comfort of the ritual of Judaism, the ritual of their religion.
I meet so many people like that. They're raised in a religious system. They do it, because it's comfortable. They have a born-again experience. But their family hassles them. How come you left our church, the true church? Don't you know that you have to go through these rituals and this religion? And that kind of hassle and pressure inundates them, and they're tempted to go back to it. Forget the hassle. So one of the key warnings in the book of Hebrews is, don't go back to bondage when you have been emancipated in Christ.
How shall we escape, verse 3, if we neglect so great a salvation? So we have a better messenger. And the next two chapters, three and four, we have a better moderator. Verse 3, therefore, holy brethren partakers of the heavenly calling, consider our apostle and high priest of our confession Jesus Christ, who was faithful to Him, who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.
Now, Moses was the moderator of the Old Covenant, the covenant of the Law. God gave it to the children of Israel through the hand of Moses. Moses is called the great law giver. He was the moderator of it. Verse 3, for to this one that is Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses inasmuch as he who built the house has more honor than the house, for every house is built by someone. But He who built all things is God.
And Moses, indeed, was faithful in all His house as a servant for a testimony of those things, which would be spoken afterward. But Christ, as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the firm hope to the end?
Moses had a very unique position before God. We're told in Exodus 33 that he would go into a special tent called the tent of meeting. And God spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a man would speak to his friend. Moses moderated the Law. Moses taught the people the Law. Moses repeated the Law. That's what the Book of Deuteronomy is. Moses, among the Jews, is considered the great moderator, the great law giver. It's the law of Moses, for goodness sake. And he is highly esteemed.
Just to show you how, there was a book put out not too long ago by a Jewish author, Michael Shapiro, called the Jewish 100, the 100 most influential Jewish people of all time-- number 1 on the list-- Moses, not Jesus, Moses on his list. Moses is number 1, because he is the great law giver. Number 2 on his list was Jesus, followed by Albert Einstein, followed by Sigmund Freud, followed by Abraham. And I think number 6 was Saul of Tarsus. That's how Michael Shapiro wrote it. But to point out that that is the consensus of all Jewish people, the greatest Jewish person of all time in their estimation is Moses.
So Moses, according to the writer of Hebrews, was part of the household of faith, the household of the children of Israel. The house is a reference to humans, because whose house are you, he says, if you keep following it. So Jesus built the house. Moses was part of the household. So Jesus is a better moderator.
Now, after Moses came Joshua. Joshua brought the people into the land. Go down to chapter 4, verse 8. You remember that volume before we get to 4:8. In the wilderness, an entire generation died, right, except for how many people? Two-- Joshua and Caleb-- one of them became the leader of the next generation that survived. But that whole generation died.
So they failed to enter the Promised Land. They failed to enter the land, apart from the enemies, the land of rest, you might say. Verse 8 of chapter 4-- for if Joshua had given them rest, then he would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God, for he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Even those who entered the Promised Land alive didn't rest for very long. They might have gone, oh, we're in it. But now they have to face Jericho. Then they have to face the battle of Ai, which they lost. Then they have to settle the north and the south and the middle. And that's battle after battle after battle after battle after battle. And then eventually they got kicked out of the land and taken to Babylon, so not much rest. It was very, very temporary. And the idea is there's an eternal rest that is promised. And that rest is found in Christ. So we have a better messenger. We have a better moderator.
Go down to verse 14 of chapter 4. We have a better mediator. Now, who was the mediators of the Old Covenant? Priests, high priests-- they stood before the people to represent God. They stood before God to represent the people. They mediated the Covenant. So we have a better messenger, a better moderator. We have a better mediator. That's chapter 4, verse 14, all the way through chapter 7.
