I decided to share Bill Britton’s study on the Book of Hebrews because I believe it is one of the best teachings on the book I have read. The entire book is on this page. I suggest you purchase the book from billbrittonministries.com. The book is about 90 type written pages so order the book so you can highlight and underline the important points. May the Lord bless you as you study the Book of Hebrews.
- The Book of Better Things
by Bill Britton
Dedicated To Helen, Cindy, and all the other wonderful young people who have labored so faithfully with us to help get this message out.
All Scripture is quoted from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Other translations used include:
Amplified, Beck: An American Translation, Clementson, Goodspeed,
Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, Jerusalem Bible, Moffatt's,
New English Bible, Phillips, Revised Standard Version,
Rotherham Emphasized Bible, Weymouth,
Williams, Wuest, Wuest Expanded
©2008 Bill Britton Ministries ~ All Rights Reserved.
This book may not be copied or reprinted for commercial gain or profit. Permission will be granted upon request to make copies for special situations or group studies.
Please contact Bill Britton Ministries / Becky Britton Volz for more information.
Brother Bill began writing this study on the book of Hebrews in 1969. He printed each chapter as a small booklet until he had completed chapter 13 in 1977. Then, a book was compiled and printed of all the chapter studies. After he joined the great cloud of witness in 1985, we struggled keeping this book in print. It has been several years since we’ve had copies available.
We are pleased now, in 2008, to once again to offer this book for your spiritual encouragement. The word herein is timeless and I believe will confirm in your own spirit what the Father is saying to His Sons in this hour. We live in a tremendous and critical time for the Kingdom of God. As we fully embrace and apply the new covenant in our lives, we will truly experience the better things Brother Bill shares in this writing.
Becky Britton Volz
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1 Sonship is Better Than Angels
Chapter 2 Better Dominion Through Better Gospel
Chapter 3 Better Builder and a Better House
Chapter 4 Better Sabbath and a Better High Priest
Chapter 5 Melchisedec, a Better Priesthood
Chapter 6 Better Promises From Basic Principles
Chapter 7 Melchisedec Priesthood and a Better Testament
Chapter 8 Better Tabernacle and a Better Covenant
Chapter 9 Better Blood, Better Sacrifice and a Better Holy of Holies
Chapter 10 Better Day, a New and Living Way Through a Better Veil
Chapter 11 Better Faith and a Better Promise
Chapter 12 Sonship as a Better Relationship and a Better Kingdom
Chapter 13 Better Altar, Better Sacrifices and a Better City
This is an exposition of the book of Hebrews, the book of “better things.” We are going to go through this glorious book, chapter by chapter, and look at the realm of Sonship and the true church compared to the orders of the past. In order to get the most out of this message, get your Bible out now and read this book of Hebrews, paying special attention to the emphasis on “better things.” If you have an Amplified Bible, or any other translation, read it along, chapter by chapter, with King James.
In chapter one, we find that Sonship is better than the angels. In chapter two, it is a better dominion through a better gospel. Chapter three speaks of a better builder and a better house. In chapter four, we hear of a better Sabbath and a better high priest. It is in chapter five that we first hear of Melchisedec, a better priesthood. In chapter six, we leave the basic principles and go on to better promises. Melchisedec again is spoken of in chapter seven in relation to a better priesthood and a better testament. (Verse 22) In chapter eight, we learn of a better tabernacle and a better covenant. In chapter nine, it is better blood, a better sacrifice, and a better holy of holies. Chapter ten brings out a better day and a new and living way through a better veil. It is a better faith in chapter eleven, and a better promise. Chapter twelve speaks of Sonship being a better relationship and coming into a better kingdom. In chapter thirteen, we conclude with a better altar, better sacrifices, and a better city.
This book, to the Hebrews, became necessary because of the weakness of the Jewish Christians in continuing to go along with the old temple worship, rites, and ceremonies. They still insisted on practicing circumcision, making the sacrificial offerings at the temple in Jerusalem, and trying to Christianize Judaism. But the new wine of Jesus Christ and His truth and life would not fit into the old order of Moses.
Thirty years after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus we still find the Jewish Christians following the law of Moses and the ceremonial ritualism of temple worship. Thirty years after the Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost, thousands of Spirit-filled priests and Jewish Christians were still engaged in the offering up of the Passover lamb and other blood sacrifices. The writer of Hebrews is trying to show them the glory of the reality in Christ Jesus and the “better things” in the Gospel. In Him – Bro Bill Britton
SONSHIP IS BETTER THAN ANGELS
The book of Hebrews is “the book of better things.” The central theme of the entire book is to show how much better the new covenant of Christ is than the old covenant of Moses. With scriptural proof and strong logic, the writer of Hebrews proves beyond the shadow of a doubt, even to where the most orthodox scribe or Pharisee cannot refute it, how much better the Gospel of Grace is than the Jewish Law.
Continually, throughout the book, we are faced with the truth that the old order is dead and ready for burial. God has replaced it with a new and living way that takes us, by the blood of Christ, through the veil, into the very presence of God where the law could never take us. This book was written because of the problem of Jewish Christians trying to mix the two orders, law and grace; and some even leaving the new order to go back to Moses’ law because of problems that arose in the early church.
Many scholars believe that the apostle Paul was the author of Hebrews due to internal evidence, the style of writing, the revelation of grace, and the pattern of his logic. Paul, who was once the most orthodox of Jews, blameless in the matters of the law, has had a vision of Christ and a revelation of the Gospel of the grace of God. He now is the strongest opponent of the Law of Moses with its rituals, ceremonies, and animal sacrifices. He will not succeed in destroying the old order completely, nor will he be able to convince all the Jews to leave that dead system (it still has millions of followers today.) But he is sounding a clarion call to those Christians who have tasted the reality of Christ and want to follow Jesus into full Sonship. The message is that they will have to turn loose of the past and rid themselves of every remaining garment of the Jew’s religion. We have a better way. The shadows are gone…we have arrived at the substance.
HOW ABOUT TODAY
Christians in our day are not very concerned about the controversy of Paul’s day between law and grace. So is this book relevant for us today? Yes! For today we are faced with an old order that is passing away and a new order is coming in, bringing a revelation of Sonship…a higher order. The revelation of this high calling was given to the apostles in the early church, and they faithfully wrote it down. But it becomes obvious that the early church, the earnest or firstfruits of God’s order for His Body, did not fully reach that maturity and perfection in their generation. They certainly did not attain this maturity and perfection during the dark ages, even up to our present time.
But the work of God is ever progressive and gaining momentum continually. And today we see the need for a new understanding of the book of Hebrews. It is the New Testament book of Sonship. First of all, the Sonship of Jesus Christ; and finally the revelation of the Body of Christ, the corporate, many-membered Son that inherits the Melchisedec priesthood order by virtue of being in Him. While the blind still lead the blind and the masses still stagger along in a dying system of churchianity and religion, we see a great company of Sons breaking forth into the glorious light of God’s new day.
So the need, now as then, is that God’s people might realize they cannot hold on to the old system of religion, however well it served them in the past. Too many today, like the Jewish Christians back then, are trying to hang on to the best of two worlds. It won’t work. The Jewish Christians in the early church were constantly being hammered by the preachers of the circumcision. They were told that Jesus was their Messiah and that the Holy Ghost was for them too; but they were still obligated to fulfill the law of Moses. Holy Ghost filled preachers were using the only scriptures the church had to prove to them that they had to be circumcised, observe the Sabbath, keep going to the temple, and keep the law in order to be saved. It sounded logical. If you have Jesus and the law, how could you lose? The argument was that you had to touch all the bases. Paul’s answer was that the old covenant and its laws were no longer one of the bases. God had done away with it. He has now instituted a better thing. And now, in our day, the Holy Ghost is being poured out upon all flesh, in many denominations and systems of religion. And men are still telling God’s people to take the new thing, but stay in the old sectarian order. “This new thing is simply an improvement on the good old way,” they say.
GOD SPEAKS IN A SON
This book begins with a glorious declaration as to how God speaks or reveals Himself to us. Once He spoke through prophets, those who spoke for Him and in His name. But now He speaks or reveals Himself in Sonship. Moffatt’s and Phillips’ translations and the Amplified New Testament are especially beautiful and revealing in this portion of scripture. “Many were the forms and fashions in which God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these days at the end He has spoken to us by a son—a Son whom He has appointed heir of the universe...” (Moffatt) “God, who gave to our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son...” (Phillips) “IN MANY separate revelations [each of which set forth a portion of the Truth] and in different ways God spoke of old to [our] forefathers in and by the prophets. [But] in the last of these days He has spoken to us in [the person of a] Son, Whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things...” (Amplified)
Now dear friends, if you think that Jesus is keeping all the glory of this Sonship and heir-ship to Himself, then you just haven’t read Romans 8:17 where it tells us that we are “Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” Verse 29 of that chapter states plainly and emphatically that Jesus Christ is God’s Son but that He is the “firstborn among many brethren.” Then turn to Revelation 21:7 and read, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my Son.” The unveiling of God in the person of a Son did begin in our Lord Jesus Christ, for He was the beginning of the creation of God. (Revelation 3:14) But it did not stop there. God ordained that Jesus would be the first and that because of Him, and through Him, there would be a great harvest of the precious fruit of the earth. The Sonship of Jesus is complete, “it is finished.” God is still waiting patiently “for the precious fruit of the earth.” (James 5:7) This harvest of Sons will be joint-heirs with Jesus, “Heir and lawful Owner of all things.”
THE EVENING SACRIFICE
First of all, we are talking here about Jesus Christ, the begotten Son of God. The Bible refers to this entire dispensation of grace as “the last days.” The apostles wrote of their own days being the last days and yet we know that today (almost 2,000 years later) we are in the last days. We read in Mark 15:25 that Jesus was lifted up on the cross as our sacrifice at the third hour of the day, the time of morning sacrifice. He remained on that cross unto the ninth hour, the time of the evening sacrifice. (Mark 15:33-34)
In other words, the work that He came to do (provide a way of salvation from sin for mankind,) was being done until the time of the evening sacrifice, when He cried, “it is finished.” Now we see another Son, a many-membered corporate Son known as “the Church His Body” come into view. Jesus said that because of what He did for us, that we would do His works, as well as “greater works.” So we see a Son coming forth in the morning time of these last days, the dispensation of grace, and doing a work in the souls of men. And now, in the time of the evening sacrifice (the closing hours of these last days,) we see the begotten Son of God crying, “It is finished.” He is taken down from the cross, and pours Himself (by the Spirit) into a waiting body of Sons. What the whole world now shall see is the ministry of “greater works” that Jesus promised. It is the time of the evening sacrifice. It is the time for the younger Son, the many-membered Son, the Church His Body to be manifested. It was the first born Son who created this world and brought life to it. Now it is the younger, many-membered Son, who shall (in cooperation with Christ) restore the creation to divine order. They shall be joint-heirs together. This is why He is bringing many Sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10) and why we must be conformed to the image of God’s Son. (Romans 8:29) This is what all creation is groaning and travailing for with earnest expectation. (Romans 8:19-22)
So at the time of the morning sacrifice, God spoke in a Son, Jesus Christ. He expressed Himself fully in Jesus. The Son was the express image of the Father, the brightness of His glory. And now, at the time of the evening sacrifice, God shall again speak and manifest Himself through a Son. This time it is a corporate Son, of which Jesus Himself is the Head.
Old Testament people knew God as Creator, Lawgiver, and Punisher of sins. He was their strength in battle and a Savior from their enemies. But it was Jesus who came and unveiled God’s true nature as a Father to His children. It was through a Son that God could reveal Himself most perfectly. Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus was the “image of the invisible God.” The Amplified Bible says, “[Now] He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]...” And in Hebrews 1:3 we read that the Son is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of God’s person. The Amplified is very expressive. “He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature.” Moffatt’s translation says that the Sons reflects God’s bright glory and is stamped with God’s own character. For anyone to deny that these scriptures are speaking of Jesus, the Son of God, is only to expose their ignorance of basic truth. But to say that He is the only one who is included in this glory of Sonship, this unveiling of Deity in this realm of humanity, is to reveal a lack of understanding in the purpose of God in creation. Jesus has overcome, not for Himself alone, but for all of us. That we might share His inheritance, sit with Him on His throne, rule and reign with Him, and become partakers of the divine nature of God. (2 Peter 1:4)
The redemptive work of Christ is unique and exclusive. Only Jesus, the Lamb of God, can take away the sins of the world by the shedding of His own blood. But aside from that redemptive work, all the works that Jesus did are to be done by other Sons also. “The works that I do shall ye do also…” (John 14:12) So please remember that as we go through this book of Hebrews, what is said about Christ, the Son of God and the Melchisedec order, is actually speaking of things that pertain to the Body of Christ, the many-membered corporate Son. Also remember that all this glory comes through our Lord Jesus.
BETTER THAN ANGELS
Here in this first chapter we are made to know how much better Sonship is than the angelic realm. “Being made so much better!” A better nature, a better name, a better authority, a better relationship with the Father. Verse seven tells us that angels are created beings, for the angels are made winds (spirits) and His ministers (messengers) a flame of fire. But verse eight goes on to tell us that the Son has a throne “which is forever and ever (to the ages of the ages…)” Amplified. This term does not mean that there will come a time when He does not have a throne. It simply is a way of expressing an eternal situation in the best way we can with human language.
A scepter is a symbol of kingly authority. And the symbol of His kingly authority is a scepter of righteousness, of justice and straightforwardness. And only from Him does that kind of righteousness originate and flow. Even the apostle Paul knew that he could not measure up to God’s standard of righteousness; and whatever he was, he was only by the grace of God. He admitted that he had a weakness that kept him humble and prevented him from becoming exalted by the great revelations God gave him. He called it a “messenger of satan” that buffeted him. It was something he could not rid himself of and he besought the Lord three times to deliver him from it. God’s answer was simply that His grace was sufficient for the situation. I don’t suggest that Paul had a secret sin. He just says that it was a weakness, and one that kept him humble. Physical sickness or bad eyes do not guarantee that result. But it was a messenger from satan that humiliated him, made him to know how really nothing he was, and kept him from ever falling into the worse trap of spiritual pride and an exalted spirit. Jesus was the only man who could walk in perfect righteousness, with heavenly understanding and revelation of God’s purpose, without the tendency to get proud about it. He simply knew who He was, where His authority was, and understood His relationship with the Father. Therefore, He could even accept worship and praise without a proud and exalted spirit. He had the scepter of the King of God’s Kingdom.
THE OIL OF GLADNESS
We have a better happiness in the Sonship realm. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, despised and rejected of men; yet He was the happiest and most joyful human being alive. He set the standard for true happiness. His joy did not come from favorable circumstances about Him. It came from within Him; from a fountain of life whose source is not affected by adverse circumstances, or a flood of problems. “Anointed with the oil of gladness...” (Verse 9) How thrilling it is to see a modern day Son of God who is conformed to this image. He does not wear a smile like a mask, but his joy is genuine in spite of problems, adversities, or tragedies. “Anointed with gladness.” Verses 10-11-12 give us a hint as to what is going to happen to the earth and heavens which He created. “They will perish.” They will all become old as a garment and shall be changed for the new. The Amplified Bible says, “They will perish, but You remain and continue permanently; they will all grow old and wear out like a garment. Like a mantle [thrown about one’s self] You will roll them up, and they will be changed and replaced by others. But You remain the same, and Your years will never end nor come to failure.”
When it says that the present earth and heavens will “grow old and wear out,” it does not indicate that God will destroy it soon and suddenly with a great bomb blast. We can see that this earth is wearing out now due to over population and modern technology. Due to sun spots caused by explosions on the sun, scientists now suspect that the sun may be wearing out. But what is due at this time is a restoration, a setting of all things in order. This is the ministry of Sonship, the word of the Son. We are looking for a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. And this is more than just a new set of trees and mountains.
HEIRS OF SALVATION
The last two verses of this beautiful chapter on the better realm of Sonship deal again with the lower state of the angels. We humans would tremble in awe in the presence of a mighty angel. But it states plainly that they are only servants of God who render service for the sake of the saints. No promise is given to the angels of having all enemies put under their feet, nor of sitting on the right hand of God, nor of being heirs of salvation and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Yet these very promises are all given to us, after having first been given to the first begotten Son of God. No angel will ever know what it is to sit in the throne of God. This is the promise (Revelation 3:21) to him that overcometh, to the saints who are in Christ Jesus.
Sonship is a relationship to Deity that angels cannot know. It shows that the firstborn Son was the creator of heaven and earth. God Himself became human substance brought into this world of sin. Angels were told to worship Him. Why? Because He was the very substance of Deity, He was their Creator. Why did they have to be told to worship Him? Because He was so much in the likeness of man and angels would not worship man. They had to be told that this man was more than man…He was Deity veiled in humanity.
Yes, the realm of Sonship is far higher than the angels will ever attain to. This is the place Jesus walked and overcame every enemy. And this is the Holiest Place He opened to us by the shedding of His blood, by the giving up of His perfect life. This is His inheritance which He shares with us, His Body. And writing to the Jewish Christians, the apostle quotes many of their Old Testament scriptures to confirm these glorious truths. The Old Testament is full of Sonship scriptures, but not understood by the scribes because no one had ever walked in this place and revealed these truths, until Jesus came. They rejected the only source of understanding this realm of Sonship. And now as we go into chapter two, we find that the better realm of Sonship brings us into a better government by the Sons; and a better dominion over all the works of God’s hands.
BETTER DOMINION THROUGH BETTER GOSPEL
Chapter two starts off with this very meaningful word, “therefore.” Meaning that because of all that is brought forth in chapter one, we should be careful of the gospel which has been committed to us. The Amplified Bible is very expressive of this verse. “Since all this is true, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past [them] and slip away.” (Verse 1) A number of other translations confirm this phrase “lest we drift.” You don’t have to do a thing in order to miss God’s best. Just drift.
But because of the truths of chapter one, that is, the high calling of Sonship which has been manifested by Jesus and shared with us, we must give earnest heed to the Word of the Lord that is coming forth. If we refer in these studies to Paul as being the author of Hebrews, it is because there is much internal evidence of this and never more clearly defined than in this second chapter. None but Paul’s epistles speak of miracles or gifts of the Spirit, with one possible exception. Of all the apostolic writers, only Paul taught much on signs and wonders, and miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost. And the message of Sonship, brought forth so clearly in Hebrews, was a special revelation given to Paul.
HOW SHALL WE ESCAPE
In verse three, we find that it is possible for us to drift past these glorious truths and neglect this great salvation. We also find there is no escape for those who do. We also find that this gospel is far greater than any word ever carried by an angel. “For if the word spoken by angels…” The word spoken by angels is on a far lower realm than that spoken by the Son. Many people today would fall in awe and reverence at the presence and voice of an angel of God. Yet, they seem to be very careless in how they receive, and what they say about, a prophet, an apostle, or a pastor in our times who is declaring that “greater salvation.” But they shall not escape. Thus saith the word.
This word was first spoken by the Lord and confirmed to us. Many today are preaching a “gospel” which bears little or no resemblance to the message of the Kingdom preached by Jesus. Their gospel has no part in that “great salvation” spoken of here. That “better thing” spoken of in Hebrews, and what we’re preaching about, is that everlasting gospel of the Kingdom. And notice here that every man does not have to hear this message from the lips of Jesus alone. “Confirmed unto us by them that heard Him.” Have you heard from heaven, preacher? Then you have a right to confirm this word to others also. And verse 4 says that God will bear witness with signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Spirit. Paul states emphatically in 1 Corinthians 2 that when he went in to a new place to establish the truth of God, he didn’t go with excellency of speech or man’s wisdom, but “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” Your faith is to stand in the power of God, not in the cunning arguments, logic and doctrines of men. There are many (and sometimes conflicting) doctrines which have been proved over and over again by those who have been able to put their words together in just the right way. Yet, the end result has been that they have led people into a deadness of spirit and many times a belligerent bickering over nonessentials.
A MINISTRY OF LIFE
This “so great salvation” brings a message of life. There is a life that can be ministered regardless of the fact that you may not be educated, eloquent, or even a preacher. You may have all the mysteries of Daniel and Revelation figured out to the Nth degree, yet minister death in your teaching. You may be able to hold the people spellbound with talent and eloquence, yet leave them lifeless. You may be able to shout and scream and stir the people until you have them running the aisles and they are physically exhausted, yet send them home empty in their spirit, starving for the living word. But, glory to God, there IS a ministry of life! Your revelation in the Book may not be as deep as some others; but if you have this life message, you will bring life everywhere you go. As you minister, people will find themselves ascending out of the lower realm of defeated existence, right into a place of glory and victory. You can be talking on a simple truth of salvation or healing, yet folks will find themselves getting revelation on things they never heard you speak about. What is it? It is a ministry of life! It is the Holy Ghost confirming your ministry and message.
This is your heritage, if you will only claim it. There are so many places calling for this message. When I had time to travel, I could only be two or three nights in each place. I cried to the Lord, “What can I possibly tell folks about these end-time truths in three nights? When you’ve taken 30 years to pour these truths of Sonship and the Overcomer into me, how much of the revelation could I give out in two or three sermons?” His Answer was, “Son, you don’t have to tell them all you know. You just minister the spirit of revelation and after you are gone my Spirit shall begin to bring forth things in the Word to them that they’ve never seen before.” You see, friends, you can minister life to people and bring them up into a realm of spiritual revelation. We can share one with another; and by so doing, we will all be lifted higher. Each of us has something that the other does not have. Preacher, no matter how humble you are, you must quit apologizing for your lack of ability and recognize that even in a convention full of great preachers, you have something that the rest of the folks need. And you men of God with great understanding and ability, don’t become high minded and get to feeling self-sufficient. You must realize that the least of God’s servants has something that you need, something that can cause you to grow. We need one another. Burn that truth on your heart and never forget it. I get letters occasionally from folks who have gotten so “deep” that they don’t need the church and some refuse to gather together with the saints of God (especially if there is any form of eldership or government or divine order.) They inform me, haughtily, that they read only the Bible and certainly don’t need my literature or messages (so they won’t be reading this.) They are “deep” all right…deep in trouble. I’ve got news for you, friends, you do need the word that God is speaking to me. And I need that which God is revealing in your heart. We don’t need the mixture of the flesh, or the dead traditions of Babylon and its systems. I am writing to Sons today. The rest of the church systems will not hear what I’m saying anyhow. But even the “come-outers” can get in serious trouble if they think they can make it through this wilderness by themselves. Joshua and Caleb believed God and were ready to go into the Promised Land 40 years before they actually crossed Jordan. But they had to wait until God got the rest of the body ready to cross over. Some were not submissive or obedient; but God sustained these two faithful warriors while others were dying in the wilderness all around them. He sustained them until they possessed that inheritance which their heart had claimed and their mouth had declared. When the time came to cross the Jordan, they went in with the Body, many of whom were immature and inexperienced compared with Joshua and Caleb.
DOMINION IN THE WORLD TO COME
Now, in verse five, we find that the preaching of this “great salvation” brings us into a new age in which we shall rule and reign with Christ. The Phillips translation brings this out quite clearly, “For though in past ages God did grant authority to angels, yet he did not put the future world of men under their control, and it is this world that we are now talking about.”
Later in this chapter, we will deal with this “world to come” in verse five; showing that the “end of the world” spoken of by Jesus is not the destruction of the trees and mountains and the natural existence of this and other planets. But, it is the closing of this age in which satan has been the ruler of darkness, having the power of death. It is the bringing in of a new age in which all the works of darkness shall be destroyed and death shall be put under our feet.
In verses 6-7-8, the writer quotes from Psalm 8 telling of God’s glorious promise to man; that he should be ruler of all God’s creation. In fact, God puts the promise in the positive tense; as though it were already in force, as it is, in the mind of God and from the view of eternity. But living in the realm of time, the writer says that we do not yet see this promise of complete dominion taking place in our lives. Let me illustrate. Living in this limited time realm, we measure the stars by how long it takes their light to reach us. For instance, light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second, which is over 5,875 billion miles in a year. A light year is how far light will travel in a year, or more than 5,000 billion miles. So, if God were to suddenly, right now, create a new and brilliant star in the sky 58,000 billion miles away from earth, it would be ten years before its light would reach the earth and we could see it. It would be there all the time, from the moment that God put it into existence. But we wouldn’t be able to see it because we live in a realm of time.
Do you see what I’m getting at? The promises of God have already been brought into existence. The work of God has all been completed and He is resting from His labors. “It is finished.” But we do not yet see it. We are on a time schedule. The “light” has not yet reached us in the sense of seeing all our enemies put under our feet. Jesus came to destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. And He did it. But people are still dying. Don’t try to spiritualize it away. He’s talking about real death and real life. We know, because the Word says so, that the work is finished. But we do not yet see it in this realm of time. It is there, it is done. And if you could sit where Jesus sits today you could see it. In that eternal realm, He rules and His Kingdom is already set up. And we who are citizens of that eternal realm have that Kingdom set up within us.
But this is not enough. He will not stop until this eternal Kingdom has taken over the realm of time; on this earth. It is coming. Nothing can stop it…no more than you can stop the light of that star from reaching earth in due course. And the writer of Hebrews is encouraged. What is it we see? We see Jesus! Although we do not yet see the glory and honor of this complete dominion over all creation yet manifested in us, we do see Jesus “crowned with glory and honor.” We can see those eternal promises of God fulfilled in Him because He lives in us; and He is our link with the unseen world of eternity. And because we can see that fulfillment of complete dominion working in Him; and because He has taken that physical earth body into that eternal realm and glorified it; and because He is going to return to receive us unto Himself and change our earth bodies into the likeness of His body of glory…we have hope. We have a glorious hope; the hope of the Church. You see, the hope of the Church is not a geographical rapture that will transport our bodies to some other location in the sky or to another planet. But our hope is for a very real physical rapture that will change this earth body and catch us up into that glorified realm He is in; so that we may rule and reign and have complete dominion here on this earth! You say, “I don’t want to miss going to heaven.” My dear friend, when you are caught up and changed into the likeness of that body of glory, you are going to find out you have been in heaven all the time! You were just not able to recognize it because the carnal veil of flesh separated you from the fulness of His presence. “In Him we live and move and have our being.” This is a deep mystery, and beyond my explaining. Yes, there is a very real heaven. Jesus and the saints that have passed on are there. Yes, there is a very real hell. Yes, this is a very real earth; and there are about to be some changes made; a lot of changes; a change of government for instance. This next world, or age, is not going to be under the rule of angels…the “rulers of the darkness of this world.” The Sons of light are going to rule and things are going to be different. Very different. Praise God for it!
MANY SONS UNTO GLORY
Now in verse 10 we see the purpose of God in bringing forth a body of Sons. He is bringing them to glory. And the Amplified Bible puts it so beautifully: “For it was an act worthy of God and fitting to the divine nature that He, for whose sake and by whom all things have their existence, in bringing many Sons into glory, should make the Pioneer of their salvation perfect (that is, should bring to maturity the human experience necessary for a perfect equipment for His office as High Priest) through suffering.”
A MERCIFUL HIGH PRIEST
Notice in the closing verses of this beautiful chapter, how that Jesus identifies with sinful humanity in a way that He never did with angels. He never left the realm of omnipresent Deity to take on the nature of angels. He descended much lower than that. “For a little while” He was made lower than angels. The term in verse 9, “made a little lower than the angels,” is a time phrase and means that He was “made, for a little while, lower than angels.” When He took upon Him the seed of Abraham and was in all things made like unto His brethren, he descended far, far beneath the dignity of the great archangel. But only for a little while. All this was necessary that He might become (through association with our needs) a merciful and faithful High Priest, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Taking upon Him the seed of Abraham means that He laid hold of their needs for the purpose of helping them. Galatians 3, 16 and 29 show clearly that we who are the called of God are the seed of Abraham. We are His brethren. Hebrews 2:16 in the Amplified reads, “For, as we all know, He [Christ] did not take hold of angels [the fallen angels, to give them a helping and delivering hand], but He did take hold of [the fallen] descendants of Abraham [to reach them a helping and delivering hand].” The Clementson translation says, “For verily, not of angels doth He take hold, but He taketh hold of the seed of Abraham.” In the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament it is worded, “For not indeed of angels takes He hold, but of the seed of Abraham He takes hold.” The old song, “When He Reached Down His Hand For Me,” certainly has an application here and is quite appropriate. Other accurate translations bear out this thought. He came down to lay hold of us. He apprehended us. He chose us and ordained us. We did not choose Him, nor did we apprehend Him in the beginning. But we press forward that we might apprehend that for which we have been apprehended. (Philippians 3:10-14) For what purpose did He apprehend us? We will discover more and more of the answers as we go on in this glorious book of Hebrews.
And now, still in chapter two, we come to the great truth of the better government of the Sons of God in the next age. Since we are living in the last days, and are witnessing the closing of one age and the coming in of another, this truth is of vital interest to us. Let me quote here from Hebrews 2:5, “For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.” (King James) Let us now look at this verse in the Phillips translation. “For though in past ages God did grant authority to angels, yet He did not put the future world of men under their control, and it is this world that we are now talking about.” Williams translation says, “For it was not to angels that He gave authority over the world to be, of which we are speaking.”
And so, in bringing out the truth of divine government in the Kingdom age (millennium,) God is saying that the angels who have been rulers of the darkness of this present world will be stripped of their power and have no authority in the next age. They will be bound. And we begin to see how the Sons of God (the overcomer of Revelation 2 and 3) will rule the nations with a rod of iron. A new government for this world, in a new age.
HOW MANY WORLDS
There is a truth revealed here in the Word so glorious, yet so shocking and so anti-traditional, that we are going to use 25 scriptures to confirm it, examining them from ten translations. This Word is too important. We cannot afford any mistakes.
First of all, let us turn to 2 Peter 3:7 and we shall see where the Bible speaks of “worlds,” it is not always speaking of the mountains, trees, rivers, etc. which constitute this earth. Notice that the context (verse 3-6) is dealing with the coming of the Lord. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished; But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
Now let us read this from the New English Bible. “In taking this view they lose sight of the fact that there were heavens and earth long ago, created by God’s word out of water and with water; and by water that first world was destroyed, the water of the deluge. And the present heavens and earth, again by God’s word, have been kept in store for burning; they are being reserved until the day of judgment when the godless will be destroyed.”
So we see that there is more than one world involved in the judgments of God. Does this mean that we are not living on the same earth that saw the flood in Noah’s day? Or that Noah’s Ark was transported to another planet or world somewhere? Of course not! Then what “world” was destroyed by the flood? And what “present world” is waiting to be burned up by the wrath of God in our day? It is the “world” of ungodly men. The scripture says plainly that “the godless will be destroyed.” So we see that the world that was destroyed in Noah’s day, and the world that is waiting the judgments of God, is not this natural earth consisting of flowers, bees, rocks, hills, lions, lambs, etc. For Isaiah says that in the Kingdom age the lion will eat straw like the ox. (Isaiah 11:7) “And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah11:8-9) In describing the Kingdom age, millennium, Isaiah says in chapter 65, “For behold I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: For the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.” (Verses 17, 20, 21, 25)
Now friends, can we take these scriptures which have so much spiritual truth and believe that they also will be fulfilled literally? Of course we can. Here is a picture of the Millennium, the Kingdom age. During the 1,000 years (on this earth,) we find that there will be sinners, people dying, building houses and living in them, working at jobs, as well as real animals who will no longer destroy one another. There will be children born during this time and they will not have to be afraid of the snakes. The lamb will not be afraid of the wolf. And in the midst of all this will be a people conformed to the image of the Son of God; a people who have overcome and are in the process of putting all enemies under their feet. Death is the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26) and, when all this has been accomplished, the Kingdom will be delivered back to the Father. (1 Corinthians 15:24) Then there will be no more death, no more sinners and every tongue will be confessing Him to be Lord.
IN THE AGE TO COME
Back in Hebrews chapter one we read, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, who he hath appointed heir of all things by whom also he made the worlds.” Now let us read this in the Wuest Expanded translation. “In many parts and in different ways God in former times having spoken to the fathers by means of the prophets, in the last of these days spoke to us in One who by nature is (His) Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He constituted the ages.”
From the King James translation we get the impression that God made more than one world of inhabited people, such as the one we live on. Actually, some people do believe that there are other intelligent beings living on other planets out there in space. This is not so. And when we read this scripture from other accurate translations, they will tell us, as does Wuest, that this word for “world” here means “ages.” Let me confirm this from other scriptures.
Turn now to Mark 10:29-30. “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s; but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
Here Jesus is saying that there is a world to come, in which we shall receive eternal life. Let us read that in a few other translations. Rotherham: “Who shall not receive a hundredfold now, in this season—houses and brethren and sisters, and mothers and children, and lands—with persecutions—and in the age that is coming, life age-abiding.” Wuest: “He will receive one hundred times as much as now at this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come, life eternal.” Revised Standard Version: “Who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” New English Bible: “I tell you this: there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother, father, or children or land, for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children and land and persecutions besides; and in the age to come eternal life.”
Now we see, that in every case, the term used in King James “world to come” means “age to come.” So the next world is not a different planet for us to live on but this same planet in a new age, under different government. I would not weary you with much repetition, but we find that other translations, as well as a Greek Lexicon, bear out this truth. Young’s Concordance tells us that the Greek word used here is “aion” which means an age or dispensation. This same scripture is repeated in Luke 18:29-30, with the same results.
THE END OF THE WORLD
Let us turn to the parable by Jesus of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:39-40. Here Jesus is explaining the parable to his disciples and he says, “The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.” Evangelists have taken this scripture and painted some very frightening pictures of the holocaust which, they say, will destroy this earth. “The end of the world.” Sounds horrible indeed; and it will be for the devil and his angels and for those who are bound by him. But when we examine what this word really means, we get a glorious picture of the beginning of a new age.
Let us read this statement in the Amplified Bible. “Just as the darnel (weeds resembling wheat) is gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the close of the age.” And in Rotherham translation, “And the enemy that sowed them is the adversary, and the harvest is the conclusion of the age.” Wuest Expanded translation says, “And the harvest is the consummation of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Even as therefore the bastard wheat is gathered and is burned in the fire, thus shall it be at the consummation of the age. The Son of Man shall send His angels on a mission, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all those who create stumbling blocks for others, and those who make a practice of lawlessness.” Revised Standard Version says, “The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evil-doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Look at the Williams translation. “The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the close of the age, the reapers are angels. Just as the wild wheat plants are gathered and burned up, so it will be at the close of the age.” Before we leave this passage of scripture, let me quote from the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, which gives a literal translation from the Greek. “And the enemy who sowed them is the devil; and the harvest (the) completion of the age is, and the harvest men angels are. As therefore is gathered the darnel, and in fire is consumed, thus it shall be in the completion of this age.” No further explanation is needed. You can stop looking for the sudden destruction of this earth, and start looking for what is really about to happen; the closing, conclusion, consummation, or completion of this age of death, and the coming in of a new age in which the Sons of God will rule with justice and equity. God will win the victory right here on the battlefield and will demonstrate that victory for all to see.
