Friday, May 06, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 24

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

Back at the Ranch

In the next section, the Writer of Hebrews transitions back to his main topic. In other words, the flow of Hebrews as gone like this:

Concerning him (i.e. Melchizedek) we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. (Hebrews 5:11, NASB 95)
Parenthetical comments about the importance of spiritual maturity and making sure of one's salvation
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20)

So at the end of chapter 6, the Writer is back on his main topic. Here is the full text of this transition:

For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ?I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.? And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.

For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:13-20)

By these words the Writer moves to encourage those of his readers who have an assured faith. The hope to which our faith looks is as sure as the One who promised. The Lord God has said to us, "I will surely..." And the Writer tells us that by that He has sworn an oath to us. There are "two unchangeable things" that we are assured of:

  • He will bless us
  • He will increase our numbers

The passing centuries have seen incredible opposition to the gospel. I see mounting opposition to it in our country today. This is why we need men and women of firm and proven faith. As we persevere, the gospel will spread, our numbers will increase, and we will enter the Sabbath rest that God has prepared for us. As the writer will later say, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for..." To find faith living and active in me is the assurance of the gospel's promises.

Then the writer makes this intriguing statement, "a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil." This "veil" is in heaven, but its earthly counterpart is the veil that separated and hid the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place in the temple. Whereas the community of Israel could worship outside the temple courts--and whereas the priests could offer sacrifices in the temple courts but not inside the temple--and whereas a few priests, chosen by lot, could offer incense in the Holy Place of the temple--only the high priest and only once a year and only with a basin of blood could enter within the veil. And yet because Jesus--a priest according to the order of Melchizedek--took His own blood behind the true veil in heaven, we can follow right behind.

The New Covenant in the blood of Messiah gives us unprecedented access to the Father. It is a marvelous and terrific privilege and one that goes often unrecognized. This theme has already appeared. It is behind the Writer's words, "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)" -- and will be repeated in many different ways as the book progresses.

And so as we are about to pick up again the theme of Jesus as our high priest. Let us look at the lessons of this interlude:

  • Solid food is for the mature who by practice have trained their senses to discern good and evil.
  • repentance, salvation, and religious exercises are elementary teachings and we must move on from them.
  • It is vitally important to respond to the Word of God in faith. To come near enough to see the truth and then back off is likely a permanent backing away.
  • On the other hand, the hope we have from an assured faith is based on the promises of One who cannot lie. Our future is behind the veil. Our future is being in the very presence of God.
  • By faith we have access today.

All because Jesus was a faithful high priest according to the Order of Melchizedek. And that topic is where we go next.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.

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