Seeing then, verse 14, seeing then that we have a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession, for we do-- this is one of my favorite passages anywhere-- for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
In the Old Covenant, one needed a priest. You couldn't directly come to God. Sin blocked a direct approach to God. You either go to a priest, bring an animal. He'd slaughter the animal. Blood would be sprinkled. The blood would be for the atonement of your sins. And then the priest would represent you before God in the holy place and the holy of holies-- period. You couldn't just say, hey, Mo, Aaron, could you just kind of move over for a minute? I'd like to go into the holy of holies today and hang out with God, just enjoy intimacy with God. You'd be struck dead.
First of all, they wouldn't let you in. There was no direct approach. So the plain teaching of the author of Hebrews is, we have a better messenger, a better moderator. We have a better mediator. Jesus Christ, our great high priest-- he was in all points tempted like we are. That's the purpose of the incarnation. God became flesh. So He knows what it's like to be human.
So when you cry out to God and go, God, I'm in pain, if God never became a man, and he said, oh, God, I'm in pain, God would have to scratch his divine forehead and go, I don't-- I don't even know what pain is. I can't relate to your condition. But because he became a human and suffered, when you say, I'm in pain, God says, I know what that feels like. I know what pain is all about. I've been touched with the feeling of your infirmities. I can sympathize with your weaknesses. He was in all points tempted like we, yet without sin. That's why we come boldly.
Now, in the Old Testament-- I want to keep going. I'm going to keep going, because I could-- listen, I can get tempted to get bogged down. In the Old Covenant, the priest would offer a sacrifice for the people. But here's the problem. The priest himself was a sinner. He was imperfect. So he had to offer sacrifices for himself, as well as the people.
Chapter 5, verse 1, for every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men, and things pertaining to God that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, he can have compassion on those, who are ignorant and going astray since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this, he is required, asked for the people, so for himself to offer sacrifices for sins.
So we have a better mediator, because we have somebody, who is without sin, it says back in chapter 4. So you follow where he's going. Here's the doctrinal instruction-- better messenger, better moderator, better mediator. Now, in chapter 5 and in chapter 6, there's exhortations to maturity. There's application of what he has said. I'm going to take you all the way to chapter 7 now, where he flushes the priesthood out a little bit. But he tweaks it.
Watch this. Verse 1, chapter 7, for this Melchizedek whom he mentions a few verses before, King of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him-- that's Genesis 14. You know the story-- to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all being translated the king of righteousness and then also the king of Salem, meaning king of peace, without father or mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days or end of life-- go down to verse 11.
Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood, for under it, the people receive the law, what further need was there that another priest should arise according to the order of Melchizedek and not to be called according to the order of Aaron. For the priesthood being changed of necessity, there is also a change of the Law, for He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe from which no man has officiated at the altar. What tribe did Jesus come from? Judah-- what tribe was the priesthood from? Levi-- Levi. So you have two different tribes. That's his point.
For it is evident that our Lord chose a rose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning the priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if in the likeness of Melchizedek there arises another priest, who has not come according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life, for he testifies, you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. OK, what's going on here? Let me explain this.
In Genesis 14, there was an international crisis, the first international crisis mentioned in scripture. A coalition of five kings fought a coalition of four kings. The head of the coalition of five was a guy by the name of Chedorlaomer-- fun name. Don't name your son that-- Chedorlaomer. He was the king really of Iran in modern terms. He, for 12 years, kept other kings down by the Dead Sea area under his tribute. They had to pay money to him every year.
In the 13th year, they said, enough of this taxation stuff. I don't want to pay this guy anymore money. So they rebelled against him. So now there were four kings who fought five kings. Chedorlaomer won the fight, then attacked the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, where Lot lived, took him captive, took spoil of the city.
And then Abraham gets brought into the battle. He happens to have not only a large staff, but he has his own army. And he chases them down all the way up to Damascus, takes the spoil back, frees Lot-- this is all in chapter 14 of the Book of Genesis. It's a weird story.
And then after the battle is all done, a different king, a very unique king, who is not a part of the battle, the King of Salem, comes to meet him. Salem is the early name for Jerusalem. The king of Salem means peace. The king of peace came to meet him.
