This is the final chapter of Hebrews and the last post is this Bible Study series. Like many New Testament letters there are some parting words of wisdom and encouragement. Some of these wisdom sayings are similar to what we find in other letters but some are unique to Hebrews.Continue reading
The first verse of Hebrews 11 is one I memorized many years ago in the King James Version. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The substance of things hoped for; the KJV was written to be read out loud and it’s poetic language, combined with rhythm and cadence, is the reason it is so often read today in public ceremonies and gatherings. In my case it’s what I grew up with so with many important passages of scriptures those are the words I know by heart.Continue reading
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The law is described as a shadow of things to come just as the setup and design of the tabernacle was patterned after the real holy places in which God dwells. The sacrifice must continually be offered and can never make those who draw near perfect. The very fact the offerings were repeated served as a reminder of sin because, as in Heb. 9, the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin. Treating a condition is not the same as a cure.Continue reading
Hebrews 9 begins with a brief overview of the tabernacle layout. The difference between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place and some of the furnishings are described. Verse 6 transitions into what the priests do in the Holy Place to what the High Priest does in the Most Holy Place. These accounts are brief. The instructions for making the tabernacle are given in great detail beginning in Exodus 25. The instructions for priests are the focus of the Book of Leviticus.Continue reading
Hebrews 8 continues the comparison of Jesus Christ to the Old Testament high priests. It’s a short chapter and there’s not a lot here to unpack, just a continuation of a line of reasoning we have been studying. In chapter 9 we are going to see more details about how the earthly tent – the tabernacle – was set up. In this chapter we are simply reminded that the earthly tent was patterned after the things in heaven. The earthly tent, set up in the Old Testament, made by the hands of men, was a copy, a duplicate of the real heavenly high places. Every priest must make an offering. If Christ were on the earth he would not be a priest at all (see v. 4) because there are priests that make offerings according to the Law. But the ministry of Jesus is greater, having entering the authentic holy places the earthly tent is patterned after. He offers a better sacrifice (which we will get to in Hebrews 9 as well).Continue reading
The end of Hebrews 6 again mentions Jesus as “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” 7 goes into the history that we previously linked to in Genesis 14. Abraham gave him a tenth of all he had, 400 years before the Law was given to Moses at Sinai. Hebrews 7 describes Melchizedek as without without father or mother, not having beginning or end. He has no genealogy which stands in contrast to the well established genealogies of Aaron, the first Levitical priest, and of Jesus. You may encounter speculation that goes in all sorts of directions, from Melchizedek actually being an appearance of Christ in the flesh in the Old Testament to the idea that he literally lived forever. Very little is said about him in Genesis but the writer of Hebrews devotes seven chapters to describing his priesthood. The important thing is this: that the ministry of Jesus Christ is greater. He is superior to Aaron and Melchizedek. He is the minister of a better covenant than any Old Testament priest because if the former were sufficient there would be no need for another. (Heb. 7:11)Continue reading
It’s a corny joke and I apologize for repeating it but when we see the word “therefore” in the Bible we need to stop and consider what it’s there for. At the end of Hebrews 5, we find a warning against those that have failed to mature. The writer laments that believers who should be on solid food (of God’s Word) still need to be given milk like infants. So 6 begins with a call to move on to maturity, leaving the elementary things behind.Continue reading
The end of Hebrews 4 informs us that Jesus is our Great High Priest and then the chapter ends. Hebrews 5 tells us why he is a better high priest than the Levitical priests of the Old Covenant. The high priests called by God to the priesthood were human beings and had the same shortcomings as the people they ministered to. They had their own sins to confess and be forgiven before they could attend to the sins of others. The Christ is God’s own Son and also a priest forever after the order Melchizedek. Abraham was blessed by Melchizedek in Genesis 14 and Abraham gives him a tenth of everything he has. This is centuries before the Law was given to Moses. The Levitical priesthood had not been established and there was no commandment, at least none recorded, to give a tithe. Genesis will not answer all of our questions. There is no recorded beginning nor ending of Melchizedek’s priesthood and this little detail is used to show what kind of high priest Jesus will be. There is no beginning and no end to his priesthood. He does not have his own sins to sacrifice for, and he is not called by God but is God’s own Son. Although he was the only begotten Son, through suffering in his mortal flesh he learned obedience.
The final verses of chapter 5 is a chastisement to an audience that should be eating “spiritual food” as mature believers but must still be given milk as infants. Hebrews will get to comparing Jesus to Melchizedek in a couple of chapters and list more ways in which he is greater.
The key to understanding Hebrews 4 is to have read Hebrews 3. The basic concept presented in chapter 3 is that Jesus is greater than Moses. The chapter ends with God’s people not entering the rest they were promised because of disobedience:
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:16-19