Yom Kippur

Sermon Review of the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews: The Source of Eternal Salvation

Follow the apostolic logic and discover the relationship between Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 and how the writer of the book of Hebrews derived the priesthood of Messiah. This teaching comes with a stern call to discipleship.

-D. Thomas Lancaster
Sermon Fourteen: The Source of Eternal Salvation
Originally presented on April 20, 2013
from the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews sermon series

So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,

“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You”;
just as He says also in another passage,

“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 5:5-10 (NASB)

In today’s sermon, Lancaster starts out with a bit of review of earlier in this chapter of Hebrews and ends it by “getting Evangelical.”

We return to the concept of the High Priest, who Lancaster called “the Holiest man in the world.”

Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.

Hebrews 9:6-7 (NASB)

The High Priest was the hope of the nation. Only he could enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur and offer atonement for all of Israel. Every Jewish heart turned in repentance toward the Temple, the Most Holy Place, and the High Priest that their sins would be forgiven and atoned for, and they might be justified before God.

But as you might recall from previous reviews in this series, Lancaster believes the readers of the letter to the Hebrews were Hellenistic Messianic Jews who had been denied access to the Temple, the Priesthood, and the sacrifices, by the Sadducees who administered the Temple in those days. How heartbroken and anguished must these Jewish disciples of the Master have been, believing the High Priest on Yom Kippur was not atoning for their sins among the people of Israel.

James the Just and other apostolic figures had been martyred. The Messianic disciples were cut off from the Temple, their faith in the Master was wavering. And this epistle was sent to them as consolation and exhortation, and even as prophesy of a life when the Temple would be no more and all the Jewish people would suffer exile.

They needed a priest. But where did the writer of Hebrews get the idea that Yeshua (Jesus) of the tribe of Judah and the house of David was a High Priest? Wasn’t that only for the sons of Aaron?

And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

Hebrews 5:4 (NASB)

In Judaism, no one chooses to be High Priest. Not even King David himself could perform the duties of the High Priest. Only the son’s of Aaron.

Hillel and ShammaiLancaster recalled a story from the Talmud, specifically Shabbos 31, about three converts, three pagan Gentiles who wanted to become proselytes, one on the condition that he could become the High Priest. I found a summary at the Saratoga Chabad website if you’d like to review the material.

The point is, no one, not even the anointed one of God, King Messiah, can demand to become High Priest.

However, in another priestly line, we find another High Priest of a different order, Melchizedek, King of Salem, who Abraham encounters in Genesis 14:18-20

But what does he have to do with Jesus?

Lancaster reads Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 and says that they are both Psalms about Messiah, depict God establishing Messiah as ruler in Zion, show God speaking directly to Messiah, declaring Messiah as both Son and Priest:

I will tell of the decree: Hashem said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

Psalm 2:7

Hashem has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

Psalm 110:4

If you go to the web page for this lesson, you’ll find a PDF with the translations Lancaster uses for these two Psalms.

In short, it’s Lancaster’s opinion that the writer of the Book of Hebrews uses Psalm 2 as the foundation for Psalm 110 and that these are his proof texts establishing Yeshua as a High Priest who is able to make atonement for us.

But when did this happen?

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 5:7-10 (NASB)

Messiah”In the days of His flesh.” In other words, in Christ’s earthly ministry he was established as a High Priest. How? Why?

Lancaster cites these verses as a wonderful, apostolic eyewitness about how the Master prayed. He prayed very loudly, with great supplications, with crying and tears, to God, the one able to save from death. Lancaster believes this tells of the night Jesus prayed at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56, Luke 22:39-46).

And even though Jesus was a Son, he obeyed God, even as Isaac obeyed Abraham at the Akedah by allowing himself to be bound as the sacrifice, but in this case, no angel saved the son of promise from becoming the Lamb of God on the altar.

