Monthly Archives: October 2012

You doing God’s stuff?

As we read in Hebrews 8:1-2, we do have a high priest, who sits in the place of absolute majesty in the Universe, and who serves in the real sanctuary, the most holy place, the true tent set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. Under the Covenant with Israel long ago, God commanded an earthly, temporary, mobile sanctuary, a tent! a copy of the real sanctuary to be established by Moses with priests appointed under the law of Moses to offer up gifts and sacrifices.

But when Jesus came, he could not even approach the Tent of meeting—he was a layman! He was not even an acclaimed rabbi, let alone a priest (8:4).

Did you get that? He was a layman, not a priest! Yet in that humble form, with no religious or institutional status, he showed perfectly the character, the face, the loving-kindness and compassion of God! And by his life and death in that lowly status, he entered the TRUE sanctuary and forever abolished the whole system of exclusive priestcraft. He smashed for all time the clergy–laity hierarchy divide. So why does it still persist even in evangelical Protestant churches?

Look at Hebrews 8:5: that earthly tent made by Moses was just a copy, a shadow of the real, of what is actually in Heaven. Yet it had to be done kosher, right? So Moses was strictly warned by God:

 ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’(Exodus 25:40

God gave Moses the pattern, the design plans, for the tent of meeting and the worship to be made by Israel, which was to be visible, not just virtual. These plans could not be compromised in any detail. Understand the seriousness of following the exact plans given by the Lord Architect, even under a temporary covenant. Moses was allowed to see the transcendent, glorious form and then was instructed to materialise what he saw. No additions. No subtractions.

Following God’s instructions, Moses fabricated, erected and furnished the Tent, not a permanent structure like the worldly religions everywhere else. God was on the move with his people! The living God cannot be compromised, cannot be reduced to images or reproduced in buildings.

Now, if it was so important for Moses and Israel, under an inferior and temporary covenant arrangement, to implement exactly the Lord’s design, how much more critical it was that the apostles correctly implement the Lord’s plans for the Body of Christ to be visible on the Earth and be on the move!

And the followers of Jesus, without any Jewish authority, did so, as our letter under review and the rest of the New Testament shows. They obeyed Jesus’ words and in the power of the Holy Spirit their obedience turned the world upside down. The evidence is there in all the New Testament scriptures. We have the Lord of glory on the move in his gathered people. We see Almighty God reproduced in the face of Jesus and visibly in his gathered people: God’s pattern!

Many Christian leaders tell us they cannot see the Lord’s design for gathering of God’s people which he handed down to the apostles, and which was then implemented under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What! The pattern’s on every page of the New Testament. But we are so used to having a D.I.Y. religion based on human thinking, founded on worldly ideas, we just assume that what we have always done is right.

If the Lord is to be honoured and given the ‘worth-ship’ He deserves, a serious, radical and unbiased approach to the New Testament is needed to see  God’s pattern for his Body. But we must remove our churchy, religious glasses to see it, and to throw out both the baby and the bathwater.

Even more so, since Jesus’ own ministry is carried out, not in a mere replica of the heavenly, but in the dwelling place of God. His work is astronomically superior to the old Mosaic order. The new arrangement Jesus has made with his people is much superior to the old one as it is established on better promises. And itcalls for even closer attention from you and me, to what God wants and the careful putting into visible form, God’s perfect design for his people.

Notice Jesus’ terrifying answer  to the troubled question his politically correct and concerned disciples put to him after he had rebuked the Pharisees over what defiles a person (Mt 15:12-14): Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up!

God is jealous for his plans and designs for his work to be followed by his servants, including us. Look carefully and thoughtfully at what Jude wrote (Jude 3):

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Are you prepared to see how proud arrogance, abysmal ignorance, sheer blindness, rank disobedience and shoulder-shrugging complacency has subjugated God’s perfect design in the totally controlled, commercialised, industrialised, entertainment-based, consumer oriented  Churchianity of today?  Stay tuned.


Last time, in our journey through the letter to the Hebrews, we spoke of Jesus’ perfect, once for all sacrifice and how it is unrepeatable and irreversible. In the prophetic words of Isaiah 53 –penned 700 years before it happened, this Servant “makes himself an offering for sin“(Isa 53:10). This offering was complete, finished, but it was not the finish of Jesus’ work –he continually intercedes for us, is there for us in all our struggles. He knows what it is like to be human with all our limitations as we have noted here previously.