THE SONS OF THIS AGE
Turning to Luke 16:8, we see that this age is producing its own sons, just as God is bringing forth Sons for the next age. “And the Lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely; for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Let’s read that same verse from the Amplified Bible. “And [his] master praised the dishonest (unjust) manager for acting shrewdly and prudently; for the sons of this age are shrewder and more prudent and wiser [in relation] to their own generation [to their own age and kind] than are the sons of light.” And in the Rotherham translation we read, “And the lord praised the unrighteous steward, in that with forethought he acted; Because the sons of this age have more forethought than the sons of light respecting their own generation.” The Interlinear Greek New Testament, as well as other translations, also gives the same. So we see that this present age of darkness has its sons, and that God’s Sons are called the Sons of light. No wonder that the ungodly men seem to be in places of rulership and authority in this world now. This is their age. Our age has not yet come, but it is now time for the changeover, thank God! Wake up, saints of God, and walk in the wisdom of God.
OUR PLACE OF ADMINISTRATION
Turning to Philippians 3:20-21, we find where our real citizenship is located. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word in King James here translated “conversation” means commonwealth, or citizenship. Let us read it in Rotherham translation. “For our citizenship in the heavens hath its rise; wherefore a Saviour also do we ardently await, the Lord Jesus Christ.” And Wuest is very accurate in his translation. “For the commonwealth of which we are citizens has its fixed location in heaven out from which we, with our attention drawn from all else, are eagerly waiting to welcome the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to receive Him to ourselves, who shall transform this body of ours which has been humiliated (by the presence of indwelling sin and by death and decay), so that it will be conformed to His body of His glory, this is accordance with the operation of Him who is able to bring into subjection to himself all things.” Williams translation says, “But we are citizens of the republic in heaven, from which we are eagerly waiting for our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” And finally, this verse is given beautiful expression in the Clementson translation. “For our place of administration is in the heavens, from whence also we are waiting with longing expectation for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So now, the scripture takes on more meaning where Jesus prayed. “Thy kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven.” With the coming to earth of His kingdom, we come into our citizenship without going by way of the grave, as we are brought into the place of our administration. We become a kingdom of priests, ruling and reigning here on this earth. (Revelation 5:10) This is the purpose of God in His Overcomer for the next age. Through the Christ, the seed of Abraham, (Galatians 3:16, 29) all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Glory to God!
IN THE AGES TO COME
The next age to be introduced, the one we are about ready to enter, is the Kingdom age, or Millennium. But it is not the last age. In fact, there are many ages stretching out ahead of us and the things God has planned for us are beyond our comprehension. Twice in scripture, (Psalm 105:8 and 1 Chronicles 16:15) we are told that God made a covenant with Abraham for 1,000 generations. Not 1,000 years, but 1,000 generations. Now a Bible generation is 40 years, and in the 4,000 years since Abraham we have only had 100 generations, which leaves 900 generations to fulfill the promise of God to Abraham. It doesn’t take long to figure out how many years that is going to take.
Reading in Ephesians 2:4-7, “But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us…hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” In the Rotherham translation it states, “that he might point out in the oncoming ages the surpassing riches of his favor in graciousness upon us in Christ Jesus.” And the Wuest expanded translation says that God has “raised us with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, in order that He might exhibit for His own glory in the ages that will pile themselves one upon another in continuous succession, the surpassing wealth of His grace in kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” The New English Bible says, “and in union with Christ Jesus he raised us up and enthroned us with him in the heavenly realms, so that he might display in the ages to come how immense are the resources of his grace, and how great his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Notice, please, that there is more than one age ahead of us and God has planned them so that He can show His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. You don’t deserve it, nor do I. This is the wealth of His grace manifested. How good is our God! How immense are the resources of His grace!
CHRIST ABOVE ALL
“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21) Again we find that the “world to come” is actually that next age which is upon us. We read in the Amplified Bible, “…Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.” Rotherham reads, “Over-above all principality, authority, and power, and lordship, and every name that is named not only in this age, but also in the coming one.” The Wuest translation, which is very accurate especially in the verb tenses and time element, states it thus, “Seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places, over and above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name that is constantly being named, not only in this age, but also in the one about to come.” The beauty of expression in Moffatt’s translation in this passage is unsurpassed. “So that you can understand the hope to which he calls us, the wealth of his glorious heritage in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of his power over us believers, a power which operates with the strength of the might which he exerted in raising Christ from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavenly sphere, above all the angelic Rulers, Authorities, Powers, and Lords, above every Name that is to be named not only in this age but in the age to come.”
Not only does Jesus have a dominion in the age to come, but He rules NOW. Not only is his name the greatest that shall ever be mentioned in the next world, but His name is the most glorious name ever spoken in this world, right now, and the only name given among men whereby we must be saved! And it shall never diminish. There is an everlasting Kingdom. Glory to our God!
THE POWERS OF THE WORLD TO COME
The next age will be one that will see the fulness of God in operation through His Sons, a demonstration of the mighty power of God. It is not nirvana, or limbo, or sitting on a fleecy white cloud strumming a harp, polishing our crowns, or admiring our beautiful white robes. And for the Sons, it is not just sitting under our own fig tree, or walking on physical streets of gold. There is a job to be done…to “do the will of Him that sent me, and finish His work.”
We read in Hebrews 6:4-5, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.” Rotherham says, “Those who have been once for all illuminated, who have tasted also of the heavenly gift and have been made partners in a Holy Spirit, and have tasted God’s utterance to be sweet, Mighty works also of a coming age.” Wuest Expanded translation says, “and tasted the good word of God, also the powers (miracles) of the age that is about to come.” Miracles in the next age? That’s what it says. Why friends, this world has only seen the firstfruits of what God will do through a perfected Body of Christ. Cripples healed, the dead raised, nations turned to God, and greater works than these shall you see, because He went back to the Father. In the Interlinear Greek New Testament it says, “And tasted the good word of God, and the works of power of the age to come.” Works of power. Glory to God, what a day! We have already tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the coming age. You see, what we have just tasted of in miracles, healings, etc., is the normal work for the coming age. This is how every enemy shall be put under the feet of the Body of Christ. But it will not be in the part realm, there will be no failures. Jesus came and demonstrated the power and authority of the age to come…when the Sons of light come into their Kingdom. This road has already been surveyed, staked out, built and paved. It’s a highway to glory! Praise Jesus!
THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS
Jesus tells us who it is that rules in this realm and age of darkness and what is going to happen to him. Turn to John 12:30-31. “Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Wuest translation reads, “Now is a judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be thrown out, clean out.” Revised Standard Version says, “Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out.” So, here we see that satan has been given a rulership. It is in this world of sin and darkness, in this present age. Let us look at John 14:30. “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” The Amplified Bible is very expressive here. “I will not talk with you much more, for the prince, (evil genius, ruler) of the world is coming, And he has no claim on Me. [He has nothing in common with Me, there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, he has no power over Me.]” Glory to God! No wonder Jesus won such a mighty victory over satan in their encounter. The devil couldn’t find a hand-hold, no place in the life or person of Jesus to take hold of. “Nothing in common.” Praise God. Dust was the serpent’s meat; but there was nothing of the carnal nature in Jesus, He was not of the earth earthy. “Nothing in Me that belongs to him, he has no power over Me.”
Again, in John 16:11, we see that Jesus calls satan the “prince” of this world. In other translations, as well as the original Greek, this word is “ruler.” In Hebrews 2:14 we read, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Let us read it from the New English Bible. “The children of a family share the same flesh and blood; and so he too shared ours, so that through death he might break the power of him who had death at his command, that is, the devil.”
So, it says that the devil had the power of death, or death at his command. His dominion was in the realm of death, darkness, evil. But, Jesus has a dominion in the realm of life, light, and righteousness. “A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8) When we turn to Acts 3:14-15, we see Peter telling the Jews that Jesus was the Prince of Life, but though they had killed Him, yet death could not hold Him. For life is greater than death. In Revelation 1:5, we see that it says Jesus is the Prince of the kings of the earth. And the Greek says He is the “ruler” of the kings of the earth. Let me quote from Wuest translation. “And from Jesus Christ, the trustworthy, dependable witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and set us free from our sins by means of His blood, and who constituted us a kingdom.”
THE GOD OF THIS AGE
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) I want to look at some other translations. Amplified says, “For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents] but against despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.” Moffatt reads, “For we have to struggle, not with blood and flesh, but with the angelic Rulers, the angelic Authorities, the potentates of the dark present, the spirit-forces of evil in the heavenly sphere.” New English Bible reads, “For our fight is not against human foes, but against cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark world, against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavens.” And Phillips says, “For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.” There are others, but this should be enough to give us the picture. From the mouth of many witnesses we see our enemy. Much could be preached from this passage alone but our message today is concerning Hebrews 2:5 and the world to come, so we must hurry on. This passage in Ephesians simply points out that the devil, fallen angels, and hordes of demon powers are the rulers of this present age of darkness; and that while we are living in this realm and this age, we struggle against his rulership. That’s why he hates us so much. Of course, he hates all the human race, but especially he hates, with a bitter passion, those who are coming forth in the image of the Son of God who defeated him and put him to an open shame. Glory to God!
In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 we read, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the mind of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Here satan is called the “god of this world.” Rotherham translation calls him “the god of this age.” New English Bible calls him “the god of this passing age.” People who walk in darkness, who refuse to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, do not realize that their god is satan, the god of this age. But whether they know it or not, they worship him and obey his desires in their lives. To see this more clearly, let us turn to Ephesians 2:1-2. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”
There is a tremendous truth brought out from this scripture by some of the other translations. Let’s start with the Amplified. “…You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God].” Wow! What a statement! What a warning to the saints of God today to stay free from the fashions and tendency of this present age. Now let us read this verse in Wuest Expanded translation. “And you being dead with reference to your trespasses and sins, He made alive; in the sphere of which trespasses and sins at one time you ordered your behavior as dominated by the spirit of the age in this world system, as dominated by the leader of the authority of the lower atmosphere, the source also of the spirit that is now operating in the sons of the disobedient among whom also we all ordered our behavior in the sphere of the cravings of our evil nature, continually practicing the desires of our evil nature and of our thoughts.” Phillips translation says, “To you, who were spiritually dead all the time that you drifted along on the stream of this world’s ideas of living, and obeyed its unseen ruler (who is still operating in those who do not respond to the truth of God), to you Christ has given life! We all lived like that in the past, and followed the impulses and imaginations of our evil nature...”
So, the world is drifting along being dominated by the powers of darkness, the rulers of this present age. That is why the world is in such chaos, with sin, war, crime, death, poverty, pain, and sorrow on every hand. All this will change. And the time for the change is at hand. Glory to God. We are at the hour for the new age to begin! And in this next age, the satanic powers of darkness will have no authority or dominion. Satan will be bound. And when the “strong man” is bound, Jesus said you can spoil his house. So, in the next age, there is to be a “housecleaning” when every enemy shall be put under the feet of the Body of Christ; every work of satan destroyed from off the face of the earth and the human race will see life as God intended it for them. All this work will not be done in the twinkling of an eye; but it will come under the administration of the Sons of God who shall rule and reign on this earth. “For he must reign, till He hath put all enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25) The New English Bible says, “For he is destined to reign until God has put all enemies under his feet.” Who is it speaking of here that is going to reign? It is Christ in the fulness of His glorious Body!
THE OVERCOMER RULING
Going back now to our text in Hebrews 2, we find that right after the writer says that the angels will have no dominion or authority over that next age or world, he tells us who will be reigning. In verses 6-7-8, he tells us that God has already promised in the scriptures that man is destined to rule over all the works of God’s hands. He reminds us that we have been made lower than the angels, for a little while, and that we don’t yet see man exercising this dominion in the earth. “Now we see not yet all things under his feet.” What do we see? We see Jesus! Crowned with glory and honor. He, too, was made lower than angels, for a little while, and suffered the humiliation of death in order to bring many sons out of the lower realm of fallen humanity into a place of redemption where they can be His “brethren” and rule with Him from his throne. What a plan! What a Jesus!
Who is this “man” that is going to have dominion and authority over the world in the next age? Is it the alcoholic blasphemer who beats his wife for going to church? Is it the atheistic communistic rebel who riots and kills and burns? Is it the unbelieving preacher who fights the idea of anyone coming to full Sonship and says that it can’t be done? Or is it the fearful of heart who believe his lies? Of course not! It is none of these! Those who will be in His Body and rule with Him are those whom He is not ashamed to call “brethren” (verse 11); those He suffered for to bring to glory (verse 10); those who are conformed to His image (Romans 8:29.) These are the ruling company. This is God’s government. Fret not about the fact that you have no experience in governing or managing the affairs of nations. For, dear ones, it will not be you. It will be Him in you. He is choosing the weak, the base, the unwise, the things that are naught…that no flesh should glory in His presence. (1 Corinthians 1:29)
What shall be the manner of ruling the government of the next age? This is a subject for another message and we shall begin to see glimpses of this as we continue on in our study of Hebrews, especially as we look at the Melchisedec priesthood. But for now, let us sum up what we have found by examination of the scriptures.
First of all, we found that instead of God making many “worlds” or earths and destroying one of them with the flood, He created many ages. And instead of coming in these “last days” to the “end of the world” and the destruction of the earth’s substance, these last days have brought us to the end of this present age. We also found that satan is the prince, the ruler, the god of this present age of darkness, and had the power of death. But we see that Jesus has the power of Life, is the Prince of Life, and the ruler of the Kings of the earth. Now we find an Overcomer, a body of Sons of God, the great anointed Body of Christ coming forth in power to put an end to this age and cast satan down, put him under their feet. They then begin their reign and continue to reign until every enemy has been destroyed, including death. When that is accomplished, they thus reign for 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:4 and 1 Corinthians 15:25-26) They then turn the Kingdom back to the Father. And what is beyond that? Glory to God, I’m anxious to find out! I can hardly wait! But getting there is going to be tremendous…for those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28-29)
Press on saints of God; we are on the winning side! This light affliction which is but for a moment (2 Corinthians 4:17) is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. “Our citizenship in the heavens hath its rise.” (Rotherham) We are on the way up, our enemy is on the way down. Woe to those who live in and are dominated by this lower atmosphere of carnal life. But rejoice ye heavens and ye that dwell therein. For there is a cleansing going on and victory is inevitable. Let us praise our God and rejoice in the light of His countenance!
THE NEW CREATION MAN
Before leaving chapter two, let us take a look at the New Creation Man revealed here. In chapter one, we see Christ identified with Deity as the express image of God’s person and the brightness of His glory. In fact, in verse 8, the Son is called “God” when it says, “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”
Now, in chapter two, we see Christ identified with humanity. This word first began to be spoken by the Lord Jesus and was confirmed by the Holy Ghost. He then begins to speak of the next age, the “world to come,” and tells us that it shall be governed by the “son of man.” This “son of man,” he says, is not yet ruling and reigning but we see that the crown of glory and honor is already being worn by Jesus. Now, we see that this “son of man” is a many-membered body, known as the “brethren” of Jesus. This is the Father’s doings and cannot be disannulled.
THEY WHO ARE SANCTIFIED
In spite of the fact that this many-membered “son of man” is not ruling, and that he is lower than angels and subject to death, yet Jesus is not ashamed to call them His brethren; because He has sanctified them. How does He do this? By bringing them into Himself; by bringing them into His own realm or to the place He has prepared, or into His house as we shall see in chapter three.
Revelation 3:14 tells us that Jesus is the “beginning of the creation of God.” Which creation? Adam’s creation? Of course not! Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 where it says plainly that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. Moffatt’s translation says, “There is a new creation whenever a man comes to be in Christ.” And the New English Bible is very enlightening. “When anyone is united to Christ, there is a New Heavens and a new Earth.” A new creation. How? By coming into Christ. For He is the beginning of this new creation. Before He came, there was the realm of Deity, the angelic world, and the world of Adam’s fallen race. Adam was a living soul, of the earth earthy. But Christ came to establish something new; and to those that received Him, to them gave He the privilege to enter into this new creation world.
THE NEW CREATION MAN
None of Adam’s race will enter this new world. Adam must die, as was spoken to him in the beginning. Adam’s nature and life cannot inherit this kingdom. Not that God is vindictive and unforgiving. It’s just that the Adamic nature could not stand to be in that glorious light unto which no man can approach. So God is creating a new man. “I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:7) “This shall be written for the generation to come, and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.” (Psalm 102:18)
This creation or world of which I speak was never in existence until Jesus came. He was the beginning of this new creation Man. He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega. So through Jesus Christ, something new came into existence. He is the Door, so no one can enter this realm except through Him. He is the Head; so once in this realm you cannot move or operate in His divine principles except He directs you. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. No one ever had this without Him, and you will never get past Him; no matter how far you go in God, you will find that Jesus is there, too.
“Made like unto His brethren!” What a statement! Everything that He is, we are to be also, for everything that we are, He became. Everything? What about sin? Though he had no sin of his own, yet he took our sins upon himself, and was “made sin for us.” He who was the prince of Life even tasted of death that we might partake of His realm of Life. So let us look at Him, to see what He is, that we might know what we are.
Verse 14 says that He came to destroy him that had the power of death. So this is our victory. We shall put death under OUR feet. “Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54) So you see, some scriptures have not yet been fulfilled. This new creation man shall be the one to fulfill them. Death destroyed. It is the enemy of mankind. (1 Corinthians 15:26) It must be put under His feet. (Hebrews 10:13) That which Jesus came to do must be done by His new creation Man, the one who comes forth in His image. (Romans 8:29)
How is this death destroyed? Is it by everyone finally dying or being raptured off the earth? Of course not! It is destroyed by this corruptible putting on incorruption and this mortal putting on immortality! It is destroyed by a demonstration in the sight of all earth, as well in the eyes of principalities and powers in heavenly places, of a new creation man living on earth without being subject to death, sickness, accident, or sin. How could you stop accidents? Psalm 91:11-12 says, “He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Hebrews 1:14 tells us that angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.
Death has always been our escape from this world of darkness into that glory world. But it shall not always be so. The age of darkness shall come to an end, death shall be destroyed, and the knowledge of His glory shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Jacob saw this house of God as a ladder, a means of transport from earth to heaven and heaven to earth. Jesus said it was this “son of man” which should be the means of heaven and earth being joined as one. (John 1:51) So, this is our work; the job left for the feet company of Christ, to “tread upon the lion, the adder, and the dragon.” To put death under our feet and demonstrate a life where death cannot operate. Praise God!
A FAITHFUL PRIESTHOOD
As Jesus was a faithful and merciful high priest in things pertaining to God (verse 17), so His Body must be the same. A merciful priesthood. How this world needs mercy, and how little of it there is! He is raising up a new creation Man who is merciful. Many are concerned about the qualifications necessary to be a part of this new creation Man. Some seem to think that you must have great revelation, or gifts, or abilities. Not so. But you must have mercy. The unmerciful man shall not be a part of this priesthood. Nor the unfaithful. He was a merciful and faithful high priest. Faithfulness, even in small things, and especially in things pertaining to God, is required in any who desire to be in the High Calling.
In verse 12, the emphasis is put upon Jesus declaring the name (which means the nature) of the Father to His brethren, and of His singing praises to the Father in the midst of the Church. Those who follow Him will do likewise. Jesus speaks prophetically in Psalm 22:22 and says, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren…” But in that same chapter, verse 31, we see that He is referring to a many-membered company called “a seed…accounted to the Lord for a generation.” And of them He says, “They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness…” Declaring His righteousness is not screaming at the top of your voice that He is righteous, but it is manifesting that perfect sinless life in a human vessel. It shall be done, and not just by one man, but by a many- membered “son of man,” a seed, a generation.
A PEOPLE OF PRAISE
This new creation Man will also follow Jesus in a life of praise. Not on a lower realm of educated mental assent to His greatness, and a fearful giving of what you think He requires. But the high praises of God shall ring forth from lives that have been given over completely to God; from hearts that are overflowing with praises to our gracious and loving Father; and from spirits that have been caught up into His presence and are dwelling in that third heaven (the holy of holies.)
Psalm 149:5-6 exhorts us to “Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.” In Ephesians 5:18-19 we read, “Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in Psalm and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If God’s people only knew what victory there is in praising the Lord! It drives away the spirits of darkness, despair, discouragement, defeat, and doubt. It heals the body and lifts the spirit. It fills the mind with thoughts of God and holiness and closes every door to the devil’s suggestions of fear, uncleanness, and sin. Satan cannot get into your mind to cause you to think evil thoughts or tempt you to sin while you are engaged in the high praises of God. When I was first converted as a teen-age boy, I was concerned about whether I would be able to overcome all the temptations that I was facing. I had come from a broken home, out of a life of sin, and my old gang did not want to give me up so easily. We used to sing a hymn called, “Take the Name of Jesus with You.” I remember the second verse went like this: “Take the name of Jesus ever as a shield from every snare; if temptations round you gather, breathe that holy name in prayer.” Boy, I thought, this is for me. If it works, I’ll have no troubles with temptations. Well, I won’t say that I lived a perfect life all the time, but when temptations came and I remembered to get out my secret weapon, it was terribly hard to enter into sin while saying “Jesus.” I didn’t know about praising the Lord, as we weren’t taught along this line. All I knew about praising the Lord was when the saints would get up in the “testimony meeting” or “praise service” and say something like “I’m glad I’m saved, sanctified, and filled with the sweet Holy Ghost; pray for me that I’ll remain faithful to the end.” I’ve been in this battle now for many years, and I’ve learned a great deal about praising the Lord, and its effective use in dealing with the devil.
This new creation Man will know how to praise the Lord. “Blessed (happy) is the people who know the joyful sound.” (Psalm 89:25) Jesus knew how to praise the Father while his enemies compassed him about. He did not have to win a popularity contest in order to feel like praising. His praises came out of a fountain within Him that never went dry. He spoke prophetically in Psalm 109 where we read the words of Jesus in verses 1-5. “Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me; they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. For my love they are my adversaries; but I give myself unto prayer. And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.” The following verses identify the speaker here as Jesus.
As with Jesus the pattern, so also the new creation Man. How I have found myself in these verses. The Amplified Bible says, “…They have spoken to me and against me with lying tongues…And they have rewarded and laid upon me evil for good, and hatred for my love.” These principles are never more clearly seen than examples within our own local church. I will not deal with personalities or cite specific cases, but only deal with the methods satan uses in trying to destroy a man of God or a local church. We extended love, help, and hospitality to many people, only to have some of them turn on us later with such force and venomous hatred that it would almost shake our faith in humanity. This came from Spirit-filled (supposedly) people claiming to be pressing into Sonship. Each one of them felt justified in their actions toward us. They burned the telephone lines up with malicious gossip and evil stories; yet would go to church and sing the praises of God. The Apostle James says that this ought not to be so. (James 3:10) These types can go from house to house discouraging the people, trying to tear up the church; yet when their efforts failed, they have come right back to the church and would get up behind the pulpit as though nothing happened. They can partake of your hospitality, eat at your table; yet in a time of crisis will forsake you and believe and repeat ugly stories about you. Then, when crisis is over, and the ugly stories have proven false, they come back and put their feet under your table again with never an asking for forgiveness or a sign of repentance.
So what is the new creation Man to do? Just keep on praising God! For he walks in a realm of praise, not in a realm of complaints and self-pity. Jesus was not complaining or feeling sorry for Himself in Psalm 109. He was merely stating facts, telling it like it is, to let us know that we can expect this kind of treatment. But in spite of all this, He is the God of our praise. Glory to God! With all the hatred, opposition and venom that has been poured out on our little church, you’d think that we would have folded up and sneaked out of town to look for a more peaceful place. But we just keep on praising God. Everything the enemy said, God disannulled.
What is the principle involved? God will disannull every word of satan if you will only believe for it and accept it as done. You don’t have to believe the lies of the enemy; you can just keep on praising God! The more opposition you get, and the more lies that are told on you, the greater glory you can come to. Just stay out of the realm of self-pity and complaining. Don’t receive words of death. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23) This is our inheritance! This is the privileged path of the new creation Man! Just keep right on praising our Jesus, the pattern Son who taught us this good way! You are part of a New Creation in Christ Jesus!
Let us now proceed to chapter three of this great book of Hebrews and learn of the House of God, over which Christ is the Son.
BETTER BUILDER AND A BETTER HOUSE
After showing us the Sons of God in chapter two, and bringing forth the truth of their ruling this world in the age to come, we now come to chapter three. Here we see the difference in the first six verses of the house that Christ is building and the house of Moses. We see the far greater glory of that “Latter House,” which house are we. Moses’ house is shown to be a house of servitude, a place of servants doing their duty; while the house of Christ is a house of Sonship, of Sons inheriting and ruling with Him. Glory! In this first message on chapter three, we shall have an in-depth study of God’s house.
MY FATHER’S HOUSE
An amazing truth has come to light as a result of a study on the “House of the Lord.” After digging into more than 30 scriptures, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we have found that many times when the Bible speaks of a “house,” it does not mean a house in the sense of a building made of lumber or bricks in which we live. When is a house not a house? When it is a human body; or a place of habitation for the human spirit; or a realm of life.
Let us go to the scriptures to clarify what I am saying. Look at Noah in Genesis 7:1. “And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.” Was God telling Noah here to tear down his physical dwelling house brick by brick or board by board and put it on the ark so that he would have the materials to build another house after the flood? Of course not! Noah might even have lived in a tent for all we know, the Bible doesn’t say. But at any rate, the house Noah had built on this earth realm was a way of life. It was a house of righteousness, faith, grace, and obedience. The people who shared this way of life with Noah were his wife, his sons, and their wives. They constituted his household. They lived with Noah in a house of faith and righteousness and they brought this house into the ark and were saved from the flood.
The world around Noah lived in a different kind of house. They lived in sin, rebellion, wickedness, debauchery, and idolatry. Their house was corrupt and God determined to destroy it. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and his faith and obedience saved his house. For had Noah perished in the flood, his way of life, his habitation, would have perished with him. Turn to Hebrews 11:7. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”
THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
Each of the patriarchs in the Old Testament “built a house.” In Genesis 18:19, the Bible speaks of the household of Abraham, those who will follow him on this earth in the promises of God. In Genesis 46:27 it says, “all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.” Verse 26 says that these are those “which came out of his loins.” That is, they were those whom he had brought forth with his own life, in his own image, and they were continuing his life in the earth. They were “the house of Jacob.” They were the fruit of his 147 years of pilgrimage here. The elders spoke to Boaz in Ruth 4:11-12 and said, “The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel; and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem; And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman.” How did Rachel and Leah build the house of Israel? Laying bricks, or nailing boards? Of course not! They did it by giving Jacob twelve sons to carry on his life in the earth. They built the house of Israel! And the house of Boaz was to be built of the seed which the Lord would give him of Ruth.
Leviticus 10:6 speaks of “the whole house of Israel,” meaning all twelve tribes. But within that one “house of Israel” was twelve houses. For each son built a house for himself. We read in Exodus 2:1, “And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.” This is speaking of Amram and Jochebed, the parents of Moses. They were of the house of Levi. Exodus 6:14 speaks of the house of Reuben. In Genesis 50:8 we read of the house of Joseph. In 2 Samuel 2:4 it says, “And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.” The house of Judah is also spoken of in Hebrews 8:8 in the New Testament. The house of Benjamin is mentioned in 2 Samuel 3:19. Now we see King David building a house, or realm of life in the promises of God, for God made a covenant with him. David’s house is mentioned in 2 Samuel 3:1 and in Luke 1:27.
These scriptures make it plain that when the Bible speaks of a “house,” it is not always talking of a building where men go to eat their meals and get their sleep. Here we see that it is a habitation or realm of life for those who enter into the covenant of the Lord.
Now we come to a very interesting scripture concerning “the house of God.” In John 14:1-2 we read, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE ARE MANY MANSIONS; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” “My Father’s house!” Now the natural mind gets a picture of heaven’s golden streets with all the beautiful mansions. Surely the Father’s house will be the largest and most beautiful in all heaven! How long will it take us to get our minds cleansed and be able to understand truth? God is Spirit and no structure ever built, in heaven or earth, could ever contain Him. Then what does this mean? What about our mansions? You won’t take away our beautiful big mansion will you? No, because you never had one. Not the one you imagined. For the human imagination, filled with materialism and greed, has dreamed of moving out of these dirty little houses with all their high rents or back-breaking payments and getting a great big free mansion on Glory Avenue, a beautiful home in the sky. This is not what the Bible is saying at all. When we check the original language of scripture, confirmed by all other translations, we see that God’s house consists of many rooms or dwelling places, or realms of abode. The Amplified Bible says, “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” The New English Bible and Wuest’s translation says the same. The Revised Standard Version, Phillips translation, Goodspeed, and the Jerusalem Bible all say “there are many rooms in my Father’s house.” Rotherham’s Emphasized New Testament (very accurate) says, “In the house of my Father are many dwellings.”
Just as there was a house for each of Jacob’s sons within the house of Jacob, so there is a house or dwelling for each of God’s Sons in the House of God. Each of Jacob’s sons were different, with different promises and different ministries. Judah had the promise of the scepter and produced the kings, starting with David. Levi was the house of priesthood, beginning with Aaron. But they were all the House of Israel.
The truth portrayed to us here is that there is a realm of life where God lives, where He makes His habitation. And in this same dimension of the Spirit, there is a place being prepared for us that we might live in the same realm that God lives in. Jesus said, “That where I am, there ye may be also.” We have lived in a realm where there is death, pain, sickness, sin, doubts, fears, loveliness, tears, tormenting spirits, misunderstandings, and all other human difficulties. But Jesus has come to where we are, shared His life with us, and spread a table for us in the presence of our enemies. This has been wonderful, but it is not all He is doing for us. He is going to change our address. We are moving into a new house, the Father’s house…the realm where God lives. A place where there is only eternal victory and glory. Just as the sons of Jacob were born of him, reproducing his life, and receiving each one a house within the house of their father; even so, the Sons of God have been born of their Father, reproducing His life in the earth, inheriting all things, and each one having a house, a ministry, a realm of dominion in the Father’s house.
I WILL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6) This is a psalm of David. Does this indicate that David is going to leave his palace on Mount Zion and go to live in the temple on Mount Moriah? Turn to Psalm 27:4. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” This too is a psalm of David. In one psalm he says that the thing he is seeking is to be able to dwell in the house of the Lord, and in the other he says, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Someone might say, “But he is speaking about the temple on Mount Moriah.” In fact, no temple was built during the lifetime of David. Not until after David’s death did Solomon build the temple, the “house of God.” Then what was David speaking of here by the Spirit? He was crying out in the Spirit to be able to live in that same place where God lives, in that place Jesus spoke of in John 14:2.
Again we read in Psalm 84:10, “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” To be a means of opening the door for others to come into the High Calling, into God’s House, is far better than the greatest thing offered by this sinful world. “The tents of wickedness.” A tent is symbolic of a temporary dwelling place. This sinful age, with all its glitter and attraction to the natural man, is only temporary. “The pleasures of sin for a season.” (Hebrews 11:25) A tent always speaks of a passing order. Turn with me now to 1 Chronicles 17 for a tremendous revelation of God’s dwelling place here on this earth.
FROM TENT TO TENT
King David talks to Nathan the prophet about his desire to build a house for the Ark of the Covenant. This golden ark and mercy seat represents the presence of God Himself and is symbolic of the New Testament Christ in the midst of His people. Up to this point, in 1 Chronicles 17, the Ark had never had a permanent resting place but had dwelt under tents and tabernacles from the time of its construction. Now David feels that it has reached the place where it will be moved no more and he wants to build a beautiful temple fitting to the glory of the Ark.
“Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee.” (Verse 2) Here Nathan speaks out of his own heart and tells the king the thing that is convenient and pleasant for David to hear. It is a good project; it is for the glory of God. It is an unselfish motive on David’s part and it seems so right to the prophet and to the king. But it is not the will of God. How many times have good prophets, prophets of God, spoken things outside of the true word of the Lord because they seemed so good, so right to his own mind. Nathan is not an evil prophet trying to mislead David. He is God’s prophet, the voice of the Lord to the king. He is not afraid to tell David the truth. It is this same Nathan that puts his finger in David’s face and says, “Thou art that man” (concerning his sin of adultery and murder.) Only in this case, Nathan did not wait for the word of the Lord. This is the reason why all prophecies have to be judged and put under the two-fold search-light of the Spirit and the scripture. But God is faithful; and that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan. He is to tell David what he does not want to hear. He cannot build God a house. “Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the Lord, Thou shalt not build me an house to dwell in: For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another.” (1 Chronicles 17:4-5)
What did God mean that He had dwelled in tents, going from one tent to another? A tent is a temporary dwelling place. See what the Bible says about Abraham in Hebrews 11:9. “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; For he looked for a city which h ath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Abraham was rich, the richest and most powerful man in the country. Why live in a tent, when he could have built the finest house, the strongest walled city of any in the land? He had seen a city. Nothing he could build would ever compare with it. He was a type of those spiritual pilgrims who refuse to build their own kingdom on this earth realm, having seen the glorious promise of God for a realm of life, a dominion, far above anything man could accomplish here. “For here have we no continuing city.” (Hebrews 13:14) By building a city, Abraham would have been saying, “I have reached my expectations. This is what I am searching for. I do not expect to move again.” But dwelling in tents signifies that his present life is only temporary, that he is ready to pull up stakes and make another move; that he is expecting far more than what he now has.
When God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham was God’s witness in this world. And God lived with him. Abraham’s life was one of constant wandering, traveling through the land of Canaan which had been promised to him. But this was a temporary situation, a tent. And God lived with him in this tent. But He never let Abraham build a city on this realm. He let him see the city of glory. Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) Sometimes we find ourselves wandering through a world of sin, surrounded by enemies of all kinds, yet always victorious in Christ. We know the power and glory of His constant presence, and this is indeed a wonderful place to walk. But it is not God’s ultimate for us, there is a greater glory ahead. Aren’t you glad that Abraham never built God’s permanent dwelling place on this realm?
TENTS OF ISRAEL
“Wheresoever I have walked with all Israel, spake I a word to any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people, saying, Why have ye not built me an house of cedars?” (1 Chronicles 17:6) God is saying that wherever Israel went, God walked with them, lived with them. But he dwelled in tents. That is, every stage of Israel’s journey was only temporary, was a passing order. A tent. But God was with them in every tent. God was with Jacob and his twelve sons, shepherding their sheep, raising their families. A family was being built. But building the family of God’s people is not the eternal order for us and must someday come to an end. So God did not build His house on this realm. Then Israel went to Egypt, eventually came into slavery and tribulation. In their trials and bondage, God was with them, dwelled in this tent with His people. But it was only a tent and God would not build His house in Egypt’s bondage. Praise God for that! Aren’t you glad that we do not have to eternally exist as God’s people dwelling in Egyptian or Babylonian bondage? Glory to God, there is a day when all bondages are removed! Then through the ministry of Moses, God took them into the wilderness for 40 years. They were free of bondage, but in a wilderness place. Haven’t you appreciated the glorious presence of God in this place we are passing through? But praise be to God, it is a passing order; and God’s House was not built in this wilderness! He dwelled with them in a tent. That wilderness tent was a passing order. A new tent was erected when they crossed Jordan and came into the Promised Land. It was a better tent than they had in the wilderness, or in Egypt’s bondage. But, it was still a tent. Though God was with them while they lived in Canaan under the judges, yet He did not tell the judges to build Him a house. Gideon, Barak, Jepthah, Deborah, Samuel, and the other judges were the voice and leadership of the Lord to Israel. Living under the judges was, for the children of Israel, being led by the Spirit. Being led by the Spirit is a marvelous realm of life; but there is something higher, something eternally permanent where God will “build His House.”
