Tonight I am speaking out of the Book of Hebrews, Chapters 9-12.
And to look at the Book of Hebrews, it was written specifically for the Jews. The writer, who has not been identified, but many thought it was a man who traveled with the Apostle Paul, because He mentioned Timothy in closing, wrote to the Jews basically to explain who Jesus was.
The writer was explaining the New Covenant of Jesus Christ as the Messiah because the Jews who followed the Old Covenant could not wrap their minds around who Jesus was to them.
It was hard for them to move out of their rich traditions and religion.
The new Jewish Believers of the day were almost in the same boat. They tried to live a hybrid type of faith. They did not want to eliminate some of their traditions, but those old traditions came into conflict with the New Covenant.
Old traditions are hard to break aren’t they? When you have done something for so long, it’s hard to stop. Primarily because other people who are involved who are stuck in that tradition, and it may cause a falling out between you and them, Right? And since we are people who want to be accepted, and want comfort, breaking away from our perceived comfort, even though it is not good for us is hard. For the Jew, it would be like breaking away from family and community, but in reality it wasn’t. It was creating new community with the possibility of adding the old into the new.
The New Covenant of God, because He is the one who brought it into being, was to cause change. It was to change the heart of His people towards Him, and Jesus was to mediate it.
Jesus spoke of the New Covenant.
Luke 22:20, “In the same way he also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
And God in the Old Testament spoke through the Prophets of the New Covenant.
And when I sat covenant meaning agreement, or a contract. God was establishing a new agreement with His people.
Jeremiah 31:31-33, “Look, the days are coming”—this is the LORD’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt—my covenant that they broke even though I am their master”—the LORD’s declaration. 33 “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the LORD’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God said that He would give the people a new heart and put His Spirit in His them.
Jesus was to be the mediator of that new covenant by His Blood through His death, and resurrection, with the Holy Spirit being imparted by Him, into those who believe. And He did just that.
Hebrews 9:15, “Therefore, He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”
We because of our belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior and as Gentiles, those not of Jewish Blood, have been grafted into the vine. It is a Spiritual grafting as stated in Romans Chapter 11, having been purchased by the Blood of Jesus Christ to receive the promise of God of eternal life.
Continuing down to Hebrews 9:24, “ For the Messiah did not enter a sanctuary made with but into heaven itself, so that He might now appear in the presence of God for us. He did not do this to offer Himself many times, as the high priest enters the sanctuary yearly with the blood of another. Otherwise, He would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now He has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
Jesus opened the door for restoration as God had promised in Ezekiel and Jeremiah by His single sacrifice and it is available to all who would receive it.
Romans 10:9-13, “So you will be saved, if you honestly say, "Jesus is Lord," and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. 10) God will accept you and save you, if you truly believe this and tell it to others. 11) The Scriptures say that no one who has faith will be disappointed, 12) no matter if that person is a Jew or a Gentile. There is only one Lord, and he is generous to everyone who asks for his help. 13) All who call out to the Lord will be saved.”
Now the Jews had an issue with that, but to a point we do too. To the Jews there were two things here, one they did not believe Gentiles were part of their Covenant with Yahweh, and we can understand that from their perception, and two for them the issue that much of their traditions were tossed, or their religious practice. The Jews had no real relationship with God. Their traditions and the law, brought them into a knowledge of God, but intimacy was not there in the most part. Few really knew Him. Yes King David, some Prophets, but over all, people had no relationship with God.
When you think of it, people today are no different from the people of the ancient days.
Religion is easier to follow than having a trust relationship. Relationship involves belief in the one you have a relationship with. You have to trust them to believe them. But also when it concerns someone who is an authority over you, like a parent, your obedience to them comes into play too. Concerning God, obedience was not just following rules, it was about the heart.
Religion is following rules thinking you are saved or safe from wrath because you followed through on something. Your heart does not have to be connected in it. But that’s not enough.
That is why God would say through some of the Prophets, “My people’s hearts are far from Me.” And He was right. Jesus confronted the Pharisees who followed the rules of the law, but had no heart for God.
