Tuesday, May 28, 2013

HEBREWS 5:1-10

Hebrews 5 continues the discussion of Jesus as our great high priest that began in 4:14. (We know this because verse one begins with the word “for”.)  He especially works to explain how Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses. In 5:1-10 the writer explains first that it is the humanity of the priest that makes him able to sympathize with people, then that the Father appointed Jesus as high priest, and finally that Jesus became perfected in his humanity by suffering and thus was competent to bring salvation to his people.

Humanity Makes the Priest

The Old Testament high priest was a man.  That is what “chosen from among men” means in verse 1. The man had to be a descendant of Aaron according to Exodus 28-29. He acted on behalf of men and women toward God. He offered sacrifices to obtain God’s atonement of the sin of the men and women of Israel. 

This high priest could deal gently with the ignorant and wayward (ESV) or those going astray (NIV). The writer tells us that is because he himself has weaknesses. In other words, the priest is an effective and kind minister because he understands temptation and how easy it is to fall into sin. This was certainly true of Aaron. He let the Israelites make the golden calves and proclaimed “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of Egypt”. (Exodus 32:4) Moses said Aaron led them into a great sin. (Exodus 32:21) So, Aaron committed the sin of idolatry. Then, in Numbers 12, Aaron and Miriam opposed Moses out of pride and jealousy. So, Aaron understood the weakness of the people because he was weak. 

As a side note, that is how we all should be with our Christian brothers and sisters. We do not let them slide away into sin because we do not want to confront it. But we also do not rush to condemnation. We admonish them, we plead with them, we try to get them to repent and resume their walk with Christ. We can do this because we know we ourselves are weak and sinful. 

5:4-6, 10
The Father Appoints The High Priest

You cannot declare yourself the high priest. It drives me crazy when men or women appoint themselves as bishops or apostles instead of being called by the church. Well the writer here points out that God only can appoint the high priest. No man can appoint himself. God appointed Aaron and his sons. Then, in Numbers 25 he narrowed that to the line of Phineas after he killed the man committing adultery with the Midianite woman in the camp of Israel.

That calling and choosing by God was observed by the Jews all through their history until the time of the Romans, when the Roman governor or king over Judea interfered with the process and, ultimately, destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and the geneaological records. 

Of course, today there are those who believe the temple will be rebuilt complete with a priesthood and sacrifices. The problem is there is no hereditary high priest available. Jews who believe the temple will be rebuilt tend to believe it will be rebuilt when the Messiah returns and either he or a newly constituted Sanhedrin  will appoint a high priest.   My personal opinion is that this is a mistake and they did not understand that Jesus would fulfill the role of high priest. 

So, if the high priest has to be chosen by God and must be from the line of Aaron and Phineas, the first question the Jewish audience has is “how then did Jesus, of the tribe of Judah, become high priest? Did he just appoint himself?” And the writer answered that question by saying “no, Jesus did not appoint himself, God the Father did”. (5:5) And he quoted an Old Testament verse to prove it. 

Christ did not appoint himself to be high priest. No one can claim that he, as a man, set himself up above the sons of Aaron. Jesus was not a Levite. He was descended from Judah. He was from the line of kings, not the line of priests. But, in Christ, these offices are united and fulfilled. He is prophet, priest and king. 

So, the Father appointed the Son, Jesus, as a high priest. The writer quotes Psalm 110:4 in Hebrews 5:6 to prove this point. It says that God appointed Jesus his son as a priest after the order of Melchizedek. 

Now in Psalm 110, David records one person talking to another person, both referred to in the English Bible as “Lord”. Psalm 110:1 says “The LORD says to my Lord…”.  But in the English Bible, the first use of the word is in all capital letters (LORD). This is a convention used when the name of the Father is meant. Some of the versions explain this in the preface.

For example, the preface in my old NIV (New International Version) says “In regard to the divine name YHWH, commonly referred to as the Tetragrammaton, the translators adopted the device used in most English versions of rendering the name as “LORD” in capital letters to distinguish it from Adonai, another Hebrew word rendered “Lord” for which small letters are used. “

We believe that the Lord’s name “YHWH” is probably pronounced Yahweh. So, Psalm 110:1 says literally “Yahweh says to Adonai…”. The Father says to the Son, you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (110:1-4)

The Father not only appointed Jesus as Son, but also as a priest forever. But, even Jesus cannot be an Aaronic priest, since he is not descended from Aaron. Rather, he is appointed a priest after the order of Melchizedek. 

