Hebrews Lesson 10 April 21, 2005
NKJ Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."
We are not moving very quickly but we are sinking the postholes very deep. The reason is that these first four verses in Hebrews are jam packed with goodies. Every clause says something about what is coming up in Hebrews. If we lay the foundation well in understanding and unpacking these first four verses, then when we hit verse 5 everything is going to make a lot more sense. Once we hit verse 5, like a machine gun the author will quote one Old Testament verse after another.
If you were going to do Hebrews right, it would take years. You would have to take every Old Testament reference from every Psalm and go back to the original Psalm and the original context and exegete that whole Psalm to make sure that you understand that particular verse. I have to do that. I am not going to take the time to go through each and every one of these Old Testament passages in that detail. There are over 80 references to the Old Testament in Hebrews. We are not going to spend the rest of our lives studying Hebrews. But we have to nail some of this down at the very beginning.
Corrected translation of Hebrews 1
Vs 1 After God spoke in a variety of fragments and in various forms in time past to the fathers by means of the prophets
Vs 2 He has in these last days spoken to us by Son who He has appointed the heir of all things; through whom also He made the worlds
"Fragments" emphasizes the progressive nature of revelation in the Old Testament. Adam had some. Noah had some. This was written down and passed along to Abraham. Isaac and Jacob each had different fragments of revelation. Moses and Joshua and Samuel and David and all down the line through Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Joel and Amos all had different fragments. Even when the whole Old Testament was put together it was still wasn't a sufficient revelation. It was still fragmentary because the Lord had not come yet. Salvation had not been provided. The Messiah had not filled all of the Messianic prophecies. So then we have the New Testament.
Even Abraham is called a prophet in Genesis. You have Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and all the way down the line.
"By Son" emphasizes the quality of the Son. "His" should not be there. It is not in the original. It is an anartharous noun indicating quality. The emphasis throughout Hebrews is the superiority of the Son. Too many people think that is the message of Hebrews. It is not. It is the foundation of the message. The revelation of the Son surpasses everything in the Old Testament. This is about as far as we have gotten.
I want to back up a little bit before we get into the heirship issue, the inheritance issue. We need to go back to the phrase "in these last days". This phrase generates a certain amount of confusion and a certain amount of Hollywood type speculation. We have a new mini-series on television that keeps using the phrase "the end of days." What are the last days? I briefly hit this and said that "last days" was frequently used in the New Testament to refer to the entire Church Age period. But I went back to do some more work on it and ran across a great article by my friend Tommy Ice who wrote on this. I called him up and told him I thought he did a great job on the Doctrine of the Last Days. I told him I was going to steal it from him and he said to go ahead. Then we got to thinking about all the things that we steal from each other. He had been using my work on covenants for years. We have spent so much time over the years talking to each other and reading and writing different things that we don't know who did what any more. That is the beauty of the body of Christ. You encourage each other. You learn from each other. Nobody has a corner on the truth or on doctrine. Some men have different specialties in different areas where they are taught by the Holy Spirit. We have to be thankful for them and benefit from them.
The phrase last days is used for the entire Church Age period.
Doctrine of the Last Days
- In rabbinical thought there was the present age and the future age. The present age is "now". The future age was the Messianic Age. Think in terms of how the Jews thought. We call it the Millennial Age. It is the expectation of the Messiah.
- Terms related to Israel
There are a number of different Biblical expressions that refer to the end times. (There is a chart on the website.)
- Latter days: Isaiah 2:2; Deut 4:30, 31:29, Jeremiah 30:24, 48:47, Dan 2:28, 10:14
- Last days: Jeremiah 49:39, 23:20, Hosea 3:5, Acts 2:17, Is 2:2, Ezek 38:16, Micah 4:1
- Last day: John 6:39-40, 44,54, 11:24, 12:48
- Latter years: Ezek 38:8
- Time of the end: Dan 8:17
- End of time: Dan 12:4
- End time: Dan 12:9
- End of the age: Dan 12:3
All of these terms are related to Israel. What we are going to see is that in Israel's thought and in the terminology related to Israel, all of these terms relate to the end of the Jewish age and what they will go through in terms of judgments and in terms of various disturbances that give birth to the Messianic Age. So we have one set of terminology that is distinct to Israel. In Jewish and Old Testament thought, all of this turmoil that we call the Tribulation takes place at the end of the present age in the process of giving birth to the Messianic Age. We have the terminology birth pangs in numerous passages related to the Tribulation period.
