Friday, July 21, 2017

Hebrews 13:20-25

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. 22 And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. 23 Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly. 24 Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you. 25 Grace be with you all. Amen.

Commentary
Vs. 20-21 20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In concluding the author now bestows a blessing on us, asking that "the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." 
Now there's a lot there so lets look at them individually. First is the declaration that our God is a God of peace (see Rom 15:33; 16:20; 1 Cor. 14:33; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 3:16 etc.) for that is His Nature (Isaiah 9:6), and that is His desire for us all, therefore the Lord Jesus Christ suffered Crucifixion death for us all in order to restore God's peace to us all who believe (Isaiah 53:5). And so from the individual soul to the future Millennial creation, God the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior in the redemption of His creation brings His peace and rest to us all who believe in His Son (consider Isaiah 32:16-19; 45:8; 54:10; Matt. 11:28-30; John 14:27; 16:33; 20:19 etc.). That said, God's peace is not a given, for in a sinful world which by it is own nature and by it's own ways is separated from God (and thus His peace) they are doing much to overthrow their own peace by setting themselves against His Will and His Word (consider Isaiah 45:7; 48:18; 57:20-21; 59:8; antithesis Psalm 37:37; Psalm 119:65; Prov. 3:1-2 etc.). For the days of ignorance that God once overlook are now past for He now commands everyone everywhere to repent and believe in His Son through the Gospel (Acts 17:30-31). Now it is the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead; for it is only by the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ that we who believe in Him are brought to Spirit life and thus are united with Him in His Resurrected Person and life. To say then that the Lord Jesus Christ's Resurrection from the dead is critical to our redemption from sin and death would be an understatement. Therefore belief in the Lord Jesus Christ's Crucifixion death and His Resurrection from the dead is absolutely critical and essential to ones salvation, for if one does not believe both, one will then not be saved (Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 15; 2 Tim 2:18; 1 Peter 1:3). The Lord Jesus Christ then is the great Shepherd of the sheep who believe in Him (John 10:11, 14-16 etc.). The One who not only laid down His life for us, but by His Resurrected Life, He now unites us and leads us. A true Christian then will not follow another, or listen to the voice of another, for there is only One Shepherd of God's Sheep and we will by no means listen to or follow another (John 10:4-5; 27-28). Therefore it is only through the blood of Christ that we who believe enter into God's everlasting covenant. For unlike the Old Covenant given through Moses that came in after faith had been established as the means of redemption (Gen 15:6) and so it served until the Lord Jesus Christ begin His Ministry preaching the Kingdom of heaven (Luke 17:17), the New Covenant which the Lord Jesus Christ brought into force and effect by His death on the Cross (thus fulfilling the Old Covenant) has no end. There is then no return to the Law for having a justified standing with God (Rom 3:19-28; Gal 2:16, 19-21 etc.). Now lest we forget this prayer is not just a declaration of our Lord as our only Shepherd and how we are in a personal relationship with Him through the New Covenant, but it is also an appeal, that God who began His good work within us (Phil. 1:6); who has equipped and is equipping us with everything that we need to do His Will; likewise make us complete in every good work as we do His Will, just as He works in us (and through us) all that is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, to whom be glory forever and ever, amen.

Vs. 22 "And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words." 

Given the vast analogies of types and pictures and foreshadows of Christ that is found in the Law and throughout the Old Testament Scriptures one could go on and on, but out of necessity he has only written what was required to help us transfer out of the Levitical system (and all that it required from those under the Old Covenant) and into the New Covenant and the simplicity of Christ. (gleaned from Believers Bible Commentary)

Vs. 23 "Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly."

This intimate reference to Timothy indicates not just having a personal knowledge of him and his affairs, but just how close knit the early church community was, something that did not change with the dispersion of the early Christians throughout the ancient world.

Vs. 24-25 "Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you. 25 Grace be with you all. Amen."

Greeting our leaders, as well as all our brethren (i.e. the saints) is a courtesy that Jesus Himself practiced and commanded, indeed He went far beyond just greeting brethren (that is His friends) but as a manner of life greeted and received one and all (consider Matt 5:47). Therefore practicing hospitality towards one and all is also following Christ. The church congregation then should be the front line of this in showing the love and grace of God. Finally in concluding the greetings of those from Italy are conveyed, before bestowing the grace of God upon us all, amen.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hebrews 13:18-19

18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. 19 But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

Commentary
In wrapping up the Author of Hebrews begins by requesting prayer, not just for himself, but for those who are with him, who are coworkers with him in the Gospel; which is a critical part of any ministry teams success. Now his interjecting with the statement "for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably," indicates not only were they living honest and honorable lives before God and man in their serving the Lord Jesus Christ; (consider Acts 23:1; 24:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:12; 2 Tim 1:3 etc. antithesis Titus 1:15); but likely in stating as much they must have come under some rather severe or unjust character assaults at some point by their detractors to have to state as much now (gleaned from Believers Bible Commentary). While verse nineteen in urging their prayers so that he may be restored to them the sooner maybe indicating that this epistle may have been written while he was incarcerated for his faith In Christ? (again gleaned from Believers Bible Commentary), but even if not his desire to see them, and be with them, is indicating that they were much than just people he ministered the gospel too, but they were his beloved friends.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Additional Resources Consulted
MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. Edited by Arthur Farstad. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hebrews 13:7–17

7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Commentary
Vs. 7-8 7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In giving this exhortation the Word of God is pointing us to follow the example of those leaders who personally exemplify the moral excellence and the leadership qualities and manner of the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore all who do so their faith we are to both consider and follow (consider Phil 3:17-4:1; 2 Thess. 3:6-9; 1 Tim 4:12; 2 Tim 2:19-26; Titus 2:7-8; antithesis 2 Tim 3:1-9; 2 Peter 2:1-3; Jude 3-4 etc.). For Jesus Christ is same yesterday, today, and forever, meaning that whatever God in Christ condemned as sin and unsound behavior in the Old Testament, He still condemns today. Therefore do not be deceived nor conformed to the degenerating values of this world (2 Tim 3:1-9), but rather through the Word of God be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may do and approve of all those things that are excellent and sound that are revealed to us all in it. 

Vs. 9 "Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them."