This teaching of Christ’s advocacy for us echoes that of Paul’s, for example in Romans 8:33-34, Paul writes,

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

In Jesus, we boldly appear before the Lord Himself! And this is a continual experience. We are invited to live an impossible life, a life above sense and reason, a supernatural life in the power of His Son, says Andrew Murray. These are not just nice words but reality for us in our daily life. This is our native environment—what we have been created for, having his love broadcast into our hearts continually.

Jesus spoke about this life to the woman of Samaria in John 4, stunning her, saying …

“…. whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.  ……. a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

His work for us is permanent. It never ceases. Like a surging spring of invigorating, life-giving water, our Lord works in our hearts his peace, his love, his joy and his hope. Now this is “worship” and here are the new worshippers in the Spirit. Now, Jesus continually, without a moment’s pause, lives and works in the heavenlies to keep us abiding in this joyous place. And we are summoned to be worshippers in truth –to do his will, to serve, to obey, to love, to care for one another. So simple really, and so profound.

We must see what God promises and then allow Him, wait on Him, to work His Son’s life in us as promised. We need to ask God to rid us of all defective, obsolete and unworthy views of what Jesus, our great high priest means for us. We need to abandon the weak and futile religious stuff that men have added down the centuries and contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to us (Jude 3).

Just look at what Paul reminds the Ephesian believers:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ (Eph 1:7-9)

Paul then wrote about God’s incomparably great power for us who believe:

That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

Can we see how significant this is! Can we remain unmoved by such extravagance, such a solid plunge into reality, ultimate reality? God promises so much and wants to embrace us with His great love through Jesus. Here is our “Sabbath Rest”. Let’s leave behind the complicated subverted Christianity and choose the simple life together we see encouraged by the author of this unique letter.

You are weary of trying to stay the course? Listen to Jesus’ words to the disciple Peter “I have prayed for you that your faith does not fail …” (Luke 22:32) and also to the 12, as he prayed for them in John 17. What he did for his followers then he will continue to do so for us who are his servants, who long for his appearing.

What! You are not good enough? Who is? Look, you are immensely valuable, otherwise he would not have made the sacrifice, he would not be there as your constant advocate. All that fancy religious stuff that has subverted the simplicity of the first believers will soon disappear. Instead, Jesus is the “throned priest-king, asking what he will from a Father who always hears and grants his requests. Our Lord’s life in heaven is his prayer” says H. B. Swete (1912).   David Wilkerson wrote …

In this sad, weary, worn-out state, the Holy Spirit brings the man this word: “There is a way out for you. There is a place of victory, peace, joy, newness of life. Accept Christ’s call to run to Him and find rest.”

He has gone, out of sight in the heavenlies but is still with us enabling us in the Spirit, still there for us in our needs and suffering, “an advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:1). Time to be still, to know God, to be at rest, to be living now in his ‘household’. His work for you and for me never stops.

Run to him –it will be a vote of confidence in God’s great purpose for you, for us.

Everything has changed!

Everything has changed says the author of the Letter to the Hebrews

Why did the people of God need another kind of priest to arise—what was the problem with the Levitical  priesthood set out in the Torah (the law of Moses)?

Hebrews 7:11:  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?

If people are satisfied with an outward arrangement, a formal relationship with a long way off God and no or little intimacy with him, then so be it. Aaron will do. Levi and his descendants will suffice. The status quo will do. And today’s church going people will even try to trust a human “priest” or pastor to fill the office.


But those who seriously attempt to draw near, close to God, meet all sorts of barriers: not good enough! Guilty conscience! Shut gates! Ignorance of God’s great promises! Unwillingness to come God’s way! Maybe stubbornly forging our own means of grace—a D I Y approach.

A better agreement is needed, one that will guarantee ‘perfection’ to the persons who draw near, one that ensures they can live in the Presence of the Holy Lord God! And one that actually changes the whole picture, one that transforms the worshipper! And that experience continues unbroken forever!

Enter Jesus. From completely left field.

Jesus’ priesthood comes from an entirely different source and after a different order. A better priesthood was absolutely necessary and has arisen! This changes everything. So there is a radical change in God’s covenant, that would actually bring people close to God, in tune with him, make the people of God ‘perfect’, that is right with him. Holy.

That’s the original message that turned the world upside down before the great subversion.

Unlike Aaron, the priesthood of Jesus is based not on legal requirements, on law, but on life, on the power of an indestructible, resurrection life (7:15-16)! Like the Ancient of Days, the same man, Jesus, who was born of a woman, who taught, healed and forgave sinners here, lives forever, ever fresh, ever strong and robust, ever ready and ever able to listen to us, ever able to meet our needs. The law in its weakness brought death but Jesus has brought life, complete salvation, cleansed consciences. All is finished, all is done by this one great high priest. It is time this world changing news is told everywhere.

