“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” – Hebrews 1:1–2 (NASB)
The promises we consider each day come from the Word of God and are God’s inspired words. The Bible is trustworthy as the God’s word to us. While the literary form and style of the Bible varies as it was scribed by different people, it was and is always God’s revelation of what He wanted us to know. The Old Testament was written over a span of as many as 1,800 years.* Many portions: there are 39 different books during different historical times, locations, cultures, and situations. Many ways: included visions, symbols, and parables using both poetry and prose styles. Last days: Jews in the first century understood the reference to “last days” to mean the time when Messiah (Christ) would come. The messianic prophecies fulfillment began with the arrival of the Messiah in Bethlehem and was revealed by Jesus during his ministry on the earth. Since then, that is since He came until this day, it has been the “last days.” God’s message of redemption was spoken through the Messiah, His Son who is heir of all things. So, everything that exists will eventually come under the control of the Son of God.
*(from Job to Nehemiah, circa 2200 – 400 B.C.)
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8 (NASB)
Think for a moment about the changes in your life over the past twenty years. Then the past ten or even five years? Much has changed hasn’t it? Things change in our lives and there is little we can do about much of the change. The only thing we can do is adjust to the changes. “Times change” is the excuse for many changes we make in our own lives. The reasons are many. Can we identify the causes? Sometimes we can but most times we can only speculate because unconnected events and forces bring about changes. Who could have predicted the changes in global life that a pandemic would bring? But amongst all the changes in our lives, we have a promise of one who is unchangeable. Jesus Christ never changes. He is the same always, yesterday, today and forever. ‘Yesterday’ relates to the work of Jesus as our mediator on earth which is proclaimed and confirmed to us by those who saw, heard, and worked with Him. ‘Today’ refers to the intercessory work Jesus performs in heaven, where he represents the believer in God’s presence. ‘Forever’ pertains to the priesthood of Christ. He is our priest forever.
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:4 (NASB)
Let’s look at the Hall of Faith chapter found in Letter to Hebrews, 11. Every person (except Cain) who is mentioned in this chapter have a testimony as faith believers. Faith is essential for salvation. Faith is vital and indispensable. If we desire to know God. Even to be able to approach God in prayer, we must have the faith which Enoch had. He was the first person who was “taken up” to be with God was Enoch. By faith Enoch walked with God and pleased God. Without such faith it is not possible for anyone to “walk with God” or “please Him.” Our promise is that knowing God is for those who by faith believe that He is; the emphasis here is on “He,” the only true God. Genuine, a gift from God, does not simply believe that a divine being exists, but that the God of Scripture is the only real and true God who exists. Many people believe in the existence of a Supreme Being and some call Him “the man upstairs” without ever by faith believe that He is the one and only God. Our promise is that He is a rewarder of God seekers.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 (NASB)
We consider some of the narratives found in our Scriptures. Those narratives have prophecies, revelations and promises from God’s Word. The key to receiving these promises and the blessings they bring is ‘faith.’ We all have a kind of faith and exercise it every day. We have faith in a light switch, but not when our supply of electricity has been cut off. However, a promise from God in which we have hope and are convinced it will be is because of our faith. When we learn of a promise from God it is by faith that we have assurance of its fulfillment and that is where our hope is. By faith believing in what God has promised, we have assurance and conviction even of things we cannot see. Hope in God’s promises and convictions that what is promised is true even if we cannot see it, feel it, or touch it, is because we have faith. Heaven, is a promise. Jesus Christ coming back one day is a promise and we have hope and conviction in its truth. What promise of God will be good to have faith in today? Let’s do so and we will not be ashamed.
“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”- Hebrews 11:16 (ESV)
Our verse today records a promise that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and many others in the Scriptures. He promised that He was “not ashamed to be called their God.” Wouldn’t we want very much for God to say the same to us; “I am not ashamed to be called your God?” This possibility is surrounded by one reason before and one reason after. Take the one after, first: “…for he has prepared for them a city.” This first reason is that God has worked for us by doing something for us. He made us a city — the heavenly city “whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). It is not the other way around. Now, consider the reason he gives in the front. It goes like this: “They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.” The word “Therefore” signals that a reason has just been given for why God is not ashamed to be called our God. The reason is we desire a better country — a better country than the earthly one we live in. We desire a heavenly one where God is.
