Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. More specifically today’s passage is found in the thirteenth and final chapter of this epistle. “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner” (Hebrews 13:1-19).
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words. Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-25).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will come to the thirteenth and final chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews. It’s actually quite interesting when you think about and consider how this epistle is brought to a close for when you read the words contained therein you find the author beginning by inviting and exhorting their readers to let brotherly love continue. In light of everything that has been written within this epistle—from the great high priesthood of the Lord Jesus, to Jesus being set down at the right hand of the Father in the heavens, to Jesus’ passing into the heavens with His own blood, to Jesus being made so much greater than the angels in heaven, to Jesus being made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death and so much more—there were several admonitions and exhortations scattered and staggered throughout the epistle. This reality was expressed as early as the second chapter of this epistle within the first five verses where the author first begins to exhort and admonish the Hebrews in their walk and faith with the Lord Jesus. After beginning and opening the epistle with a powerful declaration concerning the Lord Jesus being exalted to the right hand of the Father and having obtained a more excellent name by inheritance than the angels the author immediately transitions into exhorting and admonishing their readers. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the opening verses of the second chapter:
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip, For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles ,and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:1-4).
It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews writes in the second chapter of this epistle for they are the beginning of a series of admonitions and exhortations which are found within the epistle. You cannot read the epistle written unto the Hebrews and not encounter these series of exhortations and admonitions which were present within and throughout the epistle. What’s more is that when you read the epistle you will find this common theme of shared responsibility between both the author and the recipients of the epistle. This is actually something that is quite unique when you consider the words which are found within the epistle for when seeking to exhort and admonish the readers the author seems to call them all into a corporate and collective place of responsibility. It is impossible to read the words which are found in this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the encouragement found within the epistle for the author called their readers into a place of response throughout the entire epistle. In all reality each of these exhortations and admonitions were like individual “Selah” moments which called the reader to not only reflect upon what they have read but also respond to what they have read. Oh we must needs recognize and pay close attention to this for it draws and calls our attention to the truth surrounding the shared corporate responsibility found within the epistle in response to the words which were written concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this epistle and I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding these exhortations and admonitions for they almost seem to invite the readers and audience into a powerful place of response. In other words it’s as if the author of the epistle takes time out of the theological doctrines found within the epistle that they might call the readers and audience into a place where they confront the condition of their own hearts and souls. Oh please pay close attention to this particular reality when reading the words found within the epistle written unto the Hebrews for you cannot escape the epistle without encountering and coming face to face with the personal and corporate responsibility the author called the readers to. Those who would read the words found within this epistle and/or those who would hear the words written in this epistle and read unto them would find themselves in a powerful moment of pause whereby they might reflect upon what they have just heard—and not only reflect upon what they have heard but also respond. This is something which must needs be recognized and understood for when we read the words found in this epistle we are not only brought into a place of theology and doctrine but a place of personal and corporate responsibility that is found within it.
The more I think about the words which are found in this epistle the more I am brought face to face with the reality that whatever doctrine and theology we think we hold to within our hearts and lives is absolutely and utterly meaningless if it is not matched with the recognition of holy and righteous living in the sight of the living God. There would be those among us who would like to think having sound doctrine and theology is the only thing that’s necessary in this life—and not only in this life but also in the sight of the living God—and they give themselves absolutely no space to allow themselves to be changed and transformed in the sight and presence of the living God. Oh there is something truly unique about theology and doctrine that does more than simply make one wise but also changes the way one acts. If you read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you will that on the Day of Pentecost after the apostle Peter stood before the crowd gathered together in response to hearing Judaeans and Galilaeans speaking with the tongues of other nations and lands and preached the Lord Jesus to them they asked what they needed to do. On the day of Pentecost there was a great and powerful fear and reverence within the hearts and souls of countless men and women—at least three thousand to be absolutely certain. What’s more is that during the days of John the Baptist the publians, the people and the Roman soldiers all came unto him in the wilderness and asked what they needed to do in response to the one true and living God. It is with this in mind—and as you prepare to understand the admonitions and exhortations found in the epistle written unto the Hebrews—I would like to call and draw your attention to the following words found in the third chapter of the gospel written by Luke as well as the words found in the second chapter of the book of Acts written by the same author:
“And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your ages” (Luke 3:10-14).
“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended unto the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:29-36).
