Tag Archives: Meditation

A Surety of a Better Testament

Hebrews 7:19-24

 

19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:

21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

He Jews knew nothing of Old and New Testament like we do.  All they knew was what we call the Old Testament, and most of what they knew consisted of the first five books of the Bible and whatever else was read in the synagogue and told around the fire at night.  Hey didn’t have a copy of these things readily available like we do.  They had to remember these things they had heard and pass them on to their children.  One thing they did know, though, was the law.  They knew the necessity of bringing their sacrifices to the temple to make atonement for their sins.  They knew the burnt offering, the trespass offering, the in offering, the peace offering and others.  They knew the dedicated feast times of celebration, like Passover and the Feast of Tabernacle. This is evident as we read the Gospels.  This was their way of life, and this law was strictly enforced by the Scribes and Pharisees.  It had always been this way, from the very beginning of their nation.

Now Paul comes along and tells them the law did not make anyone or anything perfect.  He just tore down over 2,000 years of tradition with one statement.  Surely, he can’t be right!  He must be mistaken on this point.  After all, they relied on the law of Moses to be cleansed from their sin. They relied on the priest to make atonement by offering their sacrifices upon the altar.  In a way, this would be like telling a Catholic that communion makes nothing right with God.  If you know anything about Catholicism, communion means everything to them.!  They would scoff at this idea, just as I am sure the Jews did when they first read this statement of Paul’s.  If the sacrifices of the law make nothing perfect, then there was no way for the people to be right with God!

Paul does not leave them hanging, though.  He next tells them that a better hope has been made available.  A new way has developed that could bring the people closer to God.  No longer did they have to rely on the Old Testament rules and regulations to be close to God.  There is a new way to draw nigh unto God.  And that new way was Jesus Christ.

I can see the common Jews head spin around on top of their neck in disbelief.  What, Jesus?  What a minute.  Isn’t he the one who was crucified and died a painful death?  Wasn’t he the one who did all these miracles we have heard about, and told amazing stories that made the people think?  Wasn’t he the one who brought Lazarus back to life, and who the Pharisees and Scribes thought was a heretic?  Wasn’t he the one who they claimed came back to life?  How could this man possibly bring a better hope?  I can hear them stopping Paul at this point and saying he had to prove this to them, because this was ludicrous.  It made no sense to them at all up to this point.

There is a reason Paul sends this letter to them, though.  He is building a case to show them exactly why Jesus brings a better hope. His method is perfect to do this.  He has talked about the priesthood of Melchizedek to show that there an be a priest outside the family of Levi.  This is a very important point to make for reasons that will continue to unfold as we read through Hebrews. In fact, it is essential that first he convinces the people of Jesus priesthood before they can believe Jesus can do anything to atone for their sins.  A priest had to offer the sacrifice, and had to offer blood for the cleansing of sin. That had not changed.  That was God’s law from the very beginning.  God slew an animal in the Garden to cover the sins of Adam and Eve.  God required an animal sacrifice of blood from Able.  God said there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood.  So, Paul had to convince them that Jesus could offer the sacrifice, and to do that He had to be a priest,

Here comes Melchizedek again. He was not a Levite, but from another order.  And the Messianic prophecy from the Psalms, which the Israelites knew well, said that Messiah would be “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”  We know so little about Melchizedek, and yet he plays such an important role here.  The Jewish people certainly knew the story of Abraham bringing tithes to this priest of the most-high God.  They also knew that the tithe belonged to the priest.  The fact that Abraham regarded him as a priest, and that he was also the King of Salem, makes any comparison to him one of great importance.

Jesus was the priest the Psalmist was taking about, and He brings the surety of a better testament because He is still alive! He died, but He rose again, and the priesthood that He offers us is one that will never end.  Their earthly high priest would succumb to death, but this high priest would not.  His testament, His covenant was a better one. It would last forever.  His priesthood would not change with the times.  It would always remain, and no one could take it away.  And His was perfect priesthood, which we will see more clearly as we move through this fascinating book.