- Terms related to the church
We must distinguish between the last days of the Church Age and the last days of Israel's tribulation.
- Later times: I Tim 4:1
- Last days: James 5:3, II Tim 3:1, Heb 1:2, II P 3:3
- Last times: I P 1:20
- Last time: I P 1:5, Jude 18
- Last hour: I J 2:18
All of these phrases refer to the entire Church Age. Folks ask if we are in the end times. The question is, whose end times?
- There are no necessary signs for the end of the Church Age, only trends to apostasy. These terms refer to the entire Church Age. If you are alive in the Church Age, you are in the last days. I Tim 4:1
- In the New Testament, these terms refers to the entirety of the Church Age. Heb 1:2 If you were in the 2nd century you were in the last times. If you were in the 20th century you were in the last times.
- Thus this refers biblically to the last period in God's timetable before the coming of the Messianic Age, also called the Millennial Kingdom. (The tribulation is the end of the Age of Israel.)
- In Jewish thought their last days would end with a series of judgments terminating the present age and inaugurating the Messianic Age.
NKJ Deuteronomy 4:30 "When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice
Distress refers to the tribulation. "Latter days" is when Israel finally calls on the Lord.
- We are currently living in the last days of the Church Age, but we are not in the last days of the Jewish Age. Paul was in the last days. Luther was in the last days. John Darby was in the last days. We are in the last days of the Church Age. But we are not in the last days of the Jewish Age. That is the tribulation.
Last time we got into a discussion of the next phrase. The key phrase referencing His Son with a relative clause in the next verse is "heir of all things". This is crucial topic to understanding all of Hebrews. The book of Hebrews is telling us what Jesus Christ is doing in the ascension and session of Christ and why it is important to the Church Age believer today in terms of Jesus Christ's current ministry seated (not ruling or reigning) at the right hand of God the Father interceding for the church and preparing us to rule and reign with Him in the Millennial Kingdom.
I am going to tell you why I am emphasizing that. Because one of the weird things that has happened in recent years is there came out of Dallas Seminary a new kind of dispensationalism that came to be known as progressive dispensationalism. The reason they call it progressive is this. (It is complex, but we will make it simple.) We believe that Jesus Christ came at the First Advent to establish the kingdom. He offered it. It was rejected and postponed. We are in no form of the kingdom. Progressive dispensationalism teaches that Jesus inaugurated the kingdom and it is gradually coming in down through the Church Age until it is fully here at the end of the Church Age. It is a progressive realization of the kingdom until He comes at the Second Coming. They won't reject a pre-trib rapture but it is rendered inconsequential. One of the things they do is that they say that Jesus is now (because He inaugurated the kingdom) sitting at the right hand of God on David's throne.
There are all kinds of problems with that. One of them is that if Jesus is sitting on David's throne ruling and reigning now, then it destroys the significance of Jesus Christ's current session and intercessory ministry as a high priest and what He is doing for the church. These things can be devastating in their long-term impact on how you understand the Christian life. The Christian life and what God is doing in your life in the Church Age is preparing each of us to rule and reign with Him in the coming kingdom. It is directly related to what Christ is doing seated at the right hand of God the Father and understanding the importance of this inheritance doctrine in relationship to Christ and then in relationship to us. There is special provision in Romans 8 for believers in the Church Age who become joint heirs with Christ.
