Posts filed under 'Trust'
Life seems to pass by so quickly. You hardly ever get an opportunity to pause and think about the bigger picture. But when you do look at the big picture, what does it say? Are you simply an elaborate cosmic accident, a product of the blind uncaring elemental forces of a universe which has no purpose and no meaning, or are you someone who has a specially designed role in a much grander plan, giving you life significance and importance? Is the highest purpose in life simply defined by the old Epicurean cliché, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” or is there a higher purpose in life to be derived through serving others and worshipping God?
The Revelation to John — Chapter 22
22:1 The angel showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and the Lamb. 22:2 In the middle of the city’s street and on both sides of the river were the trees of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding fruit every month. The leaves of the trees were used for healing the nations. 22:3 There will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 22:4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 22:5 There will be no night, and they will not need the light of a lamp or the sun, because the Lord God will light them. They will reign forevermore.
22:6 He said to me, “These words are reliable and true. The Lord God of the spirits of the prophets sent his angel to show his servants the things which will happen soon. 22:7 I am coming quickly. Blessed is anyone who obeys the message of the prophecy of this book.”
22:8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown me these things. 22:9 He said to me, “Do not do that! I am just a slave like you, your fellow believers, the prophets, and people who obey the message of this book. Worship God.” 22:10 He added, “Do not keep the message of the prophecy of this book secret, because the time is near. 22:11 Anyone who acts unfairly, can keep acting unfairly. Anyone who is dirty can stay dirty. Anyone who is righteous should keep being righteous. Anyone who is holy should remain holy.”
22:12 “I am coming quickly. I will be bringing my reward with me, to repay everyone for what they have done. 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 22:14 Blessed are people who wash their clothes. They will have access to the tree of life, and can enter the city through its gates. 22:15 Outside are the dogs, the witches, immoral people, the murderers, the idol worshippers, and everyone who loves and practises dishonesty. 22:16 I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” Anyone who is thirsty should come. Anyone who wants can take the water of life freely. 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. 22:19 If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life, and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 22:20 The one who has spoken these things says, “Yes, I come quickly.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.
22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with everyone.
June 17th, 2007
A satellite navigation system is an almost-perfect way of working out how to get there. But computer systems are only as good as the information which gets programmed into them, and in a very small percentage of cases they have the wrong data. You hear stories of people who blindly follow the instructions of the satellite navigation system and start driving the wrong way down a one-way freeway. You can imagine the thoughts going through their head: â€œThose silly road workers have put the wrong signs up saying WRONG WAY GO BACK!â€ Then they’re thinking to themselves, â€œLook at these dangerous drivers driving the wrong way towards me.â€
The Revelation to John — Chapter 16
16:1 I heard a loud voice from the temple, telling the seven angels, â€œGo and pour out the seven bowls of Godâ€™s anger on the earth!â€ 16:2 The first angel went, and poured out his bowl onto the earth, and painful and malignant sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast, and who worshipped his image. 16:3 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead person. Every living thing in the sea died.
16:4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 16:5 I heard the angel of the waters saying, â€œYou are righteous in carrying out this judgment, O Holy One, who are and who were. 16:6 They poured out the blood of the believers and the prophets, so you have given them blood to drink. They deserve this.â€ 16:7 I heard the altar saying, â€œYes, Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.â€
16:8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and this caused it to burn people with fire. 16:9 People were burnt by the great heat, and cursed God who had control over these plagues. They didnâ€™t repent or give him glory. 16:10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and darkness descended over his kingdom. The people bit their tongues in agony, 16:11 and they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores. They didnâ€™t repent of what they were doing.
16:12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates. Its water was dried up, to make a road for the kings from the east. 16:13 I saw three unclean spirits resembling frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 16:14 They are spirits of demons, performing miracles, which go to all the kings in the world, to bring them together for war on the great day of God, the Almighty.
16:15 â€œSee, I am coming like a thief. Blessed are those who stay awake, and keep their clothes on, so that they donâ€™t have to be embarrassed by walking around naked.â€ 16:16 The kings assembled in the place which is called Armageddon in Hebrew.
