Monthly Archives: March 2010

Understanding Hebrews

I have had a longtime love of the book of Hebrews.  Some of my favorite verses in all of Scripture come from that book in fact (Hebrews 12:1-2 tops that list).  I took a book study course on Hebrews when I was in college years ago and loved it.  I have several commentaries and felt like I knew the book pretty well and had a pretty good understanding of it in fact.

A lot of that changed about three years ago, when a good friend of mine (that would be the occasional commenter known here as “E”) started asking me some honest questions about my opinions regarding Melchizedek.  I offered up my opinions, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy some of the issues; and I shelved the niggling points of disturbance away for some other day to think about.

A few weeks ago, I ordered a CD set called What About the Sacrifices? from First Fruits of Zion.  I was intrigued by the study topic as I have certainly had more questions than answers about the sacrificial system these days.  A literal reading of many of the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament indicates that there will be sacrifices offered in the future in accordance with God’s will and plan.  A more careful reading of Acts shows disciples continuing to worship in the Temple and continuing to observe the times of prayer (Acts 3 for instance) as well as Paul and several believers in Jerusalem offering sacrifices there as believers (Acts 21:17-26).  Most believers either don’t realize what this means in regards to what we have been taught about the OT sacrifices; or else they have decided to dismiss it in some manner as a “misunderstanding” of some kind.  There might be other rationalizations as well, but I am only giving a sample.

In any case, I thought the teaching would be an interesting way to learn more about the subject.  I certainly trust the folks of FFOZ as I have used some of their materials before and I have always found them to be thorough and truthful and honest to a fault.  Their recent travails over their decisions regarding “One Law” theology are a testament to their integrity in my opinion.  So I ordered the teaching and sat down to see what they had to say.  With my Bible and online study tools at hand, I began to see a whole new world in the book of Hebrews.

The sacrifices and offerings are only “lawful” within the Temple structure itself.  This is God’s design for them.  The writer of Hebrews is careful to point out and explain that Jesus’ ministry is different than the ministry of the Levitical priesthood on earth.  In fact, the writer of Hebrews is writing at a time when the Temple sacrifices are still going on based on his use of present tense to describe them.

It would be impossible to catalog all that I have gleaned so far, and I am still re-listening and processing these things against God’s Word, but here are a few highlights for now that I have gotten from my study alongside their work.

Jesus’ ministry and sacrifice are based on a principle deeply rooted in Jewish thought that the righteous can suffer on behalf of the unrighteous.  This understanding tends to be assumed by most of the New Testament writers, but the author of Hebrews spells the theology out for us a little more.

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers
– Hebrews 2:10-11

Jesus’ ministry was further found in his identification with us as human beings subject to death.  He had to be like us in order for his suffering on our behalf to be effective.  The writer also makes comparisons between Jesus and the angels in the first few chapters that make a lot more sense in regards to the Melchizedek imagery.  I may have to elaborate on that in another post.

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted – Hebrews 2:14-18

You might recognize this concept from Paul’s writings in Romans.  The penalty of sin is death and Jesus has destroyed that penalty through His own death as a sinless man.  Jesus’ sacrifice for sin is depicted in Hebrews as a sacrifice in the heavenly tabernacle.  Without getting too technical or detailed; understand that sacrifices on earth in the Temple were designed to bring the offerer nearer to God, as one would be unable to enter His presence without them.  In the same way, Jesus sacrifice allows us to enter God’s presence in Heaven itself.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
– Hebrews 10:19-22

Going back to the earlier chapters of Hebrews, the writer seeks to relate our situation to that of the nation of Israel in the desert after they were redeemed from Egypt.  He does this because God has not changed (Hebrews 13:8) and still deals with His children in the same way that He always has and will.

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

6Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts.”

