Our study of the Epistle to the Hebrews continues with Hebrews 5 and 6. After a review, our devotional will be taken from Hebrews 5.
The writer of Hebrews had challenged believers regarding the preeminence of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1). Understanding the majesty of Christ gave cause for 1st century saints to be stirred in their spirit, knowing all He suffered for their sins. Jesus is the Son of God, yet, He set aside the outward manifestation of His heavenly glory, and “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (2:9). By His death on the Cross, He tasted “death for every man” (2:9b), and by His resurrection from the dead, He became the “captain [and author] of salvation” (2:10).
Hebrews 3 warned the Hebrews to realize the danger of unbelief, and hardening their hearts (3:7-19). With the challenge, “exhort one another daily” (3:13), sinners were urged to believe, or they would never find rest for their souls (3:18). We were reminded there are three requisites for peace and rest: The first was to fear and revere God (4:1). Secondly, hear the Gospel (4:2), believe, and come to the Lord by faith (4:2-11). Finally, to find rest for the soul, a believer must fight, literally labor diligently in the Scriptures: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (4:12).
Because Christ is the believer’s “high priest” (4:15), the writer of Hebrews urged, “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16). On what grounds might we enter into God’s presence with our petitions? Not on the basis of our works (for “our righteousness are as filthy rags,” Isaiah 64:6), but on the grounds of Christ’s righteousness being credited to our account, and paying our sin debt in full! Hallelujah, what a great Savior and high priest.
Hebrews 5 offered a contrast between the high priest “ordained for men” and the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ (5:1). Even the most dedicated, conscientious high priests dared not approach God without offering a sacrifice for his sins (5:2-3). While the high priest was chosen among men, God declared of Christ, “Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee…Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Melchisedec had been a king and priest of ancient Jerusalem, and a type or example of Christ, 5:5-6).
If you remember Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, before He was betrayed and arrested, you will understand Hebrews 5:7-10. In the Garden, Jesus prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (meaning the cup of suffering He would soon face, Matthew 26:39). He prayed a second time, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42). It is that agony we find portrayed in Hebrews 5, when we read: “he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (5:7-8).
Christ obeyed His Father’s will, and suffered the penalty of our sins (5:8), and being the perfect sinless sacrifice. “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (obedience implying one’s faith, proven by works, 5:9).
Closing thoughts (5:11-14) – Our study of Hebrews 5 concludes with a case of spiritual undernourishment. In a mournful, regrettable tone, the writer observed in the 1st century congregation a spiritual tragedy that is mirrored in the 21st century church: A failure to thrive spiritually. As today, there were some who professed salvation, but whose lives were spiritually anemic. They evidenced little to no spiritual appetite, and the diagnosis was summed up in this: “ye are dull of hearing” (5:11).
Rather than be teachers of the word, they were content with elementary doctrines, and “first principles of the oracles of God” (5:12). They had failed the Lord, and His people, for they remained in the spiritual nursery (5:13), and unable to delight in the advanced doctrines and studies of the Word (5:14). Their spiritual immaturity had left them vulnerable and unable to “discern both good and evil” (5:14).
Tragically, is that not the sad portrait of many 21st century believers and churches?
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