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:37-40).
When I read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture I can’t help but see countless men and women hearing the word of righteousness preached unto them and their hearts being pricked within them. Perhaps one of the most fundamental differences between the two was that John the Baptist didn’t preach the gospel unto those in his generation for the Lord Jesus hadn’t yet been crucified. When the apostle Peter stood up before the crowd and masses in the midst of the city of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost he was the first to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The words which the apostle Peter preached on that day were words that not only spoke of the suffering of the Lord Jesus but also the death of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that the apostle Peter didn’t stop there with speaking of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus for he would go on to speak of His resurrection from the dead and the Father’s promise that He would not leave the soul of His Son in hell. As if this weren’t enough the apostle Peter would also speak unto the crowd and masses that this same Jesus whom they had crucified the eternal Father had made both Christ and Lord. This is something we have a great need of recognizing and paying attention to for what we find in the epistle written unto the Hebrews is an incredibly wonderful and powerful treatise on the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot read the words which are found in this epistle and not see the divinity of Christ as well as the humanity of Christ together. If you want to truly understand the words which are found in this epistle you must needs recognize the author sought to bring the readers and audience face to face with the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as the humanity of Christ.
It is with this being said and before I present you with the exhortations and admonitions found in this epistle I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words presented in the first and second chapters. The words we find here within these two passages of Scripture are entirely and altogether necessary for us to recognize and pay attention to for they call and draw our attention—first to the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and secondly to the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in the first chapter of this epistle we are brought face to face with the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ having been made so much better than the angels which are in heaven while it is in the second chapter of this epistle we encounter the humanity of the Lord Jesus. It is in the first chapter we learn of the Lord Jesus being made so much better than the angels in heaven while in the second chapter we learn of the Lord Jesus being made lower than the angels for the suffering of death. With this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by 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 by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:1-4).
“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:1-14).
“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-18).
It is absolutely necessary we pay close attention to the words which are found in the opening chapters of this epistle for when we do we understand that which is at the very heart and center of the author’s intention throughout this letter. Upon reading the words which are found in these two chapters you can and will be brought face to face with the tremendous truth that at the very heart of this epistle is the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ—and not merely the doctrine of the Lord Jesus but the doctrine of Christ entirely and altogether different from anything the apostle Paul, or the apostle Peter, or even the apostle John wrote in their epistles. There is absolutely no doubt that the epistles written by these apostles emphatically present Jesus of Nazareth as being both Lord and Christ. There is absolutely no mistaking the words which are found in these epistles and coming face to face with the doctrine of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross of Calvary. Not only this but within these epistles we are brought face to face with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the grave, His ascension unto the right hand of the Father in heaven and His coming again and return. What makes the epistle written unto the Hebrews entirely and altogether different when you think about it is that the author presented a powerful portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, they presented it using imagery and shadows they would have understood. If there is one thing we must needs recognize concerning this epistle is that it was written unto those who would have known the Law of Moses and those who would have been familiar with the ordinances of the Tabernacle as given unto Moses atop the mountain in the wilderness.
If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this epistle it’s that it was not written unto those who were ignorant to the Law of Moses as given unto Him in the midst of the wilderness atop the mountain. Those who read the words found within this epistle would have been entirely and altogether aware of the truth of both the Law of Moses as well as the order of the Tabernacle, Temple and the sacrificial system. What makes this even more remarkable and astounding when you think about and consider it is that within the four gospels as well as the New Testament book of Acts we find a great amount of persecution which broke out against Jesus and His church coming from the Jews. Particularly and especially within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find a powerful picture of the opposition of the Jews toward and against the Lord Jesus as they vehemently opposed Him, His words, His teachings, His claims and His works. You cannot read the fourth of the gospels found within the New Testament and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding this opposition of the Jews toward against the Lord Jesus—opposition which was expressed in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and even tenth chapters of the book. It might very well be said the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John has at the very heart of it this opposition of the Jews toward Jesus of Nazareth—this one who made Himself to be like unto God and even declared God to be His Father.
