Insights into Hebrews: Part 4

By Lloyd Ellefson

"Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called, `Uncircumcision' by the so-called `Circumcision,' which is performed in the flesh by human hands." (Eph. 2:11) From God's standpoint, there are only two groups of people in the world, namely, the circumcised (Jews) and the uncircumcised (Gentiles).

"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace." (vv.13-15) Jesus Christ did not take the Gentiles and join them to the Jews, nor vice versa. He took the Gentiles and the Jews and put both into one new man - this new man being Himself!

The New Testament does not focus on improving the old man. Why should God concern Himself with the old man who was crucified with Christ? We have been resurrected into a new man! Why would the Spirit of Christ Jesus keep on working with the old Adam - the earthy man with his natural concepts - when He has a new man who He is building up? Much of the preaching today is aimed at the old man. Preachers try polishing him up by exhorting him to quit beating his wife, start paying his tithes, obeying the law, etc. There is no end to all the TRYING if we want to work on the old man. The old man has never been able to obey the law, and God knows that he can't! Jesus never taught the people to try to improve themselves.

Jesus was misunderstood because He represented the new man. The ministry today should be totally directed at the new man. God knew He had to bring forth a new man, the Son of Man, who would have the desire to do His will. This new man is Jesus Christ! He needed no law. He didn't have to carry about the "shall nots" of the law - you shall not steal, you shall not commit adultery, etc. He didn't need them because the Holy Spirit within Him caused Him to desire the will of God - not the will of self. By making us a new creation in Christ, He has given us the desire to do the will of God!

"That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Eph. 4:22-24) This new man is not reformed; he is created in righteousness! So he doesn't have to be made righteous nor reformed. He has to be nurtured and fed so he can grow up and mature in Christ!

Since the new man is created in righteousness, he doesn't need deliverance because demons can't live in Jesus Christ! He said, "The devil has nothing in Me." If Jesus Christ is in you, the new man in you has no demons. So if you cast out demons, out of whom are you casting them? Out of the old man, right? How many do you think are in him? Do you think that you could ever put an end to the demons that are in him? It's ridiculous! Jesus cast out demons to show us that we should embrace the new man. We know that Paul cast out an evil spirit from a slave-girl, but she was not a believer in Christ. Becoming a new creation is like the coming of light into a room; it dispels the darkness! Demons and things like satan and error can't live in light.

We have to understand that we are NEW creatures in Christ Jesus, and that the Lord has anointed us with the Spirit who teaches us all things. This gives us the confidence that we can hear what the Spirit is saying. There is so much stumbling, misunderstanding and division because people won't let go of the old man. This man is unable to keep the ten commandments and the things of God. Feeding and exhorting him does not do any good.

Hebrews 3 and 4 both deal with the same topic - "The Rest of God" or "The Sabbath of God". The Israelites who were unwilling to enter the promised land could not enter into the REST of GOD. Therefore they had to die in the wilderness. Forty years later a new generation of Israelites crossed the Jordan, and some dramatic things took place. These symbolize what happened to Jesus spiritually when He appeared at the Jordan. The spiritual meaning is very significant!

"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later." (Heb. 3:1-5) We have a heavenly calling, so we are not to produce our own calling. The house of Moses (which included the tabernacle, the law and its ceremonies, etc.) was a type and shadow and figure. It is a testimony of that which shall be spoken later. To understand this testimony, we have to know that almost everything in the Old Testament is a type of a spiritual reality.

The house that Moses built was simply a type or a shadow of another house that was to come into being. " you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit that is in you...?" (1 Cor. 6:19) The progression from the entrance of the court to the temple and the way things were set up in the court, the veils, the two parts of the temple and the furniture within it, all typify something that happens in us. Since we are a tabernacle, we are a fulfillment of that tabernacle. So all the types in the tabernacle are in us! Christ is the first fulfillment because He is the first stone of the living tabernacle!

"But Christ was faithful AS A SON over His house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end." (Heb. 3:6) Moses was a servant in God's house, but Christ is a Son over God's house. Do you see the difference? When we live in the law as servants, we are like little children having someone over us to tell us what to do. (Gal. 4:1-2) Paul called the law a tutor or a schoolmaster (child leader) to bring us to Christ. In olden times the children had someone to take them to school. Once they arrived in school, this person no longer had any authority over them. Now the teacher took over. Similarly, the law brings us to Christ. After that it no longer has any authority over us.

