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054 - Better, Better, BETTER

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
The Truth Network Radio
August 7, 2021 1:00 pm

054 - Better, Better, BETTER

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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August 7, 2021 1:00 pm

Episode 054 - Better, Better, BETTER (7 Aug 2021) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there something here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink.

Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages. Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, aren't you always looking for something better?

Yeah, because the thing I got is worn out or doesn't work or didn't do the job correctly. Yeah, exactly, and so he's going to talk today about better things, but you know, not just better things, but better hope. And a better priest.

Exactly, and a better covenant. Wow, today on More Than Ink. Well, good morning. This is Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. And we are excited that you're with us. I'm excited.

We're excited. We're in the middle of Hebrews. Hebrews is kind of a classically difficult territory, at least that's what a lot of people say. It requires thinking. It requires thinking.

Yeah, he actually, a few chapters ago, said that we're going into solid food territory. So this is like when your teacher said, put your thinking cap on. So this is really fascinating stuff. I think every time we come back to it, we learn something new because the depth of what's been shown here is just really marvelous.

So if your head is spinning a little bit. Well, and it's been a week since you've been listening. Exactly, yeah. And for us, it's been a week since we've been sitting here recording.

Yeah, yeah. So let me just catch up on where we got to. If you look at Hebrews, starting from the beginning of the book, he comes right out of the gate saying, you need to consider who this Jesus is. And this was a topic that was pretty critical to Jews because they said, well, we've got our temple and we're in the promised land and so Jesus is kind of irrelevant in many sense. But he says, no, Jesus is preeminent. In fact, he makes his first case saying he's more important than angels themselves, which is a big, big deal, the supremacy of Jesus. And then when he launches in chapter two, he gives us this really stern warning. So he says, look, you don't want to neglect this salvation.

This is a big deal. This is a big deal, this salvation in Jesus. And that Jesus himself, he says, is kind of the founder or the captain of this salvation, these promises of God realized in our life. So he's really waking you up as he starts into the book and he says, look, we need to consider Jesus. And so when he gets to chapter three, he says it again, you need to consider Jesus. So that's why I was saying a long time ago that this book really should be entitled Jesus because it's all about who Jesus is from a particular viewpoint of the Jews.

And he was overlooked in many ways because he wasn't recognized as a Messiah. But what the author is going to do is he's going to weave in and show how the whole idea of Jesus is not an afterthought on God's part. It's really the central road through which God has planned the fruition of his promises.

So he says, consider Jesus and then he gets into an interesting thing before he finishes three. He says, you know, there's this promise from God and it's called rest, capital R. And I always like to equate this to, you know, the Psalm 23 about the shepherd and the sheep and leading you into nice pastures. So this rest is an idea of a wonderful place to live.

In a sense, it's kind of like Eden again. Coming back to this, the promise of God is a great place for us to live with him. So he introduces the idea of this rest and then as a further caution to wake you up, he says, you know, that promise was given to Israel when they, you know, left Egypt. But they decided not to really trust God's promise. They weren't going to take him at his word that he was going to give him into this great promised land. And so again, he cautions us again, not only about, you know, you've got to consider Jesus, but he says, what can happen to you if you don't wise up and listen is what happened to Israel. So what happened to Israel when they left Egypt and did not make it into the promised land, this place of rest, because they wouldn't take God at his word for his promise.

They just wouldn't believe him. So he wants us again in chapter four. Come on now, be careful because you can go by the same way. You can miss the promise, even though the promise remains for rest, which is great good news for us. You can still miss it by disbelieving that God can do it. But then he says something remarkable. He says, but there still remains a promise of rest for the people of God. And that's in chapter four, which means it's not getting into the promised land, Palestine, you know.

There still remains a promise from God for rest. And so with that, he intrigues us by talking, he segues into who Jesus is as our high priest. And so before he finishes chapter four, he talks about Jesus as the one who's going to be the middle man, the mediator between God and us in order to get us to where God wants us to be and the fulfillment of his promise to us of this rest. And then right there in chapter five, he stops for a second.

He says, okay, we have to stop for a second. Are you ready for this? You know, he says, up till now, you know, we've been talking milk in terms of the gospel. Now we're going to talk about solid food.

