Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 52
The Believer’s Sacrifice
Hebrews 12:18 – 13:25
Always remember that when other groups claim to have truth, you can compare what they use with this Book. No other book on earth can prophesy things hundreds and hundreds of years in advance and have them be fulfilled to the last detail like our Bible does. And one of the examples I gave the other night was, “Do you realize that King Cyrus, the Meade and Persian king that sent the Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple after the 70 years of captivity, was named by an Israeli prophet 150 years before he was born?” Now, no other book on earth can do that. And even as we just see the whole Middle East scenario tonight, everything that we’re seeing in the world today has been prophesied in this Book like no other. So this is why we study – to prepare hearts and minds for even tomorrow’s newspaper.
Alright, we’re going to wind up the Book of Hebrews in these next four lessons. So, Hebrews chapter 12 and where we left off in our last program, which was verse 18.
Again, the whole Book of Hebrews is directed to Jews who were battling the spiritual warfare of coming out of Judaism with all of its law and demands and “works religion,” and stepping into Paul’s Gospel of Grace. Now, of course, Paul doesn’t reveal himself because the Jews hated him, and so he wasn’t about to show his card. But, nevertheless, we’re convinced that Paul is the writer of this epistle. He uses several Pauline statements, as well as what Peter says in his little epistle “remember what the Apostle Paul has written unto you.” And we know that Peter is addressing Jews so that sort of puts the frosting on the cake that Paul is writing to Jewish people who are fighting this battle of overcoming the draw back into Judaism. Consequently, all the way up through Hebrews (and I’ve been pointing it out whenever it comes along, that yes, the past in the Old Testament and Law and the Four Gospels was good, but) pure grace under Paul’s teachings is so much better. So as we begin Paul is going to make a reference to Mt. Sinai in verse 18.
“For ye are not come unto the mount (that is, Mt. Sinai back there when God was on the mount. with thunder and fire and all of that) that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest. 19. And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word not be spoken to them any more:” In other words, the Law as I’ve said over and over even in the Four Gospel accounts, was what? Severe! The Law had no room for argument. If someone was taken in adultery, what did the Law demand? Instant death! No trial by jury and 15 years of appeals. The Law was severe. And here, too, when God came down on Mt. Sinai, it wasn’t with love and mercy and grace. It was with power and might and it scared the Israelites to death. And then the warning was, “Don’t even touch the mountain lest you die. Don’t let an animal touch it. If he does you’re to put him to death.” So this is what we have to understand.
Now it’s interesting, as I’ve said before back in Romans and other areas where Paul writes, that he divides these things into groups of seven. Now there are seven visible things concerning Mt. Sinai, and I’m sure that Paul didn’t sit down and think before he started – I think he probably dictated most of his letters. And I don’t think Paul sat down and racked his brain and said, “Now, how can I put up seven points?” Now you know, a lot of preachers make a big deal over a three-point sermon. And that’s all well and good. But my, they’ll spend hours putting together a three-point sermon. I don’t think Paul did that. Paul didn’t have to sit back and say, “Well now, how can I put all this in groups of seven.” I don’t think it even entered his mind. But the Scripture says that he, like all other writers of Scripture, were moved by the Holy Spirit.
And so, here again, this is what I’m always referring to as the intricacy of Scripture. There is again, no man-made book can do it like the Holy Spirit has done with this one. And here we have seven visible things concerning Mt. Sinai, so let’s look at them. “For you are not come to the mountain.” Now everybody knows what a mountain looks like and Mt. Sinai in particular. And that it could not be touched and it burned with, what? Fire! Now, when God came down, the flame was up on the top of the mountain. Alright, so there’s two. “nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest.” The mountain, the fire, the blackness – and you know some explorers feel that they’ve found the evidence of this on top of a mountain there in Arabia where it had a burnt rock that was black.
“And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:” All of these things were outwardly visible and they could hear it and it just made the children of Israel quake. And the voice of words, God spoke – it was scaring them to death. Now verse 20:
“(For they could not endure that which was commanded,…)” God was absolute, He was Holy, He was Righteous. And Israel feared and quaked in His presence. Even Moses, the great man that he was, just feared being in the presence of this Almighty God. Now completing verse 20:
“(…And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:…)” Now what is that? That’s severe. That’s driving the fear of God into these people. You were not just fooling around with some pagan idol here. You are dealing with the Almighty, living God. The God with power, and might, and holiness, see? The world, today has lost a lot of that, which of course, is as it should be. We’re not dealing with a God of wrath and anger today. We’re dealing with a God of grace. But nevertheless, this is what Israel came up against when they came around Mt. Sinai and were waiting for the Law to be given. Now verse 21.