Now there will always be those false teachers and prophets who will try to sow into the simplicity of Christ (2 Cor. 11:3-4) all sorts of wild ideas. Whether these are born out of Judaism or Ecclesiasticism or have Charismatic origins being promoted under the guise of being Spiritual or imputing knowledge, or as being required of us yet are only mere doctrines and commandments of men not God. For there is no longer any more revelation to come from God (Jude 3), and thus anyone who expounds any extra commands or decrees or so called spiritual knowledge not found in and directly supported by the Scriptures (or worse is only a perversion of Scriptural truth) should be quickly and unequivocally refuted and rejected. For both the individual believer as well as the collective church assembly must never give any ground to such things (and such individuals who expound them) lest they become unwitting partakers with them (consider Rev. 18:4-5). Similarly when individuals or groups of individuals claim to be exemplifying the works of the Holy Spirit if such is not being done in accord with the Scriptural decrees on how such gifts are to be exercised, and or they are not exemplifying the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) in the execution of such things, then again, such things should be rejected as not coming from the Spirit of the Lord. For if one is complacent about these things and towards these things then they are only paving the way for Satan's lying signs and wonders to be sown amongst themselves (Matt. 24:24). Therefore do not stray from the simplicity that is Christ (2 Cor. 11:3-4), for you and I are complete in Jesus Christ lacking nothing, meaning we lack neither so called Spiritual gift or knowledge, for In Christ and Him alone we lack nothing (Col 2:8-10; 16-23). And those who wander away from the simplicity of Christ into the realms of the unknown very often stray from Him forever, therefore don't follow them! 

Vs. 10 "We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat."

If the Jews, and the specifically their priests felt that their sacrificial system was still in tact and superior to what Christ has done then they should consider that what we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ have from God all that they have no right too. For it is from Christ's altar that we eat, for He Himself has sanctified us all who believe in Him (Heb. 10:14). And so to understand the implications of this in the Old Covenant it was only the priests who could eat the sacrifices made on the altar for sin, anyone else who did so was to be cut off from God's people (see Lev. 6:24-7:10; 17:1-9, vs. 8; Deut. 18:1-8). Therefore if they or anyone else is still holding to the Old Covenant and it's sacrifices as an atonement for sin (whether priest or not) then they cannot partake of Christ's altar where the everlasting atonement for all our sins who believe in Him has been made.  

Vs. 11-12 11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

The Word of God now draws an analogy from the Old Covenant sacrifices whose corpses were taken outside of the camp to burned with fire after the blood from them was brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for a sin offering; now camp here refers to the perimeter curtain that surrounded the Tabernacle (Exodus 29:14; Lev. 4:11-12, 8:17, 9:11 etc.), or later the Temple courtyard walls where they were taken outside of the city of Jerusalem to be burned with fire. Now the point is that just as these were taken outside the camp so that their blood could sanctify the people who offered them, so Jesus that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate (vs. 12). 

Vs. 13 "Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach." 

Therefore as the people of God redeemed by the grace of God we should not hesitate to bear the reproach of Christ outside of the confines of the local church. 

Vs. 14 "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come."

For true believers our home is not here, not in this godless and degenerating world (see Heb. 11:13-16), and thus the Jerusalem that now is, is not the city of God, nor is His temple there, but He will be there in the heavenly Jerusalem where all of us who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb shall worship and serve Him and abide with Him in unending love and joy forever.

Vs. 15 "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." 

For there is nothing more personally gratifying than to sing Christ's praises, to abide in His goodness, and give thanks to His Name, this I know by personal experience and hope that you know that too by recalling to mind what Christ has done for you and me and everyone who believes in Him.

Vs. 16 "But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

Being Spirit filled by the worship of the Lord we should all be about doing good and sharing with all those in need, first amongst ourselves and then everywhere, for that is the Christians calling card (Gal. 6:10; 1 Tim 6:17-19; James 4:17; 1 Peter 3:10-12).

Vs. 17  "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you."

Obeying and being submissive to those who rule over us is a command of God; just as it is a command that we be submissive to one another (Eph. 5:21); that said in this broken world where Satan seeks to plant his own amongst us, one must never forsake their God given discernment in doing so; for if any leader abuses, or uses, or would command the flock under his care to either violate God's Word or their own conscience (in regards to non moral things) than such is no shepherd of God (consider Jer. 5:26-31; 23:1-2; Ezekiel 34; 2 Cor. 11:5-32). That said I know there are a lot of godly men living sacrificial lives for the Lord and His people's sake, and such men we should not only obey and be submissive too, but we should also honor such men (1 Tim 5:17-20) for these godly men watch out for our souls as those who must give an account to God, and thus they rule by the fear of God (consider Exodus 18:21-22; Deut. 10:16-19; 16:19-20; 2 Samuel 23:3-4 etc.). Now in ruling, a Godly leader must do so with joy and not with grief, for just as joy is contagious and uplifting and inspiring to others; and thus has very positive ripple effects on others; so is ruling by grief (that is with a heavy heart) which can inadvertently deflate and discourage those who are following Jesus Christ. Therefore if your in a position of leadership and do not have joy in doing so than your probably not in the service of God that He would have you in.

Scripture Quotations.
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.







Monday, July 3, 2017

Hebrews 13:1–6

1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. 3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. 4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Commentary
Vs. 1 "Let brotherly love continue." 

In going deep into the Word of God we can often forget that having faith In the Lord Jesus Christ has real life implications and responsibilities. And one of the most important of these is that Christians have love for one another, for that is the only mark of a true disciple, not knowledge, not wisdom, and not by trying to exemplify ones spiritual gifts or talents (1 Cor.14), but love (1 Cor13). For Jesus said: "By this is how all will know that your my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35
Therefore amongst believers having and showing genuine love for each other is the only real standard by which one may judge whether they are truly are a Christian and whether they are truly walking and living in harmony with God (1 John 3:10-15; 16-19; 4:7-8, 20-11).

Vs. 2 "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels."

Strangers here obviously refers to fellow Christians who are not personally known to us but who are likely fleeing from persecution, in the early church this was the norm not the exception. Now in a broader sense a stranger is anyone who is not a relative or a friend. And so hospitality is to be part and parcel of being a Christian not just because it is the right thing to do, but as stated here by doing so some have unwittingly entertained angels which itself moves into another area of the spiritual war that we and they are in.

Vs. 3 "Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also."

