For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 HCSB
Everyone is tempted in some way. Some are tempted to lie. Some are tempted to cheat. Others are tempted to steal. Husbands and wives are tempted to be unfaithful. Businessmen are tempted to be dishonest to get a sale or a promotion. Some are tempted to view inappropriate things on the internet. Temptation is no respecter of persons or position.
This Scripture reminds us that Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are, but He did not give in to the temptation and sin. To be tempted is not a sin, but to give in to the temptation and act upon it is a sin. Jesus understands our temptations and sympathizes with us. He understands when we fail and sin.
Challenge: Make a list of the areas in which you are tempted. Look over the list and understand that Jesus has been tempted in the same way you have been tempted. As you face temptation, ask Jesus to give you the strength to resist the temptation and do what is right. 1 Corinthians 10:13 promises that we will not be tempted beyond our strength and God will provide a way for us to escape the temptation.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens – Jesus the Son of God – let us hold fast to the confession. Hebrews 4:14 HCSB
By Jewish tradition, the high priest was the highest religious authority in the land. He alone entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple once a year. Leviticus 16 tells us that the high priest would make atonement for the sins of all of the people.
This Scripture tells us that Jesus is our high priest. He is above all other high priests because He alone is both God and man. He represents humanity before God the Father and He represents God to humanity. Jesus also represents the love and forgiveness of God. Always at the right hand of God the Father, Jesus hears our prayers and continually intercedes on our behalf.
Challenge: Thank Jesus that He is the way that you can find hope and meaning in our world. Thank Him for paying the price for your sins and making it possible for you to have a real relationship with God the Father.
For who heard and rebelled? Wasn’t it really all who came out of Egypt under Moses? And who was He provoked with for 40 years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And who did He swear to that they would not enter His rest, if not those who disobeyed? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:16-19 HCSB
Matt Slick reports in Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: “The statement ‘I lack belief in a god’ is a common position of atheists. In discussions with them, they tell me they lack belief in God the way they lack belief in invisible pink unicorns. In other words, they have no position, take no intellectual action, and have no belief or unbelief on the matter concerning God.”
The Israelites lacked belief in God and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. But I would not classify the Israelites as atheists. They believed in God but they did not believe in His power and ability to safely bring them into the land that God had promised to give them. Due to their lack of belief, they were not allowed to enter His rest. Instead, they died in the wilderness and never entered the Promised Land.
Challenge: Do you lack belief in God and His ability to take care of you? God loves you and wants you to enter into His rest. The ultimate “rest” or Promised Land, is when we enter heaven and stand in the presence of our Lord and Savior. Only believe and you will see great things happen. You will then be allowed to enter His rest.
But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. Hebrews 3:13 HCSB
I recently taught a Sunday School Leadership training conference for the Kentucky Baptist Convention in Paducah, Kentucky. Conference leading comes natural for me and I always enjoy teaching and interacting with those in attendance. My prayer is that the information I share will help them become better Sunday School leaders. The week after the conference I received a card in the mail from one of the men who attended my conference. His encouraging words were such a blessing to me.
The writer of Hebrews understood the importance of an encouraging word. Over the years there have been people that seem to have shared their gift of encouragement. I have enjoyed the benefit of hearing encouraging words from some of these people. One of my prayers is that I would offer an encouraging word to others I encounter.
Challenge: You can offer an encouraging word to others. Select someone today to whom you will give an encouraging word. Pray that God will use you to be a blessing and encouragement to someone today.
So I swore in My anger, “They will not enter My rest.” Hebrews 3:11 HCSB
My son-in-law purchased a hammock for their new deck. It was so restful to lie in the hammock and just swing back and forth. Listening to the birds sing and feeling the breeze blow across my face was very relaxing. We all need rest and desire to experience true refreshment and peace.
We find God’s rest described differently in several locations in Scripture. On the seventh day God rested from creating the world. The Sabbath day was established by God to be a day of rest. The Promised Land was to be a land flowing with milk and honey. It was to be a place of rest. When we accept Jesus as Lord, we find rest and peace with God. Jesus even said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 HCSB). In the future we will find rest in our eternal home in heaven. God became angry because of the sins of the people and how they had hardened their hearts against Him and turned to their own ways. Because of their rebellion, God caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years and did not allow them to experience the rest found in the Promised Land.
Challenge: Do you feel tired and burdened by the tasks of each day? Do you find it difficult to really stop and rest? God wants you to find rest in Him. Trust Him to take care of you and show you His ways; therein you will find the perfect rest He has designed for you.
