CHRISTIANITY AND JUDAISM CONTRASTED - AN EXPOSITION OF HEBREWS 6

Foreword
The writer feels the great importance today of the truth given of God in the epistle to the Hebrews. for it is the voice of a glorified Christ speaking from heaven. Christianity did not begin with the BIRTH of Christ. When He came as the promised Messiah to Israel they rejected and crucified Him, but NOW since He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, He speaks from thence, telling of the precious fruit of the work of the cross wherein God has been so fully glorified. This is Christianity. The types and shadows of Judaism have now been fulfilled, and the believer is brought into those heavenly blessings spoken of in this epistle as the things that are "better." (Chapter 10:34;11:16.)
Although Christendom does not go on with the sacrifices of Judaism, it does follow much of the ritual connected with it. It is important to see that God has set aside THE WHOLE SYSTEM, and that Christianity is an entirely new thing. Just as it was hard for Hebrew believers to leave Judaism behind, so it is hard for Christians who have been brought up under the mixture of Judaism and Christianity to see that they are going on with something that God has called them to "leave." He has replaced it with something better.
May the Lord be pleased to use this little booklet to bring many of His own into the light and liberty of Christianity with all its blessedness, for His own glory and praise.
Christianity and Judaism Contrasted
"Wherefore, leaving the word of the beginning of the Christ, let us go on to what belongs to full growth, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God, of the doctrine of washings, and of imposition of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment; and this will we do if God permit." Heb. 6:1-41Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3And this will we do, if God permit. 4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (Hebrews 6:1‑4).
We have quoted these verses as in the J.N.D. New Translation so that the force of them may be more clearly seen. They are very important, though much misunderstood, and yet the understanding of this passage gives one to see what Christianity really is, in contrast with Judaism. To know this, is to go on to perfection, or full growth. This is not perfection in the flesh, as some might think, but it is to lay hold of the perfect work accomplished by the perfect Son of God which gives the believer a perfect' standing before God. Apart from the understanding of this, even true children of God remain "babes." (Heb. 5:1313For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. (Hebrews 5:13).) May the Lord make it good in power to His own, for Christendom around us today is very largely a mixture of Judaism and Christianity.
The epistle to the Hebrews is therefore very instructive to the Christian today. There are two words which characterize the ministry of the Spirit in this epistle, and it is helpful to note their importance. The first is "contrast." Judaism is contrasted with Christianity. Now Christianity is not an extension of Judaism, nor is it an improvement upon it. It is an entirely new thing. This brings us to the other word which is, "better." Christianity is that "better thing" which is the precious fruit of the cross.
The first chapter of the epistle presents the glory of the Son of God, preeminent above all things created, so that the angels worship Him. The second chapter presents the glory of His person as our great High Priest to sympathize, succor, and strengthen us for wilderness life here. In chapter three we are exhorted to "hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." Verse 6. This is because of the perfection of the work Christ did upon the cross, and the faithfulness of His service as our great High Priest to carry us through all wilderness difficulties, and to bring us into our heavenly Canaan. His priesthood is after the "order of Melchisedec" for it does not pass on to another. It will not cease until the whole company of the redeemed have entered into their rest.
The first principles of the oracles of God were types and shadows of what was to come. To cling to them now was to deny the precious glorious fact of accomplished redemption. These Hebrews, who had professed to receive Christ, had in doing so, owned that He had wrought the work of redemption, but they had not entered, by faith, into the full blessedness of that work with its precious fruit. They were still "babes." Chapter six was written to give them positive instruction to "leave" what had now been set aside. The accomplished work of atonement upon the cross had fulfilled the types and shadows of Judaism. Apart from the understanding of this, one cannot rightly divide the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:1515Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15).)
Chapter six begins, "Wherefore, leaving the word of the beginning of the Christ." This refers to the beginning of Christ's ministry on earth. Let us turn to Matt. 10:1-151And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alpheus, and Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus; 4Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. 5These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. 9Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, 10Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. 11And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. 12And when ye come into an house, salute it. 13And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Matthew 10:1‑15). When Christ sent out His apostles He told them not to go into the way of the Gentiles, nor enter into any city of the Samaritans, and as they went they were to preach the gospel of the kingdom. Moreover they were to shake off the dust of their feet against those who refused their testimony. This was the final call to Israel, and the consequence of rejecting it was to be judgment. This commission we do not follow NOW—we are to "leave" it. It will, however, be resumed after the Church has been raptured to glory, but meanwhile we preach the gospel of the grace of God, not the coming of the kingdom. The kingdom will be established in power when all evil is removed. (Matt. 13:41,4241The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:41‑42).) The Christian's hope is the coming of the Lord to receive us unto Himself in heaven, before all this takes place. Now turn also to Matt. 23:1-31Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. (Matthew 23:1‑3). Here we find Christ telling His disciples, "The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not." These words of the beginning of Christ we are to "leave" now. The temple with its ritual—circumcision, and the observing of days according to the law of Moses, are no longer the mind of the Sprit for us. He now tells of a GLORIFIED Christ, showing us that these things were but types and shadows of the "better thing."
