Tag Archives: Hebrews

Are You A Meat Eater?

Hebrews 5:10-14

 

10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Am I dull of hearing?  Has the preaching in my church, or the radio sermons I hear, or just reading my bible daily become like wrote practice that I just do and don’t glean anything from it.  The voice just goes on and on with nothing important to be said to me because I already heard it or read it.  In fact, I think I could give that preacher a pointer or two.  They missed this scripture or that and those would add so much to their message!  Why would they leave that out?  This is boring!  I’m not going to listen to a sermon where I know the outcome.  Dull – boring!

If I really sit back and think about my reaction to messages I hear, this statement is not far from the truth.  I have always had a quest for knowledge, and in my younger years as a Christian, I read the Bible like a person with a voracious appetite.  Three years in a row I read the Bible cover to cover., I underlined, did word studies and topical studies with my Thompson Chain Bible and my Strong’s Concordance.  I wanted to know all I could know so I was ready if I ever had to apply those scriptures to my everyday life.  This activity was all well and good, to a point.  It became a routine.  Just another thing I did each day.  After those first three years, I did the yearly reading again a couple times.  I had become dull of hearing in a way, because the reading was not as exciting as it once had been.

But my quest for knowledge did not cease.  I still did word studies, topical studies and other things that made the scripture seem more palatable.  The King James can be hard to read, and I was pretty full, or so I thought.  I wasn’t sure there was much more for me.  The problem was that I thought I knew it all and had a tough time when people tried to tell me about the scripture.   I already knew it!  This brought me to a point where I stopped digesting the word and making it a part of my life, deep down inside myself.  I started to just drink it like water or milk, just enough to get me by, but certainly not enough to sustain me.  And that’s when I started to get into trouble.

I started chasing after sin.  It was not enough to have sin come calling at my door – I chased after it in places I should not have gone.  I looked at things, read things and did things I had no business doing as a Christian.  I was a worship leader, lay minister, deacon, and Sunday School teacher.  I should not have fallen to the tempter like I did, but here I was, steeped in private sin, doing things in the dark I should not being doing.  This went on for years until one day my daughter found out and told my wife.  Consultation with my Pastor brought many tears and a period of remorse set in, but the problem came back harder then before.  The second time I was caught it cost me my job of 20 years.

But I had a wise Pastor, and he put down the law on me.  He told me I needed to go to Pure Life Ministries in Kentucky or I would never set foot in his church again.  So, I went.  The place as all about Bible study, and so I got back into my old habit of word studies and topical studies.  When my counselor found out I was doing that, he got after me.  I had enough homework to do, and he did not want me to do anything outside of that.  He said something I will never forget.  He said I had way to much head knowledge and it had not made it into my heart.  No more studying of any kind outside the structured study they gave me.  I learned at that time that all the studying I had done previously was in vain unless it became the way I lived.  Unless it became meat to my body instead of just milk or water.  The meat that I needed was already inside, I had just not chewed it slowly and digested it properly, and it was going out in the draught.  It wasn’t as profitable for me as it should be.

This is exactly what Paul is talking about here.  The Hebrews were so familiar with the Bible and the story of Jesus, that they simply glossed it over and did not make it a priority in their lives.  They needed to listen more closely and allow the Holy Spirit to make it real to them.  They needed it to come into their bodies and go through the blood stream just like nutrients do.  When we eat meat, our body has top break it down to its basic elements for us to gain any good nutrition from it.  We have to do the same with God’s word.  I am not talking about taking anything out of context, but merely to read the word more slowly and apply it to our lives as we go.  That is why I do these studies in short pieces of scripture – because I want to absorb what God is saying to me.  Don’t read them fast.

A other way to do this is to write out the scriptures in your own words.  If you really want to have a good time with this concept, go to Psalm 119.  Write out what each verse means to you in your own words.  I know, it’s 176 verses long.  But you will find treasure in there that you never knew existed in that Psalm.  I did this experiment a few years back, and right now our men’s group is going through that study.  This tactic can really be used with any scripture, but Psalm 119 is often skipped over because of its length, and I think you will find this an excellent growth experience. I pray that you are at a place where you are eating the meat of the word, and not just drinking at the fountain.  There is so much more to this Christian walk than simply being dormant.