-Hebrews 4:1-3; 6-7

This is a crucial piece of the argument.  The Hebrew concept here involves the difference between hearing and hearing. Hearing means that you can acknowledge that something has been said; maybe even repeat it back because you heard it physically.  Hearing means that you have indeed heard it as evidenced by the fact that you are actually responding to what you heard in obedience (see verse 6).  This is the crucial meaning behind Jesus’ statements about seeing but never seeing and hearing but never hearing that we find so often in the Gospels.  This is a struggle that many have trouble with as they equate the very notion with “salvation by works” or something along those lines.  To be perfectly clear, obedience is not in our natural selves.  The Bible is perfectly frank that our own nature is rebellious to the core.  God desires to give us a nature that is willing to obey through His Spirit, but He doesn’t force Himself on anyone.   We don’t “work” our way to God.  He works within us and works through us and gives us a new heart that desires to follow Him.  Otherwise it would be foolish for Him to say, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” as He did in Jeremiah 29:13 and Proverbs 1:20-33 would simply be a cruel joke.

This model of obedience to instruction was a primary characteristic of  Jesus’ ministry as further described in Hebrews chapter 5:

7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

– Hebrews 5:7-10

I know there are some who wish the Bible didn’t talk this way, but it is folly to pretend it isn’t there and it is irrational to try and allegorize it away.  Read this passage from Isaiah 50:4-7 and see how this obedience was anticipated in the life of the Messiah in prophecy.

The Lord GOD has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.
5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious;
I turned not backward.
6 I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
from disgrace and spitting. 7But the Lord GOD helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

There is a whole other interesting avenue to get into (actually several), including Melchizedek and the ministry of angels in the heavenly temple, but I think I will save it for another post.  Tell me what you think?

Categories: Bible Thoughts, Christianity, Discipleship, Faith, Gospel, Hebrew, Holy Spirit, Law, Love, Questions, Salvation, theology, Truth, Yeshua | 2 Comments

Missing Sermons

I apologize to those who have come looking for sermons the last two weeks and not gotten anything.  I forgot to take my recorder on 3/14 and in examining the recording for last Sunday, I discovered that the microphone had gone dead at about the 5 minute mark of my sermon.  I am going to get a new battery in the mic and we should be good to go for this coming Sunday.

May God richly bless you.

Categories: Sermon | Leave a comment

Getting Understanding

There are some great videos out there from one of my favorite pastors, Mark Biltz of El Shaddai ministries, but they are at a site that doesn’t embed in wordpress. Therefore, I am going to put up the links to s0me of these interviews/teachings. It is insightful on what a Hebraic perspective of the Scriptures can show us as Christians.  Each video averages around 20 minutes.

Teach Hebraic Roots to Christians Part 1

Teach Hebraic Roots to Christians Part 2

Wheat and Tares part 1

Wheat and Tares part 2

Categories: Bible Thoughts, Christianity, Discipleship, Faith, Gospel, Hebrew, Messiah, theology, Truth, Yeshua | Leave a comment

Odd Bits

Since I don’t have any other way to classify this post of a collection of random stuff; I just titled it odd bits.

As my Facebook status update to the right has alluded; I have had some medical tests done recently.  I am still awaiting any sort of word on results and don’t have much to say about it in the meantime.  I have had to make some dietary changes to up fiber intake and cut out some other things (notably caffeine and fried, fatty foods), and I am adjusting to that slowly.  I have actually lost a few more pounds with the changes so that is a good thing.  I will post some more info as I get it and as is appropriate.  In the meantime, I appreciate your prayers for me in this.

In other news, I see today where the US ponzi scheme otherwise known as Social Security has reached a new tipping point where outflow will exceed intake. This is always the death knell of a ponzi scheme and is just one more bad sign for the future of the US as we have known it.

The recently passed health care bill is another sign that we are no longer the nation that most people thought we were.  This comment from Rep. Dingle is further proof of the endgame they have in sight to “control the people.” (Listen for it at the end of the clip.)

