The Christian life is lived in response to who Jesus is and what he has done. The writer has been telling us to look at Jesus, before telling us how to respond. As we look at Jesus we see the lengths God has gone to to rescue us. Christian morality can’t save. If we communicate that to people we are in real danger. What matters is what you think of Jesus. What matters is responding to that love. The things that we do show the things that we believe. We all still need help to live as a Christian day by day.
Live a life that is a continuous sacrifice of praise to God
Jesus is our foundation and our motivation. If you’re being strengthened by the food you eat and not by the grace of God, that’s a problem. Relying on special food is of no value. We can be just as tempted to rely on our own sacrifices as the Jewish people were. Bread and wine of communion. It’s easy to rely on the act of eating the bread or drinking the wine. They’re simply signs.
We are only strengthened by God’s grace to us through Jesus. He loves us enough to keep us. Jesus was hated and rejected. Should we expect to have an easy life now? What Jesus did in that place of rejection was open up the place so we can be with God forever. Our hope isn’t for a nice life now. It has to be in eternal life with Jesus.
God is the one who planned this great rescue. The Bible talks about Christianity as an ongoing thing. What does a sacrifice of praise look like?
This grows out of confessing Jesus (Romans 10:9). We don’t get this right immediately. We will see it growing more and more.
Doing good and sharing what you have
Let brotherly love continue. Being a family. Continual forgiveness and grace. A unity that breaks down barriers. Loving through difficult situations. Show hospitality. We shouldn’t forget about those being persecuted. Honour marriage. If we love money that shows our security is in that. Don’t love money as though it will save you. God is with us and we can be sure of the life to come. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.
These are examples to help us. The call for us is to think about that in our lives. How can I best offer a sacrifice to God in this situation?
Depend on God
We need God’s help. God equips us to live our lives as a sacrifice to him.
The glory and fear of the old way (v18-21)
God is so holy that his presence is terrifying. At the top of the mountain, there is fear. Even Moses is terrified. If you’re a Christian today that isn’t our experience. We haven’t come through the old way. We’ve come to grace. There is a much greater glory and fear in the new way.
The greater glory and fear of the new way (v22-24)
The law shows us how unworthy we are. We can’t do it ourselves. Even Moses was no different. God was gracious to him and invited him into his presence. Moses knew it wasn’t deserved. He knew he’d already broken the law. He’s no better than the Egyptians. We can approach God with confidence, not fear. We approach the throne of God through the blood of Jesus. The way for us to be counted righteous. Jesus offers one sacrifice for all.
Mount Zion is the real city of God. We come to the greatest party, with Christians gathered together. We are given the blessings that are Jesus’. We are the righteous being made perfect. When life is hard, read these verses. We need to believe God’s word that just because we can’t touch it doesn’t mean it’s not true.
Don’t refuse Jesus (v25-27)
The seriousness of judgment is greater, just as the blessings are greater. For the Israelites, it was a small judgment. God promises that one day, a judgment will shake the heavens and the earth. It will be just. God will shake the earth to get rid of everything he rejects to leave just what he intends. In Jesus we are coming into a kingdom that can’t be shaken.
Be thankful and worship (v28-29)
You can’t just tell people to be thankful and worship. It is a response. It has to be something that you want to do.
What does it look like to live as a Christian day by day? Running a race. Don’t be like a hare, be like a tortoise. A Christian is someone who has received Jesus’ rescue. Through him he offers to forgive us. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice. That frees you to serve God.
In a race you have to keep going till the end. In a field event, like the triple jump, you can go first and then go home if you want to. It’s easier than a race.
Keeping running the race even though the course is hard. Sometimes it’s hard work. If you’re a Christian you could be hated or arrested. Your friends and family might cut you out. It means forgiving people, spending time with those who aren’t Christians.
We are following others who have gone before (v1)
Their faith was active even when things were difficult. Follow their example. Get rid of anything that slows you down.
We are following Jesus’ example (v2-4)
Jesus endured the cross because it was worth enduring. The joy of rescuing countless people who would be with him forever. He was despised and rejected. The penalty for our sins. Jesus endured it because of the joy set before him. We are fortunate to still be living. The prize for which Jesus died is worth it.
God is using it to shape us (v5-11)
The hard things that you go through are a way that God is teaching and shaping you. If we’re not being challenged, perhaps we’re not really Christians at all. We need to live in response to grace. People will be offended by the message of Christianity. As we face hardship Jesus will use it to shape us. Discipline isn’t about punishing wrong, it’s about shaping for good. God always does what is good. Being a Christian means learning to trust that. God disciplines us to make us more like Jesus.
Make every effort to live in peace (v14)
We are called to be gentle and loving. God’s grace is good. We are no different. We should help others keep going. It’s not a case where there is one winner.
Avoid bitterness (v15)
It’s dangerous and will turn you away from other Christians and from God.
Don’t allow sexual immorality (v16)
In the end it will probably turn you away from Jesus. The danger is that we’re looking for a fix now rather than looking to Jesus. You’re putting hope in the present rather than the future.
Be holy, not unholy (v14, 16-17)
We are called to make every effort, knowing that God is living in us helping us. Throw out everything that hinders. Esau couldn’t undo what he’d done. The race isn’t over until you cross the finish line. The prize is worth keeping going for.
Jesus shows us a good God we would want to know. He shares with us his life. He understands our struggles, having struggled himself. He’s filled with compassion for us. The first ten chapters are all about Jesus and who he is. The last three chapters look at our response to him. It’s about faith. Faith is a confusing word.