Therefore, I was provoked with that generation and said, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways.” Hebrews 3:10
The road leading to the subdivision where I live is very narrow and drops off on each side. One day as I was traveling to work, there was a large truck coming from the opposite direction. I moved over to make sure he had plenty of room. Focusing my attention on the large truck, I inadvertently ran off the right side of the road. Not wanting to jerk my truck back onto the road and risk running into the truck, I barely clipped a mailbox that broke my mirror and shattered my right passenger window. Because I ran off the road and went astray, I faced the consequences of an expensive window and mirror repair.
The writer of Hebrews was recounting how the Israelites had lost their focus and had taken their eyes off of God. In their hearts they had “run off the road” and gone astray. They did not trust God; they disobeyed Him, and they went their own way. When we fail to follow God’s ways and commandments, we can expect to have problems. The consequences of sin are always painful and destructive.
Challenge: Have you gone astray from God’s perfect will and direction for your life? Have you provoked God’s anger because of your wayward thoughts and actions? Repent, turn from your evil ways, and follow God’s way in every area of your life.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My words for 40 years. Hebrews 3:7-9 HCSB
We receive warnings every day. Road signs warn of impending danger where there is a reduction of lanes or high water. The warnings on medicine bottles instruct us to take a certain dosage and to store the medicine out of the reach of children. There are warnings on movies and television shows guiding parents to keep children from watching content that is not appropriate.
In these verses, we are warned against the hardening of our hearts and rebelling against God just like the Israelites did in the wilderness. The Israelites would not follow God’s command to go up and possess the land because they were afraid of the people living there. The Israelites had just witnessed God’s amazing power as He had delivered them from Egyptian slavery, parted the Red Sea, and even provided food and water for them. Because they did not heed God’s warnings and hardened their hearts, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
Challenge: Heed God’s warnings in His Word. Do not harden your heart. Be careful to obey God’s commands and directions. They are designed to make your life easier and to keep you from harm.
For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested. Hebrews 2:18 HCSB
There are many people who are suffering in our world today. Some have health issues, others have marriage and relationship issues, while others have financial difficulties. Some face persecution and even death because of their beliefs. The list is immeasurable of the many ways people suffer. We live in an imperfect world where there is pain, suffering, and death.
This verse reminds us that Jesus has been tested and suffered just as we have been tested and suffer. Knowing that Jesus was tempted just as we are tempted helps us face our trials and temptations. Jesus understands our struggles because He faced the same types of struggles as a human being. We can trust Christ to help us survive our struggles and overcome our temptations.
Challenge: When you face trials, go to Jesus for strength and help. He understands what you are going through and wants to help you. Trust Him to show you the way even when you can not see any good in your circumstances.
Therefore, He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17 HCSB
Vocabulary.com reports that “propitiation” is an action meant to regain someone’s favor or make up for something you did wrong. Propitiation comes from a form of the Latin verb”propitiare,” which means “to appease.” If you are doing something in propitiation, your basic goal is to regain favor. Propitiation often involves a god or gods.
In Biblical times the High Priest was the mediator between God and the people. He would regularly offer animal sacrifices to intercede on behalf of the people, asking for God’s forgiveness. Jesus Christ is our High Priest. His death on the cross appeased God’s wrath and judgment on sin. It is through Jesus Christ that we are made right with a holy God. Through His death He has paid the penalty for our sins. Just as the High Priest made propitiation for the sins of the people, Jesus now makes propitiation for our sins.
Challenge: Thank Jesus for being your propitiation and appeasing the wrath and anger of God through His death on the cross.
For it is clear that He does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abraham’s offspring. Hebrews 2:16
I was interim pastor at a church in Missouri while serving on staff with the Missouri Baptist Convention several years ago. That Easter I worked with the Minister of Music to coordinate my message with the special music. I also did a monologue of the Apostle Peter while dressed in Biblical costume. I took on the appearance, actions, and attitudes of Peter as if I was Peter. It was enjoyable to share the Easter story in this way.
Jesus, while in human form on earth, took on the appearance and actions of man. This verse reminds us that Jesus did not take on the image of the angels, but instead took on the image of man so He could bring salvation to all who believed in Him. He did not come to save the angels; rather He came to save all of mankind.
Challenge: What does God have you here on this earth to accomplish? What is your mission? Pray for wisdom and guidance as you seek to do His will in your life!