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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

September 12, 2012

Hebrews 13:11-25

  1. Verses 11-13. Recapping from last week. The writer wants to point out to the reader that the Old Testament sacrifice had to be taken outside the camp. Here the writer compared Jesus to the sin offering that the Jewish high priest offered on the Day of Atonement (cf. Lev. 16:27). Jesus' death outside Jerusalem fulfilled the Day of Atonement ritual in that the high priest burned the remains of the two sacrificial animals outside the precincts of the wilderness camp. It also fulfilled the ritual of that day in that Jesus' execution outside the city involved the shame of exclusion from the sacred precincts. It symbolized His rejection by the Jewish authorities. Believers bear Jesus' reproach when we identify with Him. He suffered reproach, and so do we, when we identify with Him. This was especially true of the original Jewish recipients of this epistle. They needed to cut their emotional and religious ties to Judaism. Jerusalem was no longer their special city (cf. v. 14). There is nothing wrong with Jewish Christians maintaining Jewish customs provided they do not rely on them for favor with God. "The exhortation to leave the camp [i.e., official Judaism] and to identify fully with Jesus introduces a distinctive understanding of discipleship. Jesus' action in going 'outside the camp' (v 12) set a precedent for others to follow. The task of the community is to emulate Jesus, leaving behind the security, congeniality, and respectability of the sacred enclosure [cf. the Israelites' camp in the wilderness wanderings], risking the reproach that fell upon him. Christian identity is a matter of 'going out' now to him. It entails the costly commitment to follow him fully, despite suffering.

  2. Verse 14. Since the believers cannot focus on the physical city of Jerusalem as a source of hope and pride they are reminded that they have something better. The city we seek is the heavenly Jerusalem. Our present habitation on earth is only temporary ( 2 Cor 5:1-8), but our better city is eternal in nature and can always be a source of hope and strength. Even when we feel the pressures in this life, we can look to that new city and find peace and hope for the future.

  3. Verses 15-16. Even though God does not require periodic animal and vegetable sacrifices from us, we should offer other sacrifices to Him. These sacrifices include praise (cf. Hos. 14:2), good works, and (even, especially) sharing what we have with others (as well as giving Him ourselves, Rom. 12:1). We should offer these sacrifices of the New Covenant continually. In Judaism, sacrifices were offered at set times, but under the new covenant praises(sacrifices) go up all the time. Sacrifices were also offered as a way to assist the needy. The church should still excel in these sacrifices as well.

  4. Verse 17. The leaders in view are church elders (pastors; cf. vv. 7, 24). These shepherds will have to give account to God one day for their stewardship over us. We should make their work now easier for them by being obedient and submissive to them. Will the leaders of your church be able to tell God that leading you was a pleasure when they stand before Him?

  5. Verses 18-19. The writer confessed to needing the prayers of his brothers and sisters in the faith. He faced the same pressure to depart from the Lord that they faced. He longed to return to them again wherever they may have been living. He believed their prayers could affect God's timing of his return to them. Hebrews was not originally anonymous since the writer and the readers knew each other.

  6. Verses 20-21. Now the writer seeks to end this correspondence with a blessing. Considering his audience and their situation the writer is inspired to remind the reader that the God who raised Jesus is the same God who can give them power and peace in any and every situation. The writer uses the phase “the God of Peace” hoping to remind the reader that they serve the God of eternal peace. God can give them peace in any situation. The writer also uses the phrase “the Shepherd of the Sheep” meaning that the souls of the readers are completely secure in Christ. Their confidence must be found in the fact that God is going to give them the ability to do what is required at the right time. God will do it in a way that brings glory to himself.

  7. Verses 22-25. The writer reminds the people that they should be encouraged by the letter and they should anticipate a visit from Timothy and possible from the writer himself. The audience is reminded to greet all the leaders and the people of God with a warm welcome.

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