16:17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. A loud voice shouted from the temple of heaven, from the throne, â€œIt has happened!â€ 16:18 Lightning, noises, and thunder followed, and there was a huge earthquake, the largest and most powerful earthquake since people have existed on the earth. 16:19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. So God dealt with Babylon the great, giving her the cup filled with the wine of his fierce anger. 16:20 The islands ran away, and the mountains couldnâ€™t be found. 16:21 Huge hailstones, weighing about thirty kilograms, fell from the sky onto people. People cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.
June 11th, 2007
If you believe that God was able to create the universe out of nothing, if you believe that God was able to make the smallest amoeba and the biggest mountain, the smallest atom and the brightest star, then it’s not that hard to believe that God has the power to bring a dead person back to life, or heal a blind person, or change water into wine. But if you did see something like that happen, would it really change your idea of God? If you believe that there is a God, it would simply confirm your belief. If you believe that there is no God, you would be confident that there was a rational non-miraculous explanation for what happened, even if you were unable to provide it immediately…
The Revelation to John — Chapter 13
13:1 I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads. On its horns were ten crowns, and on its heads were names insulting to God. 13:2 The beast which I saw was like a leopard, and its feet were like those of a bear, and its mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave its power, its throne, and great authority to the beast. 13:3 One of its heads appeared to have been fatally wounded. The fatal wound was healed, and the whole earth was amazed by the beast. 13:4 They worshipped the dragon, because it gave its authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who can fight against it?”
13:5 The beast was allowed to boast and blaspheme, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 13:6 It spoke blasphemy against God, insulting his name, and the place where he lives, and everyone who lives in heaven. 13:7 It was given power to fight against the believers, and to defeat them. It was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. 13:8 Everyone living on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the beginning of creation in the book of life of the Lamb who has been killed. 13:9 Whoever has an ear, should hear. 13:10 Anyone destined to go into captivity will go into captivity. Anyone destined to be killed with the sword must be killed. The believers must endure and be faithful.
13:11 I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon. 13:12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast. It made the earth and everyone living on it worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13:13 It performed convincing miracles, even making fire come down out of the sky to the earth while people were watching. 13:14 It deceived people living on the earth with the miracles which it did to promote the first beast, telling people living on the earth to make an idol in honour of the beast who had been fatally wounded by a sword and yet lived.
13:15 It was given the power to bring the idol of the beast to life, so that the idol could speak, and order that anyone who refused to worship the idol must be killed. 13:16 It forced everyone, unimportant or important, rich or poor, free or slave, to be given marks on their right hands, or on their foreheads. 13:17 No-one would be able to buy or to sell, who did not have that mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. 13:18 Wisdom is needed to understand this. The intelligent person should calculate the number of the beast, because it is the number of a man. His number is six hundred and sixty-six.
June 8th, 2007
Most people don’t have any objective way of working out what is good and what is bad. Usually people just end up uncritically repeating the things which they hear other people saying. In George Orwell’s political satire Animal Farm, the animals start their rebellion against the humans with the slogan, “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Then the leaders of the revolution discover that they like walking round on two legs and acting just like humans, so they manipulate the slogan being chanted by the masses, changing it to, “Four legs good, two legs better.” If you want to change what people think is right and wrong, all you need to do is create a sustained campaign…
The Revelation to John — Chapter 11
11:1 A measuring stick was given to me. Someone said, “Go and measure God’s temple, and the altar, and the people worshipping in it. 11:2 Leave out the court which is outside of the temple, and do not measure it, because it has been given to the unbelievers. They will trample all over the holy city for 42 months. 11:3 I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”
11:4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands, standing before the Lord of the earth. 11:5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies. Anyone who tries to hurt them will be killed like this.
11:6 They have the power to shut the sky, to prevent rain during the period of their prophesying. They have power to turn water into blood, and to afflict the earth with all kinds of plagues, whenever they want. 11:7 When they have finished all that they are going to say, the beast will come up out of the abyss and will attack and overpower and kill them. 11:8 Their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city where their Lord was also crucified. In a spiritual sense that city is like Sodom and Egypt.