In biblical terminology, coming out of the law is called adoption. It has nothing to do with the present-day meaning of adoption, i.e. someone being adopted into a family. The scriptures use the analogy of a child being under the care of servants until it comes of age and to maturity. The father then tells the servants, "This is my son; he will now tell you what to do, and you do what he says." This happens to us spiritually when we receive the Spirit of His Son - the heir of all. When Christ appears in us in the Spirit, we come out of our subjection to the servants (we come out of the law), and become sons in the Father's household! It means we are no longer subject to the servants. We have been placed into sonship! From being under the law, we are placed into the grace of the Spirit of Christ Jesus!

"Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, `Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw My works for forty years'." (Heb. 3:7-9) The great throng of Israelites who travelled from Egypt had witnessed many miracles in the process of being freed from the bondage of the Egyptians! Then they saw the dividing of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire at night and the cloud during the day, manna coming down from heaven, water pouring out of the rock, and quails falling from the sky. However, when Moses went up the mountain and did not return at the expected time, they exchanged the ever-present invisible God for a visible god - a golden calf! They credited all the miracles God had performed to this calf. All the miracles they had witnessed did not keep them true to God!

Today, even as then, we think that miracles would cause people to believe in God. Miracles are signs pointing to something; if we remain stationary at the signs we won't ever get to our destination. In Jesus' time, the people witnessed many miracles and signs, yet they still crucified Him! We need to look beyond the signs, and see the Christ! We have to know that the One who does the miracles is in us, the Healer is in us, and the life is in us! God is making us alive spiritually! When we become alive spiritually, we will no longer obey the dictates of the flesh. To accomplish this, Jesus died and caused us to be crucified together with Him. Then He gave us the Holy Spirit so we could live in Him! This should be our greatest concern! We must put first things first.

"Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, `They always go astray in their heart; and they did not know My ways'; as I swore in My wrath, `They shall not enter My rest'." (Heb. 3:10-11) A generation of Israelites came out of Egypt and received the law. They were supposed to enter the promised land, but they refused to enter in! They didn't believe that God was capable of giving them the victory over the giants in the land! So in His wrath God swore they would never enter in. He fulfilled that promise by causing every person over 20 years of age to die in the wilderness. Joshua and Caleb were the only exceptions because they had believed God's promise!

"Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God." (v.12) Do you know that unbelief is the result of an evil heart? Outwardly we can be nice, sweet persons, living normally and morally, and yet not believe because of our evil heart.

"But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called `Today,' lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end; while it is said, `Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me'." (vv.13-15) He talks about DAY and TODAY. What is day? In Gen. 1:5, God called the light day. The light of Gen. 1:3 is not the same as the light of the sun, moon and stars. (Gen. 1:14-15). To us, DAY is a measure of time, but in biblical terminology it is a measure of light. In God's eyes DAY is illumination or light. We have to remember this when we read about the day of the Lord. The first light is Christ; He was in the beginning. "In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was God...His life was the light of men." (John 1:1,4) This is not natural or artificial light; it is spiritual light! The Holy Spirit within us causes us to see or perceive things in the Spirit. As we receive the truth of God we realize there is another light - a spiritual light - in us.

"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In whose case the god of this world (age) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God...For God, who said, `Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (2 Cor. 4:3,4,6) Those who are not in Christ are perishing! The light that shines out of darkness is the light of Gen. 1:2. That is not the light we read by; it is spiritual light. The DAY OF THE LORD or THE LORD'S DAY and THE DAY OF SALVATION, as mentioned in the scriptures, do not refer to natural light. DAY, as God sees it, brings a measure of spiritual illumination.

Every time God created something in Gen. 1, He said, "And the evening and the morning are the first day," "And the evening and the morning are the second day," etc. I believe that every day was a measure of light, and symbolizes the progressive work of God in us. His work in us follows the same progression as His creative work in Genesis 1: we were without form and in darkness, and God commanded the light to shine in us. He separated the light from darkness; He raised our earth out of the judgment of the waters; He created the heavens to rule us. When we are ruled by the heavens we are ready to bear fruit! On the sixth day, God produced the image of Himself in man. And on the seventh day God rested.

Turn to Isaiah 30:26. This prophetic passage reads, "And the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days on the day the Lord binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted." Isaiah says that one day will have the light of seven days. That is what the Sabbath is, and who Jesus Christ was when He came. He is the One who has the seven Spirits of God. The six days of spiritual illumination bring us into the seventh day of spiritual illumination - the rest of God. All illumination is in Him.