Sometimes at the end of class I jack it up into high gear. People out there know what I am talking about. A long time ago I learned something that is true from me. I was reading a short book that was way over my head. I kept trying and I kept trying. I would read the first chapter. Then I would read the second chapter. I just didn't get it. Finally I said that I was just going to read it. When I got to the end and I read the conclusion I realized how the parts all fit together to reach the end conclusion. Then I went back and read the book with meaning. You have to do that sometimes with books. Sometimes you have to read something three or four times. Sometimes you have to listen to a tape three of four times or more before you finally get the details. What will happen is that I will have a ten-point doctrine and I have 10 minutes left and I am on point 5. I rapid fire through the last five points so that you can see where it is going. I try to build the point so that it is moving to a conclusion. Then I come back the next week and slow it down and go through it again. Now you know where we are going and you can get the overview. Then we go back and put all of the pieces of the puzzle together and see where we are going. This is important because when we get into the 5th verse and there is a quotation out of Ps 2:7. The understanding of the significance of what the writer is saying by quoting Ps 2:7 is directly related to understanding this heirship concept. Psalm 2:8 ties this together with heirship. All of this is crucial because it gives each of us a totally new framework so that we understand where we are going in terms of the coming heirship. Most of you were taught that being an heir of God and the joint-heir of Christ in Romans 8 were the same thing. I showed you last week why they are not. There are two different heirships. It is crucial to understand that in Hebrews 1.
"Whom" refers to the Son. The word for appoint is the aorist active indicative of the Greek word tithemi. It refers to an act in the past. It doesn't define when that act took place. There are two views for the timing of that appointment. The first view is that it took place before the creation of the world. The second view is that His appointment to this position as heir is related to the ascension and His being seated at the right hand of God the Father. That is the correct understanding of this passage. It ties directly to what we are going to study in Psalm 2. Psalm 2 is one of the most important psalms for Christology in the entire Old Testament. In Psalm 2 we understand that there is a point at the ascension where a decree was made related to the Lord Jesus Christ's heirship. God the Father says, "I will make You the heir of all things". A decree is pronounced at that point that doesn't come to fulfillment until the Second Coming. So God promises that He will defeat His enemies and make His enemies His footstool at the ascension. He says to sit down and wait. That is what is happening in the Church Age. So God is doing something else almost like an end run to get around Satan's opposition. It was something Satan never expected because the Church Age wasn't revealed in the Old Testament. So this appointment took place at the ascension
The word for heir is the Greek word kleronomos. It indicates possession; one designated as heir. We think of someone dying and bequeathing something. But God isn't going to die. The second idea is the idea of possession or ownership.
Doctrine of Inheritance as a Possession
- In the Old Testament inheritance referred to the ownership of property especially property passed down from one generation to another. That is protected in the Mosaic Law. Every tribe, every clan, and every family is given a certain amount of property and they can't get rid of it. If they have to sell it to get out of debt, when the sabbatical year rolled around everything reverted to its original owner.
- Example: The property that belonged to Zelophehad in the tribe of Manasseh went to his daughters. He didn't have a son. The Jews practiced the law of primogenitor. Since he didn't have a son, his property went to his 5 daughters.
NKJ Numbers 36:2 And they said: "The LORD commanded my lord Moses to give the land as an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel, and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters.
NKJ Numbers 36:7 "So the inheritance of the children of Israel shall not change hands from tribe to tribe, for every one of the children of Israel shall keep the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.
This is an issue if you have daughters. What if they marry outside the tribe?
NKJ Numbers 36:8 "And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel shall be the wife of one of the family of her father's tribe, so that the children of Israel each may possess the inheritance of his fathers.
The Hebrew word nahala means inheritance, heritage, or possession.
The point is that if the daughters inherit they have to marry within the tribe so that the land stays within the tribe.
