Hebrews Chapter 10
●Heb 10:1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. (NIV)
The entire Aaronic priesthood, and its Qorbanot system, is merely a diorama— a model. And a model can never effectively remove the real guilt of real sin, nor give the worshipper a person-to-person audience with the worshipper's God. And a big problem with the Law is that it gives Jews absolutely nothing good to look forward to; just an uneasy dread of retribution because the Aaronic system lacks a means of making Jews permanently reconciled to God.
●Heb 10:2-4 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (NIV)
Beasts can't actually substitute for a Man's retribution because a beast's life isn't equal in value to a Man's life. According to Gen 1:27, God created Man in His own image. That places the value of human life far and away above the value of creatures in the animal kingdom. Man, is, in point of fact, a kind of divine being in his own right (Gen 1:27-28, Ps 82:1-8, John 10:34-36).
You know who never feels guilty about anything? Very young children who don't know right from wrong. Some of us feel so badly about ourselves that we would gladly welcome some kind of retribution just to set our minds at rest; viz: we desperately would like some way to make amends so we can stop beating ourselves over the head for the things that we've done, and for the kinds of people that we are. Although Jesus' blood can't remove my guilt complex, his blood does at least absolve it so I can stop thinking of myself as a person who's done bad things; but rather, I can be thinking of myself as a person who's innocent of all wrong doing.
Even today, in modern times, Jews take a day out of the year on Yom Kippur to reflect on their past sins because Moses' Law doesn't permit them to forget who they are, nor to forget what they've done. But under the terms of the new covenant, sinners are allowed to put it all behind them.
●Jer 31:34b ...For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
●Heb 10:5-6 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. (NIV)
[ The New Testament's version of Psalm 40 doesn't exactly match its counterpart in modern Tanakhs but follows a minor variation of the Septuagint. Unfortunately, the Hebrew texts that were used to create the Septuagint no longer exist. The oldest Hebrew bible in existence today is relatively recent approximately the ninth century AD. And itself is not a copy of the originals, but of a formal rabbinical revision of the Hebrew bible that was made sometime in the second century AD. So it's hard to know for certain what Psalm 40:7-8 is really supposed to say. A footnote in the 1985 JPS Tanakh says that the exact meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain. ]
The Aaronic sacrifices are of such low value that God has never been satisfied with them even though He himself mandated their practice. Messiah's crucifixion is the only one He has ever really been happy with; ergo: the Aaronic atonement system is really little more than a band-aid. And besides, God doesn't really want sacrifices anyway, but much prefers obedience instead.
●1Sam 15:22-23 ...But Samuel replied, "What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. (NLT)
●Ps 51:18 ...You do not want me to bring sacrifices; You do not desire burnt offerings (1985 JPS Tanakh)
There are some who feel that David revised the entire Aaronic Qorbanot system, including the Levitical priesthood, with that verse of scripture. I think they should reconsider.
The 51st Psalm revolves around David's sin with Bathsheba. He committed the capital crimes of adultery and premeditated murder knowing full well that what he was doing was wrong. Moses' Law allows absolutely no ransom for those sins. The offender must be put to death for adultery and murder, and he must be excommunicated and bear his guilt for knowing full well that what he was doing at the time was wrong. David was really boxed in.
When we look at Psalm 51 from that perspective, it is easy to see that David didn't revise the Aaronic system. All he really did in verse 18 was acknowledge that God won't accept sacrifices nor burnt offerings for the kinds of sins he committed. Otherwise David would have brought them to the temple lickety-split you may be sure of that.
I really like David's plea in verse Ps 51:16;
●Save me from bloodguilt, O God, my deliverer, that I may sing forth Your beneficence. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
How do you suppose God rescued David from bloodguilt without compromising the integrity of His own God-given Law? The only possible way God could have done it was to move David's sins outside the law and punish them by proxy in Christ's crucifixion.
The grounds for absolution back in those days was the same as it is now Christ's crucifixion. Forgiveness in those days was really more like a reprieve; viz: punishment for violators was put on hold until such a time as God accomplished the ultimate propitiation.
