Here is an abbreviated set of sermon notes from the Wednesday night of Bible Conference. If you were confused, perplexed or just wanting something to read…I hope this helps.
Sometimes a promise can keep you going. The promise of a vacation…the promise of a prize…but what about the promises of God? Are we just unwitting children to believe them…too slow of wit to know any better? Are we really sucked in by promises that will never come to pass? Well, the writer of Hebrews is going to teach us that We must continue in our Christian walk encouraged by the surety of God’s promises
Abraham received a promise from God. It is found in Gen.12:1-3, repeated in Gen.15:3-7, and again in Gen.22:17. The promise in Gen.22:17, which is quoted here in Heb 6:14 is given after God calls upon Abraham to sacrifice the son of the promise, Isaac. Given this challenge, Abraham could have refused to do what God had asked because it was too hard – but he didn’t he believed God and proceeded to sacrifice Isaac, believing that God would raise him up! (Heb.11:19). Abraham believed God would keep his promise because God had sworn by himself that he would do this! (Gen.15:17)!
Now, the point for us is clear – we continue, we grow, we work, we persevere because there is a promise God has given to preserve us! Who is that promise? The promise is Jesus (6:18-20). Jesus has entered the veil for us. But…there is a problem…the area the writer of Hebrews refers to is only accessible to a priest and he can only go in there if he has a sacrifice. So, the writer of Hebrews is going to unpack those two realities in light of God’s promise. These are the two immutable (unchangeable) things he is going to speak about. The priest, and then the sacrifice. God’s promise to preserve us is based upon Jesus work as the priest and the sacrifice. How does this work? Well, we must return and consider Melchisedec.
The writer is going to make a point about the events that transpired between Abraham and Melchisedec, which point to why Jesus is a better priest. We note that Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec after returning from his battle against the kings of the north (Gen.14:20). The reasons this is such a big deal is due to the lineage of Jesus. You see, Jesus was of the tribe of Judah (7:14), but the OT priests who received the tithe were of Levi (7:5). However, the writer of Hebrews makes the point that Levi was in the loins of Abraham (7:5). Because Abraham was the father, the ancestor of Levi, it was as though when Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec, Levi was paying those tithes too (7:6). Melchisedec blessed Abraham, and so the lesser was blessed of the greater (7:7). In other words, Melchisedec was greater than Levi because he blessed Levi’s forefather and received tithes from him (7:9-10).
This means that Jesus is a superior priest. We need a priest to offer sacrifice for us to pay for our sins, and that priest is Jesus. But Jesus isn’t from the tribe of Levi! No problem, Jesus is of a better priesthood, demonstrated by the paying of tithes to Melchisedec and based on the promise of God in Ps.110:7 that he would send a priest who could be a priest forever! His priesthood is more enduring, a better priesthood, because he is a priest with an endless life (7:16). This is the way in which God provides an anchor for our soul! The fear in the warning of chapter 6 is that we might not persevere, but in chapter 7, we learn that we can persevere because we are preserved by him who is anchor for our souls. We come to Jesus, we place our faith in Jesus and he is a forever priest – he is able to offer a better sacrifice because he is part of a promised priesthood – a better priesthood than that of Aaron, a priesthood which according to 7:21. Jesus then is the surety – the guarantee of a better promise (7:22). The other priests died, but not our priest (7:23-24)! Jesus then, is able to save us where no other priest could because he ever lives to make intercession for us. His priesthood is unending! Because he is after Melchisedec (who had no beginning and no ending 7:3) and because God sware by a promise that he would be a priest forever – which was accomplished in his resurrection – He can save us! His promises are true! Consider the words of Charles Wesley’s hymn: arise my soul arise – v.1 Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears; The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears: Before the throne my surety stands, Before the throne my surety stands, My name is written on His hands.
Now quickly, let’s consider the other immutable truth about the work of Jesus. In 7:26 the writer reviews for us the truths we already know about Jesus. He was sinless, that is the gist of what the writer says. Because he was sinless, then, he could be offered. He could be a priest because God swore he would be a priest forever. He can do a work which has eternal benefit to us because he ever lives to intercede as our high priest. Now we find out that because he was sinless he can also be offered for our sins.
Jesus, as chapter 9 is going to so beautifully point out is the sacrifice that is better. The priest went into the sanctuary once a year to offer sacrifice on the Day of Atonement (9:6-7), and they offered sacrifice for themselves and for the people (9:7). And because they did it year after year there was a picture established that something about that system was incomplete (9:8), something about that system was not actually purifying the worshippers, but was pointing ahead to one who would. And so, Jesus comes, as a superior priest, and as a high priest he enters the sanctuary of God, and he spills his own blood out in sacrifice. Such a sacrifice is infinitely better than the sacrifice of animals (9:9-15). God accepts this sacrifice as payment for sin, and because the one who offers it is perfect, it accomplishes the redemption that is so desperately needed (Heb.9:25-26, 28).
The imperfection of the old sacrifice is evident in the continuing ritual. Over and over again the same sacrifices are need, but not with Jesus. He is offered once for all, forever (10:10). His sacrifice is better because it is permanent. But what does this have to do with Jesus as a better promise? Well, remember Abraham? Remember that he believed the promises of God by faith? Well, you too have a promise…it is the promise of an eternal rest (4:1) – a promise of an eternal life (9:15) – and a promise of His return (10:20-36). These promises are all bound up in Jesus.
In 2 Cor.1:20 we learn that all God promises to us are yea and Amen in Jesus. Whatever God has promised to you – Eternal life, supply, protection provision, to direct and keep you to watch over you. God will accomplish all those things…how can we be sure? Look at Jesus. All the promises of God are yes in him. All the promises of God are amen in him.