11:9 Members of the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, not letting their bodies be buried. 11:10 People living on the earth will celebrate over them, and they will give each other gifts, because these two prophets had annoyed people living on the earth.
11:11 After the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet. Everyone who saw them was terrified. 11:12 They heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” They went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. 11:13 At that moment there was a huge earthquake, and one tenth of the city crumbled. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified, and gave glory to the God of heaven. 11:14 The second woe is finished, but the third woe is rapidly approaching.
11:15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and loud voices in heaven said, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. He will reign forevermore!”
11:16 The twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones in front of God’s throne, fell on their faces and worshipped God, 11:17 saying: “We give you thanks, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have used your great power, and started to rule. 11:18 The nations were furious, but your anger has now come, and so has the time for dead people to be judged, and the time for rewarding your servants the prophets, as well as the believers, and people who honour your name, whether they are important or unimportant. The time has also come to destroy those people who are destroying the earth.”
11:19 God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant could be seen in his temple. Lightning, noises, thunder, an earthquake, and a huge hailstorm followed.
June 6th, 2007
It’s natural for people to want to appear better than they really are. I’m happy for other people to hear about the good things I’ve done, but I really don’t want others to find out about the things that I’m ashamed of. It’s amazing how many people will tell you stories about how much they have won at the casino, while how few people will tell you about how much they have lost. People will happily tell you about how they kicked the winning goal, or got great results in their exams, but they’re more reluctant to own up to having made the mistake which cost the game, or having failed miserably because they didn’t work hard enough…
John’s First Letter — Chapter 1
1:1 He existed from the beginning; we have heard him; we have seen him with our own eyes; we have looked at him and touched him with our hands; he is the word of life. 1:2 The life appeared. We have seen him, and are witnesses, and tell you about the eternal life, who was with the Father, and appeared to us. 1:3 We are telling you about what we have seen and heard, so that you can have fellowship with us. Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 1:4 We are writing these things to you to complete our joy.
1:5 This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light; there is no darkness at all in him. 1:6 If we claim that we have fellowship with him while living in the darkness, we are lying, and not telling the truth. 1:7 But if we live in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of his Son Jesus Christ washes us clean from all sin. 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and avoiding the truth. 1:9 If we admit our sins, he is righteous and can be trusted to forgive our sins, and wash us clean from all unrighteousness. 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we are calling him a liar, and his message is not living in us.
May 19th, 2007
When you learn to play a musical instrument as a kid, you never really think about the cost-benefit ratio. You just go to music lessons because your mum said you had to, or because the teacher makes it fun to learn. But when you’re an adult, you know where else you could be spending the time and money. You mightn’t have sufficient inherent musical ability ever to be able to play the instrument competently. So choosing to learn is a big sacrifice, and a big risk at the same time. You just have to have faith strong enough to sustain you through the difficult times when it seems that you will never be able to play well…
Peter’s Second Letter — Chapter 1
1:1 From Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to you who have received the same precious faith as us through the righteousness of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 1:2 May you overflow with grace and peace in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 1:3 His divine power has given us everything important in life and godliness, through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and virtue. 1:4 He has given us his precious and incomparable promises, through which you can share in the divine nature, escaping the decadence in the world caused by sinful cravings.
1:5 This is the reason why you must do all that you can to develop goodness from your faith; knowledge from goodness; 1:6 self-control from knowledge; patience from self-control; godliness from patience; 1:7 brotherly affection from godliness; and love from brotherly affection. 1:8 If these qualities are growing in you, that will stop you from becoming lazy or unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1:9 People who lack these things are blind and short-sighted, forgetting that their old sins have been washed away. 1:10 Friends, try hard to make sure you are amongst those called and chosen by God. If you do this, you will never stumble. 1:11 You will be given open access to the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
1:12 I intend to keep reminding you about these things, although you know them, and are solidly grounded in the truth. 1:13 As long as I am living in this mortal body, I think it is appropriate to stir you up by reminding you, 1:14 knowing that I will be leaving this body soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 1:15 I will do all that I can to ensure that you will always remember these things after I have gone. 1:16 We were not repeating cleverly invented myths when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 1:17 He received honour and glory from God the Father, when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 1:18 We heard this voice come from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.
