Plan 4: Jesus: The Better Priest
6 - Day Plan
We start off Part Four of our Hebrews series with the third warning: Be careful not to fall away from Jesus. When we lose sight of Jesus and our relationship with Him, we can no longer access the greater life He gives and all that it brings. Jesus is the better Priest that gives us the better covenant. Without Him, we cannot live, walk and have access to God’s promises.
Hebrews 6:3–8 (ESV)
3And this we will do if God permits. 4For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
Thoughts on the Word
Warning #3: Falling Away From Jesus
This is a tough passage. It is hard to understand and the words are tough. It is an important passage though.
This is the third warning in the book of Hebrews - there are two more yet to come. This one comes after the writer telling the people - you have not grown up, you are still babies needing baby food. If you are not careful, all the truths you have been taught will be wasted. Instead of growing, you will reject these truths. The consequences are very great.
Always remember this - God will always forgive (the blood of Jesus can forgive every sin), but some things will prevent some people from coming back for forgiveness.
- Bitterness. God's truth never worked in our lives and you can become bitter and not come back.
- Lack of fruit. God's blessing on you never produces fruit - we look no different than we did before we met Jesus.
- Thorns and weeds. The water of God is used to produce wicked things. God will destroy this.
These people find it impossible to get back to God. It is not that God cannot forgive, they cannot find their way back to Him. Some have no desire to come back. Some have never really understood the change that God had for their lives and they see no reason to come back to Jesus. Unless something special happens in their lives, they will never come back.
What do we do? Pray. Be prepared to walk with them if they want back - they will need someone to help them. They need to see the forgiving heart of God. They need to see the holy heart of God. They need to see the change that the power of the Holy Spirit can do in their lives.
Father this is a tough passage. When God's word does not produce fruit in our lives - we become worse than unproductive soil, we produce weeds and thorns. We shame Your name and Your provision of forgiveness through Your blood.
Father today I pray that Your words to me will release life and fruitfulness in me and all who read. Father help me also challenge others. Give me willing hands to bring others back who cannot get there without help. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 6:9–13 (ESV)
9Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. 13For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
Thoughts on the Word
The Certainty of God's Promises
Wow, this is great encouragement. Be faithful. Love the people around you. Never forget that God rewards patience. Above all, remember that God keeps His Promises – always.
Warnings must always be followed up with encouragement. The tough warning in the previous verses are followed by the words of encouragement. The writer encourages them that they are not at that point of failure in their lives. They demonstrated the love of God in the past (they know how to release godly responses), and they have everything that they need to succeed. That is something that we need to remember when we may have to speak tough things into people’s lives and situations.
Finally, I challenge you to think of a promise that God has given you - but it has not yet been answered. Let your patience be exercised with faith. God will keep it - He will never fail to keep it.
Father, I have promises that You have given to me that remain unanswered. How can I faithfully hold on to them, live my life for You and keep loving those around me? It seems like too much for me to hold. I drop one of them too often. Sometimes I drop the promise. Sometimes I am so focused on the promise that I miss the needy people around me. Sometimes I drop them all because I am discouraged. Father, You help me I pray. You have stronger arms than me, - and a better memory too. Thank you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 6:13–20 (ESV)
13For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Thoughts on the Word
The Certainty of God's Promises Pt. 2
These people are facing the tough question - will God keep His promises when we are facing tough problems? So the writer shows how God does two things to confirm His promise to Abraham - His own word (His promise) and then he gives an oath (a sworn testimony). Neither one will be broken.
Promises from God will happen - guaranteed.
What will it take for an answer to come? That can be the hard part. Sometimes it is a quick answer – and the promise is quickly fulfilled. Sometimes He requires maturity in our lives that takes time to develop (like promising a car for a child- but waiting until they have learned how to drive safely). Sometimes He waits for the next generation to receive the promise that he gave to us (because we never grew up – the children of Israel faced this. Their children entered the promised land because they refused to walk by faith and trust God). Finally, sometimes He waits because others are not ready even though we are (Jesus had to wait to come to this earth, because the world was not ready. Jesus was ready but the world was not).
When promises do not get answered we can ask why. If it is because of things in our life, then He will show us because He wants to see us receive His promises. CAUTION! It can be painful to hear that we are not mature and ready. We all like to think we are, usually we are not.
We will talk about Melchizedek tomorrow.
