HEBREWS






The book of Hebrews is one of the most important books of the Bible. Unlike Romans, which gives a general treatise on faith, Hebrews, being directed at the Jews, details the elements of the Law, and most importantly gives us many examples of faithing in everyday circumstances. It is in the book of Hebrews that we can trace the God-inspired, God-trusting actions of people that God has stamped with His approval. No more guessing about what faith really is.

Therefore, this study of Hebrews will depart somewhat from the format of the other three books treated in this section of Straight Talk about God. We will summarize the six major sections of the book, and concentrate mainly on chapter eleven, the Heroes chapter. This would seem to be the only chapter of the Bible in which God has chosen to celebrate man. Mostly the Bible is celebrating God. We will also do a few detailed studies on the definitions of faith, rest, author, finisher, and communicate.








MAJOR SECTIONS:



God's Great Salvation - Chapters 1-3

Paul, lays it out in detail for the Jews. Starting at the beginning, with the fathers and prophets, he goes to Christ, showing God's message. He tells them that God keeps His own law of a kinsman redeemer, through Jesus, to redeem them from the bondage of death.


God's Rest - Chapter 4

Paul advises that they remember the forty years in the wilderness, and keep faithing. Christ is the beginning and continuation of faithing. Cling to your beginnings, and you'll receive God's rest/promise.

We have a "rest" through faith(ing). The promised land wasn't a final rest because David talked of another day. That leaves us with a "sabbathing", in faithing.


Our High Priest - Chapters 5-8

Jesus is our Great High Priest. But he's a different priest than Aaron's type of priest, because he's like Melchisedec, who was high priest not from the bloodline of Aaron or Levi. It's time to recognize your real position: milk drinkers.

We must pay attention. (I won't go over Christ, works, faithing, baptism, etc, again) We must not ignore the light when we've seen it. We should be patient, like Abraham: and follow Christ, as our forerunner.

Melchisedec's credentials are logically proven through Abraham's tithing. Christ is more special than our priest, because he only sacrificed once; not year after year.


The New Covenant - Chapters 9-10

So, we have this high priest, who mediates a new covenant. The old is out. God said He'd make a new covenant. That means the first covenant must now be defunct.

The first covenant had to do with physical things like the tabernacle, the Ark, and altar. Christ brings Salvation through non-physical things, and is our mediator. And his testament is confirmed in blood just like the old testament. But, Christ can only suffer once.

The Law was only a shadow of the Good Thing to come. Like the High Priest, we, through Jesus' blood, can enter the Holy of Holies. But if we ignore Jesus' sacrifice and go back to the Law, we fall into the hands of God, who judges. Stick with faithing. God is faithful to give faithers rejuvinating life (force).

The Faith Way - chapter 11

Faithing is our claim to salvation. Look what it did for the old-timers like Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses' parents, Moses, Israel at Jericho, Rahab: Gideon, Jephthae, Barak, Samson, David, and the prophets. Wonderful things happened to them, and some made it without seeing the promise here.


Christian Life - Chapters 11-12

So, shrug off your troubles and follow Jesus' example. God will train us; good fathers do. But remember where the training leads. Follow after Righteousness. You come to a heavenly city, with Jesus as mediator to God: who has promised to shake the heaven and earth for His Kingdom (us).

Live Righteously, serve others, support your spiritual teachers. God bless you. Timothy and I may visit you soon. Bye.






DEFINING FAITH

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

The first verse of Hebrews 11:1 has been used almost exclusively by many ignorant people to define faith. Indeed, this statement by Paul seems emminently appropriate, the way we think of faith in English..

BUT! ! ! This verse doesn't define faith. It only describes the effect or position of faith, and it's implications! ! !

Let's stop here for a second and analyze this verse. We'll re-state the verse in a modern context.

"A car insurance policy is the foundation of things hoped for, and evidences the existance of a 'Power of Protection' that can't be seen." We don't want to get hit with some overwhelming expense due to an accident. We're hoping our car will get fixed. Our auto policy tells the world that we are entitled to that repair. Our policy, further attests to some group of people that can make the repair happen. I think that's an accurate description of the effects and implications of an auto insurance policy. But does the statement define the policy?

DEFINITION: "An auto insurance policy is a paper contract between two entities that......"

Does the policy accomplish the repair? No. Does the policy create the Power/Company? No. Is the policy the repair? or the Group? No. It's just a piece of paper. And yet, it founds our hope of repair and indicates some "power" that can accomplish the repair. Let's read our sample sentence again.