“(…And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)” Even Moses (let alone the poor everyday Israelite) said, “I exceedingly fear and quake.” Why? Because of Who God was! The Almighty, see? Alright, now we come to seven better things. Now this is where we are. And here again, it’s in a group of seven. Isn’t it amazing how Scripture does that over and over and over. Now verse 22, what’s the first word? “But!” Now, I think I’m known for saying the “flip-side.” Whereas Israel was dealing with this frightening experience with God, the flip-side brings us to where we are.
“But ye are come unto Mt. Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, (which we feel is the Body of Christ, fellow believers) which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just (or righteous) men made perfect. (and I’m going to read it on to the end of these seven) 24. And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better (see there it is again) things than that of Abel.”
Now let’s go back and count them. Come back and look at verse 22 and the first tangible thing that we come to that is completely opposite from the visible manifestations at Mt. Sinai – we step now into the spiritual realm, because after all, everything for us in the new Age of Grace is a spiritual connection. Not earthly. Not material. Not physical. Alright, and so we have “come to the city of the living God.” The city, that’s the first one. “And to innumerable company of (what?) angels.” We’re actually going into the angelic realm. Alright, “to the general assembly of the first born.” And of course, that’s you and I as believers. We are the first born because of our relationship with Christ, “who are written in heaven and to God the(what?) Judge of all, and to the spirits just (or righteous) men made perfect.” Verse 24: The sixth one I think now is the “Mediator of the new covenant” and then the seventh, “the blood of sprinkling.”
Now I’m just pointing that out – not that you have to remember the seven of seven, but just to show you how intricately the Holy Spirit puts Scripture together. It’s not haphazard. It is beautiful in its construction. Alright let’s go back up and pick the verses apart now. Come with me to verse 22. As Grace Age believers now (members of the Body of Christ), we have been made accessible to the city of the Living God.
Now, I’m going to have to bring you back in order to clarify it from one of Paul’s other epistles. And that would be back to Colossians chapter 1, and let’s just drop in at verses 12 and 13. Now here is our heavenly connection. Everything under the old covenant, everything pertaining to God and Israel, was earthly. They were an earthly people with earthly promises, an earthly temple and an earthly priesthood. Everything concerning God and Israel was earthly. For us, everything is heavenly. We’re connected to the Head, Who is in heaven. Our citizenship is in heaven. Our rewards are piling up in heaven. And we’re just strangers in this earth. We’re not citizens of this planet at all.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet (or prepared us) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:” Now what’s an inheritance? It’s something you gain by being an heir. Now I didn’t intend to do this but we’ve got to tie all of this together. Come back with me to Romans chapter 8 because I want people to see that we’re not just digging something and making something of it without showing that it’s tied all the way through Scripture. Now for us, of course, the main parts of Scripture are Paul’s epistles. Paul alone deals with this Age of Grace. All the rest of Scripture deals with the earthly people, Israel. But here this apostle of the Gentiles, the apostle of grace, or as one author put it, I think, in the title of his book, “The Apostle of Souls Set Free.” Hey, I like that. That’s what he’s done. It’s through Paul’s writings that we’ve been set free.
Somebody told me in one of our seminars up in Minnesota how he had come out of this religious background of “do this and do that.” And he said, “Now I’m free.” And I suppose I looked kind of quizzical, so he said, “Les have you ever carried a bag of potatoes on your back?” I said, “Well, something close to it. I carry feed every day.” He said, “What does it feel like when you drop it?” Well, there’s the example. He said, “That’s what it’s like. You come out of all that legalism and all that demands and you’re set free.” Well, yeah, that’s what the apostle was. He was the apostle of the souls set free. He’s the apostle of grace. Don’t you love that? You know, I just told a lady this morning who came out of one of these backgrounds, “You know, you folks are so much more exuberant than a lot of the people that I have generally grown up with, because you have experienced being set free.” And many of you here know what I’m talking about.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (or the children) of God. 15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit (that’s capitalized, which is a reference to the Holy Spirit) of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Now then we find that same Spirit beareth witness with our spirit. Now that’s a communal relationship.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we (hope to be?) are the children of God.” Can you see the difference? How many of the religions of the world tell their people, “Well you can’t really know. The best you can do is hope.” That’s not what my Bible teaches. My Bible says the Holy Spirit communes with me and convinces me, confirms with me that I am, you are, not “hope to be,” see? Alright, now here it comes. That’s why I came back here.
