About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Against Refusing God
writerís exhortation continues in verse 14 when he says to ďmake every
effort to live in peace with all men.Ē
The Apostle Paul says this very same thing in Romans 14:19.
This is one reason why some people believe Paul wrote Hebrews,
although as I said earlier, I do not believe Paul wrote this letter.
and maintaining peace is an underlying principle of our faith.
Attempting to live in peace with people helps in the spreading of
the gospel of Jesus. At the
same time we cannot compromise the truth of the gospel in our attempt at
making peace as many western world Christians are doing today.
This is not only a blatant misrepresentation of the gospel but of
God Himself. Earlier the
author commended these people because they suffered much in the earlier
years of their faith. In those
days of suffering, they were not living in peace with either the Roman or
the Jewish leadership. Their
first allegiance was towards the Lord and His gospel. They
could try to live in peace with their opposition but if the gospel
prohibited that, then they would not compromise. They would gladly suffer
the consequences. So, the
point to be made here is that we live in peace as long as the gospel
the same verse the readers are encouraged to be holy, for without
holiness, no one will see the Lord. This
is a phrase that needs to be seen in light of the New Testament in its
totality. In one sense, we are
already holy because God views us who trust Jesus as holy.
Therefore, we will see the Lord someday because in this sense of
the word we are holy, yet in this verse, I donít believe the writer is
talking about this type of holiness. It
appears that he is speaking of the outworking of holiness in our lives.
In reality, as we live on earth, we are not fully holy.
We are only viewed as holy by God.
So, if none of us are completely holy, then how can we ever see the
Lord? I believe this to be
similar to what James says concerning faith and works.
He said, "I will show you that I have faith by what I
do." The writer of
Hebrews may be saying that if you truly have faith, then it will show to a
degree in a holy life, even though that holiness is far from complete.
For those people, they will see the Lord someday. If
there is no evidence of holiness, then there is not likely to be any true
thing to consider here is that those who whom the author is writing are
those Jews who are thinking about returning to Judaism.
The Old Testament's view of righteousness is very much associated
with works, although Paul, in his letter to the Romans is correct when he
said that fundamentally speaking, faith, not works, was basic to Old
Testament Judaism. These
people weren't exactly being tempted to revert back to true Old Testament
Judaism but a Judaism that was defined in first century rabbinical
teaching which was an adulterated form of true Judaism.
So, any reverting backwards would not produce a true holiness, and
that holiness will cause no one to see the Lord.
Only a holiness that results in faith in Jesus will result in
people seeing the Lord. I'm
not quite sure if "the Lord" refers to God or Jesus.
I lean towards it referring to Jesus.
thing to think about is how this verse has been misused over the years in
Evangelical circles. In the
church I was raised in this verse was used to obey the laws and the
rituals of the church. In
short, this verse was used to maintain a theology that said that one is
saved by faith but stays saved by good works and a holy life.
Neither getting saved nor staying saved has anything to do with
good works that are seen to make one holy. Holiness
does not come about by doing good works.
Holiness is produced in the life of a believer by the working of
the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in his life.
15 mentions two points. "ďSee to it that no one misses the grace of
God". This is so
important. Religious people
constantly miss the grace of God because they rely on what they do to be
accepted by God. This is what
these Jewish Christians were thinking about doing as they were being
tempted to revert back to Old Testament Judaism.
The gospel of grace just does not work that way.
We can only rely on Godís grace, and nothing else.
Missing the grace of God in my thinking is sin.
way of misusing God's grace is by taking advantage of it.
We think that God will forgive us so we just sin.
That's not right. Others
simply ignore God and His grace and do their own thing anyway.
other thought that is seen in verse 15 is concerning bitterness rising up
within us. The author compares
bitterness to a plant. It is
like a plant that grows every year. It
is a perennial. In the spring
you do not see the plant. It
grows from the root, yet sooner or later that root will shoot up little
stems that will grow into a full grown plant.
The same is true with bitterness.
It begins small. You
might not even recognize that you are bitter at first, yet if left
unchecked, that bitterness will grow and get out of control.
Then at some point bitterness will take over, throwing your faith
by the wayside, and therefore you will be defiled as this verse says.
context these people, who
verses 16 and 17 the writer uses Esau as an example of one who threw away
his faith. Esau sold his
inheritance rights for a single meal.
He was interested in the temporal more than the eternal.