This is solid food. Are you ready for this? So he takes kind of a little pause in chapter five.

Like, are you ready? Can you handle the truth? And then, you know, when he gets into chapter six, he says, okay, I'm convinced you can handle the truth. So let's go forward in verse nine of chapter six. Let's go forward.

We're going to do this. Here we go. And he starts talking about God's promises to Abraham, which actually are fulfilled in this rest thing and are fulfilled in Jesus.

But we'll get more to that in a couple of minutes. But he goes all the way back to Abraham, who's the father of the nation of Israel, and says what we're talking about is foundational. In fact, it's pre-foundational when he introduces the idea of this mystery man named Melchizedek, who is a contemporary in terms of age with Abraham, and to whom Abraham paid great respect and even tithing. And so he introduces the idea we got to last time about the fact that this Melchizedek, he's an important picture for us to understand the role of Jesus in us getting to this place of rest and the fulfillment of God's promises. And so that's sort of how we left it last time, which was the fact that this Melchizedek, especially if he is a priest, he's actually much, much greater than the classical Jewish idea of the priest, which comes from Levi and Aaron.

He's something much bigger and much more preeminent. And in a way, the Levitical priests who were in the loin of Abraham at the time when Melchizedek's around actually paid homage to Melchizedek. So he introduces this idea that this mystery man Melchizedek, which everyone's familiar with, if you're an Old Testament scholar like a Jew, says this Melchizedek is kind of sort of like Jesus.

And so here's how he's bringing in the idea of why the Jewish nation, and we as well, need Jesus, because he plays a pivotal role in terms of making the promises of God come to fulfillment with us. So that's where we've gotten to. So he's taken almost six chapters to say, are you ready for it? Well, we're up to our eyeballs in it now. So I hope you can track with us. But again, the whole issue about why we've been talking about this is that God has made promises, promises for our rest, and if we're not careful in disobedience, we may miss it.

And so the offer is there and the promise never goes away. But critically, in the center of the picture is Jesus as our high priest. Well, and the reason we would miss entering God's rest is because we do not, we willfully choose not to believe what he says about it and what he says he will accomplish for us. And that really is the heart of that passage in three and four about them failing to enter the rest because of their disobedience. Well, when we hear disobedience, we think, uh-oh, they didn't do something. Well, what they didn't do was believe God.

Right, exactly. And we know that the scripture says, now Abraham believed God, and that was reckoned to him as righteousness. Yeah, so all of this is tied together in terms of taking God at his word for his promises toward us for our benefit.

And this is God's loving intention for us is to find rest and to find life in him. And then just to add one small thing since he introduced the idea of the high priest, there was this brief glimpse of a moment he talked about the fact that we're being brought in behind the curtain. And we talked about that in the temple that was symbolically where God lived, and there was a curtain that separated common mankind from the presence of God right there, and we can't go past that. But the high priest could. So in the metaphor of all this, we're seeing the fact that if we want to be brought to life, to the promises of God, in the nearness of God, the promise of God, in the presence of God, somehow we have to get past that curtain that separates sinful man. The high priest was the only one who could do it before.

Guess what? We have another high priest, Jesus himself. Well, the high priest is still the only one who could do it.

Well, that's true. But now the high priest in view is Jesus. So he's equated this rest with being in God's presence. And, you know, from a New Testament perspective, we go, well, duh, that's true, we understand that. But he's making his case to Jews, and he's making it quite forcefully.

So we're in this whole topic of conversation as we're in the middle of chapter 7 about Melchizedek and Jesus, comparing Melchizedek and Jesus together and seeing what we can glean from this little cameo appearance back in Genesis 14, three or four verses where Melchizedek shows up, and he's milking this for all it's worth to do as Melchizedek, although he's mysterious, is a great picture of the role of Jesus, even pre-Moses during the time of Abraham. So shall we just dive into it? Boy, you used half our time. I know. I know.

This can be disorienting. Yes. So let's go to chapter 7, verse 11, and we'll pick up the discussion that shows some light about who Jesus is based on who Melchizedek is.

