Friday, August 22, 2014
In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 6:17-20
We're back-tracking just a bit this time to get a running start at the new verses we'll be looking at. In verses 13-18 of chapter 6, the author of Hebrews establishes the reliability of God's promises. He specifically cites God's promise to Abraham, to bless and multiply him, and then refers to later believers like us as "the heirs of the promise"(v.17).
In what ways do we "inherit" the promise to Abraham? This can be answered by looking at the "extended version" of the promise, which is only partially quoted in verse 14.
(Genesis 22:17-18, ESV) I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
Jesus, as a descendant of Abraham, fulfills the promise that "in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed". And believers in Jesus are the "heirs" of this promise, who now benefit from this blessing promised thousands of years ago.
In verses 13-18 the author establishes the trustworthiness of Yahweh based on his character, and by referring to believers as "heirs of the promise" he reminds us that this particular promise to Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus. In this way, Jesus is tangible proof of God's character and a living example of how God is faithful to what he promises.
As Christians, our hope is not found by summoning up the strength to live in denial, embracing empty yet comforting thoughts. The testimony of history and applied logic is that Jesus was and is the "one of a kind" Son of God, who proved his identity through his physical resurrection. This being the case, we know we can trust in God to make good on his promises, which includes the promise of blessing and rest as we love, trust and serve him.
The hope we have in God's promise of blessing and rest, based on the reality of Jesus' resurrection, acts as an "anchor" for our souls. Since the purpose of an anchor is to keep a boat from drifting away, this seems to specifically call back to the author's warnings for believers not to "drift" or "fall" away. (Hebrews 2:1, 6:6) Pursuit and remembrance of truth yields hope in the life of the believer.
This hope we have has another layer to it as well. Our hope in God's promised rest and blessings acts as a stabilizer in life's stormy seasons, but it also allows for close relationship with Yahweh.
The reference to going "behind the curtain" is a reminder that in our default, fallen state, we have no access to relationship with God. Before Jesus paid for our sins, only a High Priest could enter the inner place in the temple associated with God's presence, and only once each year. (Leviticus 16) But the inner curtain covering this place was torn in half when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51), since through the sacrifice of Jesus there is no longer separation between God and humanity.
We now have hope that grows out of relational access to God. As believers in this life, we have the freedom to "have it out with God" as we struggle through difficult seasons. We have the freedom to ask boldly for blessing, based not on our merits, but on the merits of Jesus. And we can hope in anticipation of being fully reunited with God in the future.
In his perfect relationship with God the Father, Jesus acts as a "forerunner" for believers. Through Jesus as our ultimate high priest/mediator, we have relational access to God right now, and will have unhindered and direct access to God in his future kingdom on earth and throughout eternity.
Even as believers we experience a perceived distance from God right now. But Jesus gives us a glimpse of our current and future status. Right now, like junior copies of Jesus, we are "priests". No collar or formal training required. And as growing believers we mature in our roles as priests, eventually culminating in our re-creation as perfect priests, with the capacity to perfectly relate to God and represent him to others.
(Exodus 19:6, ESV) and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
(Revelation 1:4-6, ESV) John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(Revelation 20:6, ESV) Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
As for what it means for Jesus to be patterned after Melchizedek, we'll get a better idea of that in Chapter 7.
I've wondered lately if being a geek statistically increases the chances of someone feeling insecure about who they are. No matter how much we may assert that we're glad to be unique and that being a geek is cool, in my experience being a geek also means some funny looks and raised eyebrows now and then. And it never feels good.
I care entirely too much about what people think of me. And I do that because I'm constantly trying to base my identity around what I do. What I like, what I create, what I say and what I know. My natural tendency is to dislike having to rely on the righteousness of Jesus on my behalf. But a slowly crushing weight bears down on me with increasing intensity when I try to measure my identity and worth based on what I do. A weight that is only relieved when (often in tears these days) I give up and admit that I am not the person I'd like to envision myself as.
The strain and effort in trying to maintain that illusion for myself is taken away when I remember the reality of who I am: Someone who is (for some strange reason I don't get) loved deeply by the Creator of all reality. Someone strategically placed to represent God to others in a time and way that no one else can or will. Someone designed to help carry out God's agenda for the universe. Someone with unimaginable purpose and value that can't be improved upon or diminished by my efforts or shortcomings.
I can't do a thing to make myself more or less valuable. Neither can you. We are already more unique, valuable and significant than we can possibly understand in this life. And that reality can give us hope that pushes us onward into what God has for us in the next few hours, days and forever.