Insights into Hebrews: Part 7

By Lloyd Ellefson

How wonderful it is to have ONE God! We are so blessed to know that we don't have a number of gods - otherwise we might be in a constant dilemma as to which one we should please, appease or gratify. God's appearance to Abraham revealed the one true God, thereby destroying the image of many gods. Israel had its beginning in Abraham and in the knowledge that there is only one God. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God." However, the church has been teaching that there are three Gods. God's great revelation to Christianity is that there is only ONE God!

Jesus had a long discourse on the true vine and the coming of the Comforter in John chapters 14-16. In 16:25 He said, "These things I have spoken to you in figurative language (proverbs or figures of speech); an hour is coming, when I will speak no more in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father." Doesn't it seem strange to think that everything He said in these chapters about the coming of the Holy Spirit was actually spoken in a proverb, figure of speech or parable? As a matter of fact, Christians are always a parable to the natural man, for "a natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him..." (1 Cor. 2:14)

Spiritual things are taught to spiritual people or to people who are in the Spirit. Since the natural man cannot receive them, they are foolishness to him; therefore it is a waste of time and energy to try to teach him spiritual things. If the spiritual realities we teach, are not foolishness to you, you are receiving them spiritually. In order to hear God, we have to hear what the Spirit is saying. When we don't hear the Spirit, the natural mind is busy conceiving and giving birth to things in the natural mind. This always produces death, for it is death.

The natural mind seeks fulfillment in a ministry. It thinks an office or position in the church is necessary in order to minister to the Lord. So people seek an office. Ministries do not produce the Son and are not to enhance one's ego. There is no true ministry except the ministry which is produced by the Son. The ministries He gives are not given as an office or a residency. He ministers Himself! The life of Jesus Christ can only be imparted to others in union with Himself. If we lose the union, we only have our own ministry. The life of Jesus cannot be ours without Him!

The Father's voice is the only one we are to listen to. After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the Father spoke out of heaven and said, "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased." (Luke 3:22) This happened a second time when Jesus and some of His disciples were on the Mount of Transfiguration. There Peter said, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah... then a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, `This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; hear Him!'" (Matt. 17:4-5) When the disciples heard this, they were very frightened; they lost their own idea of God and listened! God's message to them was that they were to listen to the Son's voice! His voice comes to us through the Holy Spirit; it can be spoken to us by people who have heard the voice of the Spirit. His voice is the only voice to which we are to pay attention! When we know His authority, our relationship and subjection to others will be correct. We should not be drawn into submission to those who drip honey from their mouths. We represent God, so we do not bow to man. Man bows to God!

"That you may not be sluggish (slothful), but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, `I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you.' And thus, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed (guaranteed) with an oath, in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." (Heb. 6:12-20)

Since there was no one greater, God swore by Himself that He would accomplish His promise! By two immutable or unchangeable things He would make the promise to Abraham come true, because a promise needs to be kept! When men make a treaty of some kind, they need someone greater than themselves to confirm it. This ends any controversy. However there is no one greater than God! He is the truth, and there is no lie in Him! God did not expect Abraham nor anyone else to fulfill His promise to give Abraham a son. All Abraham had to do was wait for the fulfillment of that promise! Abraham's efforts only created problems! He had to learn that the hard way! Like Abraham, we often learn the hard way before we believe that God will do what He has promised! God will accomplish everything He has promised!

Isaac is called the son of promise. We, as Isaac, are sons of promise. God has promised that we are going to be conformed to the image of His Son! (Rom. 8:29) But man always needs a lot of convincing! Because this does not seem to be taking place at this time, we comfort ourselves with the thought that it will take place after our death; or we want to help God fulfill His promises. We think God's promises are dependent on our self-effort, so we have to perform to attain the promise. As Abraham, we try self-effort, and get into more problems. Self-effort is useless because it has to be the work of God! He will do what He has promised! He is conforming us to the image of His Son by causing us to grow in the revelation knowledge of God and by taking us out of the deadness of the thinking that is in the carnal mind.

Self-effort is not the new covenant! The new covenant gives a promise together with a guarantee that it will be fulfilled without our help. God Himself has underwritten it! That leaves us out of the picture. Some 400 years after the promise was given to Abraham, God gave the law. This was not to nullify the promise, but to show and convince us that our righteousness could not fulfill what His promise had in store for us! The smart thing to do is to drop that idea, and let the One who came to perform it, even Christ, do the performing! We have it made!

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil (inside the holiest place)." (v.19) That is where our forerunner has entered. A forerunner has to have followers, and we are the ones who follow!