Okay. So if you remember where we left off, he just said, you know, Melchizedek received tithes from all the priests who were still unborn in the loins of Abraham. So now we're picking up in verse 11. So, now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood, for under it the people received the law, what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there's a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For one of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it's evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe, Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it's witnessed of him, you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Do we need to stop there? Yeah, let's stop there because he makes a pretty obvious argument that a Jew is wrestling with right now. If you're claiming that Jesus is some kind of superior high priest, it can't work because everybody knows that Jesus is not from the tribe of Levi. And that's a rule in the Old Testament.

You can't do it. So, what do you mean talk about a priest? Are you introducing something new? Jesus is actually known, not introducing something new, introducing something that predates Levi.

Something very old. That there is a priesthood that surpasses, that is greater, and existed before the Levitical priesthood was put in place. And very relevant because Abraham himself paid tithes to this guy.

So, there you go, this guy is some kind of a priest. So, he says if Melchizedek has never figured into your thinking, spiritually speaking, before as a Jew, it might be because he is pointing toward Jesus, who is also not figuring your thinking, but he should. Because Melchizedek is real, and he has a relationship with Abraham, and the promises to Abraham are what we're talking about in all of this. So, he just makes this point. He says in 14, he's descended from Judah.

Okay, I get that. But Melchizedek is not descended from Judah. In fact, who is Melchizedek descended from?

We don't know. And so that's why his comment in 16 about an indestructible life. Actually, did Melchizedek have an indestructible life? Well, not if he was a real human being.

Probably not. He lived, he was born, he died. But we have no history of it. So, the Jewish idea is if we have no history of his birth or death, then he goes on. Okay, so, you know, interpreters are kind of all over the map on this, and there is a very real line of thinking that this Melchizedek, who appears in Genesis, was actually a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. But the text is cagey. It doesn't say that outright. So, we are left to kind of wonder and to just go with the idea that, here in Hebrews, we're told he is like Jesus.

Yeah, back in chapter... So, he is a picture, he is a type. The beginning of this chapter, he said he resembles the Son of God.

Right, right. So, he's clearly trying to make a connection. So, Jews accept Melchizedek as a historical figure. They're saying, so if you accept Melchizedek as a historical figure, then you need to start thinking about accepting Jesus, because they resemble each other in a number of ways. And so, and again, what's interesting is what makes him qualified isn't genetics or bloodline to be our priest. It's this eternal nature, this indestructible life. And, you know, we live in Mormon territory, so we have a lot of people who claim to be Melchizedek priests. Well, I said, you know, the qualification from him that kills the priest is an eternal existence, it's an indestructible life.

Always where, always will be. Right, that's what Hebrews is saying here. So, you've got to be really literal when you read this stuff.

That's the whole thing about that. But he does quote Psalm 110, the only other place in the Old Testament that you find Melchizedek is in Psalm 110. And he says, so here's the idea. He is a priest forever, which means before Abraham, after Abraham, for everyone who comes, always. He's a priest forever, not just a high priest who goes in and out of the Jewish temple, which no longer exists today.

And whose office will pass to someone else when he dies. When he dies, yeah, exactly. So, we have, this is an eternal high priest. He's starting to bring this into eternal, heavenly dimensions of things that never change. So, then he goes on in verse 18. He's still making this comparison.

Still making this comparison. It says, for on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness, for the law made nothing perfect. Nothing perfect. But on the other hand, a better hope is introduced through which we draw near to God. Now, I want to draw your attention to a couple of things here. We've come across the word perfect and the phrase draw near right here. Those things are both going to recur throughout the rest of the book of Hebrews. We've already been, already heard about drawing near back in chapter 4. We draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. So, this idea of drawing near to God is something you need a priest to do for you.

So, drawing near, we're going to listen for that to show up again and again, at least one more time in this chapter. And then the idea of perfect or perfection is going to show up. So, it doesn't mean sinlessness. It means nothing more is needed. It's complete.

It is sufficient. So, I would encourage you readers to take your concordance and look up that word perfect and look it up. Just zero in on the New Testament, how Jesus used that word, because you'll be astonished at how many times it shows up in the Gospels, in the words of Jesus.

Look at how he uses the word and what he means by it. And the writer of Hebrews uses it exactly the same way, as the completion of a process. Nothing more is needed in order to make it effective or wholly complete. Right. And it often implies, the particular word implies the end of a process.