Father, what is holding me back from receiving Your promises? You make it clear that your promises always get answered. So that means I have things I must learn. Teach me how to honestly evaluate myself. Give me friends who will honestly evaluate me and my readiness. Above all reveal by Your Spirit Your evaluation of me. Then show how to get to the place where I need to be so I can receive Your promises. Because when I am ready, and You are ready - it will happen! In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 7:1–10 (ESV)
1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. 4See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 9One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
Genesis 14:18–20 (ESV)
18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Thoughts on the Word
The Melchizedek Priesthood
This chapter is how Jesus is greater than the Jewish Priesthood from the tribe of Levi. Remember this book is all about how Jesus is greater than everything that they were forced to leave of their Jewish heritage.
Jesus is like Melchizedek. A Priest that Abraham honored and paid his tithe to. Even Levi paid his tithe (10% of his resources) to him through Abraham! This story is found in Genesis 14:18-20 if you wish to read about it. The Jewish people honored the Levite priesthood above Jesus – who had a priesthood much greater than the Levite priesthood. They did not recognize in Jesus someone greater than Levi. They did not recognize in Jesus someone that Levi honored, that Abraham honored. Their eyes were blind to the spiritual nature of Jesus’ priesthood.
What does it take to recognize someone who is greater spiritually? We think it is easy - it is not. We look for titles, for gifting, for calling, for power and spiritual influence, recognition – these are not the key things. It is the child like faith. It is people being faithful with little things. It is people blessing when they are persecuted. It is people loving hurting people. It is people serving all people regardless of race, religion, background or status. These are great people - and we miss them just like everyone - except Abraham who did not miss Melchizedek.
Father, who around me is great - but I miss them because I see with physical eyes not spiritual eyes? Help me today to see people as You see them. Father, help me to honor these people as great people in Your eyes.
Father, help me to see Jesus as the greatest example of this - One that people overlook. They see a man - rather than the Son of God. They see a healer instead of the healing God. They see a compassionate man rather than the God of compassion. Father show me how to see with Your eyes. Things will look so different from Your perspective. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 7:11–19 (ESV)
11Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” 18For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
Thoughts on the Word
The Melchizedek Priesthood Pt. 2
Jesus is not like the priests that God set up through Moses. He is like Melchizedek. Here is how:
-- God's new covenant needed a different kind of Priest.
-- Jesus came from a different tribe of Israel (Judah) not the priestly tribe of Levi (Levi was the tribe God said would be priests for the old covenant)
-- this new covenant would make us completely clean and forgiven. It needed a Priest who could make that happen. That was Jesus.
-- Jesus was appointed because God wanted to fulfill His new promise. The old Levite priests were appointed because they were part of the priest family (from father to son). They could not fulfill God’s new promise.
So we see that God needed someone special to be His Priest for this new covenant He would make with us. The priests Moses set up were not capable of doing it. This Priest (Jesus) would be much different and capable of meeting the requirements of the new covenant.
Father, we just do not realize how amazing Your new covenant is. It is so much better - it can forgive us of all our sins. Even the priest who could release this new covenant to us had to be special.
Father, You looked after every little detail. We would not think about all these things - but You did. How many other little details of my life are You taking care of - and I do not know about them? Yet they are all being handled perfectly. You are a God who takes care of all the little details.
Father, today I ask that You show each of us just one of these little things that You do for us. Just one that we never think about - but You make sure it is done perfectly. Then we will rejoice and be thankful because there are many that need to be taken care of - and we can trust You to take care of all of them. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Hebrews 7:20–28 (ESV)
20And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’ ” 22This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. 23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
Thoughts on the Word
The Melchizedek Priesthood Pt. 3
Jesus is not like other priests.
-- He received the office with an oath from God – the Levitical priests did not receive this.
-- He does His Priest ministry forever – He is not restricted by death.
-- He is a perfect Priest – He does not have to deal with His own failures before He can minister for us.
-- He was made a perfect Priest by the things He suffered - not just by holy living.
There is much here to talk about. I will focus on two things.
He lives forever, so He can always serve us and intercede for us. There is no limit to the time of His intercession for us. There is no limit to the extent that He can intercede for us. That is the power of this priesthood that Jesus carries.
Second, never forget that to become perfect (complete), it requires serving others like a servant and suffering. If Jesus needed it - so do we. Do not be afraid to suffer - do not look at it simply as the consequence of living in this world. It is necessary for us so that we can be made complete.
Why? I do not know. But if Jesus needed it, so do we!
Jesus, You were Holy and complete. Yet somehow the things You suffered made You the complete Priest that I need. You are able to help me through anything I must deal with. Also, I can point hurting people to You. They will see in You a friend who can understand. For me, I pray that You walk with me though the difficulties I face. They are not as bad as many others are facing, but they are still too tough for me. I trust You because You understand and You intercede for me no matter how far away I wander. Thank you. In Jesus' name, Amen.