“Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. 19 But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. 20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
22 And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. 23 Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly. 24 Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you. 25 Grace be with you all. Amen.”
I am thankful for all of the responses to the lessons. Wow, it is good to know that they are being read, and it thrills me! If you had told me 13 years ago, when we began this as a ministry of our church, that God would take us across the world and we would meet Christians via email from every corner of the world, I would have laughed and wondered. But God is great; He takes the little that we do, and He makes it bigger than we could ever imagine.
As we come to the end of the Hebrew series, I am a bit sad; I love this book. It opens an understanding of the Old Testament that, sadly, too many Christians do not get. We can understand what the sacrifices are about, and with that knowledge, we can better understand why Jesus died, how He died, why He died when He did, the power of His death, the importance of His sayings on the cross, and more importantly His role, not as our sacrifice but as our High Priest who intercedes for us daily.
Unlike human high priests who are fallible, Jesus is perfect, and as such, His sacrifice is perfect, and that perfection is offered to us freely in Him. Unlike human high priests, Jesus, via the indwelling Holy Spirit, is with us all the time and walks alongside us to help us (Hebrews 4:14-16).
We find Jesus in Genesis 14, the High Priest of Salem, the King of Salem, the King of Peace (all the same person), who meets Abraham, receives tithes from him, and offers him bread and wine. We can see Jesus in the entire narrative as we understand the book of Hebrews more and more. Unfortunately, we have a lack of exegetical teaching in many of our pulpits. There are a lot of encouragement and self-affirming messages, but few get into the nitty-gritty of the scriptures and challenge us to be holy, like God is Holy.
Paul asks his readers to ‘bear with the word of exhortation,’ put up with me calling out to you. Please hold on and take seriously what I am telling you. Don’t hate me; take the message from God through the power of the Holy Spirit and live it out. Too many Christians leave church mad at the pastor for preaching the truth because it hits too close to home, but it is God doing it, not the preacher. God knows your secrets, not the preacher. All too often, the preacher is dealing with his own sinfulness and weaknesses; he has no clue what yours are.
The whole idea of Hebrews was to show the Jews that Jesus is God, the Messiah, and that He was and is the One they were looking for. He is the One we are looking for as well. Our Savior, our Friend, our Redeemer, and our High Priest. Jesus is the answer.
If you got nothing else out of the study in Hebrews, I hope that you got this: Jesus is your salvation; He has bought and secured your eternity forever. The plan was never a ‘b’ but has always been the plan. Jesus came to die and resurrect for your sins, not His own, but yours and mine. There are no options for salvation, Jesus and Jesus alone.
Live your life to please Jesus; all else will flow from this. If you seek Him and His glory first, He will do things in your life and reveal Himself to you in ways that cannot be forgotten. He will show Himself in ways that show you His majesty and power but never diminish His kind and gentle love for you. Jesus will be your friend in the real and tangible sense of the word. Too many Christians do not have a true friendship with Jesus; He is their friend, but they are not His. They still view Him as this distant Savior, not an intimate and close friend, one to whom they need not ‘try’ to hide anything. See John 15:14-16,
“You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father, I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will remain—so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you….”
Jesus longs to treat you and me as friends and to have that kind of intimacy with us. That begins with obedience to His words, and obedience begins with an honest and deep appreciation for the redemption we have in Jesus. An appreciation for the price that was paid, an appreciation for the violence He suffered on our behalf, and an appreciation for the hundreds of years of God superintending the free will of man to make sure Jesus came at the right time, to satisfy the wrath of God so that you and I can be redeemed.
The last thing I want to mention – and this is a response to a conversation with people who say they trust Jesus as Savior but do not see the importance of Israel in the end times – is what I say: Jesus is an Israelite. He is the legal King of the Jews, and as such, God cannot be done with the Jews. Jesus will return as a Jewish King to a Jewish people who will receive Him this time, and He will reign over the whole world from the throne of David in Jerusalem, Israel. There is simply no way around that conclusion except that you read something into the scriptures or take something away.
Live to please God; this should be our sole objective.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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