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1b-2 (ESV)
We are to look to Jesus as the object of faith and salvation. Why are we to look to Him? Because He is both the Author and Perfecter of our faith. The word “author” is a term that means originator or even the preeminent example; it suggests that Jesus “pioneered” the path of faith Christians should follow. He also “perfected” the way of faith since He reached its end successfully. The term expresses the idea of carrying through to completion. It also might mean ‘maturity’ of the kind that is moral completeness. It is only in Christ that we find a faith that is perfect and it is only through Christ that that perfect faith become a reality for us. For those reasons, we live our lives in His and through Him our faith is perfect. On our own it is nothing more than daydreaming or wishing. We fix our eyes on Jesus and because of what he did, enduring the cross despising the shame He sits at the right hand of the throne of God. We are there too seated with Him (Ephesians 2:4-6) because God gave us a gift of faith which led to our salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race…” – Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)
The word “therefore” is frequent in the Bible. When we come across it we find out what it is there for. This time it bridges a transition between Chapters 11 & 12 of Hebrews where is a list of deceased people whose lives witnessed the value and blessing of living by faith. The author of Hebrews is giving us reassurance that is drawn from the saints in the past who faithfully believed in the LORD God. We are encouraged to rid ourselves of sin because sin entangles us and inhibits our ability to live with endurance. We are all on a path that is a race of sorts, not against each other but against the wickedness of Satan who is set on causing us to stumble and fall and fail to reach our goal. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 3:13-14) explains this, and like him, we have a goal that we are straining forward to reach. A life pleasing to God. Therefore we are pressing on toward the goal God has set before us. Sin entangles us and misdirects us and causes us to miss out on the prize of blessings God has set for us.
“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is impaired may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” – Hebrews 12:12 (NASB)
The unusual visual of the language in our verse is drawn from a prophecy given in Isaiah 35. This is a picture of what will happen for the believers when the Lord comes again. The next sentence encourages those who are discouraged to ‘Be strong and don’t be afraid. This is a common experience – weak hands and feeble knees – especially as we get older. But even the young have weak faith and drooping arms with week knees. How are we to strengthen our hands and knees? Listen to the author’s encouragement as a coach. There is more of the race left to run, it is not the time to allow weakness and feebleness so, don’t quite yet. Take care to watch where we are walking and follow the path that is level. God will make our path straight (Proverbs 3:6). Throughout our lives we have choices of which paths we will walk. If we make sure to take the level path or to make our way level and straight, then all our ways will be sure (Proverbs 4:26-27). As we walk we are told to not swerve back and forth. No flip-flopping. And very important, let’s turn away from evil.
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” – Hebrews 12:7 (NASB)
Discipline is a two-way street. Every true believer in Jesus receives opportunity to grow through the discipline God sends our way and thrive in spiritual growth, stronger faith, and increasing knowledge of God. Other’s buck against it and end up going the other way. They refuse to learn the lessons God gives them, causing them to miss the blessing and benefit. In times of adversity, says the author of Hebrews, keep in mind that all our setbacks come from God; He is training us in godliness because He has accepted us as sons and daughters in His eternal family. He wants the very best for us. The difficulties we encounter are blessings in disguise, for behind our difficulties stands a loving Father who is giving us what is best. As God’s children, then, we must always look beyond our trials and realize that God himself is at work in their lives training us to trust Him. Discipline that reproves teaches us to have character that is disciplined. It is a sign of God’s parentage of us. It is a confirmation God really loves us for whom He loves, He reproves and discipline. When disciplined, let’s repent and be zealous.
“Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” – Hebrews 9:28 (ESV)
It’s not over. One day it will be over but in the meantime, we wait with eager expectation. This is what the disciples did not understand at first. Even after Christ rose from the tomb and before He appeared to them , they were closeted in a locked room in fear for their lives. But Christ did appear to his disciples and many others over the next 40 days after His resurrection. On the Mount called Olivet, Jesus promised them that He would send God the Holy Spirit to dwell in them. And, to remind them of all He had taught them. He charged them with their mission to spread the news to all people. Jesus had come from heaven to earth taking the form of a human and lived a perfect life and when He died, our sins, laid on Him, caused God to forsake His Son for a time. Jesus was despised, rejected, pierced, crushed, and killed. We remember, however, that all this was according to God’s plan for us so that we can have eternal life. He left but He is going to come back a second time. That is when it will be over.