Obeying to Perfection

Hebrews 5:7-9

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

The Garden must have been a gruesome ordeal for Jesus.  All His life, He had done what His Father had wanted Him to do.  He said so on numerous occasions.  His mission was to show us the father and He did so with compassion and grace.  For three years, he healed every sick, lame, blind, dumb and deaf person that came to Him.  Constantly “He healed them all” appears in the word.  He taught us great lessons that have and will endure the test of time.  He was loved and followed by thousands everywhere He went.  He got away to pray several times on His own, and this strengthened Him for ministry.

But now He was really alone.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, early in the morning (it is guessed around 1 am) He went there to pray, knowing the fate that lay ahead of Him.  He knew that Isaiah said he would be like a sheep taken to the slaughter and that He would be wounded and would take stripes.  He knew that they would mock Him, gamble for His garments and nail Him to a cross.  He knew this road awaited Him.  He desperately wanted His closes friends, Peter, James and John, to pray with Him during this troubling time.  But they could not stay awake.  They slept each time he woke them up.  He was alone.  Terribly alone in prayer.

It was a simple prayer.  “Not my will, but thine be done.”  But it was a big battle for Jesus.  All his life He had done the fathers will, never questioning.  But now, he really wanted this cup to pass from Him.  He really, in His flesh, did not want to go through the agony that lay ahead.  He knew he must, but he asked the father if there was any other way, to make it happen.  But there was no other way.  The father’s will would prevail.  He would do whatever He needed to do.  He would be obedient through the suffering.

I can’t help but think of another Garden experience so prominent in the Bible.  In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve are in the garden and they are faced with the same dilemma.  Should they obey God or listen to their flesh.  The enemy made giving in to the flesh real tempting to them.  But they knew what God had told them – they should not eat of that fruit.  It was the only thing they were told not to do.   They had to make a decision, and they made the opposite decision that Jesus made.   They decided to listen to the flesh instead of listening to God. Because of that decision sin entered the world.  Sin was passed on from Adam to all me through His seed.  It was a real bad decision.

But Jesus made the right decision.  “Not my will, but thine be done.”.  What a different world we would live in if Adam and Eve had made that decision.  Because of Jesus decision, he suffered unbelievable torture and pain, all for us.  But he was also perfected, and became salvation to all who will believe in Him.  He affected the lives of every person who every lived by making that one decision.  I’m so glad he chose obedience in the midst of the most difficult trial a man has every faced.  He saved us all!

What a different world we would live in if we would make that decision every time.  To do the will of the Father above our own will.  To obey no matter what the outcome might be.  Those of you who read my writing all the time know that I live by a verse and do my best to abide by that verse all the time, in good and bad. It is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.”  This verse has saved me from worry, sorry, storms, trials, troubles and all manner of things the enemy has put in my way.  It has also saved me during times when I have been the master of my own disasters.  I know that no matter what comes my way, no matter what trouble or storm, I can trust in Him.  I don’t try to understand why I made that dumb decision, or why this test has come to me, I just trust Him.  I acknowledge that he is working in my life even when I can’t see Him working.  I acknowledge He is there, somewhere, working on a better plan for me – His plan. I can praise Him in the midst of the storm because he will show me the way out of that storm.  In fact, I would not be surprised if this verse was in Jesus mind that night. James 1:2-4 tells us that we are made perfect by the troubles and temptations that come our way.  These verses have also become central to my philosophy.  Paul says that for the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross.  We must look at our troubles that way as well.  He works all things for our God – always.  Romans 8:26 tells us that we must know this.  When we know this, we will see our obedience to Him through our suffering will perfect us in the end.  And he will be exalted which is just as it should be.

