reconciliation

Blessings and Encouragement

The book of Hebrews begins by reminding us of the importance and supremacy of Jesus as God's only Son. He's greater than the prophets, angels, Moses, Joshua, the Old Covenant priesthood, and His grace is greater than the Law.

We're also reminded how Jesus' message and ministry was and is superior to the high priesthood of the Old Covenant—as an eternal High Priest like Melchizedek. Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant—relationship with God—and in His continuing ministry as our High Priest, He is personally involved in our faith and life as believers.

The Heavenly Mountain

Interpreting the Bible can be difficult, especially when personal biases, opinions, and conflicting views are involved. For centuries, the Bible was interpreted as a book full of allegories and metaphors.

The Scriptures were viewed as figurative language for the most part. In more modern times, literalism was the predominant view. This pendular swing of extremes still prevails.

Spiritual discernment—given by God's Spirit—is needed for understanding what is meant to be figurative and what needs to be understood in a more literal sense.

Above all, it's important to remember the Bible is God's revelation given to all humanity. Because it's from God to us, the Bible needs to become personal for us. Not our own personal interpretation but as a personal message from God to us.

Scripture

Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to tens of thousands of angels joyfully gathered together and to the assembly of God’s firstborn children (whose names are written in heaven). You have come to a judge (the God of all people) and to the spirits of people who have God’s approval and have gained eternal life. [vss 22-23]

You have come to Jesus, who brings the new promise from God, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better message than Abel’s.

Be careful that you do not refuse to listen when God speaks. Your ancestors didn’t escape when they refused to listen to God, who warned them on earth. We certainly won’t escape if we turn away from God, who warns us from heaven. [vss 24-25]

(Hebrews 12:22-25 GW) [Context– Hebrews 12]

Key phrase—

You have come to Jesus, who brings the new promise from God

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • Where are we told that we've come to? How is this place described?

  • Who is gathered at this mountain? How many people or peoples are mentioned?

  • Who is spoken of by name and what two things are included with Him?

  • What is the strong warning given here? How is its serious nature reinforced?

Reflection...

This heavenly mountain—Mount Zion—is in stark contrast with the dark, foreboding mountain of Mount Sinai where Moses received the Law. Mount Zion represents not only heaven, the dwelling place of God, but a new relationship with God through Jesus.

This is the fifth and final warning given in the book of Hebrews. It is far more personal than the previous four warnings. Simply put—rejecting the New Covenant of grace is a rejection of Jesus, God's Son. 

The Old Covenant was a Law that required obedience, an obedience the nation of Israel couldn't and didn't keep. The New Covenant is more personal. It is relational. It provides the opportunity for a new relationship between God and humanity.

Jesus came to provide the means of reconciliation and restoration of relationship with God for all humanity. A relationship of trust—faith—based upon God's kindness and favor—grace—gained through the Lord's death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.

Make it personal...

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

  • If this description of Mount Zion—the heavenly Jerusalem—is figurative, why is it spoken of as actual and present?

  • Why do you think it's necessary to have this detailed description of Mount Zion?

  • What stands out to you about this fifth and final warning?

  • Do you understand how personal and relational the New Covenant of grace is?

©2017—Word-Strong


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

Confident to Enter

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Since the beginning, we humans invest a lot in our outward appearance. The first man and woman covered their shame of nakedness with fig leaves. Today, we Americans spend a lot of time and money on stylish clothing, even for work clothes.

A lot of sayings speak to this tendency—beauty is only skin deep, don't judge a book by its cover, or a house is not a home. Yet we spend a lot of time and money on skin products and houses! The point is that what's on the inside matters more than the outside.

This even truer when it comes to God and our spiritual life. God always looks at the heart—the inner person—not what is presented to others. This has always been true.

Many people are convinced they need to clean up their lives before God will accept them. But they are wrong. God works from the inside out. Just the opposite of us. He opens the way into His presence to those who let Him clean their lives up, beginning in their heart.

Scripture

With one sacrifice he accomplished the work of setting them apart for God forever.

The Holy Spirit tells us the same thing: “This is the promise that I will make to them after those days, says the Lord: ‘I will put my teachings in their hearts and write them in their minds.’ ” Then he adds, “I will no longer hold their sins and their disobedience against them.” (Jer 31:31-34) [vss 14-17]

When sins are forgiven, there is no longer any need to sacrifice for sins. Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place. [vss 18-19]

(Hebrews 10:14-19 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

Because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What has been done forever? How was this done?