What does that mean? 

Here again we must dive into the Old Testament to understand the reference. Look at Genesis 14. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, got caught up in the war of kings. Lot’s side lost and he was captured. Abraham defeated the armies and rescued Lot. Afterward, Melchizedek, the king of Salem, came out to meet Abraham with bread and wine. Moses tells us Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God. Abraham gave him a tenth of all he had taken as spoils and received a blessing from him. 

The only other time we hear of Melchizedek in the Old Testament is in Psalm 110:4. In that Psalm, David prophesied the appointment of Jesus as priest. The writer of Hebrews now says Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 110:4. He is David’s “Lord” in Psalm 100:1. He is the one appointed priest by the Father forever.

The writer of Hebrews was actually not the first one to say this. Jesus applied Psalm 110 to himself in Matthew 22:41-46. 

I cannot resist a theological side note there. If God the Father would not violate his oath to give the priesthood to the Levites and the high priest office to Aaron’s descendants even when he appointed his son, Jesus, he certainly will not violate that oath and appointment with anyone else. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion, claimed God gave him the priesthoods of both Aaron and Melchizedek. This would violate God’s oath to Aaron first of all. And second, it would put Joseph Smith on the level of stature as Christ. 

Hebrews 5:7-9 
Jesus Perfected as Priest

Verses 7-9 again deal with Jesus’ humanity and sympathy. Remember that 4:14 has already stated that Jesus is sympathetic to our weaknesses and 5:2 has said the high priest can deal gently because he himself suffered weakness.

So Verse 7 tells us that Jesus, in the flesh, prayed with loud cries and tears. I think this is a reference to Jesus praying on the Mount of Olives the night of his arrest. Read Luke 22:41-44 and Mark 14:33-36. Jesus suffered as he anticipated the cross. He said “My soul is sorrowful, even to death”. (Mark 14:34) He prayed that God would save him if that could be his will. He said “remove this cup from me”. The “cup” is the cup of God’s wrath that would fall on him on the cross. He bore the wrath of God for our sins to bring us atonement.

What does this mean? I think this means Jesus was tempted in his flesh to avoid the cross. It would be demeaning and humiliating. It would hurt horrifically. He would die physical death. And, instead of basking in the love of the Father, he for the first time would feel the full weight of his wrath as he paid the penalty for sin. 

But, as the writer said in Hebrews 4:14, he was tempted but he did not sin. He prayed “if you are willing”. And then he said “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42). 

It was not the Father’s will for Jesus to avoid the cross. And Jesus accepted the Father’s will and did not sin. Verse 7 refers to his “reverence” in the ESV and  “reverent submission” in the NIV. 

The Father did rescue him, but only after death. He raised him from death and the grave. And note that although the Father insisted on his will, he still sent an angel to strengthen Jesus so he could face this trial. 

Verse 9 says Jesus was made perfect by suffering. This does not mean he was sinful and got rid of his sin by suffering. It means he became the complete and perfect priest and savior by suffering temptation and conquering it. He suffered so he could identify with us in our humanity. When verse 8 says “although he was a son”, he means he suffered in his humanity despite his exalted position as son. This again is what Philippians 2 means when it says Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but took on human flesh and became obedient to the point of death. Philippians 2 is really a parallel passage to Hebrews 5 in its theological point. He learned what it felt like to obey God even if the result is death.

And since he was perfected as a human being, and thus as our high priest, he could perform the ultimate priestly act (offering himself as a sacrifice for us) and become the source of salvation to all who obey him. 

He is a greater high priest than Aaron for two reasons. First, he is a priest forever, not just during one life time. Second, he faced temptation but did not sin, being obedient even to death.

We obey him by believing he is the Son of God and following him in obedience. We take up our cross and follow him. (Luke 9:23) 

And please notice he said “the” source, not “a” source. Jesus claimed to be the exclusive way to salvation and the communion with the Father.  He said I am “the” way. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Believe in Jesus. Have restored fellowship with the Father. Commit to follow Jesus. Receive eternal life! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Hebrews 4:14-5:10

Verse 14 is the beginning a passage that goes through 7:28 (although the topic continues throughout the book). It is an exposition of Psalm 110:4. That topic is that Jesus is a greater high priest than Aaron. It is also that Jesus, despite being great, is a compassionate high priest.