1:19 So we believe the message of the prophets more confidently, and you will do well to pay attention to it, like a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 1:20 Most importantly you should understand that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of personal interpretation. 1:21 No prophecy ever came by human will; instead, people led by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
May 16th, 2007
One of my friends once explained to me the “skin of your teeth” principle. The idea was that, if you believe in Jesus but don’t actually do anything in your life to show it, you still get into heaven by the skin of your teeth. The reasoning was that you can’t earn your way into heaven; the only way you can get there is by faith in Jesus; so all you have to do is believe and you’ve passed the entrance exam; nothing else matters. This means that you can live your life in just the same way as everyone else — say what they say, think what they think, treat people like they treat people — and it makes no difference in the end. I’m not sure that my friend was right…
The Letter from James — Chapter 4
4:1 Where do the conflicts and quarrels amongst you come from? Do they not come from hungers that are at war inside you? 4:2 You want something that you do not have. You kill and envy, but cannot get what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask. 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask inappropriately, to use what you get for your own pleasure. 4:4 You unfaithful people, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God? Whoever chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
4:5 Do you think that the Scripture is meaningless when it says that the Spirit which God planted in us is very jealous? 4:6 But he gives more grace, so it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 4:7 Submit to God, but resist the devil, and he will run away from you. 4:8 Approach God, and he will approach you. Sinners, wash your hands. Indecisive people, purify your hearts. 4:9 Lament, grieve, and weep. Turn your laughter into mourning, and your happiness to despair. 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and he will honour you.
4:11 Do not belittle each other, friends. Someone who belittles and judges a fellow believer, belittles and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are no longer someone who obeys it; you have become a judge. 4:12 God is the only lawgiver and judge, the only one who can save or destroy. Who are you to judge your neighbour?
4:13 Listen, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow let us go to a particular city, spend a year there, trade, and make a profit.” 4:14 You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a haze that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 4:15 Instead of what you say, you should say, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do these things.” 4:16 As it is, you talk arrogantly, and all such arrogance is evil. 4:17 Anyone who knows the right thing to do, but does not do it, is sinning.
May 9th, 2007
Trusting in someone else is risky, not safe. It requires boldness and courage, and it means that your life gets to be an exciting adventure. If you’re working in a safe reliable job, and you know where all the money is going to come from to achieve all of your goals, then maybe you’re trusting in yourself and not in Jesus. On the other hand, if you feel that God is calling you to do something outrageous, something which is far bigger than you could ever do by yourself, something which requires resources which you don’t have, something which can only happen if some sort of miracle occurs, then you might be trusting in Jesus…
The Letter to the Hebrews — Chapter 11
11:1 Faith is the essence of things that are hoped for, the inner conviction about things which are not seen. 11:2 This is what earned our ancestors God’s approval. 11:3 By faith, we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that things which can be seen were made out of things which are invisible. 11:4 By faith, Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain. As a result, he was declared righteous, and God approved his gifts. He is dead, but his faith still speaks. 11:5 By faith, Enoch was taken away so that he would not see death, and he couldn’t be found, because God had removed him. Before he was removed he was declared pleasing to God.
11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please God, because someone who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he rewards people who seek him. 11:7 By faith, Noah was moved to action when warned by God about things which could not yet be seen, and constructed a ship to save his family. As a result he unmasked the wickedness of the world, and became heir of righteousness through faith. 11:8 By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go to the place which he was to receive as an inheritance. He went, not knowing where he was going. 11:9 By faith, he lived as a foreigner in the promised land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. 11:10 He looked forward to the city with foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11:11 By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive, and she gave birth to a child when she was too old to give birth, because she believed that God who had made the promise was faithful. 11:12 As a result one man, who was as good as dead, became the ancestor of as many descendants as there are stars in the sky, as many as the grains of sand by the sea shore.