Believers who are imprisoned or are being persecuted for our faith In Christ should never be forgotten or abandoned by us in their time of need. The Lord Jesus Christ made this clear in His exhortation given in Matthew 25:31-46. And so to care for one of the "least" of these in their time of need is just as one is caring for Christ.

Vs. 4  "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge."

Heterosexual marriage is the only form of marriage established by God and thus is the only form that is good and sound but also justifiable in the sight of God (Genesis 2:18-24; Lev. 18:22-29; 20:13, 15-16, 22-23; Rom 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim 1:9-10). That said marriage is not commanded (1 Cor. 7), nor is it to be forbidden (1 Tim 4:1-3). For as the Word of God makes clear only in a marriage relationship is sexual intercourse (the highest form of personal intimacy) to be expressed between a man and a woman; for only when one has made a lifetime commitment to their spouse is this union between a man and a woman holy and sanctified in the sight of God. Otherwise sexual intercourse is just sin, defiling and corrupting those who partake in it in that fashion, because it is being exercised outside of the realm for which God intended it to be enjoyed, and that is between a man and his wife which is to bind them in love in their marriage. And so outside of that sanctified realm there is only serving the sinful human nature and it's lusts which not only distorts and perverts it for it's own pleasure's sake, but also in pursuing sexual pleasure as an end in of itself, only leads one into deeper bondage to it, which carries it's own consequences, both in this life and for eternity, as is being made clear here when the Word of God says fornicators and adulterers God will judge. And so as with all sin when the pleasure ends there is always the fallout from it; sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, guilt, shame (if one has not been given over to a debased mind); not to mention all of the emotional, physiological, relational and even societal damage that is always a by product of ones own sin (Prov. 2:10-22; 6:20-35, vs. 26; 7:1-27, vs. 26-27; 10:27 etc.). And so outside of a heterosexual marriage sexual intercourse only defiles the bed, and thus comes under the judgement of God. Therefore we as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ must not walk in the degenerate ways of this world that believes that "liberty" and "freedom" is found by living by ones own uncontrolled passions and lusts. Now if you have been living a sexually immoral life there is hope for you if you come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. For God does not want to condemn you for your sins (John 3:16-17); rather He wants to save you from them and the Judgment to come by transforming you by His Holy Spirit, who will indwell you the moment you repent and believe, and thus He will begin making you into who He always intended you to be. Therefore don't delay come home to Jesus Christ today (Luke 15:11-32; Rom 10:9-10, 13).

Vs. 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

Throughout the Scriptures contentment is always upheld as a godly virtue that not only forwards ones own peace and well being, but also the peace and well being of others (consider Deut. 5:21; Job 31:24, 25, 28; Psalm 10:3; Psalm 119:36; Prov. 1:19; 15:27; 22:16; 23:4-5; 30:8-9; Ecc. 4:7-8; 5:10; Isaiah 1:23; 57:17; Jer. 17:11; 22:13-23; 51:13; Micah 2:2; 3:11; 7:3; Mark 7:21-23; Luke 12:15-21; 33-34; Rom 13:9; 1 Cor. 5:11, 6:9-11, vs. 10; 1 John 2:15-17 etc.). Now the fact that God Himself will never leaves us or forsake us who believe in His Son is not only the greatest of comfort, but also the greatest treasure that you and I have. For in a world where nothing lasts or remains having God's everlasting Presence, Peace and Love is way beyond just satisfying and reassuring, but with Jesus I find rest (Matt. 11:28-30). "Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." (see 1 Tim 6:6-10). Therefore let us all live and love as Christ would have us all do, "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints" Eph. 5:3

Vs. 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Of all that the Lord has done and continues to do for us, the fact that He is also our helper (Psalm 118:6) means that neither their threats nor their schemes can ever separate us from Him, nor thwart His plans for us (Jer. 29:11). Therefore child of God whatever you do in the Name of the Lord do boldly and confidently knowing that it is the Lord who is with you and He will not forsake you, even unto death. 

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.





Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hebrews 12:25–29

25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

Commentary
Vs. 25-26 25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”

No one should ever presume to think that they can refuse to hear God speak, for to do so when He spoke from earth (from Mount Sinai) meant one would not escape the judgment of God, how much more now after He has spoken to us all from heaven through His own Son (John 8:26, 28, 12:48-50; 14:10, 24 etc.). Therefore to refuse to hear God speak now is to reject His only begotten Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 10:16), which means not only will such an individual perish in their own sins and transgressions (John 8:23-24), but God Himself will Judge and deal with all who do so accordingly forever (see Deut. 18:15-19; Acts 3:23; John 3:35-36; 12:48).

Vs. 27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

The first shaking of the earth took place on Mount Sanai with the giving of the Law (Ex 19:18) and so the second shaking, the "Yet once more" which is prophesied in the Book of Haggai (Hag. 2:6) and is generally held to be the shaking of heaven and earth at the end of the Millennial Reign just before the new heavens and new earth with Christ reigning forever is ushered in (Rev. 21:1). And so this shaking which also brought in the Old Covenant and it's ordinances and services will also end it. For neither the law, nor it's service, is intended to continue on forever. Now this shaking as applied to us all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ here and now is also the removal of the earthly ordinances and sacrifices and articles by which the Law is administered here on the earth as being necessary for our redemption, so that the heavenly Sanctuary and it's everlasting Sacrifice and Service which the Lord Jesus Christ has accomplished and now administers on our behalf could be enacted forever. 

Vs. 28-29 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

Therefore after the shaking only God's Kingdom with Christ's reign and His eternally redeemed people shall remain with Him forever. Everything that now is will be no more forever. Therefore in light of this, we who believe in Christ are all to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For as the Word of God also states: "our God is a consuming fire." For God who revealed Himself on Mount Sinai is also the same God who is now reigning on heavens Mount Zion.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.



Friday, June 23, 2017

Hebrews 12:18-24

18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Commentary
Vs. 18-21 18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

The Word of God now recalls the incredible fiery scene on Mount Sinai and the terror and fear that Moses and the whole congregation felt as they approached it (see Exodus 19:10-20:21...). , Now this is being recalled here to contrast how they through the Old Covenant drew near to God (represented by Mount Sinai) and how we through Christ and the New Covenant now draw near to God (represented by the heavenly Jerusalem). For drawing near to God through the Old Covenant meant that even Moses as their God appointed representative only did so with great trepidation and fear.