●Rom 3:25-26 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (NIV)
Too many modern Jews think that because God makes His own rules; He isn't obligated to honor them. But in order for a holy God to absolve a sinner's guilt without compromising the integrity of His own law, justice has to be satisfied first and somebody has got to pay. They didn't really understand how He would do it, but David and the prophets knew that God had a big plan in the works that would ransom His people from *all* their sins. We can see evidence of their hope in places like Ps 130:7-8.
●Heb 10:7 Then I said, 'Here I am it is written about me in the scroll I have come to do your will, O God. (NIV)
Precisely which scroll referenced is unclear. Most synagogues have at least a Torah scroll; but one in Jesus' home town of Nazareth had an Isaiah scroll too. A passage Jesus chose to read was audibly fulfilled that very day; viz: he actually quoted his own future testimony recorded approximately 700 years before he arrived (Luke 4:16-21).
●Heb 10:8 First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). (NIV)
Aaron's system wasn't a Jewish invention. It was God-given; and God demanded it to be practiced. But even though the sacrifices were mandated by God, He was never really content with them at all; nor did He even want them in the first place (Jer 7:21-26).
●Heb 10:9-10 ...Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (NIV)
*the first* refers to Moses' covenant. That covenant didn't really go away when God established the second one. It's still very much in force for those who choose to remain under its jurisdiction. But God isn't happy with that covenant because it's much too easy for the Jews to break it; and it forces God to punish them, which is something He doesn't really enjoy doing.
●Ezk 18:30-32 ...Be assured, O House of Israel, I will judge each one of you according to his ways declares the Lord God. Repent and turn back from your transgressions; let them not be a stumbling block of guilt for you. Cast away all the transgressions by which you have offended, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit, that you may not die, O House of Israel. For it is not My desire that anyone shall die declares the Lord God. Repent, therefore, and live! (1985 JPS Tanakh)
*once for all* means that redeemed Jews of every era have been permanently reconciled to God by a singular, one-time sacrifice; in contrast to the many, many offerings required by Moses' Law on Yom Kippur that can neither permanently reconcile Man to God, nor even atone for all categories of sin.
●Heb 10:11-14 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (NIV)
Please don't miss that phrase: "by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Jesus' death completely atoned for every sin that beneficiaries of the new covenant are ever going to commit for the rest of their lives. If that were not true, then it would be necessary for him to die over and over again for each new sin— just like the Levitical priests offering the same sacrifices day after day. But that is not going to happen because Jesus only offered himself just that once; and it was good enough.
●Heb 10:15-18 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. (NIV)
Again, the author's audience is reminded of the efficacy of Jesus' sacrifice. (Repetition is a proven aid to learning new concepts.) Sins are completely absolved by Jesus' one-time-only offering. Beneficiaries of the new covenant don't build themselves a criminal record, nor are they encouraged to beat themselves over the head in affliction and sorrow. It's as if whenever the redeemed commit a sin— they didn't. Some may call that a license to steal. Well, a license to steal just happens to be the only sure-fire way any of us are going to escape retribution.
●Rom 8:31-34 ...What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who diedmore than that, who was raised to life is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (NIV)
Webster's defines *intercede* as: to intervene between opposing parties with a view to reconciling their differences; viz: mediation. Jesus is in a position to not only look out for his constituents' best interests, but also able to mediate in such a way as to look out for God's best interests too; so that his efforts aren't biased and lop-sided like those of a Washington lobbyist; favoring either God or Man one over the other. If Jesus were of a mind to, he could use his position to accuse sinners instead of looking out for their best interests. However, it's far better for all concerned that God and Man reconcile their differences rather than go their separate ways.
Although beneficiaries of the new covenant are completely absolved of all their sins, and look forward to implementation of the promise of a sinless psyche; they still need to confess their sins in a timely manner while they live down here on the planet in an Adamic situation— but not so's they can go to Heaven; no, not at all. The purpose of a believer's confession is *fellowship* which is derived from the Greek word koinonia (koy-nohn-ee'-ah; and means partnership (1John 1:5-10).
Here's an example of partnership. Abraham and his nephew Lot were both righteous men (2Pet 2:7-8) and neither one went to Hell. But of the two, only Abraham lived in partnership with God. Thus divine providence worked to Abraham's benefit— but not so for Lot; no, there was no providence because he went on his own down there to the city of Sodom; and there's no record of his ever praying and building altars like his uncle did; and even when The Lord advised him to flee into the mountains to escape Sodom's destruction; Lot resisted and went to a nearby town instead.