If you did not come from a Jewish background, you might wonder why that is important. But, remember that the original audience here is Jewish. The people who received this letter were Jews who had either professed faith in Christ or at least had heard the gospel and were meeting with the church. The writer wanted them to stay firm in their faith in Christ and not return to Judaism. 

But this is not a solely historical lesson for us Gentiles. We will learn about Jesus ministry as our high priest. It is also one of the “offices” Jesus holds. We have seen Jesus as prophet, priest and king. This passage is about Jesus as priest and, specifically, as our high priest.

First, let’s review the history of the priesthood. The priesthood was established during the exodus from Egypt. The Jews did not want to deal with God face to face. They constantly grumbled against God. Moses constantly interceded for them. Then, when God came to Mount Sinai to establish the covenant, they asked Moses to speak to God for them because they were afraid. Moses acted as a priest. 

But when God formally established the covenantal priesthood, he chose the tribe of Levi to be the priestly family. He had already set aside the Levites to himself because they supported Moses in stopping the worship of the golden calves. (Numbers 14:5-6, 11-13) Aaron was Moses’ brother. He had already acted as a priest, speaking for Moses to Pharaoh. In fact, when God told Moses he sent Aaron to be his spokesman, he said “He shall speak for you to the people and he shall be your mouth and you shall be as God to him.” (Exodus 4:14)

Aaron was then appointed by God to be the first high priest. (Exodus 28:1) The Levitical priests offered the daily offerings. Only the high priest could make the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. This is described in Leviticus 16. The high priest had to cleanse himself and make atonement for himself and his family, then he could go behind the veil and offer the sacrifice before the Lord. That is because no one could be in the presence of the Lord in a sinful condition.

This shows you how important the priesthood was to Israel. It also shows the supreme importance of the high priest. Only he could bring yearly atonement for Israel.

So now, let’s look at the passage in Hebrews.

Our Sympathetic High Priest

Jesus is our high priest. Hebrews 3:1 says: “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession…”

The high priest passed through the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle). He passed through the courtyard to the altar, made sacrifice, then passed into the Holy Place, then passed through the veil to the mercy seat. But Jesus passed through the heavens. (4:14) Later passages will give more detail, but the image is that Jesus ascended through the heavens into the presence of God offering his sacrificial death for our sins. 

The implication is that Jesus is a greater high priest than Aaron, for Aaron passed through the earthly temple, but Jesus passed through the heavenly temple into God’s presence. He is, therefore, the great high priest.

Because he is a great high priest, the writer says “let us hold fast our confession”. The NIV says “firmly”. Fast does not mean quick. It means to lock on, as with a fastener. The NIV updated the language for you there so that it would be more understandable. For the Jew, the writer means: do not give up the greater priest for the lesser priest. 

We also often give up the greater for the lesser. Whole denominations have given up the glory of Christ and the gospel for “feel good about yourself” theology. Our Catholic friends gave up this glorious blessing of direct access to the Father through his Son and re-established a human priesthood complete with sacrifices. 

Verse 15 shows us that, even though Jesus is great high priest, he is a sympathetic high priest. He is sympathetic because he suffered all the trials and temptations we suffer. He took on our flesh. He was fully human. Therefore, he can sympathize. When you are tempted, you can come to Jesus for help and he will sympathize and help you. It is not God’s design that you go it alone in your own strength. That is the meaning of verse 16. Draw near to the throne of grace and receive mercy for your failures and help in your time of need.

The throne of grace is a reference to the place of God’s presence. In the Tabernacle and Temple, it was the mercy seat over the ark. But the throne here is the presence of God, whom believers may approach for grace in our times of need. Yes, he may say what you are doing is wrong, or what you are thinking of doing is wrong and call you to repentance. But he does not judge and pour out wrath. He pours out mercy. He forgives, he strengthens and he guides.

I would guess your normal reaction to sin in your life is to avoid confronting it or bringing it to God. If you bring it to God it is to ask forgiveness and hope you are not punished. But the idea here is that, when tempted or tried, you come to Jesus and say help me! You say “you know what this feels like, give me grace to avoid sin!”

So, here is an example. A few years ago, a political thing happened where I worked. People lied about me behind my back and used the lies to their profit and my detriment. I knew it was going on, although I did not know all that was said. Now, I can tell you that year before this, once I found this out, I would have gone on the warpath. And you do not want me on the warpath. And, if I was harmed, I would retaliate, even if it took years to accomplish. 