DAVID PITCHED A TENT
“But the Ark of God had David brought up from Kirjathjearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 1:4) David knew by the Spirit that the Ark (God’s glory and presence) belonged in the city of God, Jerusalem, and not in the tabernacle down at Gibeon. He knew that God’s permanent house should only be built when Israel was in divine order, under a King. He thought he was that King. But God tells David that he is not going to build the house of the Lord. God tells David that though He had made him a mighty man in the earth, and had been with him in all his battles, David was a bloody man, a man of war. And this house is not going to be built on that realm. It is wonderful to have God with us in all our battles and trials of life so that we come through victoriously. But thank God this is a passing order, a tent. We shall not always be fighting the devil, overcoming temptations, or casting out devils. For God has prepared for His people a rest. There is a realm in God where there is no more war, no devil to fight, no temptations to overcome. And in this place will God build His permanent home, His house.
THY SON SHALL BUILD MY HOUSE
“And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son...” (1 Chronicles 17:11-13)
Some may think that Solomon was the fulfillment of that promise, but only partially and temporarily. Some of the things God said were never fulfilled in Solomon. That scripture was never fulfilled until Jesus came. We read in Luke 1:31-33, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Here is the one that God said would build His house. Here was the one who was a Son to the Father, the one who established the realm of Sonship.
More than 300 years after Solomon had built the temple, the Lord spoke through the prophet in Isaiah 66:1-2 and said, “Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto Me? And where is the place of my Rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” He thus signifies that His promise to David has not yet been fulfilled; and therefore, Solomon was not the son that He spoke of who was to build His house.
JESUS BUILDS A HOUSE
God says two things in 1 Chronicles 17, verses 12 and 14 concerning a house. “He (the Son) shall build me an house,” and then, “I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom forever.” Jesus was the first man on the earth realm to ever build God a habitation where He could live and reveal Himself in His fulness. Jesus built Him a house of holiness, of obedience, of sinless perfection, of humility and compassion and true Godly love. This is a place where God can live. And for the first time He has a habitation on the earth. He could not live in a temple made by the hands of sinful men. Solomon’s temple was only a shadow of the real and permanent House of God. “God was in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
The Father has a house in heaven, a realm of life, a habitation and means of expression. For heaven is perfect, sinless and eternal. And this is the only kind of habitation that God could have. But no one had ever built such a house on the earth realm, in the physical world...until Jesus came. Jesus built the Father a house to live in, a life so sinless, so perfect, so full of wisdom and grace that even God could feel at home in it. Everyone has certain requirements for any house they might live in. If you said to me that you had built a house for me, and that it was free and all I had to do was to move in, I would certainly take a look at it. But if it was just an oversized dog house, no doors, no windows, just one room with straw on the floor, and a hog trough out front to eat out of, I would tell you very quickly that I would not feel at home in such a place. I am not a dog; I like a kitchen in my house, a rug on the floor, a bed in the bedroom, and a few other things pertaining to human life. Then I would feel more at home in the house. God cannot feel at home in a house full of gossip, lust, fears, profanity, and all the other things connected with a life of sin. The house Jesus built had none of that kind of furniture in it. His life was a place where God could feel at home.
A STRANGER AND A PILGRIM
The Bible tells us that Old Testament men of faith recognized that they were strangers and pilgrims on this earth, and that our citizenship is in heaven. We are not citizens of this dying world of sin, this mortal realm where death reigns. We have been given a new birth and made citizens of a realm of life, righteousness, divine health, wisdom, love, joy, peace, etc. Though my spirit has been lifted into the heavenlies where I am a citizen, my body still dwells in the realm of mortality, and I don’t feel at home here any more. I am an heir of immortality and eternal life and I am groaning in my spirit for my body to be redeemed to this glorious place. I’m pressing toward the place where my body can provide God’s habitation on this physical earth (as Jesus did) where He can fully express Himself again in His house. I want to be a house fit for the Father to dwell in. And thank God, beloved, the day is at hand when we are changing our address from Mortality to Immortality, from Corruption to Incorruption. We are ready to put on our house from heaven.
OUR HOUSE FROM HEAVEN
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)
Now it is evident, in this scripture we just read, that the “tabernacle” spoken of is our physical bodies. But the “building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” is not just another body already created and stored up, as it were, on a shelf in heaven, waiting for us to put this one in the grave so we can put the other one on. For you see, you’re not really going to get rid of this present body. If you put it in the grave, it is coming out at the resurrection. If you remain till Jesus comes, this present body will be changed and made immortal, and you’ll have to keep it from then on. What about that “house eternal in the heavens?” This is the realm of God that our present bodies and our spirits must come to. So we groan, desiring to be loosed from the realm of mortality and death, and released into the habitation of life, immortality, and eternal perfection in God. The truth is that the house from heaven will clothe us over, “that mortality might be swallowed up of life.”
This earthly house where our present bodies or tabernacles dwell, is to be dissolved. This realm that we have known as our “earthly life” is actually a drying life, a passing order, a temporary tent. Jesus said in John 14:2, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Had He not already provided God a house, a habitation on the earth during His 33 years in His physical body? But now He indicates that there is a higher order than this, and it can only come by His death, burial, and resurrection. So, the life He brings us into is a resurrection life. “That I may know Him in the power of His resurrection.”
WHAT HOUSE WILL YE BUILD ME
Stephen preaches his final sermon on this earth to the Jewish council. Now if you were going to preach your final message, and it was going to cause your death, you would surely want it to be of great importance and a weighty subject. Stephen preaches about the House of the Lord. He tells them in Acts 7:44-50 that the temple Solomon built is actually not the real House of God; and certainly not Herod’s temple, now sitting up on Mount Moriah. This strikes at the very heart of their ecclesiastical system and enrages them as nothing else can. To infer that our beautiful temple is not where God dwells, that we are not His people, His habitation…it is blasphemy and worthy of death!
But, what Stephen is telling them is that Jesus the Christ is the habitation of the Father and only in Jesus can they find God. And he quotes the prophet Isaiah to prove his point. They cannot argue with Isaiah, so they stopped their ears, cast out Stephen and stoned him to death. This is the way every earthly system reacts to the reality of God’s truth. They cannot stand before the living Word of God, so they stop their ears, cast out the men of God and brand them as heretics.
DESTROY THIS HOUSE
When the Jews asked Jesus for a sign, (John 2:18-21) Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” The word for temple used here is the Greek word “naos” which means a dwelling place.
What Jesus is saying to them is this, “You go ahead and destroy this house that I have built for God to live in on this earth, you kill my physical body, but in three days I will raise it up.” And when He raises it up again here on this earth, it will be a many-membered Body. Now I know the physical body of Jesus was resurrected on the third day, but it was never established again as a temple on this earth for a habitation of God. He never went out in His resurrected body to preach the gospel or heal the sick and manifest the Father. After appearing a number of times to some 500 of His disciples over a period of 40 days, He ascended with that body into heaven where He will remain until the times of the restoration.
But we have now come to that third day. Jesus said, “Go ye, and tell that fox (Herod), Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.”(Luke 13:32) He will again raise up the House of God, which is the Body of Christ. They destroyed one body, as a corn of wheat; but He is raising up a many-membered body, as a great harvest. This many-membered body, the Sons of God, the Overcomer, the Zion of God, is the place where God will live on this earth. He shall rule out of Zion. His throne shall be in His Sons. Kings and priests unto God and our Father. Glory to God!
YE ARE THE HOUSE OF GOD
Let’s go back to Hebrews chapter 3 again to confirm this great truth. “And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; WHOSE HOUSE ARE WE, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Notice here that the house of Moses was a house of a servant, a house of doing, a realm of servitude and obeying the laws of God. But Christ established a new house, a house of Sonship, a house of “becoming” His likeness and His habitation. You are that House.
Read with me in Ephesians 2:19-22. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Need I say more? Is it not plain and simple, yet powerful and life-giving?
THE ANOINTING FILLED THE HOUSE
In John chapter 12:1-5, we read the story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly. Verse 3 says, “The house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” Let me tell you here that the House of the Lord (which house you are) will be filled with the odor of this glorious last day anointing of the fulness of the Spirit poured out upon the “feet” of the Body of Christ. This anointing is for the deliverance of a groaning creation. In verse 5, Judas tells us that the value of it is “300 pence.” We know that 300 is the number of divine deliverance…Gideon’s army, Noah’s ark, Solomon’s golden shields, etc.
Jesus spoke to the Jews in Luke 13:35 and said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” That is, the realm that the Jews had lived in and known God in, was finished. God would never deal with them again through the blood of bulls and goats. God would never again accept their sacrifices in the temple. “The law and the prophets were until John (the Baptist)” said Jesus. Now a new house is established.
A HOUSE DIVIDED
When the scribes from Jerusalem accused Jesus of casting out devils by the power of the devil, He said in Mark 3:23-27, “How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.”
Now Jesus here is talking about satan’s house. He is spoiling satan’s house by casting devils out of people. To bind a strong man, you must be stronger than he. And Jesus proved that he was much stronger than satan. I declare unto you that satan is to be bound by the Sons of God and his house is to be completely spoiled. Every devil cast out, every sickness healed, every sin eradicated, every bondage delivered, every prison door opened, and the captives set free. This is the purpose of this great anointing upon the Sons of God in these last days.
A man can be a house or dwelling place for evil spirits. In Matthew 12:43-45 we read the words of Jesus, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
When a person is delivered of an unclean spirit, that unclean spirit’s ‘house’ needs to be destroyed, and a house of godliness and righteousness built in its place. The man in the story remained in the same realm of sin after the evil spirit was gone; and it wasn’t long until he was filled with more demons than he had ever had before. When you are delivered of an unclean spirit, do not continue the unclean acts which gave expression to that spirit and formed him a habitation. Turn away from those things lest you open the door to many other things even worse, and end up in a terrible condition.
THE HOUSE OF THE HARLOT
In the book of Proverbs, there is a story of a young man being enticed into the house of a harlot. Proverbs 2:18-19 says that her house inclineth unto death, and that none that go unto her can take hold of the paths of life. Now a harlot is a type of the false system of religion, ecclesiastical denominational order of man-made churchianity. Beware, Sons of God, that you are not enticed into her evil ways of division and bondage. I am not the first prophet that ever cried out against the harlot system. In Jeremiah 5:7 we read, “How shall I pardon thee for this? Thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are not gods; when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.” The house of the harlot is built upon sinking sand. Matthew 7:24 says, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.” Yes, friend, the rain is coming; the storm will beat upon your house. Only that house built upon the Rock will stand through the last day storm.
THE GLORY OF THE LATTER HOUSE
Now we come to the great climaxing truth of this message. Let us read Haggai 2:3. “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do you see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” You see, Haggai was a post-captivity prophet. That is, he prophesied to the remnant that had returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple and restore the city of Jerusalem. But once out of Babylon and back in Canaan, they settled down to build their own houses and failed to build the House of the Lord. In Haggai 1:2 the people said, “…The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” But in verse 4, the Lord spoke through Haggai and asked them if it was time for them to build their own houses and let the house of the Lord lie waste. Yes, men today are building their own houses, their own little kingdoms, their churches, fellowships, little denominations, and communes. But they are not building God’s house.
The people said that the work was too great; they did not have the substance or strength to build. And even if they did, it would not compare with the glory of Solomon’s temple, built in the zenith of Israel’s wealth and power. That is what folks are saying today about building God an earthly habitation, a body to live in. “We could never,” they say, “attain to the glory of the house or life of Jesus Christ, that first temple of God. We have too many enemies within us, too little of the nature of God (gold) and it is just impossible for anyone today to be like Jesus. Also it is really impossible to have a many-membered body of people who measure up to a glorious church without spot or wrinkle. That will just have to wait for heaven,” they say. But God said in Haggai 2:3, (paraphrasing) “Look at this mess around you here, look at the so-called church…the stones all broken down and separated by barriers of many kinds. How does this compare with the glory of that first temple, the firstborn Son of God in all His glory? Yet, the Lord says, be strong, for I will do what I have promised, and you shall build me a house. And the glory of the latter (last) house will be greater than that first house.” Read it verses 6-9. “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver (redemption) is mine, and the gold (the nature of God) is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts, and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” Five times in this short scripture the prophet uses the phrase, “Saith the Lord of hosts.” He certainly did not want Israel to think these were his own words. They are the words of God. What are you saying Haggai? That out of this pile of rubble, out of this poor weak people, a greater and more glorious temple will be built than that of Solomon? Why, that’s ridiculous, in fact, it’s almost blasphemy! Surely you don’t know how glorious that temple was! Yes, I do, but I also know what God is saying. He is saying that in spite of how glorious that house was that Jesus built for God to live in, the last house, that He will build out of the living stones of His people, will be even more glorious. And the glory of God shall fill that house here on this earth.
GREATER WORKS FROM A GREATER HOUSE
Jesus Himself said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; AND GREATER WORKS than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12) That first house that God lived in on this earth was only one body. It could only be in one place at a time, was subject to many limitations of earthly life and could be subjected to death. But because He went to the Father (through death, burial, and resurrection,) He prepared a place for us. He made it possible for another house to be built. He builds the house and becomes a Son over His own house. This latter house comes into resurrection glory, receives immortality, and defeats every enemy in living bodies here on this earth. God will live in this many-membered house in His fulness and pour His glory into that house. It is your opportunity to be a part of that great latter house beloved. Rejoice and praise God for it!
Everything brings forth after its own kind. This is a principle that is true in the natural as well as in the spiritual. To get corn, you must plant corn. You can only get cattle from other cattle. Fallen man can only produce other fallen men. And Jesus is bringing forth Sons in His own image. But notice something…He never sent the Holy Spirit upon them, never gave them this birth in the Spirit, until after His resurrection. John 7:39 says that “The Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” It was to be His resurrection life they were to receive. Isaac never had sons until after his trip with Abraham to Mount Moriah where “in a figure” (Hebrews 11:19) he was raised from the dead. And the Sons of God could not be brought forth until after the resurrection. The Old Testament saints looked forward to it, and though they received a good report through faith (Hebrews 11:39), they could not receive the promise until after the resurrection. God’s House is to be built on the foundation of a resurrected Christ, after the power of an endless life…a true Melchisedec priesthood!
So this is why the latter house will be greater than the former. The first house, in the body of Jesus Christ (though it was perfect and glorious and a fit place for the Father to dwell in,) was in a body that had not yet come through the resurrection. He did not bring forth sons on that plane, in that image. It was after the resurrection that He poured out His Spirit and began bringing Sons to glory. And it is children of the resurrection that will make up this glorious last house of God! What a high calling we have received, beloved! Be faithful! You are the house of the Lord! Walk in holiness, in sincerity. Provide the Father the furniture in His house that will make Him feel at home…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, faith, etc. Let God, by His Spirit, build in you a way of life, a realm of living, that is above the corruption and confusion of this present age. We are citizens of another way of life, another world. But our city is coming down! And the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. Our house shall rule and reign on this earth and every other house, every other realm of life other than God’s life, will be shaken and destroyed. All creation shall shout for joy at the manifestation of the Sons of God, the end-time House of the Lord! Glory to God. Hallelujah!
THE HEARING EAR
In the first six verses of this chapter, we found that Moses was faithful in his house as a servant, but that the house of Christ was the house of Sonship. We dealt with the fact that we, the body of Christ, are the house, the habitation of God through the Spirit.
Now in the rest of this chapter, God gives a solemn warning lest we let unbelief keep us from going on with God into the fulness of His promises. Beginning in verse 7, God uses the Israelites in the wilderness as the example of how we can miss God through unbelief.
The first point he brings out in verse 7 is to hear the voice of God. Beloved, this is the first requisite. If we cannot hear God’s voice, if we cannot recognize the sound of the trumpet, if we cannot know the true message when it comes forth, then we will be in no position to believe and to enter in to the promises of God. We must be able to hear and to hear with the ear of the Spirit. Jesus continually said to the people, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear…” In Proverbs 20:12 it says, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.” Here we see that those who have a hearing ear have it because God gave it to them. Oh, beloved, bear this in mind. If you have heard the voice of the Lord, if you have recognized the message of the hour, let this not bring forth in you a boastful heart. Let not your own spirit become exalted, as though you had accomplished something in yourself. If you have a hearing ear, it is because God has given it. Let this bring to your heart a humility. Let this bring to your heart a recognition of the marvelous grace of God who has chosen you, a vessel of clay, to whom He would make known His marvelous, eternal truths.
Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me.” The first requisite to supping with the Lord and having that beautiful fellowship in the Spirit is to hear His voice. How can you expect to have the secrets of God made known to you if you cannot recognize His voice? Jesus said in John 10, “My sheep know my voice, and another they will not follow.” Many people today cry “wolf” at anything they hear preached that does not sound like what they had been hearing all their lives. They are afraid to listen to new truths for fear that they will be deceived and be swallowed up by false doctrines. How, in heaven’s name, can people expect to go on into the unsearchable riches of Christ and to understand the unfolding and progressive purposes of God if they refuse to hear?
We read in Hebrews 12:25, “See that you refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.” There is a voice of one this day speaking from heaven. Though He is using human vessels through which to sound the trumpet, yet it is the voice of Him who ruleth in the heavens. Those who have ears to hear will hear what He has to say to us today and thus have faith to believe to enter in to God’s rest.
“Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness.” Here, in Hebrews 3:8, we find the second requisite to entering in to our promises, and that is “harden not your hearts.” Oh, beloved, there is such a temptation as we are marching through this wilderness journey to get a hardness of heart through all the manifold tribulations that come upon us. Recognize that everything that comes is coming from the hand of God. Be ready to praise God for it and do not become embittered in your heart towards the Lord our God. Those who become bitter think they are bitter at their enemies, when in reality they are becoming embittered at God who has allowed the tribulations to come upon them.
The hardness of heart must be removed. God said through the prophet Ezekiel, “I will take out the stony heart and put in a heart of flesh.” God is not looking for great deeds or great exploits, but God is looking for that one who has a contrite spirit and a softness of heart, a tender heart, a kindness and longsuffering. People are becoming defiled and missing the purposes of God because of bitterness in their hearts and they know it not. Beloved, I know what I am talking about. You would have to live in the midst of religious hypocrisy where very pious, religious people were making every effort to destroy your work for God, to understand the temptation that can come upon the heart to become bitter. If you could see the inward workings of religious hierarchies where political maneuverings are carried out shamelessly and men of God become ensnared in a system that causes them to become animalistic in nature, devouring one another and destroying their brother for their own political advantage.
Yes, even in Israel’s journey through the wilderness, there were men who tried to overthrow the authority of Moses and to take over the leadership for themselves, though they were not called to this by God. Entire houses were swallowed up by the earth in the judgments that came a s a result. And today entire churches and ministries are being swallowed up by the spirit of this world. God says, “I was grieved with that generation…” How grieved He must be in this, our generation, who have the greatest light since the Son of God ascended on high; and yet who are, in so many cases, striving only to build a man-made kingdom. Yes today, as then, it is a day of provocation; but He warns us, “harden not your hearts.” Then, as now, the people saw the mighty works of God. Miracle-working powers were performed among them; yet, they hardened their hearts against God.
Therefore, God says in verse 10 that He was grieved with that generation. He says the error was in their heart, not in their head, but in their heart. It was not their understanding that was deficient; it was not that their doctrines were wrong; it was their desires, their inward life. They would not allow the Holy Spirit to conform them to the image of Christ. God says, “they have not known my ways.” Oh, God give us people who learn the ways of the Lord! The Bible says that the children of Israel saw His acts but to Moses He made known His ways. There is a Moses company in this hour who are learning the ways of the Lord. Beloved, when you know how God operates, when you know how He thinks, when you know what the principles are He works by, then you have no trouble knowing whether this thing or that thing is from God or not. Learn to know the ways of God. Get acquainted with our Lord. He wants you to become intimately acquainted with Him.
“Know Him.” Paul cried out in Philippians 3:10, “Oh, that I may know him.” This is the cry of our hearts today; to know the Lord and to become acquainted with His ways. Many have seen the miracles; many have seen the great works of God; but to those that are learning His ways and are becoming acquainted with Him and the principles by which He operates, those are the ones He is calling into Sonship. Although the promise had been given to all and Canaan’s land had been prepared for them, yet, because of their unbelief and hardness of heart, God swore in His wrath that that generation would not enter into His rest.
Now we come to verse 12 and it says, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the Living God.” There are many people who would sanctimoniously inform you that they were born again and Spirit-filled and did not indulge in gross sins. But, if the truth were known, they have evil hearts full of unbelief because they resist the truth when it comes to them. Beloved, it takes a heart of unbelief to resist the truth of God. If your heart is right with God, when you hear the truth, it will witness to your heart and you will gladly embrace it and grow thereby. If you resist the truth of God, it is because you have an evil heart of unbelief. This, my friend, will cause you to miss the promises of God. Verse 13 tells us that sin is deceitful. If sin were only those things that were listed in the constitution and bylaws of the church system, then we could easily know what to avoid. But sin is deceitful.
I must relate here a personal experience I had with this chapter. One time, years ago, we were living in a little house at the edge of a village in Carney, Oklahoma. Our only bathroom was an outdoor privy, or an outhouse, as some call them. We had no hot water in the house. In fact, until we were able to have a well dug, we had no water at all and had to carry water from a neighbor’s house. It was during this time that our youngest daughter, Rachel, was born and seeing my wife take care of herself and her newborn baby under these conditions, began to do something to me. I had been successful in the insurance business and was zone manager for a very fine company, but the Lord had pressed on my spirit to quit my job and give full-time to the ministry of writing and radio preaching. Our expenses were heavy and had been sufficiently met by my earnings at my job. But when I was without a job, the expenses went on while the money coming in was cut off. Things got in very bad shape. Financially, it seemed that the door to heaven was closed. Night after night I would stand in the field behind our house and look up at the stars and say, “Father, I know you own every one of those stars. I know you own the cattle on a thousand hills. You have in your hands the hearts of millionaires who would not even miss the amount that it would take to bring us through this financial crisis. Father, I do not doubt your ability to meet our needs. The question in my heart is, why are you not meeting those needs? Why are you letting us go like this?” Night after night I cried to God. Our bills were getting behind. We hardly had money to feed our children. We lost our car and it looked as though we would lose our little home. Unknown to me, a bitterness against God was beginning to creep into my heart. I did not recognize this until one night I went to a service in Oklahoma City. The preacher was preaching on the first part of Hebrews 3. I had with me an Amplified New Testament and began to read this chapter in the Amplified, reading ahead of where he was preaching. I came to verse 8 and in the Amplified it says, “Do not harden your hearts, as happened in the rebellion of Israel and in their provocation and embitterment of Me in the day of testing in the wilderness.” I stopped and read that phrase again, “embitterment of Me.” Then I realized that the children of Israel in the wilderness were bitter at God. I said, “God, why were they bitter at you?” And the Lord spoke to me as I sat there in the service that night and said, “They became embittered at Me because they knew I could do better than give them bread and water. I gave them manna from heaven and water from the rock, but they lusted after flesh. They knew that, if I desired, I could give them quail and they were bitter at Me because I was not doing as much for them as they knew I was capable of doing.” I thought to myself, “what a wicked and rebellious people. They did not deserve to go into the Promised Land, becoming embittered like that at God.” Then the voice of the Lord spoke to me and said, “Son, that’s the condition you are in. You are becoming bitter at Me.” I cried out in horror, “Oh no, Lord, not me, I’m your son. I wouldn’t be bitter at you no matter what.” He said, “You are becoming bitter because you know in your heart and have faith to believe that I am able to meet all your financial needs; and yet, you are wondering why I am not doing it, and bitterness is coming into your heart.”
As the light of His Word shined upon my heart, I recognized that it was true and right there in my seat, while the preacher in the pulpit was continuing his message, I had an altar call and cried out to God for repentance and for forgiveness. I said, “God if you will cleanse me from this awful thing, I will never complain or become bitter at any circumstance you bring me into, regardless of what it is.” God graciously forgave and cleansed my heart and I went from that service victorious. I committed the future, financially and otherwise, into His hands. And do you know what friends? My victory opened the windows of heaven. Before the week was out, the financial bondage was broken and I began to receive substantial gifts from unexpected sources all over the country. (These came in spite of the fact that we had made no mention to anyone of our needs. God will not allow us to tell of any need that we might have.) As soon as I had won the victory in my spirit, God began to speak to those who had the ministry of giving and who could hear His voice. Yes, beloved, sin is deceitful and sometimes we get ensnared without even knowing that we are guilty until the Word of the Lord exposes us.
So, as we finish up the third chapter of Hebrews, we see God emphasizing the awfulness of unbelief and warning us that this will keep us out of the land of rest. The chapter ends by saying, “They could not enter in because of unbelief.” Now, as we get ready to go into chapter 4 and take a look at the rest of God, let us cleanse our hearts from unbelief; and ask God’s Spirit to search us and illuminate our hearts by His Word that we might see ourselves as He sees us.
Another principle is stated in verse 13, “Exhort one another daily.” Beloved, whether you believe it or not, you need me and I need you. We need to exhort one another. Sometimes folks write to me and tell me of some trend they see in my writings. Perhaps they feel that I am putting too much emphasis on one phase of the message. Or perhaps they feel that I am getting hardness of heart because of my message against the Babylonian system. But there are those, and I thank God for them, who are concerned enough to write me and to exhort and rebuke me in the Spirit. They cannot know how seriously I take these exhortations. I do not cast them aside as just another complaint; for, beloved, I want to be right. I want to enter into God’s rest and one thing we need in order to make the grade is to exhort one another daily. So if I hit you where it hurts, if I stir you up, thank God for it. I am doing it for your benefit and I am doing it because I love you.
Verse 14 points out the absolute necessity of steadfastness. It is not enough to have revelation of coming Sonship. It is not enough to feel the anointing and to enter into an experience with God. It says we must continue and hold fast to the beginning of our confidence, steadfast unto the end. Oh, beloved, there is much tribulation in the world today. There are many pressures coming against those who are pressing into Sonship. But I exhort you; hold fast your confidence, steadfast unto the end. The one who wears the crown is not he who starts the race in a flurry of enthusiasm, nor he who is out in front at the end of a half mile, but it is the one who crosses the finish line.
So, bear in mind that all things are coming to an end and that God intends, in His purposes, for us to remain steadfast to the end of this race. He has the power to bring us through. Blessed be His Name! We are all running in a race, but the crown is given to him that finishes. So run that you may obtain! In many places in the Bible it says, “And it came to pass.” And let me say to you friends, no matter how hard your trials are, they have come to pass and in God’s time they shall pass. Hold steadfast to the end, and remain faithful to Him Who has called you.
BETTER SABBATH AND A BETTER HIGH PRIEST
As we enter into the 4th chapter of the book of Hebrews, we are immediately struck by the burden of the Holy Spirit expressed here through the writer of Hebrews to bring us into God’s rest. The last two verses of chapter 3 give a solemn indictment against those who, because of their unbelief, could not enter into the Promised Land. Those Israelites in the days of Joshua, both those who entered into the Promised Land and those who failed to do so because of their unbelief, are only types and shadows of that greater company; the eternal Church of Jesus Christ, who are destined to enter into God’s Promised Land, the fulness of the Spirit. So, also, there are those today who, like the unbelieving Jews, will fail to receive the fulness of God because of their unbelief. Nothing that God ever spoke has failed to come to pass. His Word has always been true. Therefore, it is a terrible insult to God’s character to doubt His promises for His church. This is the one sin that is guaranteed to keep people from entering into the precious promises given by the Spirit. Our failures, our shortcomings, our inabilities, are not mentioned as reasons why we shall miss the fulness of the Kingdom. The one thing God is warning us strongly about in this portion of scripture is unbelief. Hearing the gospel, and even acting upon it in a measure, is not enough.
LAND OF MILK AND HONEY
The Jews heard the good news of the Promised Land. They even sent spies in to spy out the land. They brought back the fruit of the land. They told of the land that flows with milk and honey. And after judgments of God came upon them in Numbers 14, they decided they would go ahead and go into the Promised Land, in spite of Moses’ admonition that God had changed His mind and was going to judge them for their wickedness. God would take their children, a future generation, across the Jordan. In Numbers 14:40 we read, “And they rose up early in the morning and gat them into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised: for we have sinned. And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord? But it shall not prosper. Go not up, for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.” But the people were stubborn. Just as they would not listen to the promises of God, now they would not listen to God’s rebuke through His servant Moses. So they tried to go on up to the top of the hill and press on into the Promised Land on their own accord and with their own strength. But, the Bible says that the Amalekites and the Canaanites came down and smote them and threw them out of the land. So it is today. We see those who refuse to take the Promised Land God’s way. They refuse to hear the voice of the Spirit, to make an end to the Adam nature and enter into the fulness of God as the Lord has promised. But then, as it were, they suddenly sense that they are about to miss out on something great; so, they attempt to go into the holy things of God with the natural mind and with the natural strength. But the Amalekites, a type of the flesh, and the Canaanites, a type of satanic powers, will defeat them, and do defeat them even as in the days of Moses. The Word that was preached unto them did not profit them because it was not mixed with faith in them that heard it. And so today, the hearts of carnal men full of unbelief do not profit from either the word of promise or the word of rebuke, because they do not mix faith with that which they hear. Trying to fulfill the promises of God by natural strength or by the cunning of man’s mind is not the answer. There must come an end of man’s strength and an entering into God’s rest. This is the Sabbath, the rest that God is speaking to us about here in Hebrews 4.
The words of the songwriter express so beautifully that condition which will exist in the earth when men have entered into God’s rest; when Jesus Christ is truly Lord and when the Adam nature has been put to the Cross.
He will heal your broken-hearted, He will cause your blind to see;
He will make your lame to walk again, He will set your captives free.
Every prison will be opened, Every yoke He’ll take away;
And the Lord shall reign in Zion, For it is God’s Sabbath Day.
Rivers shall flow in the wilderness, Floods from heaven descend;
All the earth shall be filled with His holiness, Forever, world without end.
Every valley shall be exalted, Every mountain made low.
The crooked shall be straight again, Ere the Spirit of the Lord shall flow.
Like rivers in the high place, Like floods on the burning sand;
Upon the poor and needy, God’s blessing shall descend.
This chapter in Hebrews makes it plain that the Sabbath day is not just a Mosaic law concerning one day in the week; nor is it the natural land of Canaan that the Jews look forward to entering; nor is it just the thousand year Day of the Lord or Kingdom Age which we are about to enter. The Sabbath of God is a relationship to God, a place in God where He is absolute Lord and where the fulness of God is manifested in His people. God will not stop working until He brings this about. In the creation of this world, God worked for six days bringing into being this creation and He did not stop working until He had His creation as He desired it; including the creation of His man who should rule this world. But that Adamic creation is only a small picture of the greater glory that He is bringing about in these past 6,000 years or six days of man’s history. These six days of labor by the Lord will end with the creation or bringing forth of a new creation man who will rule and reign with Jesus Christ for 1,000 years. What happens, after that Kingdom Age is finished and that thousand years is over, is another part of the mysteries of God’s eternal glory and purposes which we shall deal with later. But in this chapter of Hebrews, there is a divine exhortation for God’s people to awaken to the absolute necessity of laying down their own lives and their own labors and the strength of the natural man and letting God be Lord of His creation. This is the doorway into God’s Sabbath.
LABOR BY THE SPIRIT
Entering into God’s rest does not mean a lazy attitude of non-work, nor a cessation of activity. There is much to be accomplished in the Kingdom Age. In fact, much more will be done by those who have entered into God’s rest than has ever been done before in the history of the Church. But that which is accomplished shall be done by the power of the Spirit. It shall be a ceasing from our own works, a laying down of our own lives. Verse 9 tells us, “There remaineth therefore, a rest to the people of God.” This verse makes it plain that the sabbath day was not the seventh day that God gave to the people of Israel by the Mosaic law as the day of rest. Neither is it the land of Canaan that the Jews entered into under the ministry of Joshua. Verse 8 makes it plain that if God’s Sabbath was that land of rest that Joshua brought them into when he took them into Canaan, then David would not have prophetically spoken of another day. At the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, the children of Israel were living in the land of Canaan. Their laws were strict concerning the seventh day sabbath. Yet, verse 9 tells us that at this time there still remains a rest to the people of God. Verse 10 goes on to tell us that anyone who is still working at his own works, in his own power, operating by the natural mind, has not yet entered into God’s rest or God’s sabbath. Then we have a solemn warning in Verse 11, “Therefore,” he says, meaning, because of what we have just been saying, “let us labor to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Those Jews that wandered 40 years in the wilderness have provided us with a vivid example of how we also can miss the Kingdom of God if we exhibit that same kind of unbelief. Labor to enter into His rest. How strange the wording of that statement! How can we labor to enter into rest? How can we work toward coming to the place where we stop working? Philippians 2 says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” When you try to lay down your own labors, when you attempt to turn loose of the control of your own life and give it over into the hands of God, you will find it to be the hardest work that you have ever done. Yet, this is what the Spirit is calling for. This is how the Spirit is leading us and directing us. Labor to enter into rest.
THE LIVING WORD OF GOD
Now we come to a powerful scripture, one that is familiar to all Bible lovers. In verse 12 we read, “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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.” The Amplified Bible expresses it thus, “The word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing and effective.]” And we read in Wuest’s Expanded Translation, “For actively alive is the Word of God and energetic and sharper than any two-edged sword.” Rotherham’s Translation says, “For living is the Word of God and energetic.” The Moffat’s Translation is very expressive, “For the Logos of God is a living thing, active and more cutting than any sword with double edge.” Now we understand that the word, the Logos of God, is more than the written Scriptures. It is God’s expression in every way that God has spoken and expressed Himself to mankind. Christ Jesus Himself was the Logos, the Living Word of God. For God expressed Himself to mankind through Christ. The Christ of the end-time shall be living epistles, the expression of God to their generation. But let me make one thing very plain. Those who think and preach that the scriptures, the written Word, the Bible, is just dead letter and is not the Word of God, are in deep error. For God has expressed Himself to us through the pages of this glorious Book. Just as God’s church in the world today does not fully express God’s glory and will and purpose to the world, so we understand that the Bible, the written scriptures, even with all the different translations that are offered, cannot give us the full expression of truth that God has given through the original writings of the Law, the Prophets, and the Apostles. But I want to declare to you today that the Kingdom Age shall not end until there has been a full expression of the character and nature of God in His Body on the earth, the church of Jesus Christ, as well as a full expression of God’s truth and an understanding of His purposes through the written scriptures, this book we call the Bible. Men are saying today that we no longer need the Bible, that it is only dead letter. They say, “The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” It is true that like a sharp two-edged sword, the letter killeth. But it is not the Christ that the letter kills, it is the Adam nature. And that is what God is after. That is why He is revealing Himself, His truth, through the book, that He might slay that dragon that resides in humanity, that Adam nature. For, the Spirit cannot bring forth the resurrection life of Christ in humanity until the letter has slain that Adam nature. So throw away the book, if you will, but you’ll only find yourself walking in darkness, without light. Verse 12 declares unto us that the Word of God is alive and that it is full of energy. Beloved, here is a divine principle laid down in scripture that will give you an energetic life, that will destroy the afflictions of physical weaknesses that will try to come upon you. Apply the Word of God to your body and divine energy, divine health, divine life will be yours as you walk and rest in the Word of God.