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Melchizedek, King of Salem

Hebrews 7:1-4 

For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

Four kings against five.  That sounds like a pretty fair fight to me.  King Chedolaomar had been in charge for 12 years.  He ruled over Sodom and Gomorrah during that time, and the kings of those two cities were sick of being in subjugation to him.  They wanted their freedom.  I mut have been an interesting time, when each city had its own king!  In reading this story out of Genesis 14, it would seem like King Chedolaomer was an empire builder.  He was growing in power and getting more kings to side with him, and the kings that joined with Sodom and Gomorrah were sick of his antics.  They decided to form an alliance and rebel against this conquering king.  Bad idea!  They were soundly defeated and taken captive, along with all the spoils of their cities.  Nothing was left behind – not even Lot, Abram’s nephew.

But, one person escaped capture and ran to Abram to tell him the news of Chedolaomer’s victory, and Lot’s abduction.  Abram was not happy and decided to take matters into his own hands.  He gathered up all his servants that could fight, 318 in all, and went after the victors.  Abram chased them out of the land and won the victory, taking back all the spoils and Lot.  Abram and his servants against five kings!  That does not sound like a fair fight to me.  Sounds like Abram was quite confident in hiss ability to lead his men with God on his side.  We are not told how many men were with Chedolaomer,  nut we are told there were 4 other kings with him, which represented four other cities.  I would say this was quite a victory for Abraham, and he accomplished his purpose – saved his nephew Lot.

On the way back from the battle, Abram was met by another king.  His King had not taken sides in the battle.  He was different.  He was above the warfare of the times and stayed out of the way of those who would bring destruction and chaos in life.  He seems to appear from nowhere in the reading, and after this chapter he goes away, not to be seen again.  But he had an air of importance to him.  Here was something about him that made Abram give tithes to him, this King Melchizedek.  He is mentioned as being the King of Salem, which is a forerunner city to the modern-day Jerusalem.  When Abram met him, he offered Abram and his men bread and wine after their great victory.  But not Abram alone – the king of Sodom was also along for the victory lap.  After giving a tithe of the spoils to Melchizedek, he gave the king of Sodom back everything that was taken from his city, except for Lot.

And Melchizedek blessed Abram by saying “Blessed be Abram of the most-high God, possessor of heaven and earth” and the he blessed the most-high God, and declared it was God who had given Abram the victory.  After the blessing, Abram gave him the tithe. Who was this Melchizedek, that Abram would give him tithes?  There must have been some kind of priestly quality about him for Abram to think he deserved a tithe.  In fact, the text tells us that he was the priest of the most-high God.  His was way before the tribe of Levi was designated priests.  Here is no mention of any other priest until Aaron is made priest in the wilderness, almost 420 years later.  His anointing must have come from God himself, because there was no other one who could have declared him to be a priest.

And then the story ends, and Melchizedek is never heard of again until Psalm 110.  David writes that the coming Messiah will be a priest after the order of Melchizedek.  And not only a priest but a priest forever!  The only guess we can make about the order of Melchizedek was that his order came directly from God, not from man.  He was not of the Levitical order, so the anointing on his life must have come from God himself.  Now we come to Hebrews, and once again here is Melchizedek, a figure mentioned only once in the Bible.  Paul here compares Jesus to Melchizedek!  I don’t know about you, but I find this absolutely fascinating.  His is a perfect example of how Christ is pictured all the way through the Bible.  After reading the story of Melchizedek in genesis, it would be easy to wonder why this is important.  Why even mention this quick encounter with a king who did not even help in the battle?  Why bring these few verses in, and mention the bread and the wince Melchizedek brought?  It seems like an isolated story that really has no bearing on anything – until we read Hebrews. Paul is about to explain why this man is so highly regarded.  Because up to this point, the Hebrew children just saw him as a priest to Abram.  Hey have no idea what is coming their way in the coming verses.  Join me here tomorrow to find out more about this king and priest of Abram’s time.

Is It Impossible?

Hebrews 6:4-9

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.

He word impossible appears in the Bible 9 times, all in the New Testament.  In Matthew 17:20, 19:238, Mark 10:27, and Luke 1:27, we are told the with God, nothing is impossible.  In Luke 17:1, we are told that “It is impossible but that offenses will come.”  In Hebrews 6:18, we are told it I impossible for God to lie, and in Hebrews 11:6, we are reminded that it is impossible tom please God without faith.  Impossible is rarely used, obviously, and almost always points to the fact that God cannot lie, fail, or not be there in any situation we are in.  He will always come through.  He will always make a way.  I wrote a song back in 2017 that takes about this:

I asked the Lord to bless me. He said I always do
I asked Him if He’d heal me. He said it’s done for you
I asked the Lord to give me peace. He said I left it long ago
I asked Him to fill me with joy. He said it always flows 