Right. So, I always say, you know, if you're developing a recipe, your favorite recipe, you do it once and then you don't like it a little bit, you change it and change it and change it, until you finally get to the end of the process and you say, I have perfected my recipe. So, this word perfect really is the end of a process. And so, it also implies a goal. It implies you're going someplace toward an end.

Or moving towards something. Yeah, so all of that is kind of wrapped up in that idea. Okay, so come back to the text now. Okay. It says the law made nothing perfect, right?

Because you always had to do a little more, do a little more, do a little more. But on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. The writer has talked about hope before. Yes, yes. Also, we have our hope that's anchored within the veil.

Anchored. We have hope in the confidence that God has done what he said he would do. He will do what he says he will do. So, we have a better hope that's introduced with Jesus as our high priest. And that's an intriguing piece of good news. It is.

We're going to unpack that a little bit. A better hope? You mean a better hope than the process of the law back in the Old Testament and the sacrifice of the temple? Well, what makes it better?

Better. And it's not just better, it's a better hope, which means it's pointing to something still to come. Right. So, that draws Jews' attention and our attention to what do you mean a better hope? Well, I think we can identify with this because we all talk to people who say, well, I hope I've been good enough for God to accept me. Right.

But the better hope that we have is in the accomplishment of Jesus for us, all those things we could not do for ourselves. And he said it in passing in such a benign way in 19. In our version, it's in parentheses. It says, you know, the law made nothing perfect. That's right.

Never completed the process. So, the law was never intended to deal with your transformation out of sin. Right.

But it did a great job at pointing out your sin. But making it clear you can't do this. That doesn't help you much because you're still stuck. You still can't come into the presence of God, the nearness of God, because you're too sinful. So, the law just tells you you can't come in.

That's what the law tells you. Right. So, this is why it's a better hope.

There actually is now a way to get into the nearness of God, the presence of God, and therein is rest and life. Yes. And this hope is not just wishful thinking. No.

It isn't. A confident expectation that God will do what he says he will do, and I can bank on that. Exactly.

And for a Jew listener, they'd say, well, wait a second. It sounds like God made pretty good promises before, and the temple thing was working, and the sacrifice thing was working. And so, are you saying that God made a bad plan to start with?

No. He's not saying that. But he is going to start contrasting how these two plans are different.

But remember, if Jesus is like Melchizedek, and Melchizedek is a contemporary of Abraham, then this plan through Jesus, like Melchizedek, pre-existed that whole temple plan. Right. So, he's going to spend chapters talking about this, but that's the fascinating thing about it. Okay, we need to push on. Okay, so how did Jesus get to be a high priest?

Yeah. So, back to the text, verse 20. Twenty. And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him, the Lord has sworn and will not change his mind. You are a priest forever. Forever. This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

Ah. The former priests were many in number because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. The role of the high priest, making intercession.

Yeah, and there it is again, the draw near. Draw near. He's able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God. Through him. Through him.

Not on the merit of their own accomplishment according to the law. Exactly. And also in verse 25, I read, he's able to save to the uttermost. Well, that's a good translation, but that word is actually related to the word perfect or perfection that we're going to see again and again. So again, that idea of nothing more is needed. He can save completely. It is finished.

It is done. As Jesus said on the cross, yeah. So he's finally, as a high priest, going to go the last mile. He's going to go between us and God himself.

In a sense, he stands in the midst of that curtain that separates the two and allows mankind to come in the presence of God and to draw near to God through him. In a sense, it's kind of like Jesus says, I'm the door. I'm the door, the sheep pen, stuff like that. You have to come through the door. Come through. There's no other way. He's that door now. So if you want access to God in the presence of God and find life and join the presence of God, you've got to come through Jesus. There's no other name.

There's no other way. Yeah. So he's introduced this idea not only of a better hope in Jesus, but a better covenant. Covenant.

Oh my gosh, what is this? Well, what makes this covenant better? And perhaps you've heard the terms old covenant and new covenant. Exactly. So we're going to get into that next week and big time the week after that. But if Jesus is the guarantor of a better covenant, well, what was the one that needs to be better than? Right?

