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Hebrews 5and6 - Author of Eternal Salvation

INTRODUCTION: The Hebrew high priests were ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices to God for themselves, as well as for the people, since all were born in sin. They did not take this office for themselves, but they were called of God. Aaron was the first to be called of God after Moses led Israel out of captivity from Egypt. Christ Jesus was also called of God, but he was not from the line of Levi as was Aaron, and Christ had no sin. Christ the Son of God, was made a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. The author of the letter will begin to develop the role of this special priest who alone is a forerunner of Christ. He also will begin to stress the importance for Christians to grow in their faith through the Word of God.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the American King James Bible.

A - JESUS, THE AUTHOR OF ETERNAL SALVATION FOR ALL WHO OBEY HIM

Hebrews 5 "1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. 3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said to him, You are my Son, to day have I begotten you. 6 As he said also in another place, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him;"

COMMENTS: Each high priest in Israel was called of God in things pertaining to God; and thereby to have authority to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins of the people, and for himself. Since each priest was personally subject to the temptations of sin, he could be compassionate to people in every level of society. Christ the Son did not glorify himself, but was called by the Father even before his time on earth, as verified in Psalms 2:7; which also was made note of in the first chapter of this letter. Now another Scripture reference shows an element of the superiority of Christ as the everlasting high priest after the order of Melchisedec. The Psalm that contains the referenced verse is quite short, and has other elements that require careful consideration of those prophetic items which were not addressed in this chapter of the letter.

Psalms 110 "4 The LORD has sworn, and will not repent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."

Though Jesus Christ is a high priest forever, "in the days of his flesh" he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears at the mount of Olives while in the garden (Gethsemane) of God the Father who was able to save him from death on the cross. That event is described in Matthew 26:36-46, in Mark 14:32-42, and in Luke; but I show below only the passage from Luke's gospel.

Luke 22 "39 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. 40 And when he was at the place, he said to them, Pray that you enter not into temptation. 41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel to him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 And said to them, Why sleep you? rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation. 47 And while he yet spoke, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near to Jesus to kiss him."

This was not an easy experience for Jesus in the flesh, but he accepted the will of the Father; displaying the obedience which led to extreme suffering. And being made perfect as he finished his "work," by his resurrection he became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey him.

Philippians 2 "4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. 9 Why God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."


B - JESUS IS HIGH PRIEST AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEC

Hebrews 5 "10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. 11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing you are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

COMMENTS: The author began to write about the relationship between Melchisedec and Jesus, but he indicated that he has hesitation about the ability of his readers to comprehend the topic. He describes the readers as "babes" who are dull of hearing, and who need someone to teach them again about the basic principles of God from the inspired messages of Scripture. He said the deeper truths of the Word belong to those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.


C - CONTINUE TO GROW IN FAITH AND PRODUCE SPIRITUAL FRUIT

Hebrews 6 "1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit. 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes oft on it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God: 8 But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is near to cursing; whose end is to be burned."

COMMENTS: After statements about dullness of hearing in his readers and that they were "babes" rather than teachers; the writer lists several principals of "the doctrine of Christ" that apparently he believed were none the less foundational to them: repentance from dead works, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. If God permitted, he wanted to go on to discuss a more complete position of faith beyond that foundation.

He also warned his readers that if those who are enlightened by the Word fall away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; because that would be like crucifying Christ again to provide eternal salvation for them. That statement is not easily explained from only one perspective, so I will leave it to the author to continue his message to the readers. He then gave an illustration that the earth drinks in rain often, and produces edible harvest as a blessing from God for those who prepared it. But the ground that bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is near to cursing; for the produce will be burned in the end.


D - JESUS IS THE ANCHOR OF THE HOPE FOR OUR SOUL

Hebrews 6 "9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. 10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which you have showed toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end: 12 That you be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. 13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself, 14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you. 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men truly swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. 17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil; 20 Where the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."

COMMENTS: Now despite what he had just written, the author offers some comfort to his intended readers as he refers to them as beloved, and states that he is persuaded of better things about them. That includes things of salvation, as God is not unrighteous to forget their work and labor of love shown toward his name, in that they had ministered to the saints, and continued to do so. It was his desire that every one of them would demonstrate the same diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end. He wanted them to be followers of those who are not slothful, but through faith and patience inherit the promises. The author is consistent with his counsel as is evidenced in that the earlier passages inserted below from his letter have similar Content to much of what he has just stated.

Hebrews 3 "6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. 7 Why (as the Holy Ghost said, To day if you will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Why I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 12 Take heed, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end;"

Hebrews 4 "11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

The author wrote that God swore by himself because there was none greater to swear by, as he made promise to Abraham that he would receive blessing and his seed would be multiplied. The promise was fulfilled for Abraham after he patiently endured. The passage below from Genesis gives part of the setting for the promise.

Genesis 22 "8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. 9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 And the angel of the LORD called to him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. 15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, said the LORD, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is on the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice."

Men truly swear an oath before someone with superior authority: and such an oath is to confirm their testimony of a matter, to end all related conflict that might arise. But God, who cannot lie as he makes a promise, added an oath to emphasize to the heirs of His promise, the permanent and unchangeable nature of his counsel to Abraham. This graciously gives strong consolation to any of us who have fled for the refuge we received when we lay hold on the hope set before us in Christ. This is a permanently sure and forever steadfast anchor for the soul because Jesus is the eternal high priest after the order of Melchisedec. Jesus is our forerunner, forever entered into that which was represented behind the second veil in the temple at Jerusalem; and previous to that, in the second veil in the tabernacle in the wilderness.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord Jesus, I thank you for being my author of salvation to eternal life through the Word of God written down by the guidance of the Holy Spirit through the original writings; and then through opening my understanding of my reading of your Word to lead me to the truth. You are my gracious and merciful high priest before the throne of God, and I want to remember to come to you in my times of need to receive your compassionate guidance and intercession. There is no time around the clock as we might consider each day and night, that you are not available for any reason, including that you are never too busy because of others who have come to you. You are a priest forever in the order of Melchisedec, but also having been tempted in the flesh that we might completely trust in your compassionate understanding. However, Lord, I pray that you will strengthen me each day to firmly hold onto you as the anchor of my salvation, and to continue to grow in faith as I produce spiritual fruit that will bring glory to your name alone. Amen, and amen.

Published 22 January 2020