Always He is there. Always taking care
Meeting every need. Doing righteous deeds
Building up my faith. Answers never late
He is always there for me

I asked the Lord to build my faith. He said to read His word
I asked Him for a hope that lasts. He said I could be sure
Whatever thing I asked of Him. He said it’s been supplied
All things were given on that day. When Christ was crucified 

There’s no more sacrifice for sin. The work has all been done 
Now I just have to live the word. And victory is mine

Always He is there. Always taking care
Meeting every need. Doing righteous deeds
Building up my faith. Answers never late
He is always there for me

So, what is Paul talking about here when he says it is impossible?  If we fall in our walk with Him, are we doomed to never be able to come back to Him again?  I have heard this preached, and I say “Shame on those preachers!”  Impossible?  Nothing is impossible with God!  Nothing is impossible when we turn our lives to Him.  Why does he even say this then?  Why would he make it sound like we can’t get back once we’ve turned our backs?  I mean, it makes sense to me that if we turn away from the salvation God supplies after we have tasted that sweet wine, that it would be impossible to find that peace and joy again.  I have turned away from the compassion and mercy of the greatest sacrifice in human history and chosen a life of detachment from God Himself.  I made this decision.  I chose to walk away.  It makes sense when we look at it from human eyes – it would be impossible if we refuse to drink of that cup to once again come back and drink of that cup.  It is impossible for man to return once he has turned.  It is impossible if he tries to find the way back on his own. 

The word impossible used here talks about weakness.  In our own selves, once we have tasted the goodness of God and all its blessings (Psalm 103), and then decide to turn away from that, this impossibility comes to light.  We are too weak to overcome the world.  We were too weak before we got saved, we were too weak during our walk with Him, and we would be too weak to return on our own.  The world is just too strong.  The principalities and powers of this world will overtake our human spirits in a heartbeat.  All of a sudden, I will find myself drawn away from God and toward the world.  I will see the attraction to sin as something I desire more than I desire God and His blessings and benefits.  I will succumb to the wiles of that old serpent who tempts me with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.  He hasn’t changed His ways since the very beginning.  “Did God really say?” is his constant question to us.  And we fall for it, just like Eve did on that fateful day in the Garden. Satan is too strong for us – he always will be.  We cannot fight him on our own because it is impossible for us to defeat him on our own.  We are weak.

However, God is strong.  God has already won the battle for us.  He has already defeated our enemy.  What is impossible with man is possible with God.  When I have fallen away, and have decided to walk with the enemy, God is ill there, whispering in my ear, asking me to come back home.  He never gives up on me.  Nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:35-39).  I can stop loving Him, but He will never stop loving me.  He will never stop trying to get me to come home.

Consider the prodigal son in Luke 15.  He was in his Father’s house, enjoying all the pleasures of sonship.  He had it made.  Yet he decided, on his own, to take all that his father had given him and throw it all away.  Asking his inheritance like he did was tantamount to saying his father was dead to him.  He totally turned his back on his father.  He walked back into the world on his own, got mired in the mud and then realized what he had left behind.  So, he came back to his father.  I am sure all of his father’s friends thought he would never dare come back after the disgrace he brought on his father.  I can hear them saying “Your son is a loser.”  “He’s a fool and will always stay a fool!” “After treating you like this you should never think about letting him back into your house.”  “It’s impossible for him to come back now that he took this inheritance.”  I can almost hear their mocking voices telling the father to forget such a wicked son.  He had made a mockery of his father’s love, and there is no coming back from such a dumb thing.

Yet, where was the father upon the sons return.  He was right there waiting for his son.  He ran to meet him.  He honored him with a feast, a ring, a robe, and shoes on his feet.  The son was welcomed back into the father’s house with honor, not with disdain.  The older son reminds us of those preachers who would say that a person cannot come back once they have turned aside.  He wanted the father to put the son back out.  But God is a God of mercy, and he will always have mercy on a repentant heart.  Always!

If you have walked away from God, do not fear.  God is still there, waiting for you to return.  He holds His arms out wide to welcome you home.  Do not let the older brother scare you into thinking it is impossible for you to return.  I will say it is impossible on your own, but nothing is impossible with God!  If you have friends or loved ones who have fallen away from the truth, remind them of God’s mercy and everlasting love.  He will surely throw love on the repentant heart.  He will always love them.  Always!

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.