Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 52
Hebrews 12:18 – 13:25 – Part 2
We’re just going to get right back into the Book and Hebrews chapter 13 verse 10. Remember I’m always stressing I feel Paul wrote this Book of Hebrews, especially when he made mention of the Body, back there in one of the previous verses. Alright now he’s says in verse 10:
“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.” (or the Temple.) In other words, those still under the Law. Now don’t forget, and I mentioned this before, that while Paul is writing this, the Temple in Jerusalem is still going. It won’t be destroyed for another several years. Now I don’t know exactly when Hebrews was written, I doubt that anyone does, but if it was written in the early 60’s then the Temple isn’t destroyed until 70 AD. So never forget that the Temple is still going while our New Testament is being written.
In fact, I think I made mention of it in one of the earlier lessons in Hebrews; that it just struck me while we were taping that day – that wasn’t it amazing that God didn’t permit any of the other empires or even the Romans to destroy the Temple until Paul’s epistles were completed. Because, after all, until Paul’s epistles were completed, and the Age of Grace was now made available, the Temple was necessary. It was the only approach to God. But now with the Age of Grace opened up and Paul’s epistles finished, God could permit the Temple to be destroyed, and it was. Alright, but now then, when he’s writing, it’s still operating. So we have an access to God that those who were still under Temple worship didn’t understand.
“For the bodies of those beasts, (those sacrificial animals) whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, (now that of course was a reference to the Day of Atonement) are burned without (or outside) the camp.” Now the same here in Hebrews is a reference to the city of Jerusalem. And even in the Temple worship those beasts’ bodies were not burned there in the Temple complex, they were taken outside the city wall. Now verse 12.
“Wherefore (wherefore since even the sacrificial animal for the Day of Atonement had to be burned outside the city wall) Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, (in other words, his work of the cross, his death, his shed blood, he too) suffered (where?) without (or outside) the gate.” In other words, the Jews would have never agreed to have such a horrible spectacle as the crucifixion take place inside their hallowed ground. So they made sure that the Romans carried out the crucifixion outside the city wall. Alright so it was all in a fulfillment of God’s divine purposes, so Christ also, you see, suffered outside the city walls.
“Let us (now then as believers) go forth therefore unto him without (or outside) the camp, (or outside the city) bearing his reproach.” Now you see, present day Christendom has almost glorified the cross, haven’t we? We’ve glorified it. We’ve taken away the enigma and the shame and the reproach of the cross. But oh, it was a place of horrible shame and reproach. All the sin of the world, all the filth of mankind’s sin was laid on Christ as He hung on that cross, and we can’t comprehend it. There isn’t a man alive that can understand all that took place at that cross. You and I can’t comprehend it. When God reckoned all the sin of mankind as having been placed on the sin-bearer.
Now listen, you and I have got a vague notion of sin, but we can’t fathom the depths of it like God does. And yet, He laid it all on Christ, and so it became a place of horrible, horrible reproach. Nothing glamorous about it whatsoever, nothing. And yet it’s in that place of reproach that God poured out, not only His wrath, but also His what? Mercy! See, that’s why I maintain it’s no longer mandatory for us to pray the so called “sinners prayer – God be merciful to me a sinner.” Hey, that’s already done. Why ask for something that’s done? It becomes ridiculous. God poured out His mercy. All of heaven’s mercy was poured out to compensate for the wrath of God; and for us to come back and say, “Oh God, be merciful to me.” Hey, it’s ridiculous, it’s already done. And so we say, if you’re going to cry out for mercy, then you’re telling God He didn’t, but yes He did. And so His mercy has already been accomplished and so there is the admonition now then in verse 13 again, so “let us go out and bear that reproach that He bore.”
Christianity has never been popular; you know that. From the very onset of Paul’s apostleship it was almost a guaranteed step leading to persecution. I can’t comprehend that, as I go back and look at Paul’s early believers who came out of paganism with all of its lust and all of its sexuality and all of its immorality, they turned their back on all of that and stepped into God’s saving grace; but at the same time, they stepped right in to the jaws of persecution. It’s amazing that they withstood it. And the Thessalonians were the epitome of all that, and that’s why Paul wrote to them first – that they were withstanding the pressures of persecution as new believers. Now most of us have been raised up in it, we’ve been Christians all our life and if persecution comes, I imagine most of us will be able to withstand it. I don’t think all of us would, but most of us. But even for us, it’s something we don’t like to think about. But in the early days of Christianity, it was a guarantee to step out of that into persecution. It was a place of reproach. And how many believers today would be willing to do that? Now verse 14.
“For here (in this earth, in this life) have we no continuing city,…” We’re just here for a little while, we’re just passing through; we’re strangers. We’re not even citizens of the planet. Now on the way up here today, I just happened to hear them quote our former president, and he claimed to be a citizen of this world. Well, so be it, but I’m glad I’m not in his shoes.I’m not a citizen of this world. The Bible says, I’m a citizen of heaven, and every believer is. Our citizenship, Paul says, is already in heaven. So we can’t be looking for a continuing city on this earth. Now Abraham did, we saw that back in chapter 11. Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker was God.