Much has to happen before we get into the rest of God. This is typified by the events that occurred in Israel's journey to the promised land. The children of Israel were in Egypt - in bondage! It is called the house of bondage, because scripturally Egypt means SENSE BONDAGE - our bondage to the flesh or senses. God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt. The things that happened to them on their journey to the promised land, were not accidental or unplanned. They were to be an animated picture of spiritual progression in our lives, and in the life of the church. To free them, God gave the Israelites the Passover. All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. God took them into the desert and gave them the law. A law person is one who lives by the law. God wanted to take them into Canaan, which typifies the kingdom of heaven or the faith line, but they were unbelieving, disobedient, and wouldn't enter in!

No one enjoys the wilderness; everyone wants to get out of it. A faith person has a heart that desires to get into the land of promise, and a law person has a heart that desires to go back into Egypt. The Israelites got disgusted with their lack of things and the hardships they were experiencing, so they wanted to go back to Egypt. They kept chafing at the bit; they continually complained to Moses, and also complained about him. They asked, "Why are you leading us into the desert to die...Aren't there any graves in Egypt?" They rebelled against God and at the authority of the law (which Moses represented), because they did not have a heart to go into the promised land. After the spies had spied out the land, ten of them said, "It is full of walled cities and we can't overcome them. No way!" The land was bigger than their God! This is the way the law works in us. It causes us to think our difficulties are bigger than our God.

The law comes with commandments, and disobedience brings punishment. Seeing and following these things which Moses represented, can get us to see the promised land, but they won't get us INTO it; they won't get us across the Jordan.

Do you realize that Moses never crossed the Jordan because he was Mr. Law?! The law is a schoolmaster, a child leader, that brings us to Christ. The law was used by God, but it could not take Moses and the people in. God took Moses up the mountain and showed him the promised land. He saw it from Mt. Nebo, and there he died. As law people, we can only see the promised land, but we cannot get in. A whole generation of people had to die. This typifies the truth that the law has to die in us before we can get into the promised land!

When the new generation appeared at the Jordan River, the priests took the ark to the water, and the waters parted. They carried the ark of the covenant to the middle of the Jordan, where they stood firm on dry ground, and all Israel crossed on dry ground. Then they took 12 stones from the land and put them into the water. Next they took 12 stones from the bottom of the river and put them onto the land. The 12 stones are a type of the 12 patriarchs, 12 being the number of government in the scriptures. That is why Jesus chose 12 disciples, because He came to bring a new government in us. So the exchange of stones represented a change of government. God commanded them to do all these things so that they would realize that they were now under a new government. Joshua gave instructions concerning these stones to the new generation of Israelites.

Years later, John the Baptist told the Pharisees and Sadducees not to rely on the fact that they had Abraham as their father, but that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Near the descent of the Mt. of Olives, Jesus said to the Pharisees, "If these (people) become silent, the stones will cry out." They were talking about the stones which had been exchanged!

There is great significance in this exchange! The generation of the law had to die out before the new generation could cross the Jordan and enter Canaan. Even so the law has to die in us before we can enter in and possess the land. Canaan is a picture of the kingdom of God, and it is possessed by faith. We cannot get in by our works of the flesh; nor can the law enter the promised land. If the law is our master and lord, it will govern our life, and keep us from entering in. Therefore an exchange of government has to take place first of all. Jesus Christ becomes our government instead of the law!

Jesus became the fulfillment of these Old Testament types and shadows! "And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about 30 years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli." (Luke 3:23) In the Old Testament, priests were ordained when they were 30 years of age. Jesus lived under the law for the first thirty years of His life. The prescribed sacrifices were offered for Him, and He observed the prescribed feast days. While He was subservient to the law, He never did a miracle and never got into problems. In obedience to the law, He began His ministry at the age of 30.

Six months prior to that, John the Baptist came on the scene as Mr. Repentance in the spirit of Elijah. John was calling people to repentance - to change their minds and the direction of their lives. This is the meaning of repentance! It is not a miserable guilty feeling, with an accompanying resolve to improve oneself by repressing one's desire to sin. Obviously, if we were living in sin and wanted to get out of it, a change would have to take place! When Jesus appeared at the Jordan River to be baptized by John, He repented. The whole direction of His life was changed. John was hesitant about baptizing Him. He said, "You ought to baptize Me." And Jesus said, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." What is meant by "all righteousness"? There is a righteousness of the law, and a righteousness which is by faith. I believe He fulfilled both at His baptism.