But, I had changed. The Bible convinced me that I was to love my enemies and trust God to take care of me. So, I did. I even took a Bible to work, opened it to a passage that dealt with the situation, and left it open there as a reminder. Mostly I did okay. But when the anger or fear arose, I went to Jesus and said “I know you know what this feels like. You were betrayed by someone close to you, and you suffered it and trusted God to deliver you. Help me to do the same.” And he did. And it was a spiritual victory empowered by God’s grace and mercy. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013


The writer of Hebrews continues his warning for the Hebrew Christians not to fall away from Christ and return to Judaism. 

Only Those Who Believe In Christ Enter His Rest

The writer begins this chapter by saying the promise of God’s rest still stands. But, they must heed his warning or some of them might not reach the fulfillment of the promise. He is concerned for each and every member of his congregation. He said they should fear if any one of them should fail to reach the promise (1).

We know that the promise still stands, because the good news came to us as well as the generation that failed to go into Canaan. The good news for those Old Testament Hebrews was that God would deliver them from the wilderness into Canaan, where he would give them rest from their enemies and their struggles to survive. The good news for us is that Jesus came to save us from our sins and give us rest from trying and failing to earn our salvation through works. Galatians 2:20 says we are saved by grace through faith and not by our own works. 

The writer reinforces his idea by pointing out that the good news did not benefit the Old Testament Hebrews because they did not believe it. He said they were not united by faith with those who listened (believed). (2) All of those of all times who believe God’s promise of redemption are united in salvation for eternity. In verse 3, he said “for we who have believed enter that rest”. Again, he shows that salvation comes through faith in God’s promise of redemption. 

Much of the Jewish religion in New Testament times was based on works. They had commandments, regulations and interpretations. Jesus clashed with the Pharisees numerous times, accusing them of greater loyalty to their own rules than to God. In contrast, he said “This is the work of God (or the work required by God for salvation), that you believe in him who he has sent”. (John 6:29) 

The second part of verse 3 may seem jarring to you. After he said believers enter into God’s rest, he quoted Psalm 95 again to say God swore the disobedient Old Testament Hebrews who refused to go into Canaan would not enter his rest. But he is presenting a comparison for his audience of Jews and for us. Those who believe will enter into God’s rest. Those who do not believe will come under his wrath as the disobedient Hebrews did. They will not enter God’s rest, but will enter into his wrath.

The example of wrath is that of Numbers 14. When the Hebrews refused to go into Canaan, God swore they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years until all of that generation died. It is a picture of being cast from God’s presence. The New Testament Jews, and we also, will be cast from God’s presence for eternity if we do not believe. In John’s vision of the judgment in Revelation 19:15, anyone whose name was not written in the book of life (those who believe and are saved) is cast into the lake of fire (hell). 

God’s Own Rest
Hebrews 4:3b-4-5

In these verses, the writer expanded his concept of God’s rest by referring to creation. He wrote that God rested from his labors of creation on the seventh day. This rest is where the Sabbath concept originates. God rested because everything was accomplished or finished. The writer is telling us that God’s rest from creation is the ultimate origin of the concept of rest.

In literary terms, then, God’s rest is the archetype of rest. It is the original patter from which all of types of rest in the Bible are based. Then, the Sabbath is a type of God’s rest. The land of Canaan, or the Promised Land, is a type of God’s rest. A type is a symbol or image of a greater truth. Finally, our eternal rest in God’s presence is the antitype, the real thing, the ultimate truth.

The Promise of Rest Is Still Available
Hebrews 4:6-10

Here the writer returns to his original thought, expressed in 4:1, that he promise of God’s rest still stands, or is still available. So, in verse 6, he says “it remains for some to enter it”. 

A Hebrew might have responded to this statement by saying God promised “rest” by promising that the Hebrews would enter Canaan. Joshua led them into Canaan after the unbelieving generation died in the wilderness. Therefore, God kept his promise to the Hebrews and it is among the Hebrews they should stay. No other promises exists.

The writer rebuts this thought in verse 7. His reasoning is based on the wording of Psalm 95:7, where David tells his people “today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”. So if David promised rest many years after the time of Joshua, the promise of rest was not complete. (8) So the writer says God’s promise of rest continues until the present day.

