George Brooks Preaching Commentary:
Expositions from the Book of Hebrews
A portrait is a picture of a person that is drawn, painted or photographed from life. A portrait is a description or a dramatic portrayal of a person.
As we consider Jesus, there are no visible portraits of him left for our viewing. However, there are numerous verbal portraits of his character and conduct. The verses of our text seek to portray Jesus as the eternal Son of God in order to encourage the readers of the book of Hebrews to not give up.
Let us spend the next few minutes focusing on this portrait of Jesus as given by the Hebrew writer.
The book of Hebrews opens by declaring God’s concern for man. When Jesus came on the seen he closed the greatest communication gap the world has ever known. Before Jesus came the message God shared with man was partial, fragmentary and incomplete. God spoke at different times by different means. He spoke through dreams, visions, parables and whatever way necessary at the time.
The Hebrew writer said,"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (NASB).
In Jesus, God spoke fully, clearly and firmly. He is the greatest spokesman God has ever had or ever will have. The Hebrew writer is showing continuity in what he is saying. The same God who spoke earlier in the prophet now speaks through his Son.
The major thing to understand about God is that he has always been active in man’s life revealing himself. It was God who took the initiative in the revelation because man was moving away from God rather than toward God, yet man needed what God had to say.
For that reason God showed his love and grace by first of all speaking to man through his prophets in different ways at different times. But his greater demonstration of his love and grace is God providing Jesus as a spokesman.
The Hebrew writer wants his readers to be encouraged during a time of conflict and crisis. The best way for them to be encouraged is to hear the voice of God through his Son, Jesus.
"God...in these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (NASB).
There were those who were recipients of the letter to the Hebrews who were faltering in their faith. This was so because of the extreme persecution they were experiencing. Therefore God lifted up his Son as a Source of encouragement.
God’s Son holds a different relationship with God than that of the prophets. The prophets were related to men by nature but the Son is related to God.
Jesus brought about a new state of affairs. He ushered in what is called the "Messianic Age". This is the time of the coming of the Messiah. The prophets talked about it but Jesus brought it. The prophets pointed men to salvation but Jesus brought salvation to man.
God spoke to man because of the value of the soul. God wanted his work of salvation to be as clear as it was possible for it to be. There was no one who could make things any clearer than the one who was to provide it. This was a good reason for God to speak through his Son. The Son of God can make the message of God personal and practical.
It is also important for us to get a grip on the words "in these last days". There are many people who look upon these words as having reference to the end of time. But that is not so. They have reference to the days of Jesus Christ. Once Jesus has returned there will be no more chances for salvation. So the last days are now, the time when Christ is still speaking and providing salvation and not judgment.
"God...in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things..."
As you read these words it is important to not emphasize the word "appointed". The emphasis here is on the word "heir". The word heir suggests one who possesses property through a firm possession. The Hebrew writer is suggesting that Jesus is not only the heir of the earth, he is heir of the entire universe.
This verse points to the dignity and greatness of Jesus. It shows that he is superior to anyone else. He has no peers. He is the only Son of the Owner. Therefore, he is the heir of all things; material, physical or spiritual.
"God...in these last days has spoken to us in His Son...through whom also He made the world."
These words suggest that Jesus had a part in the creation of the world. The Hebrew writer wants his readers to know that Jesus was more than a preacher and teacher. He was more than a healer. He was to be looked upon as the omnipotent, omnific Son of God. That which the Son is heir of is the very thing he was instrumental in making.
This was an important fact for the recipients of this letter, because they needed to know that Jesus was able to master any circumstance in their life.
This writer wanted his readers to know that if Jesus could bring order out of chaos in the beginning, he can certainly restore order to the lives of those who were experiencing persecution. Jesus is in control of our destiny and he can and will provide for our needs.
Jesus proved his creating power in both the natural world and the spiritual world. The apostle Paul said, "...if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB).
George Brooks Preaching Series:
Offering God My Substance and Myself
"Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."  And He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you" (NASB).
Abraham is one of the best known and most important characters in the Bible. He was chosen by God to be blessed and to be a blessing to the world. God's choice of him was by the sovereign grace of God. Isaiah and James called him the friend of God (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). He has also been called the "father of the faithful." Those who are looked upon as Christians are connected to Abraham. Despite Abraham's choice by God, he was not without faults and failures. On two occasions he lied and said his wife was his sister (Genesis 12:19; 20:2). He doubted God's power to give him a son by Sarah, his wife. So he laughed when God told him that Sarah would bear him a son (Genesis 17:17).