SOUL AND SPIRIT
This Word of God will divide that which is soulish from that which is spirit. I have been in meetings where people were stirred purely on a soulish basis. Tears were shed, shouts broke forth, and yet, when they left, their spirits had not been touched. Songs had been sung with great talent and musical ability. Sermons had gone forth with much eloquence. Large offerings had been taken with a great deal of persuasion. The church building had been beautiful and sumptuous, and decorated to produce awe and a feeling of solemnity, but it was all calculated only to touch the soul life. It is at a time like this when the true Word of God coming forth under the unction of the Holy Ghost will reveal the soulishness of man and divide it from the Spirit of God. The first man Adam was made a living soul. That which is soulish pertains to the first Adam. The last Adam was a life-giving Spirit. That which is spirit pertains to Christ Jesus our Lord. There can be no eternal mixture of Adam and Christ. The Word of God divides asunder the soul and spirit. The Word of God separates the Christ life from the Adamic life. This is the purpose of God to bring us into His rest and bring us under that sharp sword of the Word of God. The marrow of the bone is that place where the blood is produced, the natural blood that brings life to the natural body. The life of the flesh is in the blood. But flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. The Word of God must go down into the very source of life of this Adam nature; for Adam must be dealt with before the fulness of Christ can come forth. There is nothing we can hide form God. Everything is open and naked unto the yes of Him with whom we have to do. The thoughts and intents of our heart are as open and clear to God as if we spoke them out loud. So there is no reason for us to be anything but honest to the Lord and to ourselves. We cannot deceive Him and why should we deceive ourselves? God is calling for an honesty in His people. Our shortcomings He is aware of. Our failures He knows about. Our weaknesses are not hid from Him. But He would have us to be honest—honest with Him, with ourselves, and honest with one another. Let us stop deceiving each other, beloved; for a deceptive spirit cannot enter into God’s rest and cannot receive the fulness of God’s Spirit that He has planned for us.
THE THRONE OF GRACE
Now that God has spoken to us a warning about unbelief and given us again the promise of His Sabbath, revealing to us that there is no alternative, there is no other way but to yield to His Spirit and obey the Word of God. In verse 14, He begins to deal with the truth of our great high priest who brings all our weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and help in the time of need. The book of Hebrews is a book of better things. We saw in earlier chapters that Jesus had a better nature than that of the angels. He had a better dominion than that of Adam. He had a better house than that of Moses.
The Holy Spirit is telling us, now, that Jesus is a better High Priest than the Levitical priests, the sons of Aaron that ministered in the temple there in Jerusalem. More than 30 years after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus, more than 30 years after the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Spirit-filled Christians, many of them priests who had become believers of the Lord Jesus, were still worshipping in the temple on Mount Moriah. They were still offering up the blood of bulls and goats on the feast days to atone for their sins. They were still looking to the golden altar of incense to offer up incense unto God. But into this temple worship they were trying to bring the truths of the resurrected Christ. Beloved, it will not work. That old order is finished. It is dead. God has laid it aside. You cannot sanctify the temple worship and the Mosaic law any further by bringing the truths of Jesus Christ into that old order. The Aaronic priesthood is no longer God’s high priest over His people. We have a better High Priest passed into the heavens, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the administrator of a better covenant. He has offered up, not the blood of bulls and goats, but His own precious blood, efficacious and effective for the cleansing of sin. The blood of bulls and goats offered up by those Levitical priests was only a prophetic promise of the Saviour that was coming to pour out His own life as an eternal offering for the sins of His people. But, before He poured out His life, He lived among men, was touched with the feeling of their infirmities. He was tempted like as we are, yet without sin. No bullock, no goat, no lamb ever knew what it was to be tempted with sin as mankind is tempted. They never knew the desperate cry in the heart of humanity for fellowship with their God. Therefore, the lives and the blood of bulls and goats could not really atone for our sins, nor bring us into right relationship with God. They were only a type, a shadow, a promise. Now we have a High Priest who knows our infirmities, who was tempted as we are; who is touched with our needs as we bring them unto Him, for He lived among us. He knows the lives that we live. And this is the High Priest whose life was poured out for us, who can truly bring us before God at the throne of grace that we might obtain mercy and find grace in the time of need.
The Amplified Bible says in Hebrews 4:14, “Let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him.]” We not only confess our sins to Him; we not only confess our failures, our weaknesses, our inability to do as we ought and to be what we should; but we also confess our faith in Christ. We confess His life within us. We confess that He is able to do in us that which we are unable to do for ourselves. He is our High Priest and He is there to represent us. He knows and understands our needs and desires to meet those needs. This is our confession. We cannot confess defeat, for we are a victorious people. We cannot confess sorrow and discouragement, for we are anointed with the oil of gladness, as He was. We cannot confess doubt and unbelief, for we are full of faith in Him. We cannot confess our own works, for we have ceased from our own works and entered into God’s Sabbath. Thus with these glorious statements about our great High Priest, God prepares our hearts for chapter 5, where He introduces us to the order of Melchisedec.
MELCHISEDEC, A BETTER PRIESTHOOD
As chapter 4 was the chapter of rest, so chapter 5 deals with spiritual growth and development. Chapter 4 began with a warning about not missing God’s true Sabbath and ends with us being urged to come boldly to the throne of grace. Now, as we enter chapter 5, the matter of the high priest is dealt with. Hebrews is a book of better things and here we find that Christ has entered into a better priesthood.
When God ordains men to act in the priesthood on behalf of other men, He knows that those priests are also weak, sinful, and infirm, and need an offering for their own sins. And no one is able to put himself into a priesthood ministry. He must be called of God, as Aaron was. So then we see that it was God who ordained and called Christ to be a priest after a better, more powerful, and more lasting order. Here, for the first time in the New Testament, we are introduced to the Melchisedec priesthood. The next 3 chapters deal with this man and his ministry. Only twice is Melchisedec mentioned in the Old Testament (Genesis and Psalm), but in verse 5 and 6 we see that he is related to Sonship. Verse 5 quotes from the second Psalm where the Father said, “Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee.” And immediately he quotes Psalm 110:4, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.”
SONS AT REST
You will never enter the Melchisedec order until you have become a Son. For this reason God is birthing a many-membered Son company on the earth. It all comes through Him who was the “only begotten of the Father,” the first one to enter the Melchisedec order. Notice that Christ did not have to strain for this ministry or this position, but He was called into it. He had entered into the rest spoken of in chapter 4. This is the secret of Sonship. God is on the throne. He has everything in control. There is absolutely no reason to be nervous. Trust Him. Rest in Him. Sons know this. They have learned to turn their lives over to the Father. There are those who have great ambitions to do something for God. They want their lives to count for great things in the Kingdom. But it seems that they find themselves spinning their wheels, put on the shelf, going nowhere. They become fretful, worried, and restless. They try this thing awhile, and it doesn’t work. Then they try something else. Same results. Tell them to sit still and wait on God and they look right through you. “I’ve got to get the show on the road.” “Time’s wasting.” “Where’s God? Doesn’t He know that life is passing me by and I can’t seem to get going?” What’s their problem? They haven’t matured in Sonship enough to learn to rest in Him. Let Him have the steering wheel, and the accelerator, and the brakes. You’ll be surprised at how much He can get done with one who has turned everything over to God and entered into His rest.
In the year of 1950 prophecy went over me that God had chosen me to write and publish His message. For years, nothing happened while I stewed and fretted and dreamed of great things. I sold life insurance, worked as a radio announcer, and as a gospel music show disc jockey. I preached on the radio and in pulpits here and there; pastored, did construction work, and went back to selling insurance. Finally, after ten years, I had our first tract printed and mailed out to a few hundred addresses. Believe me, those ten years were hard to come by. Our whole family experienced a furnace of divine dealings. We learned patience, trust in God, and confidence in the fulfillment of His revealed purpose in our lives. I cannot tell you how many times I had to pull my car over to the side of the dusty country road in the flat plains of Kansas and plead with God to give me the strength and determination to drive up to one more farm house, make one more call, or try to sell one more policy. In the summer’s heat, I could visualize the camp-meetings going on around the country and see myself in the pulpit preaching the end-time message of glorious victory. But here I sat, by the side of the road, sweat running down my face, begging God for grace to make it to the next farmhouse. I had a precious family back home depending on me for next week’s groceries. Working on commission meant “no sales—no groceries.” Does God know how to burn the impatience out of us? Oh, yes He does! I know from experience.
IN THE DAYS OF HIS FLESH
Did Jesus have the same temptations we have? Yes, but without yielding to sin. He overcame in every case. I cannot say that for myself. It was the grace of God and His life that carried me through. Remember, Jesus went through great travail. He cried to God with prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears. Did He have a dusty Kansas road? Perhaps not, but while others slept, the Bible says, He would arise a great while before daybreak and go out into the mountains to pray; while He was walking in His humanity. Do you think you are going through something that He never experienced? He had a reverence for the will of God. He was heard in His praying because of His piety.
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” (Verse 8) Sons must learn obedience. It is one of the most important ingredients in the life of a Son. There must be a trust in the Father and a complete submission to His perfect will. Still want to be a Son? Read again, “…by the things which he suffered.” The word “suffered” here is the Greek word “pascho” meaning to allow, to endure, or experience. It is not speaking of His suffering on the cross. He learned obedience long before He got to Calvary. It was a daily dealing of God throughout His entire life from Bethlehem to Calvary. He endured every circumstance God brought His way. He allowed the perfect will of God to take place in His life, regardless of the humiliation or discomfort. And as a Son, He learned obedience, as all Sons must. Are you “suffering?” Are you allowing the will of God to take its toll on your ways and desires? Are you enduring every circumstance of life, with the knowledge that He is the Lord of your life; and knowing that all things are of God? Satan’s attacks cannot destroy a Son of God. Job and the devil both found that out. Every attack of the enemy is there only to be overcome. It is the will of God that destroys us. Our old man is crucified until there is nothing left of us except the Christ that is being birthed within. Enduring this destruction of the self-life, allowing His perfect will to be done in us, is what brings Sonship obedience.
Verse 9, “And being made…He became…” There were some things He was not, until He entered into them. Perfect? He was perfect when He hit that hay in the manger, wasn’t He? In the sense of sin or impurity, yes He was perfect. But in the matter of maturity and fulfilling the purpose of God on this earth…no. He was made perfect through the dealings of God in His life. He had to learn obedience. He had to endure many things. Then, “…he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” Others must also learn obedience if they are to receive this eternal salvation. He is the example of a perfect Son.
HARD TO BE UTTERED
Again, in verses 10 and 11, he brings up the subject of Melchisedec. He would like to preach about this glorious subject, this better priesthood. He would like to tell them of the marvelous treasures that are theirs in Christ. But they cannot hear it. Dull of hearing, so he does not waste such truth on them. What a rebuke! Many times I have had to sit silent in meetings, sometimes in conventions, with great truth burning in my heart because there were no ears to hear. In chapters 6 and 7, he again brings up the subject of Melchisedec and goes into more detail. But first, he must talk to them about the difference between milk and meat and the first principles.
The last 3 verses of this chapter deal with the shame of these Hebrew Christians, who had known the Lord for many years, yet had not progressed in their spiritual life. It had seemed enough to them just to know Him as Saviour, like so many of our fundamentalist friends today. But there is a principle of God. When you don’t progress in divine truth, you retrogress. Since they wouldn’t continue on into deeper truth, soon they found that they needed to be taught again the first principles. Many were returning to temple worship and Jewish rituals and offerings. Like so many Pentecostal people today who refuse to go beyond Pentecost, they end up in old order, man-made systems of religion, or deadness of spirit. They have blind eyes that cannot see what God is doing in our day, deaf ears that cannot hear the voice of the Spirit. “Because they received not the love of the truth, for this cause God shall send them strong delusion.” (2 Thessalonians 2:11)
Strong meat belongs to the mature Sons. So what is keeping you from becoming mature? Can you believe what God is saying today? Can you receive the deeper teaching on Melchisedec and the Sons of God? Or are you trying to “stay on good safe ground with a salvation message in the milk of the word?” Well, it’s not safe ground. Keep moving forward, higher. Greater things are in store. We will deal more in detail about the strong meat when we get into chapter 6 regarding the “going on unto perfection.”
But remember this…the babes are identified by the fact that they cannot eat strong meat, but must have milk. And even some of the milk messages, sad to say, have been watered down and weakened until the babes can hardly stay alive on it. But there are those, thank God, who have their senses exercised to discern…by reason of use. Don’t be afraid of experience. You must learn to know the difference between good and evil. It doesn’t say we accept the evil; but we must know the difference so we can receive the good and reject the evil. Babes must be carefully fed by others, for they have no discernment of their own. Grow up, saints of God! It is the hour for your maturity! The strong meat of His Word is here. He is revealing great truths about His Sons and the Melchisedec priesthood in these last days. It is time for mature Sons to break forth. We are coming to full age. Hallelujah! And give the glory to Jesus!
BETTER PROMISES FROM BASIC PRINCIPLES
We were introduced to the Melchisedec order for the first time in the New Testament back in chapter 5. He had said he could not speak of the many things that needed to be said concerning this ministry because of the dullness of hearing. He told of those who ought to be teachers, but still had need of the milk of the Word, and did not even know the first principles of righteousness. How strange it is that those who have studied the Word of God for years can reject the deeper things of God until they become dull of hearing and are not even aware of the basic truths they once knew so well.
Then, in the last verse of chapter 5, he speaks of those who are of full age, mature, grown up in God. He says they can eat “strong meat.” He is speaking of the deep truths of perfection, coming to maturity, defeating every enemy. They have been exercising their spiritual senses so they are able to know the difference between good and evil. The problem, with so many of God’s people, is they are so busy trying to satisfy the natural man and exercising the five senses of the natural body that they lose their ability to discern that which is of God and that which is not. So, when God begins to move in the supernatural, they cry “false doctrine” and “false prophets” as though they were experts in the things of God. Thus, they miss out on the great and glorious truths and operations of the Holy Spirit for their day.
And now, we go to chapter 6, where we are told to leave the first principles and go on to perfection. Notice that, it does not say to destroy these first principles or to throw them away. Just leave them and go on. Everything God has given us, on this present plane of life, has been as stepping stones to bring us to that permanent more excellent order of Melchisedec. In Hebrews 13:14, we are told that “here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” Too many preachers build their walls about a certain doctrine, good or otherwise, and settle down to defend that “city.” It may be on the salvation level, such as the doctrine of eternal security, or predestination, or personal holiness. It may be about baptisms, such as immersion or sprinkling, Jesus name or trinity, water or spirit. They establish what they believe is a strong position and fight to the death to defend it. Years later, when God has moved His people on to greater truth and experiences, you find these little cities still scattered about, somewhat in disrepair, the walls higher and stronger than ever and the inhabitants trapped behind them starving to death.
In the restoration of the last days, we find certain men whose names are linked with the principles that were being revealed in their day; such as Martin Luther and the repentance from dead works and John Wesley and faith towards God. Then in the Pentecostal revival and the Holy Spirit baptism we find pioneers such as Charles Parham, Frank Bartlman, Henry Seymour, Stanley Frodsham and many others. When we come to the time of the so-called “Latter Rain” revival of 1948-49 and the early 50’s, the doctrine of “laying on of hands” (with prophecy) springs up and we see ministries emerging into the national limelight as George and Ernie Hawtin, Myrtle Beal, Winston Nunes, Omar Johnson and many others. Some of those who were greatly used in that revival have gone on to be with the Lord, others have gone into error, or gone back to the doctrine of baptisms; while some have built their “Latter Rain” cities and built strong exclusive and sectarian walls about them thinking that this is the ultimate of God until the “rapture.”
As in every revival, there are those who hear the trumpet sound for the next move and they pull up their tent stakes, get their eyes on the forward moving cloud of His presence and glory, and move on out into new truths. This is where the life is, the resurrection life of the Son. Verse 2 tells us that this next revival or move (following “laying on of hands”) involves resurrection, and then finally judgment. Jesus said the judgment was committed to the Son. But that many-membered Son, who is to judge this world as well as angels, must first die completely to the Adam life and carnal mind and be filled with that resurrection life of the Christ. Then, and only then, is he able to properly and righteously be used of God in the eternal judgment of this present age.
“Judge not that ye be not judged,” the scripture says. Yet, it also tells us that there must be a people who shall judge this world. It is those who have died in Adam (completely) and been made alive in Christ (in the fulness of His life.) When there is nothing left in them to be judged, then they can judge the world and angels. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3) So, in this period of historical restoration, we have moved past the first four steps and have now come to the time for the preaching, and experiencing power, of His resurrection; on our way to perfection, which means the full maturity or completeness of God’s purpose in His body on this earth. In verse 3, we have that positive statement of faith, “And this will we do...” (in the will of God.)
We now come to a much misunderstood scripture; which some think make it impossible for anyone to be saved who has ever backslid. They hold it up as an example of the unpardonable sin, which it is not. It is not dealing with the problem of Christians who fall into sin. It is not saying that Spirit-filled believers who “backslide” are forever lost with no hope of forgiveness.
There is a principle of salvation dealt with here which is applicable even to our day. We must remember that this is a letter to the Hebrews. He had just told them in the previous chapter that they ought to be teachers (since the Holy Spirit had been first poured out upon them in Jerusalem 30 years before.) But they had fallen to a place where they were forgetting the first principles of the gospel. Many of them, which had believed on Jesus Christ for salvation and had turned away from the Law of Moses and circumcision for their righteousness, had been filled with the Holy Ghost. They had seen and tasted of the miracles prevalent in the early church and were now going back under the law. They were submitting to circumcision. In fact, many Spirit-filled, tongue-talking Jewish preachers were following Paul everywhere convincing the churches that they had to be circumcised. Some of them were still observing laws, feast days, ordinances, and offering bulls and goats for deliverance from sin. Many Hebrew Christians were engaged in these very things, thinking that if they had both Jesus and Moses, they would be safer than ever. This was the reason for the writing of this letter to the Hebrews. The whole content of the book deals with “better things.” It shows the end of the law in Christ, the absolute death of all Jewish laws and ordinances and offerings, and the “once for all” offering made by Jesus.
Now we see that God is saying there is no salvation in going back to those laws. Once you have been enlightened, tasted the good word of God, been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, if you fall away and reject this, there is no other way of repentance for you. You can’t find peace in the old order of the law. Some were trying to do this, and continued to look to the temple rituals and ceremonies, until God sent the Roman army to destroy it and burned it to the ground about six years after this book of Hebrews was written. Jesus had prophesied that it would happen, and it did.
After this solemn warning, he now tells them “we are persuaded better things of you.” This was a people who had tasted the powers and miracles of the age to come. The miracle working power in the early church was a taste, a foretaste, of that which would be entered into in abundance by the last day church. The word ‘world,’ in verse 5, does not mean another planet or ball of clay to replace the earth we live on. It is a word which means “age.” It is speaking of the age to come.
The coming age, at which time satan is cast down and the government of this world is taken over by the Sons of God (the kings and priests of Revelation 5,) will see the greatest display of God’s power in the history of mankind. The “greater works” shall be done and the power of God will be manifested to the fullest extent. Glory to God! Already, through the glorious baptism in the Holy Ghost, we have a taste of that power. No one who falls away from that realm of the Spirit can find the fulness of God elsewhere.
THROUGH FAITH AND PATIENCE
A wonderful truth is brought out in verse 10. We are told here that, when we minister to the saints, we are actually showing a labor of love toward the name of the Lord. There are many ways in which we can minister to the saints: a word of encouragement, a prophecy, a prayer for healing, or financial help in the time of need. Simple things like shoveling the snow off the widow’s walk, or helping a neighbor hunt a lost cow can be done in the name of the Lord. We tell them we are doing it in His name because it is what He would do for them in the same case. That way, He gets the glory for it instead of us being praised for our “good and kind nature.” A home that is open to a weary traveler and a table that shows hospitality to his hunger can be a ministry to the Lord. In chapter 13:2, we learn that sometimes we may entertain angels unawares. I know, that of the many hundreds who have passed through our home here in Springfield, there have been many who were angels of blessing to us. There have been those who received our hospitality and then tried to do us harm; but God never let it turn out to hurt us. I do not know if we have ever entertained a real angel in the sense of a heavenly being; but some of the saints who have stayed with us have blessed us as much as an angel could. Praise God!
“Be not slothful.” On the one hand, we preach that you must cease from your own labors and rest in God. Then we say, you must not be slothful but work diligently to bless the body of Christ. How does this harmonize? It means that we stay busy for God but we don’t work in our own strength or in the wisdom of the carnal mind. Our “work and labor of love” must be done in the Spirit, by His direction, resting in Him.
“Be followers of them who inherit the promises.” I can hear someone say, “I’ll never follow anyone but Jesus.” Well, if you follow Jesus, you will be following those who followed Him ahead of you. Most people are following the example of someone else. A generation of youth began to follow the Beatles and other groups. Out of that grew a culture of rock music, unrestrained sex, and narcotics to dull the pain. They were a lost generation following blindly down the road to death until they began to discover that the path they were on led to nowhere. Then, many of them began to find Jesus.
The Apostle Paul said, “follow me as I follow Christ.” He was one who was out to inherit the promises. And it takes faith…and patience. In chapter 11, we read of some of those who obtained a good report through faith. But they did not yet obtain the promise. They must have patience until the full purposes of God are fulfilled in this earth and this age.
There is a time element. In the fulness of time, God will unveil His many-membered Son to this world. No one can hold it back and no one can rush it. There is a “self-projection” theory by which some feel they can come into perfection and immortality simply by believing it strong enough and declaring it to be so. This is a false and frustrating doctrine. Many who claimed, for years, that they could not die because they believed they had already received “life,” have gone on to the grave leaving disappointed and confused people behind. We were infected in our own church with those who preached that it was all a matter of our faith; that none of the apostles would have had to die if they had just believed strong enough. They tell us it is all up to us to bring this Kingdom in, by faith. The truth is…it is up to us to have faith and patience. And we shall surely inherit the promises.
THE PROMISE TO ABRAHAM
Verse 15 says that Abraham patiently endured and obtained the promise. What was it that God promised him? A seed. A son. And we see, in Galatians 3, that the promised seed was not the natural Jew that came through Isaac. It was Christ, the many-membered body of Christ, including you and me. Praise be to God! “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made…and to thy seed, which is Christ…And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:16, 29)
The rest of the chapter shows how sure and steadfast the promise is to us. God swore by Himself that He would fulfill the promise to us. It is impossible for God to lie. What a consolation! What a refuge from the confusion and trouble about us in this present age. God wants the heirs of promise to rest assured that there is no doubt as to the outcome of this battle. There is a hope set before us and this hope is a refuge for the weary soul. This hope is an anchor of the soul.
WITHIN THE VEIL
“Let us go on to perfection.” That is how we started out this chapter and now we come to the highlight of this journey in these last two verses. It says that our hope enters into that within the veil. We are not there in person, yet; but because He is there, we are there in Him. By faith, my anchor is already hooked into that glorious realm of God and my “ship” is gradually, but surely, being pulled into His presence. Jesus has already entered. And verse 20 says that He is a “forerunner.” That means someone else is to follow. He is our pattern. We should follow in His steps…right through the veil, into the Holy of Holies; into that realm of God where there is life (hidden manna), divine authority (rod), and perfect righteousness (tables of stone.) When these things are ours, then we can begin our Melchisedec priesthood with Him. For it says that Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. A priest forever. That means there will forever be a need for priesthood of the Melchisedec order.
Melchisedec is mentioned once in Genesis, once in Psalm, three times in chapters 5 and 6 of Hebrews, and six times in chapter 7. The next chapter of Hebrews has more to say about this mysterious priesthood than all the rest of the Bible put together. In our next chapter we are going to make a detailed study of this subject. So far, the scriptures have already established this much about the Melchisedec order: It is greater than Abraham, of a higher order than the Aaronic priesthood, is an eternal priesthood, and is fulfilled in the person of Christ…that is, Jesus and His body. And we see plainly that this priesthood operates beyond the veil, meaning that, while we are still in this Adamic nature and likeness, we are not in the Melchisedec order. The five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11 (apostles, prophets, etc.) are not the Melchisedec order. They are limited by time. They are only ‘until.’ This higher order is forever. They operate while still on this earth realm, in this Adam life. Melchisedec operates only after we pass through the veil to where Jesus is, when all sin is removed and the divine authority of the King-Priest is given to us! Oh glory to God!
MELCHISEDEC PRIESTHOOD AND A BETTER TESTAMENT
Chapter 6, of Hebrews, begins by saying, “Let us go on to perfection” and ends by telling us that Jesus has already entered into that which is within the veil, as a forerunner for us, made an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
Thus we get an introduction to this powerful chapter 7, in which Melchisedec is mentioned by name six times, more than all the rest of the Bible put together. This is truly the chapter of the eternal priesthood of the Christ.
This man is mentioned three times in chapters 5 and 6; but all that is said about him is simply, Jesus was made an high priest forever “after the order of Melchisedec.” Now, in the first three verses of chapter 7, we learn a great deal more about the man himself. First of all, it says he was king of Salem which is regarded as the original site of Jerusalem. As a king, he was a man of authority. “Where the word of a king is, there is power.” (Ecclesiastes 8:4) And as it reads in the Amplified translation, “For the word of a king is authority and power, and who can say to him, What are you doing?” But he was not just an ordinary king. Abraham had just defeated four kings in battle and rescued his nephew Lot when he met this king of Salem. Hebrews 7:4 says, “Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.”
SHEM, SON OF NOAH
A question that has troubled the minds of many scholars is, “just who was this man?” So great a man and yet mentioned only twice in the Old Testament? One thing we know for sure. He was a man, not an angel, not a manifestation of God in human form. He was a priest. Angels are not priests, men are priests.
The book of Jasher is mentioned twice in the scriptures, Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18. The word “jasher” is not a man’s name, but a word which means “the upright and righteous record.” This is a historical book, not regarded in the same light as scripture. I have a copy of this book and, in chapter 16:11, in speaking of Abraham meeting (Melchisedec) this king of Salem, it says, “the same was Shem.” In checking this out with scripture, I found that it was entirely possible; for Shem, the son of Noah, was still living at this time. In fact, he was then the oldest living man, Noah having died some years previous. Being the oldest patriarch alive (thus the federal head of the human race and the priest of the most high God to the family of God on the earth,) he was the only man we know of alive at that time who was greater than Abraham. “The less is blessed of the greater,” and Shem was the only man alive qualified to bestow a blessing on Abraham. So, if this Melchisedec was a man, there is a strong possibility that he was Shem. Shem had come from the other side of the flood. He was the only man alive who had not been born in the age following the flood, and he outlived Abraham by many years. His great-grandfather, Methuselah, was contemporary with Adam. So, Shem was not far removed from the mysteries of God in Eden.
The name Shem, like Jesus, speaks of his humanity or being a son of man. But “Melchisedec” means “King of Righteousness;” and as such, he is made like unto the Son of God. This speaks of his eternal quality, his undying priesthood. We have no proof that the man Melchisedec (or Shem) is still alive. As a man, he is dead. But the “order of Melchisedec” is still God’s order of priesthood and it is an eternal order. Of the eleven times his name appears in the Bible, seven times it says, “after the order of Melchisedec” and once “after the similitude of Melchisedec.” It is not the man God is telling us about but the order of his priesthood. With that firmly in mind, let us examine this 7th chapter and see what is in store for us in this order of priesthood behind the veil.
There is a great deal said in this chapter regarding the difference between the Levitical priesthood, which was passing away, and the priesthood of Christ. The reason for the writing of this book of Hebrews was that many of the Jewish Christians were still going through the ritual of the law of Moses, blood sacrifices, etc. The priests who were believers and filled with the Holy Ghost, still felt they had a ministry under the law, in the Levitical priesthood. “And the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7) “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law.” (Acts 21:20) This allegiance to the Levitical law had to be smashed. They had to be shown a greater priesthood, one in which the believers were involved.
But what about this Melchisedec order? It is obvious when it speaks of this priesthood, it refers to the Lord Jesus, the Son of God. Where does that leave us? In Him! In Hebrews 10 he says, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” Yes, God gave Jesus a physical body to offer up, once and for all, as atonement for all our sins. But more than that, He makes it plain to us that the body of Christ is not just one man, but many. (1 Corinthians 12:12)
THE MANY-MEMBERED SON
“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.” (John 12:24) But Jesus did not intend to abide alone. That is why He died at Calvary…to pour His life, His blood, into this earth. Thus, a way was made for the sons of Adam to be cleansed from their carnal nature and to become a part of the body of Christ. It is that body of Christ, in its fulness, with Jesus as the Head, that makes up the many-membered son of God. Hebrews 2:10 says He is “brining many sons unto glory.”
The life of Adam can never enter this kingdom. It is only that which was eternally pre-existent in God that returns back to God. There is a false doctrine which teaches a conscious pre-existence for all the Sons of God before the world began. This is not what the Bible teaches. The true teaching is given here in Hebrews 7.
Abraham was Levi’s great-grandfather. At the time Abraham met Melchisedec, Levi’s grandfather Isaac had not even been born. Yet the Bible says that Levi was in Abraham’s loins and thus Levi was given credit as paying tithes to Melchisedec. Verses 9 and 10 say, “Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.”
The blood that flowed in Abraham’s veins contained the life that would one day produce Isaac, and through him, Jacob and Levi. Levi was not a conscious entity. But he was alive, as it were, in the bloodstream of Abraham. As I tell my children, “When your dad was a paratrooper and made twelve parachute jumps, you were all there and jumped with him, for you were at that time in his bloodstream.” But only through union with my dear wife could that life become real sons and daughters. Do you see what I’m getting at? The Sons of God leaped for joy at the foundations of the world; He leaped for the joy that was set before Him and we were in His bloodstream. His life produced us as real sons and daughters. And it is so important that we recognize that Jesus was virgin-born, that He did not get His blood from Adam. His blood came from God the Father, and this is why His life is eternal. It is this eternal life that He came to give us. That is why His blood had to be poured out upon the earth. Not because God is a blood-thirsty tyrant insisting on a blood sacrifice. But because only through union with mother earth could He bring forth Sons and produce out of that which is earthly, a divine company in His own image. Adam’s blood, life, nature has to go. It cannot enter the kingdom of God. Our life from Him is eternal.
AN INDESTRUCTIBLE LIFE
Verses 11 through 15 tell us that we cannot be perfected by the Levitical priesthood; therefore, another order of priesthood must arise. Jesus is the high priest of this new order; and since the priesthood is changed, there is also of necessity a change of the law. The old law did not get priests from the tribe of Judah. That law is changed. So, in this new order, it does not matter what tribe, nationality, or race you belong to. Only that you belong to Christ. And in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, bond nor free, male nor female. Here is a spiritual order of priesthood that does not eliminate the women as did Moses’ law. Then in verses 15 and 16, the glorious statement is made that another priest arises after the similitude of Melchisedec who is made “after the power of an endless life.” In the RSV translation, it says he has become a priest “not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life.” In the Phillips translation we find the statement, “From the power of indestructible life within.” And the New English Bible says, “the new priest who arises is one like Melchisedec, owing his priesthood not to a system of earthbound rules but to the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.” And the Amplified Bible says, “Who has been constituted a Priest, not on the basis of a bodily legal requirement [an externally imposed command concerning His physical ancestry], but on the basis of the power of an endless and indestructible Life.” Glory to God for life that cannot be destroyed!
Is it Jesus alone who has this indestructible life, or does He share this with His body? He said in John 17:22, “And the glory which thou (Father) gavest me I have given them.” Now doesn’t the Bible say somewhere that God will not give His glory to another? Yes, in Isaiah 48:11, where He is speaking about idolatry and Babylon. But beloved, you are not “another.” You are bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh. You are His body, His beloved. And He has given His glory and His eternal life to you. Bless His name!
AARON’S ROD THAT BUDDED
After the judgment upon Korah, Dathan, and Abiram in Numbers 16, we find the Lord God settling the matter as to who constitutes His priesthood. In chapter 17, we find the Lord instructing the prince of every tribe to bring his rod to the Tabernacle of witness. Every prince has his name written upon his rod. These rods were representative of their ministry, their authority. Every one of them was dead dry sticks that once had been part of a living green tree. On that morning, every rod was still a dead dry stick, except Aaron’s rod. Verse 8 says that “the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.” “And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels.” In Ezekiel 10:37-38 we read, “And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you in to the bond of the covenant; And I will purge out from among you the rebels.”
Now, that rod was kept in the Ark of the Covenant in the tabernacle of Moses. But when the temple was built, the permanent resting place for the Ark, the manna and the rod were not to be found. 2 Chronicles 5:10 says there was nothing in the Ark save the two tables of stone. What happens to this rod of priesthood, the one that speaks of resurrection life, when God’s eternal house is finished? Revelation 2:26-27 lets us know that it is given into the hand of the Overcomer, that great body of saints who have come into the likeness of Christ. They rule and reign with Him. And their ministry is a priesthood brought forth in the power of an indestructible life.
JESUS IS THE GUARANTEE
How do we know for sure that the body of Christ will come into all that we have been talking about? We have a guarantee. We read in Hebrews 7:2 (Amplified,) “In keeping with [the oath’s greater strength and force], Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement [a more excellent and more advantageous covenant]. As a forerunner, He has entered into all that He has promised for us. The Phillips translation says, “And he is, by virtue of this fact, himself the living guarantee of a ‘better’ agreement.”
Look at Him! Behold the Son of God! “As He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17) He is the head of the body, the pioneer, the captain of our salvation, the author and the finisher of our faith. He is the pattern Son. It is strange to me that no one seems to mind admitting that they are like their father Adam. But very few want to talk about being like the Son of God, conformed to His image. They seem to think that either this is impossible with God or that He does not desire it for us. But, I say to you, by the word of the Lord, that He has declared this to be His purpose for us, His body. And nothing is impossible with Him!
BREAD AND WINE
As we look in Genesis 14 at the first mention of this ministry, we find him bringing forth bread and wine as he blessed Abraham. These are the elements that speak of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the very things He gave His disciples at the last supper. “This is my body, take eat…this is my blood, drink ye all of it.” These things were never brought forth during the 31⁄2 years earthly ministry of Jesus. Only at the time of Calvary were these elements ministered to the disciples. This tells us that this ministry of Melchisedec will be ministering the life of the crucified and resurrected Christ.
Jesus could not bring forth Sons of God in His own image until after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Until He ascended, He could not pour out His Spirit upon them. “For the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:39) “…but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship].” (Romans 8:15, Amplified.) You see, everything brings forth after its own kind. Cattle bring forth more cattle, birds bring only more birds, vegetables produce vegetables, and Adam can only bring his own nature into being upon the earth. Jesus came to bring into being a new race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people. He was “the beginning of the creation of God.” “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.” But He did not choose to have this race in the image of Jesus of Nazareth, the son of man in his limited humanity. He chose to wait until after His glorification before pouring His Spirit upon us to produce Sons. Thus, he brings “many Sons into glory.” But these are “Sons of God,” conformed to the image of the Son of God. Sons of His resurrection, of His eternal glorified state! In Revelation 21:7, Jesus says, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Son of God! Who? He that overcometh!
THE ROD OF THY STRENGTH
Except for the Genesis account, the only other place in the Old Testament that Melchisedec is mentioned is in Psalm 110, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, THOU ART A PRIEST FOREVER AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.”
