Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. ~ Hebrews 6:17-18
There’s been a common theme in all my studies for the past few weeks: promises fulfilled. My husband and I are in the “waiting phase” of God’s promises fulfilled—and by waiting I don’t mean we’re sitting around doing nothing. We are eagerly, expectantly, and with great perseverance moving forward and looking for God to come through on the things He’s promised us. And we’re in great company; many of our friends are in the waiting phase, as well. Some are awaiting healing, some await financial break-through, and others, the promise of a new baby. The thing to remember during this phase is that it will end, because God, who is the highest authority, will fulfill His promises, (see Hebrews 6:13-20).
Hebrews 6 teaches us some things to remember during this phase: 1) God’s nature is unchanging (v 17). Our benefit: He fulfilled promises yesterday, He’s fulfilling them today, and He’ll do so in the future. 2) Community with other believers will help you stay the course (v 12). Our benefit: Hearing the testimony of others encourages you and builds your faith. 3) Abraham also received what was promised (v 17). Our benefit: Sometimes it can seem to take forever and sometimes we mess up, but God’s promises will still be fulfilled.
No matter what you’re waiting for or how long you’ve been waiting, just remember that God will fulfill His promises.
4 Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters: 5 With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. 6 Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him.
8 From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.”
10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.
8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
God was adamant that his people were going into exile under the Babylonians. It was to be an exile for a fixed time, 70 years, and God made a promise that he would bring them back. He also planned to prosper them during the exile. Right away people started looking for prophets that would tell them good news instead of bad. It was easy to find people who would proclaim the good news that the people wanted to hear. God was not happy with these false prophets or the people who listened to them. The people who listened to God prospered, those who didn’t suffered the consequences.
I have come to realize that that true suffering comes from not following the will of God. Actual life events, whether it is winning the lottery or going into exile do not make me happy or depressed. Failing to recognize and listen to God has left me in some very uncomfortable situations in my life. I’ve also experienced God during some trying times of my life that enabled me to feel content and know peace while circumstances would have dictated panic and unrest.
Jesus was made to experience suffering also. Hebrews tells us that Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered. The fire of suffering and exile can and does bring us closer to God. Fortunately we have Jesus to act as high priest for us. He is able to intervene for me when I am ignorant and headed astray. Praise God for his wonderful plan that leads me to salvation.
24 Who can hide in secret places
so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
“Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:24)
29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 24:29)
12 For the word of God is alive 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. 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.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:12-16)
In both Jeremiah and Hebrews we are reminded that nothing is hidden from God. I don’t know about you, but that makes me squirm sometimes. The word of God is alive and it goes deep. It exposes my sin. Nothing is hidden. If it wasn’t enough to know the outright sin in my life, I am reminded of Isaiah (64:6) who says that our righteous acts are filthy rags, or Paul, who counts all his works as loss (Phillipians 3:8). Even the good I do is often motivated by pride. And while sometimes I enjoy celebrating the accomplishments of my good works, I usually feel uncomfortable with this. It just doesn’t feel right. I am reminded that I am to do these things in secret, and my reward is in heaven, not here on earth.
In Hebrews I am so glad to get to verse 14, after feeling convicted in verses 12-13. I have a great High Priest, Jesus, so I can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, and receive mercy. How comforting. The squirming subsides. God watched over the Jews that were exiled to Babylonia, and He watches over me and cares for me, even in my periods of exile. He gives me a heart to know Him. And he saves me. He brings me back. My great High Priest.
Hebrews 3:1-6, 1. Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2. who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. 3. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5. Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6. but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. (ESV)
Who is Jesus? Why does the writer to the Hebrews spend time comparing Jesus to Moses? Why does the writer state the obvious that Jesus is superior to Moses? Well the way the Pentateuch ends is with a prophecy that someone greater than Moses is coming and he is the Messiah. And the other part of that prophecy that is daunting states that no one till the Messiah will be as great as Moses. So, if one can prove that Jesus is greater than Moses, then the point can be made that he is the Messiah. Many times in the Gospels the Pharisees and others pledged their loyalty to Moses. They knew that to say that Jesus was the Messiah they would have to say he was greater than Moses. They could not bring themselves to say that.
Who is Jesus to You? Is he the greatest person that ever lived or just another moral teacher? I love the argument that C.S. Lewis makes on this point. He states:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Do you believe Jesus to be the God of the universe or not? There is no middle ground on this question.
Father God we thank you for Jesus. I pray we would give him the praise, glory and recognition due the God of this universe. Thank you for including in your Word logical arguments to that effect! We love you so very much. Thank that although you are the God of the universe, you are mindful of us.
And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.”
“But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.” Jeremiah 25:4-7
I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:1,3b
Jesus told the parable of the talents to illustrate how the Jews repeatedly rejected the prophets. (Matthew 21:33-45)
God could not leave sins unpunished. The owner of the vineyard- God used the death of his heir – Jesus, as part of the plan to save even the tenants. God’s only Son took the penalty for the sins of the world.
I praise and thank you Lord that your Son may a way for us wayward people. I am no different in my behavior than Israel. Like the song says “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.” (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)
These words stand out on their own:
Remember my chains.
I scroll online back and forth between Old Testament and New Testament. Two prisons and two prisoners. Jeremiah and Paul.
I didn’t catch on at first that I was reading about Jeremiah with a separation of many chapters. In Jeremiah 20, he’s whipped and put in stocks for his prophesy. In Jeremiah 36, he’s talking again through scroll; King Jehoiakim burns it piece by piece. And I laugh–because Jeremiah tells it all again. Rewritten–words that won’t be denied, because he can’t hold them in.
When I speak, the words burst out.
“Violence and destruction!” I shout.
So these messages from the Lord
have made me a household joke.
9 But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord
or speak in his name,
his word burns in my heart like a fire.
It’s like a fire in my bones!
I am worn out trying to hold it in!
I can’t do it! Jeremiah 20:8-9 NLT
Paul is also in chains. He writes to believers about The Why he is in chains: the opportunities God gives [us] to speak of his mysterious plan.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.
5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Colossians 4:2-6 NLT.
When Paul writes, “remember my chains,” I think on this … remembering how he was held back physically, remembering his desire to make Jesus known, remembering his vulnerability at the hands of men. Nothing could really hold back Jeremiah or Paul. So what’s holding me back from living intentionally?
Lord, I’ve been sleepwalking lately … living routinely and not so intentionally. I really want to wake up and be aware of opportunity around me to engage with others and serve them. Help me to make the most of every opportunity in your name. Every day.