The Order of Melchizedek

Hebrews 5:5-6

So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

There are some things that I just don’t understand.  Well, to be honest, there are many things I don’t understand.  I am a simple lay person whom God has given the gift to write, both these studies and poetry/songs.  He can craft a sermon using my mouth, but most of it comes from Him, not me.  I learned at one point in my life to listen to His voice and that is where the words come from.  People ask me all the time how I can write such beautiful poetry, and I ay that I don’t.  he speaks it to me and I just put it on paper (Or type it on my computer).  It flows like a brook that flows down a mountain after a rain.  I certainly don’t understand why He chose me to write these words, but He did. By the way, if you are not familiar with my poetry blog, you can find it HERE (psalmistpetegardner.com)

I don’t understand why everyone did not follow Jesus and leave John the Baptist the day Jesus was baptized.  After all, an audible voice came out of the heavens saying “This I my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11).  If I heard that voice from heaven, I would have followed Him right into the wilderness and been there for Him when He needed something.  I doubt I would have left His side for anything.  But He went into the wilderness alone right after that proclamation.  I don’t understand that.

Imagine if you will if that would happen today and you were present.  You see a man come forward to the altar in your church.  You’ve never laid eyes on him and you know he is a visitor here that day. But your Pastor looks at Him and sees something special about him.  Maybe he feels the anointing on the man – that is definitely possible.  Maybe there is some thing in the way he looks at the Pastor that grabs his attention.  Whatever the case, the Pastor believes something special is happening.  All of a sudden. A voice booms out of heaven and says “This is my anointed messenger, in whom I am well pleased.”  What would you do?  Me – I would be skeptical.  In todays’ society, with the high-tech sound systems we have, this could come from a sound system.  But you know the sound system, and this voice definitely did not sound like it came from there.  My tendency would be to listen to the man if my Pastor allows him to speak.  Hopefully, the pastor has enough discernment to now be distracted by the voice.  Hopefully, he will ask the man what he wants to say and weigh it against scripture.  And hopefully, I will weigh my response by that same standard.  If the words spent by any man do not line up with the scripture, it should be rejected.  In these times especially, we must be vigilant and know the word of God well enough to judge sound doctrine.

That is why Paul uses scripture to back up the claim that Christ is our high priest.  This was difficult for the Jews (Hebrews) to comprehend.  After all, Jesus never served in the temple as a priest.  He was not in the Levitical line, but the line of Judah.  He had no right to be a priest according to the literal translation of Old Testament law. Paul has to build His case that Jesus came as our high priest.  Jesus never claimed this position.  Jesus never claimed He would take away sin either.  But the scripture tells us these things about Jesus.  They tell us who He was and why He came.  They tell us the ministry that He represented.   He did not glorify himself.  He let His Father do that.  Even on holy week, he asked the father to glorify His name and God said (again in an audible voice) “I have bopth glorified it and will glorify it again” (John 12:28)

So, to help the people understand how Jesus could be a high priest, he draws back into the Old Testament and a man named Melchizedek.  This goes way back to Abraham’s time, before the law, before the priesthood was even thought of. The story is in Genesis 14:18-20.  Melchizedek was the king of Salem, but it also says he was the priest of the most High God.  The Levitical priesthood was not even established yet, so the priesthood of Melchizedek was directly from God, not from a human perspective.  Abraham, the Father of the nation of Israel, and the father in faith of all who claim to be Christians, paid tithes to this Melchizedek.  And Melchizedek blessed Abraham in return.  Paul equates the priesthood of Jesus to that of Melchizedek, and uses the prophetic words of Psalm 110:4 to make his case.  This verse would be familiar with the Jews, as they had all been taught from their youth that this verse was about the Messiah.  He would be their high priest forever.  But still to this day many do not believe. Paul gives us a great example here of backing up His preaching with the scripture.  We should always make sure what we written, say or do lines up with scripture.  That is the purpose of Gods word – to teach us and train us in God’s ways.  It escapes my why so many can be drawn away from the word be the deceitfulness of a false prophet or false teaching.  It has to be that they do not know the scripture well enough to discern the truth.  Don’t let that be you!  Know the truth of scripture, and the truth shall set you free!