One that was based entirely on our willpower and our desire to obey and be good enough. Says, well, this covenant is a totally different deal than that because God is the one who changes you. So we're going to get into that more. Yeah, it'll be a big topic for the weeks to come.

For the next couple of weeks. Yeah. Because the Jews and actually fallen Christians, I'll say it, are hung up on this idea that there's a list of laws you have to do and if you keep doing those things, the better you are. Fallen Christians. What do you mean by that? Well, people call themselves Christians, but they're not Christians.

Ah, okay. And they end up living life. It's people who live by laws, basically. And then they think that there's something that they're earning, they're accruing some kind of approval from God based on this list of things you do. And that was the Jewish idea of the law as well. God told us to do these things. We do these things and things get better and we get God's promises.

There you go. But that is not how it works and it turns out that the law itself was added after the original promise to Abraham just to out sin. To show how sin is getting in the way of the promise and that the old covenant is what revealed that sin. The new covenant solves that sin through Jesus.

So that's where he's going to go to. That's why it's a better covenant. But when you see the word covenant, don't freak out by the word covenant. Covenant just means an arrangement or a promise by God. An agreement. An agreement. This is the way we're going to do life now.

Right. And this isn't an afterthought on God's part. This was actually core to the original thought back at Abraham's time. Well and to Jews, the idea of covenant was very important. Yeah, big, big deal.

Big, big deal. They were the people to whom God had made promises. God had entered into an agreement with Abraham.

And they even characterized themselves as God's covenant people. God made promises to us. And so covenant is just a gigantic thing. And covenant is just, that's the promise. So we talked about the promise to Abraham. So God asserts that he wants to give to us life in this pasture-like rest place, capital R, rest. But the problem is not that God's promise is somehow defective, but the fact that our sin keeps us away. And so that's the case he's making right now about how it is we participate in this new covenant, this new plan, this new arrangement that God has put together that the old covenant couldn't solve for us because the old covenant only showed us our sin.

It didn't fix it. And that's what's keeping us out of joy in the presence of God. And the writer of Hebrews had already told us back in chapters 3 and 4 that the job of a priest is to offer gifts and sacrifices.

Right. Gifts and sacrifices. That is what he does. He offers gifts and sacrifices. He brings the blood of the sacrifice that the people bring and brings it in before God.

And so... Which wouldn't be necessary if we were sinless. It's the sins...

Right. That constant shedding of blood is a constant reminder of our need for God's cleansing. So his point here is that Jesus holds his priesthood permanently.

Permanently. He's gonna be doing it always. He can save completely. There's nothing more needed because he is always interceding for us.

Always interceding. He's the high priest that never dies. He's the high priest that allows us access to the presence of God.

He's the high priest that mediates our ability to take part in the promises of God. Everything is about Jesus. So he's put Jesus in the center stage of how it is we participate in the great benefits and promises of God.

He's put him in the center stage and he's not gonna take him off the stage for the rest of the book. He's gonna talk about this entire thing, how Jesus plays a role here. Which is something that the Jews really misunderstood about Jesus.

They didn't really get that about Jesus. Well and the writer of Hebrews has already told us that he was without sin, that he was tempted as we are, that he sympathizes with us, that he has become the source of salvation. That he has entered within the veil and anchored our souls in God's presence. And through him we can draw near to God. We draw near to God.

There's so much more to we need. We draw near to God, which by the way was something that was impossible in the old covenant. No matter what you did at the temple, you were not getting past that curtain. It was all a reminder of your separation from God. Which is why it's just a remarkable visible image when Jesus is crucified, that that curtain that separates is torn apart and that its entry into God's presence is me. Holy of Holies is open.

No one missed that metaphor. I am the way. No one comes to the Father but through me. Well we are out of time and we hope we haven't overwhelmed your thinking buds. Please come back with us next time and we'll continue this. We'll pick up in chapter seven as we talk about Jesus our High Priest. So I'm Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. And we're glad you're with us. We hope this is challenging your thinking because this is great news that's coming yet. So join us next week for More Than Ink. More Than Ink is a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City and is solely responsible for its content. To contact us with your questions or comments, just go to our website, morethanink.org. I'll just go with that. Yeah, I think maybe let's just leave that alone.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-17 03:38:07 / 2023-09-17 03:50:45 / 13

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