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Our Sympathetic High Priest

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Our Sympathetic High Priest
Our Sympathetic High Priest
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Assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

Hebrews 2:16-18
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith

Key Principle: Jesus came to sympathize with us, so He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest.

In his letters to Timothy, Paul counseled and encouraged his young associate about many things—his health, his critics, his moral and spiritual warfare, and so on. His counsel is well summed up in these words: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David” (2 Tim. 2:8).

Like Timothy, we need to be reminded of Christ’s humanity, especially when life becomes particularly tough. Then we can pray, “Lord, You know what You endured while You were here. I’m going through it now.” We can be sure that He knows and will encourage us.

Jesus came not only to save us but also to sympathize with us. He experienced what we experience, so He could be a “merciful and faithful high priest.” After all, “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Jesus felt everything we will ever feel—and more. Most of us will never know the full degree of any given temptation because we usually succumb long before we reach it. But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation.

Ours is not a cosmic God who is powerful and holy but indifferent. He knows when we hurt, where we are weak, and how we are tempted. Jesus is not only our Savior, but our loving Lord who sympathizes with us. Rejoice in the greatness of His love for us.

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to remind you of your need of Him at all times, not just when times are tough.

For Future Study: Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 for quick recall whenever you are faced with any trial.

Satan’s Conqueror

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Satan’s Conqueror
Satan’s Conqueror
Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash

Since . . . the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Hebrews 2:14-15
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith

Key Principle: Christ came to break the power of Satan which He did by conquering death.

To be free to live with God and share in all His blessings, someone had to shatter Satan’s death grip on us. Sin is what gives Satan his powerful hold on us, but the power itself is death.

Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. He knew that all died in Adam—that death became a certain fact of life. And he knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God’s presence into Hell forever. So the Devil wants to hang on to men until they die because once they are dead, the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.

To wrest the power of death from Satan’s hand, God sent Christ into the world. If you have a greater weapon than your enemy, his weapon is useless. You can’t fight a machine gun with a bow and arrow. Satan’s weapon is death, but eternal life is God’s weapon, and with it Jesus destroyed death.

How was He able to do it? He rose again, proving He had conquered death. That’s why He said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). His resurrection provides the believer with eternal life.

Nothing terrifies people more than the fear of death. But when we receive Christ, death in reality holds no more fear for us since it simply releases us into the presence of our Lord. We can say with Paul, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Rejoice that you have placed your hand in the hand of the conqueror of death, who will lead you through death and out the other side.

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to give you a greater realization that He has conquered death and is thus able to help you live life more fully to His glory.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. How are we to live our lives, based on what we know about death?

He Who Sanctifies

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He Who Sanctifies
He Who Sanctifies
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise.’ And again, ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ And again, ‘Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.

Hebrews 2:11-13
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith

Key Principle: Our holy Christ has made us holy; thus He can now call us His brothers.

From our own perspective and experience, it is difficult to think of ourselves as holy. Sin simply is too much a part of us in this fallen world. In thought and practice we are far from holy, but in Christ we are perfectly “sanctified” or holy.

We may not always act holy, but because of our faith in Christ we are perfectly holy in God’s sight. Though a child does not always act like his father, he is still his son. We are holy in the sense that before God, the righteousness of Christ has been applied and imputed on our behalf through faith. We were made holy through His sacrifice and have become “those who are sanctified.”

“By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). We are as pure as God is pure, as righteous as Christ is righteous, and are therefore entitled to be called His brothers because we now share in His righteousness.

The Sanctifier and the sanctified now have “one Father,” and the Sanctifier “is not ashamed” to call the sanctified His brothers. What an overwhelming truth!

The practical experience of a Christian’s life in this world includes sin, but the positional reality of his or her new nature is holiness. “In Him [we] have been made complete” (Col. 2:10). Yet practically, we have a long way to go. So the overriding purpose of our lives is to become in practice what we are in position. Now that we are Christ’s brothers and God’s children, let that be all the motivation we need to live like it.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for His sanctifying work on the cross, which enables you to be holy.

For Further Study: Read Romans 1:16. Based on what God has done for you through Christ, can you wholeheartedly echo Paul’s statement?

The Author of Our Salvation

in Daily Devotions
The Author of Our Salvation
The Author of Our Salvation
Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

Hebrews 2:10
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith

Key Principle: Through His death, Christ became the perfect leader for His people.

As we look at what Christ has done, we must never forget that He was fulfilling the sovereign plan of God. The writer of Hebrews tells us it was “fitting” in God’s sight for Christ to bring “many sons to glory.” That means that everything God did through Christ was consistent with His character.

The cross was a masterpiece of God’s wisdom. It displayed His holiness in His hatred of sin. It was consistent with His power—Christ endured in a few hours what it would take an eternity to expend on sinners (and even then, sinners couldn’t atone for their own evil). The cross also displayed God’s love for mankind. And Christ’s death on the cross agreed with God’s grace because it was substitutionary.

