God's Provision for Coming into His Presence

 

A Study of Hebrews

 

In his book Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews A.W. Tozer opens his book with the following words:

            In the deep recesses of man's soul lies an overwhelming yearning toward the Creator.        This is a common thread through all humanity, created in the image of God. Unless    and until that desire is fully met, the human soul remains restless, constantly     striving for that which is ultimately unattainable.

            To any discerning Christian, it is easy to see that men and women are in an awful   spiritual moral mess today. A person must know where he is before he can         comprehend where he needs to be. The solution, however, is not within the scope of     human endeavor. The highest ideal or accomplishment of man is to break from the             spiritual bondage and enter into the presence of God, knowing that you have entered        welcomed territory.

            Within every human breast rages this desire, driving him forward. Many a person   confuses the object of that desire and spends his or her entire life striving for the           unobtainable. Very simply put, the great passion in the heart of every human being,   who are created in the image of God, is to experience the awesome majesty of God's             presence. The highest accomplishment of humanity is entering the   overwhelming             presence of God. Nothing else can satiate this burning thirst. . . .

            It is God's great pleasure for us to fully rest in His presence, moment by moment. God      created man expressly for the use of His pleasure and fellowship. Nothing in or of this   world measures up to the simple pleasure of experiencing the presence of God. . . .

            However, several things stand in the way of man's striving toward the presence of God in             personal, intimate familiarity. . . . The greatest hindrance, of course, is the fact that    God is unapproachable. Sin has created an unmanageable debt for all humanity. The good news, however, is that Christ has paid the debt and bridged the gap to God for all. .    . . Religion does it through what is referred to as 'good works,' resulting in emptiness         and a deep-seated sense of guilt that nothing can wash away. . . .

            The human heart knows that it cannot enter into the presence of God, because it has          rebelled against God. . . . The act of rebellion must be pardoned completely, and      the       rebel restored to full citizenship in the kingdom of God, to be made a child of the   Father.             All of that was done in Christ.

            . . . Man cannot enter the presence of God with the foul scent of sin upon him. . . . . To     come into the             presence of God, we must conform in every way to His standard. . . . The blood of Jesus Christ             accomplished this stupendous act! . . . He single-handedly purged   our sins. He alone could do it, so He did it alone. . . . the Son operated alone and         single-  handedly fulfilled all the requirements for man's redemption. Therefore, the foul scent of    sin upon man can be washed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the             cross. . . . [1]

Tozer goes on to say that humanity has slowly but surely lost a sense of the majesty of God. He blames Darwin and Evolutionary theory in part for this. And with the loss of the sense of the majesty of God humanity has lost the sense of the presence of God. His book and more importantly the New Testament book of Hebrews, fans the flame of holy desire to seek out and experience the holy presence of a very present God. He concludes the first chapter in his book by stating, "The good news is that the heart of man truly hungers for God's presence and that all of the great barriers prohibiting that striving after God have been overcome in Jesus Christ." [2] Then Tozer includes the following poem by Oliver Holden (1765-1844):

God is Present Everywhere

They who seek the throne of grace

Find that throne in every

place;

If we live a life of prayer,

God is present everywhere.

 

In our sickness and our health,

In our want, or in our wealth,

If we look to God in prayer,

God is present everywhere.

 

When our earthly comforts fail,

When the woes of life prevail,

'Tis the time for earnest

prayer;

God is present everywhere.

 

Then, my soul, in every strait,

To thy Father come, and wait;

He will answer every prayer;

God is present everywhere.

           

The book of Hebrews is about God's Provision for Coming into His Presence. Jesus is that provision and therefore it doesn't or shouldn't surprise us that Hebrews is a book centered on Jesus redemptive provision.

Why do we call this book “Hebrews”? What evidence is there that this book is written to Hebrew/Jewish believers in Jesus? Hebrews deals with many things of interest to Jewish audience, e.g. Law, sacrificial system, Temple. Hence the name Hebrews.

When was this book written? No mention of the destruction of the Temple (which occurred in 70 AD). It's not likely a book to this Jewish audience would not mention such an event if it had happened. Therefore it was written sometime before 70 AD between 30-37 years after resurrection of Jesus.

