Category: Devotionals

Read Hebrews 6

Key Verse: Hebrews 6:1,2 “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement.” (NIV)

Notice what the author calls “elementary teachings”: repentance, faith in God, baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection, and eternal judgment. These are the foundational doctrines and are to be learned early. But, for those who are “going on to maturity”, there is a need to understand the reasons behind these “elementary teachings about Christ”. Remember, the author has addressed this book to “Hebrew” believers — these are people who have a rich heritage and tradition in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. The author is describing in colourful and rich word pictures the world of “the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf” (v.19-20a, NIV).

So, speaking to Hebrews, the author goes back to the very beginning of Hebrew history. He talks about the promise God made to Abraham: “When God made His promise to Abraham since there was no one greater for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants” (vv.13-14, NIV). He refers to the promise and the oath as “two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie…” (v.18, NIV) In a culture where a promise (or contract) was sealed by swearing in the name of someone greater than oneself (a king or patriarch etc.), these words had special impact. First of all, God’s promise is enough — there’s no need for an oath. But God, for good measure, seals His promise by swearing by Himself — His own holy name is written on the promise God will not fail. that’s why the Hebrew believers “”have fled to take hold of the hope…as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (vv.18b, 19 NIV).

That hope “enters the inner sanctuary”; that is, it is more than just wishful thinking. Rather, it’s a hope that is somehow personified in Jesus who has already gone before us and has “entered on our behalf”. The Son is our Hope, and He is also our Priest.

Read Hebrews 5

Key Verse: Hebrews 5:14 “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (NIV).

What is this “solid food” the author speaks of? In the context it’s verses 7-10: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He as heard because of his reverent submission. Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek” (NIV). To help us understand these words, we need to remember something we’ve already read: “For this reason He had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people” (2:17, NIV).

This “perfecting” of Jesus (who as Son of God was already perfect) refers to His coming to terms with His human nature and with His priestly role. Like any other human, He had to “offer up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears.” Like any other human, He had to know the fear of dying and seek that God would “save Him from death”. Like any other human He had to come to grips with “submission” to the Father’s will — He had to “learn obedience”. He had to “suffer”.

Why? Because God the Father was preparing a “lamb” — a Lamb who, at the same time, would be Priest. He would be a perfect salvation. In that sense, His ongoing atonement would provide an eternal priestly function. The High Priest of Old Testament days would slay the perfect lamb for the sins of the people. But here we have a Priest of different order — a Priest who, in effect, would shed His own blood in space and time, yet live forever in eternity, mediating between God and man in Heaven. God was preparing a Priest “in the order of Melchizedek”.

Read Hebrews 4

Key Verse: Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (NIV).

Why do so many people have strong opinions about “the Word of God?” Is it because they’re not sure they can trust a book that has undergone several translation in history? Is it because they’re not sure they can trust those who have interpreted that word (a good old-fashioned distrust of preachers)? Or is it simply that they cannot believe that God (if He exists) has the interest or capability to communicate His will to this little terrestrial speck of dust on the outer fringes of the Milky Way?

Maybe it’s none of the above. Maybe it’s because the Bible has a way of getting under one’s skin–it makes the realities of Heaven and Hell, Body and Soul, God and Man, all too crystal clear. It has a way of making us feel morally naked. As much as it has a capacity to bless us, it has equal capacity to damn us. It forces us to confront our selfishness. It demands decisions.

What makes the Bible so powerful? The answer is given in the context–look at verse 13: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (NIV). This verse speaks of God’s “omniscience”, His “all-knowingness”.

Because He is omniscient, God sees everything. Everything. Not just in our present, but in our past and future as well. Notice the possessive pronoun “our”–I didn’t say “His”. For God there is no past and no future. As I said in my book, “Theology for Non-Theologians”, God lives in the eternal now.” There are no secrets from Him and no surprises for Him. In His presence no lie can stand.

There’s something powerfully implicit in the word of God–there’s coming a day when we will all stand before God and give account. We’ll be spiritually naked. Only those covered with the blood of the Lamb of God will survive. That’s what the Bible says. And that’s why it polarizes people to this day.

Read Hebrews 3

Key Verse: Hebrews 3:3 “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honour than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honour than the house itself” (NIV).

As was stated in the introduction, this book was written to inform and/or remind Hebrew believers in Christ that Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary was superior to any previous sin offering. In chapter three, the author refers to creation as God’s “house” (vv.2-6) and he discusses the role Moses, Jesus, and the believer all play in that structure. Jesus built the house; Moses wrote the house rules; and you and I not only live there–for us it’s home–but we, the church, are at the same time the house itself. This is not to say that we are the sum total of all creation, but we are the crowning achievement of God’s creative act. We’re the only ones who are created “in His image.”

But the point is this: even though Moses gave us the “law”, his word is of lesser value than the word of the Builder Himself. In terms of what the author has just said in chapter two, the Builder has also become an occupant of the house and is just like the other occupant. He speaks to them on their level and in terms they can understand. He has come with new plans for a new structure and wants to lead all inhabitants into a new creation where the old house rules no longer apple. He wants to lead us out the door (where, ironically, He Himself is the Door) to our eternal dwelling place, our new Home. Anyone who insists on the old way will never discover the New Way.