At this time the government under which Jesus functioned, changed from law to Spirit. This had been symbolized by the exchange of the 12 stones from the Jordan to the land, and from the land to the Jordan. After Jesus came out of the water (symbolizing death to the old government), the devil came to Him to tempt Him. The fact that Jesus emerged victoriously over all the temptations of the adversary, is an indication that the judgment of that old man was over; it was finished - peace had come, and the new man was ruling.

Jesus did all His redemptive work as a corporate man; He did nothing on His own initiative, nor for Himself. He did not come down from heaven, nor take on flesh and die for our sins, in order to glorify Himself. He needed no repentance from sin. We have to understand that He did everything for us and as us because He was making a new man. There are only two corporate men. Every one of us is living either in the consciousness of the first man, the earthy, natural man, or the second man, the heavenly, spiritual man. We have been raised from being dead in Adam to being alive in Christ. So we put on the new man who is created after righteousness.

The baptism of Jesus has tremendous meaning for us! His baptism was a corporate fulfillment of all that had happened when Israel crossed the Jordan. In Himself, He was putting to death everything that pertained to the law; He received a circumcision of the heart, instead of the flesh; He came into the kingdom of God - there to be ruled by God. The rule of the law was exchanged for the rule of the Spirit!

After Jesus was baptized, He prayed and the heavens opened -they were opened for us! In Matt. 16 Jesus told Peter He was giving the keys of the kingdom of heaven to him. Peter used them when he preached the first gospel to the Jews. By going to Cornelius, the first convert of the Gentile nation, Peter opened the kingdom to the Gentiles. (Acts 10) So the kingdom of heaven is open to us because of what Jesus Christ did - not because of anything we do or did.

The Holy Spirit then descended in bodily shape like a dove, and a voice came from heaven which said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Here Jesus was taken out of the servitude to the law and was placed as a Son over the household of God. Here Jesus Christ received His adoption! Adoption means to be placed in the house as a son - and this releases us from the servanthood of the law. "And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness." (Luke 4:1) Previously Jesus had been led by the law, and this is the first recorded occasion in which He was led by the Spirit.

In the third chapter of Hebrews, the writer recounts the disobedience of the Israelites. They would not enter the promised land because they did not believe God could deliver them from the giants who possessed the land. They continued to test God in their wilderness wanderings because of their unbelief. This generation of unbelievers was refused entry into the new land by God. They had to die off, and a new generation of believers crossed the Jordan. Natural man functions under the law, and that man cannot enter the kingdom. He is not a believer. He needs a new government - the government of the Spirit! That is why our government has to be changed, so we can enter the kingdom of God!

Jesus took mankind with Him in all of His experiences! We were crucified with Christ, we died with Him, we were raised with Him, and we are sitting in the heavenlies with Him! We are also going to be glorified together with Him! When He appears, we are going to appear with Him because our life is hidden with Christ in God. This is our life, a glorious union with Christ Jesus!

Do you know what has happened in your life and mine? The Jordan means death. When we come to the Jordan, we leave the law and receive the Holy Spirit. Then the heavens are opened to us, and the Spirit witnesses to our spirit that we are the sons of God - just like He did to Jesus! All controversy is ended when, by the Spirit, God tells us that we are sons! That takes us out of the law and into the Spirit. This is the only way we can function in the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is simply the rule of God. If we are under the law, we are servants, but if we are led by the Spirit, we are sons!

The law requires us to keep the Sabbath. The Hebrew word SHABBATH or SABBATH means REST. That is why the seventh day was called the Sabbath. The Sabbath is never Sunday; it is always Saturday. The Sabbath is the law and it is "...a shadow of things to come; but the substance belongs to Christ". (Col. 2:16-17) So if we try to keep the Sabbath, we are living in the shadows and are trying to keep the shadows instead of receiving the reality. The Sabbath is a place where God rested from His works - it is the rest of God. Now if God has ceased from His works, then we might as well rest from ours. But God did not rest until He brought forth the image of God in man! After that God could rest. He worked six days, and it wasn't until the sixth day that man came on the scene. Man was made in the image of God. So if we realize that we are created spiritually in the image of God, we can rest from our labors that are initiated by self. Being created in the image of God does not refer to our physical body, because God is spirit! We rest from our works and let God do His work in and through us!