Vs. 22-23 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

And so in contrast to the Israelites drawing near to God through the Old Covenant; which again is represented by Mount Sinai where God first came down upon it and in engulfing it with fire He then spoke to them from it; which also speaks of the Old Covenants temporary nature in mediating between God and mankind, for God did not remain upon Mount Sinai, but only came down upon it to give the Law through their temporary representative Moses, whom he had appointed to deliver it to them, consider John 1:17). And so in striking contrast to that we who believe In the Lord Jesus Christ are now drawing near to God on Mount Zion, the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, (vs. 22) to the general assembly and church of the
firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Mount Zion then is God's eternal dwelling place, not Mount Sinai, and thus it is from Mount Zion that God has sent forth His New and Everlasting Covenant through His own Son the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the sole Mediator of the New Covenant, for He Himself is exceedingly Superior to Moses and thus so is the Covenant which God the Father has given to us all through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. And thus we have the exhortation that it is Mount Zion is the city of the Living God, the New Jerusalem, (Rev 21:1-27; also see Heb. 11:8-10; 13:14; Rev. 3:12-13 etc.) not Mount Sinai. For neither the living God, nor His Son, nor His heavenly Host are there, rather they are all on Mount Zion. For it is from there where He Rules, and it is from there where He Judges, and it is from there where the Lord Jesus Christ is His Mediator of the New Covenant; and thus it is there where there is an innumerable company of angels, and where the general assembly is, where the church, the firstborn by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are registered in heaven, and so it is there that we will be serving and worshiping the Lord God on Mount Zion forever (Rev. 7:9-19). Therefore it is Mount Zion (not mount Sinai) which is speaking of God's eternal dwelling place with God's eternally redeemed people (the church, the Body of Christ) through the eternal and everlasting sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ whose shed blood on the Cross for our eternal redemption from sin and death speaks to things way better than that of Abel (and his temporary blood sacrifice which was not just the first blood sacrifice, but also is figurative of all of the temporary blood sacrifices offered to God according to the will of God by mortal and sinful mankind that God accepted on their behalf until the reformation, that is until the Lord Jesus Christ having fulfilled the Law by His own Crucifixion death and Resurrection from the dead paid in full the penalty for all our sins and transgressions by His own shed blood. Therefore it is there, Mount Zion, (not Mount Sinai) where we can now draw near to God in full confidence through the Lord Jesus Christ alone (see Hebrews 4:14-16). For it is from there that the sprinkling of blood, Christ's blood is Ministered, which purifies all of us His worshippers.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Additional Resources Consulted
MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. Edited by Arthur Farstad. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Hebrews 12:12-17

12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

Commentary
Vs. 12-13 12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. 

In light of God's chastening of us we are to strengthen those areas of our persons and lives that we are weakest in. And so turning from ones own sin and or wrong ideas and attitudes is always better than being unwilling to change, or even be changed (consider Psalm 38:3-5). Therefore make the positive changes in your life that God desires to see in you, changes which are in accord with God's Word, for this will bring the healing and health to you, and to all that you touch with your new life (consider Prov 3:7-8; 4:20-22; James 4:7-10Rev. 3:19). 

Vs. 14 "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" 

Having received peace with God the 
moment we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are now to be His ambassadors of peace and good will to one and to all (consider Luke 2:14; Cor. 3:5-6; 5:18-21). For that is part and parcel of pursuing peace with all people, extending the love and the grace of God and thus the salvation of God to one and to all (John 3:16). Therefore as much as depends on us, let us all strive to peaceably with all people (consider Rom 12:18-21; 1 Thess. 5:15). Now linked with pursuing peace with all people is also pursuing holiness, for holiness is in accord with Jesus Christ and our new nature as His born-again children of God. Therefore holiness does not commit sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:18-20; 1 Thess 4:3-8 etc.), rather holiness is found in the reverence of God (Lev. 10:3) with obedience to His Word (2 Tim 2:22). And so nothing is more indicative of the Life, Spirit, and Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ than the pursuit of peace and holiness with one and with all. Now the pursuit of holiness (like discipleship) though often entailing self denial (Luke 9:23) for holy pursuits like prayer and fasting (1 Cor. 7:5-6) is not found in self imposed exile, asceticism, or obeying the doctrines and commandments of men (Matt. 15:1-9; Col. 2:20-22). For holiness does not take away from the quality of ones life, and ones relationship with God and others (as legalism does), rather holiness enriches it, by removing sin, Satan, and his influence over ones person and life, so that the one who purifies their life in accord with Christ can now draw near to God (James 4:8-10). For the Lord Jesus Christ comes to bring us life, and bring it more abundantly, not enslave us to doctrines and commandments of men. While Satan only comes to kill, steal, and destroy (see John 10:10). And not just through sin, which is obvious, but also and most hideous through his own he always seeks to infiltrate and distort the truth. And thus through lusts, through licentiousness, through the false and misleading doctrines and commandments of men, he takes captive well meaning men and women who are ignorant of these things (consider Rom 6:16; 2 Cor 11:13-15; Gal 1:8-9; 2 Peter 2:18-22 etc.). Therefore the pursuit of holiness is pursuing what God in Christ has sanctified us all to be as His new creations in Christ; who have been freed from sin, Satan, and death so that we can now do and enjoy all the glorious liberties of the children of God. For obeying the commandments of men are of no value against the sinful lusts of the flesh, but in the end only heighten them (consider 1 Cor 15:56).
Finally in this pursuit of holiness we are not to be friends of this world, and thus we must not embrace it's degenerating morals and "values" (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17). And so purifying ones own person and life in accord with the Word of God (1 Cor 5:9-13; 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; Rev 18:3-4) not only heightens ones own prosperity and peace in this life, but also makes one a catalyst for the same (Eph. 5:1-7, 8-14, 15-21, vs. 11; 2 Tim. 2:20-21; 3 John 2). 