  • How does the Holy Spirit confirm this work of God?

  • For how long will "their sins and their disobedience" be forgiven?

  • What are we able to do because of the blood of Jesus? Why?

Reflection...

God intends for His truth to live and remain in our hearts, as well as our minds. This is true when a person accepts God's perfect forgiveness through the perfect reconciliation made by the Lord offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice (atonement).

Being "set apart...forever" is God's work. It's not based on any effort from us but on the gracious gift of God. The blood of Jesus—through His death on the cross—cancels the debt and power of sin for those who accept it.

The presence of God, through the Holy Spirit who is given to dwell in us when we experience new birth, continues this work of setting us apart for God and His purposes (Titus 3:4-7).

This is why a genuine believer has the confidence to enter the presence of God (the Holy Place). Just as the blood of atonement under the Old Covenant brought forgiveness for a year, the blood of Jesus brings forgiveness forever—once for all (Heb 9:14).

Make it personal...

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

  • How is this prophetic promise of forgiveness connected to Christ's once and for all sacrifice?

  • If we are forgiven fully of our sin, what does this tell us about how to handle guilt and shame?

  • Do you have this confidence to go into the very presence of God?

  • How would you explain this blessing of entering God's presence in your own words (IYOW)?

©2017—Word-Strong


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

A Better Sacrifice

Freedom is not just a concept, it's something we experience. A person might be able to define what freedom is yet still not experience it. We can also become so accustomed to freedom that we take it for granted.

In America (USA), freedom is a guaranteed right by law. But it's more than that—it's a privilege. The freedoms we enjoy came at the cost of life—many lives over a period of many years.

Political freedom is not the same as civil rights, but the one guarantees the other. Spiritual freedom and personal freedom also aren't the same, but spiritual freedom can produce true freedom.

The grace of God provides true freedom for anyone who trusts in the Lord. But this freedom is not to be taken for granted nor abused for self-gratification.

God opened the door to true freedom through His son when Jesus offered Himself once for all, as a provision to remove the consequence of sin which is death—also called atonement.

Scripture

Christ didn’t go into a holy place made by human hands. He didn’t go into a model of the real thing. Instead, he went into heaven to appear in God’s presence on our behalf. Every year the chief priest went into the holy place to make a sacrifice with blood that isn’t his own. [vss 24-25]
However, Christ didn’t go into heaven to sacrifice himself again and again. Otherwise, he would have had to suffer many times since the world was created. But now, at the end of the ages, he has appeared once to remove sin by his sacrifice. [vss 25-26]
People die once, and after that they are judged. Likewise, Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of humanity, and after that he will appear a second time. This time he will not deal with sin, but he will save those who eagerly wait for him. [vss 27-28]
(Hebrews 9:24-28 GW) [Context– Hebrews 9]

Key phrase—

Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of humanity

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What did the chief (high) priest do every year? How is this contrasted with what Christ did?

  • If Jesus was like the former high (chief) priests (under the Old Covenant), what would He have to keep doing and why?

  • What are we told about death and judgment? How is this relevant to believers for what Christ did as our High (Chief) Priest?

  • How often was Jesus sacrificed and for what purpose? What is the purpose for Jesus to return a second time?

Reflection...

Once. Once is all the Lord Jesus needed to offer Himself as the perfect reconciling sacrifice (atonement) for humanity. Only once!

This is because His sacrifice—offering Himself as a means of reconciliation—is a better sacrifice. A better since He was free from sin Himself.

He doesn't need to suffer death many times and we don't need to "get saved" more than once. As believers, we need to have this assurance of forgiveness and cleansing from sin, once and for all.

We need to walk with Him—the resurrected Lord—in faith and ready for His return. We do this when we honor Him with our life in our relationships and how we live each day.

Make it personal...

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

  • Do you personally know and have a relationship with Jesus? If not, what holds you back from that?

  • Do you understand why Jesus only needed to die once as a reconciling offering for humanity's sin—once and for all, for all sin, people, and time?

  • Are you ready to see Jesus return a second time?

  • How are you personally honoring the Lord with your daily life?

©2017—Word-Strong


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

A Little Lower

Why is it so important that Jesus—God's Son—became human? Is it? Yes! But why? For one thing, people say they would believe in God, if only He appeared in front of them. If they could see Him, they'd believe.

Jesus did just that, but long before any of us reading this were alive.

He experienced life and death on earth for humanity's benefit.