Called Of God

Hebrew 5:1-4

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron

The writer of Hebrews now starts to explain the role of the High priest.  This is essential to our understanding of our salvation.  God’s plan started way back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned.  It was not just a haphazard thing God threw together as He went along. In the garden, God had to cover Adam & Eve with the skin of an animal, and sin has had to be covered by a blood sacrifice ever since.  Abel offered from the flock and his sacrifice was accepted.  Cain did not and his was not.  Abraham offered sacrifices to the Lord, and was willing to give his son if God required him too.  Moses listened to God in the wilderness and set in motion the reason for and type of sacrifices at God’s command.  The book of Leviticus spells this out.  But even before that, God required a blood sacrifice to keep the death angel from destroying the Israeli first born during the first Passover.

Once the nation of Israel was in the wilderness, God gave Moses the design for the temple and the types of sacrifices needed.  The book of Leviticus spells these out in great detail.  The burnt offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, the peace offering and the meat offering were all required from the people.  I won’t go into detail on these, but it would be good for you to read about them if you have not.  The first 10 chapters of Leviticus are hard to read, but so fundamental in our understating of the price Christ paid.  Jesus fulfilled all of these sacrifices for us on the cross.  What a Savior!

Then Moses gave instructions for the high priest, his garments, his anointing.  This was Aaron at the time.  His job was to oversee all the sacrifices given, and there were plenty.  It was a bloody place all the time, and the aroma of the sacrifices went up through the camp at all times.  He had the rest of the priests and the Levites to help him carry out this task.  These priests were chosen out of the tribe of Judah because the firstborn was spared in the land of Egypt.  God required the firstborn, yet He allowed the Israelites to offer the Levites instead of their firstborn.  Thus, the tribe of Levi became the priests and servants of the temple.   This was there calling from the day they were born until the day they died.  And one man was chosen high priest, for he was the one who would offer that special offering on the day of atonement, which we will discuss at length in a future study.  The duty of the priest was to have compassion on all and to accept their sacrifice to God for whatever reason they were giving it.  He offered for all the people and for himself.

This position was not one that the priest just one day decided he would take up.  It was a calling from God.  In Old Testament times, the priest was from the tribe of Levi.  Today, the priesthood is a calling from God as well.  In fact, any ministry is a calling from God.  We tend to look at some ministries as les important than others, but God only looks at faithfulness to what He has asked us to do.  Are we doing what he asks us to do?  This was the duty of the [priest then, and it is the duty of every Christian today because Peter tells us we are a royal priesthood.  It is our duty to bring the gospel to others, and to let them know their sins have been forgiven by the bold of Christ.  As we continue through Hebrews this whole picture will unfold. What are you called to do?  Some are sowers of seed, and pass out tracks, and witness endlessly.  Some are worship leaders, or Sunday School teachers or VBS helpers.  Some are janitors, or cooks, or dishwashers.  Some sell, some make things, some fix things, some observe things.  No matter what your calling is, you were given the ability and the desire by your creator, and should always keep that in mind when carrying out your duties.  We could do nothing without Him.  The more we can tune into His voice, the more He can show us the way through the problems and adversities that will come up while we carry out our calling.  They are bound to come.  Jesus told the disciples that in this world they would have tribulation.  He knew they would face difficulties and would be rejected and laughed at.  But then He said that He has overcome the world, and that we should not be afraid to do what He asks us to do.  What am I waiting for?

Come Boldly

Hebrews 4:14-16

14 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.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We have a great high priest, and his name is Jesus.  As we continue through Hebrews, the importance of this statement will become more and more evident.  The writer is talking to people who knew the role and position of the high priest. This high [priest is not just any priests.  He is the one who anoints and swears in all the other priests.  He is the one who instructs the priest on how to do the sacrifices correctly.  They did not just kill the animal, but there was a sequence of events that took place that contributed to the transference of sin from the one giving the animal to the animal.  There was a specific way to kill the animal; The high priest had to make sure this was done properly all the way through, an oversee you might say.