Chapter 7 gives us more information about Melchizedek. He is introduced to us in Genesis 14 - after Abraham had come to the rescue of his nephew Lot. A historical review reveals that Lot used to live with his uncle Abraham. After some time, their herds became so great that a separation had to take place. Abraham gave his nephew the opportunity to choose where he would like to go. The plains around Sodom and Gomorrah were very fruitful and the best grazing lands in that vicinity before God destroyed those cities. That is why Lot chose them! He moved his tents as far as Sodom, then moved into the city. Lot thought he could save the world. In those days the judges sat in the gates and passed judgment on those who were coming in and going out and that is where Lot sat. He set himself up as a righteous judge in the city. This is how he got entangled with their battle, and was captured with the rest of the Sodomites.

Jesus compared the day in which the Son of Man will be revealed, to the day that Lot went out from Sodom and it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed it. He also said to remember Lot's wife, who longingly looked back to the things of this world. The church today is identifying with Lot instead of with Abraham. She thinks she is righteous even though so much evil is crowding in upon her. She thinks that, as Lot was taken out of Sodom, so the church will be taken out of the way in the rapture. We should not identify with Lot who didn't want to leave Sodom when it was to be destroyed. Neither did he want to heed the instructions of the angels who told him to go to the mountain because he wanted to go to a city.

We should identify with Abraham! Abraham did not choose for himself like Lot did. He let God choose for him! He did not get mixed up with the heathen nations. He remained separated from them even though it isolated him. When certain kings made war against the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot was among those who were captured. Abraham heard about it and went into battle and defeated the kings; he freed Lot and all who were with him. On his way back, Abraham met Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High. Melchizedek blessed Abraham, who gave him a tenth of all. The priesthood of Melchizedek was far superior to the Levitical priesthood represented by Aaron. Aaron wasn't important in himself, but he represented the priesthood. The order of Melchizedek was important because it pictured the priesthood that would come in Christ.

"To whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he abides a priest perpetually." (Heb. 7:2-3) Melchizedek was both priest and king. The priesthood and the kingship were divided until Jesus came and united them. Melchizedek didn't have any genealogy; he abides a priest continually. He doesn't die, he doesn't pass away. That is why he is a type of Jesus Christ.

"Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest's office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham. But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham, and blessed the one who had the promises. But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. And in this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. And, so to speak, through Abaraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him." (vv. 4-10) Abraham was the lesser because he paid tithes to Melchizedek.

The tribe of Levi was chosen for the priesthood because it answered the call when Moses came down from the mountain and asked, "Who is on the Lord's side?" They fought against those who were in favor of worshiping the golden calf. Under the Levitical priesthood the people received the law. In this priesthood, only the descendants of Aaron were eligible to minister in the tabernacle. Anything that depends on our actions to receive God's blessing is the law. Today, the preaching of the law consists of "Thou shalt" and "thou shalt not"; if we do the prescribed things God will bless us. When God changed the priesthood, He also changed the law!

We are not under the law; we are under grace. Yet it seems that every church system is under the law. When did the law come? In Gal. 4:21, Paul tells the Galatians that they desire to be under the law but they do not listen to the law. It is interesting to note that he then talks about Abraham, Hagar and Sarah. At that time the law had not yet been given, but there must have been some aspects of the law present.

Let's go back to the time of Adam. God introduced the law when He told Adam that he should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The penalty for tansgressing that law was death. Adam transgressed the law! The law is not just a set of commandments - it is a principle for living! The written law was given to the people to see if they could perform it, and the flesh was challenged to keep it. It was holy, good and spiritual; it was there all the time, and it won't pass away. Since it was not made for the righteous man, can we safely deduce that Adam was not righteous?

"Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood ....what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek...?" (Heb. 7:11) If we got perfection through the old system, a new one would not be necessary. "For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also." (v.12) Both the priesthood and the law have been changed. Notice the two laws mentioned in Rom. 8:2 - the law of sin and death and the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. We have been freed from the first law, and can now experience life and peace because of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. This law of life brings about the death to sin. It causes us to function in spiritual life; it does not refer to the the natural or physical. Nothing good dwells in our flesh, so eternal life does not exist in the flesh. Eternal life is in Christ Jesus! But spiritual life will also affect our physical life.

God dealt with the physical life of the Israelites in the old covenant. He blessed them with prosperity and gave them victory over their enemies! That meant many people, even whole armies were killed and tortured. And what was the end result? Nobody learned anything; they only turned farther away from God. So what was the purpose of the law? They were to see that the law covenant could not produce the righteousness of God in them! If we only look to God for physical blessings we are not living in the new covenant.

"...There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." (Rom.3:10-12) One would think that people would have learned this lesson by now, but they haven't. Instead, they have dragged their old base of operations into the new covenant. They still send people to fight wars and kill people, and pray for victory and their safe return.

This is not God's way. Jesus said, "Do not return evil for evil." Jesus was telling people how to deal with their enemies. How many of us would be willing to lay down our physical lives for our enemies? Jesus was the perfect pattern of who we are to be. He simply did not defend His physical body! He did not use physical power! The weapons of His warfare were not carnal (natural), but they were mighty through death! He left the greatest impact on the world through death! The people who killed Him have suffered an ignominous defeat. No murderers are as great and famous as Jesus! Jesus obtained His greatness from God by being obedient unto death; by being killed instead of killing! If we have been crucified with Christ, our life is hidden with Christ in God. Therefore we do not have to defend it. This is a principle of Christianity.

"For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests." (Heb. 7:13-14) The Jews were waiting for their Messiah to come from the tribe of Judah. Jesus, as a descendant of Judah, was qualified according to the law, to take the sceptre - to be King. However, He was disqualified from the priesthood, for He was not of Levitical descent. So His priesthood did not come according to traditional inheritance; it cut across the inheritance of the flesh by omitting the Levitical priesthood. This showed that His priesthood was of a new order and put an end to the old.

The old priesthood ministered the law and subjected people to the law. But after Jesus received the anointing, He was over the law. He often performed miracles of healing on the Sabbath day. Even in the synagogue Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath! Presumptuous! So the religious leaders of that day opposed Him. They said there were six days to heal people, and the Sabbath should not be used for healing! I believe Jesus purposely healed on the Sabbath - not to anger the religious leaders, but to picture the spiritual healing in the restoration that was coming in the Christ - not in the flesh. The spiritual healing comes on the Sabbath, the real Sabbath or rest of God, when man ceases from his labor. Every miracle Jesus did was a picture of the restoration rest that is in Christ. That is the Sabbath of God. That is the spiritual man God created. Then God rested from His labors! There was a completeness! Healing and restoration do not come in man's works; they only come in God's work!.

Jesus demonstrated that He was Lord of the Sabbath. He said that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man. It is a rest into which man is to come, but it cannot be forced upon him! God takes over when man rests from his own labors and lets God do His work in him! This is when healing, restoration, peace, and raising from the dead that Jesus demonstrated, will become evident. On the Sabbath the work of God's six days comes into fruition. That is when we see the great Sabbath of God!

"And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life." (Heb. 7:15-16) It may surprise you to learn that the New Testament speaks very little about eternity. There are very few verses in the New Testament that have the meaning of EVERLASTING or ETERNITY. Almost every word that has been translated as meaning EVERLASTING, actually means having a beginning and an ending. The words ENDLESS and EVERLASTING mean without having an end. That which is according to the law, is not endless, for it has a beginning and an ending. Christ became our High Priest according to the power of an endless life. So we don't have to worry that He will pass away nor that anyone else will take over. He always has been and He always will be! He was before the world began, and He is never leaving His ministry!

"For it is witnessed of Him, `Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.' For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God." (vv.17-19) The former commandment was declared unprofitable and was therefore set aside as void and useless, and a new order was established. The coming of the new order did away with the old.

As we experience forgiveness and release from our condemnation, we know something has happened to us. Everything becomes new - even the law! Our new appreciation or understanding of all things includes the law. Now the law is not just a natural, carnal commandment to us; it is spiritual. We begin to understand what Paul meant when he said, "And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." (Eph. 4:32)

Naturally, we have to grow in our understanding of spiritual realities. This growth is typified by the progression of the feasts Israel had to celebrate. Let's look at the first Passover and Pentecost in order to receive more light on this subject. The Israelites celebrated the first Passover feast immediately prior to leaving Egypt. Then they crossed the Red Sea; this symbolized water baptism. On Mt. Sinai, fifty days after the Passover feast (Pentecost), Moses received the law - the law of sin and death. The giving of this law was accompanied by the sound of thunder and lightning flashes and a very loud trumpet sound. The giving of the the new law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus in Acts 2, was accompanied by the sound of a violent rushing wind and by tongues as of fire. This was the second feast - the feast of Pentecost.

Fifty days after the crucifixion and the celebration of the Passover, the Holy Spirit was poured out and the new law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus was given. This is called Pentecost. In our Christian life we experience seasons of growth. In each season, these spiritual realities take on a new dimension as we receive a better understanding of them. My understanding of the Passover is much greater now than when I first came to know the Lord.

Behold, all things have become new! There is a new priesthood, a new law, a new creature (a new man), and a new way of living! We keep on growing in the new order which we have received! NEW means that it is new to us; it is made new to us by the Spirit. It is not brand new as though it had not been present before. For example, in our travels we see many views which are new to us. Though they have been in existence for a long time, we had not seen them before. Seeing them is a new experience for us. This can also be said of the new Jerusalem in the book of Revelation.

