A Prayer inspired by Hebrews 6:13-20

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Throughout our new series “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews,” I am writing prayers related to the text on which we are preaching each week. This prayer is drawn from Hebrews 6:13-20. The complete list of prayers inspired by Hebrews is included at the bottom of this post. You can also view my message “Anchored in Hope” based on this passage here.

Father, we admit that the present season in our world
brings us into a crisis of hope.
We falter and grow weary in the face of such trouble,
not having within us the strength to handle it all.

Amidst the crisis of hope, we turn to You,
who made this world and sustains this world.
You alone are our true hope amidst the ruins
and we look to You to renew us through Jesus Christ.

Thank You, Jesus, for being our forerunner
into the holy of holies, where we can meet with God the Father.
We are grateful that because of You we can boldly approach
the throne of grace for help in time of need.

Holy Spirit, You are the divine life in us through Christ,
and we ask You to fill the sails of our lives
with a fresh wind of hope from You
that we might live as hope-bringers in this world.

All this we pray in Your name, Triune God—
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—
the One who is our hope amidst hopelessness,
the Giver of every good and perfect gift.
Amen.


Prayers from Hebrews:

Seeing Jesus in Psalm 22: finding hope in darkness

Rembrandt - The Three Crosses

Psalm 22 is one of the most, if not the most, quoted and alluded to psalm in the New Testament. Particularly, Psalm 22 is closely connected with Jesus’ work upon the Cross, especially His exclamation of the first words of the psalm in both Mark and Matthew:

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’). (Matthew 27:46)

When Jesus’ quotes that first phrase of the psalm from the Cross, He is telling His hearers something about His mission not just from that first verse, but in connection with the entire content of Psalm 22. As Bible scholar James Luther Mays says, “Citing the first words of a text was, in the tradition of the time, a way of identifying the entire passage.”[1] Jesus helps us see that Psalm 22 describes His life, ministry, and the gospel message.

At the Cross, Jesus faced humanity’s distance from God, something we have already heard in Jesus’ cry of dereliction, quoting Psalm 22:1, as recorded in both Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46.

At the Cross, Jesus faced opponents, both human & demonic. [2] When Psalm 22:7 says, “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads,” Matthew writes of Jesus on the Cross, “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads” (Matt 27:39; cf. Mark 15:29).

When Psalm 22:15 says, “My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth,” John writes of Jesus on the cross, “so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty’” (John 19:28).

When Psalm 22:18 tells us, “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment,” Luke writes, “And they divided up his clothes by casting lots” (Luke 23:34; cf. Mark 15:24; Matt 27:35; John 19:23-24).

It is not just the crucifixion that is referenced in Psalm 22, but also the resurrection, where God delivered Jesus from death and won praise from the nations.

When Psalm 22:24 says, “[God] has not hidden his face from the afflicted one but has listened to his cry for help,” the writer to the Hebrews describes Jesus’ resurrection in this way, “[Jesus] offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard” (Hebrews 5:7).

When Psalm 22:27 speaks of the Messiah winning praise from the nations, “all the nations…will turn to the Lord,” Jesus tells His disciples, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8; cf. Matthew 28:18-20).

And when Psalm 22:31 concludes with “He [God] has done it!”, we hear echoes of Jesus’ words at the end of His ordeal upon the Cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

When we read Psalm 22 with our eyes fixed on Jesus, we find that this psalm originally addressing the Israelite king’s deliverance now provides deeper meaning for Jesus as the true Messiah.

In the midst of our challenges, even our suffering and opponents, Psalm 22 shows us that God is aware, God is at work, God is delivering, and God is bringing hope.

 


[1] James Luther Mays, Psalms (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1994), 105.

[2] See other parallels: Ps 22:6 and Matt 27:29; Ps 22:16 and Mark 15:25; John 20:25.

Eastbrook at Home – June 7, 2020

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Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home as we celebrate communion and continue our series “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews.” This weekend Gabriel Douglas will preach from Hebrews 5:11-6:12. Follow along with the entire series here. Access the downloadable bulletin, sermon notes, and sermon discussion guide here.

Don’t miss the chance to join in with a virtual small group discussing the sermon every Sunday at 11 AM. More info here.