Vs. 15-17 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

Now it falls not just on us, but specifically upon the church leaders to be looking carefully over the whole congregation "...lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled." For there are always those who will have the saving knowledge of God through the Gospel but will have never personally received the Lord Jesus Christ for themselves, and thus been born again by the Holy Spirit, and thus not been transformed by regenerating work of Him, which He works in everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. And so such individuals who seek to live and experience the Christian life and God's promises and Spiritual experiences by their own strength and abilities (and thus not by first repenting and believing in the Gospel ,and thus coming to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith, without reservations or expectations) can become disillusioned by their own efforts and expectations, in seeking to have and experience all that Christ Promises everyone who believes in Him through the Gospel. For it is only by the grace of God that He brings us to Spirit life and unites us with Christ as His redeemed and eternally secure and forgiven people. And so sadly when someone tries to enter the Kingdom of heaven by some other means other than by the grace of God, which is only given to us by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone, and thus they find that they cannot enter by striving to do so by some other means, sadly instead of repenting of their own self-will or works and turning to Christ and trusting Him alone for their salvation, they can become antagonistic towards Him. And when that happens, when someone who began a journey of faith, turns away from the faith in their hearts, they can unwittingly become a person by which Satan now sows his own works and agenda's through them. Thus the root of bitterness is referring to the individual who though starting out with a profession of faith In Christ, falls short of the grace of God and apostates from the faith. And having done so they will have degenerating effects on the lives and especially the faith of those around them. For such individuals will not only begin to call into question the Authenticity and Authority of God's Word, but as they become more emboldened in their unbelief and rejection of the Lord, they will start living lives and justifying practices that are utterly hostile to both Him and it. And so we must all be weary of such individuals when we become aware of them. In the Book of Revelations there is mentioned a woman referred to as "Jezebel"; an O.T. reference to the godless wife of king Ahab who not only stirred him up to do all kinds of evil (1 Kings 21:25), but having killed the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18:4) she by her harlotry's then went on to lead the nation of Israel astray from the Lord. And so this woman in the church of Thyatira being called by the Word of the Lord "Jezebel" is clearly indicating that she is "a root of bitterness" amongst them, by which many were becoming defiled. And yet this woman was calling herself a prophetess! And so whether by the complacency or compliance of the church leaders in that congregation she was being allowed to teach and seduce the people of God into committing sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols! (see Rev. 2:18-29). Therefore the root of bitterness, the apostate individual whose heart turns away from the Lord is again utterly toxic to any congregations well being. Now that reality is also made clear in verse 16 where the example of Esau is used to describe the apostate. For Esau though the firstborn for a single morsel of food went on to sell his own birthright, (a warning for us all to heed because there are people who have started out well in the faith and yet for a "single morsel of food"; i.e. maybe an adulteress affair, or maybe for the love of money etc. have likewise sold their own birthrights!) and having done so Esau would then go on to take wives for himself from Ishmael that were a grief to the mind of both his father and his mother; meaning that he was now wilfully living antagonistic towards them and their beliefs (see Gen. 26:34-35). Therefore as verse seventeen makes clear there is no repentance for the individual who likewise makes a wilful and decisive rejection of the Lord and His salvation for them (also see Hebrews 6:4-6).

Scripture Quotations 
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.










Monday, June 12, 2017

Hebrews 12:3-11

3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Commentary
Vs. 3 "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." 

The Lord Jesus Christ endured hostility from sinners initially seems a strange statement given that the Lord Jesus Christ was often called "a friend of sinners" by His enemies (Matt 11:18-19). Thus sinners here is not those sinners who seeing their own need for redemption come to Christ and are saved by Him (consider Matt 9:10-13; Luke 7:36-50; 18:9-14 etc.). No sinners here refers to those demonically charged individuals (whether Jews or Gentiles, consider John 8:37-47who not only orchestrated His Crucifixion, but having brought it to fruition, rejoiced to see Jesus suffering and dying on the Cross in their presence (i.e the Pharisees and Sadducee's and the godless mocking mob whom they stirred up to have Pilate crucify Christ). Therefore as believers we must not become weary and discouraged in our souls when the wicked of this world likewise set their sights on us because we belong to Christ. For as Jesus said, ....‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. John 15:20-21

Therefore when faced with such things let us continue on with Christ doing the good that God would have us do and not become discouraged, just as Nehemiah did when he too was faced with the hostility of sinners and their schemes when he began rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (consider then Gal. 6:9; 2 Thess. 3:13; 1 Peter 4:12-19). 

Vs. 4 "You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin."

Verse three singularly dealt with the hostility and opposition from sinners that we will face in this world, while verses four to eleven will deal with the greater dilemma in each and every believers life, and that is our ongoing struggles with sin. For that is the primary battlefield for every believer, our human flesh and it's inclinations towards sin. That said our struggles with sin should not be the cause of our discouragement, rather we should remember that though at times we may be overwhelmed by our own weaknesses in this battle, we will never have to resist to bloodshed in our striving against sin (consider 1 Cor. 10:13). For we have been crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be done away with (Rom 6:6), and thus we are being transformed into the glorious image of Christ by God's Spirit who is renewing us day by day, so then let us not give up when we falter (1 John 2:1-2) but let each one of us encourage each other, and assist one another as need arises (consider Gal. 6:1-2). 

Vs. 5-7 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?

Therefore we should not be surprised when God's correction comes to us to lead us out of it. For that is what you would expect from any sound parent (Prov. 19:18), and that is what God our Father does in seeking to remove those attitudes and actions that are not becoming of Him and His Son being in our persons and lives. Therefore rather than getting discouraged when we are rebuked by Him (as Cain was, see Gen. 4:6-7), we should seek Him and confess our sin and wrongs too Him; then having received His grace, mercy and forgiveness (Heb 4:14-16) seek to be what He is working out in us to be. For as the Scripture say's, "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?" Therefore child of God don't turn from God when you are rebuked by Him, rather turn to Him in obedience and faith so that you may be healed by Him (consider 1 Samuel 12:15; Hosea 10:12; Rev 3:19; antithesis Isaiah 1:5-9; Hosea 7:11-16; Zephaniah 3:1-2) 

Vs. 8 "But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons." 

It is most appropriate then that only the true children of God are chastened by Him. Notice too that there is none past or present or even future who have not, and will not be chastened by Him, for discipline is not only part and parcel of sound parenting but also of growing up into maturity.

Vs. 9-10 "Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 

It thus naturally follows that if we honor and obey our own mortal fathers, how much more should we readily be in subjection to our heavenly Father, who is the here described as the Father of spirits, that is He is the One who holds the breath of every living creature in His hands. Therefore we are all to be in subjection to Him and live for as Ezekiel God's prophet exhorted the then rebellious nation Israel, being in subjection to God our Father brings life, while rebellion against Him only brings ones own ruin and death (consider Ezekiel 18:30-32; 33:10-11). 