"A car insurance policy is the foundation of things hoped for, and evidences the existance of a 'Power of Protection' that can't be seen." The Policy isn't being defined here, just the effects and implications of the policy. The same goes for Hebrews 11:1 We still are left with the question, "What exactly is 'faith'?"

Just to beat this to death, let me substitute another word for 'faith.' "Now reading is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Can you see the inherent question in that statement? Is it a magazine, a comic, a newspaper, or a book? Is it Any old book, a book authored by a woman, a statesman, a psychic? If something as important as our livelyhood depends on the answer, maybe we'd better know exactly what to read. We'll still have to define 'reading'. Let's repeat.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

The first verse of Hebrews 11:1 has been used almost exclusively to define faith. Indeed, this statement by Paul seems emminently appropriate, the way we think of faith in English..

While it's true that a believing attitude, and even a sure understanding of God's reality are the ground for faith, they are not verbs. A belief or knowledge is something held, not done. Faith is a verb, it's something that we do, not think.

To those who argue that thinking is doing I ask, "Is the digestive process the same as eating a meal?" Thinking and digestion are bodily activities, not actions. We don't direct the activity, only the input. We only "tell" our Thinker what to think about. Thinking is not a verb. "Faith" IS a verb.

This verb is based on a conviction or a belief, and is carried out to the verb's end by the confidence that the belief is valid.

A proper paraphrase of Hebrews 11:1 would be: An act of conviction is the essential, grounding claim to our expectations, and evidentially exposes invisible practices.

Let's go the Strong's Concordance for the definitions of the crucial words in Hebrews 11:1.


Now let's do what I call trans-substitution. We will substitute the Strong's definitions for our key words.









DEFINING REST

This word rest is one of the pivotal words in the Bible for Christians. It helps answer the long-debated question regarding keeping of the Sabbath. This has been one of the most controversial issues of Christianity for many centuries. It has caused schisms in the Church, and spawned whole new denominations. Many folks cling to the legalistic view that we must keep the saturday Sabbath, as it was commanded by God on Mt. Sinai. Paul breaks that old Bond by explaining rest, and then telling us that our rest now is faithing.

What do you do when you rest? You stop working (activity). Stop human, self activity toward some goal.

It must be considered that the word rest used by Paul in all verses of Hebrews, save one, are what we would normally understand. The one is a totally different word. Ten of the eleven listings in Strong's are from either Gk2663, katapausis, which derives directly from 2664, katapauo. You can readily see that these words are virtually the same. Katapauo, Gk2664 is from 2596 kata, which means finality, uttermost, and 3973 pauo, a primary verb which means to stop. Katapauo is the final and ultimate stopping; the uttermost finish. There is nothing left to do. Rest. Katapausis narrows the focus of katapauo, final stopping, to a final rest. You never have to go back to that activity.

Given the context of Paul's constant argument for faith(ing) over Works, he's telling us in Hebrews 3 and 4 that we can obtain a position of No Works. But he adds to that repeated argument the factor of Sabbath keeping.

In verse nine of chapter four Paul says an amazing thing; if the original word he uses be known. My King James version says "rest," but it's a totally different word. The word being translated "rest" is sabbatismos. Doesn't sound anything like katapausis. I know that you can see the word "sabbath" hiding behind the Greek spelling.

This word sabbatismos is number Gk4520, and is attached to Christianity. Strong's says, "a 'sabbatism;, i.e. (fig) the repose of Christianity (as a type of heaven): --rest.' This "rest", the stoppage of the works of the Law, replaces the keeping of the Sabbath. The only thing to determine now is, the action required for the entrance into this "sabbathing rest." Paul is kind enough to tell us in verse four. After setting the context of the wilderness trek, and the people's disobedience, he says that they missed entering into God's rest (the Holy Land) because, although they heard the word of promise, they still didn't act in trust: "not mixed with faith in them that heard it." Taking into consideration Paul's repeated teaching that we are justified, sanctified, and saved by faith, we can conclude that the thing that accesses God's "rest" is faith(ing). Those folks in the wilderness wouldn't act on the word of God that He would help them secure the Promised Land; in spite of the high walls, large population, and giants. They wouldn't faithe.

Keeping the Sabbath was in the same class with keeping all the other Laws. One of the reasons God had the Israelites living by those Laws and not Grace, like us, is that he was teaching them to trust Him. He forced them, thru the Law, to trust Him. Trust that He would forgive their sins when they sacrificed. Trust that He would provide enough in the sixth year to last over the seventh, when the ground was to be left to rest. To not work one day a week and trust that God would make up for the lack of output. God was always trying to give them ways to trust Him. Still is.