"And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, `The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, Thou art a priest forever'); so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant." (vv.20-22) In the Levitical priesthood, people became priests without an oath. God did not state that the promise would be fulfilled in them. The priesthood of Jesus is different. "The Lord has sworn." Here we have the oath coming to the foreground in the promise.

"And the former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers, because they were prevented by death from continuing, but He, on the other hand, because He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently." (vv. 23-24) In the old covenant they needed many Levitical priests because they were all dying. We have ONE now, because He lives!

"Hence, also, He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens." (vv.25-26) Jesus ascended far above all the heavens. (Eph. 4:10) He is seated far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, and all things have been put under His feet. (Eph. 1:20-22) I think this is what Paul saw when he was caught up to the third heaven and saw unutterable things because of the abundance of revelation that he received. I think that his physical body remained on earth when he was caught up. Since we are born into the kingdom of heaven, we don't get to heaven by dying. We are birthed into it because it is a place of life!

Jesus was raised up above the heavens - and heavens denote rulership. So he was raised above every other existing authority. Within us is ONE who has all authority! But this authority is not ours to use under our jurisdiction. That is not our place; we move out of our rightful place of being under Him, when we tell God what to do. He tells us what to do! We have often tried to determine what is good for us. We would like God to be our servant in our various situations. He is supposed to give us money, heal us, etc. as we direct. However, we have to abide by His principles. Jesus trusted His Father completely! He said, "I can do nothing of Myself...I came to do Thy will, O Father." We can also trust Him with all our heart, knowing His will is best for us!

We are to draw on His power to become like Jesus Christ. Jesus did not glorify Himself, nor did He receive honor from men. His glory lay in His ability to be submitted to God under all circumstances, even to the greatest degree of humiliation and degradation by men. This is the kind of glory that is to be ours - not the kind where we glorify ourselves! It is God who has to raise us up; He assigns a position to everyone. So often our mentality is that of being "Macho" - the important guy! But that is not Christ! Christ is as One who serves! When we look for Him we will find Him in the one who is doing something for someone else - one who ministers to the saints. He did not come to be ministered to, nor to seek glory from men; He did not ask people to bow to Him. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, so He never changes! He is not going to come down from heaven to receive honor from people. He never desired honor from men, and He never will. This is a principle in His life.

The only honor Jesus Christ will ever receive is the honor that comes from the Father, for this is what He said. People do not have the authority to crown Him; nor would He accept that from them. God has given Him authority over all things! Our part is to honor Him for WHO He is. We don't make Him who He is. God's hands are not tied. Who could tie them anyway? Let us not accept the absurd things that are thrown at us by well-meaning Christians.

God is speaking to us by His Spirit. If we have His Spirit within us, He will lead us along the same path that our Forerunner went - and He is exalted above the heavens! Those who travel this path are made like their Forerunner - holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners - for they are in Christ Jesus, and He is their dwelling place.

"Who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up HIMSELF. For the law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever." (vv. 27-28) The word HIMSELF has tremendous importance for us. Do you know that Jesus gave HIMSELF on the cross, and that God gave Him to us? Because of His sacrifice and offering we can receive Jesus Himself! Jesus gave Himself to God; God received that offering and then gave it to the world. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son."

Jesus Christ is the offering God received and gave to us. Many think that the death of Jesus Christ was a substitutionary sacrifice; they think His offering was like that of a substitutionary animal offering which the Israelites used to offer to God. They think that because He died a sustitutionary death for them, they can now go to heaven. They fail to realize that instead of being at the foot of the cross, they were on the cross with Jesus Christ, for they were crucified with Him!

This was a spiritual offering in which the Son of God offered Himself without spot or wrinkle to the Father. The Father received the offering of Jesus Christ the Son, and poured Him out in spirit to the world. It is Christ HIMSELF who is given to us. God is making all things new in Christ!

The whole realm of redemption is Jesus Christ. He is the One who motivates our redemption in us. He is the gift of God! He walked into the holiest place in the heavens and offered His blood to God. That blood was not His physical blood that ran out of His side when the soldier pierced Him. God said that the soul is in the blood, so it was the soul of His life that He presented to God. God poured that out and gave it to us in the Spirit. That is exactly what we receive when we become partakers of this offering.

Therefore He is the One who motivates everything that we do for God. If He does not do it, it is not an acceptable offering any more, because the days of the law with all its sacrifices are over. Christ is the only acceptable sacrifice! That is tremendously important. "For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever." Amen.

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