Hebrews 1-6 The Message Bible

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God Has Spoken by His Son

1 1  Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. 2  Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. 3  This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God's nature. He holds everything together by what he says - powerful words! The Son Is Higher than Angels

4  far higher than any angel in rank and rule.

The Son Superior to Angels

5  Did God ever say to an angel, "You're my Son; today I celebrate you"? Or, "I'm his Father, he's my Son"? 6  When he presents his honored Son to the world, he says, "All angels must worship him." 7  Regarding angels he says, The messengers are winds, the servants are tongues of fire. 8  But he says to the Son, You're God, and on the throne for good; your rule makes everything right. 9  You love it when things are right; you hate it when things are wrong. That is why God, your God, poured fragrant oil on your head, Marking you out as king, far above your dear companions. 10  And again to the Son, You, Master, started it all, laid earth's foundations, then crafted the stars in the sky. 11  Earth and sky will wear out, but not you; they become threadbare like an old coat; 12  You'll fold them up like a worn-out cloak, and lay them away on the shelf. But you'll stay the same, year after year; you'll never fade, you'll never wear out. 13  And did he ever say anything like this to an angel? Sit alongside me here on my throne Until I make your enemies a stool for your feet. 14  Isn't it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation?

So Great Salvation

2 1  It's crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we've heard so that we don't drift off. 2  If the old message delivered by the angels was valid and nobody got away with anything, 3  do you think we can risk neglecting this latest message, this magnificent salvation? First of all, it was delivered in person by the Master, then accurately passed on to us by those who heard it from him. 4  All the while God was validating it with gifts through the Holy Spirit, all sorts of signs and miracles, as he saw fit.

The Captain of Salvation Made Perfect through Suffering

5  God didn't put angels in charge of this business of salvation that we're dealing with here. 6  It says in Scripture, What is man and woman that you bother with them; why take a second look their way? 7  You made them not quite as high as angels, bright with Eden's dawn light; 8  Then you put them in charge of your entire handcrafted world. 9  What we do see is Jesus, made "not quite as high as angels," and then, through the experience of death, crowned so much higher than any angel, with a glory "bright with Eden's dawn light." In that death, by God's grace, he fully experienced death in every person's place.

10  It makes good sense that the God who got everything started and keeps everything going now completes the work by making the Salvation Pioneer perfect through suffering as he leads all these people to glory. 11  Since the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn't hesitate to treat them as family, 12  Saying, I'll tell my good friends, my brothers and sisters, all I know about you; I'll join them in worship and praise to you. 13  Again, he puts himself in the same family circle when he says, Even I live by placing my trust in God. And yet again, I'm here with the children God gave me.

14  Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it's logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil's hold on death 15  and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death. 16  It's obvious, of course, that he didn't go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. 17  That's why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people's sins, 18  he would have already experienced it all himself - all the pain, all the testing - and would be able to help where help was needed.

Christ Superior to Moses

3 1  So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He's the centerpiece of everything we believe, 2  faithful in everything God gave him to do. Moses was also faithful, 3  but Jesus gets far more honor. A builder is more valuable than a building any day. 4  Every house has a builder, but the Builder behind them all is God. 5  Moses did a good job in God's house, but it was all servant work, getting things ready for what was to come. 6  Christ as Son is in charge of the house.

A Rest for the People of God

7  That's why the Holy Spirit says, Today, please listen; 8  don't turn a deaf ear as in "the bitter uprising," that time of wilderness testing! 9  Even though they watched me at work for forty years, your ancestors refused to let me do it my way; over and over they tried my patience. 10  And I was provoked, oh, so provoked! I said, "They'll never keep their minds on God; they refuse to walk down my road." 11  Exasperated, I vowed, "They'll never get where they're going, never be able to sit down and rest." 12  So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. 13  For as long as it's still God's Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes. 14  If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we're in this with Christ for the long haul. 15  These words keep ringing in our ears: Today, please listen; don't turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising. 16  For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren't they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? 17  And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn't it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? 18  And when he swore that they'd never get where they were going, wasn't he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? 19  They never got there because they never listened, never believed.

4 1  For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God's goal for us, we need to be careful that we're not disqualified. 2  We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn't do them a bit of good because they didn't receive the promises with faith. 3  If we believe, though, we'll experience that state of resting. But not if we don't have faith. Remember that God said, Exasperated, I vowed, "They'll never get where they're going, never be able to sit down and rest." 4  Somewhere it's written, "God rested the seventh day, having completed his work," 5  but in this other text he says, "They'll never be able to sit down and rest." 6  So this promise has not yet been fulfilled. Those earlier ones never did get to the place of rest because they were disobedient. 7  God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David's psalm, centuries later than the original invitation: Today, please listen, don't turn a deaf ear . . . 8  And so this is still a live promise. It wasn't canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn't keep renewing the appointment for "today." 9  The promise of "arrival" and "rest" is still there for God's people. 10  God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we'll surely rest with God.

11  So let's keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience. 12  God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. 13  Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it - no matter what. The High Priest Who Cried Out in Pain

Jesus the Great High Priest

14  Now that we know what we have - Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God - let's not let it slip through our fingers. 15  We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all - all but the sin. 16  So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

5 1  Every high priest selected to represent men and women before God and offer sacrifices for their sins 2  should be able to deal gently with their failings, since he knows what it's like from his own experience. 3  But that also means that he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as the people's. 4  No one elects himself to this honored position. He's called to it by God, as Aaron was. 5  Neither did Christ presume to set himself up as high priest, but was set apart by the One who said to him, "You're my Son; today I celebrate you!" 6  In another place God declares, "You're a priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek." 7  While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him. 8  Though he was God's Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do. 9  Then, having arrived at the full stature of his maturity and having been announced by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek,

10  he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him.

The Danger of Slothfulness and Apostasy

11  I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you've picked up this bad habit of not listening. 12  By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one - baby's milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! 13  Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God's ways; 14  solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.

6 1  So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on "salvation by self-help" and turning in trust toward God; 2  baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. 3  God helping us, we'll stay true to all that. But there's so much more. Let's get on with it! 4  Once people have seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit, 5  once they've personally experienced the sheer goodness of God's Word and the powers breaking in on us - 6  if then they turn their backs on it, washing their hands of the whole thing, well, they can't start over as if nothing happened. That's impossible. Why, they've re-crucified Jesus! They've repudiated him in public! 7  Parched ground that soaks up the rain and then produces an abundance of carrots and corn for its gardener gets God's "Well done!" 8  But if it produces weeds and thistles, it's more likely to get cussed out. Fields like that are burned, not harvested.

9  I'm sure that won't happen to you, friends. I have better things in mind for you - salvation things! 10  God doesn't miss anything. He knows perfectly well all the love you've shown him by helping needy Christians, and that you keep at it. 11  And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish. 12  Don't drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them. 13  When God made his promise to Abraham, he backed it to the hilt, putting his own reputation on the line. 14  He said, "I promise that I'll bless you with everything I have - bless and bless and bless!" 15  Abraham stuck it out and got everything that had been promised to him. 16  When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they'll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. 17  When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee - 18  God can't break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. 19  It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God 20  where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.

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