The main way we trust Him is faithing. ANY act, as long as He's in on it is a trusting act like not working on Saturday. Neither act is more important than the other. "Faith is no respecter of acts." :-) A faith act is a faith act is a faith act.

Finally said, "Faithing has now replaced keeping God's Sabbath."







AUTHOR AND FINISHER

Another grossly misunderstood verse is Hebrews 12:2. Over the years I have repeatedly heard that Jesus is the author of my faith. This is just not so. My interlinear Diaglot reads this way: "looking away - to - the - of the faith - leader - and - perfecter - Jesus, ..." There is nothing in the Greek manuscript which refers to anyone other than Jesus. You and I are simply not in that verse; as much as we'd like to give the responsibility for our faith over to someone else. The word translated faith in this case is the noun form of the word, which names the process of acting in trust of God. Just like we can say "bath" and convey the meaning of the action of bathing.

Jesus, this verse is saying, is the first Faither under the New Covenant, and has forever finished the establishment of this process for salvation; there's nothing left for us to do, no work. While it's true that a proper study of Jesus' life will give one the confidence to act on God's word, we are the authors of our faithing. This is one of the founding principles of faithing: That we must make the first move.

While we're in chapter twelve, let's take note of the word "chasteneth" in verse six. I've come to understand chasten as synonymous with "punishment." This word is Gk3811, and means simply, training, teaching, discipline. It's tellng us that part of God's plan is to train us; to work for Him, and not ourselves. Training is part of the trip, so don't think you won't run into obstacles, and hard situations.







COMMUNICATE

There are many volumes to be said in verifying the meaning of the word communicate as used in verse sixteen of the thirteenth chapter. The word being translated is koinonia. The words being used to define koinonia are, partnership, i.e. (lit) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction. Through derivation the word "backs down" to koinos, common, i.e. shared by all, and touches koinonos, a sharer.

Paul is not telling the Hebrews to talk or write letters. If we take Paul's statement to the Galations ( Gal 6:6) as context, we'll see that this communication is sharing material things with your teacher. Paul makes this sharing with your God-teacher very clear in I Timothy 5:17-18 where he says the elders should receive from the congregation things that are equal to the corn that the ox gets to eat when he works.









BOOK CONDENSATION



Before we get into the detailed accounts of the Heroes in chapter eleven, here is my condensation of the whole book of Hebrews. This condensation has gone thru the usual steps of passage "trans-substitution", passage reduction, and chapter reduction.

God sent Jesus to show us faithing; the New Covenant that, our faithing is keeping the Sabbath. Christ, being made by God's oath, is better than any earthly priest. Jesus' and the Heroes' action and example removes the need for the repeated rituals of the earthly priesthood. Faithing is our right to salvation. Do the Right thing. Faithe.









PRACTICAL FAITHING



I have selected eight examples of faithing from chapter eleven and broken them down into their component parts; Action, what did the people do, Belief, what belief (word of God) founded the actions, Confidence, what knowledge allowed the actions to be carried out to completion.

Much of the detail is left out of the following stories. It would be good to familiarize yourself with the stories, for better understanding. You can catch these stories in the Bible "on the fly" as we go through the examples or you can go to my Heroes of Faithing page.



PASSOVER

The story of the first Passover is found in Exodus 12:1-12; :21-23; :31-36; :46. Psalm 105:36-37 is also of some interest. This passage shows that they were healed by eating the lamb. The Strong's definition of "feeble" is , totter, stumble, faint (legs). How appropriate that all the Israelites' leg ailments and infirmities were healed before the long march to the Promised Land. We've all heard of the Last Supper. This, was the First Supper.





ACTIONS BELIEF CONFIDENCE
Put blood on the door The blood will save from death Moses' miracles
Girded loins, put on shoes I will deliverNine previous plagues
Hold a staff, eat in haste Moses' instructions Moses' history.






PARTING THE RED SEA

We find both Moses and the Israelites faithing in the parting of the Red Sea. The story is in Exodus 14. We see that God made the Israelites "go forward" before Moses was to lift his rod. God always wants the Faither to make the first move.




ACTIONS BELIEF CONFIDENCE
People go forward I'll divide the sea God's/Moses' performance
Moses stretches the rodGod's word to divide the seaGod's direct command






JERICHO and the JORDAN

Before the battle of Jericho the Israelites had to cross the swollen, fast flowing Jordan river. Chapter three of Joshua is where we find this account. Joshua faithed (talking) in giving the orders, and then the priests and people made their move.

