Jesus had accomplished a powerful salvation, well beyond anything anyone had expected. What was unthinkable before was now to be seen as becoming and fitting. For those who believed in Jesus the world could never look the same again; all must be viewed by the way of the cross.
The New and Living Way | Episode 5 | Hebrews 2:5-10
For not unto angels did he subject the world to come, whereof we speak. But one hath somewhere testified, saying,
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honor, And didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet.
For in that he subjected all things unto him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we see not yet all things subjected to him. But we behold him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for every man.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
The Hebrews author brings home a forceful, powerful exhortation: since Jesus is the Son of God, greater than the angels, and God Himself, and if the consequences of a Law delivered by lesser beings remained firm, how much more then will Christians escape if they neglect such a great salvation in Jesus?
The New and Living Way | Episode 4 | Hebrews 2:1-4
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them. For if the word spoken through angels proved stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard; God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will.
The Hebrews author provides a litany of Scriptural quotations to show the superiority of the Son over the angels. Yet what else is he accomplishing through what he quotes and how?
The New and Living Way | Episode 3 | Hebrews 1:4-14
Having become by so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they.
For unto which of the angels said he at any time, "Thou art my Son, This day have I begotten thee?"
and again, "I will be to him a Father, And he shall be to me a Son?"
And when he again bringeth in the firstborn into the world he saith, "And let all the angels of God worship him."
And of the angels he saith, "Who maketh his angels winds, And his ministers a flame of fire:"
but of the Son he saith, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee With the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
And, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of thy hands: They shall perish; but thou continuest: And they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a mantle shalt thou roll them up, As a garment, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, And thy years shall not fail."
But of which of the angels hath he said at any time, "Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet?"
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?
The Hebrews sermon-letter begins with a strong exordium, a powerful and beautifully composed "thesis statement" for the whole message. God is speaking in Jesus; in Jesus we find the character, glory, and power of God, and thus God Himself.
The New and Living Way | Episode 2 | Hebrews 1:1-4
God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become by so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they.
A Jewish Christian in the first century provided a word of exhortation to his fellow Christians to hold firm to their faith in Jesus according to His new and living Way; we call the record of his sermon-letter the Letter to the Hebrews.
As we begin exploring Hebrews we do well to consider the text in its context. Of all the books of the New Testament Hebrews is the most challenging in this regard. Today we consider what we can know about the context of the letter and many of the various theories regarding authorship, audience, destination, and purpose.
The New and Living Way | Episode 1
The abominations and the judgment were one thing. Now Ezekiel saw something truly astonishing and horrifying: the glory of YHWH departed from Jerusalem. He would be a Sanctuary for His people in exile, but all hope for Jerusalem was gone.
And You Shall Know That I Am YHWH | Episode 10 | Ezekiel 10:15-11:25
Ezekiel had been shown the abominations of Jerusalem. Now he would see God's judgment upon it. He would despair of hope for any remnant of Israel.
And You Shall Know That I Am YHWH | Episode 9 | Ezekiel 9:1-10:14
Ezekiel is transported in a vision to see Jerusalem. He would see great abominations. All who heard would understand why YHWH had no other remedy than judgment in His wrath.
And You Shall Know That I Am YHWH | Episode 8 | Ezekiel 8:1-18
And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord YHWH fell there upon me. Then I beheld, and, lo, a likeness as the appearance of fire; from the appearance of his loins and downward, fire; and from his loins and upward, as the appearance of brightness, as it were glowing metal. And he put forth the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the gate of the inner court that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the appearance that I saw in the plain.
Then said he unto me, "Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north."
So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold, northward of the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
And he said unto me, "Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel do commit here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? But thou shalt again see yet other great abominations."
And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold, a hole in the wall.
Then said he unto me, "Son of man, dig now in the wall:"
and when I had digged in the wall, behold, a door.
And he said unto me, "Go in, and see the wicked abominations that they do here."
So I went in and saw; and behold, every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel; and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, every man with his censer in his hand; and the odor of the cloud of incense went up.
Then said he unto me, "Son of man, hast thou seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in his chambers of imagery? for they say, 'YHWH seeth us not; YHWH hath forsaken the land.'"
He said also unto me, "Thou shalt again see yet other great abominations which they do."
Then he brought me to the door of the gate of YHWH's house which was toward the north; and behold, there sat the women weeping for Tammuz.
Then said he unto me, "Hast thou seen this, O son of man? thou shalt again see yet greater abominations than these."
And he brought me into the inner court of YHWH's house; and behold, at the door of the temple of YHWH, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of Jehovah, and their faces toward the east; and they were worshipping the sun toward the east.
Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, "O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have turned again to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in wrath; mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them."
In the midst of the sign-acts Ezekiel would indict the Israelites for their transgressions. Their idolatry would come at a heavy cost. They had trusted in these gods; they would learn far too late how they would not deliver in the hour of distress.
And You Shall Know That I Am YHWH | Episode 7 | Ezekiel 6:1-7:27
Ezekiel was called upon to endure a most harrowing shave. But it would be nothing like the terror and devastation which he prophesied would come upon his people in Jerusalem.
And You Shall Know That I Am YHWH | Episode 6 | Ezekiel 5:1-17
"And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp sword; as a barber's razor shalt thou take it unto thee, and shalt cause it to pass upon thy head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair. A third part shalt thou burn in the fire in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled; and thou shalt take a third part, and smite with the sword round about it; and a third part thou shalt scatter to the wind, and I will draw out a sword after them. And thou shalt take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. And of these again shalt thou take, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; therefrom shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel."