He was interested in immediate gratification, instead of thinking
of the future. Many of us in
the West are like that today. We
only think of the here and now. We
donít budget for our future. If
it feels good now, we do it. We
will worry about the future when it comes.
Then when it comes we are left destitute because we have already
spent our life away.
author tells us that Esau had a change of mind, but it was too late.
His blessing was already gone.
He could not get it back. Therefore,
the desire for one single meal affected the rest of his life.
The blessing was His but he gave it away, never to get it back.
This reminds me a bit of Hebrews 6 where it says that the person
who has experienced all the goodness of God and then rejects it, can never
come to repentance again.
text here says that Esau was a godless man.
How was he godless? One
reason is pointed out here. He
traded his inheritance for a mere meal.
He also wanted to kill his brother as seen in Genesis 27:41.
He married two Hittite women; something that God did not want him
to do. The picture I get from
the Genesis account of Esau is a restless man, one who couldn't settle
down, who would not be suitable to lead the family of Abraham. His
mind simply was not on godly things at all.
thing to consider here concerns the point that in Old Testament times in
verses 18 to 21 there is mention of a mountain.
This is the mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments.
It was where the presence of God was.
The Israelites experience with this mountain was so awesome and
fearful that they did not even want God to speak to them anymore from the
mountain. Animals had to be
put to death if they touched this mountain.
as New Testament Christians are not like those Jewish people of old.
Although our God is still a consuming fire, verse 22 and following
says that we have come to a heavenly mountain, a spiritual mountain.
We have come to a place where there are thousands and thousands of
angels as well as thousands upon thousands of our fellow believers.
We have come to Jesus Himself, and because of Him we can approach
God with joy and boldness, yet with humility.
Although our first reaction may be to fear, as those in Old
Testament days did, our second reaction reminds us that the very God we
fear is the very God who loves us. The
God we want to run from is the God we end up running to.
the phrase "the church of the first born."
The first born is in reference to Jesus.
He is the first born from the dead into a new heavenly order, that,
those who have handed their lives over to Jesus will follow into a new
heavenly reality at the resurrection of the dead.
When it says that Jesus is the firs born that means Christians are
second born. The word
"church" here refers to believers.
They are "the community of Christ."
The names of those living in this community are written in heaven
according to verse 23. This
would be the Book of Life as seen in the book of Revelation.
23 speaks of the true believer coming to God, the judge of all men.
Again, the author is reminding them of what they are about to
forsake. This is one very
important and real thing they are about to do.
In fact, they will stand before God, their judge, and give account
of their decision that they were about to make.
in verse 23 we see the phrase, "of the spirits of men made
perfect." As I have been
saying throughout this account, the word "perfect" should be
understood in terms of completion. Right
now, according to this verse, the dead in faith are spirits.
They are spirits because they have not yet been raised into their
new heavenly glorified body, the type of body that Jesus now has.
24 mentions Jesus. He is the
last the author speaks of. All
of those who have been mentioned in these last couple of verses might well
be the great cloud of witnesses that we saw in verse 1.
25 is a strong warning. If Old
Testament Jews were severely judged by rejecting God, how much more will
those living in New Testament times be even more severely judged if they
reject God. The whole point to
the book of Hebrews is that the New Covenant is far more important, far
more serious, far better, and far more exhaustive than the Old Covenant.
If the blessings of the New Covenant are better then the curses of
the New Covenant will be worse than that of the Old Covenant.
That's what is being said here.
verses 26 and 27 we note that the earth shook when God spoke to
Thus, after this shaking will appear
new heaven and new earth as we read at the end of the book of
that we now experience in part.
in verse 28 we are to worship God in reverent fear.
This is the foundation of Biblical worship as it pertains to God.
Of course, our whole lives should exhibit worship to God, but, as
we understand worship as a corporate expression when we gather together as
believers, true worship must be from those who reverently fear God.
Anything outside of this reverent fear is not true worship.
term "consuming fire" seen in verse 29 is not original with the
author of the book of Hebrews. This
phrase is seen in the Old Testament and is associated with God Himself.
See Deuteronomy 4:24 where God is seen as a consuming fire.
See also Exodus 24:17, Isaiah 30:27, Psalm 18:8, among other
thing to note is that we can only come before God because of our great
high priest who is Jesus. He
represents us as a lawyer before God and intervenes on our behalf.
He and He alone stands between us and the consuming fire that God