Vs. 11 "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

Obviously being chastened by the Lord is not a pleasant thing, just as enduring corporal discipline as a child from ones own father is not pleasant. Nevertheless both have the very positive and fruitful effect of producing the peaceful fruit of righteousness in those who have been trained by it. In other words God's chastening of us makes our lives not only more righteous, but also more peaceful. Now the antithesis of that would be to only produce spoiled and wild children as the Proverb warns, "spare the rod and spoil the child" (see Prov. 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15), and God is not in the business of raising selfish and self serving spoiled children who do not listen to Him, nor heed His Word.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Commentary
Vs. 1 "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us"

Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses who ran the race of faith before us, who overcame this world by their faith so we are being exhorted to overcome (consider 1 John 5:4). Therefore using the metaphor of a giant Colosseum whose seats are filled with the faithful saints and martyrs who have past before us, the Word of God now encourages us all to lay aside every weight and the sin which easily ensnares us. Here weight means anything which keeps us from being conformed to the image of Christ, and thus experiencing all of Christ's liberty and life which He has given us to be. For all such things though not necessarily morally wrong are not beneficial to us (or anyone else) when we cling to them, for then they just become burdening weights holding us down and keeping us back from running our own race of faith with endurance, and thus doing, pursuing, and being all that the Lord Jesus Christ has remade us and released us to be. Similarly is the sin which we indulged in and were in bondage too before we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. For though by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we have died to sin, and thus been released from it's power (see Rom 6:2). We can after we have been released from it, take it up again, and thus bring ourselves back into the bondage of it, which will only bring it's own spiritual troubles and problems (1 John 5:18), which again will only keep us from doing and enjoying all that Jesus Christ has called us and remade us to do, enjoy, and be (consider John 8:31-36; 10:10; Rom 12:1-2; Col. 1:13).

Vs. 2 "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Now though the testimonies and lives of those who have past before us are inspiring, there is only One the Word of God directs us to focus on. The Lord Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith. For in eternity past God the Father chose Christ His Son to be the bearer of our redemption and bring salvation to us. And so in the fullness of time Jesus took on human flesh and entered into the human experience to do just that. And so Jesus was born a baby, grew from childhood to a teenager to an adult, doing and experiencing all that we do and experience as human beings, yet He did so without sin, because there was no sin within Him, and so Jesus lived and walked amongst us for One Supreme purpose to do the Will of Father and fulfill the Word of God by suffering and dying on the Cross for our eternal redemption from sin and death. Therefore we are all commanded to look to Jesus not only for our eternal redemption and salvation from sin an death (John 3:15-16), but also as our Role Model for this life that we now live with Him. For it is Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. Author here means He is the originator, the One through whom God's life, Holy Spirit life, came and comes to everyone who believes in Him, and thus Jesus is the One through whom God's Will and Word for us all has been declared and manifested to the glory of God the Father (also see Heb. 2:10). Jesus then is the the One who has not only paved the way for us all to enter into a holy and everlasting redeemed relationship with God the Father (John 14:6), but He is the One who has finished it. That is finished our faith in the sense of both completing and perfecting it, and thus us all who believe in Him (see Heb. 10:14). For that is what Jesus said on the Cross just before He died, "It is Finished!" That is all that God will ever require of us for salvation has already been accomplished, completed, and perfected by the Son of Man's Perfect death on the Cross. Therefore Jesus for the joy that was set before Him, (joy in what He was about to accomplish, not joy in what He was about to go through) endured the cross, despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. The incredible suffering and public shame of the cross, of suffering a Crucifixion death which was a form of capital punishment thought reserved for enemies and the worst of criminals (i.e. violators of the Law) has become by the Will of God the means by which God has purchased our eternal redemption! The Lord Jesus Christ's Substitutionary death on the Cross for us all then had to happen there if God was going to be Just in redeeming us from all of our sins against Him. "For there is no one from Adam and Eve forward who has not sinned against God (Rom 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10), and as the Word of God declares "the soul that sins shall die" Ezekiel 18:4  Therefore Jesus as the Sinless Son of Man went forward in faith to suffer and die in our place so that He could accomplish our eternal redemption, and having accomplished it, Jesus three days later rose from the dead revealing His resurrected Person to His disciples and having done so and having instructed them on what they must now do, Jesus Ascended back to God the Father, to sit down at the right hand of the throne of God. Therefore we must all look to Jesus as we walk through this new life that He has given us when we are faced with trials and tribulations, when we are faced with our own personal failures, and when we are faced with overwhelming opposition which can never defeat us but can become the means by which God likewise accomplishes His Will for us if we go through it correctly. Therefore we too for the joy that is set before us, let us all run our own races of faith, with conviction, with love, with joy, with endurance, with patience, always remembering that whatever we pass through in this life is just another means by which God is likewise perfecting us (consider Heb. 2:10-13). 

Scriptural Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hebrews 11:30–40

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. 32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Commentary
Vs. 30 "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days."

When Joshua led the armies (i.e. the people) of God into Canaan, crossing the Jordan by a supernatural act of God who parted the waters for them, their first objective was Jericho. Now Jericho was an ancient city, heavily fortified and walled, which not only stood as a gateway into Canaan, but it would be the first test of the wilderness generation of Israelite's faith whom God said He would bring into the promised land. And so having entered Canaan by a Supernatural work of God, (Joshua 3:14-17) and having the Angel of the Lord appear to them to lead them (Joshua 5:13-15), the Israelite's were commanded by God to marched around Jericho once a day for six days. Now on the seventh day they were to march around it seven times upon which the priests would blow the trumpets and then God would cause the walls of Jericho to fall before the Israelite's, leaving the city open and defenseless against their assault on it (Joshua 6:1-6). Now these Israelite's faith wasn't proven when the walls of Jericho fell before them and they took it, their faith was proven when by faith they went to Jericho and marched around it according to commandment of God (see Joshua 6:1-27). For unlike their fathers who perished in the wilderness; who did not believe God would give them the land; these Israelite's entered the land of Canaan at the commandment of God. And so believing God they went forward in faith and did just as God commanded them to do which assured their own successes. For as long as they did so, God gave the Canaanites into their hand. A principal that should not be overlooked by us when we likewise engage in spiritual warfare; which likewise is never won by natural means, strengths, resources and abilities; (2 Cor 10:3-4) but only by the power and grace of God, which is released in us and through us when we likewise believe and obey God. 