Well Abraham was of the earthly promises, and he will yet one day experience those earthly promises. But for us, our citizenship is in heaven. We’re looking for that which is heavenly. And our citizenship is up there and we’re just strangers. You remember, I always use something different instead of the Great Commission (going out into all the world and baptizing people). I like the one a lot better that Paul gives in II Corinthians 5:20. What is it?
II Corinthians 5:20a
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ,…” Be an ambassador, because if our citizenship is in heaven and you’re here on this earth, where are you? Well, you’re in foreign territory. Well if you’re a citizen of one country and you are representing that country in a foreign area, what do you have to be? An ambassador. We are a reflection of our homeland, at least we’re supposed to be.
Alright and so the Apostle Paul is bringing out that when we identify ourselves with the reproach that was the cross and the world knows that now because we’re identified with His death, burial and resurrection; that we’re different, that we’re not like they are and hopefully that they can see we’re different in a better vein. But see this is what I think gets to be such a reproach to the Lord – so many Christians are not good ambassadors, they’re anything but. They are a bad reflection.
In fact, whenever I speak of our being ambassadors I’m always reminded of one of our bestsellers ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, and the title of it was, “The Ugly American.” Maybe some of you remember reading it. What was it? It was an exposure of the horrible lifestyle of our American foreign service people, how that they lived lives of drunkenness and immorality in their places of duty in foreign countries. They were a bad reflection of America. And so the title was “The Ugly American.” Well, you could write the same thing of Christians. Ugly Christians are Christians who are a bad reflection of their homeland in heaven. And so here we are to identify with the reproach of the cross, not a place of something beautiful. It’s a place that becomes glorious when He overcomes all this with His resurrection power. But the cross itself was a thing of reproach. It was God’s wrath being poured out for sinful men on God the Son. Now verse 15.
“By him (in other words, because of what Christ has done for us in the horrors of the cross) therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our(what?) lips giving thanks to his name.” Now that’s the kind of sacrifice God is looking for. The fruit of our lips, giving thanks to Him continually. Now I think I made a comment on one of the previous programs – there is nothing that God demands more or appreciates more from the life of a believer than, what? Thanksgiving. If you’re not living a life of thanksgiving, don’t expect God’s blessings, because God has every right for a believer to just constantly be thankful. Whenever I think of this verse, I have to think of Romans 12, and you know it backward and forward. But come back with me to Romans chapter 12, and I think this will make sense. Here Paul writes to you and I as blood-bought believers.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies (your flesh and blood body) a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Now we normally think of a sacrifice as something that what? Gives up its life. But Paul isn’t talking about us going out and laying down our lives and all that. But we are to be “a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” In other words, it isn’t something that God is being unreasonable about. This is something that every believer should be able to do without any problem whatsoever, and that is to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto Him. Now, keep that thought as you come back again the Hebrews chapter 13, and see why I make the connection. Verse 15 again:
“By him…” Because of what he has done in that place of reproach, outside the city walls, where the religious community would have nothing to do with Him. Does that ring a bell?Most of Christendom today doesn’t want that much to do with the cross. They like a social gospel, but they don’t like the cross anymore. They sure don’t want the blood, because it’s a place of reproach. Alright, but now then, because of the place of reproach at what He’s accomplished, now we can come back and offer a sacrifice of praise.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Well goodness sakes, what are the lips a part of? Your body! And I think you can rightfully tie these two portions together. If you want to live a life that is pleasing to God, a living sacrifice, all you have to do is just use your lips in praise and thanksgiving and God will be pleased. I know He will. Alright, so we offer up the sacrifice of praise once a month? Once a quarter? No! “Continually,” Every waking moment of our lives we should be just simply praising God in one way or another. That’s not asking a bit too much. I dare say there isn’t a parent sitting here that just wouldn’t swell with pride if every day one of your kids would call from some distant place and just say, “Thank you Mom, thank you Dad, for all that you’ve done for me.” Wouldn’t that just swell your whole being? Well, you think God’s any different? There’s nothing He likes better than to have His children approach Him with praise and thanksgiving for what He’s done, or what He’s doing, for what He is. Do you see that? Now when you do that the next verse just naturally follows.
“But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Now, maybe that could entail some financial sacrifice to help someone in need. Maybe it would involve sacrificing some of your time and using it for the good of someone else. You can use your own imagination for that. Now verse 17. He comes back to the same admonition that he had up there in verse 7. It’s almost a repetition.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, (now for the Hebrews this, of course, was the leadership of especially the Jerusalem church – Peter and the Eleven) and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” In other words, if you want to bring it in to your own church situation, there’s certainly nothing that’s saying you can’t. But if you do, then that tells the whole story. What is the purpose of your church leadership? Welfare of the membership – for the person in the pew, for the young people and so forth, that they can become more spiritually minded. And so always remember that these things all fit together. Now then, in the closing verses of Hebrews, verse 18 to the end. These are just simple requests from the Apostle.
“Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” Now you know the Apostle, especially in the Corinthian letters, emphasized the fact that he never brought them a perverted Gospel. He brought them nothing but truth. He said, “I didn’t bring to you a perverted product.” And remember, way back in Corinthians, I chased the word down in the Old Testament and what it really amounted to – he did not sell them wine that was watered down, 50-50, remember that? Alright, he’s saying the same thing. Paul never approached people with something that was less than honest and that was less than the truth and honorable in everything he said and did. Now verse 19.
“But I beseech you (or I beg you) the rather to do this, (to pray for them) that I may be restored to you the sooner.” In other words, the more people would pray for him, the further he could get making his rounds of all the people with whom he had a part. Now verse 20:
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,…” Now what does that tell you? Paul is always reminding us of the Gospel, that for salvation, you must believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and rose again. All through his letters, over and over and over, we find this beautiful Gospel that was given only to him for us, the Church Age believer. And you know I had a gentleman call, I think it was from the twin cities quite a while back. And he had come out of a different background than what I’m teaching here. And he said, “Les, when I saw the truth of all this, I started asking the people that I use to associate with in my church environment, what’s the Gospel? And they didn’t know.”
Some even thought the whole Bible was the Gospel. Now the Bible contains the Gospel, but you can’t just say, “Well, believe the Bible and be saved.” But it’s ridiculous what people, who have been in church all their lives, can come up with and not even come close to the truth. And so Paul just says the same thing, “that the Lord Jesus who was brought again to life from the dead,” which is the crowning point of our salvation. That great Shepherd of the sheep. Now there again, he’s talking Jewish language.
Now I don’t set this in concrete and I don’t just get all shook up if people don’t agree with me, but if I understand the Scripture, you know that Gentiles were not referred to as sheep. It’s always Israel. It was the Nation of Israel, to whom the 23rd Psalm was really spoken. “The Lord is my shepherd…” The Lord Himself was always referring to the sheep and the shepherd. And when you get to the last sign miracle of John’s gospel and they’re having the fish on the fire and the Lord puts Peter on the spot and He says, “Peter, lovest thou me more than these?” And I’m sure He was pointing to the fish. And Peter says, “Lord, thou knowest I love thee.” Jesus then said, “Feed my sheep.” And the Lord comes back again with “Peter, lovest thou me more than these?” And Peter answers again, “Lord you know I love you.” And again Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.” And the third time and every time it was the same answer, “Feed my sheep.”
Now isn’t it amazing that Peter, a man’s man, agreed to that with a handshake. You don’t know what I’m talking about do you? And I don’t expect you to know. Come back with me to Galatians. A gentlemen’s handshake. You know what that involves? Honesty, integrity.
Galatians chapter 2; and remember the setting. Paul has been out ministering to Gentiles for about 15-18 years, but what’s been happening? The Judaisers from the Jerusalem church are coming under his teaching and confusing the issue by telling Paul’s congregation that they had to keep the Law and practice circumcision and all that. (Acts 15:1-5) So here we come to this Jerusalem counsel to settle the question. And Paul is saying, “Stop having people come and tell my Gentile believers that they have to be circumcised and keep the Law.” So they have this counsel and Peter and James and John finally see the light. I say, finally, because I think it took a long time. But anyway, now look what happens in chapter 2, and verse 8.
“(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, [or Israel, the Jew] the same [Lord] was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)” Now here comes that gentlemen’s handshake between Peter and Paul.
“And when James, Cephas, (Peter) and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived (or understood) the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; (what does that mean? They shook hands! And what did they agree as they shook hands?) that we (Paul and Barnabas) should go unto the heathen, (or the Gentiles) and they (Peter, James and John and rest of the apostles would go where?) unto the circumcision.” (The Jew or Israel). Now that was the gentlemen’s agreement. You think Peter ever backed off of that? I don’t think so, because he was too much of a man. And now back to Hebrews chapter 13 again. So here we have the whole concept that these Jews are under the control and headship of the chief shepherd. Now verse 21.
“Make you perfect (in other words, get mature) in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, (how?) through Jesus Christ;…” Now what does Paul tell us in one of his other epistles? “I can do all things through Jesus Christ my Lord.” So this is what he’s admonishing. Now, we’ve got to read on and wind it up just in time.
“Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen. 22. And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words. 23. Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty;…” Now who would naturally call Timothy his brother? Paul. And so here’s another reason I feel Paul is the writer.
“Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. 24. Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints, They of Italy salute you. 25. Grace be with you all. Amen.” And so we come to the end of the Book of Hebrews.