Notice that in verse 8, the writer says “Sabbath rest” for the first time. He knew his Jewish readers would make the connection between God’s rest from creation and the observance of the Sabbath. They would also know the rules of the Sabbath rest. What is the principle of the Sabbath? It was the seventh day, it was set aside to God. In other words, it was holy and they were to keep it holy, or set aside to God. (Exodus 20:8) They did this by refraining from the activities of work. They were to do no work. (Exodus 20:10) And the reason given for it was that God rested from his creation labor on the seventh day. 

Of course, it was about rest. But it was also about belief. The Hebrews had to believe God. They had to trust him to provide food for them even when they did not work that day. It was even more crucial for the Sabbath year. Every seventh year, they had to let the land rest. (Exodus 23:10) They had to trust God for a whole year’s provision. Image not working every 7th year and depending on God to pay your rent, buy your food and clothes, and keep you financially sound!

The writer is pointing out to them, and to us, that both God’s rest from creation work and the Sabbath were types of God’s ultimate rest for believers. They were to point men and women to faith in Christ. Jesus pointed out this comparison by using the word “rest” himself. He said come to me, you who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) 

What is the rest that Jesus gives those who come to him? The writer of Hebrews tells us in verse 10: “for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his”. The Pharisees worked hard to earn salvation through observing the law in great detail. But Jesus repeatedly said God was not pleased with them, for they were only Godly on the outside. He called them hypocrites. (Matthew 15:7) They looked good in their observance, but their hearts were far from God. (Matthew 15:8)

When the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin, and that is one of his jobs, you began to lose all hope in the idea that the good you do will outweigh the bad and God will let you into heaven. You begin to see the great holiness of God. You compare it to the filthy rags of your acts of so call righteousness. The voice of Paul thunders in your head “for by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight...” (Romans 3:20) Then you want to rest from your works. Then you rejoice to turn to Christ and receive his salvation by faith. (Romans 3:21-25)

You Cannot Fool God
Hebrews 4:11-13

Just as the Pharisees could not fool Jesus into thinking they were righteous, you cannot fool God into thinking you are righteous in your own works. It does not matter if you sit in church for every sermon, give generously, talk piously and refrain from outward sin. God knows your heart. 

So the writer says strive to enter that rest so that no one falls by disobedience. Preach to gospel to each other, live the gospel among each other, worship in gratitude of salvation and confess your belief.

The word of God prevents you from fooling God. Verse 12 tells us it penetrates. It goes past all pretense and appearance, to judge our hearts. Verse 13 tells us we are defenseless before God and his Word. We are naked and exposed to him. 

So forget about acting. Believe in Jesus. Trust him for salvation. Rest from working to please God. Join the congregation of believers in joyful worship.

As David said in Psalm 95, today is the day. Do not harden your heart. Believe.

Sunday, May 05, 2013


This passage is a little sermon about not falling away. The writer took another Old Testament passage and explained it in terms of their current situation. It is expository preaching.

This passage is also interesting because it has three layers. The first layer is the passage in Hebrews which was a sermon to the writer’s original audience, but is applicable to us today.

The second layer is Psalm 95. The writer quoted Psalm 95:7b-11. Then he preached a sermon on it, applying it to his audience at the time of writing.

The third layer is Numbers 14. Psalm 95:7-11 refers to the incident that happened in Numbers 14 and warns the readers at the time the Psalm was written not to repeat the mistake of the Israelites recorded in Numbers 14. 

So you have a historical account, a Psalm applying the situation to the time of the Psalms, and the Hebrews passage applying the lesson of the Psalm to the readers in the New Testament days. And, of course, we are applying that lesson to ourselves today.

So, let’s look at Numbers 13-14. That passage records the impending end of the Exodus from Egypt. The Israelites have crossed the wilderness and camped. Moses sent spies into Canaan to check it out. Unfortunately, 10 of the 12 spies came back with a bad report. They said the Israelites could not conquer it because the people of the land were stronger than the Israelites. (13:31). Remember that God has delivered them from Egypt, the powerful country that dominated the region. He provided food and water for them all through the desert journey. He promised to drive out the Canaanites and give Israel the land. But when the people heard the report, they despaired and refused to go in. The Lord would have destroyed them except that Moses interceded.

But God still imposed punishment. He said the Israelites did not believe in him despite all that he had done among them. (14:11). He would not let any of the adults go into the promised land except Joshua and Caleb. The rest fell dead in the desert over the years. Only when that generation was gone did he let Israel go into Canaan.