And on a lighter note, the recent performances of CNN anchors on Jeopardy is one more indication of why nobody watches that network anymore.  As if the shellacking that Wolf Blitzer took isn’t enough; Anderson Cooper lost to Cheech Marin.

Categories: Culture, Fun, Humor, personal, Prayer Needs, Signs of the Times | 4 Comments

Sunday Morning 3/7/10

I do realize that it took me almost a full week to get the sermon audio posted this week.  I apologize to those who came looking for it earlier.  We had a great time in the Lord last Sunday and this message comes from Mark 14.  You can click play and follow along with the notes posted below.  May God richly bless you through His Word.

The Lord’s Supper and His Cup

Sermon notes 3/7/10

Mark 14:22-36

  1. A Passover Meal
    1. The Bread of Life – the Afikomen – Mark 14:22
    2. The Cup – a Renewed Covenant – Mark 14:23
      1. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-12
    3. The Prophetic Hymn – Psalm 118:14-29
  2. Pride goes before the fall – Mark 14:27-31
    1. 1 Corinthians 10:12
    2. God knows we will fail Him and will pick us back up
  3. Weariness and Agony
    1. Getting weary
    2. Let this cup pass – Mark 14:35-36
    3. The cup of God’s wrath – Isaiah 51:17-22
Categories: Mark, Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment


It isn’t just the title of a song that my sister and I affectionately butcher from time to time.  Tonight, or maybe I should refer to it as early morning, I am reflecting on the amazing things that God has done in my life.  It is eleven years now since my oldest child was born.

11 years of changes and challenges that I never could have imagined before they came.

My son asked me if I would wake him up at the exact time that he turned 11 this morning.  We decided against that, but I did offer to come up and whisper it in his ear, which I did a few minutes ago.  I should probably be in bed too, but I just couldn’t go to sleep without taking a few moments to take in these moments.

Jonathan has been a blessing to us from day one.  He came very unexpectedly, a whole month early for his projected due date, and was born as a miracle indeed.  We couldn’t even realize fully at the time what a miracle it really was.  That night is filled with crazy moments and funny stories and one amazing tiny boy capped the whole thing off.  He isn’t so little anymore and I imagine he will end up looking down at me in a few years; a far cry from that small baby we held.

He is very much like his daddy and that can be a scary thing.  There are certainly differences between us, but anyone who knows us well can see a lot of me in him.  He loves to go with me to Bible study at the church and anywhere else I can take him.  I remember taking him with me when I worked as a contractor several years ago, and how he tried to help me fix the machines I was working on.  He had a couple of “tools” of his own and was so proud to help his daddy.  I look forward to sharing many more of those moments, but I can’t help but realize how quickly this time flies away as well.  Where once we carried a little baby home from the hospital, we now have a boy growing into a young man.  And I am so proud of how he has grown.  I am still intent on savoring every moment and every memory as they are made and lived.

Happy Birthday, Jonathan.  I love you very much.

Categories: family, Love, Parenting, Thanksgiving | 2 Comments

Sunday Morning 2/28/10

We had a wonderful time in the Lord on Sunday.  Here is the sermon from Sunday morning.  It is taken from Mark 12 and deals with the greatest commandment.  Click on play below to listen and feel free to follow along with the notes.  May God richly bless you through His Word.

The First or Greatest Commandment

Sermon notes 2/28/10

Mark 12:28-34

  1. A time of testing
    1. Parable of the tenants
    2. Questions about taxes
    3. The Sadducean stumper
  2. The first commandment – Mark 12:28-30
    1. This commandment is not a part of the 10 Commandment
    2. It is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5
    3. The Shema
  3. The second is like it – Mark 12:31
    1. This commandment isn’t in the 10 Commandments either
    2. It comes from Leviticus 19:18
    3. Matthew 22:40
  4. Understanding the point of the Law – Mark 12:32-34
    1. The scribe agrees with Christ
    2. Better than sacrifices
      1. Hosea 6:6
      2. Hebrews 10:5-7
Categories: Mark, Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment

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