BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
A CALL FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
(CHRIST, Melchizedek, and Abraham)
William E. Channing wrote, in his essay “Means of promoting Christianity”, that, “The first laborers do little more than teach those who come after them, what to avoid, and how to labor more effectively than themselves”. And it was A. Victor Murry who wrote, “It doesn’t matter how high a man’s profession may be, it is by his actions that people judge him, and in judging him, they also judge his mentor. These two statements speak to the very essence of teaching, and learning what is taught. They can be applied to all facets of life.
In Hebrews 5:11- 6:12, the author of GOD challenges the readers with a call for spiritual growth. The Christian faith, in all its fullness, is by no means an easy thing to grasp. There is no way for it to be learned in short order, and, it is also true that, we as preachers and teachers often avoid learning and teaching some of the more difficult elements of the Bible. In fact, one of the great tragedies of the African-American Christian church today, is that it seems to place more emphasis on race, and Sunday sermons, than it does on teaching the word of GOD in Sunday school and weekly bible studies. A sermon does little, or nothing to edify the beliefs and hopes of a person who has no real knowledge of the things of GOD in them. It only serves to draw on peoples’ emotions, or to entertain them for a very short space in time.
There is nothing more disenchanting than to walk into a well-established Christian congregation, and encounter the fact that most of the long term members are still on the “milk bottle of Christian knowledge and responsibility”. We church leaders, who claim to be called by GOD, must begin to step up and shoulder the responsibility of feeding JESUS’ sheep, especially those sheep who come to us voluntarily, without us ever having to take one step out of the church to round them up, and, who actually stay in our fold for years and years, and never experience Christian growth.
Do you love me? Is what JESUS asked Peter three times in John 21, and, I guess the only way to prove our love for JESUS is by loving others, and also by “feeding HIS sheep” with the nourishing food of the word of GOD. In Matthew 28:19-20, JESUS commands us to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the FATHER, and of the SON, and of the HOLY GHOST: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (KJV).
In the Greek, the word used for “perfect” is “teleios” (tel-i-os), and it is “to be of full age or maturity”. It is “to be mature in the various applications of life, including physical, mental, moral and spiritual growth”, and it also means, in the spiritual sense, “to fully realize the purpose for which you came into the world”. For every man, woman, and child, that purpose is to come to know, accept, and serve GOD in all HIS fullness, and to love one another enough to want to teach each and every person you meet, about CHRIST and the Word of GOD. And so we see, in the biblical sense, “perfection” is a “functional achievement”, not an abstract, or metaphysical pursuit, or aspiration. This is clearly what JESUS means when HE encourages us to be “perfect” (Matthew 5:48 & 19:21, Luke 7:40, John 17:23, & 2 Corinthians 12:9).
In Hebrews 5:11, as expressed in the original Greek writing, the word the author uses for “dull of hearing” is “nothros” (no-thros), and it means slow-moving in mind, sluggish in understanding, or stupidly forgetful. Here the writer clearly seeks to arouse the consciousness of his readers. He wants to stir them out of their spiritual naps, or doldrums, where they were quite literally sleeping on the ABC’s of the Holy Scriptures.
When we as Christians, who have tasted the free gift that comes from heaven, shared in the HOLY SPIRIT, tasted the fair Word of GOD, and, tasted the powers of the world to come, fall back into sin because of our laziness and refusal to grow spiritually, we, in effect, are crucifying JESUS all over again.
There can be no “inertia” in the Christian walk, nor can the Christian ever afford to take a balcony view to life and sit and watch the world go by. We must take advantage of every opportunity we get to learn more about the Word of GOD, so that we will be able to share that Word, more effectively with others whom we encounter from day to day, just as JESUS commands us to do. The fact that we cast everything, over to GOD, does not give us a right to sit back and do nothing.
In the New Testament Greek, the word used here in this passage for “oath” is “horkos”, and it is indicative of a solemn, legally binding pledge that guarantees that a person will keep their promise. There are many biblical passages that tell of GOD swearing an oath (Luke 1:73, Acts 2:30, Hebrews 3:11, 4:3, 7:20-22), and GOD’s reason for doing this, is to stress HIS intentions, and, to give us a strong basis to believe that all HE has promised us will come to pass in the process of time. GOD made a promise to save all of those, who believe in HIS SON, CHRIST JESUS, and, we need not fear or doubt any of HIS promises regarding this revelation, or, in fact, anything else HE has promised us, because GOD, quite simply, cannot lie.