What's odd about this king, Melchizedek, is his name and his belief system. His name, Melchizedek, means in Hebrew the king of righteousness. So he is the king of righteousness, the king of peace, the king of Salem. And he's monotheistic. All the kings of the area were polytheistic. He was the priest of the most high God elyon.
So he is a king and a priest, or if you will, a high priest. And he comes to meet with Abraham. And Abraham and he have a conversation. Melchizedek blesses Abraham in the name of his God of elyon. And it says, Abraham paid a tithe, a tenth of the spoil that he took back and paid it to the king of righteousness, the king of peace, this monotheistic high priest-- he paid a tithe.
Now, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, right-- those are the patriarch. Abraham had a son. Isaac-- Isaac had a Jacob, right? Jacob had how many sons, how many tribes of Israel?
12-- OK, one of them was Levi, right? So the point the author is making is that Abraham, in whose loins and whose body, would eventually come the tribe of Levi since he paid a tenth to Melchizedek-- whenever you pay a tenth in ancient times, you are denoting superiority and honor.
So he was honoring him and saying, you are superior to me. I'm giving you a tenth. So the author of Hebrews say, in a sense, Levi, who is still in the loins of Abraham, tithed to Melchizedek, saying, you are of a superior order than even Levi. OK, so that's-- so you say, OK, OK, OK, that's all confusing.
We know God established a priesthood, the priesthood of Levi. But when we get to Psalm 110-- and the author does quote that-- we get this messianic portrayal, this prediction. Behold, you are a priest forever, Psalm 110 says, after the order of Melchizedek.
And since Melchizedek was seen as higher than Abraham and thus higher than Levi, it's a psalm, a prediction that the Messiah will be not of the order of Levi, because he was from the tribe of Judah. But he'll be from the order of Melchizedek, which is, according to Abraham, a superior-- a superior priestly line. Do you follow? OK, good. You got it. You got it down. So we have a better mediator. He's drilling down on the point that our mediator is much better.
Not only that, but chapter 8, we have a better ministry, verse 1. Now, this is the main point of the things that we are saying. We have such a high priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord erected and not man, verse 6.
But now, he has obtained a more excellent ministry inasmuch as he is also the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises, for if the first Covenant-- that's the covenant of the law-- had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second, because finding fault with them, he says, behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, because they did not continue in my Covenant.
And I disregarded them, says the Lord-- for this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts. I will be their God. They will be my people. None of them shall teach his neighbor and none his brothers, saying, know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest, et cetera. He's quoting Jeremiah, chapter 31.
Here's the point. He says, now, here's the main point. We have a better priesthood. We have a better mediator and a better ministry. The Old Covenant wasn't enough. Judaism wasn't enough, because in the Old Covenant, it anticipated the New Covenant. It predicted the New Covenant. In Jeremiah 31, it says, day is coming when the Old Covenant's done, and the New Covenant is coming. So it anticipated that. And then he quotes that section of Jeremiah, chapter 31.
Let me give you some of the differences between the old and the new. Basically, the Old Covenant, the Law, the Law of Moses, was all about trying to control people's conduct. Don't do this. Do that. Do this that many times-- controlling people's conduct. That's why Paul said it's temporary. It can't last.
It's one thing to try to control somebody's conduct. It's another thing to change somebody's character. That's the difference. The old only tried to control your conduct. The New Covenant under Christ, because of Christ, changes your character. You get life change. You get change from the inside out.
Think of it this way if you're a musician. Any musicians? OK, good. Good. So the Old Covenant-- you were given sheet music. You've got cadence. You've got rhythm. But you better follow the dots or the conductor. But in the New Covenant, He gives you the ability to play by ear.
You don't even need the sheet music. The song is in your heart. And you just get on the piano or on the guitar or whatever instrument, probably not the tuba. And you just know it. You just do it. It's intuitive. You don't even have to try that hard. It just comes naturally. You can play it by ear. You don't have to follow the sheet music. You've got the song of God in your heart.