11:13 All these people died in faith, without receiving the promises, but after seeing them and embracing them from a distance, and after recognising that they were strangers and visitors on the earth. 11:14 People who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 11:15 If they had been thinking of the country which they had come from, they might have had enough time to return. 11:16 But they wanted a better country, that is, a heavenly one. God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he has built a city for them.
11:17 By faith, Abraham offered up Isaac when he was tested. The man who had gladly received the promises was prepared to offer up his one and only son 11:18 about whom it had been predicted, “Your descendants will come from Isaac.” 11:19 He believed that God is able to bring the dead back to life. In a way, Abraham did receive him back from the dead. 11:20 By faith, Isaac gave Jacob and Esau blessings relating to future events. 11:21 By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff. 11:22 By faith, Joseph, when his end was near, foretold the exodus of the children of Israel, and gave instructions about taking his bones with them.
11:23 By faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid of the king’s decree. 11:24 By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 11:25 choosing to share mistreatment with God’s people, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a while. 11:26 He considered that suffering for the sake of the Messiah provided greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, because he looked forward to the reward. 11:27 By faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the anger of the king. He persevered because he could see what other people could not see. 11:28 By faith, he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them. 11:29 By faith, they passed through the Red Sea as if they were on dry land. When the Egyptians tried to follow, they were swallowed up. 11:30 By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. 11:31 By faith, Rahab the prostitute didn’t die with the people who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
11:32 What more can I say? Time would run out if I told about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets; 11:33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, ruled with justice, received what was promised, closed the mouths of lions, 11:34 put out raging fires, escaped the edge of the sword, started off weak but became strong, became powerful in battle, and caused foreign armies to flee. 11:35 Women received their dead back to life. Others were tortured, not allowing themselves to be rescued, so that they would receive a better resurrection. 11:36 Others were tested by mocking and flogging, and by being chained and imprisoned. 11:37 They were stoned. They were sawn apart. They were killed with the sword. They went around in sheep skins and goat skins, impoverished, persecuted and tormented. 11:38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts, mountains, caves, and holes in the earth. 11:39 All of them earned God’s approval for their faith, but did not receive the promise. 11:40 God had foreseen something better for us, so that they couldn’t finish without us.
May 3rd, 2007
A will is a strange type of legal document. The person who makes a will is known as a testator, and he or she specifies in the will how his or her property is to be distributed after death. Normally someone is appointed as executor, with the job of complying with the testator’s wishes, and the people who are to receive the property are called beneficiaries. In general you can do what you like in your will, but various rules have evolved over the centuries allowing different grounds on which people can challenge the will. The unusual feature of a will is that it’s a legal document that you can never enforce yourself…
The Letter to the Hebrews — Chapter 9
9:1 The first covenant included rules for worship, and a holy place on earth. 9:2 A tabernacle was constructed. In the first part, called the holy place, were the lampstand, the table, and the holy bread. 9:3 Behind the second veil was a room called the Holy of Holies, 9:4 with a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, inside which were a golden container holding the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 9:5 Above it the cherubim of glory overshadowed the mercy seat. We will not address these things in detail now. 9:6 Things were arranged like this, and the priests went regularly into the first part to perform the services, 9:7 but only the high priest went into the second room, once a year, and never without offering blood for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 9:8 The Holy Spirit was using this to show that the way into the Holy Place had not yet been revealed while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9:9 This was an illustration for the present time, where gifts and sacrifices which are offered cannot clear the conscience of the worshipper, 9:10 because they deal only with foods and drinks and ceremonial washing, human rules which are in effect only until the time comes to change them.
