Christmas is this week. How do we know that the baby in the manger was the birth of the Messiah. By Faith. The clearest definition of Faith is in Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
When I was an atheist I hung my hat on the fact that we have thousands of years of artifacts of History but not one to prove Christianity. Where is Noah’s Ark? Where is the 10 Commandments? Where is the Ark of the Covenant (seriously even Indiana Jones is looking for it), Where are the temples? The Scrolls? The gold mice? Moses bones? The Tomb? The Cross? IF God is so real why wouldn’t he leave things for us to dig up to prove his existence. On the contrary for that very reason. We must believe by Faith and Faith alone. To have proof in our hands would completely break the covenant of Belief.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Janice once told me: most of us are 18 inches away from Heaven and miss it. (the distance between your head and your heart). So if God is writing a Bible right now and you are a Character what would it say about you “By Faith, (insert name), ___________________. If we fix our eyes on Jesus as our personal Lord (not ourselves) we can fill in that blank.
I keep going back to in my heart to Hebrews 4:
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. 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.
I challenge you to examine your heart. If reading the Word has not changed you at all, if fruit is not growing, if foundations are not being laid, if the Word is not personally speaking to you, in other words if your Approach to the Lord, your relationship with the Lord has not changed this year then I wonder if you are a Christian. There is evidence of Salvation and it comes from His Word.
Genesis 14. Melchizedek. Where do we first hear of him. It amazes me that it falls between Genesis 13 and 15, right at 14. In 13 Abraham, the father to the Jewish Nation separated from Lot (his nephew) the father of the Arab nations (his daughters got him drunk and seduced him and gave birth to Moab (Moabites) and Amon (the Amorites) so after the separation, through Abraham, the “others” were then saved, we meet the “King Priest” Melchizedek. Just AFTER Abraham makes an offer to him, in Chapter 15 God makes his Eternal Covenant of the Messiah to Come to Bless ALL people.
After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Do you understand how much foreshadowing is in just those two verses. Listen I am not saying if that was Jesus making a carnate appearance before Abraham but I am not saying it isn’t either. I am sure God has done many cool things without is even realizing it. Whether it was Jesus or not the Shadow of him is real. Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness” or “King of Peace” (Salem). This was 600 years BEFORE the priesthood was dictated through Moses as a Levitical line. See before sacrifices were organized by God when the nations was being created the head of the household (oldest male) made sacrifices, see since the beginning of time we ALWAYS knew there must a substitutionary death for atonement (to clear our sins)…Always. These men were both king of their family and priest. It wasn’t until the Line of the Levites did priests become separate and then the line of David did the Kings become separate. ANYWAY, (trying not to bore you) the point here is that MELCHIZEDEK who shared with them the bread and wine , who came on behalf of the God Most High(PLEASEEEE think about that foreshadow!!!) was as perfect as a priest could be, and Jesus was higher than the Order of Melchizedek.
Chapter 8 (sorry this is long already). There are not two Covenants anymore, but just one. So people have to know that all the promises of before are now obsolete and just the new one is active. If you are confused the Old Covenants are sacrifices atoned sin, a physical building as a place to worship, limited promises, external standards and rules, LIMITED access to God, legal cleansing, forgiveness earned, repeated yearly, available to a chosen nation. (Although this might sound like many churches today the book of Hebrews confirms that the NEW Covenant, Jesus being the reality of all the foreshadowing now God says we are to self-sacrifice, we are the temple for Christ, internal standards (heart), UNLIMITED access to God, personal cleansing, no more Sacrifice (Jesus paid it all), is available to ALL.
Chapter 9 and 10. Sweet Marie, if you have read Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers, you see that ALL those months are summarized into this chapter. The Tabernacle was a Pattern of what was to come. Jesus. Look at Chapter 10: “The Law is only a shadow of the good things 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. (I am saddened to think about the people who think going to church or doing something at church does something, it actually takes away from the very fact that our FAITH needs to be grounded in that we DON’T need to do any of that, Jesus did it, and if we truly know that why do some still follow law?
The ending reads with the fact that if the people rejected the Law of Moses they went to Hell, so how much worse will it be for those who don’t know Jesus as “My Lord”.
This is not an easy read today. This part of the reading is about the Deity of Christ. Deity means Holy, Sacred, Divine. Christ is above all. Through false teaching or past wives tales and traditions have grown and very much worshipped. The main argument of this letter is that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses (Mosaic Law). He is greater than:
- The Angels who the Law was given
- Moses the Law giver to the people
- The Levitical Priesthood, who the law was administered
Remember this book was written mainly at the time to Jewish converts that were struggling in their Faith. First, the writer is going to recount in his own words some past scriptures from Psalms and Isaiah. Angels are very much a part of our history as well as our future but what are they? Angels are instruments that God uses for His purposes to reach us. For example an angel can be a messenger with a Word for us right here on earth (so watch what you say to the stranger next to you…you never know). Angels are our protectors. If God is Almighty, then why do we need Angels to look after us, right?? They are the instruments that God uses to intervene. Example, I knew a baby that was thrown from her car and not a scratch was on her and people said “an angel protected her”, well yes I believe that but really the Lord just used the angel to protect her…so let’s always look to the top. We must stay focused on Christ. Through Jewish history angels played a huge part in the giving of the law (Moses even had lunch with them) so Jews were exalting them wrongly.
Moses, if you know nothing about Jewish Culture know this, Moses is the religious leader of their faith, their Prophet, and the divine author of the first 5 books of the Bible called the Torah. He was their Leader and Hero! He led them out of slavery and brought them to the cusp of the promise land. Well, technically he was just an instrument God used.
Priest. Many of you joined us at the NT so let me do a quick recap.
Jacob was renamed Israel by God. Jacob/Israel had 12 sons forming the 12 tribes of Israel, one of the Tribes was from the son Levi. So they are called the Levites and the book LEVIticus is about that very tribe and their role. To make a long story short, the Levites were the line of the Priests and their Job was to take care of the Tabernacle (like a portable temple), the Ark of the Covenant (where God communed) and eventually the Temples (when one was standing, there were 3 total in history). Anyway, Moses brother Aaron became the first HIGH PRIEST and then that got past generational. (Until the time of Christ when Romans took the role of appointing who they wanted as high priest. Anyway, the role of the High Priest was to enter the Temple and make sacrifices for atonement of our sins. Once a year (the day of Atonement) they would actually go beyond the veil and make a complete atonement for all our sins through a sacrifice. WELLLLLLL, what is the Shadow here? Jesus Christ became the ultimate high Priest making the Atonement for ALL. That is when the veil tore allowing all of us to be a priesthood (as we read yesterday in 1 Peter). Does that all make sense, as to why Jesus is the High Priest?
Last, the topic of falling away from the Lord, or the Christian Word: Apostasy. At the end of Chapter 5 the author talks about being more mature in the Word and learning it for yourselves and not being fed by others. But learning and the Bible and using it to discern wrong from right, in life and teachings from the world or in our church. Then in Chapter 6, (I had to research this a lot because it didn’t ring in my hear the way it is in my heart BUT what it is saying is that just because you have corporately worshipped and done some “Christian Stuff”, if you fall away from the Lord, then you were never really a Christian to begin with. See the theme of this book is people who tried being a Christian and were thinking of going back to what they had before, wasn’t working for them. (If there is no fruit….well then no vine) Anyway, I have rambled enough.
Tomorrow something fun…WHO IS MELCHIZEDEK?? It goes all the way back to Genesis 14. Did Jesus make a Cameo appearance in Genesis. I wonder how many times Jesus did this throughout History and we don’t have a clue.
Hebrews. An EXTREMELY important book. Just like Romans was a foundational book for the Gentiles, this is the counterpart to the Jews in Jerusalem. Think about this for a minute, before Christ came all Jewish people were taught to make atonement for their sins through animal sacrifice. It is an extremely important part of the religion and their way of life. So Christ comes as the Promised Messiah to fulfil all the ritual acts they were doing, specifically handed down from God himself. Before the Christ they lived a very legal life of order, sacrifice, hierarchy, priests…etc. So now that Jesus did come, and many Jews came to believe, what do you do with all they were taught their whole life. (some of you may be going through this personally as we read this New Testament together).
As long as there is a standing temple, the Jews (even Christian Jews) will feel this human effort desire to make sacrifices to the Lord. Makes sense, it would be really hard to literally change everything that was taught for 2000 years, right . So God breathes this letter through an un-named author, confirming all the Law was a SHADOW of The Christ. ALL of it. The tabernacle, the animal sacrifice, the feasts, the Priests were all a prophecy of the Christ to come. Shortly after this book is written to the Christian Jews, the Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed, so God is preparing them for what is to come since only sacrifices and priests are part of a Temple. God needs to eliminate the temple to focus ourselves on Christ, not on ritual. See all that we learned in the Old Testament WAS a Shadow of Christ. To partake in any exercise that we think earns favor with the Lord in Salvation eliminates our Faith in the Messiah.
So if the Temple is about to be destroyed how does one approach God?