Hebrews 13:1-18: “Outside the Gate”

Read: Hebrews 13:1-18

If one could produce a list of similar to the 10 Commandments in the New Testament, Hebrews 13 could probably suffice. In this chapter, the author of Hebrews exhorts his readers with a number of commands to follow that are in line with Christian principles:

  1. Love one another (v1).
  2. Be hospitable to strangers (v2). You very well may be entertaining angels!
  3. Remember those in prison (v3). This is probably talking about those who had been imprisoned for the same of the gospel such as Paul and Timothy.
  4. Honor marriage (v4).
  5. Be free from the love of money (v5).
  6. Remember, obey and imitate your leaders (v7, v17).
  7. Stay true to the teachings of Jesus (v8-9)
  8. Pray for the author (18-19). Apparently, he had been sent away or taken away for some reason, perhaps imprisoned.
  9. Praise God with worship and service to others (v15-16)

In the midst of these commands, the author of Hebrews makes one final doctrinal point concerning the sacrifice of bulls that are made in the tabernacle. Part of the blood and parts of the bull were used as a sin sacrifice, but the rest of the body was taken outside the camp and burned. When Jesus made his sacrifice though, the entire sacrifice was made outside the camp – his blood along with his entire body. The location is key here, because Jesus was ultimately rejected by the religious establishment of his day. Nevertheless, it was through his sacrifice that people are sanctified. In light of this sacrifice, the author encourages his readers to offer “sacrifices” of praise to God and good deeds to others. These are the sorts of sacrifices pleasing to God anyways (Micah 6:7-8).

Christian ideas and principles aren’t always accepted in every culture in every time. Nevertheless, in the same manner Jesus suffered “outside the gate”, Christians ought to suffer scorn even when their ideas aren’t popular. But what awaits Christians when they meet Jesus face to face is of much greater value than anything that being accepted by the world can offer. Knowing this can help encourage Christians as they walk through life, keeping Christ’s commands and holding fast to the promises he has given.

Lord, you weren’t popular when you came, but you endured for my sake!
Help me to do no less for your sake!

Joshua 13:8-33: God as One’s Inheritance

Read: Joshua 13:8-33

The land allocation that was deemed an “inheritance” to the peoples of Israel was not like the sort of land ownership that is commonly today. Today, land is bought and sold like any other commodity, but in the times of ancient Israel, land was supposed to be a permanent possession of the one occupying the land. The people of Israel could loan the land for a period of time, but it was to be returned in the Year of Jubilee.  The Levites, the priestly order for the people of Israel, did not receive an inheritance of land, rather God was supposed to be their inheritance.  It is tempting to over spiritualize what this is saying because were not receiving a material inheritance of land. But the reality of the matter is that having God as one’s inheritance is noting the means by which one receives his or her portion. Numbers 18:8-9 outlines how the Levites were to receive a portion. Their day-to-day task was to devote themselves to the work of the Lord and receive compensation from it when those who received a land inheritance gave their first fruits of livestock and the land to the Levites as well as gifts and other things.

The New Testament does not contain detailed instructions on how those who devote themselves to the work of the Lord as a career should be compensated, but it does say that those who do devote themselves to the work have the right to compensation (1 Corinthians 9:1-14). The Apostle Paul draws from the Old Testament Levitical system talking about how priest received compensation from their work. Paul says that those who preach the gospel should be able to make a living by doing so. He argues that those who sow spiritual things ought to be able to reap material benefit.

For those who have the right to receive a living from the gospel, there has to be those who give to make this possible. Churches for this reason receive offerings in order to compensate those who have devoted themselves to the ministry. It is the responsibility of Christians to provide for ministers and at the same time it is responsibility of those who minister to do so in a manner worthy of compensation. In either case, one should do as Paul such that he does all things for the sake of the gospel so that those who participate may partake in the gospel, which is the promise of eternal life for everyone who believes!

Lord, help be to reap and sow in all things for the sake of the gospel!