Now look at Psalm 95. This Psalm was used in worship as liturgy. But beginning in verse 7, the Psalmist cautions the Israelites not to harden their hearts against God as that earlier generation had done. The Psalmist used the word “rest” instead of Canaan, though. In Canaan they would rest from their wandering in the wilderness.

Canaan, the promised land, was used as a type of heaven from the beginning of the church. The wilderness represented the struggles of this age. Crossing the Jordan represented death and the resurrection of the spirit to heaven. For example, look at the hymn “Jordan’s Stormy Banks”. 

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.

O the transporting, rapturous scene,
That rises to my sight!
Sweet fields arrayed in living green,
And rivers of delight!

There generous fruits that never fail,
On trees immortal grow;
There rocks and hills, and brooks and vales,
With milk and honey flow.

O’er all those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
And scatters night away.

No chilling winds or poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more.

When I shall reach that happy place,
I’ll be forever blest,
For I shall see my Father’s face,
And in His bosom rest.

Filled with delight my raptured soul
Would here no longer stay;
Though Jordan’s waves around me roll,
Fearless I’d launch away.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

The hymn shows the writer standing in the wilderness, looking across the Jordan river into Canaan. But all of this is a type of standing on earth in this age looking into eternity with the Lord Jesus.

Now, Hebrews 3:7 starts with the word “therefore”. It refers to the fact that Jesus is worthy of more honor than Moses. The argument is: because Jesus is worthy of more honor than Moses, do not leave Jesus the way the Israelites left Moses and God in the wilderness and came under God’s wrath.

Notice that the writer, in quoting the Psalm, attributes it to the Holy Spirit. It is a simple statement of the inspiration of Scripture. It comes from God. 2 Peter 1:21 says “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God...”

Then, in verse 8, the write tells them, of you hear God’s voice, do not harden your hearts like those Old Testament Israelites did. They turned away in unbelief. (Numbers 14:11; Hebrews 3:19). Verse 9 says they went astray and did not know God’s ways.

Now, these Israelites that rebelled were not atheists. They believed God existed. They had seen him in action. They knew God could do great things, because they had seen them. They just did not believe God could or would give them victory over these Canaanites. They were not willing to put their lives on the line in faith that God would give victory.

These Israelites, to whom Hebrews was written, believed in God. They believed Jesus lived, died and was resurrected as the Son of God. But they were unsure that they wanted to put their lives on the line in faith that Jesus would give them eternal life. They were tempted to go back to their old, comfortable ways. So, their situation was similar to that of the Israelites in Numbers and in Psalms.

So, in verse 12, the writer warns them not to have an evil, unbelieving heart that leads them to fall away from the living God. If they fall away from Jesus, they fall away from God the Father. Jesus himself said that. In John 5:23, Jesus said “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him”.

You can believe the facts about Jesus. Most historians believed Jesus lived.James 2:19 says “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-and shudder!” They believe who Jesus is, but they refuse to follow him and put their faith in him.

So the writer urges these Jews not to abandon Jesus. He does not want them to fall away because of their unbelief. Verse 14 shows again that the proof of genuine faith is perseverance to the end. If they fall way, it shows they were not converted, they had an unbelieving heart. 

The alternative is stated in verse 13. Instead of falling away in unbelief, we should exhort eat other every day to live for Christ and not for sin. We should meet together, talk together, study together, pray together and encourage each other so that we stay firm in our faith. Notice that he says “every day”. Does he mean the church should meet every day? It is hard to say, but he clearly tells us to be involved with each other constantly to encourage one another.

If you have doubts or weaknesses, you should join with a brother or sister in Christ and seek support. If you see a brother or sister struggling, you should come along side them, praying for them, encouraging them and walking with them.

But most of all, commit yourself to Christ. Don’t just believe facts and think that is enough. You have to enter into a relationship with him where you believe who he is, commit to follow him and live for him even to death. Practice the qualities that Christ commands and himself modeled. 2 Peter 1:10 tells us to make our calling and election sure, in other worlds our salvation. But he also says if we practice the qualities of Jesus we will never fall and we will be provided entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Savior, Jesus. That is, we will enter into his rest. 

Rest for us means we rest from trying to earn salvation by our works. Instead we receive his grace and live to please him. Jesus said, you who are weary and heavy laden, or burdened with guilt and obligation, come to Jesus and he will give you rest. He will give you rest from your unprofitable labor and give you salvation. 

Do it today.