Vs. 31 "By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace."

Now Rahab demonstrated her faith when she having heard how the Israelite's had entered the land, and how God had destroyed the Egyptians in the Red Sea knew that if she had any hope of surviving the upcoming assault, she would have to make peace with Him. And so when the spies sent by Joshua entered Jericho and they came to her house (for her house was on the wall) she did not turn them in to the leaders in Jericho, instead Rahab fearing God not only received them into her house but she also hid them from those seeking them, helping them escape the city after they spied it out. And so Rahab did not perish with those of Jericho who did not believe that God could bring His people to victory against them, she believed what had been told her about God's mighty works in Egypt, and what He had done to the Egyptians, and so again she feared God and put here faith not in the walls and leaders of Jericho, but with God, whose mercies she trusted in when she received the spies to herself. Rahab the harlot then stands as an example of Godly faith because she feared the judgment of God, and thus she received the salvation of God for herself when she received the spies. Now the same choice must be made by us all, to either repent and believe in the Gospel, and thus escape the coming judgment of God, or to carry on in unbelief to ones own eternal destruction and ruin. For God's wrath against this ungodly world is looming near. For just as He has done to Sodom and Gomorrah so He will do again to this ungodly world (2 Peter 3:3-13). And so the choice is ours to likewise fear and thus repent and believe in the Gospel, by which we receive the Lord Jesus Christ who is the only protection that anyone has from God's everlasting wrath and Judgment, or to carry on as they did then and be consumed just as they were when God visits this world for judgment (consider Luke 17:26-30). 

Vs. 32 "And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets"

Moving from Rahab onto the generations of the Judges and beyond, the Word of God now puts a rhetorical question to us, to bring to mind some of the most prominent men of it; Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 

Now without going into all of the details of their mighty exploits which they accomplished through faith, the Word of God gives us a broad summery of just what was done through them because they believed God, and thus they stepped out in faith, trusting God to do through them what they could not have achieved themselves. And that is an important point to remember, these are not "self-made" men who relied on their own strengths, skills, abilities or resources. These are people whom God chose to fulfill His purposes for His people, who when called by Him stepped out in faith to obey His Will for them, and thus God did through them what they could not have done themselves, so that God would be praised and glorified, not man (consider 1 Cor 1:26-31).
Gideon then when called by the Angel of the Lord was not at that time a "mighty man of valor" when the Angel of the Lord called him so, for Gideon like all of the Israelite's had been reduced too threshing their grain and whatever else they could harvest in secret places, so as to keep it from being confiscated by the Midianites who then bore the rule over them (see Judges 6:11-12). Therefore when the Angel of the Lord declared Gideon to be such, He was declaring just what Gideon would be if he obeyed Him and followed Him (Judges 6:14-16). Therefore with just three hundred men Gideon went on to accomplish a great victory for Israel because he believed God therefore he obeyed God's will for him (Judges 7). 

Barack though a leader in the nation of Israel, before he stepped out in faith was a self doubting man, and so Deborah the prophetess was the individual God was judging the people of Israel through, until she by the commandment of the Lord encouraged him to take up his leadership and go forward in faith and lead the armies of Israel into battle (Judges 4:4-7). Therefore when Barack overcame his own self doubts, and whatever fears he had, and he stepped out in faith, the people not only followed him, but God gave Israel the victory through him because he obeyed Him. Therefore Barack is listed in annals of faith as an example of Godly faith because he overcame his own doubts, fears, and whatever else was holding him back, and he went forward in faith to the glory of God our Father. Therefore when God gave the nation of Israel deliverance through him both Barack and Deborah rejoice in the Lord singing a song praising Him for what He had just done for His people, which begins with them both singing, 
“When leaders lead in Israel,
When the people
willingly offer themselves,
 Bless the LORD!" Judges 5:1-2

Leadership then must always and continually resist any and all inclinations towards self doubts and inaction, because it is never what we can confidently do, it is always what God wants to do and demonstrate through us, so as to inspire and encourage others to follow Him in faith.

Now Samson though mighty in physical strength and stature still had his own shortfalls and weaknesses. For Samson was a man who had a strong sense of justice, which often got him into all kinds of predicaments. And yet in spite of Samson's personal weaknesses, God accomplished great victories and triumphs through Samson, using those same personal traits that often seemed like liabilities to others to move Samson to take the fight to the Philistines, and bring about great deliverance's for His people in their time of need. The greatest which occurs when Samson having been betrayed by the woman he loved loses all his strength when she cuts his hair, and then he is turned over to the Philistines by her. And so with his strength gone, his eyes having been gouged out, Samson is reduced to being a chained broken man in a Philistine prison, only to be taken out to be fully humiliated before the Philistine lords in the temple of their god where Samson is now forced to "perform" before them. Now it is in that lowest moment of Samson's life that he in faith cries out to the Lord to enable him one last time to take vengeance on the Philistines for his eyes (Judges 16:25-30). And so it was that Samson killed more Philistines in his death then he ever did in his life. And thus Samson though he lived almost all of his life by his own strength, yet it is in his death that he turns to the Lord to enable him to do for him what he could no longer do for himself. Therefore Samson is listed in annals of faith, as a man of faith, because like those before him he believed God.

Jephthah a man of valor was a man of illegitimate birth, who though being the first born son of his father when he became of age was driven from his household and his territory by his own brothers and the leaders of it. And so for a season Jephthah is reduced to leading raiding parties outside of the territories of Israel. Now it would be this man whom God would chose to lead His people onto victory over the Ammonites when they turned away from their idols and returned to Him (Judges 11-12). Jephthah then would be brought back by the same men who once despised him and had driven him away to be the leader of them, whom God would place His Spirit upon so as to lead His people and bring about their deliverance through Himself. Jephthah then would go from being an "outlaw" to being a man of God who kept his word to God when God's people were not keeping theirs. And so Jephthah is listed here with some of the greatest men of that era. 

David and Samuel and the prophets are all listed together and rightly so, for both David and Samuel were prophets and throughout their lives they all exemplified faith in God even when God's people were not. Now David whose beginnings were small and insignificant in the eyes of everyone except God would by his faith in God and by the Sovereign will of God, become king of Israel. And so David would become the man through whom God would not only lead His people to bring about Israel's greatest victories, but because David was a man after God's own heart God through David would establish His own Son's Throne and Kingdom forever. And so David is listed here in annuls of faith because David not only kept his faith deeply abiding in God even when as yet God's will for him could not be seen coming to fruition, but David even when established by God still looked too and depended deeply on God throughout his tenure and life. Therefore David is listed amongst the men and woman of faith , because he was man of faith.  