So we have a better messenger in Christ, a better moderator in Christ, a better mediator in Christ, and a better ministry in Christ. Something else is better. We have a better monument. Chapter 9-- then indeed, even the first Covenant had ordinances of divine service and the Earthly sanctuary. What was the Earthly sanctuary? The temple, or at first, the tabernacle, the tabernacle, which then became the temple. In the Book of Exodus, it was the tabernacle.
4 verse 2, a tabernacle was prepared, the first part in which was the lampstand, the table, the show bread, which is called the sanctuary-- that's the holy place-- and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle, which is called the holiest of all, which had the golden censor, the Ark of the Covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had manna Aaron's rod that butted in the tables of the covenant-- that's the Ten Commandments.
And above it were the cherubim, those angels I told you about, cherubim of glory, overshadowing the mercy seat of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Whew! Glad about that. OK, tabernacle was a structure. It was a monument. All it was was a monument.
In the desert-- I'll tell you I've seen in the desert of Sinai and in the desert of Judea a tabernacles that have been erected. So you can go visit them to this day and see exactly what they were like. But when you look at it, it does not look all that great. It's just this cloth-fenced courtyard 75 feet wide by 150 feet deep. That courtyard is where sacrifices were offered. There was an altar of brass out in that courtyard. There was a laver for washing those sacrifice, those parts in the hands of the priest.
And then in the middle of that courtyard, 75 by 150 feet, there was a tent structure toward the west. And it was 15 feet wide by 45 feet deep divided into two-- one room, 15 by 30. That was the holy place. In the holy place when you walk in, if you were a priest, on your left-hand side would be a golden lampstand called the menorah. Right in front of you would be a altar of incense, where you would light and burn. And on the right-hand side was a table with bread on it, show bread, 12 loaves representing the 12 tribes of Israel-- very emblematic. It was a monument.
Beyond that was a veil. And only the high priest could go in that one time a year. That's called the holiest of all. That's where the Ark of the Covenant was. And he sort of details that.
Interesting thing about the tabernacle-- you ready, just because I want you to hear this? There are more chapters in the Bible devoted to the subject of the tabernacle than any other single subject. Now, that should cause interest to a Bible student at least. I mean, think of it.
God spends maybe two chapters talking about creation. We wish He gave 50 chapters on creation, 100 chapter. He gives two, not even quite two. When it comes to the tabernacle, there are 50 detailed chapters of it, which makes us wonder why such detail. I'm glad you asked.
Verse 11, but Christ came as the high priest of the good things to come with a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands-- that is, not of this creation. Verse 23, therefore, it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these, for Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are-- here's that word again-- copies of the true, but into heaven itself not to appear in the presence of God for us.
The author of Hebrews is saying that when you walked into the tabernacle, you walked into a model of heaven-- OK, a poor model, but a model. Why is it a model of heaven? Why is it a model of really of Christ in heaven? First of all, there's only one way to get in, one door. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, the life. I am the door.
To get into that door, you had to approach it, because it was on the east side, you had to approach it through the tribe of Judah to get in. When you got into the holy place, there was a single source of light, the golden candlestick. Jesus said, I am the light of this world. On the right-hand side, table of show bread-- Jesus said, I am the bread of life.
You walk into a court room in the desert approaching God, which is a copy of the true. Now, continuing on in verse 25, because we're running out of time, and I do want to finish the book. It says, not that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters the most holy place every year with the blood of another.
See, the thing about the Old Testament sacrifices is they just never ended. Every day was a sacrifice. Every month, every year was that day when He walked in. He just kept going. Verse 26, He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world, but now once at the end of the ages He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
I grew up with a doctrine called the Continual Sacrifice of the Mass. Anybody ever heard of that doctrine? It's a Catholic doctrine. The idea is that a mass is going on somewhere in the world at all times, because there must needs be a continual sacrifice. That's just Catholic dogma. I grew up on it. I had long discussions with theologians about it.