Each Sunday beginning at 8 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access or download the service directly via Vimeo or the Eastbrook app.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in a donation to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

Eastbrook at Home – May 31, 2020

Eastbrook-At-Home-Series-GFX_16x9-Title

Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home as we celebrate Pentecost Sunday and continue our series “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews.” This weekend I will preach from Hebrews 4:14-5:10 and what it means that Jesus is the great high priest. Follow along with the entire series here. Access the downloadable bulletin, sermon notes, and sermon discussion guide here.

Don’t miss the chance to join in with a virtual small group discussing the sermon every Sunday at 11 AM. More info here.

Each Sunday beginning at 8 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts.

As we continue to tweak this experience, please let us know your experience by emailing us here. You can also access or download the service directly via Vimeo or the Eastbrook app.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in a donation to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

The Eternal Priest: Advent Devotional, Week 3

Read Psalm 110

In the book of Genesis, Abraham and Sarah leave their homeland in present-day Iraq to follow God to wherever He will lead them. Their nephew, Lot, accompanies them, eventually getting into all sorts of trouble. At one point, Lot and his family are taken captive in the midst of a military campaign waged between two groups of kings who formed alliances between cities (Genesis 14). Abraham follows after his family members, eventually successfully delivering them and many others. On his return, Abraham encounters Melchizedek, king of Salem, who pronounces a priestly blessing over Abraham and his descendants.

The episode is interesting, but seems like a side alley in the journey of Scripture, until it reappears in Psalm 110. There, the messiah is described both as a conquering king and an eternal priest, bringing together both political and religious duties before people and God. King David seemed to serve in this way, leading the people to military victory while also restoring worship with the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem.

Melchizedek never appears again until the book of Hebrews, which mentions him nine times, each time describing this unique king and priest as a precursor of Jesus. In Hebrews 5, the description of Jesus as king from Psalm 2 is immediately connected with a description of Jesus as priest from Psalm 110. Jesus is simultaneously the once-for-all sacrifice that restores us to God through the Cross and the one-of-a-kind priest who offers that sacrifice in a way that endures forever. The entire book of Hebrews is an exploration of Jesus as the eternal priest before God on behalf of all humanity. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20).

As we journey through Advent, we readily remember how Jesus was born of Mary in Bethlehem many years ago, heralded by angels as “good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). May we also remember that good news of joy arises because this infant Messiah would one day stand before God unlike anyone else, and both offer and become the atoning sacrifice for our sins. And now, “Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). He is our Eternal Priest.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT:

  1. As Romans 8:34 points out, Jesus stands before God interceding for us. What does that mean for you and your life today?
  2. The sacrifice Jesus offered as “the perfect high priest” was Himself. How does this change your perspective on Advent and what kind of response does that invoke from you in your celebrations this year?

FAMILY TALK WEEK 3

Intended for Families with Young Children

“The LORD has made a promise. He will not change his mind.
He has said, ‘You are a priest forever,
Just like Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4, NIrV)

“First, the name Melchizedek means “king of what is right.” Also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Melchizedek has no father or mother. He has no family line. His days have no beginning. His life has no end. He remains a priest forever. In this way, he is like the Son of God. . . He [Jesus] isn’t like the other high priests. They need to offer sacrifices day after day. First they bring offerings for their own sins. Then they do it for the sins of the people. But Jesus gave one sacrifice for the sins of the people. He gave it once and for all time. He did it by offering himself.” (Hebrews 7:2-3, 27 NIrV)

God is 100% super-holy. People are not.

So, back in the Old Testament, God made a way for people to come near to Him, even though they had sinned. God appointed “priests”—men who would offer people’s sacrifices on the altar, so that their sins would be forgiven. Priests represented the people before God.

In the Savior Song from Psalm 110, God is saying that Jesus is like a priest. Not like most Old Testament priests, but like one called Melchizedek (Mel-KIZ-uh-dek).

Most priests were born into the tribe of Levi.

Melchizedek was not from Levi. He lived before God’s people were divided into tribes.

Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi. He was from Judah.

Most priests were born into a family and died.

Melchizedek doesn’t have any family, or birthday, or time of death recorded in the scripture.

Jesus lives forever.

Most priests had to offer sacrifices over and over.

Jesus offered one sacrifice—HIMSELF—to pay for everyone’s sin, for all time!

This is why we don’t offer animal sacrifices at church. Jesus Himself is our priest, representing us before His holy Father, and Jesus Himself is our once-for-all-time sacrifice. He is our priest, sitting at the Father’s right hand, always praying for us (Romans 8:34).

[This is part of the Eastbrook Church 2019 Advent devotional, “Songs of the Savior.”]