Jesus was not about rules, He was about the heart. He came to fulfill the law, but it was all about relationship with God. Knowing the heart of the Father in Heaven. Knowing the Father, and having the Father’s heart made it easy for us to conform to Him and His will because we want to do it, because of our love for Him. It’s the same in a strong loving parent child relationship.
Our relationship with Christ is by grace, “free unmerited favor” and not by following a certain package of rules, and the writer of Hebrews was attempting to get the Jews to see this.
We need grace, because we as fallen children have a hard time following rules, and when breaking rules, we will pay the consequences. And the consequences to unrepented sin, and sin not covered by the Blood of Christ is an eternity away from God which is as Jesus said, a place where individuals there will gnash their teeth in agony. No place I want to be.
And moving into Chapter 10, the writer of Hebrews makes a point to the Jews that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, and the writer expresses that Jesus was a final sacrifice, and because of that sacrifice, God said, He will never again remember our sin or our lawless acts.
For some of us here tonight, we have a problem with our past, and the Lord God Himself has put it to us that He does not remember our past sin. Jesus covered that sin for all of us one time. So after repentance, we forget because He forgot. We cannot let our past control our future. We must renew our minds with the word from God, so that we will be free from past guilt and sin from the former life.
But that leads me further into Chapter 10 because the writer of Hebrews then speaks about new life because of our confession. We as followers of Christ because of our confession must be clean as we have been cleansed by the Blood of Jesus.
In Hebrews 10:22, the writer states, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
Jesus was faithful, we must be faithful. Which leads to verse 26.
“For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:26-27
The writer is harsh, but speaks a reality. The Hebrews knew about sin, and the sin nature, but now after hearing the message, they had a decision to make. Believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him, not only just accepting Him, but also turn to new life, or just reject His message.
As in the days of Moses and the law established by God, if the Jews rejected the law, as it states in verse 28, those persons died without mercy. The Hebrew’s writer then goes onto say in verse 29:
“How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!”
You can see here that the Old Covenant as well as the new had a similar finality. When you have heard the word, and rejected it, your life is at stake. It is either eternal punishment, or through belief, eternal glory. We make the choice.
But the writer of Hebrews continues giving us hope, and more than that. They had hope that those who heard, believed and followed.
Verse 39, “But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.”
Life. We all want life. But this life a life of faith is not something that we conjure up ourselves.
Which me to our will. We have a will, all of us, God gave us free will, but what are we submitting to? We always are submitting that free will somewhere. We can submit to God, we were created to do that, but we can also deny Him. We have a will to do that.
And some may say, I do not submit to anyone or anything. Well then, I’ll have to say your deceived, like many of us were for a time, but now we who have been enlightened through the Holy Spirit, we know that we all submit to something.
We were not created to live on our own. I’ve said that enough times. You can’t look at other people, you must look at your situation.
Our faith is not to be in others or ourselves but in Christ alone. We are to believe that what the Father has said is true and binding. To do that, we must have faith.
That leads into Chapter 11. And many know these verses starting with verse one.
Hebrews 11:1-3, “1) Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. 2) For our ancestors won God’s approval by it. 3) By faith we understand that the universe was created by God’s command, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.”
Faith. One of our larger obstacles we have as we participate on this life journey together.
Believing for us. What God said He will do.
We can read all about the cloud of witness that have gone before us that are spoken about in Hebrews Chapter 12, but with out that relationship with God I spoke about earlier, how can we believe in someone we don’t know?
Why do some human relationships break up? We find that we don’t know someone. They don’t follow through what they said. They are not the person we thought. They do something to us. We can create a huge list why, but when comes to our Father in Heaven, who is not a man, nor anything close to a man, no comparison, if we do not know Him, or experience Him, how can we have success in Him? A true relationship that is not of this earth. Experience His promises that He has said we could live in?
And looking at us who have knowledge of Christ, we must look at the cloud of witnesses spoken about in Hebrews 12 who attest to the faithfulness of God.
1) Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2) keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
Those witnesses. Heroes of the faith, and some are listed, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, “Rahab the prostitute,” yes she is in there too. Interesting. All these and more who had faith, had to deny themselves, putting themselves in a position to believe God.
When looking at these individuals, they were all different, from varied backgrounds, but all trusted the word of the Lord, and had such impact that we have read about them for thousands of years.
But we as believers, and I am always speaking to believers because we should understand, that in this race as the Apostle Paul has put it, we must put into action not only our faith, but obedience to God the Father. As our Father in Heaven, we must as His children, sons and daughters, submit to Him. He is the good Father, Holy and True, and He wants our total attention. We struggle with that. Because we struggle with unbelief and sin.
That’s why the writer of Hebrews states in Chapter 12 verse 1, to “lay aside every weight and the sin, that so easily ensnares us.” We know what we have unbelief in, and the struggles we have, sin that we fall back into, and if we are going to run the race and live and possess that active faith as the witnesses before us lived, we must in an act of our will, repenting and move away from those things that cause us to fail and move us into faithlessness. How can we walk in the trueness of Faith, if we allow unbelief in God’s Word, and sin to rule us?
An overcoming life takes resilience, and that resilience is fighting to remove the weight of the unbelieving worldly nature so we can prosper in faith. The Apostle Paul said, “I discipline my body, and keep it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27.
That’s kind of crazy we may think the Apostle Paul saying that he may be disqualified, but he took his position with Christ to be that important. He did not want unbelief and sin to creep back in. It happens and we know that. The old nature is right there waiting, but we take thoughts captive, we discipline ourselves to ever be moving ahead with Christ keeping our eyes on Him to run with endurance. To have endurance using an English definition, as a noun, “it is the act or power of enduring an unpleasant of difficult process without giving way.” Other versions may use the word patience, but in the Greek, it is still means to endure, or continue cheerfully in waiting, that you will overcome.
But above all that, disciplining ourselves to be at the feet of Father in all instances. Prayerlessness and the lack of intimacy with our Father will cause us to be like a tumbleweed. That’s what came to mind when I thought of our lives without prayer.
If you have ever seen one, it is a dead bush that blows in any direction the wind takes it. When in the southwest, or the more desert like west, you see them blowing across the road.
We weren’t created for that. We were created to be connected, and firmly planted. We were created to be strong and unmoving, and unbending to anything that blows against us. That is God’s Word.
But we have the mind of Christ. Remember that verse. What is Christ’s mind? In a nutshell Jesus was always connected into the Father, and did what the Father did. So should we. Knowing and participating in the Father’s Will. Not our Will.
I'll end with this.
The writer of Hebrews wrote to the Jews so that they would believe in Jesus to be fully equipped for the age. Fully equipped to do the will of the Father. But they had to believe in what the Father was doing.
For them, something brand new. They would have to break away. They would have to break away from their traditionsto a new life. They would have to believe what God said, and that was a hard thing to do for them because of their perceptions of the consequences. But the only consequence was a new life. A truly consecrated life. An empowered life. A life of freedom from the bondage of the law. Freedom from the bondage of sin. And that freedom would bring freedom to the mind and the heart. Something that many people do not possess.
We can experience that freedom. No fear, no guilt, just peace that we do not have to do anything to make us whole except believe in what has already been done on the Cross. Jesus will take care of it.
All the Jew had to do was believe in Jesus, repent, and follow Him, and then watch how their lives would turn into something that was not bound, but gave life.
We have been given the extraordinary freedom to live a life that truly brings us joy even in the midst of obstacles. Its not following rules, but does cause self denial, but because of that denial in humility brings us into a relationship with our real Father who loves us an wants us to be free in Him. We must focus on Him, we must be open for the connection, and we must flee youthful lusts to participate in His wealth. And that wealth encompasses creation. Creation as it should have been. Pure, full of truth, peace, and mercy, having a sound mind, believing all things are possible.
So for some of us, it is time to break from our traditions. We know what they are that keeps us from living in the fullness of God. Its time for a life of Faith.