Vs. 33 "who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,"

Having cited some of the great and prominent figures from the Old Testament era, the Word of God now recalls how by faith how they overcame whatever overwhelming obstacles and opposition that they faced in following God. First mentioned is they subdued kingdoms, for that was God's plan for His people when He brought them out of the land of Egypt and into Canaan was for them to subdue the kingdoms of the people there, so that God's people could establish His in the land. And so from Moses to David and beyond God worked mightily through His people in accomplishing this when they believed and obeyed Him. Now in this Joshua stands out because he initially conquered Canaan and vanquished the nations there when God brought them into Canaan and the Angel of the Lord went before them. Only when Israel turned from the Lord God and turned to the idols and Godless practices of the people around them did God give them into the hands of their enemies. Thus there can be no Spiritual victories for any of God's people, if we do not believe and obey Christ and thus separate ourselves from Godless beliefs and practices of the wicked (consider 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; Eph. 5:1-7; Rev. 18:1-4; also 1 Tim 5:22).
Next mentioned is that God's people throughout the ages by faith worked righteousness. In this the Kings of Judah like Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah stand out for they all turned God's people back from their idols to the Lord God of their fathers when the people had gone astray; thus preserving them and the nation when they did so. That said the working of righteousness is by no means limited to them, but is brought to fruition by everyone who by faith stands up for it! Now by faith they also obtained promises, that is by believing the promises of God they obtained to the promises of God, for that is the necessary link between hearing God's promises and having God's promises come to fruition in ones life, believing Him. By faith they also Stopped the mouths of lions which is clearly seen with Daniel who escape certain death because of his faith in God. Now in this Daniel did not put God to the test to see if God would deliver him from them; no Daniel was delivered over to lions by the schemes of wicked men because of his faithfulness towards God.
Therefore God saved him, because Daniel kept his faith in God even if this meant his facing certain death for doing so, something which marked Daniels life (see Daniel 6:10-23). Now the Apostle Paul also mentions of metaphorically being delivered out of the mouth of the lion, again indicating escaping certain death by the hand of God (2 Tim 4:17).

Vs. 34 "quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens."

By faith Daniels three compatriots who were exiles with him in Babylon quenched the violence of fire when they too were delivered over to it by the schemes of wicked men, and so God saved them because of their faith in and faithfulness towards Him (see Daniel 3:8-25). Escaped the edge of the sword is likely a reference to surviving in battle as the context indicates, and so it was by faith that they survived. Similarity by faith out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. king Asa is a wonderful example of this when faced with a million man army of invading Ethiopians, yet by faith king Asa overcame even them (see 2 Chron. 14:9-14).

Vs. 35  "Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection."

Excluding all of the miracles done by Jesus in the N.T. two woman in the days of Elijah and Elisha also received their dead raised to life again, the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17-24) and the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:8-37). These two woman then exemplified true faith when God's people's faith was in short supply. Jesus even cites the widow of Zarephath, a region of Sidon, and Naaman the Syrian commander, as both being people of faith to His home town of Nazareth which only brought out their fierce and murderous ire (see Luke 4:23-30). Now throughout the history of God's people, in the Old Covenant era, and now in the New, suffering for ones faith in God, even to martyrdom, has been and will always be apart of following God (consider Rev. 6:9-11; 20:4-5).

Vs. 36  "Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment." 

And so faith is not just the means by which God does great and mighty deeds in and through our persons and lives. But by faith God's people also endured the hostility of this ungodly world. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ in being made like all His brethren, also had endure the trial of mockings and scourgings, of chains and imprisonment, like John the Baptist and all the Old Testament prophets and believers who down through the ages likewise suffered for their faith in God. 

Vs. 37-40 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

The reality of having faith in God means not only having to face trials and tribulations in this brief life, but also having to endure the violent hostility and rejection of this world. That is the reality for us all when we choose to follow Christ. Too varying degrees and in varying ways every believer will enter into the sufferings of God's people, yet by faith overcame. Therefore the Word of God in recalling these things does not pull any punches, but declares plainly some of severe sufferings of God's people.  And so they were stoned, for stones in the Middle east are everywhere, and are easily picked up and wielded by violent and angry mobs seeking to execute God's people. The Apostle Paul was stoned once for his faith in Christ but miraculously survived (see Acts 14:5, 19-20; 2 Cor 11:22-28, vs. 24); "they were sawn in two," a most gruesome act though not recorded in the Bible, yet being recalled in the Bible means that this was not just a one off occurrence; "were tempted" likely meaning tempted to recant their faith in order to save themselves from certain suffering or death; "were slain with the sword," which is indicating execution by lawful authorities for their faith in God. "They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—
38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth." 

Despised, rejected, harassed, hounded, hunted, believers have always been driven out of their homes and away from their families (and sometimes even by their families, consider Matt 10:34-39). And so we should not think it a strange things when such things befall us (1 Peter 4:12-19) for believers down through the ages have always been forced into exile, isolation, hardships, poverty and all forms of destitution, troubles and miseries for their faith in and faithfulness towards God. Now even though these didn't have the promise of God's salvation fully revealed and brought to fruition for them, they still clung to Him in love, therefore the Word of God says that they obtained a good testimony; that is a good testimony in the eyes of God for their faithfulness too God. Therefore the Word of God also says that this godless world was not worthy of them. For standing up for God's Righteousness and Truth, and living by it, always means having to endure hostility from this world (2 Tim 3:12-17). Therefore God has provided something better for them than the fleeting treasures and passing pleasures of sin that mark the lives and pursuits of those living for this world, since they should not be made perfect (perfect In Christ) apart from us (consider Rev 6:9-11). Therefore each and every believer should draw strong consolation from the sufferings of God's people who went before us, since just as God upheld and sustained all of them in love, hope, and joy to eternal life, so He will likewise do for us all who likewise believe in Him and hold fast to Him firm till the end (Heb. 3:6).


Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


Additional Resources Consulted 
Vs. 33, 35 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2201). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.



Note: Draft Version