Notice in this beautiful passage all the words relating to the end-time. “Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (see Hebrews 10:13) “Thy strength out of Zion.” Psalm 102:21 with Hebrews 2:12 show us that Zion speaks of the Sons of God. “Rule thou,” “in the day of thy power,” and “in the day of his wrath.” All of these phrases in this passage are concerning Melchizedek.
The Sons of God, in the image of the Pattern Son, become the rod of His strength. Just as Jesus was, in His ministry here on the earth; they shall rule, with Him, in the midst of their enemies until every enemy has been put under their feet. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Yes, the will of God will be done on this earth as it is in Heaven. And the Kingdom of God shall come to this earth. Of this, there can be no doubt, no argument.
“The Lord…shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.” (Psalm 110) This is not speaking of earthly kings, prime ministers, presidents, mayors, etc. It is speaking of the rulers of the age of darkness, the principalities that shall be smitten and destroyed. The strong man of this age shall be bound and his house shall be spoiled.
THE KING-PRIEST MINISTRY
“There is authority in the word of a king.” In the Levitical order, kings could not intrude into the priest’s office and priests could not sit on the throne. Levi produced the priests and Judah produced the kings. But a new order has arisen in Jesus Christ. He is a king-priest; and He has made us a kingdom of priests, a “royal priesthood.” Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 tell us that he hath made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth. He is king of kings. Glory to His name!
There were times in Israel when the priests saw the need; but, because of a wicked king, they could not minister in the temple of God. So, the doors were shut and filth accumulated in the holy place. They saw the need, had the desire, but did not have the authority; so it has been with many ministries. But, not so with the Melchisedec order. They have the ministry of the priest of compassion and the authority of the king. What a glorious time of restoration for the earth! All things will be set in order. By the church, the eternal wisdom and glory of our God will be seen! All creation shall rejoice because they shall be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God; delivered from the bondage of death and corruption.
The rest of chapter 7, from verses 23 through 28, goes to prove the eternal quality of the priesthood of Christ. No need to depend on the Jewish temple anymore and no more sacrifices of bulls and goats to offer. Christ has replaced all other orders and God will no longer recognize any other sacrifice as valid or effective. You are wasting your time, Jewish Christian, dabbling with the law of Moses. It is dead. Only in Christ is there life and forgiveness of sin. Only through Him can this life and eternal ministry be shared with humanity. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Press on, Sons of God! Press on to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Ye are called to be a royal priesthood, a king-priest company of the Melchisedec order. As we go on to chapter 8, we sum up what God has been saying about a better priesthood, a better tabernacles, and a better covenant. Our God is great and His plan is generous, rich, and magnificent! Hallelujah!
BETTER TABERNACLE AND A BETTER COVENANT
In chapter 7, we had an unveiling of the Melchisedec priesthood. Our Lord Jesus (and His Sons) was called to be priests after the order of Melchisedec. He is our high priest, all will agree. The Bible tells us plainly that He has made us kings and priests, a kingdom of priests unto God and His Father. It is certainly not the Levitical order to which we are called. Rather, it is this Melchisedec order…as we are conformed to the image of Christ.
Now, as we come to chapter 8, the first thing we hear is, “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum.” Summarizing the key points, we see that:
1. We have a high priest, seated in the heavenlies.
2. He is a minister of the true tabernacle, pitched by God.
3. Moses’ tabernacle was made after the pattern of heavenly realities. He saw this pattern while he was on Mt. Sinai.
4. Christ has a more excellent ministry than that of the law.
5. Christ is the mediator of a better covenant, established on better promises.
6. The old covenant had faults, waxes old, and vanishes away.
7. The new covenant is written into the hearts and minds of God’s people.
ON THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE
The right hand is the hand of ministry, the hand of power and authority. The throne speaks of the place of dominion and rulership. Verse 1 is telling us that our high priest, Jesus, is now set in the place of absolute authority that He might minister to His people. “All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Let me remind you that chapter 6 told us Jesus was a forerunner for us as He entered into that glorious place.
Christ is the minister of the true sanctuary. Moses pitched a natural tabernacle with vessels of gold, silver, wood, and brass. But, here we are told there is a tabernacle which man did not pitch. Moses had nothing to do with the construction of this tabernacle. The Lord pitched this tabernacle. It is the house of the Lord and the vessels in this house are not made of natural wood and gold. “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
The priests that served in the Levitical order worked on an earthly plane and they could affect a man’s earthly life; but they could never give him eternal life. God has a priesthood that serves in that heavenly realm. Only through Jesus Christ can there be forgiveness of sin and the impartation of eternal life. The earthly priests only serve as a shadow and example of the reality that is found in Christ. What they do in offering up the blood of bulls and goats, as well as the fulfilling of the feast days and other laws, only represent the work of the true priesthood in Christ.
SHEWED TO THEE IN THE MOUNT
Verse 5 quotes from Exodus 25:40 where God admonished Moses to be sure and build the tabernacle exactly according to the pattern given for the tabernacle. Every bit of the construction of the tabernacle, every piece of furniture and every utensil, had its counterpart in the heavenlies.
Even so, everything that takes place in the body of Christ, according to the purposes of God, has its origin in Jesus our Lord. He is the pattern. Born of a virgin; religious and political leaders attempt to kill him in infancy; called out of Egypt; raised in obscurity; preceded and introduced by a prophetic ministry; comes to full maturity and enters the waters of Jordan; defeats satan and puts him under His feet; enters a glorious life-giving deliverance and teaching ministry. Can you see how that every phase of His life is reflected in the birth, growth, and ministry of the Sons of God? If it happens to us, then it first happened to Him.
Conformed to His image. This is the promise. Made according to the pattern. So there must be a people in the earth just like Jesus. He is the Pattern Son. This is what the great harvest is all about and this is why He has not yet put in the sickle. It has not yet come to full maturity.
A MORE EXCELLENT MINISTRY
“Now hath He obtained…” Verse 6 makes it plain that Jesus did not come into the world at Bethlehem with that better ministry. It was something He attained to, something He apprehended. We read in Revelation 5:5, “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, HATH PREVAILED to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” And Jesus said, “…I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Revelation 3:21) There was a goal set before Him when He came into the world, and He overcame. He pressed forward until He won the prize. Hebrews 6:20 tells us that Jesus, the forerunner, has entered into that within the veil and has been made an high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.
We see Jesus, in His childhood, His boyhood, His young manhood, and finally standing face to face with satan in the wilderness temptation, facing every temptation common to man. Yet, without sin. He overcame. It was not an easy way for Him. But it was the way to glory! He pressed toward the mark. “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)
As we follow Him, we find there is a prize to be won, a goal to reach. We know that eternal life is the gift of God, a gift of His love. It cannot be earned or won. But in Philippians 3:12-14, we see Paul pressing in to attain a prize. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The word “mark” here means a goal. To win a prize. Jesus has won it. He hath prevailed.
Paul recognized that we were to follow in His steps and also attain. At the close of his earthly journey, he told Timothy, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown…” (2 Timothy 4:7) He exhorted the church at Corinth, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) Is all this running and pressing necessary in order to make heaven? Of course not. You cannot earn or win your way into heaven. We are saved by grace. There is a more excellent ministry to obtain, a high calling to gain.
UPON BETTER PROMISES
“He is the mediator of a better covenant.” God made a covenant with Israel under the law. There were promises of blessings and prosperity and victory over their enemies. But they could not keep their part of the covenant. They failed miserably to keep the law. So the covenant was of no value. It was based upon the frailty of Adam’s human nature. And the Law exposed its weakness. So there had to be a second covenant.
This new covenant was not based upon our ability to keep the law; nor was it based on what we could accomplish in our flesh. It was based upon the love of God operating through Jesus Christ toward us, His blood shed on Calvary, and His resurrection power. And on this foundation it could not fail. And now, He not only fulfilled this covenant with the Father but He became the “mediator” of this new and better covenant to us. In other words, He is able to give to us that which He apprehended by overcoming. “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) “Fear not little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
This covenant has been established. Upon better promises. What are those promises? Not just prosperity and dominion on the earthly plane. Not just rain on our natural crops. But promises of an eternal life, ruling and reigning with Christ; coming into His nature and His likeness…a promise of bearing His image. “As we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Corinthians 15:49)
God knew before He ever laid the foundation of this world that the first covenant would not work. For Jesus was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And verse 7 tells us that if the first covenant had been capable of working, there would have been no need for the second covenant. No need for Christ to die on the Cross. But the law could not work, and God knew that. So Jesus came. And God makes it plain that this covenant is not like that first one.
WRITE THEM IN THEIR HEARTS
He is God’s great purpose in the earth. This is His promise. He will have a people in this earth who have the laws of God (NOT the law of Moses) written in their minds and in their hearts; so that it becomes natural, or their nature, to do that which pleases God. He had one man on earth like that. His name was Jesus. But He is not to be the last. ”For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29) If a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies (and He did), it will bring forth a great harvest.
Think of a world full of people who do not have to be constantly preached at. It is their nature to please the Father. His laws are written in their minds; and it is inscribed on their hearts to do His will, from the least to the greatest. Impossible, you say? Don’t you read it here? Isn’t it in the Book? Yes, it is the new covenant. And I don’t read anywhere in this chapter that this is effective only when we all get to heaven where we couldn’t sin if we wanted to. The implication, in this scripture, is that this covenant is made effective and takes place right here on this earth.
And I want to tell you, loud and clear, that this is exactly what shall take place. This is the ministry of this Melchisedec order, Jesus and His Sons. He is the mediator, the dispenser, of this new covenant. Your unbelief cannot disannul His purposes. Thank God! Just as Aaron and his sons passed through the veil of the tabernacle, year by year, and placed the blood of the goat on the altar, thus dispensing new life to the people…just so shall that priesthood which passes through the veil of the flesh into the Shekinah glory of God, bring the liberty of Romans 8 to a groaning and dying creation. Right here, on this earth, there will be a demonstration of the reality and effectiveness of this new covenant working in the hearts of men.
The apostle is again assuring them of the futility of serving under the law of Moses. The very fact that this new covenant has been put in effect makes the law of Moses of none effect. The law has decayed and waxes old. And here he is pleading with them to forsake the temple worship, the offering of the blood of bulls and goats, the burning of incense on the golden altar. Jesus has replaced all of this. Some heard, some did not. But only six years later, the Roman general, Titus, captured Jerusalem, destroying the temple and its altars. In 1900 years, it has never been rebuilt and never will. Jesus predicted its destruction, but He never predicted its restoration.
What is to be restored is the living temple of that new covenant. Jesus was a living temple in which that new covenant operated perfectly. But they crucified Him, destroyed that temple from off the earth. He said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up But he spake of the temple of His Body.” (John 2:19, 21) “Now ye are the body of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:27) He sent word to Herod, “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and THE THIRD DAY I shall be PERFECTED.” (Luke 13:32)
Beloved, we are now moving into that third day. It is the hour for the perfection of His body. It is the hour for the demonstration of that new covenant in living vessels. There will be a people who live to please the Father, even as Jesus did. They will go about doing good and healing all who are oppressed of the devil, as Jesus did. They will cover this earth with the message of the Kingdom. Thus saith the Lord!
THE PATTERN MINISTRY
Just what kind of ministry will this people have? First of all, it will be a ministry of COMPASSION. Everything Jesus did, He did it because He loved the people. He saw their needs and had compassion. The word “compassion” is found in the Gospels more than twice as many times as in all the rest of the New Testament combined. It is a word directly relating to the ministry of Jesus. Five times it tells us that Jesus “was moved with compassion.” This word “moved” means to motivate, to cause one to act out of a feeling of compassion. The Greek word here for “compassion” is “splagchnizomai.” This word is not used any place else in the Bible except where it speaks of being “moved with compassion.” It means to have pity, to feel sympathy, to have the bowels yearn.
The motivating power of Jesus’ life was the great love and compassion He had for the people and for their needs. Oh, God, give us ministries like that today! And He will! Hallelujah! This is the mark of the Melchisedec ministry, that “more excellent ministry” coming forth after the pattern. There are many great and successful ministries that have been motivated by the desire to be successful, by the need for more money, or a hunger for power and fame. But the only true motivation recognized by God as a reason for going into the ministry, is that overwhelming, gripping love and compassion for His Body. That is not to say that a true ministry cannot be successful and prosperous. It should be; but that should not be the motive for ministry.
THINGS THAT PLEASE THE FATHER
Another great motivating force in the life of Jesus was His desire to please the Father. He lived to do the perfect will of God. “And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” (John 8:29) So shall it be with that more excellent ministry that comes forth in His likeness. They do not need laws, rules, and regulations. They do not need to be warned of the consequences of disobedience and rebellion. For it is not in them to rebel. It is their nature to please God; it is the driving force in their lives. The law of love, love for God and others, causes them to live and conduct themselves in such a manner that the law cannot touch them. The law of love is written in their hearts, into their minds. It is not a strain for them to be holy, not a struggle to do that which is right. It is their nature; it is the way they think and feel.
With this kind of motivation, this “more excellent” ministry has no lack of power and authority in the heavenly realm. Disease, death, demons, and even the forces of nature all are subject to them. Look at Jesus. No disease or affliction could remain is His presence. By His word of command, death released the victims. Devils trembled and obeyed. The wind and the waves, the fig tree, the fish, and all nature were merely His servants. Such is the pattern set for us and such is the ministry unveiled here in Hebrews 8.
The key word in Hebrews is “better.” A better realm, a better nature, a better dominion, a better priesthood, a better ministry. Yes, the new covenant which Jesus brought is far better than the old. And as we go into chapter 9, we find an unveiling of the truths concerning that high calling in God...the Holy of Holies.
BETTER BLOOD, BETTER SACRIFICE AND A BETTER HOLY OF HOLIES
We close chapter 8 with the promise that the new covenant is far better than the old. Now as we open the ninth chapter, we see a description of Moses’ tabernacle with its furniture. A full explanation of what divine truths these pieces of furniture symbolized would take an entire book in itself. And that is not our purpose in this message. The first five verses take us through the tabernacle, from the candlestick (or lampstand) in the sanctuary into the Holy of Holies and the cherubims of glory. The next five verses go on to show that all these things were only types and shadows imposed upon us until eternal reality came, which is Christ.
Let me give you just an example of the depths of truth contained in these few verses. Let us take just once piece of furniture, the Golden Altar of Incense, and see a beautiful revelation in this ninth chapter. You will notice in the King James translation, that the Golden Altar is not mentioned as being in the tabernacle at all. But when we begin to examine the word in verse 4 translated as “golden censer,” we uncover a marvelous mystery. But first let us see what the Bible says about “censers.”
THE WORK OF THE CENSERS
There were censers of brass (Numbers 16:39) and the censers of pure gold. (1 Kings 7:50) The brass was to be used in the outer court and the gold in the sanctuary. The true fire of God that was to be put into the censer and carried to the Golden Altar of Incense was to come from the fire put under the burnt offering on the Brazen Altar. This shows us that no worship or intercession is acceptable unto God unless it comes as a result of a work of Calvary in the life of the believer. “Strange fire” comes from the works of the flesh and the operation of the carnal mind. The true fire of God results from a crucified life, through a true knowledge of the work of Calvary.
The censer was a small vessel used to carry fire from the Brazen Altar to the Golden Altar of Incense. There were times when the incense was put right into the censer while the priest carried it, as in Numbers 16:46 where Aaron took fire from the altar, put it in the censer, put in incense and ran among the people to stay the plague. This is a marvelous picture of intercession for a people under judgment.
Since there was no place provided on the Golden Altar for fire to be placed or ashes to be carried out (no fire pans, shovels, etc.,) it is obvious that the priest took the censer of live coals and sat it on top of the Golden Altar. He then dropped the incense into the censer sitting on the altar and a cloud of incense would rise up out of the fire. This is the picture we see in Revelation 8:3-4 where the smoke of the incense ascended up “out of the angel’s hand,” or from the censer. This was what the Golden Altar was for, a place to set the censer in the Tabernacle; it was not to be set on the floor. There was a crown around the edge of the Golden Altar, to keep the censer from sliding off. That is why they took the Golden Altar behind the veil into the Holiest of Holies on the Day of Atonement.
WAS THE GOLDEN ALTAR
Perhaps that last statement surprised you. Just where did they put the altar? And, was it ever moved? Why? What is this symbolic of? Let us look into the scriptures. Turn to Exodus 30:1-10. “And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.” (Verse 1) Where they were to put this altar is given in verse 6. “And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning.” Let us read that same scripture in the Amplified translation. “You shall put the altar [of incense] in front and outside of the veil that screens the ark of the Testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the Testimony (the Law, the tables of stone), where I will meet with you. And Aaron shall burn on it incense of sweet spices; every morning when he trims and fills the lamps he shall burn it.” We find King Uzziah, in 2 Chronicles 26:19, standing beside the incense altar with a censer in his hand, ready to burn incense. Azariah, the chief priest, and 80 other priests were there with him so we know they were not in the Holiest place. They were in the sanctuary. These scriptures make it plain that the regular resting place of the Golden Altar was in the holy place with the lampstand and table of shewbread, where the priests ministered daily.
But now, we see what seems to be a conflicting scripture in Hebrews 9. In verses 1 through 4 we read, “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly (earthly) sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holies of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.” Now notice, please, that the Golden Altar of incense is not mentioned as being in either place. And what is this “golden censer” which is said to be in the Holy of Holies? The word translated “censer” here is not the same Greek word used for censer in Revelation 8:3-5. The word censer is only found three times in the New Testament. Two times in Revelation 8 it is the Greek word “Libanotos” which means a small vessel for burning incense. But, in Hebrews 9:4, it is the Greek word “Thumiasterion” which is a place of fumigation, i.e. altar of incense in the temple.
Hebrews 9 is telling us that the Golden Altar of incense was actually located behind the veil, in the Holy of Holies. Now to confirm this, let me read Hebrews 9:3-4 from other translations:
Phillips: “Inside, beyond the curtain, was the inner tent called the Holy of Holies, in which were the GOLDEN INCENSE ALTAR and the gold covered ark of the agreement…”
Revised Standard Version: “Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the GOLDEN ALTAR OF INCENSE, and the ark of the covenant...”
New English Bible: “Beyond the second curtain was the tent called the Most Holy Place. Here was a GOLDEN ALTAR OF INCENSE, and the ark of the covenant...”
Beck: An American Translation: “Behind the second curtain was the part of the tabernacle called the most holy place with the GOLDEN ALTAR OF INCENSE and the ark of the covenant...”
Moffatt: “But behind the second veil was the tent called the Holy of Holies, containing the GOLDEN ALTAR OF INCENSE, and also the ark of the covenant...”
Williams: “But behind the second curtain is the tent that is called the Holy of Holies, with its GOLDEN INCENSE ALTAR and the chest for the covenant...”
Weymouth: “And behind the second veil was a sacred tent called the Holy of Holies. This had a GOLDEN ALTAR OF INCENSE, and the ark of the covenant…”
Rotherham: “But after the second veil a tent, that which is called the Most Holy: having a GOLDEN ALTAR OF INCENSE and the Ark of the covenant...”
Amplified New Testament: “ But [inside] beyond the second curtain or veil, [there stood another] tabernacle [division] known as the Holy of Holies. It had the golden altar of incense and the ark (chest) of the covenant…”
Here we have nine different translations, plus Strong’s Concordance and Berry’s Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, that confirm the fact that the Greek word “Thumiasterion” translated in the King James as “golden censer”, is actually the Golden Altar of Incense. And it is located inside the Holy of Holies, behind the veil.
WHY IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES
Is there a contradiction? We read that the Golden Altar was to be placed outside the second veil, in the sanctuary, and that the priests were to minister before it daily. Now in Hebrews, we read that it is inside the second veil, in the Holy of Holies, where no one but the high priest is allowed to enter, and that only once a year. Notice also in Revelation 8:3 the Golden Altar was “before the throne,” which is behind the veil. (Read Hebrews 9:7)
The answer is given by several authorities. Alford’s Greek New Testament, Wuest’s Studies in Hebrews, the Amplified New Testament, as well as the Jewish Mischna all explain that the Golden Altar was not kept permanently in the Holy of Holies; but taken in on the Day of Atonement, the 10th day of the 7th month, when the high priest went in to make atonement. The reason the high priest took the Golden Altar into the Holy of Holies was for him to have a place to set the censer (of burning coals of fire from the brazen altar;) so he would not have to set it on the ground, inside the Holy of Holies. Most certainly he would not set it on the mercy seat; nor could he hold the censer of fire in his hands while he ministered the blood upon the mercy seat.
We get the picture in Leviticus 16. When the Day of Atonement comes, the day when someone passes through the veil and all sin is removed from Israel, we see the high priest washed and properly dressed. All the other priests that usually minister in the sanctuary before the candlestick and the shewbread are moved back out to the outer court. First he takes the Golden Altar behind the veil. Then he brings in the censer with burning coals from the brazen altar and puts it on the Golden Altar. He then comes in with both hands full of incense (Leviticus 16:12 Amplified) which he puts on the fire, creating a cloud of incense. He then brings in the blood of the bullock and sprinkles it on the mercy seat. Then he kills the goat of the sin offering and brings in his blood to put on the mercy seat also. (Leviticus 16:12-15) In addition to putting the blood on the mercy seat, he also puts some of it on the horns of the Golden Altar of Incense. (Exodus 30:10) And, while all this is going on, NO PRIEST IS ALLOWED IN THE SANCTUARY (Leviticus 16:17) but all must retreat to the outer court.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TODAY
We see from this that there is an hour coming when a people pass through the veil of this Adamic nature, this human covenant, and into the presence of almighty God. They will no longer minister in the “part realm” of Pentecost. No one will be in the area of the candlestick in that day. Those who do not go on in God will revert back to the outer court ministry of sweat and judgment. “When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:10) And the glory of God shall be manifested in its fulness!
Here, we are studying about the tent, or tabernacle, of Moses. Later, a greater and more glorious temple was built by Solomon and a new order established on Mount Moriah. We see, in verse 4, that at this time (of the tent) the Ark of the Covenant contained three things: the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the ten commandments or tables of the covenant. But at the dedication of Solomon’s temple in 2 Chronicles 5:10, we find that there was nothing in the Ark except the two tables of the covenant. This is confirmed in 2 Chronicles 6:11. Where was the pot of manna? And where was Aaron’s rod? (An answer to that will be found in another message entitled “The Hidden Manna.”)
THE NEW ORDER
Verses 8, 9 and 10 make it plain that the glory of that old order was only temporary. The way into the Holy of Holies was not even revealed as long as that first order stood. No wonder the temple and its order of worship had to be destroyed. Jesus said, “Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” In Moffatt’s translation, verse 8 says, “By this the Holy Spirit means that the way into the Holiest Presence was not disclosed so long as the first tent (which foreshadowed the present age) was still standing.” Verse 10 tells us that those carnal ordinances were imposed on them until THE TIME OF REFORMATION, or “setting things right.” Moffatt says, “till the period of the New Order.” And in the Amplified Bible it says, “until the time of setting things straight [of reformation, of the complete new order when Christ, the Messiah, shall establish the reality of what these things foreshadow—a better covenant]”
And now the next few verses show that Christ has come as a high priest of the good things to come. He did this by coming through a greater and more perfect tabernacle. The tent He used was not one made with hands, but a tent, or body, given to Him by God. “A body hast thou prepared me.” He took the blood from that “tabernacle” right into the Holiest place and offered it up for our sins. His blood was offered once, and once for all. Nothing more was needed. Hallelujah!
In verse 12, we find that Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.” Then in verse 15 it says that “they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Without eternal redemption there can be no eternal inheritance. For we are children of Adam and can only inherit his nature and his promise, which is death. But when Christ redeems us, buys us back from Adam’s fallen state, we then receive Christ and He gives us the right or privilege to become Sons of God. (John 1:12)
THE CONSCIENCE PURGED BY THE BLOOD
Through the eternal Spirit, Christ offered His own blood up for us. And that blood has the power to cleanse our sins and purge our conscience. No use now to continually beat ourselves for our past sins. If the blood has been applied, our conscience is clean, no matter how horrible our sins have been. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18) Yes, Jesus saves from the “guttermost to the uttermost!”
Dead works will never do it. The blood of Christ is the only cleansing agent administered by the Holy Spirit. Then we can truly serve the living God out of a pure heart. Though the memory of sins committed linger on, yet our conscience is no longer tormented. Praise God! When I see people who are continually tormented and torn by their conscience, it is evident that they have not applied the blood of Jesus to those sins.
This is why Jesus had to die. The testament had no power (verse 16) until the death of the testator. Even under the old covenant, all things had to be purged with blood. In that case it was the blood of animals. But in our case, to receive eternal redemption and eternal inheritance, it was necessary for us to have better blood. We have the precious blood of Jesus!
THE THREE APPEARANCES OF CHRIST
In verses 24, 26, and 28, we read that three times Jesus appears FOR US; past, present, and future. In verse 26, (Amplified) we see that Jesus HAS ALREADY appeared to put away sin by means of Calvary. “But as it now is, He has once for all at the consummation and close of the ages appeared to put away and abolish sin by His sacrifice of Himself.” This was His appearing in a flesh and blood body here on this earth; living among men, being mocked, scourged, and crucified. He appeared. It was a very real appearance. He was really tempted. He really suffered pain. He was made like unto us, “made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:7) But never again shall He appear in this body of humiliation. For now He has a body of glory. Once and once for all He poured out His blood and suffered death. Never again. Once was enough.
Now (verse 24) he appears in Heaven, in the very presence of God, for us. “FOR US!” That says to me that He intends to bring us eventually unto that very place. So until we get there, He is now appearing there for us. This tells me that the man Jesus was really resurrected and is really appearing in His body of glory, there in heaven itself. Glory to God! It confirms without denial that we, too, shall put on a body of glory and appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4) Some shall come forth from the grave and others shall pass from this mortal into the immortal. Not all shall die. Some shall pass from this corruptible dying life into the glorious life of God. And to insure that this is so, He appears NOW, for us, in the very presence of God.
TO FULL SALVATION
His final appearance shall be, when out of the glory of that presence He appears upon earth again, to bring the Kingdom of God victoriously to earth. Verse 28 in the Amplified makes that so clear that no one should misunderstand. “Even so it is that Christ, having been offered to take upon Himself and bear as a burden the sins of many once and once for all, will appear a second time, not to carry any burden of sin nor to deal with sin, but to bring to full salvation those who are [eagerly, constantly, and patiently] waiting for and expecting Him.”
He will appear a “second time.” But didn’t we say this would be the third time He appears? Yes, but only the second time that He appears on this earth. He did appear on the earth. He does now appear in heaven. He will yet appear again on the earth. And every time He appears, it’s for us! And, this final appearance is to bring us to full salvation, to full deliverance from every earthly bondage. This is that “final salvation” spoken of by Peter in 1 Peter 1:4-5. The Amplified says there is “…an inheritance…reserved for you, Who are being guarded (garrisoned) by God’s power through [your] faith [till you fully inherit that FINAL] SALVATION that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the LAST TIME.”
COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE
Now, chapter 9 starts by showing the glory of the old covenant, and then proves that glory has to fade and be replaced by the permanent order of reality in Christ. Then we close chapter 9 by seeing the return of Christ to this earth. His appearance, to those who look for Him, is to bring them to full salvation or deliverance. His appearance is not to escort them to a home up in heaven somewhere, but to bring His salvation, His inheritance, and His reward to them, here. (Revelation 22:12)
For those who hear His call and come out, there is a final salvation, a full deliverance. He will appear to them once again. Glory! Get ready for chapter 10. Here we shall find some strong warnings and tremendous promises. If you feel we have not done full justice to chapter 9, you are right. But we are not trying to give a complete commentary or dig out all the revelation in this great chapter. We are only trying to open some doors so you may continue the study and dig out more glorious truths for yourself. Press on, saints of God! It has been glorious thus far, but there is much more ahead for us!
BETTER DAY, A NEW AND LIVING WAY THROUGH A BETTER VEIL
A SHADOW OF GOOD THINGS TO COME
The last few chapters of this book of Hebrews constantly refers to “good things to come.” Chapter 6 says, “let us go on unto perfection.” Then chapter 7 speaks of a new priesthood for us, made “after the power of an endless life.” Chapter 8 unveils the new covenant for the last days where He will write His laws in our minds and in our hearts. Then all shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest. Chapter 9:11 says that “Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands…” Then chapter 10 tells us, “for the law having a shadow of good things to come...” When we get to chapter 11, we will see that “God having provided some better thing for us...” Finally in chapter 12, “we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved...”
THE HEART OF THE PROPOSITION
God is sending this letter to the Jews and He does not waste words. Judaism is exposed as a failure. Verse 1 and 2 make it plain, with unassailable logic, that if the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament Law had taken away sins, they would not have had to continue offering the same sacrifices every year. Once the Passover lamb had been offered in the beginning of the year, and the blood of the sin offering and the burnt offering been placed on the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement in the end of the year, all sin should have been purged. Therefore, there would be no more consciousness of sins. But it is plain that this is not the case, for they continued this routine every year. This shows that the blood of those animals was ineffective in taking away sin. They were only a shadow of good things to come.
The writer of Hebrews does not apologize or compromise. He plainly says that it is impossible for the Jewish rituals or offerings to take away sins. Quoting from the book of Psalm, he proves that God has done away with the first covenant, that He might establish the second. Then he simply declares that the only way to deal with sin is through Jesus Christ.
JESUS CHRIST IS MORE THAN A MAN
The greatest danger to the Jewish believer was not the Sanhedrin who tried to stamp out belief in Jesus through violent persecution. This only made the believers more determined to spread the faith throughout the world, as many fled from Jerusalem. Far worse than this was those who claimed to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, accepted His teachings, and became part of the local churches; yet clung to the traditional law of Moses as necessary to salvation. What they were saying in effect was, “Accept Jesus, receive the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues, but stay in the old order and be a better Jew.” The counterparts of that today are those who urge people in the old dead historic traditional churchianity to receive the “Charismatic experience” but “don’t leave the church.” By that they mean, don’t leave the denominations, their man-made organizations. Speak in tongues but keep going to mass and confession. Keep praying to Mary, burning candles, baptizing your infant babies into the body of Christ. Be loyal to the Pope. Be a better Catholic. But speak in tongues, and be a charismatic too. Well, beloved, it didn’t work in the early church and it won’t work now. The Spirit is still crying, “Come out of her, my people.”
A BODY HAST THOU PREPARED ME
Now, as then, the central issue at stake is the real body of Christ, the visible working body of Christ on earth. And you can’t mix it with the old order. This is a prepared body, a cleansed body. The enemies of the Gospel back then were trying, with quite a bit of success, to keep the Christian believers in bondage to the law. They did this by tradition, condemnation, and fear. It is difficult to tear down 1500 years of law in one generation. Through men like the Apostle Paul, the Gospel had set out to destroy their faith in the temple, the offerings and feast days, the blood of animals, etc.
What the Judaizers were saying was, “Sure, go ahead and worship God through Jesus Christ on the first day of the week. But remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Come up to Jerusalem for the feast days. Bring your Passover lamb and your peace offerings, etc. Come to the temple for the burning of the incense. Don’t bring sin into the Christian faith by breaking the Law. And make the Law of Moses stronger and more effective by adding Jesus Christ to it.” The Jewish believers were eating this up. It sounded good to them. It seemed to give them safety on both ends. How could they lose? Acts 6:7 says that “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” And in Acts 21:20 they were putting the pressure on Apostle Paul to assert his faith in the Law when they said, “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and THEY ARE ALL ZEALOUS OF THE LAW.” Thus, the writing of this book of Hebrews, this letter to the Jewish believers who were zealous of the Law, was necessary. It was to let them know that they could not continue to hold on to Moses and to Christ. It became evident again that “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people.” (Joshua 1:2)
Yes, there is an active, living, Spirit-filled body of Christ on the earth. It has not yet come to its full maturity, at least not at the time of this writing. But God is adding to it daily, such as should be brought in and prepared for the great Day of the Lord. The Jews might hang on to the Law and the glory in their temple; but six years after the book of Hebrews was written, the Roman general, Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and burned down the temple, just as Jesus said in Matthew 24. And today you might hang on to the old church traditions of spiritual Babylon, refusing to leave and come into the wilderness with the true body of Christ. But Babylon will fall and be burned with fire. And those who continue to support her sins will suffer her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)
SIN IS TAKEN AWAY
I was talking with an orthodox Jew about the futility and failure of the Law and the reality of Jesus Christ. As I read from the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Messiah and the substance of the Old Testament shadow, he ran upstairs to get his Hebrew Bible to see if it read the same way. I said, “David, the Jews have no way to get rid of sin. According to Moses’ law, removing of sin comes from shedding of blood and putting that blood on the mercy seat in the temple. Now you don’t have an altar, a temple, or a mercy seat. According to Moses, in whom you trust, how can you get rid of your sin?” “Oh,” he said, “we no longer believe in blood sacrifices. We don’t kill animals as blood sacrifices anymore and wouldn’t even if we had a temple (which they are not expecting to have.) We only believe in the ethical law of Moses now.” But when I asked him what about his sins and how he would deal with that, he had no answer. There is no answer outside of Jesus Christ. This is one reason why a majority of the Jews in Palestine today are atheists. They see no reality in God as taught by the Judaizers. Only a small remnant remains faithful to the traditions of the fathers. The rest are only Jews by nationality.
There have been many rumors about the Jews getting ready to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. I want to declare that it shall never be done. The only temple the Jews will be a part of is that glorious temple Ezekiel saw; and the only way they will enter it is when they are saved through Jesus’ blood and become a part of the Body of Christ. Those rumors about another physical temple in modern Jerusalem are being spread by wishful thinking on the part of those fundamental dispensationalists who have turned most of the promises of God over to the natural Jew. Israel has been a sovereign nation again since 1948 and they have had possession of all of Jerusalem since the six-day war, years ago. But a Moslem mosque still sits on the site of the old temple and nothing has been done about it. Why? Because God is not interested in the reestablishment of the old Mosaic Law, the Levitical priesthood, or the rituals and blood sacrifices. He has “taken it away” that He might establish a better covenant. “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter…” (Romans 2:28-29) So, the Israeli in Palestine today is not a “Jew” be he atheist or orthodox. The real Jew, Abraham’s true seed, is that blood-washed, born-again believer in Jesus Christ. That’s the way it is today and that’s the way it was in the day of the writing of this book of Hebrews. The order has changed, permanently. Jesus prophesied (Matthew 24) that the Jewish temple would be destroyed until not one stone would be upon another. Period. Not one word that it would ever stand again. There is now a new temple…it is the true body of Christ…living stones. And the glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former.
TILL HIS ENEMIES ARE HIS FOOTSTOOL
Now we come to the glorious part of this chapter that takes us into the heavenlies. When God takes away something, He always gives something better. If folks could just believe this, no one would complain about the stripping process of the Spirit. In verse 12, a truth is brought out that should have gladdened the heart of every Jewish Christian. “One sacrifice for sins forever.” Hallelujah! “It is finished!” No more labor, sweat, condemnation. Jesus has brought rest. Get in Him, stay in Him, live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, and there is therefore now no condemnation. Nothing more for you to do, no more sacrifices. He has done it all. We are free from sin and not under sin’s bondage to walk any longer therein. We are now free to walk and live in the Spirit, which is not only life eternal, but also a lot more fun here on earth.
