Hebrews 9:11–28 Redemption Through the Blood of Christ

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.          In this lengthy passage we find that Jesus is both high priest and sacrifice.

2.          “Redemption” is a word found in Scripture that theologically contains the effect of Jesus’ death on the cross. 3.  To redeem means “to buy back.”  Our sin brings us under the authority and power of Satan, the enemy of God. The first covenant, or the Old Testament, meant that on a   continuing basis, sacrifices, or payments, had to be made in order to satisfy the demands of the Creator God.

4.          The blood of goats, calves, and bulls were never intended to be a final solution however, but served as a shadow or pre-cursor of that which was to come.

5.          The blood of Christ alone purifies “our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” This is the blood of the covenant.

6.          The high priest entered, on the Day of Atonement, into the inner sanctum and sprinkled blood on the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat. Christ how enters into the very presence of God and acting as our high priest.

7.          This sacrifice was a one-time event.  “He appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

8.          He, Christ, will appear a second time, which we refer to as the “Second Coming” in order to “save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

9.          This salvation extends to all those who have been called and elected throughout the entirety of world history.

The Earthly Holy Place

Hebrews 9:1–10

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.            Reminder: the unknown writer of Hebrews is writing to a Jewish Christian audience, and it is most likely he or she, or a husband-and-wife team, but the author(s) is Jewish.

2.          The focus of this first part of chapter 9 is the “earthly holy place,” that tent or tabernacle wherein God dwelt while the people of Israel, and for forty years, were wandering in the wilderness. The “Temple,” Solomon’s, would not be built for another five hundred years, and which was destroyed in 587 BCE. What came to be known as Herod’s Temple would be begun when the captives came back to Israel about 530 BCE. This was the temple in Jesus’ day.

3.          That tent in the wilderness had a court about it, a space where people would gather. Then the single tent contained two rooms, one the Holy Place and the other the Most Holy Place. The Holy Place was twice the size of the Most Holy Place, and the two were separated by an ornate and thick curtain or vail.

4.          Ordinary priests, of the tribe of Levi, entered the Holy Place often, carrying out the offerings and sacrifices we read about in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.

5.          The Most Holy Place, wherein were the stone tablets upon which the 10 Commandments were written and the “Mercy Seat” flanked by representations of magnificent angels, the high priest of Israel entered once a year, on the Day of Atonement otherwise known as Yom Kippur. He sprinkled the blood of a sacrificial bull and later blood of a sacrificial lamb, thus atoning for his sins and the sins of the people. This ceremony would take place every year.

6.          Now then, the author of Hebrews understands that the way into the holy places are not yet opened; at this point in history there is no Temple, 80 to 95 CE, there is no holy place. Israel is then without hope.

7.          Paul, in referring to the above, put it this way in his letter to the church at Colossae: “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” And by this he means that the earthly holy place pointed ahead prophetically to another Temple, a New Covenant, wherein Jesus Christ is the great high priest.

Jesus, High Priest of a Better Covenant

Hebrews 8:1–13

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.     A “priest” is one who stands between people and God. Aaron, the brother of Moses, a Levite, was the first high priest appointed by God. The Law demanded that the high priest make a sacrifice, the shedding of blood, of an animal to atone for his own sin and then and only then could he make an atoning sacrifice for the people of Israel.

2.     The descendants of Aaron, and it is recorded that there were 83 of theses between the days of Aaron and the last high priest in 70 CE, which is the date of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.

3.   In Jesus we have a high priest who is “seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.” (“Majesty” is an indirect Semetic term for God.)

4.   Jesus alone, who as deity, is in the Holy of Holies in heaven, ever interceding for us.

5.   His sacrifice stands for all time and is the basis of a new covenant since the old covenant had been broken as it depended upon a priesthood that was not without sin.

6.   Indeed, a new covenant would be made and Jeremiah the prophet spoke of it in chapter 31 of his prophecy, verses 31–34, which the writer of Hebrews quotes.

7.   Even in Jeremiah’s day, the 6th century BCE, the old covenant was treated as obsolete, but he looks ahead to the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus the Messiah, which would never be obsolete.  

8.   John the Apostle summarized this great and eternal truth when he quoted Jesus as saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

      (John 14:6)

9.   We then have no need of any sort of human priest, or institution, to stand between us and the Father.

The Resurrection

John 20:1-10

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         The first day of the week, Sunday, unlike the Western version of designations, Mary Magdalene of dubious reputation, made a visit to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid.

2.         The tomb itself, belonging to a member of the Council of Israel, Joseph of Arimathea, had been secured by having a large stone plastered in place. But Mary finds that the stone had been taken away.

3.         Mary, thinking there had been a grave robbery, runs to find Peter and the unnamed disciple, and tells them Jesus’ body is missing and nowhere to be found.