He suffered and was made perfect. Wasn’t he perfect before? What perfected him? The refiner’s fire? He was perfected as we shall be, by the resurrection. And having been made perfect, Jesus then became the one who is the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

This is the part where Lancaster “gets Evangelical.” This is the part when he reminded me of the Head Pastor at the church I attend.

For the most part, we learn in the church that if we believe in Jesus, we will be saved from our sins, but the writer of Hebrews says Jesus is ”the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Obey Jesus by doing what?

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:17 (NASB)

First Fruits of Zion’s television series A Promise of What is to Come has a number of episodes describing what “the Kingdom of Heaven” or “the Kingdom of God” means and you can take a look at those for the details. But Jesus is calling all who hear him to repentance.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (emph. mine)

Luke 9:34 (NASB)

Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” (emph. mine)

2 Timothy 2:19 (NASB)

Repentance isn’t a one time event and it’s not mere intellectual or even emotional ascension that “Jesus is Lord”. It’s one thing to call Jesus “Master” and quite another thing entirely for him to be your Master (or my Master) by a conscious act of our (my) will, allowing him to truly rule your (my) life.

Lancaster pleaded with his audience to examine themselves and to determine if they have truly repented, if they repent daily, if they really, continually do subjugate themselves to the Master’s will, if he really is King of their (our) lives. Lancaster isn’t selling cheap grace. Lives hang in the balance. Like the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Lancaster is exhorting his flock to keep to the faith, not unsaved sinners somewhere outside the body, but living human beings and devotees of the Master within the ekklesia, the body of Messiah.

What Did I Learn?

I listened to this sermon the same day I wrote For Redemption is Not Yet Complete, a dedication to repentance, turning away from sin,  and back to God.

According to Aish.com, there are four steps to repentance or teshuvah:

  1. Regret. To regret what we have done wrong.
  2. Leaving the negativity behind. To stop dwelling on the transgression in thought and action.
  3. Verbalization. To verbally state the transgression.
  4. Resolution for the future. To be determined not to let the transgression happen again.

waitRepentance, true repentance must be humanly possible, otherwise, why would God call for repentance so much in the Bible? In my studies of the New Covenant, thanks to Lancaster’s What About the New Covenant lectures, I know that we are currently in the Old Covenant times, which means we don’t yet have the ability to automatically, naturally, easily obey the voice of our Master. And yet, as believers, we are also called to listen to the voice of our shepherd as if we were already in New Covenant times.

The Master gives us all a sober warning (Matthew 25:31-46) that we can be counted as sheep or goats, and many believe they truly have turned to our shepherd but in fact, they never really repented. And in their sins, even while calling Jesus “Master,” they were rejected (or will be rejected) and sent away.

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end…

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NASB)

All shepherds cry out to their sheep, not to wander away, not to be foolish, not to fool ourselves that we are somehow “once saved, always saved,” that our “fire insurance” is all paid up.

The Bible is replete with warnings against human failure and exhortations and encouragement to maintain our faith, even in severe adversity, as did Paul, as did James, even to the death, for the sake of our lives, for the sake of the Master, for the sake of the Kingdom.

If we can do nothing else, cling to him, cleave to the shepherd, grasp the holy garments of the High Priest, repent with tears and anguish, and beg for him to provide your atonement, that you might be reconciled to God and enter His Kingdom.

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2 thoughts on “Sermon Review of the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews: The Source of Eternal Salvation”

  1. Very nice writing, thank you.

    I want to share a tidbit that came to mind, at the near end (when shepherds are characterized), and which I ran across a day or two ago: Genesis 46:34 “…for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.” I sure thought that was odd. {Note: This has to do with the Egyptians then and whatever was the matter with shepherds in their eyes (right or wrong); it wouldn’t be about Egyptians as a rule now.}

  2. An additional detail on priests: The Levites were instituted to stand in for the firstborn son’s of Israel. Each such firstborn is accounted for more so than the rest of the children. This is a significant detail about J’shua.

    Very nice writing. Thank you.

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