Thus saith the Lord YHWH: "This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations, and countries are round about her. And she hath rebelled against mine ordinances in doing wickedness more than the nations, and against my statutes more than the countries that are round about her; for they have rejected mine ordinances, and as for my statutes, they have not walked in them."
Therefore thus saith the Lord YHWH: "Because ye are turbulent more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept mine ordinances, neither have done after the ordinances of the nations that are round about you;"
therefore thus saith the Lord YHWH: "Behold, I, even I, am against thee; and I will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations. Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments on thee; and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter unto all the winds.
"Wherefore, as I live," saith the Lord YHWH, "surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, and I also will have no pity. A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee; and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and a third part I will scatter unto all the winds, and will draw out a sword after them. Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my wrath toward them to rest, and I shall be comforted; and they shall know that I, YHWH, have spoken in my zeal, when I have accomplished my wrath upon them. Moreover I will make thee a desolation and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by. So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment, unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments on thee in anger and in wrath, and in wrathful rebukes; (I, YHWH, have spoken it); when I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, that are for destruction, which I will send to destroy you. And I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread; and I will send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee: I, YHWH, have spoken it."
YHWH began speaking to Israel through Ezekiel through sign-acts. They would not like the fate of Jerusalem he would vividly enact.
And You Shall Know That I Am YHWH | Episode 5 | Ezekiel 4:1-17
"Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and portray upon it a city, even Jerusalem: and lay siege against it, and build forts against it, and cast up a mound against it; set camps also against it, and plant battering rams against it round about. And take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face toward it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel. Moreover lie thou upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it; according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it, thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have appointed the years of their iniquity to be unto thee a number of days, even three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And again, when thou hast accomplished these, thou shalt lie on thy right side, and shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah: forty days, each day for a year, have I appointed it unto thee. And thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, with thine arm uncovered; and thou shalt prophesy against it. And, behold, I lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to the other, till thou hast accomplished the days of thy siege.
Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof; according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, even three hundred and ninety days, shalt thou eat thereof. And thy food which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. And thou shalt drink water by measure, the sixth part of a hin: from time to time shalt thou drink. And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it in their sight with dung that cometh out of man."
And YHWH said, "Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their bread unclean, among the nations whither I will drive them." Then said "I, Ah Lord YHWH! behold, my soul hath not been polluted; for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn of beasts; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth."
Then he said unto me, "See, I have given thee cow's dung for man's dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread thereon. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with fearfulness; and they shall drink water by measure, and in dismay: that they may want bread and water, and be dismayed one with another, and pine away in their iniquity."
Ezekiel was appointed as a watchman to warn Israel in exile regarding the coming of the Day of YHWH. The Word of YHWH would be the only words he could speak for years. Thus Ezekiel began to represent a sign-act before all Israel in exile regarding their hardness of heart.
And You Shall Know That I Am YHWH | Episode 4 | Ezekiel 3:16-27
And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of YHWH came unto me, saying, "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thy hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and thou hast delivered thy soul."
And the hand of YHWH was there upon me; and he said unto me, "Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee."
Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of YHWH stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face.
Then the Spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet; and he spake with me, and said unto me, "Go, shut thyself within thy house. But thou, son of man, behold, they shall lay bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: and I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover; for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, 'Thus saith the Lord YHWH': He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house."
The glory of YHWH appeared to Ezekiel in Babylon. YHWH had not abandoned His people, but they would not like what He had to tell them. YHWH was calling Ezekiel to go and speak to them. It would not be easy.
And You Shall Know That I Am YHWH | Episode 3 | Ezekiel 2:1-3:15
And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak with thee. And the Spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet; and I heard him that spake unto me.
And he said unto me, "Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to nations that are rebellious, which have rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me even unto this very day. And the children are impudent and stiffhearted: I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, 'Thus saith the Lord YHWH.' And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house), yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house. And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear; for they are most rebellious.
But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that which I give thee. And when I looked, behold, a hand was put forth unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; and he spread it before me: and it was written within and without; and there were written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe."
And he said unto me, "Son of man, eat that which thou findest; eat this roll, and go, speak unto the house of Israel."
So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat the roll.
And he said unto me, "Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee.
Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.
"And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of a hard language, but to the house of Israel; not to many peoples of a strange speech and of a hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, if I sent thee to them, they would hearken unto thee. But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are of a hard forehead and of a stiff heart. Behold, I have made thy face hard against their faces, and thy forehead hard against their foreheads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thy heart, and hear with thine ears. And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, 'Thus saith the Lord YHWH'; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.
Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me the voice of a great rushing, saying, "Blessed be the glory of YHWH from his place."
And I heard the noise of the wings of the living creatures as they touched one another, and the noise of the wheels beside them, even the noise of a great rushing.
So the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away; and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; and the hand of YHWH was strong upon me. Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, that dwelt by the river Chebar, and to where they dwelt; and I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days.
Ezekiel saw a vision of the likeness of the glory of YHWH at the Chebar canal in Babylon. Much is made of a lot of the detail of the vision; that it was seen, and in Babylon, is of the greatest importance.
And You Shall Know That I am YHWH | Episode 2 | Ezekiel 1:4-28
Some of Judah had gone into exile in 597 BCE; some remained in Jerusalem. In 593 YHWH called Ezekiel the priest in Babylon to speak to His people in exile.
Join us as we begin our exploration into the book of Ezekiel.
And You Shall Know That I Am YHWH | Episode 1 | Ezekiel 1:1-3
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity, the word of YHWH came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of YHWH was there upon him.