- The words inheritance, property, possession, and ownership are virtually interchangeable ideas. The thing that I want to get across is that when it talks about us being heirs of Christ, it is talking about ownership. We have ownership rights within the kingdom. We have co-ruling and co-reigning rights within the kingdom. This is a special privilege. That automatically implies that there are two classes of Church Age believers in the kingdom. I am not talking about millennial saints. I don't know why people have trouble with that if they read I Corinthians 3 on the Judgment Seat of Christ. There are those who are going to receive rewards of gold, silver and precious stones. There are others who will have all of their works burned. It is all wood, hay and straw. This indicates one class of believers is rewarded for the time that they walked by the Spirit and another class loses it all. They are still saved, but there is clearly a distinction. In the Old Testament you had something similar. You had Jews who had a possession in the land. But just because you lived in the land didn't mean you possessed the land. The Levites had no possession in the land. That is why one of the tithes, the 10% offerings, went to support the Levites. They are specifically stated in the text because they had no possession in the land. The people in the land enjoyed all the blessing of the land and had certain responsibilities in the land but they are not owners of the land. You had others that are legal aliens.
- Certain categories of people lived in the land legally but did not own the land. They were sojourners, strangers, even the Levites. They were non-Jews. They couldn't own the land. Ex 12:48, Heb 11:3, Num 18:20, 24.
- Even in the millennial kingdom, not all who dwell there will possess it. Not all Church Age believers with resurrection bodies will possess it. Those who lose reward will not possess the kingdom. They will dwell in the kingdom but not possess it. There is a pernicious error floating around now that has found its way into print. It is like a Christian purgatory. It has been around for centuries. It is a long-standing position in the Protestant church but it is wrong. That is that believers who lose rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ are excluded from the kingdom and put into some sort of Christian purgatory. This is a false idea. There is nothing new under the sun. Every heresy makes its way around again. The view in the Scripture is that you can be in the land but not own or possess it. So there will be those in the Millennial Kingdom who will dwell there but not possess it.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
- Inheritance was given positionally or potentially on the basis of grace, but the realization and enjoyment of that inheritance was a reward for obedience and spiritual growth. God the Father gave you contingent blessings and rewards for time and eternity at the instant you were saved. But if you fail to walk by means of the Spirit and grow spiritually, those rewards and privileges won't be distributed to you at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The point is that inheritance is given positionally to every believer. It is up to you and your volition as to what you will do in terms of spiritual growth and application of doctrine to realize and enjoy that inheritance. That is obedience in being filled with the Spirit and walking by the Spirit.
NKJ Joshua 14:8 "Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
NKJ Joshua 14:9 "So Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.'
The point is that God gave the land to the Exodus generation positionally. It was theirs potentially. They failed to obey at Kadesh Barnea so that generation could not enter the land and realize their rewards. The same thing can happen to believers today.
- Therefore the possession of the land was conditioned on obedience. Inheritance is merited. Therefore as a possession the land could be lost. That would have happened if Zelophehad's daughters married outside the tribe.
NKJ Genesis 17:14 "And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."
He would forfeit his inheritance.
NKJ Numbers 14:24 "But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.
Remember that Caleb and Joshua were two of the 12 spies that spied out the land. They were the only two that understood that their marching orders were to go on a long-range reconnaissance patrol to analyze the enemy's fortifications and to come back and make an accurate plan of attack. It wasn't to see if they could conquer them but to understand how they were going to do it. God already said that they were going to do it. Everybody else thought that God wanted them to go to see if they could do it. If you don't interpret the Word correctly you are going to end up forfeiting rewards.
- The entire Exodus generation had become God's firstborn son. If we understand inheritance as it is illustrated for us in the Exodus event and in the wilderness wanderings and in the inheritance of the tribes in Joshua that is the basis for understanding what will happen in the kingdom. Ex 4:22-23 That entire generation with the exception of Caleb and Joshua forfeited the inheritance due the first-born. In Israel, every son receives an inheritance. But the first-born got a double inheritance. They would have received that double blessing if they had obeyed God. But because they disobeyed they forfeited the blessing of the first-born. Salvation was not lost, but they lost the enjoyment of their inheritance. Moses was not allowed to enter the land.