Upon reading the fourth gospel found within the New Testament you will find that it appears to be strongly linked and connected to the Jews and to their laws, their customs and even the city of Jerusalem and the Temple which stood in the midst thereof. The entire New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John seems to focus on the city of Jerusalem as much of Jesus’ ministry would revolve around the city—and not merely around the city itself but around the Jewish feasts which would be celebrated and observed by the Jews. Time and time again you will find the movement and ministry of the Lord Jesus being centered upon His journey unto the city of Jerusalem and doing so at the time of one of the feasts which were celebrated by the Jews. In fact within and throughout the epistle you will find Jesus’ movement and ministry seemingly being centered upon the feasts which were celebrated by the Jews and at times when the city would be entirely and altogether filled with those who would have come from within Judaea, Galilee and the surrounding nations and lands. What makes this gospel so incredibly unique is that almost from the start you seem to find the Jews resisting and opposing the Lord Jesus Christ—His words and His works. You cannot read this gospel without encountering and coming face to face with the tremendous opposition of the Jews toward and against the Lord Jesus as they found themselves being greatly offended by Him. Oh there is something to be said about this—particularly when you come to the epistle written by the Hebrews—for this epistle would be written unto a people who not only largely resisted and opposed the Lord Jesus but also His church which was present in the earth after His departure and ascension.
When you come to the New Testament book of Acts you will find that although the Lord Jesus had departed from the earth and ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven His words and works would be carried out within the earth by the apostles and the early Church. The entire New Testament book of Acts centers upon the words and works of the apostles and the early Church as they would continue that which was begun by the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is that within the first five chapters we encounter a persecution of the apostles by the religious leaders which were present during those days. It would be the religious leaders who would not only command them to cease preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus but would also beat and imprison them thinking that force could somehow stop the words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ from being manifested in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Much to their shock and dismay the apostles were emboldened by their threats, beatings and even being imprisoned and would continue to faithfully preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As you come to the sixth and seventh chapters you will find that it wasn’t the apostles who were at the heart of the resistance and opposition but rather Stephen who was one of the seven deacons ordained and appointed from among the body of Christ. Eventually Stephen would be falsely accused of words he did not say and things he did not do and would ultimately be stoned to death becoming the church’s first martyr. It would be immediately after Stephen’s death we find a great persecution breaking out in the city of Jerusalem against the early Church. During the days of Saul of Tarsus who consented unto Stephen’s death there was such a great persecution which broke out against the church that all but the apostles were scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria.
It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John, the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as well as the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the same New Testament book. What we find within these chapters is the opposition and resistance of the Jews toward the Lord Jesus first and foremost and then that same resistance and opposition being raised up against His church and His body. You cannot read the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John and the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth that the Jews greatly resisted and opposed both the Lord Jesus as well as His church and His body. What’s more is that much of the resistance and opposition found within the book of Acts came from the Jews—even up to the twenty-first chapter of the same book when the Jews raised themselves up against the apostle Paul when he returned unto the city of Jerusalem. Having said this I now invite you to consider the following words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture concerning the resistance and opposition of the Jews:
“And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making Himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:16-19).
“After these things Jesus walked in galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him” (John 7:1).
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made a great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every hosue, and hailing men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).
“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some o f them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go” (Acts 17:1-9).
“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogues of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed” (Acts 17:10-15).
“After these things Paul departed from Athens and come to Corinth;; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (Because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tent makers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: For I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:1-11).
“And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. (For they had seen before with him in the city Tophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. And some cried one thing, and some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was born of the soldiers for the violence of the people. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him” (Acts 21:27-36).
It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for what we find within them is a powerful picture of the resistance and opposition—both to the Lord Jesus Christ personally when He walked among us in the flesh as well as the word and gospel which was preached concerning Him and in His name. You cannot read the words found in these passages of Scripture and not be brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the resistance and opposition of the Jews and how they not only took great offense to the Lord Jesus making God His Father but they also took great offense during the days of the apostles as they professed that this Jesus of Nazareth was both Christ and the Lord. This is what is so incredible about the epistle written unto the Hebrews for it was written unto a people who had a history of resistance toward the Lord Jesus as well as unto His spiritual body which was present upon the earth. It was the apostle Peter and the apostles who laid blame for the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus at the feet of the Jews and did so as early as the day of Pentecost when the apostle Peter preached unto the crowd that was present in the midst of the city. From the day of Pentecost on there would be instances when the Jews would be considered as the ones who were responsible for the suffering, death and burial of the Lord Jesus Christ but how the Father was not willing to allow His soul to remain in hell nor His body see decay and corruption in the tomb. The Father would indeed raise up the Lord Jesus from the grave on the third day and after appearing unto men for a period of forty days showing Himself alive with many infallible proofs He ascended unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven.