That follows the Old Testament priesthood and defies the New Testament. The point of the New Testament is that you don't have to do it over and over and over and over again. You do it once. And you don't even do it. Jesus did it once. He offered the right sacrifice at the right time one time. And it's over. It's finished, unlike the Old Covenant-- unlike the Old Covenant.
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this, the judgment-- so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time apart from sin for salvation. Tabernacle, temple-- just monuments-- we have a better monument. We have some-- more than a monument.
We have heaven. Jesus is in the courts of heaven. He appears before the Father in heaven for us, where he's going to take us one day. We're not going to be living in a tabernacle out in the desert. So we have a better monument. Chapter 10, we have a better method.
For the Law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of those things, can never, with the same sacrifices, which they offer continually, year by year, make those, who approach perfect. So this is-- what Jesus did is better than all of the animal sacrifices, which were temporary and continual. Go down to verse 11.
Now, he's going to drill down on this, and you'll understand it. Every priest standing, ministering daily and offering a repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins, because if they could take away sins, you'd stop doing them. The fact that you have to keep doing them shows they aren't really working to take away sins.
But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever-- watch this-- sat down at the right hand of God. Do you see verse 11? Every priest stands ministering. This Man sat down from that time waiting until His enemies are made His footstool, for by one offering, He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified
When Jesus died on the cross, He said, it is finished. You know what the word is in Greek? You are scholars. What is it?
Tetelestai-- look at you guys, you Greek brainiacs.
You know that word, tetelestai. It's what priests would say after examining an animal and finding that it had no spot or blemish-- tetelestai if he was a Greek-speaking priest or to a Greek merchant-- tetelestai, no blemish. Or an artist would paint something. And if it was completed and up to the par of the mind of the artist, he might say, tetelestai, which is the picture is completed. Certainly Jesus completed the picture the Old Testament started to draw. Now, it's all come together in one.
Also, a merchant, when doing a transaction when the full price was paid, would say tetelestai, or paid in full. Jesus paid by His blood everything necessary to procure your salvation and my salvation. It is tetelestai. It is paid in full.
Now, every priest stood. They didn't sit. There was no chair in the tabernacle. Priests didn't sit in the holy place and go, whew, man, I've had a long day. No, he would be walking around. He'd be moving all the time. His work was never done. Jesus, when He went to heaven and offered His blood to the Father, so to speak, sat down at the right hand. Why? Because when you sit down, you're done. There's no more work to be done. It's finished. That's the indication of it, that he sat down. He didn't have to stay standing.
Now, chapter 11 is the second part-- 11, 12, and 13, practical exhortation. Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, for by it, the others obtained a good testimony. By faith, we understand so on and so forth. I covered this in depth a few weeks ago when we did this chapter. So I'm not going to really drill down, except to say that He's now giving the practical exhortation that we have a better manner of our approach. It's not by the Law. It is by faith through God's grace and that all the examples of faith-- and there are like 18 different examples of faith in this chapter-- he's trying to show that faith is better than law, better than works, because faith came first.
Before there was a law, there was Abel, who believed God. There was Enoch, who believed God. There was Abram, who believed God. And it was a counter to Him for righteousness. So the highest possible approach to God is not by works, not by law, but by faith. And so He gives example after example after example after example. Then He sums it all up.
Verse 32, what more shall I say, for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets, who through faith subdue kingdoms and did all these cool things that I am not going to read, because we're out of time.
I have so much to say. And I just haven't the time to say it, but that is the bane of my existence.
When you get to chapter 12, look how practical-- therefore, we also-- since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses-- he's talking about all the 18 people he just mentioned in chapter 11. They've run before us. They've told us it's possible to live a life of faith. It's desirable to live a life of faith. It might hurt temporarily to live a life of faith on this Earth, but you will be eternally rewarded. And they have, and they are. So that's the great cloud of witnesses.
