Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)
40. Hebrews 13:20-21 - Farewell greetings.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21) ESV
(Unfortunately the NLT translation uses a word in the middle of this passage that is not exactly every day English, so I have used the ESV instead.)

The word that is common to nearly every New Testament benediction (literally a good word, finishing a letter or other writing) is peace. As this brief comment goes out from Dave’s web site it may be read, or listened to, by people in many different situations. Some of you will be able to live a quiet and peaceful life with little difficulty. But some of you may be reading this in situations that are far from peaceful. It is almost impossible to write anything to both groups.

Let those of us who dwell in peaceful parts of the world, offer our prayers for those who do not know peace. Our hearts go out to you. You may be struggling to relocate to another country hoping to find a great deal more peace than you are able to in the country of your birth and life so far. You are therefore a refugee. May you be sure of the Lord’s purposes for you and may you be able to follow him through thick and thin until you can find a reasonable amount of peace. Even as I write that I am aware that I should be exhorting you to find peace even in the most difficult of circumstances through your reliance on Jesus as your champion who initiates and perfects your faith. Remember he too suffered greatly for his faithfulness to the terrible task that his Father had sent him to complete. That is the theory. To actually put it into practice is no easy thing. May you be able to do so in rich and richer measure in the days ahead.

For those of us who do not labour under such difficulties the word from our writer is that we should do the Lord’s will, working on things which are pleasing in his sight because he has equipped us to do so. In many ways that is a much easier task. It is also a much easier task to avoid, to slide by, to overlook, to pretend we have not seen and understood what we should be doing.

None of us will ever be completely satisfied in our own eyes by what we have done in the days and the circumstances he has given us. He will be even less satisfied with us. Fortunately these are not the criteria by which he accepts us and loves us. Those things happen because the great shepherd of the sheep was seen to have completed (confirmed, or as the NLT has it ratified) his work through the blood of the eternal covenant.

May God’s grace be with you all.

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)
39. Hebrews 13:1–7 - Keep on … don’t forget … remember …

Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it. Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
Give honour to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.
Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,
“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.

There is no one outstanding highlight in these verses but they constitute a brief but important part of the whole writing. So I have to sweep them together into a little pile and say - look at this! The book of Hebrews is crammed full of teaching about our Lord, Jesus, who he is and why we should follow him. Only now, late on in his writing, does the author comment on what it should all mean in hard significant facts about our daily lives.

He is particularly anxious that we should:
1. Be very aware of the need to offer loving support to our fellow Christians through hospitality, special support to any who have fallen foul of anti-Christian authorities;
2. Be very careful about our sex lives. They will have been living in a situation in which it was as difficult to stay sexually pure as in any modern one. Our sexual appetites can be very strong and difficult to resist. But both within marriage and without we should stay pure;
3. Be aware of the dangers of living a life distorted by too great a concern for money and what it can buy.;
4. Be prepared to give full honour to those who work hard in the gospel, particularly through the pastoral ministry.

We all particularly in the West, are living in a society which in historical terms is rich beyond the wildest dreams of people from earlier societies. Even for ordinary citizens with no exceptional sources of wealth - Our houses are bigger, our kitchens are full of wonderful machines, we mostly own a chariot which will take us faster and in much greater comfort than any that have existed before, we holiday in greater comfort and in many more places than any but the very richest used to do.

Just imagine what our writer would have said to all that! What would he have expected us to do with all that in terms of support for the kingdom?

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

38. Hebrews13:8 - Jesus, Son of God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (NLT)
 
Taken as it is this doesn’t say too much! We all have a yesterday and a today. Yet when we hear it or read it it seems to say much more than that. There is a very similar statement in Revelation 1, usually translated as about ‘he who is, and who was, and is to come’. One version translates this, as ‘I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come.’

So we read our passage here as:
Jesus Messiah had a very different yesterday from ours since he existed from before creation; he is today very different from us because he is the Lord of Glory and plays a big part in this world of ours; then tomorrow on one future day he will lead us forwards into a very different and wonderful future.

Our writer has said all these things on his way through his writing. He started off with ‘through the Son he created the universe.’ (Hebrews 1:2). Then he said ‘The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.’ (Hebrews 1:3). Now, as we reach the end of his writing he says we, ‘have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, … You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. … You have come to Jesus,’

We have all, no doubt, done many things – some good, some bad in our lives so far. No matter, we rest in the arms of the one who always was, is now and ever will be, who will one day take us to be with himself in a better life, the one still to come.

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