●Heb 10:19a Therefore, brothers, (NIV)
Some have construed the word *brothers* to indicate the author was addressing fellow Christian believers. But that is difficult to prove. At Acts 3:12-18, Peter called the people of Israel brothers who were the very people responsible for murdering Jesus. So all that we could safely say about the use of the word brothers here in Heb 10:19 is that the Jewish author is merely identifying himself yet once again with his fellow Jewish countrymen.
●Heb 10:19b-20 ...since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, (NIV)
The thick, dense curtain of goat's hair separating the most holy place from the outer section of the tabernacle didn't represent Jesus' body, but rather, the barrier created by mankind's sinful human psyche. The *way* past the human psyche is Jesus' crucified body.
●John 14:6 ...Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (NIV)
●Heb 10:21-22a ...and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience (NIV)
Sprinkling (of blood) is an Aaronic method of purification and dedication. Sprinkling doesn't actually repair the human psyche's defects, but merely renders it clean; viz: absolved. The sinful human psyche is still there, for now, but God no longer regards it as a barrier between Himself and new covenant beneficiaries after once their psyche has been sprinkled.
●Heb 10:22b ...and having our bodies washed with pure water. (NIV)
Before Aaron and his sons could practice their daily duties, they had to bathe at the laver first (Ex 30:18-21). This verse indicates that new covenant beneficiaries are now priests of God. However, they aren't Levitical priests, but priests of another kind entirely.
●1Pet 2:9 ...But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)
●Rev 1:6 ...and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)
●Rev 20:6 ...Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (NIV)
●Heb 10:23 ...Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (NIV)
The hope *we* profess are the promises God made to Abraham and David regarding the Jews' occupation and ownership of Palestine. The day is coming when they'll settle in that land unmolested and enjoy an era of peace and prosperity the like of which has never been seen in that land before. Today, the vast majority of Abraham's posterity live outside Eretz Israel. In the future, all will live there, and its borders greatly expanded east and west from the Euphrates River in Iraq to the Nile River in Egypt, and north and south from the northern border of Syria to the Sinai Peninsula. Longevity will be the norm, and Jews a hundred years old will be deemed children. Predatory animals will eat vegetation, little children will play with deadly snakes, and desert regions will become arable, fertile land. There will be no war, no poverty, no hunger, and no disease. If you're unfamiliar with Israel's future; please Click Here and Here.
●Heb 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (NIV)
But just be careful that evil people don't take advantage of your friendly spirit. There are some people that you dare not love or they will cause you harm. Remember what Jesus told his friends? "Do not throw your bread to the dogs nor give your pearls to swine lest they turn and tear you." Avoid the dogs and the swine. Cull them out of your life before they get their fangs into you.
Good deeds would refer to conduct. For some suggestions regarding good deeds, please Click Here.
●Heb 10:25 ...Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)
The teetering Jews were at risk of losing interest and disassociating with believing Jews. A coal will lose its heat rapidly when separated from the fire. Well.. that goes for teetering Jews too. Isolation from other believing Jews can easily leave the teeterers prey to modern Judaism and/or secular philosophies urging them to lose confidence in Jesus.
All through the first ten chapters of the Hebrews letter, its Jewish author steadily painted his countrymen into a corner, building a case for the unquestionable superiority of the new covenant, Jesus' Melchizedek-style priesthood, and his personal sacrifice. This next reference to Moses' Law is the coup de grâce that drives in the final coffin nail on Jews who are relying upon the first covenant to earn themselves a share in Abraham's promises.
●Heb 10:26-28 ...If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. (NIV)
It should go without saying that in a letter written to the author's fellow Jews, a *knowledge of the truth* would imply instruction in Moses' Law, which was considered truth many, many years before the New Testament ever came along.
It's very easy, for Gentiles untrained in Old Testament Jewish law, to err by assuming the author meant there is no forgiveness of any kind for intentional sin. But that's a limitation of the old covenant which doesn't apply to the new covenant.
There are many crimes for which Moses Law permits neither ransom nor pardon; but the author didn't name those because not everybody commits them. However, everybody does eventually commit the kind of sin that he did name: deliberate sin. That is, if you know something is wrong, if you know it's against God's Law, and do it anyway, you are guilty of deliberate sin. The Aaronic system has absolutely no ransom at your disposal for deliberate sin. The deliberate sinner has to be excommunicated, and their guilt stays with them.