9:11 Christ came as high priest of the good things that have arrived. He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle which is not made with human hands, that is to say, not part of this creation. 9:12 It was not through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, that he entered the Holy Place once for all, securing redemption forever. 9:13 If the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on people who were unclean makes them holy so that their bodies are purified, 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who offered himself without blemish to God through the eternal Spirit, purify our consciences from dead rituals to serve the living God? 9:15 He is the mediator of a new covenant so that those who have been called can receive the promised eternal inheritance. His death has redeemed the sins that happened under the first covenant. 9:16 When a will is made, the person making the will must die for it to take effect. 9:17 A will comes into effect when there has been a death, but it never comes into effect while the person who made it is alive. 9:18 Thus the first convenant did not come into effect without blood. 9:19 After Moses had told the people all of the rules of the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, together with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people, 9:20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has decreed for you.”
9:21 He also sprinkled the tabernacle and all the holy containers in the same way with the blood. 9:22 According to the law, nearly everything is purified with blood, and there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. 9:23 It was necessary for the earthly copies of heavenly things to be purified like this, but the heavenly things themselves had to be purified with better sacrifices than these. 9:24 Christ did not enter a holy place made by human hands, an imitation of the real thing. He entered heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 9:25 He did not have to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters into the holy place every year with blood that is not his own; 9:26 otherwise he would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. He came once, at the end of the ages, to cancel sin by the sacrifice of himself. 9:27 Humans are destined to die once, and then face judgment. 9:28 Likewise Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, and will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to bring salvation to people who are waiting for him.
May 1st, 2007
For a brief time in my early teens, I was an exponent of the fine art of chess. My whole face would go red with concentration while I was playing. I can remember impressing my friends by playing a game “blind” without ever looking at the board. There was also the day when we had an inter-school chess match, and I won the admiration of my colleagues by winning my game in the shortest number of moves. Of course, it helped that my opponent wasn’t exactly in the grandmaster league. But then I looked around and discovered that being a chess buff was not going to be good for my image…
The Letter to the Hebrews — Chapter 7
7:1 Melchizedek was the king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him. 7:2 Abraham gave him one tenth of everything. Melchizedek’s name means “king of righteousness”, and “king of Salem” means “king of peace”. 7:3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, and with no beginning or end to his life, he remains a priest continually like the Son of God. 7:4 Think about how great this man was. Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the plunder.
7:5 The law commands that the descendants of Levi who are appointed priests must take one tenth from the people, that is, from their relatives, although they are also descended from Abraham. 7:6 However, Melchizedek, who is not related to them, collected one tenth from Abraham, and blessed him, the man who had received the divine promises. 7:7 It is beyond question that the lesser person is blessed by the greater person. 7:8 On the one hand one tenth is collected by priests who will die, but on the other hand one tenth is collected by Melchizedek whom the evidence indicates is alive. 7:9 Even the descendants of Levi, who receive one tenth, have paid one tenth through Abraham, so to speak, 7:10 because Levi was still in the body of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
7:11 If perfection was possible through the Levitical priesthood (because under it the people have received the law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, rather than according to the order of Aaron? 7:12 When the priesthood is changed, it is necessary to change the law as well. 7:13 The person we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, a tribe from which no one has served at the altar. 7:14 It is clear that our Lord is a descendant of Judah, and Moses said nothing about priesthood for that tribe. 7:15 This is even more obvious if another priest like Melchizedek arises, 7:16 appointed, not according to a law of hereditary succession, but according to the power of eternal life. 7:17 The evidence says, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
7:18 On the one hand the old rule is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness, 7:19 because the law made nothing perfect, and on the other hand there is the introduction of a better hope, through which we come closer to God. 7:20 This did not happen without an oath. Others became priests without any oaths, 7:21 but he was appointed with an oath: “The Lord swore and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.’”
7:22 Accordingly, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 7:23 Many are the people who have become priests, because they are prevented from continuing by death. 7:24 But he lives forever, so his priesthood is permanent. 7:25 He is able to save forever people who approach God through him, because he lives forever to speak to God for them. 7:26 He is the kind of high priest we need: holy, guiltless, pure, separated from sinners, and honoured above the heavens. 7:27 He does not need to offer up daily sacrifices, like the old high priests, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He did this once for all time, when he offered up himself. 7:28 The law appoints men who have weaknesses as high priests, but the oath which came after the law appoints the Son who has been made perfect forever.
April 29th, 2007