freedom

When God Became Human

Generally, we all tend to not believe in what we can't see. Of course, this carries over to believing in God and the miraculous. Many will say it's not logical or rational to do so. And yet, we believe many things exist that are invisible to the naked eye and miraculous in nature—thoughts, atoms, and even feelings of love.

The reason it's not logical to believe in God is that it doesn't fit what we know in the natural world. This is our human dilemma. God is supernatural—He's above and beyond the natural realm. He will never fit within our limited logic. God's existence exceeds our capacity to know Him in a purely natural way.

Choosing Freedom Over Pleasure

The life of Moses is generally venerated throughout history, especially within Judaism and Christianity. Some may malign him but when Moses is portrayed in movies, he's seen as a great leader.

His life is extraordinary and there are many lessons to be drawn from it. But a mystical view of Moses' life might be out of sync with reality. In the book of Exodus, we see a fuller view.

Moses didn't start out as a man of faith, he grew into it. He led a life of ease and privilege until he started to identify with his Hebrew heritage.

His Hebrew faith was passed onto Moses by his family, especially his mother as his nursemaid. His faith became his own when Moses fled for his life into the desert (Exo 2:11-15).

Faith is most often forged in the fire of life's challenges and difficulties.

Scripture

Faith led Moses’ parents to hide him for three months after he was born. They did this because they saw that Moses was a beautiful baby and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s order.

When Moses grew up, faith led him to refuse to be known as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to suffer with God’s people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a little while. He thought that being insulted for Christ would be better than having the treasures of Egypt. He was looking ahead to his reward. [vss 23-26]

Faith led Moses to leave Egypt without being afraid of the king’s anger. Moses didn’t give up but continued as if he could actually see the invisible God.

Faith led Moses to establish the Passover and spread the blood ⌊on the doorposts⌋ so that the destroying angel would not kill the firstborn sons.

Faith caused the people to go through the Red Sea as if it were dry land. The Egyptians also tried this, but they drowned. [vss 27-29]

(Hebrews 11:23-29 GW) [Context– Hebrews 11]

Key phrase—

He thought that being insulted for Christ would be better than having the treasures of Egypt

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What did faith lead Moses to do and when did this happen?

  • What did Moses consider was better than the treasures of Egypt? How is this seen?

  • What was the attitude Moses had when he left Egypt? Why was he not afraid? 

  • How does all of this relate to the judgment and celebration of Passover?

Reflection...

Moses made life choices based on his encounter and relationship with the true and living God. He saw beyond what the natural eye sees. The choices Moses made were not based on what his human nature desired.

Moses' life became extraordinary as God worked faith into him through the challenges and tests in his life. Those times were decision points for him and required him to make certain choices.

Each step Moses took in trusting God led him to a deeper level of faith. This is what brought Moses from the ordinary life of pleasure he had in Pharoah's court to an extraordinary life as God's deliverer for Israel.

Moses forsook the pleasures he had in Egypt and endured the insults and scorn as a man who trusted in the God of Israel. Because Moses chose insult and suffering over pleasure, God set him free and he led Israel into freedom and out of Egypt.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  •  How is it possible that Christ is referred to in relation to Moses' time in Egypt? [see the story of Passover in Exodus chapters 12 and 13]

  • Do you see how the writer of Hebrews connects Christ and the freedom Passover brought to believers then and for us now?

  • What are your life choices based on? Do you choose the ordinary or the extraordinary?

  • In what way do you make extraordinary faith-based decisions?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Don't Turn Back!

History is full of examples and stories of people exhibiting great endurance and perseverance. American history is no different. Colonial settlers faced great odds, uncertainty, and opposition, as they carved out a life in a new land and birthed a new nation.

As the nation expanded westward, it faced new challenges in unsettled territories. The same is true when modern aviation was born which paved the way for manned space flights.

Countless and untold heroic stories of perseverance took place in battles for freedom from the Revolutionary War to present conflicts in the Middle East.

Perseverance is way under-valued. It's usually not exciting or glamorous but is a vital element in the pursuit of freedom. And so it with the Christian faith. Spiritual endurance and perseverance are key to a genuine life of faith.

Scripture

Remember the past, when you first learned the truth. You endured a lot of hardship and pain. At times you were publicly insulted and mistreated. At times you associated with people who were treated this way.

You suffered with prisoners. You were cheerful even though your possessions were stolen, since you know that you have a better and more permanent possession. [vss 32-34]

So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised.

“Yet, the one who is coming will come soon. He will not delay. The person who has God’s approval will live by faith. But if he turns back, I will not be pleased with him.”

We don’t belong with those who turn back and are destroyed. Instead, we belong with those who have faith and are saved. [vss 35-39]

(Hebrews 10:32-39 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

So don’t lose your confidence—it will bring you a great reward

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are these believers encouraged to remember? What specific things are pointed out?

  • What are they exhorted not to lose and what do they need to have to receive what God promised?

  • Why are these exhortations necessary? How are they connected to the consistent and primary theme of the book of Hebrews?

  • What is the last encouraging statement? How was this encouraging to those believers then and for us now?

Reflection...

This strong exhortation encouraged believers to not go back to an empty and dead form of religion. It is as true today for us as it was for them.

Are you discouraged in your faith? Are things in life not going the way you expected and hoped? Don't turn back! Keep pressing on in faith. Endure. Persevere.

God is faithful and we need to be faithful to Him. He will not abandon us even though it may seem like that from our limited view of life. He won't abandon us even when we fail Him or stumble in our faith. If you want God's acceptance and approval, then continue in your faith. 