●Num 15:30-31 ...But the person, be he citizen or stranger, who acts defiantly reviles the Lord; that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has spurned the word of the Lord and violated His commandment, that person shall be cut off he bears his guilt. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
Therefore, when the Law's sinners commit deliberate sins; they're out of options. Heb 10:26-28 doesn't teach that new covenant beneficiaries are in danger of losing out on Abraham's blessings for deliberate sin. Heavens no— quite the contrary! At the core of the new covenant is a bullet-proof guarantee that Jews get those blessings; and keep them forever. Heb 10:26-28 targets Judaism. They are the ones who are in danger because Num 15:30-31 permits no absolution for deliberate sins; whereas the new covenant does.
Judaism's rabbis have contrived a work-around; but their work-around is neither true to the Mitzvot, nor true to the Aaronic system, nor true to the old covenant— it is a man-made rabbinical attempt to avoid the obvious, and to cover up modern Judaism's limitations.
If, as some have interpreted Heb 10:26-28, there is no forgiveness of any kind for deliberate sin, then David, one of the holiest men in the Bible, should have gone to Hell. But we know he didn't go there because his actions with Bathsheba and her husband were absolved (2Sam 12:13). David committed adultery and premeditated murder, knowing full well that those acts are sins, and knowing full well that the law of Moses mandates the death penalty for both offenses (Ex 21:12-14, Lev 20:10).
I’m speaking to Christians now. If you know the Bible, then you're aware that lies are sins. Yet you continue to lie; don't you? Every time you lie, you commit a deliberate sin because you know full well that lies are sins. You've probably been taught that sexual fantasies are sins. Yet you continue to have them don't you? Every time you indulge in a sexual fantasy, you commit a deliberate sin because you were taught that sexual fantasies are acts of mental adultery. How about traffic laws? When you deliberately speed, fail to come to a complete stop at stop signs, run red lights, pass illegally, and/or jay-walk; you are committing deliberate sins because you know from Rom 13:1-7, and 1Pet 2:13-15 it is a sin to break traffic laws; yet you continue to break those laws anyway.
Therefore, those among Christians who believe there is no forgiveness of any kind for deliberate sin; are going to Hell. Christians who believe that way have to go there because it is their belief that there is no absolution for deliberate sinners. But I am willing to bet money that none of them who believe that way really and truly worry about going to Hell. I would like to ask them: Where's your panic? Where's your terror? Where's your anxiety? No, they don't believe their own beliefs; because if they did, they would feel terror, anxiety, worry, and panic; because Hell, my friends, is something to be feared; and it is feared by everybody who truly believes in it.
●Luke 12:4-5 ...Dear friends, don't be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill the body; they cannot do any more to you. But I'll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill people and then throw them into hell. (NLT)
Genuine fear of retribution will make a sinner cling to the cross like survivors of a capsized boat cling to life rings thrown to them by the Coast Guard. They cling, because if they don't they will drown. No matter how good a swimmer, they will eventually drown just like all those people drowned in Noah's Flood. And until you are ready to cling to Jesus' cross as your only chance for the absolution of deliberate sins, you will, I guarantee it, go straight to Hell the very hour of your death.
If the belief of those Christians were true— that there is no absolution for intentional sins under either the old or the new covenant —then let me ask them another question: just what advantage (if any) does your kind of Christianity have over Judaism, and what advantage would the new covenant have over the old one if neither Christianity nor Judaism offered absolution from intentional sins? There would be no advantage whatsoever; and the Gospel wouldn't be good news, but rather, bad news— in point of fact, Christianity would be so redundant as to not even be worth the bother.
Although Heb 10:26-27 specifically targets Judaism; it also serves to deflate any other religion based upon the so-called Ten Commandments. Moses' Law doesn't have any provisions for the forgiveness of willful sins; ergo: Jesus' crucifixion is the final option for people who do things that they know in advance are wrong.
●Matt 18:21-22 …Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.
If you were asked to sit down and compile a list of common sins, could you list 7 columns of 70 sins each for a grand total of 490 sins without naming some more than once? I don't think so. I think you would have to list repeat offenses in order to total 490 sins.
So then, if The Lord requires men to forgive each other's repeat offenses, don't you think it would hypocritical of God not to require the same thing of Himself? Yes, it would be hypocritical of God to practice a double standard.
With that in mind, have a look at this verse again.
●Heb 10:26-27 …If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Is that verse saying repeat offenders, regardless of their religious affiliation, are automatically going to Hell? No, I don't believe it's saying that at all. I believe it's saying that there is only one atonement in existence that will work for repeat offenders; and that's Christ's crucifixion. Refuse it, and you're out of options because there just simply aren't any other sacrifices available; not even in Old Testament Judaism; the only other God-given religion in the whole Bible.
●Num 15:30-31 …But the person, be he citizen or stranger, who acts defiantly reviles The Lord; that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has spurned the word of The Lord and violated His commandment, that person shall be cut off— he bears his guilt.
Is it an abuse of the system to keep coming back to confession with the same old sins all the time? Well ...let me ask you this. Do you keep coming back to wash the same old face in the bathroom sink all the time? Do you keep coming back to wash the same old clothes in the laundry room all the time?
You see, it's not so much the individual's sins that concern God, but the individual's association with Himself that matters most; and if He has to keep running your soul through the wash tub every day in order to associate with you, He will do it and not complain; and He will do it each and every time because John says God is "faithful" which Webster's defines as firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty.
●1John 1:9 …If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I don't see anything in there about new sins, nor do I see anything in there about old sins; nope, I just see sins.
●Heb 10:29 ...How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? (NIV)
The Greek word for *sanctify* is hagiazo (hag-ee-ad'-zo); and simply means to set something aside specifically for God's use; viz: to consecrate. The life's blood of a beast sanctified Aaron for priesthood duty under the terms and conditions of the old covenant (Lev 8:22-24). In contrast, Jesus was consecrated with his own life's blood.
Some feel that a Christian who sins willfully is trampling God's son under foot and treating his blood as an unholy thing. No. That verse does not target Christians. It targets Jews who hear the gospel and snort at it.
You know what the worst possible sin is? Blaspheme against the Holy Ghost? Okay, that's pretty serious; but are you able to recognize that sin? Well… let me explain what that is. It's a sin against love; a sin against the spirit of charity, against kindness and good will— a sin, not just against the milk of human kindness, but against the milk of Divine kindness.
God subjected His own kin— His one and only beloved son —to brutality, beatings, whipping, ostracizing, indignity, humiliation, insults, and painful, lingering death in order to ransom Jesus' countrymen from the wrath of God. Jews who blow off that degree of kindness and generosity not only deserve to go to Hell, but Hell is actually too good for them.
Today, God is offering Abraham's posterity a totally free, no strings attached, redemption package for no other reason than that He is kind hearted and unselfish. He has proven good intentions by the humiliation of his own child for an historically unthankful, stiff-necked people.
The average Jew today isn't declining Jesus because they aren't convinced. No, they're declining him because they're obstinate. Thus, no matter how much evidence you might produce, nor how reasonable your argument, nor how often you threaten them, nor how severely you might punish them— even to the extreme of another terrible holocaust —they won't give in.
It is an unthinkable slap in the face to demean, and to disregard, such a heroic act of charity and good will. And if Jews were punished for violating Moses' laws, and for ignoring the voices of their prophets; shouldn't something much worse be done to them for snorting at the suffering of Almighty God's very heir apparent?
●Heb 10:30a …For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," (NIV)
Of all the peoples on this planet, Jews should know better than anyone that Abraham's God is no one to trifle with.
●Heb 10:30b...and again, "The Lord will judge his people." (NIV)
There is a day coming when every Jew, from every corner of the globe, will be rounded up and taken to one place for a special evaluation. The outcome of that evaluation will determine which of the living Diaspora will be allowed to share in Abraham's blessings. (Ezk 20:33-44)
●Heb 10:31 ...It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (NIV)
The Jews are God's *chosen* people. Gentiles aren't. If The Lord intends to judge His own people for declining Jesus Christ; can anyone seriously believe that Gentiles who do the very same thing will somehow escape His notice?
Right along about here in the Hebrews letter begins direct preaching mostly to Jews who were either past teetering or almost past teetering; and pretty well convinced that Jesus is truly Israel's long awaited Messiah— its new high priest, and its savior.