- Though not everyone has possession in the land in the Old Testament as an inheritance, they all have God as their possession and inheritance. Ps 119:57, 142:5
NKJ Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
NKJ Psalm 119:57 You are my portion, O LORD; I have said that I would keep Your words.
NKJ Psalm 142:5 I cried out to You, O LORD: I said, "You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living.
This tells us that there are two categories of inheritance. Get this straight. There is the inheritance for the firstborn and the inheritance for every son. You have an inheritance for everyone which is the Lord and you have special ownership in the land. From the Old Testament you get this double-tier of inheritance - a special privilege for those who trusted the Lord and carried out His commands and then you have a lower level of inheritance that is for everybody that is not tied to obedience. Now we take that and apply it to the Church Age. We see the same thing. For the Church Age Christ was given ownership of all things. That is what happens in Hebrews 1:2. He is appointed the heir of all things. The believer can share in that ownership as a joint heir of Christ only if we mature as believers. That joint heirship is conditioned or dependent on something.
NKJ Romans 8:17 and if children then heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
The problem is that this verse has been mispunctuated throughout the generations.
The verse says that if you are a child of God, then you are an heir. Then you have the next clause set off appositionally as if both terms relate to children - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. But you see there is a conditional clause after it. I thought all I had to do to be saved was to trust Christ as Savior. Do I have to trust Christ and suffer with Him? What do you mean here? Do I sit on a pillar out in the wilderness for 7 years? There is a mispunctuation.
Woman without her man is nothing.
You can do two things with this phrase.
Woman, without her man, is nothing.
Woman without her, man is nothing.
One phrase says that man is nothing and the other says that woman is nothing. It all depends on where you put a comma. There are no commas in the original Greek. So it is crucial if you relook at Romans 8:17 that we read
NKJ Romans 8:17 and if children then heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Children being heirs of God is one category. Every believer will have a certain inheritance. We are all going to have resurrection bodies. We will all participate in the rapture. There is no partial rapture. There will be no more tears, no more sorrow and no more pain. The old things will pass away. That is true for every single believer. Every believer will have perfect happiness. But there are going to be distinctions among believers some will have an inheritance as a result of the Judgment Seat of Christ. Some believers are going to have an inheritance. Some will forfeit that inheritance. That is the purpose of this conditional clause.
Secondly, you are a joint heir of Christ and you will co-rule and co-reign with Christ if you suffer with Him. We will also be glorified together. Tie this in with Revelation and the role of suffering. Hebrews 2:10 talks about the fact that Christ had to learn by the things He suffered. Jesus Christ, perfect humanity and no sin nature, still had to learn. He had to go through that learning process by being tested. He had to learn to obey God fully. He never disobeyed God. He never sinned. He advanced to spiritual maturity through testing. That is what we are talking about here. We are not talking about the suffering of Christ before the cross. We are not talking about some situation where you are being persecuted. Christians get the idea they have to do something to suffer for Jesus. Let me tell you that if you are a believer and if you are walking by means of the spirit in this world in the angelic conflict then you will come under certain categories of suffering that God designs for your spiritual growth to test the doctrine in your soul.. James 1:2-4. The result of this is that we co-rule and co-reign with Christ and co-glorify Him. All that is background to simply understanding Christ's heirship. Christ is appointed an heir. Now we understand that heirship means possession.
Doctrine of Jesus Christ's Heirship
- Heirship is rooted in the essence of His Sonship. That is why He is appointed heir. Mat 21:33 is the parable of the man who planted a vineyard. The heir comes on the scene. He has to deal with the administration of the vineyard and the servants attack him. Was he the son before he became the heir? Or was he already the heir because he was the son? He was the heir because he is already the son. It wasn't tied to what he did.
NKJ Galatians 4:1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,
So inheritance was tied up with His Sonship. He is not appointed the Son. This is where you get into some confusion. Did it happen before the creation of the world or after? He is not appointed heir in terms of a formal ceremony until the ascension.