This is something we must needs recognize and understand when considering the epistle written unto the Hebrews for this epistle was indeed written unto a people who had not only persecuted the Lord Jesus but had also sought to kill Him time and time again. You cannot read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous resistance and opposition of the Jews toward and against the Lord Jesus and how they would ultimately be the ones who would cry out before Pontius Pilate demanding that He crucify Jesus of Nazareth. Although we know and understand from Scripture that the Lord Jesus would indeed be raised from death to life and would ascend unto the right hand of the Father in heaven we know that His spiritual body would be established within and upon the earth. Just as there was a physical body prepared for Him upon the earth when He would come in the form of flesh and blood so also would there be a spiritual body when He would come in the form of the person of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual body which would be present in the midst of the earth would experience the continued hostility, resistance, animosity and persecution of the Jews toward them—something that would come immediately after the death of Stephen who was the church’s first martyr. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that the Jews continued in their resistance and opposition. What’s more is that they not only continued in their resistance and opposition of the Lord Jesus Christ but now that resistance would be towards and against those who would preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus.
If there is one thing I so absolutely love about the epistle written unto the Hebrews is that almost from the very start and beginning the author not only presents the Lord Jesus as the Son of the Father but also as the voice and express image of the Father. Moreover the author presents the Lord Jesus as being set down at the right hand of the Father in heaven and being the author and upholder of all things which are seen and those things which are unseen. Within the first two chapters of this epistle the author calls and draws the attention of the readers—first to the divinity of the Lord Jesus and secondly to the humanity of the Lord Jesus. It is absolutely impossible to read the words found within this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, it would not be that which would normally be taught and preached by others. If you read the epistles written by the apostle Paul, as well as the epistles written by the apostles John and Peter you will find absolutely no mention of the Lord Jesus as our merciful and faithful high priest. Oh you will indeed find powerful pictures of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus as well as His resurrection and ascension. You will find emphatic statements concerning His being both the Christ and Lord and having been exalted far above every principality, every ruler of darkness, every spiritual wickedness, every angel in heaven, and everything within the earth and in heaven except for the Father Himself. Not only this but within the epistles written by the apostles you will indeed find the doctrine of the soon coming and return of the Lord Jesus Christ—something which He taught His disciples just before His betrayal, suffering and ultimately His death.
What I so absolutely love about the epistle written unto the Hebrews was that it was written unto those who knew the Law of Moses, those who were by lineage and heritage the seed of Abraham and those whose seed the Lord Jesus came unto taking upon Himself. This is what is so incredible about the second chapter of this epistle for not only did the author declare that the Lord Jesus took upon Himself the form of flesh and blood but He also took upon Himself the seed of Abraham. Thus the author would declare unto the Hebrews that the Lord Jesus was indeed one of them and was among them as one of their own. At the very heart of this epistle is not merely the gospel and doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ but also the doctrine that He was among them as one of their own—something the apostle John would write in the opening chapter of his gospel narrative. It would be in the first and opening chapter of the gospel written by this beloved apostle that he would declare concerning Jesus how He came unto His own and His own received Him not. Unto those who did receive Him and did believe upon Him He would give power to become the sons of the living God—those born not of flesh and blood, nor of the will of man but those who were born of God Himself. This epistle written unto the Hebrews was written unto those who knew the Law and those unto whom the promises, the blessing and the covenant was given by the living God—first unto and through Abraham, and then unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, and unto Joseph and ultimately through Moses who stood and appeared before the living God atop the mountain. The epistle written unto the Hebrews was written unto a people who had largely rejected Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ and the Messiah and called on them to acknowledge that He was indeed both Christ and the Messiah.