●Heb 10:32-36 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (NIV)
It wasn't easy to accept Jesus in the first century. And even today in some countries, his followers aren't popular; especially in the Islamic world. It is still very, very difficult for modern Jews to follow Jesus. I feel so sorry for them. Some of the testimonies at the Jews For Jesus web site are very sad.
It's tragic to think there are Jews declining their Messiah for no other reasons than fear of persecution, disgrace, and retaliation or because they're afraid that following Jesus will ruin their reputation, get them arrested, or because their families and/or the Jewish community at large will disown them. I'm a timid person myself so I understand what it is to be intimidated. Thank God I have never been in a position to make such a choice. But think about it— is there any earthly persecution and/or hardship that can honestly compare to the permanent loss of a share in Abraham's blessings?
●Heb 10:38-39 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (KJV)
Heb 10:38-39 echoes Heb 2:1-4 and Heb 6:1-8; and differentiates between Jews who decline the new covenant and Jews who yield to the author's urging to follow Jesus into the new world.
●Matt 8:11-12 ...And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (KJV)
●Heb 11:1 …What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. (NLT)
There are basically two communities of faith. One is a hope-so community. The other is a know-so community. The know-so community is the better because the other community is nothing in the world but wishful thinking.
It's been my experience as a born-again Christian since 1964, that the overwhelming majority of not only modern Jews, but also modern Christians, have absolutely no hope whatsoever. What I mean is; they have nothing to look forward to; but are simply wishing for the best; while in the backs of their minds dreading the worst.
This is the end or our Hebrews' commentary except to make one final statement regarding the first verse of chapter 12.
FAQ: Are the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12:1 the spirits of deceased believers?
The precise identity of the witnesses of Heb 12:1 is not given, but can be easily deduced from the information given in the chapter that preceded that verse.
I'm going to make a very subtle change in the text of Heb 12:1 in order to bring out its meaning.
●Heb 12:1 . .Therefore, since we too have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with steadfastness of mind the race that is set before us
The New Testament Greek word for *race is agon (ag-one') which doesn't actually mean race at all, but rather contest, conflict, contention, struggling, and fighting (e.g. Php 1:30, Col 2:1, 1Thes 2:2, 1Tim 6:2, 2Tim 4:7).
The author of Hebrews had only just listed a sampling of Old Testament exemplifications of faith in chapter 11 whose conduct was a testimony to God's influence in their lives among the people who knew them in their own times. In like manner, the "cloud of witnesses" in our own times doesn't refer to the spirits of deceased believers hovering around like and audience of leering voyeurs, but rather it refers to the living people all around you in daily life-- at the office, in the factory, in the shop, at the supermarket, at the mall, at the department store, at the dinner table, at the gas station, at the convenience store, at the drive-up window of McDonald's, in traffic, at the Post Office, at a restaurant, at the dentist office, at the hospital; viz: everywhere you go.
FAQ: So you are saying Christians are supposed to proselytize everywhere they go?
Athletes who compete against each other in Olympic games don't do so to convince the audience that everybody should be an athlete. No, competitors are not out to win the audience, but rather, to win a medal while the whole world is watching them.
It is Christ's wish that his followers not leave this world for Heaven right away, but rather, to remain and be living advertisements; testifying to his existence and to his influence for good in people's lives.
●John 17:15-18 . .My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
●Matt 5:13-16 . .You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lamp stand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
A professing Christian's conduct should be such that outsiders can tell they are a believer in the Bible's God without their having to say so.
●Php 2:14-16 . .In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them.
●2Cor 3:2-3 . .But the only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves! Your lives are a letter written in our hearts, and everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ prepared by us. It is written not with pen and ink, but with The Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on stone, but on human hearts.
So then, who are the believer's competitors in his struggle to live a righteous life? There are three. His own human nature, the audience itself, and the dark spirit beings. All three of those agencies are at work doing all in their power to ruin a believer's usefulness to Christ as an advertisement informing the world of his existence and of his influence for good in people's lives.
●Titus 2:10-12 . .For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age
●1Pet 4:3-4 . .For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation
And then too, there is the matter of rewards.
9:24-25 . .Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets
the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the
games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last;
but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.