4.         So Peter and the un-named disciple rush out to see for themselves. Peter is no match for the speed of the other disciple and arrives at the tomb first.

5.         This disciple looking in saw the linen burial garments lying there. He does not got in himself.

6.         Peter, on arrival goes into the tomb and he also saw the garments lying there, and he also saw the face cloth folded up in a place separate from the other grave clothes.

7.         Then the other disciple enters the tomb, sees that Jesus is not there and “believes.”

8.         For unknown reasons, “they” and likely referring to the whole of the Eleven, had not yet understood that Jesus “must rise from the dead.”

9.         Then, the “disciples” and here John the Apostle, the author, states, “then the disciples went back to their homes.”

10.       The story continues with Mary weeping outside the tomb.

Jesus Compared to Melchizedek

Hebrews 7:11–28

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.              If perfection, or the ultimate intention of God, had been attainable via the Levitical priesthood, there would have been no need for a high priest like Melchizedek. But there, from a human point of view, was a change in the priesthood.

2.              Jesus, is born of the tribe of Judah and not Levi, and there were to be no priests from the tribe of Judah. Thus Jesus’ priesthood is of another order, and unlike the priests of Levi, this high priest has no end of living but is eternal.

3.              And Jesus’ priesthood is not without an oath for such is found in Psalm 110:4, “You are a priest forever” and this oath spoken by the Creator God who inspired David the Psalmist.

4.              It is sharply stated by the author of Hebrews that Jesus “holds his priesthood permanently because he continues forever.”

(This precludes all others, individuals or groups, who claim their truth is new improved truth. And there are many such who do so, consider Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Scientists among dozens of others.)

5.              Our high priest has no need to make sacrifices first for his own sin and then for the sin of others. This high priest, sinless and eternal, offered up Himself alone, and who “ has been made perfect forever.”

6.              The “Old Covenant (Testament) was always and only temporary, which covenant in fact pointed prophetically to the ultimate covenant ushered in by Jesus the Messiah.

7.              There is a paradox to be found here: there is an Old and a New Covenant or Testament, but there is really only one as the Old was never to be permanent.

8.              The New Covenant, agreement, testament, contract, never changes and is eternal.        

The Priestly Order of Melchizedek

Hebrews 7:1–10

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         The writer of Hebrews in presenting the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus in these verses, refers to a legendary high priest, Melchizedek. This “king of Salem” and Salem means peace, received a tenth, or a tithe, from Abraham after his victory over his enemies.

2.         The point is that from Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob, and Jacob otherwise known as Israel, would come the Levitical priesthood. Thus, the priesthood of Melchizedek is superior to that of the priesthood that would stem from Aaron, Moses’ brother, both of whom were from the tribe of Levi, one of the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel).

3.         Jesus then is like Melchizedek, superior to the priesthood descending from Aaron, and again shown in Abraham’s giving of a tithe of the spoils of battle to Melchizedek.

4.         This explanation was important to Jewish believers in Jesus, especially since at that time the Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed, and this in 70 CE.

5.         Though Hebrews is not directed toward Gentile Christians, still it is essential for all those who follow Jesus as Lord to understand the historical and spiritual background found in the Old Testament.

6.         In the Sermon on the Mount we find these words of Jesus: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). And the writer of Hebrews is helping us do just this.

The Certainty of God’s Promise

The Book of Hebrews

Hebrews 6:13–20

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         The following passages will help set the stage for an understanding of this complex passage: Genesis 14:17–20; 22:1–18; Exodus 26:31–35; Psalm 110:1–7.

2.         In Genesis we find the promise that God made to Abraham, that he would be blessed and he would be “multiplied.” The Akida, the story of the Sacrifice of Isaac, who was born 25 years after the promise God made to Abraham, is part of the multiplying and a fulfilling of the promise despite being fulfilled after long years.

3.         God confirmed His promise to Abraham with an oath, a verbal and legal mechanism understood in that era, and from the Creator God it is unchangeable.

4.         God’s Word is unchangeable because it is impossible of Him to lie, therefore those who “have fled” to Him for refuge can be encouraged to “hold fast” to the “hope” that is ours. And there is no maybe attached to the definition of hope here: it refers to a sure thing.

5.         Instead of a maybe we have an “anchor” in ourselves, for we are a soul, a living being. (see Genesis 2:7) Here the Hebrew is nephesh meaning living creature.

6.         Jesus, the forerunner, meaning that He, in the ascension to heaven, is in the presence of the only God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is there “on our behalf” the eternal and only High Priest. The order of His priesthood is like that of Melchizedek, not a Levite, no ancestors or offspring to follow as priest, and who is symbolic or prophetic of the high priesthood of Jesus.