Look, once you get it, you are on the road of transformation. God has changed everything!

The priesthood of Jesus comes with God’s oath (7:20-21) as if God’s promise was not enough! …

 “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’”

 Guaranteed!  Jesus can save to the uttermost, we who draw near (7:25).

To draw near—this expression is familiar to readers of the Torah. Up until this moment, there was no way God’s people could enter into the earthly sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, which stood for His immediate presence among His people, Israel. No, that was the sole role of the high priest and only once annually.

So what could be more appropriate, more suitable for our needs than this Jesus as high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens (7:26). Our high priest! How pathetic it is that people trust in human priests instead of this one. This one person perfectly combines manhood with Godhead.

His sacrifice was perfect and he did this once for all and not like the Jewish high priest, who needs to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people (7:27-28). This offering up of himself was foretold in the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 who “makes himself an offering for sin“(Isa 53:10).

Jesus’ sacrifice happened ONCE and is unrepeatable and those today who are called ‘priests’ and who think they continually offer up Jesus daily or weekly on their ‘altars’ are so far away from the truth of this letter and the rest of the New Testament. How dishonouring that is to Christ. And how much is being kept away from people’s understanding and their trust in Him by such gross error. Why do they pollute this utterly perfect good news? Do they want control over God’s people? This is anti-worship.

In Jesus, we can boldly appear before the Lord and this can become a continual experience. These are not just nice words but reality for us in our daily life. This is our native environment—what we have been created for, having his love broadcast into our hearts continually. We are invited to live an impossible life, a life above sense and reason, a supernatural life in the power of His Son, says Andrew Murray.

His work for us is permanent, never ceases. We can draw near today and stay forever.

Tell everyone.

Melchizedek: Who’s this?

Now, get a hold of some more solid food in Hebrews 7:1-7. Have you had a look at it? No junk food here but food that will not only nourish and inspire but also surprise and intrigue: Melchizedek again!

Why this unexpected entry of that strange, mysterious, immortal figure, Melchizedek?

Well, they are Jews after all, and Jews are used to having a high priest. Our author is giving them every reason for them to prefer Jesus’ high-priesthood to the system of the Old Covenant of Moses, still practiced in their day.

This Melchizedek is without any doubt highly exalted. And Melchizedek was not a Jew! Not an Israelite! Not even of known earthly parentage!

Now we may not be Jews. Nevertheless, we will learn from our Hebrew author much about Jesus in his comparing him with this Melchizedek who appears twice in the Tanakh, the Old Testament scriptures – our Lord’s scriptures and our scriptures too.

The first appearance is in Genesis 14:17-20 as part of the story of Abraham. Melchizedek is described as ‘priest of God Most High’. For a Jew, who could be greater than their illustrious father, Abraham? Yet this Melchizedek is clearly greater than Abraham. Abraham pays tithes to him. Abraham receives Melchizedek’s blessing.

That passage in Genesis 14:17-20 seems quite irrelevant in the story of Abraham—a strange intrusion in the narrative. Yet this superlative, towering figure, Melchizedek, and the description there, are now at the end of the day, seen to be of great significance.

Our author again quotes the words of David’s Psalm 110:1-4, in which God is said to invite David’s ‘lord’ to ‘sit at my right hand’ and then swears to this David’s lord that he is ‘a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek’. This second appearance of Melchizedek also must have seemed puzzling for its readers at that time. Another puzzle was who is David’s ‘lord’?

You may remember Jesus threw that puzzling question about David’ psalm and David’s lord to his opposing religious antagonists, which remained unanswered:

“How is it that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? (Mat 22:43)

Then another 1000 years after David this Melchizedek bloke emerges in our author’s work. Jesus is indeed the Son of God and is THE great high priest, the only mediator. Eternal. The old order is now obsolete! Jesus, the Jew, meets our needs now by divine appointment and in the power of an endless life.

Here is remarkable evidence of the inspiration and unity of the scriptures, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Firstly, we have a prophetic view given to Abraham about future times, far beyond anything yet to come in the Law of Moses. Then, right out of the blue, out of thin air, God reveals his eternal mind to the Psalm writer –God made that promise to the Son speaking 1000 years into the future. Then thirdly, by the same Holy Spirit, our author in his letter, goes where hardly anyone had gone before to draw attention to the awesome work that Messiah Jesus carries on in the heavenly place. For us!

That’s another reason why I trust God that these ancient writings preserved for us so carefully by the Jewish people are sufficient and trustworthy to speak to my heart and mind the things God wants to say.

He speaks today! Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5).