We continue our series on The Book of Hebrews. Beginning in Chapter Five, we seek to understand more about the practical realities of possessing a holy inheritance. We know how to get there. We are told. But we tend to do everything except what we ought to do. Spiritual maturity involves approaching the throne of grace to find help for our imperfection. God wants us to enter into his rest and take ownership of the possession He has given us to steward. He wants our lives to be holy and complete.
Well, we come to chapter 5 today of the book of Hebrews. We started in chapter 1, and were introduced to the great Son, King, and High Priest: Jesus. He’s so much better than the angels.
And in chapter 2, we’re admonished that we need to listen to the Son. We’re told that if the word was spoken through angels and proved steadfast, how much more will the word spoken through the Son prove steadfast.
We’re told that this Son is restoring to us what was originally intended, and that was for man, for humanity to be crowned with glory and honor. And that glory and honor that we’re to be crowned with is to rule the earth in perfect harmony with all creation, with one another, and with God.
And he says in 2:8, “But now we do not yet see all things put under him.” A gross and vast understatement. Harmony is something that is fleeting in this world.
But what we do see: “We see Jesus, who is made a little lower than the angels,” who became flesh, crowned with glory for the suffering of death.
Jesus is restoring all things, and we’re invited to participate in the path that he’s blazed. He’s said to be the captain of our salvation, to bring many sons to glory. He wants to restore us.
There – Here – Path
This is a restoration, however, that can be neglected. So he tells us in chapter 3 the way.
If we were to use Herman’s great leaders’ formula of getting things done: there, here, path. There being I want something here, an analysis. My current condition: I don’t have it. And the path being how to get there. Which is something humanity uses. A baby does a there-here path. I’m hungry is my here. I want my stomach full is my there, so I cry. It’s a very human thing to do. It’s just a way to express that.
If we were to use that here, we would say the there that Paul is putting out for us is to have a restoration of everything we were ever designed to be: complete harmony, complete fulfillment of purpose, God, man, and nature. That’s the there. Something all of us yearn for. The entire creation is groaning for it.
The here is we don’t see that happening right now.
And the path is the suffering of death that Jesus has already paved. Of course part of the here is we don’t really like suffering. And we certainly don’t like death. So it’s a very difficult proposition to get from here to there. In fact, Paul, I think, is telling us it can’t be done. Which is why he says in 3:1, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest.” For in fact, without the ministry of the Son as high priest, this mission that Paul is presenting to us is really impossible.
We looked at an example of what it looks like to fumble the opportunity, and the Children of Israel are given as the example. The there for the Children of Israel was to possess their possession. They were given the land that was promised to Abraham hundreds of years before.
When God promises something, it’s going to happen. It was already given. But it was for them to possess the possession, to gain the inheritance through obedience.
And this generation fumbled it. God said, you tried me ten times.”They came to the edge of the wilderness at Kadesh Barnea, had the opportunity to go in and possess the land, sent in the 12 spies. They listened to the bad report of the ten spies. All the spies agreed and said it’s a wonderful land, but the ten spies said it’s too hard. We can’t do it.
They listened to that and said we want to go back to Egypt. And God says, you know, you tried me these ten times, and you can’t go in. I’m done with you. That generation did not possess their possession.
They were still taken care of by God. He still fed them. He still owned them as children, but they didn’t get the possession.
We’re going to understand more about this path because they were given this there to possess their inheritance, and they were given the means to get there. And the means to get there was an intermediary. They could have asked Moses. They could have prayed to God. They could have stood before the tabernacle in dependence and asked God for help. They didn’t.
What did they do instead? What was the general thing that they did? Whined. Complained. Made plans to go back to Egypt.
Just think about it. They just crossed the wilderness. Could they live in the wilderness without God’s miraculous provision? It’s impossible! But they had become entitled to God’s provision in the wilderness because they were used to it. And when God says I’m going to give you a new provision for this new era of your life, they said, no, that’s not good enough.
That’s just kind of the way we are as people. We take things for granted, don’t even realize the provision that we have.
So in chapter 4, the author here, Paul, says they didn’t enter his rest. And this is just another way to say finish, possess the inheritance. Possess your possession.
God rested when? The seventh day. Why did he rest on the seventh day? He was finished.
So we come to chapter 5. Leading in to chapter 5 with 4:11, we have a reiteration of chapter 2. “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest—” to finish “—lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there’s no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Who’s the judge that will determine the possession of the possession? The Word.
If the word given to angels proves steadfast, how much more should we heed the word of the Son? And we see the word made flesh. That is our agent to possess the possession.
And it’s also the judge of our hearts. This is how we’ll know.
Well how in the world are we going to get from here to there? It’s an impossible task.
It starts in verse 14. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son—” He’s the Son and he’s the High Priest. “—the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Our word. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
This is how we get there. To boldly approach the throne of grace to find help in time of need.
Now, again, we’ll talk more about this next week. But what we tend to do is everything but. We tend to put in place legalism, various kinds of legalism, to justify ourselves. We tend to whine and complain. Blame. There’s all sorts of things that we tend to do.
But maturity looks like this: To approach the throne of grace to find help.
Jesus as High Priest
So let’s look at chapter 5: “For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.”
Remember Paul is talking to his good friends who are all fellow Jews, and they have all grown up while the temple was still in action. And these Jews still—as Paul did as well—participate in the festivals, they participate in the sacraments, they participate in the ordinances including sacrifice. And the function of the high priest is something that is not theoretical for them. It’s something they experience.