It also tells us that, after offering Himself as the sacrifice for sins, Jesus then sat down “on the right hand of God,” meaning the place of authority and ministry. “From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” (Verse 13) One translation reads, “from then on anticipating.” The Amplified Bible says, “Then to wait until His enemies should be made a stool beneath His feet.” Praise God that the lowest member of the Body of Christ, the Feet, shall be above (higher, stronger than) the strongest enemy, even sin, satan, and death.
He is waiting. That means it hasn’t been accomplished yet. In Him all things have been accomplished and are finished. But these things must also be done in His body on the earth. And until they are, He will continue to sit on the right hand of God. The Bible says that heaven must receive and retain Jesus until the restitution of all things spoken of by the prophets. (Acts 3:21) This verse in other translations says, “Until the time of the great Restoration,” “When all is restored anew,” “until the whole world is re-created,” “until the final recovery of all things from sin.” Until that time, Jesus remains in heaven, sitting at the right hand of God; until everyone in His body is above every enemy, even death. The shadow in the Old Testament is the Day of Atonement. Sin is removed, thus death is annulled, and the Jubilee trumpet begins to blow. This is why the whole creation is waiting, standing “on tip-toe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own.” (Romans 8:19 Phillips) Because the manifestation of the Sons of God, the putting of all enemies under the feet of the body of Christ, is the Jubilee trumpet for all creation to be delivered from its bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. And no one can stop this from happening! They can call it heresy, false doctrine, strange and weird, free-love, doctrines of devils, etc., etc., but it is still going to take place. Even those who are fighting this truth will be benefited by it along with the rest of creation. And Jesus now sits on the right hand of God, expecting, waiting, until all this takes place; until every enemy is under our feet; a footstool under His body. Many other scriptures confirm this but this is one thing that had to get across to the Hebrew Christians in order to deliver them from adherence to and dependence upon the Law of Moses. You can call it brutal or call it crude but that old order had to be smashed, destroyed. Some tell me I am wrong in being so outspoken and so strong against the old order system of religion in the world today. But I must cry out and use all means to deliver those who will hear. Because, soon the judgment of God will fall upon all the kingdoms built by men; and many will fall with them.
SANCTIFIED AND PERFECTED
It tells us plainly in verse 14 that by the offering of His own body, Jesus has eternally perfected those whom He has chosen and set apart for Himself. Well, I don’t feel perfected. And those closest to me can tell you that they love me, but they know I am not yet perfect. While we see through human eyes, and we see human faults and failures; God looks at us and He sees the offering that Jesus made for us. Ephesians 1:4, 6 tells us, “…that we should be holy and without blame before him in love…wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” We look at each other in the light of today. God sees us in the light of eternity, in His eternal purpose.
Will this perfection ever be manifested in the earth realm, where men can see? Oh yes! Verse 16 holds the key to this. God will write His laws into our hearts and minds. Then we will not need rules and regulations to keep us on the straight and narrow and to condemn us when we fail. It will be as natural for us then to do the right thing, to be righteous, as it is now to breathe. And verse 17 goes on to say that, through the blood of Jesus, the remembrance of sin is wiped out forever. No more need for another offering. Therefore, what need did they have for the temple services, blood sacrifices, etc.? God will accept no more offering for sin. Jesus paid it all. And the full victory over sin, death, and all other enemies must be demonstrated here on earth…in the sight of principalities and powers. The nations of earth must know. The knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
INTO THE HOLIEST
Now we come to one of the most tremendous statements in all scripture. Verse 19 says, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” There is no other way in. The Old Testament made it plain that the High Priest could not enter the Holy of Holies without blood, lest he die. There are many religions in the world. Most of them are designed to do good for people through social action, brotherhood, charitable activities, etc. But only through the blood of Jesus Christ can you come into the presence of God and have the life of God. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) So, the bloodless religions, the Gurus, the occult philosophies, paganism, good works, and all other substitutions, are all in vain. They cannot give life. There can be no co-existence between real Bible Christianity and other religions. Some say, “It doesn’t really matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.” It matters. It’s like saying that it doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you are hungry. But it does. Poison will kill you, no matter how hungry or sincere you are. We have to state openly, and without apology, that Jesus is the only way.
These verses are talking about Sonship. He is not talking to unbelievers or nominal half-hearted Christians. He is talking to those who are sanctified and being perfected; those who are dying to self and passing through the veil into the holiest. If you don’t see and cannot comprehend these truths, don’t jump up and denounce it as false doctrine. Just ask God to bring you in to a realm of the Spirit where these deeper truths apply.
A NEW AND LIVING WAY
The way into the holiest has been consecrated for us by Jesus Christ. He did it by the rending of His own flesh at Calvary. When He died, the veil of the temple was torn in two pieces, ripped from the top to the bottom. (Matthew 27:51) Notice that it was not torn from the bottom to the top. Man did not do it. It was God who sent Jesus to the Cross. The human will of Jesus was to live, to continue to do good for people in the realm of healing, teaching, etc. But that human will submitted to the higher will of Deity and went to the Cross. It was the only way that creation could be completely delivered from the power of sin and death. “Not my will but thine be done.” Notice also that it was torn completely in two. Nothing more for man to do except pass through that veil. Some say there are still a few threads they must tear for you…baptism, confirmation, church membership, etc. But nothing else is required; only His death, the rending of the veil.
But, this is not a dead way, such as the Old Testament offerings. For after Calvary, Jesus took His life up again by the power of resurrection life. A new and living way. So, when we pass through that veil, it means we come to the end of our Adamic life…it was nailed to His Cross. Then we take on His resurrection life as we pass into the Shekinah glory of His presence forever. Glory to God!
THROUGH THE VEIL
This is part of the manifestation of the Sons of God. For there can be no manifestation of the true life of Jesus, the Son of God, until Adam is dead. Sin must be destroyed and also death. For 2,000 years since the Spirit was poured out upon the early church, we have been in the sanctuary, in the realm of the oil-filled candlestick (lampstand.) This part of the tabernacle where the candlestick resided was 20 cubits long, 10 cubits wide and 10 cubits high. As you can see, 20 x 10 x 10 = 2,000; and 2,000 years is how long is has been since the church entered this realm. We are now at the door of the holiest, ready to enter in, as we are being urged to do here in Hebrews. This Holy of Holies (which had the Ark of the Covenant, the mercy seat, the rod, and the hidden manna) was 10 cubits long, 10 cubits wide and 10 cubits high. 10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000. I want to declare to you, that as soon as we pass through this veil, a thousand year period will begin during which we shall rule and reign on this earth. And it shall be in tabernacles of clay. Yes, we will someday receive glorified bodies and the dead in Christ are coming back for their resurrection bodies. But first, there must be a demonstration of the victory of His sinless life in vessels of clay. Don’t get in a hurry. Heaven is still there and it will not go away. But a battle is being fought on earth, in these earthly bodies. And a victory must be won here. Then in the ages to come, God will show His grace and kindness to us through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:7)
It was absolutely necessary for Jesus to die in the manner He did. Not because God was some blood thirsty tyrant screaming for revenge on mankind and Jesus had to pour out His blood to satisfy Him. Oh no. One of the basic principles of life is “the life of the flesh is in the blood.” We get our blood from our father, all the way back to Adam. So it is Adamic blood in us. Adamic life cannot enter the Kingdom of God. But Jesus did not get blood from Joseph. His blood came from His Father. It was incorruptible blood. (1 Peter 1:18) We had to have His life if we were to live eternally. He brought that life down to earth, poured it out for us in the form of His blood. Our Adam life is replaced with the Christ life…a blood transfusion, a complete exchange. One must increase the other decrease. That is why the blood of Jesus is so important to us.
OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
The house of Israel had a high priest after the order of Aaron. Our great high priest, Jesus, is of the order of Melchisedec, made effective by the power of an endless life. Therefore, in Hebrews 10, he says, “…having boldness to enter the holiest…having a new and living way…having a high priest over God’s house…let us draw near…let us hold fast without wavering. We have the “The profession of our faith.” We have something to declare to the world and we have no reason to waver. God has given the promise and He will fulfill it. How long is forever? Well, that’s how long Jesus is called to be a priest. (Hebrews 5:6, 6:20, 7:21) As a high priest in the ages to come, what kind of ministry will He have? He is our high priest and He will be ministering the life of God to us, from glory to glory. Beloved, it is beyond our minds to comprehend what glorious things God has planned for His people. Hallelujah!
“Let us consider one another.” What a beautiful statement in verse 24. This is the guiding principle in our relationship with one another in this great body of Christ. Everything we do or say should be done in the light of “how does this affect my brother?” No one lives to himself; we are members of the same body. We are partakers of the same covenant. The Amplified Bible expresses this verse so beautifully. “And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities.”
“Provoke one another.” Yes, I know that it is not difficult to get provoked with your brother sometimes. We are not to provoke each other to anger, but to love and good works. This is not a matter of just nagging each other to keep doing helpful deeds and noble activities. We are to give one another good reason to love us and to do good deeds willingly. This is something we have to work at. But the more we love the brethren, the easier it becomes.
AS YE SEE THE DAY APPROACHING
Verse 25 deals with a problem that was as real in the early church as it is in today’s church. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is...” Now, as then, there are those who either become so super-spiritual or so dead and cold in spirit that they don’t feel the need to meet with the rest of the body of Christ in worship, praise, and teaching meetings. One of the things I find in the Bible is the need for strong local churches. I mean Bodies where people have strong commitments to one another in love. We, who are partakers in the covenant of God, need to have a covenant with each other. We need to recognize ourselves as local members of His body. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.”
Many people write me and ask, “How can this apply to me, when there is no one else in my city who believes these truths and no local church to attend?” The problem becomes whether they should attend regularly, and give support to, a dead Babylonian system of religion. My heart grieves for those in this situation and I wish there was an easy answer to this. All I can say is that if you truly are willing to submit to a God-ordained and Spirit-led local Body, I firmly believe God will raise one up in your area, even if He has to use you to do it. When we moved our publishing office to Springfield, Missouri, I tried to find a local church where I could fellowship and finding none we started having meetings in our own living room. Soon, the room was full of a Body of believers, fitly joined and committed to each other. The Day of the Lord approaches. Let your heart be open for that which God is sending.
According to verse 25, “the day” that was approaching had not yet taken place at the time of the writing of this book to the Hebrews. It did not happen at Calvary, nor on the day of Pentecost more than 30 years prior. The destruction of Jerusalem, the Dark Ages, the Reformation, the latter day outpouring of the Spirit, have all come and gone. And yet, I declare to you today, there is a “day” approaching. It is the great Day of the Lord and all the more reason for us to gather together to exhort one another.
Paul, in Ephesians 6, calls it “that evil day.” Joel calls it “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” Malachi calls it “the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Many other prophets refer to it simply as “the day of the Lord.” Verse 24, in Hebrews 10 (Amplified,) is telling us that there is good reason for us to “consider and give attentive continuous care to watching over one another.” We should meet together for worship and instruction regularly. Unteachable, independent spirits are in great danger in the days in which we live. For your own sakes, find a covering.
NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SINS
Now we come to a very perplexing portion of scripture. Some have thought that this might be referring to the “unpardonable sin.” Such is not the case. Lest anyone think that God is weak and uncertain in dealing with those who spurn the blood of Jesus as the only offering for sin, the writer has some very strong words about judgment. Moffatt’s translation says, “How much heavier, do you suppose, will be the punishment assigned to him who has spurned the Son of God…”
The issue here is not whether Jesus’ blood is able to cleanse all our sin, past or future, but whether or not there is any other offering to take away judgment, in case we spurn the blood of Jesus as the remedy. The Bible makes it plain that there is no other offering. Spurn the blood of Jesus and you are left with nothing to look forward to but the wrath of almighty God. “Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord…It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Verses 30, 31) Someone says, “That doesn’t sound like a God of love.” Let me tell you, God loves us so much that He will never permit us to spend eternity in a heaven polluted by sin and sinners who reject the only cleansing. They have a different destiny. The wrath of God is the love of God in operation against the negative powers of darkness and death.
So, if we receive the knowledge of the truth concerning Calvary and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and still reject that truth and try for heaven and eternal life some other way, we have no hope. God will accept no other sacrifice than the One that has already been paid. The Amplified Bible says in verse 26, “there is no longer any sacrifice left (when we have rejected Jesus) to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward].” There will not be another Lamb of God. Jesus is once and forever the only salvation from sin.
This truth was necessary for those Christian Jews who were being told by the Judaizers that they could bring another lamb at the Passover season and God would accept it for their sins. Strong language, yes, but needed, then and now. There is no other way, no Guru, no philosophy, no works, nothing. It is Jesus then, now, and forever! Glory to His great Name!
A BETTER AND ENDURING SUBSTANCE
In verses 32 through 34, we find a beautiful and tender picture of the love that existed in the early church among the saints of God. Here he refers to the “former days.” Obviously they had days when they were on fire for God, when revival fires were burning in the camp. It was a time of great persecution and the saints were sharing everything they had with one another.
As a side note, I don’t believe in a communistic or a communal form of life, as practiced by some. I believe God’s ordained way of life for His people is the family unit, with a man and wife as the head of their own home and children leaving father and mother to get married and form their own home. Yet, have homes where they are always ready to share with the saints anything that is needed. Whether it is car, clothes, furniture, food, tools, or money, we having nothing that “we might call our own.” But it all belongs to God and His family. We are only the custodians. Being a faithful steward means that I must be wise in how it is used or given away; not waste it on moochers or interfere with the dealings of God in the life of someone He might be trying to mature. Sometimes it is necessary for young saints to grow up to where they are self-supporting and not forever be dependent on hard-working and big-hearted relatives or friends. Everyone should carry their weight, as much as they are able. Paul says, “they that do not work, shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) Those who are sick, or having hard times, or trying to get a start will find much love and care in the body of Christ. Those who are “illuminated” with this truth will not hesitate to share their substance with others who are in need. And those who do not have anything will want to “labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Ephesians 4:28)
Back to verses 32-34, I believe the writer of Hebrews to be Paul the Apostle and here he speaks of his bonds and the compassion the Jewish saints had for him at that time. Those who sympathized with him suffered great loss in material things and their goods were spoiled. Also, they were made a gazing stock, suffered great reproaches and afflictions, and were identified with other such “heretics.”
“Ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” (Verse 34) Five things are said here that I want to emphasize. First, we “have” this substance. Not hope to have it, not maybe, but “we have it.” It is already ours. The title deed to this is already made out to us. That makes me a rich man, in things the world knows nothing about and can never have, except through Jesus. Secondly, it is a “better” substance. Better than what? Better than anything the world can give or take away from us. Better than all the “goods” we might have lost through following the Lord. Better than the opportunities we might have had to make a fortune in this world. Third, it is an “enduring” substance. It shall never fade, rust, rot, or be stolen. Cars we used to enjoy now sit in some junkyard. Houses that were once the pride of the owner are now being torn down or becoming part of a ghetto. Things in this world do not endure. Even our life is all too short. But we have an enduring “substance.” Fourth, it is a “substance.” It is not a doctrine, a fantasy, a fairy tale, or a wild hope. It is a substance. Something real, more real than the things we see about us. And finally, we have this “in heaven” where no one can take it from us. The Apostle Peter tells us that we have “an inheritance, incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you…ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:4)
The last few verses of this tremendous chapter now encourage the saints to have patience and confidence in that which God is doing. For, he says, there is great reward in this kind of confidence. Some were in danger of casting this confidence away, thus losing their reward. They had, in time past, done the will of God. But it takes patience to then receive the promise. Then he quotes for the Jewish believers a portion of the Old Testament to show them that what he is saying is according to the written scriptures. Verses 37 and 38 are quotations from the prophet Habakkuk. “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back…” Can a man draw back unto perdition? Yes, it is very plain. But we are not of those who do this.
What he is saying to us here is, “hold on, beloved, keep believing and keep pressing on.” It may seem long and hard to bear. But the promise is ours. And the reward is great. We are victors on the field! We cannot see all the results, for we live by faith. We walk by faith. But faith is a substance, a substance of things hoped for. And with these words, we are introduced to the great chapter on faith, chapter 11. Here we have a “Hall of Faith” for those noble patriarchs and saints who endured many afflictions and temptations in their walk with God, yet received a good report. This brief message has only scratched the surface of the great truths here in this glorious chapter 10 but we must leave it with you to dig in and make further study, led by the Spirit. Now we must continue on to the next step in our journey through this great book of Hebrews.
Remember, the Law is a shadow of better things to come. The substance is in Jesus Christ. Only through His precious blood is there salvation from sin. And now the door is open for us to enter the holiest place in God. Therefore, we should consider one another in this body of Christ. The day of the Lord is now upon us. None of earth’s goods are worth holding on to. We have a desire to share what we have with those we love and we have a better substance in heaven. What a Savio ur! How great is our God! And now, let us press on.
BETTER FAITH AND A BETTER PROMISE
We approach God’s great Hall of Faith with trembling hearts as we recognize one of the greatest chapters of the Bible. Many have been the messages written on the subject of faith. I would take several messages to cover the truths contained in this tremendous chapter. But the first strong impression we get as we take a general overlook at this entire chapter is that God deals not with theories, but with men and women of God. The Lord does not spend a lot of time telling us about theoretical doctrines of faith but rather of the exploits of Old Testament saints who were filled with the faith of God. Fifteen of those Old Testament heroes, including two women, are mentioned by name in this one chapter.
Notice that in the first 28 verses we see faith working in the lives of special individuals such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Then, in the next ten verses, it shifts to a view of faith in the corporate people of God in the Old Testament. Moses was the divine catalyst that took the descendants of the sons of Jacob, slaves in Egypt, and made of them one great nation. And, after 40 years of the ministry of Moses, this nation of Israel came forth as a people led by the Spirit, under divine government, walking in obedience and faith, and winning battles by the miraculous power of God. They were feared by all the nations about them; not because of their numerical strength but because of their God and their faith in Him. Finally, at the end of this chapter, we see the emphasis change from the corporate people of God in the Old Testament, to the ultimate purpose of God in a New Testament Church, which becomes a new creation man in Christ Jesus! And just as Moses was the catalyst to bring together one nation in his day, it is Jesus Christ who brings into being this new creation, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar treasure unto God.
I would have you notice all the great exploits accomplished by Old Testament faith; things which the greatest, of modern day evangelists, have not equaled. Oh, things like passing through the Red Sea, bringing down the walls of Jericho, the dead raised, kingdoms subdued, armies defeated, the mouths of lions stopped, and great persecution endured, to list a few. Yet, verse 40 tells us that all these things are inferior to that which God has provided for us, the new creation man. God has a “better thing” for us. Then immediately we go into chapter 12 where it begins to tell us about God’s dealings with His Sons.
NOW FAITH IS
This is universally known as the “faith” chapter, and for good reason. The word “faith” appears only twice in the entire Old Testament, yet is seen 24 times in this one chapter of Hebrews. That is more than any other chapter in the Bible and more times than any other entire book, except Romans. Since this book is written to the Hebrew Christians, who were avid students of the Old Testament, it is an outstanding commentary on the purpose of this book, and this chapter in particular, to see that faith is mentioned twelve times as much in this one chapter as in all the writings of Moses and the prophets combined.
Here we see that the writer of Hebrews, inspired by the Holy Ghost, was leading the people from the old order realm of law into that “better” place of faith and grace. So, he begins at the beginning…the creation. God left unmistakable evidence of His work in creation. Men void of faith still cannot accept the creation story. To them it is a myth and a fable, a superstition carried down from primitive times. But to those who have touched the realm of faith, the creation is seen as a work of God with indisputable evidence to back it up. It is not blind faith to believe what you have been taught. There is actual physical proof of the Genesis account of creation. A man without faith is blind to these facts; blinded by the dark void in his life due to the absence of a living faith.
So, he proves to the Jews that there are some things we understand that are not covered by Moses’ law. It is a higher order than most people in the Old Testament lived under. Yet, he shows that, in spite of the fact that faith was not often preached in the Old Testament days, the greatest men of Israel lived by it. It was the prophet Habakkuk who said, “The just shall live by his faith.” And it was by the power of faith, not law, that Caleb and Joshua brought back a good report from the Promised Land. And because of their good report, produced by their faith, they lived to enter in and possess the land. Praise God!
Both the Amplified and the Wuest translations say that faith is the “title deed” of the things we hope for. Now, when you get a title deed to a property, you know that it belongs to you; although you may be many miles from it and unable to see it. If someone sent you a title deed to 1,000 acres of land in the lush San Fernando Valley of southern California, you would be rich. It might take a long trip and many days for you to get to your inheritance, set your foot in it, and eat the fruit thereof. But every time you looked at the title deed, you would KNOW that it was yours and that you were rich! So it is with faith. There are things in our inheritance we have not yet feasted on or walked in. Yet, we see it in the Word and we believe it. Faith becomes our title deed, letting us know of our riches. Hallelujah!
Many evangelists keep faith on the level of the prosperity cult. If you have faith (and send the evangelist your offerings,) you will drive the finest automobile, live in a plush home, and eat of the fat of the land. If you are deprived, or poor or just do not lust after the material things of the world, it is because you do not have faith they say. To them, faith is only a means of receiving something. But look at Abel’s faith. By faith, Abel offered God a sacrifice. The better your faith, the better your sacrifice to God. And Abel’s sacrifice cost him his life. No, his faith did not make him more prosperous than Cain. But he received something far greater…a witness from God that he was righteous.
So, Abel’s giving faith did not make him prosperous in this world, but it gave him a better and eternal relationship to God. Moffatt’s translation says, “He died, but by his faith he is speaking to us still.”
Enoch did not live in a time or place where faith was being preached. In fact, the word faith does not appear in the Bible until the children of Israel are ready to cross Jordan into the Promised Land, more than 1500 years after Enoch left the earth. Yet, living faith entered his heart to such a degree he believed that he could by-pass the grave and go into heaven without dying. He had no example to follow. No one had escaped death. Men were dying all around him. But faith!
There is a doctrine called “soul-sleep” that teaches we do not go to heaven when we die but our souls lie unconscious in the grave with our bodies until the resurrection. When I asked them about Enoch, they answered that he had died. They said that verse 5 simply states he did not “see” death. That is, he died without being conscious of death approaching and he did not have the usual death pangs. But notice how other translations give us a clearer look at this scripture and expose this false doctrine.
Phillips translation: “It was because of his faith that Enoch was promoted to the eternal world without experiencing death.”
New English Bible: “By faith Enoch was carried away to another life without passing through death.”
Moffatt translation: “It was by faith that Enoch was taken to heaven, so that he never died.”
Amplified Bible: “Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven.”
Some have tried to say that Enoch was a type of the saints who get raptured from the earth before the tribulation. But, I want you to notice that Jesus did not say, “As it was in the days of Enoch, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of man.” What He said was, “As it was in the days of Noah.” Noah escaped the flood and God’s judgments upon the earth in his day by building and entering into an ark; not by being raptured or translated to heaven. Enoch’s translation had nothing to do with escaping judgment as the flood did not come for hundreds of years later. In fact, it was longer from Enoch’s translation to the flood than it is from the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus to this present day. No, he was not a type of the “pre-tribulation rapture.”
It was by faith that Enoch pleased God. That should be the aim of our faith. Jesus lived to do the Father’s will and to please Him. Let the Sons of God who aspire to Christ-likeness have the kind of faith that we see in Enoch. A life void of faith cannot please God, regardless of how many good works are produced. The burden of the writer of Hebrews is to show the Jews that they cannot please God with the works of the law. Only by a life of faith is God pleased. His logic in verse 6 cannot be refuted.
Up to this point, faith has related only to God’s dealings with an individual. But beginning in verse 7, we see other people, plus the animal creation, saved through the faith of this one man. Now it does not say that Noah was warned by faith. We do not know the means by which God warned Noah of the judgments coming. It may have been by a dream, a vision, an angel visitation, audible voice, or a prophetic word coming to his spirit. But we know that God spoke to him. “And God said unto Noah…” (Genesis 6:13) Verse 7 in the Amplified Bible says, “[Prompted] by faith Noah, being forewarned by God concerning events of which as yet there was no visible sign, took heed…”
So, when Noah started building an ark, there was no visible reason for him to do so. Does this sound like God’s dealings with you at times? Times were good, the crops were bringing in plenty, and men were building houses and looking toward a safe and secure future. How foolish Noah must have looked! But he had heard from God. Yet, even that was not enough. Hearing from God is one thing, but having faith to act upon that word is an entirely different matter. I wonder just how many there are who had a word from God yet continue to live in spiritual poverty because they would not move out in faith on that word. It might look foolish to family and friends. That did not stop Noah. It was not his hearing that built the ark, but his faith.
Yet, his faith came by hearing the word. One creates, the other performs. Both are necessary. Many people have faith in certain doctrines that are false. This is faith created by something other than the Word of God. And it will not perform. When movements and churches and leaders come crashing down, the people’s faith is smashed; and in the midst of the chaos they wonder, “what happened?” They had faith, but they had not heard from God. They were following the teachings of men or the deceptions of devils. This kind of faith cannot produce. Real living faith comes by hearing the word of God. Noah heard from God and his faith saved his house.
This portion needs an entire book written about it. But let us, for now, just skim through and hit the high spots. Here was a man who lived in the midst of a people that followed Nimrod and built the tower of Babel. Yet, he walked with God and saw a higher realm of life than this earthly creation. His vision went far beyond any earthly city, even of Babylon with its hanging gardens.
The word of the Lord came to him to leave his family, friends, home, and go where? He wasn’t told. Just go. And he went. But it was an imperfect start. His father went with him. This was not in the contract. Not even Lot was in the call. But they went. By the time they got close to the Promised Land, but not quite in it, Abraham’s father was ready to settle down. So, he built a city and called it after the name of his other son, Haran, who had died in Ur of the Chaldees. Many people are like that, especially religious leaders who have not heard the call of God. They recognize the anointing upon those who have heard from God and they want to go with them. But they want to go only so far, not all the way. Soon they settle down to build their own little kingdom, making it just like something they left behind in Babylon.
Terah, the father of Abraham, died in Haran. He had built himself a city. His progress had stopped there and he died there. Now, let me share a peculiar and hidden truth with you. Genesis 11:26 and 32 tells us that Abram was born when Terah was 70 years old and that Terah died in Haran at the age of 205 years. This would make Abram 135 years old when his father died. Now, Genesis 12:4 says that Abram was 75 years old when he left his father and departed from Haran. But, Acts 7:4 tells us that Abram did not leave Haran until his father was dead. Is this a mistake? No, the Word of God does not make mistakes. It is simply telling us that Terah was dead to God and to Abram for 60 years before they finally buried him. Oh yes, he walked around on the earth until he was 205 years old. But when Terah was 145 years old, settled in Haran and determined to go no further in God’s promises, the call of God burned in Abram’s heart until he had to count his father dead to him and to the purposes of God. So Abram, “when his father was dead,” (Acts 7:4) departed Haran and followed the call of God. By faith. Yes, faith will separate you from those who settle for less than God’s best. It separated me from a Pentecostal denomination, the only religious fellowship I knew anything about. I did not know where I was going; only that I had to follow the call of God. And even though Terah lived until Abraham was 135 years old, and until his son Isaac was 35 years of age, I never see Abraham visit his father again, not for a family reunion, nor to show him the promised child, Isaac. As far as Abraham was concerned, Terah was dead. Can you see, dear one, that this is the life of faith?
In 1958, while we were living in Kansas and going through great trials of faith, the general superintendent of the denomination I had left wrote me a warm and gracious letter inviting me to come back into the fold. But I could not return. My “Terah” had died to me. I could not go back to that which I had buried. I had to go on in God. Was Abraham bitter at Terah, his father? Of course not! Neither am I bitter at those I had to leave behind in their “Haran.” But only those who truly hear the call of God will go on to the fulness of His purposes.
Lot left Haran to go with Abraham. He is like those who want to go all the way into the Promised Land, but only for personal gain. And they end up losing all. We see that God would not take Abraham into the mountains and show him his inheritance (Genesis 13:14) until after he had separated from Lot. The desire for self gain and profit must go from us before we can even see our inheritance clearly.
Besides faith and vision, the thing that stands out in Abraham’s life is his great obedience. When it came to leaving family and home, he obeyed. When it came to offering his son Isaac upon an altar, he obeyed. He must have had a tremendous confidence that he was truly hearing from God. Much of this comes by experience with God, by walking with Him until you know Him so well that other voices cannot fool you. It does not come easy, that I can tell you.
In 1949, I heard the Lord say to me, “Go to Florida.” I knew no one in Florida, had no invitations to come that way. I had only one man’s name and address and he wouldn’t answer my letters when I wrote him. I had just bought a home in Springfield, Missouri, was a pastor of a church in the Springfield section of our denomination, had two more years of post-graduate work paid for in a local Bible school, and roots were deep. But I heard from God. We had two small children and my wife was six weeks away from having the third one. But we left for Florida. When we arrived in St. Louis to bid farewell to my wife’s parents, we had $4 (four dollars) to make the trip. We told no one of our need, but God knew. We determined to start for Florida and go as far as our $4 would take us. But God determined to take us to Florida. We had exactly $4 when we arrived in Florida, knowing no one, and no place to sleep. Three nights later I was preaching a revival in a church I ended up pastoring. The path from then to now has been long, painful, and glorious. It has proven one thing for sure…the path of obedience is the only way to go. Hallelujah!
Forgive me for the personal reference to my own experiences, but God used men’s experiences in this chapter to explain how faith works. And I know more about my own experiences than I do anybody else’s. One more…
In early spring of 1962, I heard God say to me, “It’s time for you to move back to Springfield.” At the time, I was co-pastoring a church in Louisiana. We were living in the rear of the church, in the old Sunday school rooms. We had no money and hardly an income. Now, there was my wife and I and our four children. I wrote to a Christian real estate agent in Springfield and asked him if he had a large house for sale. I wanted a basement for my printing press and a large living room for prayer meetings and services. In a few days, I had a letter saying there was a house on North Grant Avenue available. No other details. I had never seen the house, did not know exactly where it was. God spoke and said, “This is the house I want you to buy.” At the time I could not have raised more than $10. I phoned the real estate man and told him I would buy the house, send me the contract and tell me how much down payment was needed. I decided that if I was really hearing from God, He knew about the money needed and would supply when due. The contract came for me to sign with a note that I could get the house at no down payment on a G.I. loan and I would have about $300 due in closing cost. I signed the contract and that week I had two letters from two preachers. One was on the west coast and his letter contained a check for $200 saying that it was for a need I had. It was the first, and only, time he sent me an offering. The other letter was from a missionary on the foreign field who sent a check for $120. The $20 was for tapes I was to send him and the $100, he said, was to go on a house I was going to buy. No one knew of our plans except my wife and I and the real estate agent, not even our children. If that wasn’t enough, I had two letters from prophets with a word to make the move. One of them even named the city, Springfield, twice in the prophecy. It took several miracles of supply but we moved to 1910 North Grant and have lived here since August 1962. We shook and we trembled at times, but we obeyed. Glory to God, it works!
DWELLING IN TABERNACLES
Verses 8, 9 and 10 constitute one of the mountain tops of scripture. They tell us that Abraham was called, he obeyed, and he did not know where he was going. Then it goes on to say that it took faith for him to stay in that land. There were enemies every where. There was always the temptation to build himself a city, with high walls to keep out the enemy. That’s what every religious movement seems to end up doing, from the historic churches, fundamentalists, Pentecostals, business men’s groups, and what have you. But Abraham avoided that trap because he had already seen the plan of God. He had seen the city of God and nothing he could build would come close to comparing with that. I have been asked at times to either join or start a “fellowship” of end-time bodies. But friends, I have caught a vision of the great body of Christ on earth. I have seen how it operates and had a glimpse of its glory. I cannot settle for anything less. No man can build this thing. God is building it Himself! And I promise you that I will have no part in creating or belonging to any denominational hierarchy over a group of local churches. I will minister to, and help straighten out the affairs of, any local church that invites and accepts my ministry. But I will not be a “lord” over God’s heritage. Jesus is the Lord; and He alone is the head of His church.
Not only Abraham, but Isaac and Jacob as well, dwelt in tabernacles (tents) and none of them ever built a city. They always had their tent stakes ready to pull up if and when God called. And Sarah, bless her heart! She watched faith work in this husband of hers until she appropriated enough faith of her own to give birth to a son when she was 90 years old. She held on to the promise of God and judged God faithful. Has God given you a promise? Have confidence that God is able to fulfill it.
We dwell in “tents” (temporary dwelling places, always ready to move on) because we see no permanent kingdom in this realm of life as we know it now. There is a progressive unfolding of the purposes of God and each revelation causes us to pull up some stakes and move on. Hebrews 13:14 tells us that here (on this present realm) we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. This is what kills every denominational system. As soon as it organizes into a man-made order, it builds a city, lays a strong foundation, puts up its doctrinal walls, it stagnates. There is an order of God that goes far beyond anything that can be produced within this Adamic structure. That is God’s order, the city of God, and we must attain to it.
A BETTER COUNTRY
In verse 12, it speaks of the seed of Abraham as being “as the stars of the sky” and “as the sand which is by the sea shore.” This speaks of both the spiritual and natural seed of Abraham. Yes, God is interested in both. It was through the natural seed of Abraham that God brought Jesus into the world. But, it was through Jesus that God brought the spiritual seed of Abraham into the world.
The next verse tells us that these heroes of faith did not receive the “promises.” They saw them “afar off” and they embraced them. Wuest translation says, “These all died dominated by faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off and greeted them.” The Amplified Bible says, “These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith...” Yes, they were a long way from perfection, a great distance from the ultimate that God has purposed for His people. But they saw it and greeted it. Glory to God! It is there, folks, I know it is there for us! Have you seen and greeted it?
“…and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Verse 13) They confessed it. Let the people of the world enjoy the things of this world. Don’t envy them. It is their world, their age. We are strangers in this place of death, sin, and decay. Our citizenship is in a realm of life where there is no defeat, no pain, no sin, and no death. Philippians 3:20-21 tells us that this present life is a place of humiliation for us. Wuest translations says that Jesus Christ “shall transform this body of ours which has been humiliated by the presence of indwelling sin and by death and decay, so that it will be conformed to His body of His glory.” Yes, we are citizens of life, living in a foreign land; and we are humiliated when we get sick, grow old, die and decay because we do not belong to such a state. Now our time has arrived. We have desired “a better country” and it is finally at hand. Praise the Lord! God is glad to have this kind of people claim Him as their God. “God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city.” (Verse 16) And the truth of it is…they are that city.
Verses 17, 18 and 19 deal with Abraham’s great trial of faith when he had to take his son Isaac to a mountain and offer him for a sacrifice. This was something he could not understand. God wants a human sacrifice? It went against everything that Abraham knew about God. Have you ever faced a test that went contrary to everything you believe about God and His ways? Well, Abraham could not anticipate what God had in mind. Abraham had a solution figured out, but God had a different plan. Don’t try to second guess the Lord but learn to hear and obey.