The epistle to the Hebrews does not bring before us the truth of the "one body" as we have in Paul's epistle to the Ephesians. (Chapter 3:1-8.) Nor does it give us the truth of our possessing eternal life as children of God, as the apostle John gives us. What is especially the subject of this epistle is the glory of the person of Christ, the excellence of His work upon the cross, and the perfection of the believer's standing as the result of it. This is the perfection or full growth of which the apostle speaks in Chapter 6:1. Dear Christian reader, we feel the blessedness of this truth, and desire that the Spirit of God would minister it to your soul. You are now perfected forever-uninterrupted continuance—set apart as having been cleansed. (Heb. 10:1414For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14).) The apostle desired that these Hebrew believers would lay aside all the ritual of Judaism and rejoice in the perfection of the believer's standing as the fruit of the work of Christ.
We are told here not to lay again "the foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God." On the great day of atonement, given to the children of Israel (Lev. 16:29-3429And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: 30For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. 32And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: 33And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. 34And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the Lord commanded Moses. (Leviticus 16:29‑34)), the whole congregation were to afflict their souls in repentance toward God, while an offering was to be made for their sins. This was repeated yearly, thus calling to remembrance their sins. Such works were NOW dead works"—they were that for those who continued in them after Christ's one sacrifice for sins which is now finished "once for all." Heb. 10:1818Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:18). Confession of sins is now necessary for communion (1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)), but the believer's perfect standing is ever the same. The Old Testament was the voice of God to man, but now we must listen to the voice of the Son speaking from heaven, in order to enjoy by the Spirit the precious fruit of His work upon the cross. (see Heb. 1:10,1-4: 15, then read carefully chapter 12: 25.) The voice of a glorified Christ speaking from heaven is so very precious and important. In the Old Testament they had faith in God, but now they must go on to what belonged to full growth and hear the Son speaking from heaven.
Next we have the laying aside of the doctrine of washings. This ceremony was well known to the Hebrews. We find it mentioned in Lev. 16:23-2623And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there: 24And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people. 25And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar. 26And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp. (Leviticus 16:23‑26) in connection with the day of atonement for Israel. All these types and shadows of good things to come are now set aside. (Heb. 10:1-31For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. (Hebrews 10:1‑3).) The believer is now, and at all times, "clean every whit." His conscience does not charge him with guilt in the presence of God, for his standing before Him never changes. To ENJOY it we must judge every failure, but this is not the subject of the epistle to the Hebrews. We learn that when the apostle is speaking of communion in 1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).
Now we also have the "leaving" of the doctrine of "the imposition of hands." This we also find in Lev. 16:20-2220And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: 21And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: 22And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:20‑22). You will note here that it was Aaron who laid both his hands on the head of the live goat, confessing over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel and all their transgressions in all their sins. How good to know that "our Aaron"—Christ our High Priest—who knew all our sins, has confessed and made them His own upon the cross. There is therefore no need of this ceremony any more, for the question of sin and guilt was forever settled at the cross. You hear people say, "Confess your sins and come to God." How can I? I have forgotten many of them, and there are times when we sin, and because of our dullness we do not realize that we have done so. God has now SETTLED it "once for all" according to His own perfect knowledge of our guilt at the cross. How precious!
Next we have the exhortation to "leave" the doctrine of "the resurrection OF the dead." "What," you say, "give that up!" Yes, we learn in Christianity the precious truth of the resurrection FROM AMONG the dead. In Phil. 3:1111If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:11) a special Greek word is used meaning "the out resurrection." The first time you get this blessed truth from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ is in Mark 9:99And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. (Mark 9:9), and the disciples questioned what it could mean. They did believe in the resurrection OF the dead (John 11:2424Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. (John 11:24), Acts 23:6-86But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. 7And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. 8For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. (Acts 23:6‑8)), but the resurrection FROM the dead was something new. The Lord intimated this in His word to Martha. (John 11:2626And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:26).) Then in John 14:1-31Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1‑3) the Lord refers to His coming for His own. The first revelation of the manner of this coming is in 1 Thess. 4:13-1813But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13‑18). Paul received this, as he tells us there, from the Lord. The resurrection FROM AMONG the dead is clearly taught in Luke 14:1414And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:14) where it is called "the resurrection of the just," also in Luke 20:3535But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: (Luke 20:35) where some are spoken of as "worthy to obtain that world." In John 5:2929And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:29) the Lord again separates the two resurrections, as Paul does in Acts 24:1515And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (Acts 24:15). John tells us that they are at least a thousand years apart. (Rev. 20:55But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:5).) The voice of a glorified Savior assures us of his coming to deliver us from the coming wrath upon this world. (1 Thess. 1:9,109For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9‑10).) These Hebrew believers are thus exhorted to "leave" the doctrine of the resurrection OF the dead because they would, if they passed through death, have part in the resurrection FROM AMONG the dead. Oh that the blessed hope of His coming might be our daily hope. That moment is near! It is because of this, that intelligent Christians do not use the so-called "commital service" at funerals. Since we expect the Lord to come at any moment, we cannot deny our hope by saying that the body will return to dust and ashes. If the Lord should come today, the bodies of believers who had just died would never return to dust, but would rise FROM AMONG the dead and be changed immediately into the likeness of Christ. (1 Cor. 15:52-5752In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:52‑57).)