To bring “many sons to glory,” God had “to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” The Greek word translated “author” (arche-gos) means “pioneer” or “leader.” It was commonly used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow. The arche-gos never stood at the rear giving orders; he was always out front blazing the trail. As the supreme arche-gos, Christ has gone before us—He is our trailblazer.

Life seems most anxious and dreadful when death is near. That’s a trail we cannot travel by ourselves. But the author of our salvation says, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). Only the perfect pioneer could lead us out of the domain of death and into the presence of the Father. All you have to do is put your hand in His nail-scarred hand and He will lead you from one side of death to the other. Then you can say with the Apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for all His attributes—specifically for each one displayed in Christ’s death for you.

For Further Study: Read Hebrews 5:8-9 and 1 Peter 2:19-25. How do those verses expand on Hebrews 2:10?

The Humiliation of Christ

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The Humiliation of Christ
The Humiliation of Christ
Photo by Alicia Quan on Unsplash

We . . . see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for every one.

Hebrews 2:9
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith

Key Principle: In serving as our substitute, Christ humbled Himself supremely.

Jesus’ death on the cross was not easy or costless; it was a horrific death. It was not calm and peaceful; it was accompanied by outward torture and inward agony. The death He tasted was the curse of sin. In a few hours on that cross, He suffered the total agony of every soul for all eternity. He was guilty of no sin, and yet He chose to suffer the weight of all sins committed for all time.

God sent His Son, and His Son willingly came to die to redeem mankind. Paul writes, “When the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law” (Gal. 4:4-5).

Only by tasting death as a man could He free mankind from death. Historically, kings have had someone taste their food and drink before they consumed it. Christ drained to the dregs the cup of poison rightfully meant for us before it could ever touch our lips. He substituted His death for ours, releasing us from the deadness of sin and bringing us into life with God.

What moved Jesus to suffer for us? Grace. What we did not deserve (salvation) we received, and what we did deserve (death) we did not receive. Unbounded love prompted Christ’s gracious work on our behalf: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

After He accomplished the work of His substitutionary death, He was “crowned with glory and honor” and was exalted to the right hand of the Father, where He will reign forever and ever. He is our great substitute, whom we can thank and praise throughout all eternity.

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to give you opportunities to communicate the gospel to people you haven’t shared Christ with before, even if you might suffer in the process.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 52:13–53:12 to understand what the God of the universe had to endure at the hands of men.

Born to Die

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Born to Die
Born to Die
Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič – @specialdaddy on Unsplash

We . . . see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for every one.

Hebrews 2:9
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith

Key Principle: Jesus Christ was born to die as our substitute.

At this time of year, it is difficult for us to see Jesus other than as a little baby. We, of course, know why He came, but we usually focus on His death on the cross at another time of year. But we must never forget that He came to die.

Those soft baby hands fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb were made to have two great nails hammered through them. Those little chubby feet were made to walk up a hill and be nailed to a cross. That sacred head was made to wear a crown of thorns. His tender body wrapped in swaddling clothes would be pierced by a spear to reveal a broken heart. The death of Christ was no accident; He was born to die.

Jesus died to remove the curse so we could regain our dominion. But to do that, He had to come as a man. Even though in doing so He temporarily became lower than the angels, He accomplished something no angel could: our restoration.

The first and foremost reason for the Incarnation is that Christ might taste death on behalf of every man and woman. He came to die in our place—to be our substitute. God had two options: Either let us die and pay for our own sins, or allow a substitute to take our punishment and die in our place. He mercifully chose the latter.
It is vital that we affirm the fact of Christ’s substitutionary death because modern liberal theology claims Jesus died merely as an example, like a martyr dying for some cause. But in reality He died as a substitute for you and me. As a result He freed us to live for and with God. Rejoice that the Creator of angels, the Lord of hosts, was willing to become lower than His creation for our sakes.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for His willingness to humble Himself to become a man in order to save you.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 22, and note which verses prophesy Jesus’ suffering on the cross.

Recovering Man’s Destiny

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Recovering Man’s Destiny
Recovering Man’s Destiny
Photo by Bobbie Wallace on Unsplash

We . . . see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for every one.

Hebrews 2:9
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith

Key Principle: Jesus Christ is the only One who could recover man’s destiny.

The ultimate curse of our lost destiny is death. God warned Adam that if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die (Gen. 2:17). In the restored Kingdom we will be elevated again over a redeemed earth. But the only way we could ever reign again as kings was to have the curse of sin removed, and the only way to remove it was to pay the penalty of sin, which is death (Rom. 6:23).

There’s just one problem: how can we reign if we are dead? We need to be raised from the dead, but we certainly can’t do that ourselves. That’s why God sent Jesus Christ.

To accomplish this great work for us, Jesus had to become a man. He Himself had to be made “for a little while lower than the angels.” To regain man’s dominion, He had to taste death for every man. Christ came to die for us because in His dying He could conquer death.

But He was also raised from the dead: “Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him” (Rom. 6:9). How does that help us? “If we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (v. 5).