FROM FAITH TO EXPERIENCE
There is a tremendous truth contained in this 11th chapter of Hebrews that we must understand if we are to know the difference between revelation and reality. Many misguided souls think, because they have a revelation from God and have seen some glorious truth, they can now claim to have entered into that realm in experience and reality. Therefore, they claim to be “manifested sons,” immortal, infallible, kings, equal to Jesus Christ, etc., and are bringing great reproach upon the true end-time message. Because of these loud and boastful claims, many sincere, truth-seeking people are shying away from any mention of “Sonship,” “the man child company,” “immortality,” “the life message,” “Christ in you the hope of glory,” and other glorious truths that we all should be pressing into.
This chapter of Hebrews brings out very clearly the difference in seeing the promises of God and entering into them in reality and fulness. Verse 13 tells us that these heroes of faith, died in faith. “…not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…” The Amplified Bible expresses it like this, “These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith...” It goes on to say in verses 39 and 40, “And all of these…did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised, Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].”
A VISION OF PERFECTION
The promises they had seen and embraced involved perfection in spirit, soul, and body; as well as victory over all our circumstances. We know that we have deliverance from the guilt, penalty, and dominion of sin over us through the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have obtained eternal life. Praise God! “By His stripes we were healed!” Perfection is not attained by an imperfect, decaying, dying body receiving a healing upon occasion, when needed. Perfection is when death has been defeated and destroyed and there are no more sick bodies to be healed. Right here, on this earth, my friends.
The fact is, these heroes of faith had seen God’s promises and embraced them; and their faith in God’s promises caused them to do enough exploits to fill the pages of the Old Testament. 1 Peter 1:12 tells us that the prophets of old searched to know the time when these things would come to pass, “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven...”
ABRAHAM AND HIS SEED
Turn with me to Galatians 3:16, 18, 29. “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ…For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise…And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” So, the promise of the inheritance was given to Abraham and to Christ (the many-membered corporate body of Christ.) Abraham and the saints of old SAW the promise by faith; but it is the glorious body of Christ that receives and WALKS in that promise in reality.
1 Peter 1:3-5 tells us that “…we have been begotten again unto a living hope…To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” The Amplified Bible says, “guarded (garrisoned) by God’s power through [your] faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time.” Glory to God! Our inheritance is a final deliverance (salvation) from every trace of curse of sin and every earthly bondage. It is ready to be revealed! Jesus said, “It is finished!” The saints of old saw it by faith, but they did not enter in, because it was waiting for “the last time.” We are now living in that “last time” and can expect the fulfillment of this promise.
POSSESSING THE LAND
In Genesis 13, we read where God took Abram into the mountain and told him to look north, south, east, and west. All that he saw on that day became his possession, by promise. But the heathen still lived in it. And, when Abraham’s wife, Sarah, died at 127 years of age, he had to buy a field from the children of Heth in which to bury her. He possessed the land by promise and he lived in a small part of it, but it remained for the twelve tribes of Israel to possess it in fulness. God gave me a poem one time about God giving Abram everything he could see and I would like to share the first 3 verses of it here with you.
“Abram climbed the highest hill,
To talk to God one day;
To find the will of God for him;
To hear what God would say.
The plains of Jordan, the hills, the valleys,
All lay beneath his view;
And then God spoke, “You see this, Abram?
I’m giving this to you!
Because you heard the voice of God,
And hearkened to His call;
You left your home, possessions dear,
Your family, your all…
Now look, my son, what I shall give
To him who’s true to me;
Look north, and south, and east, and west;
As far as thou canst see.
The day is clear, the mountain high;
Thine eye is sharp and keen;
The fertile fields, the wooded hills,
The rivers fresh and clean;
All is thine that thou dost see,
With faith this day to claim;
The vision God hath given thee
Shall stand…in His great Name!”
When God promised the land to Abraham, it was according to what he could SEE. But when the children of Israel were ready to enter the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, God promised to give them according to what they WALKED in. (Joshua 1:3)
When Joshua took the people across Jordan, they didn’t buy any land from the children of Heth, or anyone else. They broke down the walls of Jericho, burned the city of Ai, conquered the land, and dwelt in it. They divided the land according to tribes, built cities, planted crops, and destroyed the enemy. Although Abraham could see the land that God had given him, the enemy still dwelled in the land with him. But God’s instructions to Israel were to utterly destroy all the nations that had formerly occupied the land.
You may see the glorious promises of God, dear one, and you may even taste the first fruits of the land and dwell there in a tent. But the enemy is there with you. Death, pain, sickness, afflictions, discouragement, fear, poverty, and many other enemies still dwell here with the best of saints; even those with great vision of God’s eternal purposes. We talk grandly about the beautiful heaven that God has prepared for His own. And surely, heaven is wonderful. But here on earth is where the enemy dwells, where the warfare has been going on since Adam. And it is here the victory must be won and demonstrated for the glory of God! It is here that His purposes will be worked out in the lives of His people. We must, in reality and experience, walk out the revelations and truths that have been revealed in His precious Word throughout the ages.
THE HEAD AND THE FEET
“…The head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of You.” (1 Corinthians 12:21) 1 Corinthians 12:20 says that Christ is a many-membered body and verse 27 tells us that we all are members of that body. The eyes and ears are in the head and they see and hear the divine promises of God. But it takes the feet to walk in those promises. So, the head cannot say that it does not need the feet. Neither can you say, because you have seen some divine revelations, you do not need to actually walk in those truths and produce the reality of what you have seen. Yes, it is necessary. The promise was given to Abraham, “what you can see is yours.” But, the fulfillment of that promise was given to the children of Israel, “Wherever you put your feet belongs to you.”
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) Let me assure you, it is necessary for us to SEE what God is doing, and to know in the Spirit what He has purposed in the earth. But, here is an “also.” We must “also” WALK in what we are seeing. Thi s is the difference between revelation and reality. This is where many have gone astray and fallen. They think because they have seen something, it is automatically working in them. The head and the feet are two separate parts of the body and we need them both. The feet won’t know where to go without the eyes. And the eyes can only look upon the promises, but never reach them, without the feet.
SEEING THE PROMISES
We can look at the life of Abraham and see what the realm of revelation will do for a man’s life. First of all, hearing the call of God (Genesis 12:1-4) and seeing the divine promises (Genesis 13:14-15), causes faith and obedience to come alive within. “By faith Abraham…obeyed.” (Hebrews 11:8) It takes a living faith to obey the leading of the Spirit. The instructions of the Lord go against our natural desires and the will of the flesh. The Spirit leads to the cross. The flesh fights for self-preservation (the first law of nature.) The law of the flesh is to fight for “number one.” The law of the Spirit is to do the will of God regardless of where it leads us or leaves us. And beloved, if you are seeing the true message of God for this end-time, it will be manifested through a life-changing faith and a greater obedience to God than ever before. Not after we all get to heaven, but now, right here on this earth. Before you ever come into the fulness of the promise, and before the inheritance is entered into, you can start having a changed life because you SEE the real truth of God. That is what true revelation will do for you.
A RIGHT SPIRIT
Look at Abraham and see what his vision produced in him. Trouble started between Lot and Abraham. The herdsmen, those on the servant level, began to fight one another. But Abraham, with the spirit of the Son, said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between me and thee…FOR WE BE BRETHREN.” He recognized that the land was full of enemies and they had no business fighting and devouring each other. So, he offered Lot first choice of the land. This may not have been good business principles, according to the world’s standards, but it was a right spirit. And God judges us according to the attitude of our spirit. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.” (Psalm 51:17) And the Lord speaks through the prophet in Isaiah 57:15 to say, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit...”
One who says that he has received the revelation of Sonship, and still has a proud and haughty spirit, is only manifesting that he has not seen the real message of life. A real unveiling and unfolding of present truth will impart to you the spirit of the Son of God. Guard your spirit. No matter that people will not believe your doctrine. Your responsibility is to see that your spirit is in harmony with God. No strife with your brethren. Declare what God has shown you, but keep your spirit right. There are things that some of my brethren are preaching that I cannot receive, because I do not believe it is in the Word of God. But if I let my own spirit become contaminated because of this, with bitterness or malice, then I am out of order and in trouble with God. Jesus denounced the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, called them a generation of vipers, and refused to join up with their religious system. He wept over their blindness but He kept His spirit pure. His attitude toward them was love and compassion, in spite of the fact that He opposed what they were doing.
A ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Abraham’s faith may not have brought him into the fulness of the inheritance; and it may not have given him victory over physical death, but it brought him into a realm of righteousness that other men did not know. Romans 4:9 says, “…faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.” His vision of God’s purposes gave him a relationship with the Lord that cleansed him from the sin of the heathen nations around him.
Please don’t tell me that you have a pure revelation of what God is doing in the earth, while you are content to be living an impure and sinful life. True vision will change your life. It will cause you to hunger after righteousness. Jesus had the strongest, purest insight into the truths of the Kingdom of God of any man that ever lived. And He also had the purest, cleanest life of any. “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8) The kind of faith and vision that Abraham had will produce righteousness.
A NEW WORD
As with Abraham, the revelation of divine purpose will bring to us a word of life. In Genesis 22, Abraham spoke a word to the young men servants, “I and the lad will go yonder, and worship, AND COME AGAIN TO YOU.” In the face of God’s directions to slay Isaac on that mountain, Abraham was declaring that they both would come down from their worship. Because he had a divine revelation that his seed was to come through Isaac, and was to bless the nations, he could speak a word of faith in the dark hour of death. To Isaac he said, “My son, God will provide…” That was a living word of faith.
When the true message of the body of Christ and the Kingdom of God breaks upon us, it gives us a word that cannot be refuted. I am not the smartest man in the world, by far, and certainly not the best preacher; but when the revelation of Sonship came, I preached it openly and boldly to preachers and teachers in camp meetings all across this country. True vision will give you a true word. Because our vision is limited, our word also is limited. We don’t have all the answers but what we do know, we really know. That is why we need the rest of the body of Christ. Don’t depend on following one isolated man or ministry and expect to have a full understanding of God’s purposes for this age. God is spreading His truth throughout the body, to force us to come together because our mutual need of each other.
This is a word that comes by “seeing” the promise and it is a word that does its work in us NOW. I’m not talking about after we are glorified, resurrected, gone through the veil, etc. If you have the true message of Sonship, you will be able to speak life. Words of criticism, gossip, lying, backbiting, discouragements, etc., are products of poor spiritual vision. When you see the inheritance, as Abraham did, your tongue will come under submission to the Holy Spirit.
NEW LIFE—NEW FRUIT
It was physically impossible for Abraham and Sarah to produce a son. But they had a revelation from God, a vision of His purposes for them. Here on this hard earth, with its facts and its logic, in the midst of their enemies, they were participants in the impossible. True vision brought forth new life and fruitfulness. Isaac became a reality. Out of the deadness of their bodies came fruit…the son of promise.
True vision and real revelation will produce fruit in your lives. Now, here, on this earth, with all its problems. Jesus said in John 15:8, “herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” And when a branch bears fruit, He purges or cleanses it that it may bring forth more fruit. How does He cleanse it? With the water of His Word. Glory to God! The true message will cause you to bear fruit. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) will come forth from your life in abundance. The winning of souls will become a normal part of your life.
What is the Isaac, the son of promise, that God wants from your life? It will come, in spite of every earthly and physical hindrance, as you let the floodlight of God’s end-time purposes fill your soul. A true vision may take 25 years, as with Abraham and Sarah, but it cannot be denied. A prophetic word may take ten years to come to pass, as with my writing. The promises will come into manifestation.
DON’T WAIT TILL TOMORROW
You don’t have to wait till heaven, or the “rapture,” or the manifestation of Sonship to enter into the blessings of the end-time move of God. Some have criticized the Sonship message claiming that we are always looking ahead to another day and not doing anything about “today.” And yet, in most cases, those who criticize are doing far less today than the “visionaries” they talk about. Yes, the message of “tomorrow” does something for you today. Your life will change in many ways. You may not have received the fulness of the inheritance yet and you are not obligated to make great boastful claims. But your vision and your revelation will bring you closer to our Lord Jesus, more conformed to His image, and more fruit for His glory. Hallelujah!
WALK IT OUT
What about the reality of His promises? When shall we enter into the fulness and what will it do for us? When? “In the fulness of time.” God has a time table and He is not one bit behind schedule. He will not be late. He is not in a hurry. Everything is working exactly as He planned it in the beginning. We are a privileged people to be living in this last hour when the prophecies of the end-time are coming to pass.
What is it that the “feet company” actually walks out in experience when the day of manifestation comes to pass? Let us turn our attention now to Israel. Standing here on the banks of Jordan (Joshua 3) was the many-membered Son that God had called out of Egypt. (Hosea 11:1) It was not an individual, now, who was “seeing” the promised land; but it was a holy nation, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) that was about to put their feet on the soil of God’s Canaan.
But “death” had to first be defeated for them. The river Jordan (a symbol of the waters of death,) was flooding its banks at this time of harvest. On the shoulders of the priests, the Ark of the Covenant first went down into the waters. As the feet of the priests touched the water, the waters rose up as if held back by a great dam. This cut off the waters below and 2,000 cubits behind the Ark the people of God crossed over on dry land. Now, 2,000 years after our living Ark (Jesus) defeated the powers of death, we prepare to cross over, putting death under our feet. There must be a victory over death for the firstfruits company before our feet can walk in all the promises of God. I know that death is the last enemy to be destroyed. (1 Corinthians 15:26) And, before it is destroyed for the whole human race, a company of overcomers must demonstrate the victory over him who had the power of death, the devil. (Hebrews 2:14)
To defeat death, sin must already be dealt with. This is not the Passover. The Passover was when Jesus died on the Cross and our sins were covered by His blood. But this is the Day of Atonement when all sin is removed from the human heart; and the carnal Adamic mind is replaced by the mind of Christ. Yes, we have already confessed these things; but it has been a confession of faith, for we have not seen it work. Saints are still subject to temptation and sin and they still die the same as sinners. The Day of Atonement removed all this and with that comes the victory over death. The Overcomer then eats the hidden manna. (Revelation 2:17) That means, there will be no more eating of the bread of healing for them because there will be no sickness to heal. Divine life and divine health will be ours to enjoy. He will manifest His grace and love toward us and through us during the ages to come. (Ephesians 2:7)
Yes, the Israelites crossed over Jordan dry-shod and so shall we. It was a day of miracles; no one could have managed that in the natural. They knew that God had done it. There will be no boasting from those who pass through the veil into never-dying life. For all will know that it is not by the accomplishments of man, but only by the grace of our wonderful God. Praise His Name!
THE WALLS OF JERICHO FALL
Immediately upon entering the Promised Land, they found themselves in great conflict. If you think that the coming of Jesus is going to zap you out of this world, off this planet earth, and place you in a nice quiet garden to meditate, then you have not seen the purpose of God in His church. The gates of hell shall fall before His church, just as the walls of Jericho fell before Israel. With the appearing of Jesus, Jordan shall be crossed over and the real battle of the ages with principalities and powers shall begin.
Every enemy shall be put under our feet. No cancer, no crippling affliction, nor any power of darkness shall stand before those who have crossed Jordan. Jesus was our example of one who walked in the inheritance, just as Abraham was one who saw it. Never a mistake in His life, never a failure in His ministry. Oh friends, what God hath planned for us!
I am convinced that there will be a revival, an evangelistic sweep, that will touch every country, province, city, village, and individual before it is finished. I feel I have heard from God that the thrust and heart of this revival will come from those who have crossed over Jordan and started walking in the promises that Abraham saw. You will notice that the walls of Jericho fell through their willingness to remain silent and just walk…until the day of the shout. Then they all shouted together. So shall it be today. We are silent, as it were, producing nothing in comparison with what we ‘see.’ But we shall walk in the inheritance. He shall come with a “shout.” Praise God! The walls shall come down with a crash and Babylon shall fall. Every enemy shall be destroyed. It is the day of the Lord’s vengeance of His temple. (Jeremiah 50:28)
A PERMANENT LIFE IN CANAAN
Back in the 13th chapter of Numbers, we find a ruler from each of the twelve tribes of Israel making a journey into the Promised Land to spy out the land. It was the time of the first-ripe grapes. (Verse 20) They could not, at that time, stay in the land and make it their home; they could only taste of the first fruits of the land. So it is with us. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we have the first fruits; but we do not have the full inheritance. Romans 8:23 says in the Amplified bible, “…we ourselves too, who have and enjoy the firstfruits of the [Holy] Spirit [a foretaste of the blissful things to come] groan inwardly as we wait for the redemption of our bodies [from sensuality and the grave, which will reveal] our adoption (our manifestation as God’s sons).” Then in Ephesians 1:13-14 the Amplified Bible makes it so plain when it tells us that we have been “…stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit. That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.”
Joshua and Caleb, a type of the Pentecostal saints who saw more than just a first fruits, tried to get the people to go in and possess the land. But those other ten “Pentecostal preachers” said, “No, we cannot go any further. It is dangerous. We might get into false doctrine, go off the deep end, and get captured by the giants. We must be satisfied with the first fruits, stay here and wait for the resurrection or the rapture.” Sound familiar? Not only would they not go in, but they were ready to stone those who suggested they should possess what God had promised. Those leaders died in the wilderness; and only those who had faith to press on to the fulness lived to cross over Jordan.
Friends, we cannot remain forever in the wilderness. Even though we’ve had some wonderful experiences, eaten manna from heaven, drank water from the Rock, and been led all the way by the cloud and the pillar of fire, we must still press our way into our inheritance, the fulness of God. Paul the Apostle prayed for you that “you might be filled with ALL the fulness of God!” (Ephesians 3:19)
Israel conquered their enemies. Then they divided up the land by tribe, built cities, planted farms, and occupied the land. They acted as if they were going to make it a permanent home and not a 90 day vacation! Praise God! What God is bringing us into is for all eternity. Rule and reign with Christ forever. This is what comes by walking in the promises. Seeing the revelation of His Word is wonderful; and if you have a true revelation, it will change your life. But walking in, actually experiencing, these revelation truths brings a fulness and a permanence. Move on, saints! Possess the land! It belongs to you.
So, dear ones, try to recognize the difference between “seeing” and “walking.” These saints in chapter 11 of Hebrews saw the promises and embraced them by faith. But they died without entering in and receiving the promises. That part was left to us, the last day church, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Thank God for the hour in which we live! Be thankful for the God in whom we live and move and have our being.
BY FAITH ABRAHAM
Since so many of God’s glorious truths are invested in the Old Testament men and women of God, and truths so often revealed in their lives, it is no wonder that this 11th chapter of Hebrews contains an abundance of end-time truths. More Old Testament saints are mentioned here than in any other chapter in the New Testament; sixteen are mentioned by name and many others are referenced.
It would be impossible to deal with all the truths contained in this chapter, and that is not really our purpose in this writing. Many are the sermons that have been preached from the text in these 40 verses. You have God’s permission to go prospecting in this rich area, for “there’s gold to be found here!”
One portion we must deal with, before we leave this chapter, is in verses 17-19. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
THE IMPOSSIBLE MIND
Through a miracle of life, God had given Abraham and Sarah a son. A promise had been given, that “in Isaac shall they seed be called.” This was a sure word. God had made Abraham to know that His blessing would not come through Ishmael, son of the servant girl, but through Isaac, son of promise.
Now Isaac is a growing boy. He is not rebellious and troublesome, like Ishmael, son of Hagar the bondwoman; but he is a son in whom his father delights. As Ishmael is a type of Israel under the law, so Isaac is a beautiful type of Christ, the Son of God. The story of Isaac as a burnt-offering is told in Genesis 22. There we see God speaking to Abraham, instructing him to offer Isaac on a mountain in Moriah. Isaac is not told that he is the sacrifice until they reach the top of the mountain. There, I believe, Abraham sat down with Isaac and told him what God was requiring of them both. With Abraham, it was the giving up of his son; and with Isaac, it was the giving up of his life. Because Isaac was a type of Jesus Christ, I believe he willingly agreed to the will of God. Hebrews 11:9 tells us that he was an heir of the same promises as Abraham. So, Isaac was bound and laid on the altar. He was a strong young man, possibly between 25 and 33 years of age; strong enough to carry the wood for the burnt offering up the mountain. Abraham was well over 100 years of age. I cannot accept the thought that Abraham had to overpower him and put him on the altar against his will.
What could Abraham been thinking of at this time? God had given him this son, with the promise that he would carry on the seed line. As of yet, he was not married and had no seed. So, if he were sacrificed, would that not mean the first word was a lie? Abraham operated on the principle that nothing God said was a lie. As far as he could see, there was only one solution. God would raise Isaac from the dead. The book of Hebrews says, in a figure, he did receive him back from the dead. As far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac was dead; in his heart, he had already made the offering. The deed was done. Then God intervened.
WHAT MEANETH THIS
What does this story of Isaac have to do with Jesus Christ, or with our Sonship? First, let us take a review of Abraham in the book of Genesis.
11… Abram is first mentioned in scripture.
12… Abram is called to go into the Promised Land.
13… Abram and Lot are separated.
14… Abram meets Melchisedec, and is blessed by him.
15… God makes a covenant with Abram.
16… Ishmael is born…a human effort to fulfill the promise.
17… At age 99, his name is changed to Abraham. God promises Sarah a son.
18… A son is promised again, he pleads with God for Lot and Sodom.
19… Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
20… Abraham’s lapse of faith at Gerah.
21… Birth of Isaac. Ishmael and Hagar cast out.
22… Isaac is offered on Moriah and resurrected—(in a figure.)
23… Sarah dies and is buried.
24… Abraham sends to get a bride for Isaac. Isaac is married to Rebekah.
25… Death of Abraham, Isaac inherits everything.
Please notice the sequence of events. In chapter 21, when Isaac (Christ) is weaned, Ishmael (the Law) is cast out. Then Isaac is offered as a sacrifice, brought back from the dead in a figure, and in the next chapter his mother dies. Only after this does he get a bride and bring forth seed. God had promised Abraham a seed line through Isaac but it could not come until after his “resurrection.”
For you see, he was a picture of what Jesus Christ was going to do when He came to earth. It has always been God’s purpose (“the eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus”) for Christ to bring forth a seed line of the nature of deity. But he started from an impossible premise. In Abraham’s case, the impossibility was that his wife was 90 years of age and he was nearly 100; both were past the age of bearing children. With Christ, it was that He was starting with a sinful humanity to bring forth a people in the image of God. Most impossible. But He was able to do it by the sacrifice of Himself and by the planting His own divine life, as a seed, in the earth of Adam’s creation.
ONLY RESURRECTION LIFE
Notice that Isaac did not get a bride or have children until after he was “raised from the dead” at Moriah. In a figure, he was a resurrected man. And from this state of being, the nation of Israel was born. In Hosea 11:1, we discover that Israel was God’s “corporate son” in the Old Testament. God referred to the whole nation of Israel as “a child” and as “my son.”
In spite of the false teaching of a very strong religious group, the truth is, our Lord Jesus was never married while here on earth and never had children after the natural order. For 4,000 years, the human race had been bearing the image of Adam their father. “All had sinned and come short of the glory of God” and, there “was none righteous, no not one.” God had determined to have a people in His own image, but Adam could not produce it. They were all of “the earth, earthy.”
Then came the virgin birth and Jesus appeared on the scene bearing the image of His Father. He was the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) He was a new creation. There was not another like Him on the earth. Oh, he was made in the likeness of men and even had the form of a servant. (Philippians 2:7) But, He did not have the sinful nature of the first Adam and would not receive the curse of sin. There is a vast difference. Therefore, He had dominion over all the forces of nature and over all demonic powers.
At this point, God could have said, “This is what I have been looking for; this is the Son in whom I am well pleased. So now, I will find another virgin, bring forth a sinless woman, who can be His bride, and let Him populate the earth with His own likeness while I destroy this wicked humanity.” But this wasn’t the way God had purposed to bring forth a people. In the first place, that would have left us out. And God loved us too much for that. In the second place, every seed brings forth after its own kind; Jesus could only have produced earthly sinless children with the same limitations that He had while He was here in the likeness of men. Being glorified and exalted at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places did not come until after His resurrection. (Ephesians 1:20)
THE SPIRIT POURED OUT
The Sons, that Christ is bringing forth, will not be produced in the image of that man, in his human form, who walked the shores of Galilee. Even that would be wonderful, walking in His holiness, His authority and power, healing the sick and raising the dead. But, He has something far beyond that in mind for us. We read in John 7:37-39, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
Did you get what it said in verse 39? “The Holy Ghost was not yet given.” Doesn’t it say that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb? And even his mother and father were also filled with the Holy Ghost? (Luke 1:15, 41, 67) And, didn’t the Holy Ghost come upon the Old Testament prophets? Then what does it mean that “the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified?” The answer is that John 7:39 is speaking of the Holy Ghost coming into the church for the purpose of producing a many-membered corporate Son in the likeness of Christ with His life and nature. In John 16:7, Jesus tells us that it was necessary for Him to die, to be resurrected and glorified, in order for the Spirit of the glorified Christ to come to us. This image of the glorified Christ is the likeness He is producing in us. Glory to God!
This truth is so clearly brought out in Romans 8:14-15. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (NASB) Now look at verse 15 in the Amplified bible. “For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!” Think of it! We have received the Holy Spirit that produces Sonship in us. But, it is the likeness of the Son who has been resurrected and exalted to the throne which we are to bear. Let us check some other translations to see if we are on the right track.
We are looking at Romans 8:15 here. Moffatt’s translation says, “…you have received the Spirit of sonship.” New English Bible says, “The spirit you have received is not a spirit of slavery leading you back into a life of fear, but a spirit that makes us sons.” Rotherham says, “…but ye have received a spirit of sonship.” And the very accurate Wuest translation says, “…you received the Spirit who places you as adult sons.” You see, the word “adoption” used in Romans 8, Ephesians 1, and Galatians 4 means “to take your own child who has finally come to full maturity, and place him in a place of authority as a full grown son.” By the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been reconciled to God and brought to a new birth. By the outpouring of His spirit, He is producing His own likeness in us, making us mature Sons.
What a powerful and glorious statement is made in 2 Corinthians 8:9 concerning the place to which He would bring us. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” What did it take for Him to be rich? A mansion in heaven? The cattle on a thousand hills? Oh no, my friends, nothing so carnal as that. The thing that made Him rich was “being in the form of God.” Wuest translation of Philippians 2:6 expresses it so strongly. “…did not after weighing the facts, consider it a treasure to be clutched and retained at all hazards, this being on an equality with deity [in the expression of divine essence], but himself He emptied, himself He made void, having taken the outward expression of a bondslave, which expression comes from and is truly representative of His nature [as deity], entering into a new state of existence, that of mankind.” His treasure was ‘being in the form of God,’ and He gave up that treasure in order to make us rich, that is, to share with us that same treasure.
In His prayer in John 17:4-5, Jesus said, “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” What was it that Jesus had before the world began that He did not have while on this earth? It was the glory of “thine own self” or the glory of the divine essence. He “made himself poor,” or gave that up, that He might “make us rich.” Matthew 13:44 tells us He “selleth all that he hath” that He might buy an earthen field in which He had found a treasure. So, because He was willing to make Himself poor, “you are bought with a price.” And He is bringing His purchased possession unto Himself. John 17:22 says the glory which the Father gave Him, He has given to us that He might “make us rich.” “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Or do you really know His grace? Are you willing to believe that He would do such a thing for you? Have confidence in Him. He loves you so much!
BY THE POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE
We already discussed the Melchisedec order in Hebrews 7. We know Jesus is the high priest of that order forever. We also know He is bringing His Sons into that Melchisedec order of king-priest. (Revelation 1:6, 5:10) Notice that the power of this priesthood (Hebrews 7:16) is resurrection life, endless life.
This is why Jesus could not bring forth Sons until after He was glorified. In Hebrews 11:13, 19, we read that the Old Testament saints did not receive “the promise.” They did many great exploits of faith by the power of the Spirit. But they could not produce His likeness or come into Sonship until after He was resurrected. Jesus said, of those born of women, there was none greater than John the Baptist. But John was not as great as the “least in the kingdom.” (Luke 7:28) It is an entirely different realm and goes far beyond being empowered by the Spirit to do mighty deeds of faith.
So, Abraham sent to “a far country” to get a bride for Isaac. He would not accept a bride from the Canaanites that dwelled all around him. They were of a different breed and he wanted a bride from among his own people. He ended up getting a virgin girl from his own kinfolks. Hebrews 2:16 says that Jesus “took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” “He came to His own.” (John 1:11 Amplified) Though in a far country, not in His realm, yet we are His “kinfolks.”
Notice that Isaac would not go to Rebekah’s realm of life; she had to come to him. She had to make a long journey, but it was well worth it. And friends, we have a long journey, with the Holy Spirit to guide us, to get to His realm of life. But it is only then that we can produce His likeness in this earth. “…He tasted death for ever man.” (Hebrews 2:9) Therefore, we don’t have to go through a death, burial, and resurrection to come into this. He is the one who defeated death and He pours this victorious life into us. This enables us to come forth out of the grave, or be transformed here into immortality, by the power of His victory.
This is Sonship. Far beyond anything the human mind can conceive or imagine. Paul heard things concerning this realm that he could not even discuss. (2 Corinthians 12:4) Peter said in 1 Peter 1:3-5, “…according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance…revealed in the last time.”
THE REPROACH OF CHRIST
One of the greatest things said about Moses is (verse 26) that he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. What great faith it took to turn his back on the riches of the mightiest nation on earth at the time. He had a vision of the purpose of God in Christ. He refused to be identified with Egypt’s royalty. He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God. He forsook Egypt and “he endured.” He saw Him who is invisible. (Verse 27)
There is a real blessing of faith in enduring. Many start the race. God will see to it that you are faced with something you must endure. It is part of the victory. It seems that there are always ‘casualties’ and ‘survivors.’ Which group are you in? C an you endure? Do you have a spirit to survive? In order to do so, there must be a forsaking of Egypt and the pleasures of sin. Faith must operate.
So much could be said about Moses and his faith. The stories of Rahab, the harlot, and the men of faith mentioned in the remaining verses are found in the books of the Old Testament. This chapter does not go into detail about their exploits of faith. What is God saying to us here? It is all summed up in the last two verses. “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” “Some better thing.” The perfection, or maturity, of Sonship which we have received had to come through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, of which Isaac was only a type. No matter how great their acts of faith, they could not make it to the promise. Verses 33 through 38 tell of victories of faith beyond anything we see happening about us today. We do not have to compete with those things to receive the promise. We have it in His victory at Calvary and the open tomb. Bless His wonderful Name! There is to be no pride in those who come to maturity and full Sonship, as though they had accomplished something in their own strength. For, “it is not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6) “That no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:29) Hallelujah!
SONSHIP AS A BETTER RELATIONSHIP AND A BETTER KINGDOM
Previous chapters have shown us the passing away of the Law, the futility of further blood sacrifices, the power of a simple faith, and the better realm of the Sonship and priesthood of Jesus. Now we come to the chapter that spells out clearly that Sonship is for us and how to come into it. This is one of the outstanding chapters in the Bible on the Sons of God and the kingdom that shall not be shaken or pass away.
The last two verses of Hebrews chapter 11 make it plain that those heroes of faith won the approval of God but did not come into the realm of perfection that we are speaking about. Let me read that from the Amplified Bible. “And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised, Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].”
Obviously, God has something for us that goes far beyond what can be obtained by faith. It is far greater than opening up the Red Sea, crossing the Jordan River dry shod, calling fire down from heaven, crumbling the walls of Jericho, closing the mouth of lions, and subduing kingdoms. All these things were done by those saints in chapter 11 through the power of living faith. Yet, the perfection, the full maturity of God’s plan, could not come by that. This greater realm had to wait for the Body of Christ to be formed and matured. The birth and formation of that body was not enough. It came forth on the day of Pentecost. But as the Feast of Pentecost so clearly points out, with its bread baked with leaven, the early church was not the perfect order. It was the body of Christ, but it was far from maturity. So, for two days (2,000 years) God has left that body in the earth. Now, in the dawning of the third day, the world is going to discover that the stone has been rolled away and a perfected glorious church without spot or wrinkle has appeared in earth. The garments of religious coverings, that have covered us through the night of the age of darkness, are left in the tomb. They are nicely wrapped and folded in their man-made order, but there is no life in them. A new day has dawned and the real church is coming into visibility.
Chapter 12 starts with a word that ties what it is about to say, with what has just been said in the previous chapter. “Wherefore…” or, because of that glorious witness of those in the faith realm and because the word makes it plain that we have come to something far higher, let us strip off all encumbrances and run the race to win.
These first two verses are beautiful and powerful in the King James but have additional beauty and impact in the Amplified. “THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Wherefore…the gateway from faith to perfection, from heroes of faith to Sons of God. Chapter 11 makes it clear that no one can please God without faith. And those who think they can find the perfection of Sonship without walking it out in the life of faith will find that they have missed the gateway to glory.
The Old Testament saints did tremendous exploits and the key word was “faith.” The end-time Sons of God shall do the “greater works” and the word here is “dominion.” Dominion and authority over all creation was the realm that Jesus walked in while He was on earth demonstrating the power of Sonship. The early church entered only into the firstfruits of this through the power of the Holy Spirit. The apostles continually reminded the churches, in the epistles, that the fulness of Sonship was yet ahead of them. “Praying…that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19) “Till we all come…unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13) “Unto an inheritance…ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1:5) “Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) “…ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit…groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption (the placing as full grown sons).” (Romans 8:23) Wherefore, let us, upon whom the end of the age has come, strip ourselves of all encumbrances and run this race with patience.
A GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES
“A great cloud of witnesses” could also be expressed as “a cloud of great witnesses.” Truly our brothers and sisters, who walked such victorious lives in faith, prior to the day of Pentecost, set us an example. They did not have the baptism of the Holy Spirit as we know it today. They did not know the glory that is now invested in the Body of Christ, except in types and shadows. They had no local churches where they could gather to worship in the Spirit. Their form of worship consisted of a stone altar, a tabernacle, or a temple, depending upon the times in which they lived. Their sins were dealt with at the end of each year as the high priest took the blood of a goat into the Holy of Holies to be placed on the mercy seat. And yet, in spite of walking in the shadows, in spite of the lack of the reality of Christ, they made a full commitment to God by faith, even to the laying down of their lives. And now, being surrounded by witnesses such as these, how much more should we be willing to do? Too often, a few little discomforts and trials of life cause us to complain bitterly and to throw up our hands in abject defeat. God help us to run this race.
Why does the scripture call them a “CLOUD” of witnesses? Throughout the Bible, the term “cloud” signifies witnesses or ministry. In 2 Peter 2:17 and Jude 12, it speaks of false ministries being “clouds without water.” Like the fig tree with leaves but no fruit, they give the appearance of life and ministry but there is no life in them. Proverbs 25:14 says, “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.” What a picture of some present day ministries. Winds of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14) and clouds without water; wanting only to float through the heavens and be seen of man, but no willingness to be a poured out life to bless the body of Christ.
The picture of a true life-giving ministry is found in Ecclesiastes 11:3. “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth...” These are the kind of clouds, or witnesses, we are surrounded with. And these are the clouds that Jesus is coming back with. Many people seem to be waiting to meet Jesus on top of a cloud somewhere a few thousand feet up in the sky. They seem to think it will be one of these natural rain clouds. I would have you notice that the Bible never says Jesus comes “to the clouds” or returns to earth “on a cloud.” The Bible is careful to tell us that He comes “…in the clouds of heaven...” (Matthew 24:30) “…coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27) “…sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64) He is also said to come “…with the clouds of heaven.” (Daniel 7:13) “Behold, He cometh with clouds…” (Revelation 1:7) But never does it say that Jesus returns “to the clouds of earth” or to the natural rain clouds.