Next we are exhorted to "leave" the doctrine of eternal judgment. In the ritual of Judaism there was no abiding sense of the forgiveness of sins, nor the assurance of eternal salvation. They feared death, but for us the fear of death is gone. (Heb. 2:14,1514Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14‑15).) "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." Rom. 8:11There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1). Heb. 9:27,2827And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:27‑28) tells us "after death the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Oh may the reader be of that company who know that for them judgment is past. The question of our sins is forever settled. (Heb. 10:1717And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17).) His coming is for our salvation, to deliver us from the whole scene of our pilgrimage, and bring us to that better inheritance—the heavenly Jerusalem. (Heb. 10:34;12:2234For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. (Hebrews 10:34)
22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (Hebrews 12:22)
.) Although there is eternal judgment for those who reject Christ, we who are saved can sing, "Death and judgment are BEHIND us Grace and glory are before All the billows rolled o'er Jesus There they spent their utmost power."
"This will we do if God permit." What an important word for our souls. The Hebrew Christian must not hesitate, for when God by His Spirit wrought in his soul he was called to act, and not to remain in the system that God was about to judge. Let us, too, ever act in the obedience of faith, lest the exercise of soul through which His grace passes us should weaken in power, and then we settle down into that which His Word has shown us we ought to give up.
This brings us to verse 4 of our chapter where we are told that it is impossible to renew again to repentance, those who were once enlightened, but had turned their backs upon Christ. This brings before us an ever-enlarging group who have been enlightened by the Word of God—professing Christians who have never been tested as to their faith in Christ. They may have received the Word with joy, without the conscience being reached, but they have no root in themselves. (Matt. 13:20,2120But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (Matthew 13:20‑21).) They have tasted the heavenly gift—the sweetness of the gospel has attracted them but the Lord tells us that "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name? and in thy Name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them. I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." Matt. 7:21-2321Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21‑23). Such might be "partakers of the Holy Ghost", as Balaam and Saul in the Old Testament, and Caiaphas in the New Testament, and yet be unsaved men. They "tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come (the millennial age.) " Many had been healed—all will be healed in the millennium (Psa. 103:33Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (Psalm 103:3))—yet unless there was true repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, they might have all the OUTWARD blessings of Christianity and perish. The epistle to the Hebrews calls upon all who had accepted Christ to leave the old Jewish forms and come outside the whole system unto Christ. (Heb. 13:1313Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. (Hebrews 13:13).) Those who willfully remained in the system after having all these outward blessings, coupled with the profession of having once received Christ, were apostates, and by their refusal to leave Judaism they were exposed to the coming wrath upon that nation. Willful sin in Hebrews chapters 6 and 10 is this outward profession without the faith that accepted the reproach of Christ. There was no fruit for God, only thorns and briers.
Next we have, from verse 9 on, the apostle comforted concerning those who bore fruit through faith and patience. God would not be unrighteous to forget such. The remaining verses of the chapter are strong in the assurance of obtaining the heavenly home into which Christ the forerunner is already entered. We have the word and oath of God, who swear by Himself, that by these "two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." As surely as the Forerunner has entered, so shall we, and therefore we are exhorted to "hold fast the confession of the hope unwavering (for He is faithful who has promised.)" Heb. 10:2323Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) (Hebrews 10:23). J.N.D.
To this sure and blessed hope is added the priesthood of Christ, after the order of Melchisedec. (Heb. 6:2020Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 6:20).) How exceedingly precious is this gospel of the grace of God! It puts the sinner who believes in the person and work of Christ, into such a perfect standing before God that he can draw near into the very "holiest of all" with holy boldness. (Heb. 10:1919Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, (Hebrews 10:19).) Then too, we know that the One who did this glorious work by which God has been perfectly glorified and sin forever gone, is now at the right hand of God, ever living to make intercession for us. (Heb. 7:2525Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25).) May we rejoice, and ever give the fruit of our lips in thankful praise, while seeking at the throne of grace the needed mercy and grace to help us to walk in the present good of this "so great salvation." May every temptation and trial find our hearts turning to our great High Priest for the needed help to walk in joyfulness of spirit, while we wait His coming to complete our salvation. (Heb. 10:3737For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (Hebrews 10:37).)—H.E.H.
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