Let's turn to a prophetic Psalm. Psalm 132:13 reads, "For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation." He desires to live in Zion from where the horn or heir of David springs forth. (v.17) But how can we build a place for God to live? God said, "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things." (Is. 66:1-2a) Heaven and earth cannot contain the Lord!

How can we be so presumptuous to think that we can build a house for our God who fills heaven and earth? If we can't build a house for Him, then where is He going to live, and who will build the house? Obviously He will have to do it Himself! Six different temples were built before our body became the temple of the Holy Spirit - the habitation that God wants in our spirit. This is not a place of activity, but of rest! God wants us to enter His rest! We cannot enter His rest by our own works -- the works of the law! As we rest from our own works we enter His rest! This is the habitation of God in our spirit! In this rest we only do the work the Father tells us to do; this work is not our work, but the Father doing His work through us!

"This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it." (Ps. 132:14) No matter how great the house that man has tried to build for God - it has been a failure. Even Solomon's temple was not a permanent dwelling place for God. This great temple replaced the tabernacle or tent built in the wilderness. It now had a beautiful magnificent exterior and interior, but nothing of that which Moses had put in the ark was left, except the two tablets of stone! (1 Kings 8:9) Aaron's rod and the container with manna were lost! By the time Jesus came, this temple had been raided and torn down by the Babylonians, partly rebuilt by the Jews, then remodelled and beautified by Herod, the Edomite. Herod was related to the Jews because he was a descendant of Esau, Jacob's brother. Here was a mixture: Esau who despised his birthright and Jacob who sought it, were united in the building and beautifying of the temple.

During Jesus' time the inside of the temple was bare. Nothing was left in the holy places - the ark of the covenant was gone; so were the cherubim, the rod of Aaron, the mercy seat, the altar of incense, and the lampstands. There was still an outward show, but the inside was desolate. This pictured the state of humanity when Jesus came. On the outside they were whited sepulchres; on the inside, graveyards. It was desolate! This house is the abomination of desolation. The one who sits in there is antichrist. It is the abomination spoken of by Daniel.

Zion is not like that! Zion and the city of God are synonymous. God said, "This is My rest forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her needy with bread. Her priests also I will clothe with salvation."

"In My Father's house are many mansions...Jesus answered and said to him, `If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our ABODE with him'." (John 14:1,23) The FATHER'S HOUSE is NOT the equivalent of heaven; it refers to the Father's household, the people, or the tabernacle of God WHOSE HOUSE WE ARE, as it says in Hebrews. The word MANSIONS in verse 1, is translated from the same Greek word which is translated ABODE in verse 23. ABODE is the correct translation, and Jesus is saying that in His Father's house there are many dwelling places or ABODES. An ABODE is not a visitation; it is a habitation, a dwelling place. There is a place for each one of us in the Father's house! Let us continue to build on this foundational knowledge.

To whom does the word WE refer? Can Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit be divided? If Christ came, did God come? Of course! We can't divide them; they are one! And they are making their abode in us! That is their resting place. Jesus said, "I will send you the Comforter, and He will ABIDE with you forever." This abode, this resting place, is in our hearts. As we remain in the peace God has given us, and rest from our labor and works, we no longer strive against God! We have a resting place where we can abide, and God has a resting place where He can abide!

God does not abide in our turmoil. There is no rest when we try to produce our own righteousness by doing our own works, trying to be holy, and trying to quit sinning. There is no rest in the old man, for he always has to try to be righteous. If we are full of sin-consciousness and turmoil, we are not God's resting place. However, Christ has forgiven us, given us peace and the knowledge that God has come and made His abode in us. He has given us His mind! There is no turmoil in His mind! It is the place in us which is at rest and peace, without anxiety and sin-consciousness!

The reason God did not live in man before the Holy Spirit was poured out, is because "the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. `There is no peace,' says my God, `for the wicked'." (Isaiah 57:20-21) The wicked are impure, so the wind and the waves bring a revelation of what is in them; they keep churning up the refuse, so they always live in condemnation. They have no rest! They keep seeking it by trying to be righteous, blaming others - even God - for their failures.

Our place of rest is the rest Christ has prepared for us. After He has prepared it, He comes to dwell in it. In Isaiah 11:10b we read, "And His resting place will be glorious" - literally GLORY. Keeping the Sabbath means resting from our own righteousness and works, and depending on HIS righteousness and works. It is truly glorious, or glory, when we remain in the resting place God has prepared for us! Then God rests within us! AMEN.

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