The Lord is faithful and He promised to return for those who trust in Him. Even though it may seem like an overdue promise, it's not. God is far more patient and longsuffering than we are. We just need to trust Him and persevere.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Have you wondered at times why you should keep doing what is right and just and good?

  • Can you see how very personal God's promises are? Do you understand how personal faith is?

  • What is discouraging you right now? Are you willing to entrust this to the Lord?

  • In what ways has God shown His faithfulness to you? Allow those things to encourage you to endure in your faith!

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

A Terrifying Thing

Politicians and lawyers, as well as the media, know how to take a few words someone says, and misconstrue them in order to trap and attack a person with their own words.

The usual retort or defense by the trapped person is that their words were taken out of context. Context is important! This is always true when it comes to understanding words spoken and written.

This issue of context also applies to reading and studying the Bible. But context includes more than just the words and sentences. The time frame and culture of spoken or written words are an important frame of reference for understanding them.

Most of the lack of understanding or misunderstanding of the Bible is due to an ignorance of the full context of history, culture, the Scriptures as a whole, and the nature of God.

Scripture

If we go on sinning after we have learned the truth, no sacrifice can take away our sins. All that is left is a terrifying wait for judgment and a raging fire that will consume God’s enemies.

If two or three witnesses accused someone of rejecting Moses’ Teachings, that person was shown no mercy as he was executed. [vss 26-27]

What do you think a person who shows no respect for the Son of God deserves? That person looks at the blood of the promise (the blood that made him holy) as no different from other people’s blood, and he insults the Spirit that God gave us out of his kindness [grace]. He deserves a much worse punishment. [vss 28-29]

We know the God who said, “I alone have the right to take revenge. I will pay back.” God also said, “The Lord will judge his people.”

Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing. [vss 30-31]

(Hebrews 10:26-31 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What is the strong warning given? What is not available "if we go on sinning?"

  • How is rejection of the Mosaic Law compared to rejection of the New Covenant of grace?

  • What are we told insults the Spirit of God? What result can we expect if we insult God's Spirit?

  • How is all of this reasoning tied into the last strong expression of this warning?

Reflection...

I've seen this portion of text (the 4th of 5 warnings in Hebrews) used to discourage and scare people, which brings both condemnation and confusion. It is a strong warning and exhortation to be sure but is intended to encourage believers to persevere not despair.

This should be clear from the context of this whole chapter (10) and the following chapter (11), as well as the purpose of the whole book of Hebrews.

Once the Mosaic Law was completed and replaced (Matt 5:17; Heb 8:6-13), its provision of forgiveness and atonement was null and void. Trying to go back to the Law meant rejecting the perfect atonement of Jesus brought through His death and resurrection. This would be a rejection of God's grace and the promise of God's Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26) living in us as believers.

Be careful how you handle the truth of God! Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing. Be wary of sitting in God's place and pronouncing judgment on anyone! Rather than a false confidence in religious righteousness, accept and trust God's grace.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Since none of us lead a perfect, moral life, how is this warning an encouragement?

  • Do you understand how and why the rejection of New Covenant grace to rely on the Law is a personal and grievous insult to God?

  • Can you see all of this from the context of these early converts from Judaism to Christianity?

  • Are you living in the freedom of God's gracious forgiveness through Jesus or struggling to be righteous through your own efforts?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Only A Shadow

lightstock.com

lightstock.com

When a child sees their shadow for the first time, they realize it's connected to them in some way. They react and interact with it. At first, some are afraid of their shadows while others play with it.

Surprisingly, research shows that a full understanding of our own shadows doesn't take place until preadolescence, even into early teen years. It takes time for a person to realize and understand their shadow isn't permanently attached to or part of them in a personal way.

A shadow is a silhouette pattern cast by our body blocking the sun's light or another source of light. It's not who we are but only a temporary image of our form.

In a sense, this is the difference between the Old Covenant relationship with God and the new one based on God's grace and known by faith.

Scripture

Moses’ Teachings with their yearly cycle of sacrifices are only a shadow of the good things in the future. They aren’t an exact likeness of those things. They can never make those who worship perfect. 
If these sacrifices could have made the worshipers perfect, the sacrifices would have stopped long ago. Those who worship would have been cleansed once and for all. Their consciences would have been free from sin. 
Instead, this yearly cycle of sacrifices reminded people of their sins. (The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins.)  [vss 1-4]
(Hebrews 10:1-4 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

Moses’ Teachings with their yearly cycle of sacrifices are only a shadow

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are we told about the sacrifices under the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant relationship?

  • What do you think it means that they are "only a shadow..." and not "an exact likeness"?

  • What could these sacrifices never do? Why couldn't they make people "perfect"?

  • Why did the annual sacrifices remind "people of their sins"?

Reflection...

The Old Covenant relationship with God required perfect obedience to all the laws and many, many sacrifices. Way too many Christians live as if they are still in a relationship with God under the Law and try to be "good in God's eyes."

This attempt to be good enough for God is called self-justification. It's a false attempt at righteousness.

At some point, Christian believers need to accept the full forgiveness and kindness that Jesus gives by grace. This honors God more than any effort at goodness on our part.

Christianity is not about living a morally good life. Although moral goodness is to be valued, reducing the Christian life to this robs it of life and depth.

Christian believers are not called to follow a set of rules for a good moral life. We are called to follow Jesus in a personal relationship by faith—personal trust in Jesus.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • Is your conscience free from the guilt of sin? If not, what are you trusting in to gain that?

  • What value is there in being reminded of past sins the Lord has forgiven? None!

  • Do you struggle with self-inflicted guilt and condemnation?

  • Have you learned to come out from under the shadow of law to walk in the light of God's grace?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews