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Hebrews 7

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, JUNE 5

SCRIPTURE:  HEBREWS 7

This chapter appears to be a lot about Melchizedek.  And while it is true that we do read quite a bit about him, once again this chapter is about Jesus being better.

The chapter opens by reminding of us the episode in the Book of Genesis in which Melchizedek appeared.  The name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness.  We also find where he is the King of Salem.  The word Salem comes from the word shalom which means peace.  So, Melchizedek was also the King of Peace.  By the way Salem is a reference to Jerusalem. 

In verse 3 we find some other interesting things about this man.  There is no record of his parents or genealogy.  And there is neither a beginning nor an ending to his days.  The end of verse 3 says he resembles or “is like” the Son of God.

There are some that believe Melchizedek was a Christophany or an appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament.  And he may very well have been that.  But as we just read, the end of verse 3 says that this character was “like” the Son of God.  Regardless of whether Melchizedek was a Christophany or a mysterious character of the Old Testament, his story is important.  Part of the reason his story is important is his story points us to Jesus.

Another reason his story is important is his priesthood predates the establishment of the priesthood in the tribe of Levi and particularly in the family of Aaron.  This sets up the idea that Jesus, as our Great High Priest, was not of the tribe of Levi either.  His earthly dad and mom were both of the tribe of Judah.  In the Jewish mindset it would have been possible to reject Jesus solely on the basis that He was not of the tribe of Levi.  And that would have made the Levitical priests more important than Jesus.

In verse 11, we are reminded that perfection could not be achieved the Levitical priesthood and corresponding Law.  The purpose of the Law was primarily to show people that they were hopeless sinners.  The more they tried to keep the Law, the more their inability to do that resulted in sin.  And the more they sinned, the more blood had to be spilled. 

Jesus is the only One who ever kept the Law perfectly.  As a result He is better than all of the rest of humanity and He is better than all the Levitical priests. His sacrifice, by the way, was perfect and once for all.

In verse 23 we are reminded that it took a lot of Levitical priests to carry out all the sacrifices demanded by the Law.  And because none of those sacrifices were able to resolve the sin issue, they had to be repeated.  At the same time, Levitical priests were forced to retire at the age of 50 if they lived that long.  All of that adds up to a lot of priests.

We compare that to the fact that there is one Jesus and, therefore, one Great High Priest.  Because Jesus is eternal, His priesthood is permanent (v. 24).  Because His priesthood is permanent, He serves forever.

Because there is no end to Jesus or His priesthood, He is able to save to the uttermost (v. 25) or completely or forever.  But He only does that for those who draw near to God through Him.  Remember, the priest’s responsibility was to take the people to God.  What we know is the only way to God is through Jesus.  Since He is our Great High Priest, we get to God through Jesus and when we do, it is a forever relationship.

The chapter ends with some incredible descriptions of the nature and character of Jesus who is greater than all the Levitical priests.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Hebrews 6

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, JUNE 4 

SCRIPTURE:  HEBREWS 6

As the chapter opens, the first century readers are being encouraged to grow spiritually – to mature spiritually.  They are being challenged to move on with their sanctification.  For that to happen for them as well as for us, there are some things that have to be left behind and some other things that we have to reach for.

The concept of “leaving the elementary doctrines or teachings” does not mean that we should forget or ignore those important truths.  Those things are necessarily and importantly foundational to the faith.  We all need that solid foundation but at some point we have to start building on that foundation.  If all we ever do is work on the foundation, if all we ever do is continue to learn and relearn the foundational truths of Christianity, we will never grow or mature.

The list of things provided in the “leave behind” category are particularly pointed at those who were in the Jewish faith before they were saved.  As a result, they are told to leave behind the dead works or the actions that led to death.  This is a reference to the Old Testament sacrificial system.  But they are to move on toward faith in God.  They are to move on from washings or baptisms.  This is not a reference to New Testament baptism but to the ceremonial washings required in the Levitical Law.  They are to move on from the notion of the resurrection of the dead.  This doesn’t mean the doctrine of the resurrection is not important.  It is indeed a central doctrine of Christianity.  This is a reference to the ongoing and fruitless arguments that took place between the Pharisees who believed in the resurrection and the Sadducees who didn’t.

When we get to verses 4 and following, we enter into what is a difficult passage of Scripture particularly for those of us who rightfully believe in the eternal security of the believer.  A cursory reading of these verses might appear to teach that a person can be saved and then can lose that salvation and then could only be saved again if Jesus were crucified again which by the way will not happen.

On one hand if that is what this passage is teaching then those denominations who teach the loss of salvation must necessarily teach that once it is lost it can never be regained.  On the other hand, Scripture clearly teaches that salvation cannot be lost.  That requires us to slow down here and deal with some difficult verses.

Most translations add the important word “IF” in verse 6.  This teaches that “IF” salvation could be lost, it could never be regained.  But it doesn’t say that it could actually be lost.  Indeed, we know that it cannot be lost.

But there is another way we should wrestle with this passage of Scripture.  We should think about this in terms of those who have actually, truly been saved but then have chosen to walk a different path.  The Biblical truth is that they can come back to live a solid Christian life but there will be consequences for their disobedience. 

Think about it this way.  When we are saved, the eternal consequences of our sin are absorbed by Jesus and forgiven by God.  After we are saved, if we willfully walk away from the faith, God will punish us for our disobedience.  If we ask Him to forgive us for walking away, He will but His forgiveness at that time does not remove the consequences or discipline that necessarily accompanies our disobedience.  For there to be no discipline would mean that Jesus would have to return to the cross.  And, again, that will not happen.

The writer of Hebrews then uses an analogy of some farm land that is blessed and productive.  But if it loses its productivity and starts to grow thorns and thistles, it is fit only for burning.  That burning would destroy the thorns and thistles but it would not destroy the land.  In other words, if our lives are the land producing the thorns and thistles, we should expect the weeds to be removed even while our lives are being saved.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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