Hebrews 5:2, “He—” the high priest at the temple “can have compassion on those that are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness.” He knows what it’s like. He has to offer sacrifices for himself too. “Because of this he’s required as for the people, so as for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.” He has to offer it for himself as well. “And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.” These guys don’t appoint themselves; they were appointed by God. “So also Christ did not glorify—” or appoint “—himself to become High Priest but it was He who said to him—” God said to him. “‘You’re my son. Today I’ve begotten you.’ As he also says in another place, ‘You’re a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”
Here’s Psalm 110 again. Remember Psalm 110 has this chiasm. Christ is king, Christ is conqueror, Christ is high priest, Christ is judge, Christ is king. And the core message in Psalm 110 is Jesus is high priest. But he’s king and priest.
And we’re reminded once again, this Son, this honor that God has conferred on Jesus: Today I’ve begotten you as the Son as adoption of the great high king to a subordinate king whom he desires to honor.
Verse 7, “Who in the days of his flesh—” speaking of Jesus, “—when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to him who is able to save him from death, and was heard because of his godly fear, though he was a son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him, called by God as High Priest, ‘according to the order of Melchizedek,’ of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”
The word is something we need to listen to. The word from Jesus is something we need to listen to. And Paul’s friends have started to get hard of hearing.
Now what he wants to talk to them about is Jesus as high priest.
Perfected through Sufferings
So before we proceed, let’s just stop and look for a minute here. This high priest deal is a really big deal. And what was it that Jesus gained through his obedience?
He was made perfect.
Let’s look again. We’ve done this once before, but I want to deepen our look. Let’s look at this word perfect which is the Greek word teleiosi. We get our word telescope from this. So you look through the telescope, and you’re looking to do what? See a long way away, right? So the idea is something at the finish line. Completed.
I just want to go through and look at the instances of this word in Hebrews.
First let’s look at an instance in John 4 that I think is a really clear instance where the word means completion. John 4:33, “Therefore the disciples said to one another, ‘Has anyone brought him anything to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to teleiosi his work.’” Finish. Complete.
So let’s just look at the instances of this word or the root of it in Hebrews.
The first instance is in Hebrews 2:10. “For it was fitting for him—” Jesus “—for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation complete through sufferings.” Same idea. Jesus was perfected through sufferings.
Notice he was already a son. Remember, what did God say when Jesus was baptized? “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” He already had the possession. But he possessed the possession through his obedience.
We, similarly, already have treasure laid up in Heaven. This inheritance is already endowed to us. It’s for us to possess it.
Let’s look at Hebrews 5:9. “And having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”
What salvation are we talking about? Do you get salvation from-Heaven-to-Hell salvation, from not being born to being born through obedience? Is that how you get that? You don’t get that that way, right? You get it purely through faith. You possess the possession and fulfill what was supposed to be, which is to be crowned with glory and honor and to sit at the right hand with Jesus through obedience. And Jesus has plowed that path.
Let’s look at Hebrews 6:1. “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection.” Some of your translations might say maturity. It’s the same idea. teleiosi. Completion. “Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” We don’t want to talk about those things. We’ll get into this more in a minute.
What we want to talk about is Melchizedek. Jesus as high priest.
Then there’s a whole series of occurrences of this word teleiosi, that basically make the same point, and it has to do with the old covenant not getting us there. We need the new covenant to get us there.
We’ll start with 7:11: “Therefore if perfection—” teleiosi, completion, getting to the finish line, “–were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise…?”
Similar thing in 7:19. “For the law made nothing perfect;” complete, perfected, finished. “On the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” Through Melchizedek, the high priest, Jesus.
7:28. “For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.” Completed, through the suffering of death and obedience.
Hebrews 9:9 These tabernacle things were “symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service—” the earthly priest “‑‑‑perfect—” complete “—in regard to the conscience—”
These sacrifices—these things, don’t make our conscience complete.
Verse 11. “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come with the greater and more perfect—” more complete “—tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.”
You see that there’s a completion that can happen, and it’s all through Jesus. It’s through his person, it’s through his example, following his example. And it’s through his sacrifice.
10:1 “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices—” the mercy seat, and the atonement, and the forgiveness sacrifices and so forth that these guys did. We’re in a time period where the temple is still going. “‑‑‑can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.” Complete.
If you were, you could stop doing it. You don’t have to keep going back.
But, verse 12, “But this Man—” Jesus “—after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of the God.” Why did he sit down? He was finished. “From that time waiting till his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has—” teleiosi, completed, finished “perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
You see, this perfection is already given, just like the land was promised to the people through Abraham, and it was an accomplished fact; and yet there were hundreds of years until they actually possessed it.
The same is true for us. We’re perfected. This glory is just waiting for us. The question is are we going to possess it.
Then a couple other points he makes in Hebrews 11:40. Hebrews 11 is the “Hall of Faith,” where we’re going to get, not the bad examples of people who died in the wilderness, but the good examples of people who lived in a way that they believed the promise was true even though they didn’t receive it during their lifetime.
Verse 39. “And these all these—” all these great examples “—having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise” during their lifetime. “God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made complete apart from us.”
See, this restoration of creation, this bringing back of the sons to rule together in perfect harmony with creation and with God, it’s all going to happen together. It’s not going to be one at a time. That’s part of the harmony.
And, lastly, chapter 12 where we’re looking at the great example of Jesus who ran this great race, he says we haven’t come to Mount Sinai, this little temple on the earth that was so scary and so fearful that it’s really engrained in the Jewish mentality that you’re so focused on, that’s minor league. That’s A league. We haven’t come to that. We’ve come to Mount Zion. And that really ought to get your attention. Why? Because in Mount Zion, we’re going to stand before—verse 23, “the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in Heaven—” the many sons. “—to God the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made” complete.
He wants us to enter the rest, to possess the possession. He wants us to finish, to be complete. See it’s all through the book.