Let us lay aside every weight in the sin, which so easily ensnares us. And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Don't go back to religion. Don't go back to Judaism. Don't go back to the temple sacrifices that you once relied on. Now, you're free in Christ.
Run with endurance. Don't stop-- looking into Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, for consider Him, who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls, for you have not yet resisted to bloodshed striving against sin. Jesus sweat gray drops of blood in the garden. Did that happen to you this week? No, it didn't. So He did it. He endured it. So let us keep doing it.
Go down to verse 7, for if you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons, for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? Take you to verse 11. Now, I know chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful, nevertheless. Afterwards, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those, who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen the hands, which hang down, the feeble knees. Make straight paths for your feet. So what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
OK, he's writing to Jewish believers, who are feeling the brunt of persecution, getting tempted to go back to the ease of their old religion. So their families and friends will think, OK, they're back where they should be. And he says, no, look, Jesus endured by shedding blood. You haven't done that yet.
And know this, that when bad things happen to God's people, they are number 1, provisional-- that is, temporary. Number 2, they are purifying. They're for a purpose. God is going to work this for your good in the future. So strengthen those knees that hang down.
Now, I'm taking you now to chapter 13. He continues the practical exhortation. Let brotherly love continue, et cetera. There's lots of great exhortations here. But I'll take it to the end, verse 20. Now, may the God of peace, who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant-- notice the wording-- make you complete in every good word to do, as well working in you what is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom being glory forever and ever. Amen.
He is summing-- it's one of the most beautiful benediction anywhere, even in scripture. He's summing up in those two versus the entire book of Hebrews in a practical level. All the salient truths are there in that benediction-- make you complete in every good work to do His will. And then there's a few ending remarks, including that about Timothy and people in Rome. Say hi to you. Bye, bye. That's the book.
So Jesus is better than anything the Old Covenant had to offer, better than anything Judaism had to offer. One of my favorite stories is about two soldiers, who were trying to bury their friend during the one of the battles in Europe in World War II. Their friend died. They wanted to give him an honorable burial, not on the battlefield.
They took his body, found a local churchyard, wanted to bury him inside the churchyard. The priest, who kept the church and the churchyard, met them at the gate and said, is your friend a Catholic? And they said, no, he was a Protestant. Priest said, regretfully, he can't be buried inside the fence, because he's not a Catholic. Those are the rules. I'm sorry. I apologize. My condolences, but you're going to have to bury your friend somewhere out there in the sticks.
They dug a grave. They buried their friend on the other side of the fence, just not part of the graveyard and spent the night, came back the next day to pay one last visit and say a few remarks at the grave of their friend. When they went back to the grave, where they buried their friend outside, they noticed the grave was nowhere to be found. They looked on the entire perimeter, did not see the grave, did not see their little cross that they had put up and the name on it. They looked and looked and looked.
Finally, they found the priest, and they said, look, we did what you said. We buried him outside the fence. And we came to find where he is. And we can't find him. And the priest said, well, you know, after our conversation yesterday afternoon I was so touched by your story and so plagued by guilt with those rules and regulations that I got up last night in the middle of the night and I moved the fence--
--to include the grave of your friend. He's now buried inside the churchyard. Jesus did what the law could not do. He moved the fence. He said, you're included, man. Before, it's like, you can't come unless you're a Hebrew male or a Hebrew female or a priest or a high priest-- all those courts, all those rule-- regulations, all of that. Jesus moved the fence, tore down the veil, and said, you're all welcome.
Father, thank you for the message of Hebrews. More than that, thank you for Jesus Christ, who is a better messenger, moderator, mediator with a better ministry. We have a better method in faith. And we have the best monument, which really isn't a monument, because it's not an Earthly tabernacle. It's not a temple. It's not a church. It is heaven itself, which is our home that we look forward to being in. In Jesus' name, amen. Thank you. Let's all stand. Sorry I took four minutes and 30 seconds--
--of your time.
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