In speaking of the fate of those who died in faith and who are now with the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 4:14 tells us when Jesus returns to earth “…even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” Yes, He is coming with clouds and He shall appear in the clouds of heaven, that great cloud of witnesses. Not only those, who were listed by name in Hebrews 11, but many others known only to Him. Faithful witnesses, life-giving ministries, poured out lives…these are His clouds which He wears like a garment of glory. (Revelation 10:1) Yes, when you see Him, you will first of all see Him in them.
WEIGHTS AND SIN
“…Strip off and throw aside…that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us...” (Verse 1 Amplified) Wait just one minute! Is he talking to sinners here or is he addressing Sons of God? How can he be talking to Sons, consecrated saints of God, and dealing with sin which clings to and entangles them? Do you mean that these “super-spiritual, sanctified, manifested untouchables” actually have problems resisting sin just like the rest of us human beings? The fact is that verse 1 is speaking to the most spiritual of God’s people and they are just as human as the rest of us. There are no “untouchables” in the Adamic race. Take a close look at chapter 11 and you will find those heroes of faith mentioned by name produced such sin as drunkenness, lying, unbelief, scheming, stealing, disobedience, murder, adultery, and revealing the source of God’s power to the enemy. These sins did not come from the Philistines or Amalekites but from God’s choicest servants. Why did God record their failures for us to see? To let us know that none of us are above being tempted to do the same; and that we be not high-minded but realize our hope of real holiness is in Jesus Christ. Only by the grace of God can we overcome the enemy’s subtle attacks. We do not condemn Samson, David, and the rest of those precious people. We see some glorious victories in their fight against sin. But, as we approach the realm of Sonship, we cry out for the power to obey verse 1 and “lay aside every weight…and sin.” The example we have as Sons is not found in chapter 11 of Hebrews but in the life of Jesus Christ. In His life, there was no failure, no clinging sin to be cast aside. He was stripped when He came into the world, stripped of everything except the nature of His Father. And through exceeding great and precious promises, (2 Peter 1:4) we are also made partakers of that same nature.
So, be patient and loving and forgiving with those who still manifest the weakness of the human flesh. And, set for our own personal goal the perfection of Jesus the Son of God; stripping ourselves of all that would hinder our attaining that goal.
RUN WITH PATIENCE
There is a race set before us. We have too many people who seem to think it is a 50-yard dash. These come streaking through the heavens like a comet, making a big blazing light for a season, then disappearing into oblivion. “Mushroom Christians.” They pop up all of a sudden, are “experts” on any spiritual subject, in submission to no one, and just as suddenly they are gone. In the U.S. Marines we had some young officers who had taken a three month course in military technique; they had no leadership experience, and no combat. Yet, they came flying in with their shiny new second Lieutenant gold bars, giving orders to the troops. We called them “90-day wonders.” There are far too many of these in the army of God.
Some of our young officers in the Marines grew up quickly, under fire, in combat. And God is putting some young recruits in the midst of hot spiritual battles to mature them quickly for leadership in the Kingdom of God. But, his training is a time when much patience is needed. It is a race where endurance is a necessary quality. We are constantly being bombarded by young zealots who declare all we need is “faith” and we can enter all the promises of God. In this computerized age of instant everything, there are those who want “instant sainthood” and immediate Sonship. It doesn’t work that way. Back in Hebrews 6:12 we read that we are to be “followers of them who through faith AND patience inherit the promises.”
Salvation from sin is not a prize to be won in a race. It is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. The prize of the high calling of God (Philippians 3:14) is not heaven. There is a race to be run and a prize to be won. It is to overcome and sit down with Him on His throne. Glory to God, what a promise!
LOOKING UNTO JESUS
As we run this race, we must keep our eyes upon the goal…Jesus…who is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Now there is a false doctrine that uses these terms trying to prove that Jesus was the first Adam as well as the last Adam. They say He was the one who fell in the garden of Eden; and God is giving him a second chance to come back and overcome temptation and redeem His people. That doctrine is false, right from the pit. Jesus was not the first sinner, the one who brought death upon the human family, and chaos upon creation. Scriptures, such as: “Adam…the son of God.” (Luke 3:38); “…the last Adam…” (I Corinthians 15:45); “…the beginning and the end…” (Revelation 22:13); etc., are twisted to put the blame for original sin upon our Saviour. Jesus was the Lamb without spot or blemish. Adam reincarnated could never be the offering for our sin because he was not without blemish.
Looking unto Jesus! What a strength to keep us going in troubled times! Such a sight for souls in combat…looking unto Jesus! Back in the days of plowing behind a mule, the farmer was trying to teach his son how to plow a straight furrow. “Just set your eyes on a goal on the far side of the field, and keep the mule going straight toward that goal, and when you get across the field you’ll have a straight furrow,” his father said. Well, the young son tried that. He picked out a big brown cow grazing on the other side of the field; but when he got across the field and looked back, he had a very crooked furrow. His goal, the cow, had wandered about in her grazing and he had been following a moving goal. “Wandering stars” are not goals to be followed. “Follow me as I follow Christ,” Paul said. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We can safely keep our eyes upon Him as our goal and our lives will stay on a straight path.
The word “author” here in verse 2 means “leader, originator, source.” All we get in God, we get through and from Jesus Christ. There is no other source of life. Neither Judaism, Islam, Eastern occult philosophies, TM, nor any other religion can produce eternal life. It only comes through the source, Jesus! That is why we look only to Him. There can be no co-existence, no compromise in this fundamental truth. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Narrow minded you say? Yes, narrow is the way and strait is the gate, but it leads to life. Glory to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!
THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM
Jesus had a goal set before Him, a goal that was to bring Him extreme joy. This joy set before Him gave Him strength to endure the awful suffering. He did not let the shame of that cross, hanging naked and condemned before the eyes of wicked humanity, keep Him from attaining that goal. But at least, you say, He can take comfort in the knowledge that He was innocent, wrongfully condemned, and not worthy of the death He suffered. Oh no, my friends, that is not so. He was guilty of death and suffered the penalty that was due Him. In fact, He hung on that cross, guilty of murder, rape, incest, arson, robbery, homosexual vice, and every other sin known to man. They were not His own sins, for He lived a pure and perfect life. But, He voluntarily accepted and took upon Himself every sin committed by human beings from the creation to the great white throne judgment. So, Jesus died for our sins and judgment has been requited. People miss eternal life because they reject the only source of life…the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Does this encourage some to accept Jesus and then continue on in their sin? Of course not! For only those who have not accepted Jesus can feel comfortable in sin. Romans 6:2 points it out so clearly, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” The life of Jesus coming into our hearts wipes out the desire for sin. And we cast from us those sins that so easily beset us.
So, as He hung on that cross for six hours, dying a slow tortuous death, He had become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21) The knowledge of sin (the contact with all the filth of the world) was greater suffering than even the horrible physical pain He endured. But He endured it all for the joy set before Him.
What was that joy? It was “bringing many sons unto glory.” (Hebrews 2:10) It was “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing…holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27) It was in giving to us “…the glory which thou gavest me I have given them.” (John 17:22) And, glory to God, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) No more for Him to accomplish. All the work is done. The wheels of God’s purposes are grinding everything out to the ultimate of what God has ordained and spoken. Nothing can stop it; not the attacks of the enemy, nor the unbelief and apathy of mankind. It has been spoken. The work has been accomplished by Him who endured and it shall surely come to pass. He is not struggling for power or fighting any battles. He sits on the right hand of the throne of God. That simply means He is now in the place of absolute authority. Everything in the lives of men and nations is in His control. He is in complete charge. For those who trust Him, there is nothing to fear. All things work together for our good, to bring us to His highest. We are in His hand.
WHOM THE LORD LOVETH
In verse 3, the writer of Hebrews begins dealing with those who were getting weary with the trials and persecutions. In the Amplified Bible we read, “Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.”
Looking unto Jesus helps us see that our problems are small in comparison with what He endured to bring us to Himself, to Sonship. From this point, the scripture begins to illuminate the truths concerning the source of our chastening. It is not the devil who chastises us, it is God our Father. And it is not because He hates us or is mad at us, but because He loves us and wants to bring us to full mature Sonship. He emphasizes, verse after verse, that chastening is necessary. It is of the Lord and it is a result of our relationship to Him as Sons.
Verses 5, 6 and 7 tell us a great deal about the proper attitude toward chastening. We are not to despise chastening, nor are we to faint because of it. It is a mark of His love and a sign that He has received us as Sons. But neither are we told to enjoy the chastening, but to endure it. Seeing how Jesus endured the cross for us, it seems a small thing for us to endure chastening from our Father. The three verses, beginning with verse 8, are especially eloquent in the Amplified. “Now if you are exempt from correction and left without discipline in which all [of God’s children] share, then you are illegitimate offspring and not true sons [at all]. Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we yielded [to them] and respected [them for training us]. Shall we not much more cheerfully submit to the Father of spirits and so [truly] live? For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness.” This is the purpose of the discipline…that we might share in His holiness, His nature. Glory to God! Rejoice in your chastisements, Sons. It is a means of bringing you into the likeness of your Father.
The next few verses are exhortations for the discouraged, defeated, and downhearted people of God to realize who they are and to rise up in victory. Yield the fruit of righteousness, lift up holy hands, walk in straight paths, follow peace and holiness, stay in the grace of God, and don’t let bitterness of any kind enter your heart. Using Esau for an example, he warns us not to throw away our precious eternal inheritance for one wild fling at sin. This does not mean God will not forgive some truly repentant heart for falling into sin. But there is a danger for those who carelessly trample the precious things of God under their feet; and like Esau they will not be able to repent of what they have done. There is a vast difference between getting caught red-handed in a crime (and being sorry that you got caught) and in having real genuine sorrow over your sin (and repenting and turning away from it voluntarily.) The criminal is very sorry he got caught; wishes he had never committed the crime, because he doesn’t like going to jail. The Christian is sorry he committed the sin; repents and turns away from it, because he knows that it displeases and hurts the One he loves the most. Esau could not find that kind of repentance, though he sought for it. He wanted the benefits of his inheritance; but there was hardness in his heart. His attitude toward the things of God had not changed. This is a warning to us; do not to play around with sin and do not to handle the promises of God carelessly.
YE ARE COME TO MOUNT ZION
The writer of Hebrews is speaking to Jewish Christians. They are proud of their history. The happenings at Mount Sinai are an outstanding part of their national life. It was here the Law was given with much supernatural manifestation of the mighty presence of God. He reminds them what a dreadful and solemn day that was. Then, he points out that we, as Christians, have come to something far greater.
Hebrews is the book of “better things.” Earlier we learned that Jesus was better than Moses, the priesthood of Christ is better than the Law, and that Sonship is better than the realm of Old Testament faith. Now he begins to unveil a better kingdom, one that cannot be shaken.
In verse 18, he describes the awful gloom, darkness, and the raging storm all associated with the giving of the Law at Sinai. They had just come out of Egypt. They were a disorganized bunch of slaves mumbling and grumbling all the way. Here He put the fear of God in their hearts. They could not endure the presence of Almighty God in the awesome glory of His judgmental power. Even Moses, who knew God and had talked with Him before, was “terrified, aghast and trembling with fear.” (Verse 21, Amplified) What he is saying is, “Aren’t we glad we don’t have to face such as this in order to come into our kingdom?”
Now we get a beautiful picture of the realm of the Spirit reserved for us, of those who are there, and a warning that we should not fail to hear Him who speaks from heaven. With the dreadful things that happened at Sinai, God made sure He had their attention so they could hear what He was saying to them. Our calling is much more heavenly, more glorious, and our ears should be even more alert to God’s voice today. Verse 23 in the Amplified tells us, “And to the church (assembly) of the Firstborn who are registered [as citizens] in heaven, and to the God Who is Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous (the redeemed in heaven) who have been made perfect.” Philippians 3:20 also tells us that our citizenship is in heaven. Glory to God. No wonder I don’t feel at home in this old world anymore! I’m a citizen of a heavenly country. (Hebrews 11:16) These scriptures confirm to us that though men’s bodies may lie in the grave, their spirits are in heaven, now made perfect.
We have also come to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant. The Amplified says in Verse 24, “…and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy], a better and nobler and more gracious message than the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance].”
A KINGDOM WHICH CANNOT BE MOVED
The next five verses bring us face to face with one of the most powerful prophecies in the Bible relating to the end-time. After dealing with our personal Sonship earlier in the chapter, and our individual chastening, now he begins to deal with the corporate kingdom of God and the fate of the nations. There is to be a shaking such as the world has never seen before.
First of all, be sure you hear the One who is speaking from heaven. There was judgment for those who refused to hear His voice in the Law. They refused the Law and they were dealt with by the Law. So, let us not refuse the heavenly voice. At the giving of the Law, His voice shook the earth. Now, He will shake not only the earth but also heaven. At the giving of the Law, God dealt with the Adamic race, of the earth, earthy. But in these last days, God will shake the heavens and deal with the principalities and powers in heavenly places. He will cast down the thrones of those who dwell in the heavens, the rulers of the darkness of this age. Yes, satan will be bound. Satan’s kingdom will fall, his power will be destroyed.
Verse 26 quotes from Haggai chapter 2 where God deals with the rebuilding of the temple and gives a promise of the glory of this end-time revival. All of those things made by carnal man will be shaken so that those things brought forth by the Spirit may remain. According to Haggai, the world has never seen anything so glorious as the end-time body of Christ, the restored temple, the dwelling place of God Himself.
This chapter closes with the certain promise that we are receiving a kingdom that is not of man and cannot be shaken. It is far beyond our comprehension to know what He has prepared for us. Therefore, we should have grace to serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. Dear ones, we should never take our God lightly. I shudder when I hear men joke about God in a light and frivolous manner. Sometimes I see the people of God becoming very casual about the presence of God. I have seen them prophesy in such a careless and casual way as though they were sharing the neighborhood gossip over the back fence. These things are sacred and we must hold all the things of God in deep reverence. Remember, our kingdom cannot be moved! What a security that should give us. We do not need to be afraid of the things that are coming upon the earth for nothing is going to shake the kingdom that is ours. Let the kingdoms of man fall, and they shall. Do not fret yourself about them. For you shall speak the word and men shall know that your God reigns!
A CONSUMING FIRE
Fire is light, fire is cleansing, fire is warmth, and fire is consuming. What does God consume? He will consume and destroy all sin, and the curse that is upon the earth through Adam’s fall. He will consume all the Adam that is still in us and bring us forth in His own likeness. Thus saith the Lord!
BETTER ALTAR, BETTER SACRIFICES AND A BETTER CITY
The previous chapter closes with the shaking of heaven and earth, an overall view of the greatness of God’s kingdom; and our receiving this kingdom that cannot be shaken from our God who is a consuming fire. Glory to God, what a vision to set before the church!
Now we come to the last chapter of this great book. It is a chapter of relationships. It deals with our relationship to our brothers in the Lord, to strangers, to husbands and wives, to our elders in the church, and to the Lord.
LET IT CONTINUE
Verse 1, which says, “Let brotherly love continue,” is brought out beautifully in the Amplified Bible. “Let love for your fellow believers continue and be a fixed practice with you [never let it fail].” There are no conditions in this verse; just simply “love the brethren.” “Let it continue” means that it is already there; it was placed in each heart by the Holy Spirit when He comes into that life. How beautiful it was, at conversion, when you rose to your feet from the altar and looked upon the smiling faces of the saints. You felt as though you had never seen such beautiful people and a tremendous love sprang up in your heart for them.
The key to this verse, and to our relationship with our brethren, is “let love continue.” He does not say, “Try to begin loving them.” The Holy Spirit creates a love in our hearts for our brethren in the beginning. The problem is continuing to love them after you know them better and find out some of the weaknesses in their human nature. Rubbing shoulders in a close “family” relationship often causes the sparks to fly. In many modern churches, the only time you see the other church people is for a brief hour on Sunday morning; and the only contact is a possible handshake as you leave. There is no problem getting along with folks like this; you never discover their frailties and personality problems.
But the early church was a close knit family, lined up together against a persecuting world system. They ate together, walked together, suffered together, and laughed together; as well as worshipped the Lord together. In a situation like this, there was ample opportunity for personality clashes and to butt heads over minor differences. The enemy will take advantage, in this type of situation, to destroy love if he can.
What God is doing today, in preparation for great persecution and attacks from the devil, is to bring together local bodies of believers who are bonded together in the spirit as a family of God. So, this scripture begins to mean a lot to us. “Let love of the brethren continue.” In spite of our doctrinal understanding, our differences in age or personality, or our different life styles and appearance, “let it continue.” One thing we are going to find we desperately need in these end-times is the love of our brethren. So let it continue.
People have always been wary of strangers. We seem to fear the unknown. In the large cities, if your brother or son was attacked by thugs, you would rush to his rescue, calling for the police, etc. But if it was a stranger being attacked, the general feeling is to cross the street, turn your head, “don’t get involved.” Generally, we just don’t have a feeling for those who are not our own. This is what makes war seem easier to bear; when those we shoot are just foreigners, aliens, strangers. They appear far removed from being of our family, raised on the same soil.
God’s attitude toward strangers is…extend them hospitality. Thank God, when we were strangers, aliens to His way of life, He took us in, cleansed us, fed us, and made us a part of the family of God. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19) As we bear His image, we should be happy for each opportunity to share our blessings with others in the family of God, even if they are strangers to us. The Amplifi ed Bible expresses it thus, “Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously].” (Hebrews 13:2) This is a qualification for eldership: “given to hospitality.”
Verse 2 (Amplified) continues on to say, “…for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.” I guess if they didn’t know it, there was no way they could verify whether or not these were real angelic beings, or human “angels.” I believe that many of God’s saints have actually had angelic beings in their homes more times than they realize. Many more have had some of God’s special “messengers” (human “angels”) and have been greatly blessed because of it. I know that I asked God for (and received) the privilege of blessing (in the name of the Lord) those who blessed us with their hospitality and gifts. I felt it was my right to do so, and God granted me the authority to bless those who bless His messenger. I have seen spiritual, physical, and material blessings come to many in this way and I am no longer surprised when it happens.
It doesn’t really matter whether or not it is one of God’s heavenly angels or an earthly one. The fact is some angels come wrapped in unusual packages. We’ve had them come in faded blue-jeans, worn out tennis shoes, and oversized coats; some came with long hair and beards. They were sent to us by God. And we loved them.
PRISONERS OF HOPE
Remember that we are speaking of relationships in the body of Christ. When he tells us to feel ‘a oneness’ with those in prison, He is referring to the saints who are in prison, suffering for their faith. We are encouraged to be aware of their sufferings and to support them as if we were right there with them. Many of God’s children in prisons are ill-treated daily, suffering adversity and we are admonished to stand with them and give them strength in the Lord by our prayers for them.
MARRIAGE IS HONOURABLE
The New American Standard Bible says in verse 4, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” The Amplified says it thus, “Let marriage be held in honor (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all things. And thus let the marriage bed be undefiled (kept undishonored); for God will judge and punish the unchaste [all guilty of sexual vice] and adulterous.” What a message from the Word of God for this licentious age in which we live. Let marriage be held in honor and consider it worthy, precious and especially dear. What a fresh reminder.
Marriage has been attacked on every side. People, and courts, are attempting to redefined this God-ordained union between a man and a woman. Religious teachings have attempted to manipulate the lives of men and women offering celibacy as a condition to please God. To be single or married should be the decision of the individual and the call of God on their life. Those who choose marriage are told here that their intimate relationship is honorable so long as they remain faithful. Apostle Paul teaches more about this in other New Testament books.
THE LORD IS MY HELPER
The next subject dealt with here in this scripture is contentment. This is really only possible with those who know they have all eternity to enjoy far better things than earth could ever offer. Therefore, if they have nothing during their whole lifetime of the things men fight for here on earth, what does it matter? To illustrate what I’m saying, think of a young lad sitting at his school desk, bored to tears, waiting 15 minutes for the bell to ring that signals the start of summer vacation. The 15 minutes of boredom compared to a summer of liberty is still a weak comparison to this life and eternity. When I see people, especially children, who are blind, crippled, or in constant pain, my heart really goes out to them in compassion. To know that crippled or retarded children can never enjoy the games and have the fun more fortunate children around them have, is heart rending. But knowing that God has all eternity to make it up to them, and that He surely will, takes the sting out of the hurt.
“Let your way of life be free from the love of money.” No one can really be content if they love money; this disease creates an insatiable thirst that can never be quenched. For one who loves money can never be satisfied. The more he gets, the more he wants. “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10) It is not having money that hurts you, it is loving it. When you can have money without loving it, then you are free to share your blessings with others. Then, God is free to continue to pour out material blessings upon you. He wants you to have plenty; but He does not want you to love it. He wants your love for Himself. Love God. He is your helper. Money can vanish, sometimes overnight; but God will always be there. Having Him is the real true riches of life. When you have Him, there is nothing that man can do to you.
Because of this, I have learned not to be afraid of any man, but only to be sure that I have the Lord on my side. I have had powerful people try to destroy my ministry, and sometimes my life, also. But, as long as I knew that I was walking in the Spirit, and was in the will of God, there was no fear. I volunteered for the Marine Paratroopers in World War II and was sent to the South Pacific. I knew that if we were dropped behind enemy lines we would be the prime targets of the enemy. The thought in my heart was simply, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” (Verse 6) On a ministry trip to New Zealand, my pilot and I were forced down in a light plane during a storm and had to land on a beach. Had it not been for the Lord, it could have turned out to be a serious crash. We got front page headlines in the local newspaper and had national T.V. and radio coverage. When the reporters asked me if I was scared while circling the city in the storm, trying to find a place to land, I had to stop and think about it. I came to the conclusion that fear had not entered into the situation. I told the reporters, “I had a good pilot and the Lord at my side, why should I be afraid?” This is simply the way of life for Sons of God. It is the way of faith.
THOSE WHO HAVE THE RULE
In this 13th chapter of Hebrews, verses 7, 17, and 24 do not set too well with those who don’t believe that God has set leaders in His church with authority to rule. And that word “rule” means “to guide.” 1 Timothy 3:5 says that if an elder cannot “rule” his own house, how can he “take care of” the church of God? To those who are the head of a house, or an elder in a church, and think “ruling” means to boss everyone else around with an iron hand, let me say to you it really means having the responsibility of caring for the members of your family, or the people in your church. And dad, or elder, God will hold you responsible for how you take care of them and guide them through the hard places in life. Those who are called to speak the word of God are to lead God’s people into the good life. In verse 17, the people are commanded to submit themselves to their leaders. Then, the verse goes on to reveal what a tremendous responsibility rests upon the leaders for the faithful performance of their ministry; and how they must give an account to God for the people to whom they minister.
Dear ones, don’t be afraid of, or rebellious to, those “who have the rule over you.” They are God’s gifts to you, to help bring you to perfection (maturity.) Treasure them, love them, and pray for them. The Bible also says, “obey them.” God’s true ministries would not harm you in any way or bring you into bondage. You must learn to discern between the shepherd and the wolf. Sheep are known to be rather dumb animals, but even they know that difference. God’s people certainly should be able to know those who have “ordained themselves” and have not been sent by the Holy Ghost.
Right in the middle of all this teaching concerning relationships, verse 8 shouts out a tremendous statement of faith and fact. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever!” There are no instructions here as to what we should do about it, or how it applies to us. Just a plain and glorious statement. He is the same, always has been, always will be. What He did back then, He is doing today. Some are not seeing it now; but of course, some did not see it then either. Therefore, if He confirmed His Word with signs and wonders and miracles in the days of the early church, He will do the same in the last day church. So, let us preach His Word and expect Him to do His part.
A whole sermon could be preached on this verse alone and many have been. But while meditating on this glorious scripture, I saw a principle concerning us, His church. As sure as He is unchangeable, just as sure, we are being changed. Just as He is now what He has always been, so we, who started out in the image of Adam shall be changed into the image of Christ Himself. Anything less than this is unscriptural and degrading to His plan and purpose for us. Hallelujah!
YESTERDAY—LOST IN SIN
Paul makes it very plain in the book of Romans that in this flesh there is no good thing. Humans seek after such things as physical beauty, dynamic personality, intellectual achievements, popularity, fame, and fortune. But these things are fading flowers on the lower plane of carnal life and pleasure. The fact is, until Christ comes in, the whole human race is lost in sin, under judgment, and in rebellion against God. There is none righteous, no not one. This is where we were, yesterday. And except for Christ sharing His life with us, there was no possibility for a change in that situation. Lost, forever. We can all see this is where we’ve been, the pit from whence we were digged. (Isaiah 51:1) This was our yesterday. Thank God it is not us, in our Adam nature, who are the same yesterday, today, and forever. We are being changed. Glory to God.
TODAY—ALIVE IN CHRIST
“As we have borne (yesterday) the image of the earthy, we shall also bear (forever) the image of the heavenly.” (1 Corinthians 15:49) Looking back, we see the image of Adam, lost in sin, corruptible. Looking forward, we see kings and priests ruling with Christ forever in the Melchisedec order. But where does that leave us today? We are in the process of change. Not yet perfected, not yet on the throne, nor behind the veil. But we are on the way! We are alive in Christ and entitled to all the privileges due the Sons of God.
Today God’s people live far beneath their privileges; in too low a realm of life for those who have been redeemed and ordained to the life in the Spirit. We do not have to wait for tomorrow to live in victory today. As one dear saint said, “I know I’m not what I’m going to be, but I’m sure not what I used to be!” It is true that I may not be ruling over the nations with a rod of iron today, but there is no reason why I cannot rise in the Spirit to a place where I can rule my own spirit. Now. Today. This is where we are living; this is the present field of battle. Quit dreaming about pie in the sky and recognize what you can be in God today. You are Sons of God. Act like Sons, think and talk like Sons. Walk tall. We are victors on the field of battle.
When you see Christians depressed, defeated, and discouraged, it is because they are either leaning back toward yesterday’s life of being dominated by the powers of darkness, or they are drawn into a little shell of dreaming of a better tomorrow. I want you to know that today is a day of victory! You will be amazed at how much dominion you now have over your circumstances and battles of life if you just dare to believe and speak a word of faith in every situation. Stop drowning in your efforts to bail out your little boat. Rise up and speak to the storm with a voice of authority. You can do it! Yes, today is a glorious day. Thank God we will not forever be in this state of wresting with the principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness of this age. There is a glorious tomorrow for us. We are still being changed. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. But as for us, tomorrow holds another marvelous change.
FOREVER—KINGS AND PRIESTS
So what does tomorrow bring to the Sons of God? I would not be so presumptuous as to tell you that I understand all the mysteries of God and that He had revealed all His future plans to me. Do beware of that man who says he now has it all figured out. He will lie to you about other things, too.
Let me share a little of what God has unveiled to us about His plans for His church, His glorious church, in the age to come. First of all, let me say the new age is upon us, the rule of satan is at an end, the age of darkness is about over. I know that the world situation doesn’t look that way. But, we are now at the climax of the war of the ages and the forces of evil are going all out with a last roar of defiance.
There are certain words and statements in the Bible that give us clues as to what lies ahead. Words such as: “overcomer,” “Melchisedec priesthood,” “immortality,” “man child,” “kings and priests,” “in His throne,” “glorious church,” and “manifestation of the Sons of God.” These words bring truths to us that are little understood in most of the Pentecostal churches, to say nothing of fundamental and modernistic churchianity. These words are not dealing with what happens out there in the ages of the ages, millions of years from now. These are words dealing with the very near tomorrow, with the kingdom age that is about to begin. There is a change involved in our very state of being before we can enter all that is suggested by these terms.
The very greatest human being, in the “yesterday” realm of sin, cannot measure up to the eternal blessing for the least of the “today” saints who have been redeemed and become a part of the kingdom of God. Just so, the greatest of the saints in the “today” realm cannot be compared with the glory of one who has passed into the “forever” of God’s eternal purposes. There is no way to illustrate, by comparison, the things that God has prepared for us. They have to be revealed by the Spirit. Those who look forward to a beautiful city with streets that are paved with a soft yellow metal or long for a huge house in the sky, all their own with no mortgage, have some wonderful surprises coming. God’s eternal tomorrow shall greatly exceed anything our minds could possibly conceive. The “yesterday” of the Adamic image is past for us. The “today” of a redeemed life of victory and joy is ours now. But we are still being changed, getting ready for a maturity and perfection that will put us on His throne with Him. Authority to rule and reign, bringing order and glory out of the chaos and destruction and death of this present world, and even the creative power of Sons, are just some of the things before us. Makes the trip worthwhile, doesn’t it? An entire book could be written about that one word “forever” and what it means to us. But we will have to go on, to see what else this glorious chapter has to say to us.
DIVERS AND STRANGE DOCTRINES
In this chapter of relationships, we come to a word in verse 9 that deals with our relationship to God’s written word. “Divers and strange doctrines” is expressed in the NAS Bible as “varied and strange teachings.” There is a lot of difference between “new” teachings and “strange” teachings. Every time they hear something new and fresh, some people apply this scripture to it. Not so. God has always been faithful to give us fresh manna from heaven, a new and exciting revelation of Himself and His plans for His church. The word “strange” here has the meaning of something weird and out of harmony with the Bible, rather than something we just haven’t known previously.
In this verse, He connects “strange doctrines” with “being occupied with foods.” Then, as now, people spent a lot of time trying to figure a way to reach immortality and escape death by certain eating habits. But the scripture says it is unprofitable. There is certainly nothing wrong with eating good food and being sensible in your eating habits. Your body will benefit from it. But to establish strange doctrines and to be occupied with weird diets or food fads is not profitable. Do not be carried away by these things. This lets us know there is a force involved that can carry people into wrong doctrines and weird spirits. Don’t play around with it or you will be overcome by a spirit of deception and find yourself convinced that this is the only way to purity and perfection. Long before Ponce de Leon landed on Florida shores, seeking the “fountain of youth,” men were deceived into thinking that somewhere there was something they could put into their bellies to make them live forever. And some still are. Beloved, don’t be carried away. Such foolishness is unprofitable and a waste of time. There is a better way to establish your hearts with the grace of God. This is a glorious and heavenly life; but it is a very practical way. It takes good common sense to be a successful Son of God. Jesus was the most practical person that ever lived. Everything He did had a good purpose behind it. “He went about doing good.” (Acts 10:38)
WE HAVE AN ALTAR
Now, in verses 10 through 16, he uses the Old Testament altar and sacrifices as illustrations of what we have in Christ today. Long before the religious people of Jerusalem crucified the Lord Jesus, and long before denominations of men cast out saints who wanted more of God, God ordained that the bodies of the sacrifices be burned outside the camp. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” (Verse 13) Yes, dear ones, when men cast you outside their camps or you go outside voluntarily, it is not your own reproach you are bearing, it is His! Glory to God! This verse was a great comfort to me more than a quarter century ago when, as a young preacher determined to follow the Lord, I was judged and condemned and cast out by the councils of men. It was good for me to know that God had already planned it that way.
One of my favorite revelations is found in verse 14. “Here we have no continuing city.” In this realm of mortal life, we need not build our own little “city” for nothing is permanent on this plane of life. Abraham was a pilgrim on this earth. He never built a city; none ever bore his name for he had seen a city which had foundations whose builder and maker is God. Once you have seen the city of God, you never try to build one of your own. Men build great organizations and denominations and lay foundations for their cities which continue long after all the inhabitants are dead. They do this because they have not seen the city of God. But here, in this age, we have no continuing city. But there is one that is permanent. It is in the “forever” realm. It is the one we seek.
“Therefore (because of this city of God) let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually.” (Verse 15) This is the fruit of our lips; giving thanks to God for all that He has done for us. Our sacrifice is very different from the sacrifice the Old Testament priests offered. He is showing here how much better this new way is than the temple worship. Once more, the writer of Hebrews is trying to wean the Jewish Christians away from the Jew’s religion with its blood sacrifices. Since Jesus came, we no longer offer up the body of beasts. There is no value in that. In fact, it displeases God very much and falls into the same category as idolatry. But, there is great value in lifting up our voices and praising the Lord. This is a sacrifice He will accept. Hallelujah!
Verse 16 brings out another means of offering sacrifices to God with which He is well pleased. “Do good” and “communicate” (which means to share what you have with others.) This is something that pleases God and is considered a good sacrifice. Jesus set the example. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. (Acts 10:38) I know that if He would have had a home, a car, or a refrigerator, He would have shared those things also. He gave people what He had…life and healing and truth. “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I thee,” said the Apostle Peter to the lame man. (Acts 3:6) What he had, he shared. And in doing so, he offered up a sacrifice to God. This can even be done with material things, money, labor, and other earthly possessions. And especially, rich or poor, we can give people what they need more than most anything else, our love and concern for their needs. If your heart is full of love, share it with others. If you are filled with hate and bitterness, don’t give it to anyone else. Go to Calvary and be delivered and cleansed.
A LOVING GOOD-BYE
“Pray for us…” (Verse 18) What a humble confession on how much we need each other. A great desire is expressed that he might live honestly and honorably before the Lord. Even the saints still live in human bodies; and with all the temptations and pressures around us, it is not an automatic thing to live right and with honor. It takes a real desire and a lot of effort, along with the help of the Holy Spirit. In the next verse he expresses his hope that he can be restored to them soon. This is an indication of the great love that existed in the early church and how they desired and needed to be with other saints. I can’t tell you how many times some of our saints, in the body of Christ in Springfield, have returned home after an extended stay elsewhere and related how they never really appreciated the blessings of being in the family of God until they were separated from them for a period of time. We sing a chorus, “There is a love among the brethren, just look around you can’t help but see it there…all precious people with the same hope as you…” It is really true. This letter to the Hebrews closes with such a tender note and with such a beautiful expression of the love of God.
Reference is made in verse 23 to “our brother Timothy” who obviously has just been set free after a time of imprisonment. Verse 24 mentions the saints in Italy. It is possible that this letter was written to the Hebrew Christians by Paul while in Rome. He indicates that he is free to come and see them, if Timothy comes with him. Scholars disagree as to who the author of this letter is. Some feel there is indication in the style of writing and teaching throughout the letter that it was written by the Apostle Paul. Although his call was to the Gentiles, he still carried a heavy burden for Israel. He was the most opposed and the most outspoken against the old Jewish law of any of the New Testament writers.
This entire book of Hebrews has been an effort to show how much better the New Covenant is than the Old. This chapter has shown the better relationships in the body of Christ, better sacrifices, a better city, and a better future. It is beautiful to see how, after all the strong forceful arguments and logic put forth in previous chapters, he ends the letter in such a tender and personal manner. And dearly beloved, may I add here that this love still exists in the true body of Christ. And this body of Christ, scattered throughout the world, in many local expressions, salutes you. Pray for us.
Other Books By Bill Britton:
A Closer Look at the Rapture
Eagle Saints Arise
His Unlimited Glory
Jesus the Pattern Son
Light Out of Shadows
Reach For the Stars
Sons of God Awake
To God Be the Glory
Bill Britton Ministries - Church in Action
PO Box 707, Springfield MO 65801-0707 USA
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