Father in heaven, as I read today, help me see how Jesus is the perfect Savior for me, for Israel, and for anyone who will believe. Make me firm, strong, and steadfast in Christ so I will not look back to my old life but cling to Jesus and the life only He provides. Help me persevere in loving obedience and faithful living all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Hebrews 3:1-6:12
Hebrews 3 Having explained the superiority of Jesus to the angels and the salvation Jesus accomplished through His incarnation, death, and resurrection, notice now how the author directs our attention to Christ, the “apostle and high priest” of our faith.
In calling Jesus an apostle, he reminds us that God sent Jesus to accomplish a mission. That mission, like Moses’ mission in the Old Testament, was to lead God’s people out slavery to the kingdom of death and into the Sabbath rest of God’s kingdom. Therefore, Jesus is superior to Moses, since Moses’ mission was merely an anticipation of Jesus’ greater mission.
However, the author doesn’t intend to put down Moses. Moses was faithful in the mission he was given. The problem is that the people he led out of slavery in Egypt did not persevere in faith. Instead, the Israelites had hard, unbelieving hearts, and so failed to enter into the rest of the Promised Land. The author is drawing a lesson for his readers. We shouldn’t be like the unbelieving Israelites; instead, we should encourage each other to persevere, constantly reminding each other of the hope we’ve received in the gospel.
Hebrews 4:1–13 The author then explains why Jesus’ mission was greater than Moses’. He points out the Promised Land of Palestine was never the final destination anyway. Joshua eventually led faithful believing Israelites into the Promised Land, but the promise of rest remained unfulfilled. “There remains then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” (4:9), and it’s that rest into which Jesus brings us. Therefore, we want to persevere to enter that rest by holding onto, in faith, the promises of God’s Word in the gospel. Notice that faith in God’s promises looks backward and forward at the same time.
Hebrews 4:14–5:10 The author now summarizes what he’s said: We have a faithful high priest. He sympathizes with us, rather than condemns us. He prays for us, and His prayers are heard because God Himself appointed Him for this task. Jesus is the source of our salvation because He suffered for us; He is greater than any earthly high priest, and we should hold firmly to our faith in Him.
Warnings are a means God uses to cause His people to persevere in faith. So pay attention to any warnings in the Bible.
Hebrews 5:11–6:12 The author concludes with a strong warning against turning away from this teaching about Christ. He identifies three ways we can fail to benefit from his teaching: ignorance, immaturity, and unbelief.
Babies only know about milk. They’re ignorant of the richness found in solid food. What they need is to grow up into maturity, and when they do, their diet changes. This is what the author says we need to do as Christians. We shouldn’t be content with merely basic knowledge of Christ; we should desire to grow into a mature understanding of our faith. We should also beware of unbelief. While babies can grow and the immature can mature, the author warns that a hardened heart does not change. He compares it to land that shows its true nature by the crop it produces.
One note of clarification: these warnings aren’t teaching that those once genuinely saved can lose their salvation. Instead, the strong warning is a means God uses to cause His people to persevere in faith. That’s the conclusion the author draws. God is aware of their faith and faithfulness, so the author is “confident of better things” for them, that they will endure “to the very end.”
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are,yet without sin.16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
- Perseverance isn’t about gritting it out or “letting go and letting God.” On the one hand, we’re called to “diligence” in good works, to vigilance against unbelief, and to carefulness in our attitude toward God’s Word. On the other hand, we have in Jesus a faithful high priest who helps us every step of the way. Are there ways you are guilty of either presuming upon your salvation or thinking it’s all up to you? Take some time to talk with your heavenly Father about this.
- Try to think of specific ways you can encourage fellow believers against the deceitfulness of sin. Invite fellow believers to warn and encourage you when sin deceives you. Make sure that you have people in your life who can point out your blind spots and “culturally acceptable sins” from which you need to turn away. Lovingly be that person for other followers of Jesus.
- If you don’t have plans to do so already, plan a time for a marriage retreat in the next three months. Use a tool like this Do-it-Yourself Marriage Retreat or attend a planned retreat. You can do this on a Saturday or over a Friday/Saturday. It doesn’t need to be expensive; just make a plan and do it. [Healthy Relationships]