You could look at Abraham and be deeply intimidated. He is a great man of faith because he has seen something in God. His faith is just a response. He obeyed and went even though he didn’t know where he was going. God opens his eyes to show that he can give him something better.
If you look at what God promises, it looks impossible. Faith looks at who is making the promise. Don’t seek to be faithful in yourself. A little girl running to her father because she loves him is faith. Faith and hope flow out of being brought to love God. You can’t conjure up true faithfulness. You look to God. Look at who Jesus is who reveals God. See him and then you trust him.
Abraham didn’t build his reward by being so faithful. Faith is less like press-ups and more like eating. Those with faith are always setting their hearts on what God offers, not what they’ve achieved. These people of faith saw that Jesus is better than our desires. We can long for a cosmic hope. Make him and all he offers your life shaping desire.
God isn’t ashamed. He delights to be theirs. He delights to give. He revels in sharing goodness. He wants our trust. He doesn’t want our goodness. Faith sees that that’s a God worth trusting.
Abraham and Isaac have faith. God has promised to bless through Isaac. There is nothing to doubt. Isaac might have died but would’ve been raised from the dead. There was nothing impressive in Abraham. He was just sure of what God is like.
Don’t try to find faithfulness in yourself. Know that Jesus is the rock of faithfulness. If you cling to anything else, death will strip you of it. If you have Jesus as your treasure you will enjoy him now and death will be but the gate that takes you to him and he will be the desires of your heart.
The point isn’t to gasp at how faithful Abraham was but to gasp at how faithful God is. Faith is a look to God; an accepting of his word. Abraham is faithful as he’s sure of certain things. He knows that God is faithful and so he can be faithful. The more we know God the more we will trust him.
Abraham has trust in the Lord as he has been brought to love him.
Faith is about receiving what God has offered. Abraham doesn’t build his reward by his faithfulness, it’s about receiving it. It is acknowledging that we are spiritually empty but God has everything we need in fulness.
What are your dreams or desires? We’ll despair if we desire earthly things as we can’t hang onto them forever. They’re just a shadow of what he offers. We should make the city our main desire.
God isn’t ashamed. He delights in being known as ours. He has prepared a city for them as he is a God who rejoices to give. God doesn’t want our goodness but our trust. We should have our treasure in heaven and make him our delight. Death will be the gate we go through to be with him.
By faith – confidence in the finished work of Christ for now and eternity.
Three ways Moses lived by faith:
Put your confidence for ultimate satisfaction in the finished work of Christ
The things of the earth were bright and bold that give us the desires we want naturally. If we try and get our satisfaction here we aren’t a lot different from Esau. Moses was looking ahead to his reward. The good life that Moses found is knowing Jesus Christ. Are there treasures competing for a place in our heart that only Jesus deserves?
Put your confidence for ultimate strength in the finished work of Christ
The media has huge influences in the way we behave. If we live and speak in such a way that challenges what the world says, people will try to kill us. We are only as strong as what we put our confidence in. Moses knew that if we set our confidence on something that is unshakable we are also unshakable.
Put our confidence for salvation in the finished work of Christ
Moses knew that God would give them a protector. History is littered with people who struggled to put their faith in the cross. We need to stand in Jesus and him alone.
Jesus is the ultimate satisfaction, strength and salvation and we need to have confidence in him.
Faith in Hebrews is in the context of people wanting to give up on Jesus.
Three heroes of the Old Testament are referred to.
By faith, Noah acts
The ark was 10 tennis courts big, 3 levels high. Noah was told to build a huge boat where it has never rained. The flood was a sign of judgement. God hates sin and can’t have it in his presence.
By faith, Noah spoke
How hard is it to say to someone they will stand before Christ on the day of judgement unless they trust in him. We must preach the judgement; if we don’t the gospel will be lost. It’s in our hands. We can’t lose faith in the justice that the saviour brings to the cross. The gospel message is one of repentance and faith.
Noah became an heir of righteousness
Noah is the first man in the Bible described as righteous. The writer says stick with Christ. Jesus’ righteousness has paid for it all. We live in a success driven culture. The Bible defines success as trusting in Christ. Noah obeyed God and no matter how alone he felt, he trusted in God. When the boat floated, he was home and dry.
Jesus will judge the world in his righteousness. The Hebrews were asked to have faith as the writer commends Noah to them.
What is the role of Christians in leadership?
Christian leaders teach the word of God. The message of any Christian leader should be pointing to Jesus over time. That should be the lens you look at. They don’t teach false, diverse or strange teaching.
Christian leaders live by faith. They should be obviously living their lives through the lens of the gospel.
Christian leaders model faithful living. They need to preach what they practise. Remember them.
Christian leaders keep watch over your souls. They watch on behalf of, for the sake of, your souls. Your souls to them are important.
Christian leaders are and will be held accountable. They’re accountable to you to a point that they teach the word of God in the light of who Jesus is. They’re not accountable to you if you’re not living in the line of God. Ultimately they’re accountable to God.
‘Obey your leaders’ – have confidence. The confidence is that they point you to Jesus. Part of obedience to Christ is to obey your leaders. Obedience is easy when you agree with what’s being said. With submission, you can’t argue with it as it comes from a biblical perspective. Submission often happens when it’s hard. Consider their lives. Observe them. Imitate their faith.
Ezekiel 34. Give permission for them to lead. Don’t be a pain. Seek to be a joy for them. They want to see you as a part of the kingdom. If you don’t seek to be a joy, of what benefit is that to you?
Remember them. Pray for them.