If a person needs to find a model who can personify the patience, confidence, and trust in a promise of GOD, one only needs to look at the example of Abraham. Abraham patiently awaited GOD’s promise of a great nation through his seed, and in the process of time, his patience was rewarded. And even though Abraham did not get to see the fullness and completion of the promise, he did get to see its beginnings and he trusted in his heart that GOD would complete HIS promise to him, through his son Isaac and his heirs.
GOD’s promise to Abraham was not just for the benefit of Abraham, but it was also for the benefit of all Christians in general, through CHRIST JESUS, WHO would come through his line to save us all. GOD’s Word, and GOD’s oath are the two great unchangeable things, and they are also the motivation behind the Christian Hope. In fact, they allow us to take hold of that Christian Hope and cling to it as a fortified refuse in times of trouble.
JESUS’ entry into the Heavenly sanctuary to serve as our HIGH PRIEST, gives Christians an anchor of hope that can never be shaken loose from the Kingdom of GOD. JESUS, as our “forerunner” is the imagery of a sailor who has been designated to leave the ship, and go out in a small boat, in order to drop the ship’s anchor in a firm lodging place. That is what JESUS did for us, through HIS vicarious sacrifice at Golgotha, so that we could have firm safe refuse in Heaven at the end of our journey.
Way back in Genesis 14, after Abraham (then Abram) had defeated a band of armies led by King Kedorlaomer of Elam, and rescued his nephew Lot from certain doom, we are introduced to one of the most obscure, and yet, important figures in the annals of Old Testament history. Upon Abraham’s return from battle, he is met by a man named Melchizedek in the valley of Shaveh. Melchizedek was the King of Salem (now Jerusalem) and was also a priest of our GOD Most High. His name means “king of justice”, and the name of his kingdom, “Salem”, means “peace”. And so, by his very name and position he was both, “king of justice”, and, “king of peace”. He was high enough in stature and importance, that, he could both, bless Abraham, and, receive a tithe from Abraham.
Here in Hebrews chapter 7, the author emphasizes the fact that JESUS’ priesthood does not derive from Aaron’s Levitical line of priests, but rather, it derives from the line of Melchizedek, a superior priesthood. Here in verses 1-10, the author establishes two things: First, the greater always blesses the lesser. Here the author is showing that, by blessing Abraham, Melchizedek was greater than Abraham. And secondly, Abraham, who was the great, great-grandfather of Aaron, the first of the Levitical line of priests, paid a tithe to Melchizedek, and thus personally acknowledged the superiority of his priesthood.
As, it is written by king David in his prophetic Psalm 110:4, GOD’s ordaining someone as a “priest forever in the line of Melchizedek” is a clear indication that GOD always intended to make a change in the Aaronic priesthood. And such a change would also require a change in the whole system of the Mosiac Law, of which that priesthood was a part (Vs. 11-19).
JESUS’ priesthood is better simply because it is flawless, and it is forever, or, eternal. In the Old Testament, you’ll find that, neither Melchizedek’s birth, nor his death, are recorded. There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors, and no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever resembling the SON of GOD. His priesthood is also permanent, just as JESUS lives eternally as our Heavenly priest, and, can save us continuously and completely.
JESUS’ priesthood is able to meet our needs, by way of HIS vicarious sacrifice, which settles forever, the issue of our sins. HE is the only one WHO can speak for us, and intercede for us before GOD the FATHER. The priesthood of CHRIST differs dramatically from the Levitical priesthood, in that, it was instituted with an oath. By contrast, the descendants of Aaron assumed their jobs without any oath.
In the Greek, the word used in Hebrews 7:22 for “surety” is “engyos”. This is the only time this particular word is used in New Testament scriptures. It is a legal term which identifies a bond or collateral. It means that the signer of the guarantee pledged his resources as security for the commitment that is made. JESUS is the living guarantee that the forgiveness GOD offers us under the New Covenant will surely be ours. In fact, because of HIS oath, HE became the guarantee of a better Covenant. With HIS OWN life, JESUS assured the superiority of the new order over the old, because HIS oath also secured HIS permanent installation in the priestly office of GOD.
No Old Testament priest ever functioned in this permanent manner, simply because, all of them were subject to death and mortality. JESUS not only prays for us, HE also has empowered us to live a more righteous life here on earth, through HIS examples and gift of the HOLY SPIRIT. As an ever-living HIGH PRIEST, JESUS is always available to represent us before GOD, and thus, HE is able to save us completely.
Remember, everyone who has been saved by CHRIST, was saved when they were still sinners. When we stumble after receiving salvation, JESUS remains there with us to keep us from falling, because HE is always holding us by the hand. HE remains committed to us so that HE can save us completely. If salvation depended on us, then, we would have a right to worry. But, because salvation depends on JESUS, we can be free from fret and worry, because our futures are completely secure, through HIM.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website