Category: Hebrews

The “scapegoat”

Scripture reading for February 6: Leviticus 16-17

Man is always looking for someone to blame for sin. It was the “woman you gave me” for Adam.  Eve became his “scapegoat”!  It was the “serpent” for Eve that became her “scapegoat”.  God Himself was blamed by both of them as the ultimate problem.  Amazingly, God had already planned to provide a “scapegoat”!

God loves man and worked out a picture of salvation from sin which is recorded in these chapters of Leviticus.  God set apart one day a year when the High Priest could go behind the curtain of the Holy of Holies in the Tent of Meeting.  That day was called the Day of Atonement.  The term “atonement” simply means a “covering”. On this day, the Israelites could have a yearly “covering” for their sins.

First, a bull was killed and the blood sprinkled for the High Priest as a sacrifice for his sins.  Then two goats were brought before the Tent and lots were cast.  One of the goats was sacrificed and the blood sprinkled by the High Priest behind the curtain for the sins of the people.  Everyone waited outside to see if God would accept the sacrifice for sins committed.  They were relieved when the High Priest came out. (Leviticus 16:6-19)

The second goat was then brought forward and the High Priest laid his hands on it and confessed the sins and rebellion of the Israelites.  This goat was then led out away from the camp into the wilderness to a solitary place and left there.  As the Israelites watched the goat bearing their sins disappear in the distance, they were reminded of the sacrifice necessary to bring a covering for their sins.  God provided a “scapegoat” who would take the blame for them! (Leviticus 16:20-28)

Jesus Christ came as God’s designated “Scapegoat”!  He offered Himself on the cross to make “atonement” for our sins.  He shed His own blood to pay the penalty for our sins, once for all time!  (Hebrews 9:11-14) He bore our sins and carried them away into a place of God’s forgetfulness, never to be remembered again!  (Hebrews 10:17)

Have you ever blamed someone else for you own misdeed? Have you ever had someone who willingly took the blame for your misdeed so you could go free? Thank God for His provision for you today!

1st Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake, He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

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Sunday and Sabbath reflection

Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

As we ponder the past week and our reading through Exodus, we are reminded in Exodus 20:8-11 of one of the reasons for keeping the Sabbath–a seventh day of rest.  God wants us to remember his pattern of creation.  He Himself set the pattern of working six days and resting on the seventh day.  No work was to be done!  It was a day holy to the Lord because He blessed it and made it holy. In New Testament times, the first day of the week was used for worship and rest in celebration of the resurrection.  The main thing was to take one day out of seven, not necessarily Saturday or Sunday.  In fact New Testament truth teaches that each day is the Sabbath day–a day to rest in Jesus!  (Hebrews 4:6-11)

I was in a prayer group with some pastors and one was telling how when we older ones grew up, Sunday was really a day of rest.  Stores weren’t open and restaurants were closed.  There were no movie theaters open and no TV.  The current generations have no reference for the command of the Lord to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy!  We would be happier and healthier if we heeded this simple plan of the Lord. May you rest  in Jesus Christ and his finished work each and every day!

“Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

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Sin and death

Scripture reading for February 1st: Leviticus 1-3

Leviticus 3:16 “And the priest shall burn them (kidneys and fat) on the altar as a food offering with a pleasing aroma. All fat is the Lord’s.” It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places, that you eat neither fat nor blood.”

This book of Scripture was not originally one I liked to read.  But after careful and prayerful reflection, I began to understand.  Sin causes death.  (Genesis 2:16-17)  Death spread to all men by Adam’s sin. (Romans 5:12-14) God provided the first blood sacrifice for Adam and Eve after they sinned.  Initially, they had used fig leaves. God clothed them with bloody skins of animals.  (Genesis 3:21)  He was showing them the effects of sin each time they put their new “clothes” on.

God was again visually helping His people to see how sin affects their lives and nation.  These sacrifices offered made man aware of the cost of sin and a safe way to approach God.  When an animal was offered according to God’s instructions in Leviticus, God would accept the sacrifice and be pleased. (Leviticus 1:9,17; 2:9)  God was pleased because those who made the sacrifice were using their faith in His Word!

Jesus Christ shed his precious blood on the cross of Calvary and declared: “It is finished!” (John 19:30)  When we approach this same Holy God, we can come boldly before His throne any time day or night for prayer, fellowship, or forgiveness. (Hebrews 4:14-16)  We do it by faith in the sacrifice of the body and blood of our Savior!

Why did God choose blood sacrifice as a way to cover sin? How would you describe your faith in Christ’s sacrifice for you? Why is a works-based salvation easier for mankind to trust in?