“And if (you’re) children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” You’re an heir! You’re an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. Now that’s our relationship as believers in this new Age of Grace. We’re not under the Law. We’re not under bondage. We’re not under the heavy burden of works, works, works. But we’ve been set free and now we are under that joint heirship with Christ. Now, back to Colossians 1.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:” That’s what took me back to Romans 8. Now verse 13. This same God:
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us (already) into the kingdom of his dear Son:” Now goodness sakes, where’s the Son? Well, He’s in heaven, not here on earth. And we are connected to His kingdom in heaven – not the earthly kingdom promised to Israel, but that heavenly connection that we have with Christ. Now let’s come back to Hebrews chapter 12; and so we have not come to a physical mountain, Sinai, that can’t be touched by man or beast, but we have come to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem and that brings us into consort with what? “The innumerable company of angels.” or in the margin of your Bible, probably says the myriads of angels. That’s part of heaven.
You know, in part of our retreat in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago, one morning in particular) I don’t know why (whether it was the songs we sang or whatever), but it was a taste of heaven. And I told the young lady that put it together afterwards, “You know, this has been as close a taste of heaven as I have ever experienced.” It was just goose-bump producing.
Alright, now to just get a glimpse of the glory that’s waiting for us. Now I wish I could get Christians excited. It seems everybody’s in the doldrums. I know the world is tough and I know that the news is never good, but listen, like one person wrote a while back, “The worse it gets, the closer we are to the Lord’s coming.“ And so you and I can rejoice. The worse it gets, the closer we are to His coming. It has to get bad before the end comes. And so here we are, introduced into the heavenlies with that innumerable company of angels. Now verse 23.
“To the general assembly and church of the firstborn,…” We had just gotten back from two weeks up north, and every place we go, we meet people for the first time. We step into the front door and it’s as if we’ve known each other all our lives. Why? Because we’re like-minded believers. You’re not strangers. We’re not strangers. And Paul is expressing that, and this is the difference. I hope you’re catching it now. What a difference from the fear and the admonition of the roaring God on the top of Mt. Sinai compared to our relationship as members of the Body of Christ – and we enter into the heavenlies constantly in the realm of the spirit, without fear, without trepidation. And we’re immediately in consort with like-minded believers. What a difference, see?
“To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all,…” Now you know for the unbeliever that would be frightening – to have God one day judging their life. But not for us as believers. Now let me take you back to II Corinthians chapter 5 and let’s just drop down to verse 9.
II Corinthians 5:9-10a
“Wherefore (Paul says) we labour, (as believers now. Not for salvation, because of it) that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. 10. For we must all (believers)appear before the judgment seat (now in the Greek I like it better. It’s the Bema Seat. The seat of the judges) of Christ;…” Now there won’t be any unbelievers at this judgment. This is strictly for the believers and members of the Body of Christ.
II Corinthians 5:10b
“…that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Now, the consoling thing here is that never, when we come before the Lord Jesus as our judge, will we be confronted with our sin. Never again will we have to meet Him with our sin. That’s been forgiven. It’s been placed under the blood. And in Micah, our sins have been what? They’ve been buried in the deepest sea, never to be brought back up to us again. But we will come before Him to be judged for our rewards according to what we have done as a believer. Have you been wasting your time or have you been out there doing the things for Christ for all the right reasons? Let’s go back to I Corinthians chapter 3, and here is just another view of that same event when we’re going to come before the Lord Jesus, not as our judge concerning eternal doom or eternal life (that’s settled), but we will come before Him to determine our reward. What have you done as a Christian to gain reward?
I Corinthians 3:12-13
“Now if any man build upon this foundation (which of course is Christ and His finished work) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: 13. Every man’s work (as a believer)shall be made manifest: for the day (this judgment day for the believer at the Bema Seat) shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; (that is the fiery eyes of the Lord Jesus)and the fire shall try (test) every man’s work of what sort it is.” Is it gold, silver, and precious stones which fire can’t touch, or would it be wood, hay or stubble which will go up in a puff of smoke. Well, that’s obvious, then, that if you have works that are counted as gold, silver and precious stones, they will abide and you’re going to receive reward for all eternity.