I have been singing “El Shaddai” with Amy Grant and thoughts of the various names of God are floating around in my head.
“Yes I have used various names from time to time – which had a specific reason at the time – but collectively they each reveal parts of Me and My character – but the most important is Jehovah (Yahweh), which is My covenant name for my people. Do you understand the importance of the covenant promises in the OT? My covenant is the basis for My relationship with you and my people – it is totally binding – from My point of view and all you need to do is to receive My promises. But that name Jehovah, which seems to ring out of the past – was looking forward to the name of the One who is very much in the present – Jesus – He is the completion of My covenant name and, while all my OT names may seem distant – Jesus is intimately present with you right now in 2021. My desire remains the same to call and gather a people to be My Bride – a people who want to be part of that covenant and therefore part of My Bride. They are many – enjoy being part of it and continue to play the role I have given you.
We pick up the story in Hebrews from 4:14 – 5:10. The opening vs shows that the theme or melody line is still he same as the warning in 2:2. In Chapter3 and 4 so far the writer has been giving an example of drifting away. He shows that most of the people, rescued from Israel never actually reached the Land, which was the aim of God’s ultimate covenant promises eg Exodus 34:10 ff. (ie The OT picture of Heaven). The reason? They did not hear with true receptivity and therefore the message had no benefit because there was no faith which followed and hearts were hardened and disobedience followed.
In to-day’s passage we are given God’s side of the agreement. The readers should understand that while the responsibility for holding on to the faith was each individual’s (4:14b), God has given very definite help. This help is described here as being equivalent to the role of the High Priest under the Old Covenant. This would resonate with these Jewish believers as this was the main figure in their rituals. He could minister effectively because he would have understood the frailty of the human spirit and the difficulties of resisting temptation.
Now Jesus, regarding His similar role also came and experienced the extreme temptations 5:7, however He managed to resist them in His humanity through the power released through the prayers, with tears that He prayed. Despite His peculiar relationship as Son, He still had to experience the full suffering that went with obedience in the face of temptation so that He can minister to us today. This passage does not mean he learned to become obedient step by step as He obeyed, which it may sound like, but that he learned exactly what it felt like to be obedient when tempted. (This probably mainly referring to Gethsemany).
In this way He was made complete when He had finished and ascended into heaven. Now note the summery in 5:9: He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.
We need to understand clearly what He is saying here. Obedience is NOT the means to earn eternal salvation. The Source of eternal salvation lies entirely in Jesus and His work on the cross. However we cannot sit back when we have received God’s promises of forgiveness and just “let God, from then on”. We have a very real responsibility, to hold firmly to the faith we profess. but note the point that the writer is making here. We do not have to go this path on our own. We have one who has had the full experience of being human and understands what that entails and He is available to us at all times through prayer. The sign of any true follower is general obedience. That is not perfection, but a changed life. This should not only be temporary but must persevere till we go to be with Him.
Paul speaks elsewhere of “running the race”. You don’t get to the finishing post in a race by sitting on the first milestone, watching the other runners go by. It takes exertion, training and stamina. may God bless each of you with this desire to run the race with the full resources of, not the god of Nike, but Jesus who has gone before you on the full track.