“But now He (Christ) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” Hebrews 9:26-28

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Sunday rest and reflection

Dear Friends on the journey,

Greetings!  Are you taking time to rest and reflect on God’s goodness and grace?  Are you attending a service of worship and meeting with others of faith to honor God?  Are you setting an example for your children and grandchildren by living a life of worship with others in a church?  If you are not physically able, God understands, but if you are able, please make every effort to exalt the Lord in community!

God brought His people out of Egypt to worship Him. He brought out men, women, and children to worship together! Worship is all about God!  So many people today make worship about themselves and their personal preferences.  They want a certain style or type of worship.  They don’t want this or that–maybe drums or instruments.  They don’t want to sing too long or too loud.  They want to stay home and sleep in if they are tired.  They want to come when it suits them and they want to feel good when they leave.  They often say that they can worship alone better than with others, but seldom do!  Besides this, they are being disobedient when they fail to gather with others!

Exodus 7:16 “And you shall say to him (pharaoh), ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve (worship) Me in the wilderness.”

God brought His people out for worship.  They were laden down with blessings.  God was visibly with them.  They were provided with clothes that didn’t wear out, manna from heaven, water from the rock, and not one feeble or sick among them!  Don’t neglect gathering together today in God’s house with God’s people to worship! Jesus is coming back for those who are eagerly awaiting Him!

In His Love, Pastor John

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

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Follow the pattern!

Scripture reading for January 28: Exodus 25-27

Men are particularly prone to trying to put something together from trial and error.  We like the adventure and take pride in being able to do complex projects from our memories or experience.  We often feel that instructions are unnecessary.  This attitude usually gets us into trouble and we either get lost or end up with left over parts from the project!

Moses was given a pattern for the Tabernacle.  God gave him specific instructions as to how this “dwelling place” was to be constructed.  He told them numbers, lengths, weights and the type of materials for each part. It was a mobile dwelling because God was moving with the Israelites and leading them as they journeyed.  God reminded Moses four times to make everything after the pattern shown on the mountain!  (Exodus 25:9,40; 26:30; 27:9)

The instructions for this Tabernacle started with the Ark of the Covenant, a special representation of a heavenly reality.  It was a chest of acacia wood about 4 feet long.  It was to be coated with pure gold.  Two gold cherubim were to be beaten out for each end and they were to face the lid of this box.  The box was to have two rings on each side where poles of acacia wood would be used to transport it. Everything was coated with pure gold.  It was to be carried by priests who were consecrated for this job.  The tablets of Testimony, the ten commands, were to be placed inside of this box.  Later a jar of manna was placed there as well as Aaron’s rod that had budded in God’s presence.  (Hebrews 9:1-5)

This ark of the Covenant is a type of Jesus Christ, God dwelling with us.  John 1:14-15 tells us that Jesus came and “pitched his tent” (tabernacled) among us and we beheld His glory!  Jesus kept the law of God, the tablets of Testimony, perfectly.  (Hebrews 4:15-16) He was the living Bread (manna) come down from heaven, that if any man eat of this bread, he would never die!  (John 6:47-50)  He was the One chosen by God to have all authority in heaven and on earth! (Aaron’s rod!) (Matthew 28:18)  He was worshiped by angels at His birth, and now is in the presence of holy angels in heaven. (Revelation 4:12)

Exodus 25:9 “Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.”

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Use ‘de’ feet to avoid defeat!

Scripture reading for January 13th: Genesis 37-40

Genesis 39:11-12 “One day he (Joseph) went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants were inside.  She caught him by the cloak and said, “come to bed with me!”  But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

The story of Joseph is a fascinating one!  He was a dreamer and the youngest of 11 brothers.  He was also his father’s favorite and probably a little spoiled.  After sharing dreams that showed his father and brothers bowing down to him, jealousy and murderous intentions in his brothers nearly cost him his life. Thankfully, one of his brothers showed a small amount of compassion and his life was spared. Joseph was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt, his dreams apparently shattered.

In Egypt, God placed Joseph as a servant to a wealthy Egyptian, Potiphar. One day when Potiphar was gone, Joseph was doing his duties in the house. He was propositioned by Potiphar’s wife.  “Come to bed with me!”   Joseph’s response was full of truth and godly wisdom.  “My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife.  How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”  Day after day, Joseph continued to refuse her advances.  One day she grabbed him by his cloak and Joseph used his feet to escape. He was falsely accused by the shunned woman, and ended up in prison!

Adultery is a sin!  It is a sin against God and another person and their mate made in God’s image and joined as one.  Adultery causes lying, jealousy, hatred, violence and ultimately death.  It sows violence in a relationship and destroys marriages and homes.  Children are the victims and the devil loves to devour children in the midst of adultery, lying and violence. Scripture calls us to marriage purity and tells us to flee temptation to avoid defeat!

Are you caught in temptations that you are finding difficult to resist? Have you asked God for inner strength to stand up for His Word? What’s keeping you from using your feet?

Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed should be kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4

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Abraham believed God!

January 6th Scripture Reading: Genesis 12-14

Genesis 12:2-3 “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those that bless you, and him that dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

About 2000 years before Christ and about 400 years after the tower of Babel, God spoke to a man in Ur of the Chaldeans in the land that is now called Iraq.  This man’s name was Abram and he was about 75 years old and married to a woman named Sarai.  They were childless and already beyond the years of child-bearing. God made promises to them and their offspring.    

God gave Abram eight specific promises: (1) I will make you a great nation, (2) I will bless you, (3) I will make your name great, (4) You will be a blessing, (5) I will bless those who bless you, (6) I will curse those who curse you, (7) All peoples of the earth will be blessed through you, (8) To your offspring I will give this land (Canaan). (Genesis 12:2-3, 7.)   God then asked Abram to leave his home and go to a land that God would show him.  Abram did exactly what God asked, and his faith gave him righteousness.

Faith looks at God Who made the promises and chooses to believe that He is able to fulfill them!  That’s exactly what God is calling us to do!  He asks us to believe Him now and be blessed and become a blessing. “And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Which of the promise of God is most precious to you? Are you ‘fully persuaded’ that God’s promise of salvation belongs to you? What is that persuasion based on? What really pleases God?

“Yet he (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:20-21 

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The sacrifices of praise and generosity

Scripture reading for March 21st: Hebrews 13, Psalm 57, Proverbs 26

Hebrews 13: 13-17 “Therefore let us go to Him, outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His Name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

In Jesus Christ, all blood sacrifice is fully complete to atone or cover all our sins and that of all sinners. But those who are redeemed have other sacrifices that we can make. These include the continuously thankful heart that flows out of our lips with praise for our generous God in providing Jesus Christ. God has prepared good works and told us to be generous and kind, reflecting His heart of love and compassion to all mankind. These should be given like a sacrifice with joy and thankfulness to God, Who is to receive all glory in the earth and in heaven. When we live a life of worship and praise, it brings us joy and God pleasure because His covenant love is reflected to a lost world and wins souls. Leaders in the church watch over each believer to encourage them in these sacrifices and will give account.

Psalm 57:10-11 “For Your steadfast love is great to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth!”

Prayer: Father God, I thank You and praise You today for Your steadfast love and faithfulness to me and all peoples. Thank You for the leaders in Your family that watch over me and those that I have been privileged to watch over. Help me to be continually joyful and thankful, reflecting Your great love and faithfulness to those I serve and walk through this wilderness with. Let Your glory be over all the earth.

Proverbs 26:27 “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.”

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Joy and endurance!

Scripture reading for March 20th: Hebrews 12, Psalm 56, Proverbs 25

Hebrews 12:1-4 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

Jesus on the cross was the example used by the writer of Hebrews for the believers he was writing to encourage. Many were discouraged because of opposition and persecution and were thinking about going back to Judaism. Jesus’ was motivated by His joy. It was a vision of God’s plan to save sinners through His obedience and willingness to freely give His life and blood to purchase freedom. This joy helped Jesus to endure the cross and suffer through the mockery and shame of crucifixion, a truly painful and humiliating experience. He trusted in God the Father and obeyed, even through his excruciating suffering. He triumphed over death and the grave and lives in eternal joy!

Psalm 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, Whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”

Prayer: Father God, today I consider Jesus, the Author and Perfector of my faith. As I ponder the suffering He endured for me, I am ashamed of my own weariness and failure to successfully struggle against sin. Fill me with the joy of our Lord, Who is my strength. His joy is to see all sinners saved from sin’s penalty and power and enjoying a place in God’s forever family! Empower me to spread the Word!

Proverbs 25:23 “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”

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Faith pleases God!

Scripture reading for March 17th: Hebrews 11, Psalm 55, Proverbs 24

Hebrews 11:4-6 “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

The most basic element of faith is to believe that God is real and exists. The second element, is to believe that God is good and desires our attention. In today’s culture, God is marginalized or blocked out as irrelevant. Humanism teaches that man is the center of all things and that he can rise to new heights with his own efforts and thinking. God’s Word declares that it is faith that endures and speaks throughout man’s history. God is pleased when man humbly acknowledges His eternal existence and creative power. He is pleased when man seeks Him out, looking to Him for answers to prayers and for eternal reward. To live a life of joy, we must live by faith, humbly listening to God’s Word and seeking His pleasure.

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, ad He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Prayer: Father God, my prayer today is motivated by faith that You are real, You are good, and You receive pleasure from my humble trust. I am sustained today by casting all my cares and burdens on You. I have joy today because You have said that my faith pleases You and Your pleasure brings me great joy and peace. I draw near to You, and declare that You are my eternal reward, riches, joy, and delight.

Proverbs 24:3-4 “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

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