The moment you put your faith in Christ, you were identified with Him. You died with Him on the cross, you were resurrected, and you began to walk in newness of life. You now are a joint-heir with Christ in His eternal Kingdom.

Christ tasted death for you and me so we could recover our lost destiny. Celebrate that glorious truth as you celebrate His birth today.

Suggestions for Prayer: Before you do another thing today, praise your Heavenly Father for His wonderful plan of salvation.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 2:2-4 and 11:6-9, noting the character of our future Kingdom.

The Restriction of Man’s Destiny

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The Restriction of Man’s Destiny
The Restriction of Man’s Destiny
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But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.

Hebrews 2:8
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith

Key Principle: God’s original destiny for man was restricted by man’s sin.

God gave man dominion over all the earth, and the earth supplied his every need. All he had to do was accept and enjoy the earth as provided for him. But Adam sinned, and Satan usurped the crown. A new chain of command was born; the earth now rules man.

To know how true that is, all you need to do is look at the amount of effort expended on restoring the ecological balance of the earth. Environmentalism is a popular watchword of our day. Yet with all our modern technology, we are still unable to gain control over the earth.

Look what happened once Adam sinned. No longer could man easily harvest what the earth provided; now he had to toil by the sweat of his brow (Gen. 3:18). Women would experience pain in childbirth (3:16). Murder soon followed in Adam’s family. God had to destroy virtually all mankind in the Flood because they had become so debauched.

Much of the animal kingdom now lives in fear of man and cannot be tamed. Where once the earth produced good things naturally and abundantly, now it produces thorns, weeds, and other harmful things. Extremes of heat and cold, poisonous plants and reptiles, earthquakes, typhoons, floods, hurricanes, and disease were all products of the Fall. Man was no longer a king but a slave—a dying creature fighting a losing battle with a dying earth.

Amazingly, the earth is aware of its condition: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it” (Rom. 8:20). Now it eagerly awaits the day when the sons of God—believers—will be manifest in the Kingdom, for then it will be liberated from the bondage of corruption (vv. 19, 21-22).

There is coming a day, in the wonderful plan of God, when man will receive once again the dominion that he lost. May our Lord hasten its coming!

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that He will one day redeem the earth from its subjection to the curse.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 60:21, 65:25, 2 Peter 3:13, and Revelation 21:27. What will characterize the new earth?

The Revelation of Man’s Destiny

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The Revelation of Man’s Destiny
The Revelation of Man’s Destiny
Photo by Paweł Furman on Unsplash

He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, ‘What is man, that Thou rememberest him? Or the son of man, that Thou art concerned about him? Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him.

Hebrews 2:5-8
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith

Key Principle: Man’s original intended destiny was to be king of the earth.

When we look at the vast, seemingly endless universe and then think about the little dot we call Earth in the middle of it all, we cannot help but wonder, “What is man? What right do we have to be on God’s mind so much?”

David had an answer: “Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and . . . appointed him over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet” (Heb. 2:6-8). The writer of Hebrews was quoting one of the Psalms (8:4-6) to show that God made man to be king.

David undoubtedly penned his psalm based on what God said in the beginning: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gen. 1:26). God’s original design for man in his innocence was to be king over an undefiled earth.

When God made Adam, who was pure and innocent, He gave him honor and glory. God crowned man king of the earth: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet” (Heb. 2:8). One day we again will be given the right to rule the earth, and all God’s creation will be put under our feet.

Suggestions for Prayer: Read Psalm 8, and offer it as your own praise to God.

For Further Study: Read Daniel 7:18, 27, and note the extent of the saints’ ultimate rule.

Confirmation from God

in Daily Devotions
Confirmation from God
Confirmation from God
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How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

Hebrews 2:3-4
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith

Key Principle: God confirmed the truth of the gospel preached throughChrist with many miracles.

When Jesus preached the gospel, He performed miracles that made what He said believable. He said, “Though you do not believe Me, believe the works” (John 10:38). Jesus claimed to be from God, then made it obvious He really was from God.

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “No one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Jesus confirmed His ministry by His own miracles. Peter reiterated that fact on the day of Pentecost: “Jesus the Nazarene [was] a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs” (Acts 2:22).

God also gave these same confirming signs to His second generation of preachers—the apostles, so no one could dispute the validity of their message. What the apostles said was not their own opinion; it was divine truth substantiated by signs, wonders, and miracles.

Signs, wonders, and miracles are synonyms referring to all the supernatural things the apostles did. But the apostles also confirmed the Word with “gifts of the Holy Spirit.” That’s a reference to the temporary sign gifts described in Scripture, such as tongues and healings, not to the permanent edifying gifts given to the church for all time.

Today God attests to the gospel with the miracle of His written Word. Let it not be said that you neglected Jesus Christ. History confirms that hours of neglect cost Napoleon Waterloo. Neglecting Christ’s salvation will cost you eternal blessing and joy and will bring you damnation. Don’t allow yourself to drift past God’s grace.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His Word and that through it you have all the truth you need to communicate the gospel.

For Further Study: Read Acts 5–19, and list all the miracles performed by the apostles to confirm the gospel.

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