The story of the walls of Jericho falling down is found in chapter six of Joshua. God outlined a rather unusual battle plan. Often, faithing appears to not be addressing the issue. I mean, what good would it do to walk around the city, and then shout at the walls? And please notice that God required more faith from the Israelites once they had taken the city. God was taking His First Fruits portion when He denied the people any of the spoils of the city. Here was a chance to make a good war chest for financing the conquering of Caanan. This move by God made the people depend more on Him. Trust Him. That's what faithing is, acting in trust of something God has said.



ACTIONS BELIEF CONFIDENCE
Walk into the Jordan I'll divide the Jordan In Joshua/God's track record
Silently march/shout I'll flatten the walls God's direct command






JESUS' GRANDMOTHER

The story of Rahab is a classic example of faithing. God always makes it clear that it was all His doing. Given that the walls fell flat, what good would hanging a red cord out the window be for protecting the house? I've detailed this musing on the Rahab page of the Heroes of Faithing. The Biblical account of the Red Cord is in Joshua 2. The case of Rahab is unusual in that she is not an Israelite, and her faithing is not on some utterance of God, but on the word of the spies. For this reason I'm including a short chronology to evidence the entry under Confidence.



ACTIONS BELIEF CONFIDENCE
Hangs the red cord out The spies' word Israel/God's track record


RAHAB'S CONFIDENCE CHRONOLOGY








GIDEON'S THREE HUNDRED

"By the three hundred will I save," said God, in Judges, chapter seven. Notice that this verse has the number 777. It is the seventh verse of the seventh chapter of the seventh book of the Bible. Spiritual completion trebled. The full story of Gideon and the battle starts in chapter six of Judges. We can learn a little of God's Ways from this story. You'll notice God's method of working through Gideon, a bit at a time, and never asking more than necessary at the moment. God leads us gently, never "tempting us beyond that which we are able." God doesn't ask Gideon to run out on the battle field. He lets him go, at night, to destroy the worship place of Baal. Then God sends Gideon into the enemy camp so he could hear complete strangers talking about their own defeat. That was just enough for Gideon to get enough courage and confidence in God to finally go to battle.



ACTIONS BELIEF CONFIDENCE
Break the altar,cut the grove. I am with thee The incinarated offering
Sends home 31,700There be too manyDry/wet fleece
Attack the Midianites By the 300 will I save Dream interpretation






DANIEL and the LIONS

Some of the elements in Daniel's faithing aren't as clearcut as the other heroes. We need to bring in outside evidence. Evidence from beyond the story itself. Daniel lived in Babylon a long time. He was there for possibly sixty or seventy years. He may have been as young as eighteen when they took him away from Israel. Daniel occupied a high government position soon after his arrival, eventually becoming the head President of three who governed all Babylon. He was one of God's Protectorates. Whenever the people would be spending a long time in a foreign land, God sent one of the Israelites on ahead. Joseph went to Egypt, Esther to Persia, Daniel to Babylon. Also, Daniel was well aquainted with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were young nobles like Daniel. It may even be that they were all together when Daniel refused the King's food. Daniel's belief in God was very strong. You might even say he had a "militant" faith. He deliberately broke the law to act in faith.
The story starts in Daniel 1:3-15, and Daniel 6:1-24.



ACTIONS BELIEF CONFIDENCE
He refuses the King's meat God's dietary laws God in general
Daniel prays by windowGod's protectionGod's track record


Did you notice some faithing by Darius? (Dan 6:16) Daniel's ongoing faith and performance was so righteous and strong, that it must've rubbed off on the King. He surely didn't come up with the sincere statement that God would protect Daniel just based on Daniel's act of defiance when he prayed out the window.. For years Daniel had been showing the king what God's people are like. Trustworthy, faithful, obedient, loyal, courageous and careful.





DAVID

David's life offers many opportunities to see faithing in action. We spend nearly his whole life with him in the Scriptures; from his annointing by Samuel, to his death maybe sixty years later. From fearlessly attacking a lion, a bear and a ten foot giant, to showing the sanctity of God's annointing when he spared Saul, David's life shows by his faithing why God called him a "man after God's own heart." Another wonderous lesson that David's life teaches us is that the actions we see as very bad, God seems to forgive somewhat easily. Even though a liar, murderer, and womanizer, David received from God promises equal to that of Abraham. You might want to see these amazing promises to David, that we can see being fulfilled in the world at this very moment. David's throne and bloodline was promised to last forever.