Warning Against Apostasy

Hebrews 5:11-6:12

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         The focus of the writer of Hebrews is, “Do not fall away!” Some suppose it means a born-again Christian could lose their salvation, but the best analysis is that all believers in Jesus can, at some point, lose their zeal and commitment. And this second-generation Jewish believers in Jesus were not living in the awakening days of the apostles; no, this is a “normal” time.

2.         The author encourages believers to move past the basics, as they are already turned from disbelieve to belief doing good works. No need for concerns about “washings” or baptisms, which many continued to do, and which was customary in the Qumran Community. Also “laying on of hands,” for all sorts of reasons like healings, commissioning, symbolic of ordinations, and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

3.         However, if one fell away, if it was possible to lose one’s salvation, there would be no hope of regaining this. But, the author goes on, “yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. And actually, they had demonstrated their work and love by their “serving the saints.” Indeed, this is written by someone who has a deep pastoral love to those he or she is writing to.

4.         In conclusion, the author or authors (notice the “we” in verse eleven) desires the readers to show continued zeal,  devotion, and hope until the very end of all things.

5.         Though the author of “Hebrews” openly mentions the “back slidden” condition of the readers, this is done for the best of reasons.

6.         The message of Hebrews rings down through the centuries. Yes, there are times of awakening and revival, but also there are the regular times, times like we are experiencing now. Thus, even more so, we must be diligent, learning, studying, working, and obeying the laws of love and devotion.

7.         That this book is in our Scripture is so very important since all Christians experience times of difficulty, times when we lose our closeness and fellowship with Jesus and His Church.

Jesus the Great High Priest

Hebrews 4:14–5:10

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.              Aaron, the first high priest of Israel, followed by many through the centuries. All of these died and were replaced. These only entered in the Holy of Holies once a year.

2.              Jesus, our Great High Priest, has passed through the heavens, this referring to the resurrection. The author of Hebrews then goes on to speak of the qualifications for Jesus being the eternal High Priest.

3.              The 1st is the Son’s divine appointment; no higher authority could there be.

4.              The 2nd qualification is that He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and this due to the incarnation, the God-Man.

5.              The 3rd qualification is that though fully man and God, He is without sin

6.              The 4th qualification is that Jesus did not exalt Himself, but was appointed to be High Priest.

7.              The 5th qualification is that Jesus is High Priest forever, “after the order of Melchizedek”, the priest of Salem (think Jerusalem), whom Abraham honored and paid tithes to. (Psalm 110:4) This priest, mysterious, had no priests before or after him.

8.              The 6th qualification is that He “learned obedience” by way of suffering, and here the indication of the crucifixion.

9.              The 7th qualification is that Jesus is made “perfect,” again referencing both the resurrection and ascension.

10.           The 8th qualification is that now Jesus as High Priest, is “the sourced of eternal salvation.”

11.           The 9th qualification is that God the Father has designated Jesus to be a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, and Melchizedek prior to the days of Aaron and Moses and the whole of the priestly establishment.

12.           Of significance is that the Levitical (priestly) law provided only temporary forgiveness, and this once a year, on the Day of Atonement, or in Hebrew, Yom Kippur. Jesus, the eternal high priest, His sacrifice, stands forever.

A Rest for the People of God, part 2

Hebrews 4:1–13

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         The “pastoral” author of Hebrews continues his or her exhortation, which is essentially an “encouraging word.”

2.         The focus is on the “rest,” on the one hand the rest of being in the Promised Land under Moses’ leadership, and the “rest” the believer in Jesus has.

3.         In Moses’ time, those who escaped from Egypt, a type of being in sin and slavery, rebelled once in the Wilderness and as a result died there and never entered their rest, the Promised Land. Joshua (and the name is the same as the name Jesus) brought those who survived, those under 20 years of age, into Canaan, the Promised Land. All this is a foreshadowing of what would come centuries later by means of salvation in Jesus the Messiah.

4.         For the Jewish Christians being addressed in our book Hebrews, it is clear that they may enter into their rest, the Sabbath rest, by seeking to enter that rest.

5.         It is plain, in the use of various verbs in our passage, that the author is strongly encouraging his or her readers to continue to seek the “Sabbath rest for the people of God.” The author will not know who is genuinely born again and who is no in the congregation (s), being addressed.

6.         The pastoral plea is: “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest.” (verse 11) This reminds us of the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5:
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail to meet the test!” Paul fully expects a “yes” answer.

7.         Verse 12 in our passage is one of the most difficult in Scripture. Here the author uses three poetic and literally devices commonly used in that era, about division being impossible apart from the Spirit, or Logos, of God. Meaning that God knows who belongs to Him and who does not. The author is confident that the readers will come to see they are at rest.