The high priest had another duty as well.  It was the high priest who went into the Holy of Holies once a year with a blood sacrifice for the nation of Israel, to atone for all of Israel’s sin. Only the high priest could do this on the day of Atonement.  No one else dared enter the Holy of Holies lest they die.  In this place was the ark of the covenant, which was the most sacred item in all of Israel’s history.  The tablets of stone with the ten commandments, Aaron’s rod and some manna were in that ark, and they remain there this day.  It would be an archeologists dream to find that Ark. Jesus has atoned for our sins in this same way as we will discover.

Jesus also faced the same earthly temptations as we do.  Some of them are written.  In Matthew 4 we read about his temptations in the wilderness.  He was tempted to walk away from the cross when praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I have no doubt there were many other temptations that came across His path as he walked this earth.  But He never gave in to any of those temptations.  This goes to prove that there is no sin in being tempted, as even Jesus was tempted.  Those who teach temptation is a sin deny that Jesus was w sinless sacrifice.  The key is that we don’t give in to those temptations that would cause us to sin.  We must walk away, using the word of God to strengthen ourselves against those temptations.  Jesus sued 3 verses out of Deuteronomy and the devil left him!  We should know the promises that God gave us as well.

Verse 16 is one of the most widely mis-used verses in the Bible, in my humble opinion.  It is often quoted by those who believe in a prosperity gospel message.  They say we can come boldly before the throne of God and claim things are ours, as if God is a magic potion or gift giver of all that we desire in this world.  They say we should come boldly and ask for that Cadillac, or that vacation home, or to have riches or fame.  They say we should boldly hold God to His promises to bless us and give us the desires of our heart.  They say we should boldly proclaim that we can ask what we will and it shall be done.  After all, each one of these is a scripture promise that he has given us, right?

But the writer makes a big distinction in this verse about why we should come to the throne with boldness.  It is not to ask blessing on ourselves, or for worldly goods, or for material things.  It is to ask for mercy and grace.  We come boldly before His throne to obtain mercy.  Mercy for sins, trespasses and iniquity in our lives.  Boldly means confidently.  Paul was telling the Jews that they could come to God’s with confidence when they need to obtain mercy in their lives.  And who among us does not need His mercy.  I need it every day.  There are words that I say and things that I do every day that are displeasing to Him.  But as a Christian, I do not have to worry about those things.  I can confess them to God, come boldly asking for mercy, and He will supply that mercy.  That is one reason to come boldly.

The second reason is to find grace in time of need.  We have no business asking God for grace because it is a free gift.  It was given to us at the cross 2,000 years ago.  It is given ti us every day in the sunrise, the rain, the air we breathe.  Grace is always all around us.  His grace is not what we are asking for here.  We are asking Him to give us grace toward those who have needs.  Grace that we can give out, not Him to us.  As a society in the US, we have such a sense of privilege that we think we need things other countries only dream of.  I need a big screen TV!  I need cable.  I need a great car.  I need, I need, I need.  We confuse need for want way too often.  Then we cry out for God to shower grace on us so we can get these wants. Instead, we should be asking Him for grace so we can bless others with these things!  Let this be your prayer: “Lord, give me the grace to deal with that person who offended me”.  “God give me the grace to offer to help that person financially.” “God, let your grace be apparent in my life to that neighbor who is lonely and full of sorrow.”  These are prayers we can come boldly with! Let us always remember whop God is.  He is not some slot machine where we can pull an arm and have Him give us what we want.  He is the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God of the universe.  He has no obligation to grant our prayers on our timetable or in the way we want Him to.  He will always do what is best for us.  When we come boldly before His throne, We should come in all humility, down on our knees in deep reverence.  Remember, He loves the one with the broken and contrite heart, and He hates pride.  Always keep this in mind when approaching His throne.