ACTIONS BELIEF CONFIDENCE
Went out to fight Goliath God's promise of help in war The lion and bear episodes
Goes to war(I SAM 23:1-6) TGod's answer(vss 2 and 4)God's direct answer
Spares Saul's life In God's sanctification God's track record






ELIJAH

As a prophet of God, we see lots of faith acts by Elijah. Practically everything he does is a faith act based on something God has said. God talked to him a lot. Elijah had many, many "words of God" to go on. This is good for us to read, but it diminishes the number of entries we can make under CONFIDENCE. Most of the entries seem to be "God's track record." God's track record with Elijah was ongoing, up close and personal.

The very first thing we know about Elijah is his courageous act of faith in showing up at the King's court and predicting no rain. Stop and think for a second about that scene. Complete unknowns didn't come before the king without risking life or limb. Elijah boldly prophesies national disaster. I'm sure many folks died for much less. Note that all Elijah had to go on was God's promise of Deuteronomy 11:17. A promise that had lain on the shelf for many decades, waiting for a faither to take hold of it. God doesn't take down promises and throw them at us. We have to start moving on the promise. James confirms Elijah's knowledge of the promise by saying that Elijah "prayed earnestly" it wouldn't rain. He saw that promise somewhere.

Elijah admitted that he thought of himself as always standing in God's presence. Even so, see how great and many were the unknowns in Elijah's actions. The unknown is a key part of faithing. If there's no unknown, nothing at risk, nothing of which we can't control, there is no faithing. Simply said, "No fear, no faithing."

Elijah was always risking his very life for God and His Word. Ahab could have killed him in a minute. The brook Cherith was way out of Elijah's neighborhood; I believe he'd never been ther before. The same goes for the widow's house at Zarephath. And all those priests, and the crowd, on Mt Carmel were not exactly Elijah's supporters. If things went awry and the sacrifice wasn't accepted, Elijah was history, as they say. Making rain may not be too risky, except for Elijah's image, but it certainly is out of any human ability to control the elements. As a faither, Elijah is Right up in our faces. We can take a lesson. Elijah's stories are found in I Kings, chapters 17-19.





ACTIONS BELIEF CONFIDENCE
Prophsies no rain to Ahab Deut 11:17 ?God's track record?
Goes to Cherith God's word of food God's direct command
Goes to Zarephath God's word of a widow God's direct command
Calls down fire"law" of acceptable sacrificeDrought/brook/widow
Predicts rain(You fill in this one)(You fill in this one)


At the end of the rain episode Elijah is all but dead, and wants that. And again we learn of God's compassion and wider knowledge of our circumstances. Poor Elijah. After stopping the rain, calling fire from heaven, killing 800 Baal priests, and bringing back the rain, in spite of Ahab, Jezabel still isn't convinced and calls for Elijah's death. Elijah loses his faith and flees. So downtrodden and hopeless is Elijah, he asks to die because he's sure that he's completely alone in caring about God.

After making Elijah a nice snack, God informs him that He's got 7000 folks on His side. Elijah had made the mistake common to all believers. He was looking at the visible circumstances, which always seem to be negative. If he had been back in his faithing mode, he probably would have walked cheerfully away after he'd escaped from Jezabel, figuring that God would tell him what to do next. Better yet, I wonder how it would have played out if he'd stood up to that old Witch the way he stood up to those hundreds of Priests?




It doesn't take superhuman ability or character to work out our salvation. None of the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11 were superhuman or saints. They were folks, just like us, with the courage to act on something God had said. All the faithing done by the Heroes was accomplished doing actions that any one of us can do.

Here's a list:

I could do all those things before lunch. So could you. Well, how is it that such simple things like talking, walking and eating can save me? A very common saying tells us.

It's not what you do, it's how you do it.

Faithing can be any act from changing a tire to doing the dishes. When you notice some apparent obstacle in your path that makes your action a bit risky, you can give the risk to God by reminding Him of His stated promise to help, then go on with the action.

It's not the action, it's the application of God to the risk in the action. The action is only the vehicle for your trust, your faithing.

Know that God is there in ALL your circumstances (actions), and has given His word that He'll help you through.







I invite you to go to the Heroes of Faithing page to see some of these faithers' actions in story form. Also, you might want to drop by the section on Faith , or look at some of the pieces from my book Fifty Pieces.







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