Ps 8:5 tells us that man is placed under the authority of a man. This is why it has to happen at the ascension. Jesus in His humanity ascends and sits at the right hand of God the Father. It is at that point that God tells Him to sit at His right hand until He makes His enemies a footstool. In that process He will bring all of creation under the authority of Jesus Christ so that a man finally fulfills His destiny and rules creation. It all comes together.
Col 1:20 says that Christ reconciled all things to God. Not just you and me, all things. Why all things? Because everything was separated from God as the result of Adam's sin. When Adam sinned it didn't just separate man spiritually from God (that was the penalty of sin) but it reverberated through all of creation. Before the fall you didn't have rain, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, disease, or antagonism in the animal kingdom. When you look at Isaiah 65 this is a condition in the millennial kingdom once again. The lion will eat straw. The lion and the lamb will lie down with each other. When the wolf looks at the lamb, he doesn't see lamb chops. When the child plays outside, he can stick his hand in the cobra's den. All of that is true once again in the Millennial Kingdom. That is because Jesus Christ is restoring and reconciling all things. Reconciliation has to do with bringing all things back in line with the standard. That standard got violated and broken when Adam ate the fruit. So, all of this connects. It is like pulling a bunch of different threads together and seeing that the plan of God is complex, but it is simple. The bottom line is that Jesus is the appointed heir at the time of the ascension and all of this builds to a point that He is the ruler of all things that He reconciled at the cross in order to fulfill man's originally intended destiny.
- He will fulfill man's original destiny.
- In Heb 2:5 He puts everything under the angels now, but the Son Man will ultimately be in charge of the angels. Man will rule over the angels. In Hebrews 11:9 we understand that even Abraham understood that. He didn't write about it. Hebrews tells us that he understood it.
The next phrase is loaded with meaning. "Through whom He also made the ages." That brings us into an understanding of dispensations.
Just to close with a little anecdote, I was talking with Tommy today and he has had a great opportunity to teach at Criswell University in Dallas. It was named after W. A. Criswell who was a pastor there for 55 years. The school used to be pretty solid. It used to be dispensationalist. But Tommy taught and said that most of their professors like many other places have bought into progressive dispensationalism. So Tommy presented a case for traditional dispensationalism and none of the students had ever heard anybody present a case for traditional dispensational theology. Tommy likes to stir the pot a little so he told them that progressive dispensationalism flows out of a post-modern mindset. He had 5 or 6 people who said that they had professors who were conservative fundamentalists. How could they be post-modern? What has happened in the whole hermeneutic scheme is that everything has gone down to hermeneutics. Whether you are talking about the Supreme Court or activism it boils down to how you interpret something. Interpretation has become the big battleground today. How do you interpret what people mean? In the last 20 years was the development of complementary hermeneutics. The bottom line on it is that they started using this terminology that the pre-understanding of the person controls. We all know that if you are a Catholic you read the Bible in terms of your Catholic framework. But all of a sudden in you are being led by the Holy Spirit and applying hermeneutics, it is going to change your previous biases. But today whether you are talking about law or theology, they are moving that background into the hermeneutic spiral. Now, no one can break out of it. If you are a dispensationalist, it is because you have a pre-dispensational understanding. The reason you are covenant is because you have a pre-covenant understanding. If you are a liberal it is because you have a pre-liberal understanding.
What does that mean? There is no objective truth that can change your previous understanding of anything whether it is the law or politics or whatever. This is post-modernism. Ultimately you can't understand reality as it is. Therefore there are not absolutes in law. There are no absolutes in theology. There are no absolutes in the study of the Bible because everything is subjectivized by your pre-understanding. It incorporates almost fatalism. After Tommy explained that to the students they understood and gave them a cause to think. Nobody is out there today teaching consistent literal hermeneutics and consistent traditional dispensationalism. That is why this is so important. It is important to understand because it impacts how you view Israel.
We have to remember that as good Texans, Israel is the other lone star state.