With this being said it is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the admonitions which were presented within this epistle. It is absolutely impossible to read the words found within these epistles and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the exhortations, invitations and admonitions written and spoken unto them. The words presented in this epistle not only teach and present the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ as the faithful and merciful high priest but also as being so much better than the angels which were in heaven. Not only this but the author of this epistle sought to present the Lord Jesus Christ as being the mediator of a new covenant and new testament in His own blood—blood which He shed through his suffering and ultimately His death. Eventually and ultimately the eternal Son would enter into the heavens with His own blood and would appear in the Holiest of all making atonement and propitiation for the sins of man. As if this weren’t enough the author of this epistle would write unto those who not only knew the Law but who were also familiar with the sacrificial system and order that if that first covenant was indeed perfect there would be no need for a second. If that first covenant was able to provide that which men needed before and in the sight of the living God then there would be no need for there to be a second. Not only this but if the blood of bulls and goats could purify and sanctify the consciences of men then there would not have been need for a second one which was implemented by the Lord Jesus Himself.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this epistle and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the words written within it and how they were written unto those who knew the Law of Moses and those who had perhaps spent their entire lives seeking to walk in obedience to what was written and contained therein. The words which are found in this epistle were written unto those who would have undoubtedly been familiar with the sacrificial order and system that was given by the living God unto Moses when he appeared and stood before Him atop the mountain in the wilderness. All the language found within this epistle concerning the tabernacle, concerning sacrifice, concerning Moses, concerning Joshua, concerning rest, concerning the wilderness wanderings and the like would have undoubtedly been familiar to the audience who received and read this epistle. This is something we have great need to understand for it’s as if this epistle were a passionate plea and appeal made unto this people of covenant and promise to enter into the true origin of the promise that was made and given unto Abraham—namely, that the Lord Jesus Christ would ultimately proceed forth from among them and would offer salvation unto all who would call upon His name. How absolutely incredible this truth truly is when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and awesome reality centered within and throughout this epistle. Oh what a tremendous and beautiful reality is found within this epistle and how it was written unto those who were familiar with the Law of Moses and the ordinances and statutes which were given concerning the Tabernacle, the priesthood, the sacrifices, etc.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the exhortations and admonitions which were found within and throughout this epistle. You cannot read the words found in this epistle and not come face to face with the incredible exhortation that was written and spoken unto these who not only knew the Law of Moses but would have spent their entire lives adhering, following and obeying it. What we find in the Lord Jesus Christ is not the abolition of the Law nor the abolition of the prophets but rather a new and living way of obedience before and in the sight of the living God. This is something we have great need to recognize and pay close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the admonitions and exhortations which were found in this passage of Scripture and how the author sought to invite them into a renewed place of obedience, holiness and righteousness before and in the sight of the living God. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following admonitions and exhortations which were found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the fourth chapter:
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1).
“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:11-13).
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” (Hebrews 4:14).
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit” (Hebrews 6:1-3).
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (For he is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23).
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto. Love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24).
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28).
“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach” (Hebrews 13:13).
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifices of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).
There is a great need to recognize each of these admonitions and exhortations found within this epistle for when you come to the thirteenth and final chapter you will find the author beginning to close it by inviting their audience to let brotherly love continue. What’s more is the author of this epistle also instructed them to be not forgetful to entertain strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. What’s more is the author of this epistle instructed them to remember those that were in bonds as bound with them and those which suffered adversity as being themselves also in the body. The author would go on to declare concerning marriage that it was honorable in all and the bed undefiled but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. This would immediately be followed by the author going on to instruct them to let their conversation be without covetousness and to be content with such things as they have for the living God has declared unto them that He would never leave them nor forsake them. At the very heart of all of this is the wonderful declaration that the LORD is our helper and we will not fear what man shall do unto us. Oh what makes the words found in this passage even more compelling is when you consider the fact that the author also instructed them to remember those which had the rule over them who have spoken unto them the word of God whose faith they were to follow considering the end of their conversation. All of this would also have directly connected to it the admonition to be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines for it is a good thing that the heart should be established with grace and not with meats which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
If there is one thing I find it absolutely necessary to leave you with when reading the words presented in this final chapter of the epistle it’s the call—not merely to brotherly love but to fulfilling the royal law that is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh it was true they would have known the Law of Moses which was given while he stood in the presence of the living God atop the mountain, however, that which the author is inviting them to step and enter into was to follow a new example—one that was found present in the person and life of the Lord Jesus Christ. The author is inviting the Hebrews to not only love the LORD their God with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their strength but they are also inviting them to love their neighbor as themselves. The author invited them into a place of holiness, righteousness, obedience and faith in the sight of the living God and to commit their way unto the living and eternal God. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it forces us into the same place where we recognize and acknowledge that we have been called into the same place of righteousness and obedience in the sight and presence of the living God just as these Hebrews were during the generation in which they were living.