Who did God use to record His inspired word? There is no mention in the epistle of the human author's identity. The most popular candidates for the human authors (or amanuensis - secretary who recorded what God inspired) are Luke, Apollos, and Paul. Personally I see the hand of the apostle Paul involved. In reality and the thing to keep in mind is that it is "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past" who is the Author of this letter (Heb. 1:1). It is clearly a writing inspired by God. God is the Author. That is the most important thing to accept.

Hebrews is written to Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Savior-Messiah but who apparently were in danger of returning to their old religious ritualistic ways. The message of Hebrews is in part, “If you go back to the old religion and ritual, you nullify the work Christ did on the Cross for you. Don’t complicate your faith. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Keep it centered on Jesus.”[3] Hebrews is God's inspired response that Jesus is superior to the old religious system and His supreme solution to the problems of sinful humanity.

What issues are addressed in this book?

1.      Nature of Jesus versus Angels / Fallen Men – Hebrews 1-2

2.      Belief/Faith versus Unbelief  – Hebrews 3; 11

3.      Rest versus work – Hebrews 4

4.      Priesthood of Jesus (Melchizedek) versus Old Priesthood and sacrificial system – Hebrews 5; 7; 8

5.      Spiritual growth versus Lack of spiritual growth – Hebrews 6; 12

6.      New versus Old Covenant – Hebrews 8; 13

7.      Jesus' Sacrifice versus Animal sacrifice  – Hebrews 9; 10

 

Why was this book was written? What is at stake? What important issue is being addressed? The purpose of Hebrews is to clearly lay out God’s provision (Jesus) for coming into His presence. And a sub point is that the Old Covenant of works is not the way into God's presence, the New Covenant of grace through faith in Jesus is God's means and provision to come into His presence. Hebrews 4:16 as a primary verse window through which to study the contents:

·         Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) - Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

In order to facilitate a grasp of the content of Hebrews the chapters could be headed as follows:

Chapter Titles

Chapter 1 – Jesus – God’s Supreme Revelation

Chapter 2 – Jesus – God’s Great Savior

Chapter 3 – Jesus – One Greater Than Moses

Chapter 4 – Jesus - God’s Highest Priest Offers Rest

Chapter 5 – Jesus – God’s Perfected High Priest

Chapter 6 – Jesus – God’s Perfecting High Priest

Chapter 7 – Jesus – God’s High Priest of a Better Covenant

Chapter 8 – Jesus – God’s Heavenly New Covenant Provider

Chapter 9 – Jesus – God’s High Priest Provision (He offered Himself as Sacrifice)

Chapter 10 – Jesus – God’s Confident Way to Enter His Presence

Chapter 11 – Jesus – God’s Promise worth Trusting

Chapter 12 – Jesus – Author and Finisher of our Faith

Chapter 13 – Jesus – The One who will Never Forsake You

Hebrews can be outlined as follows:  

I.                   God Making His Presence Known: Jesus - God's Supreme Revelation of Himself – 1-3:6

II.                God Making His Presence Accessible: Enter the Rest He Provides – 3:7-4:13

III.             God Showing The Way Into His Presence: Jesus - A High Priest Superior to Any Other – 4:14 – 5:11

IV.             God Declaring The Only Way Into His Presence: Jesus - A Reliable High Priest Not to Be Rejected – 5:12 – 8:6

V.                God Explaining His Way Into His Presence: Jesus - A New Covenant Superior to the Old – 8:7 – 10:18

VI.             God Defining His Presence in Terms of Relationship: Jesus – Covenant of Faith Relationship – 10:19 – 12:29

VII.          God Revealing the Practical Nature of His Presence: Jesus – Inspired Practical Ways – 13:1-25

 

 

# Chapter Title Listen
1 Hebrews 1 God’s Supreme Revelation Listen
Hebrews 2 God's Great Saviour Listen
3 Hebrews 3 One Greater Than Moses   Listen
4 Hebrews 4 God's Highest Priest Offers Rest Listen
5 Hebrews 5 God's Perfected High Priest Listen
6 Hebrews 6 God's Perfecting High Priest Listen
7 Hebrews 7 God's High Priest of a Better Covenant Listen
8 Hebrews 8 God's Heavenly New Covenant Provider Listen
9 Hebrews 9 God's Highest Priest Provision Listen
10  Hebrews 10 God's confident way to enter His presence Listen
11 Hebrews 11 God's promise worth trusting Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
12 Hebrews 12 God's Author and Finisher of our Faith Listen
13 Hebrews 13 The One Who will never forsake you