Hebrews

Hebrews 13

As we come to the close of Hebrews I wanted to do a recap of the entire book to give us a better understanding of these final words. We have learned that Jesus is superior to the angels and the prophets – God announced his superiority. Because of his superiority we need to pay attention to Christ’s message so that we don’t drift away. We are part of the house that God has built, with Christ as the cornerstone. We can experience spiritual rest now, and physical rest in the future by understanding and accepting the Gospel (what Christ has done). Jesus is our high priest, and has made a way for us to come to the Father. We must choose to mature in Christ or not, and we can be sure of our future salvation because of God’s oath about who Jesus really is.

Jesus is the guarantor of a better covenant, He cleanses our sins and our consciences. The Law was only a shadow of what Christ fulfilled, which was to perfectly obey and do God’s will. God’s work through Christ must be acknowledged and applied as faith lived out. If those who lived prior to Christ had faith and endured, we should be able to endure all the more, being adopted into God’s family and seeing the fulfillment of God’s promise. Because of what you know about Christ, you should continue on in faith and love to others, refraining from sin, and being content with where God has placed you.

Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.

With the understanding of who Christ is, and the future that awaits us, why would we fear man.. let alone death? We’ve been given a gift that guarantees passage to a life lived eternally with the One who made it possible because He loved us. To truly sit and ponder the awesomeness of that truth is to cast away any fear that may hinder us from living out God’s call on our lives. The writer exhorts us to not forget to pray for our leaders, and to imitate them in their faith, and then reminds us that there may be some who preach a different message, but that Christ and His Word never change.

There is a throwback beginning between verses 9 and 10 to the Judaic Law for the priests. The sacrifices made by the priests were also their allotted portion, and their food; in essence the priests were devoted to the sacrifice instead of the sacrifice being devoted to them as Christ was for us. So the writer is telling those who are coming out of this system to remember these things and to be strengthened by what God has done for them (grace), instead of what they could do to win His favor. It is because of that backwards way of thinking that those who practice it are not worthy to partake in Christ’s suffering, as they would never go outside the camp and be scorned with Him. Why do Christ’s followers endure as He did? They understand that this world is merely temporary and so they continue daily, living for and speaking of their Savior.

10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19 I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.

There is a great lesson here in verses 17-18. It’s not just that we should obey our leaders and submit to them, but that we should uplift them. If we are constantly complaining about the small things we disagree with, but the content of their faith is solid, we are creating a situation where those leaders feel discouraged – and that leads to their groaning which doesn’t help the congregation to grow. I imagine the example of Moses in these passages from Numbers 12. People complain against him and he goes to God and complains. Does it really benefit anything or anyone to ‘sweat the small stuff’?

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

22 I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. 23 You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. 24 Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. 25 Grace be with all of you.

In closing, the writer gives a beautiful benediction reminding us once more what an amazing and awesome God we serve. Through our Mighty King Jesus’ blood we have been saved for eternity, given everything we need for this life and the next. And all of it was done through the unimaginable grace of God. What an amazing book full of the majesty and glory of our King.

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