Abraham had to wait twenty-five years for God to give him his son, Isaac. He was seventy-five years old when God made choice of him. He was one hundred years old when Isaac was born (Genesis 12:4; 21:5). After the birth of Isaac, God tested Abraham by telling him to go to Moriah and offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering. The word "tested" (nasa) means to try, to put to the proof. God wanted Abraham to see just how much he loved and trusted him. Since God knows everything, Abraham needed to know how much he loved and trusted God.
This test of Abraham raised the issue of Abraham's willingness to give up something he loved dearly for God. All of us are willing to receive something from God, but few of us are willing to give up some things of value to us for God. Although Abraham waited twenty-five years to get Isaac from God, he did not hesitate giving him up for God. Abraham gave up Isaac to God in his heart before he reached Mount Moriah. His willingness to offer Isaac as a burnt offering shows how God honors the giving in the heart.
God knew that Abraham would not have to follow through on offering Isaac, but Abraham did not know it. When Abraham left home, Isaac was already given up to God in Abraham's heart. This is a proof that God not only honors the giving that comes from our hands, he first honors the giving that comes from our hearts.
"And He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." If Abraham was to follow God's orders, the first thing he had to do was move self out of the way. As small as we might be, we often magnify self and minimize God. This is why we do not follow God's orders.
Abraham did not have any doubts about whom it was speaking to him when God spoke. He heard the voice of God clearly. Because of being sure that God had spoken to him, he was willing to give up his only son for God's sake.
God was very specific in his orders to Abraham. He told him to offer his son, his only son, the son whom he loved, whose name was Isaac. As much as Abraham loved Isaac, he loved God more. Therefore, he was willing to give up his lesser love for his greater love. Despite what it is we love, that love should be secondary to our love for God.
God's orders consisted of three things, "take," "go" and "offer." God was exercising his sovereign authority in his orders to Abraham. Abraham had some other things in his house God could have asked for, but he asked for his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loved. The word "only" (yahid) means very self, soul or life, as not to be replaced. Abraham was asked to give up the dearest thing to him for the sake of God. God did not ask for Ishmael, the child birthed by Hagar, Sarah's handmaid. God wanted Abraham to offer up Isaac, the son of promise.
"So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him" (NASB).
If you will notice the obedience of Abraham, you will discover that it was without hesitation or signs. God spoke one day and Abraham left the next morning. His obedience is more amazing to us when we understand that Isaac was his hope for the future. God had promised to make a great nation out of Abraham, and now he was being told to sacrifice his only son of promise. He left it up to God to work out all the details for the fulfilment of the promise.
A look at the obedience of Abraham should embarrass us. He willingly obeyed God when God asked for his only son. God asks far less than that from us but we are not willing to give it according to his directions.
When Isaac was born, I am sure his birth brought Abraham closer to God because his birth was a miracle promised by God. But the birth of Isaac was not as much an expression of faith as the giving up of Isaac on Mount Moriah.
God was not really after Isaac's life. What he really wanted was Abraham's will. Abraham did not fully know the direction God was moving him in, but he knew God. Up to this point in his life, God had proven his care, faithfulness and wisdom to guide and bless his life. Therefore, he felt he could trust God now.
"And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you."  And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.  And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"  And Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.  Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood.  And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."  And he said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
It is important to notice who it was that went up the mountain for the sacrifice of Isaac. Abraham said to the young men who traveled with him and Isaac, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you" (5). The young men who were with Abraham and Isaac did not have the faith to go with them to the mountain. There are some things we will never see and experience because we do not have the faith to see them and experience them.
In verse six, you will notice that Abraham's faith put him to work. "...Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together."
Abraham carried with him all that he needed to do what God ordered him to do. He made the necessary preparation to fulfill God's will for his life.
Abraham and Isaac allowed God to work out all the details in his plan. Isaac saw the fire and the wood, but he did not see the lamb for the burnt offering. When Isaac raised the issue with Abraham, Abraham said, "...God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together" (8). These words suggest that God is the only one who can decide what he wants as a sacrifice.
Through his obedience to God, Abraham won a great victory. He bound Isaac to the altar he had built. Just as he drew his hand back to take the life of his only son, an angel of the Lord spoke to him from heaven and said, "...Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me" (12). The story of Abraham and Isaac is a clear picture of the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. Isaac was Abraham's only son of promise. Jesus was God's son of promise. Isaac was the beloved son of Abraham. Jesus was the beloved Son of God. The wood on which Isaac was to be sacrificed was laid on him. The wooden cross on which Jesus was crucified was laid on him. Isaac ascended Mount Moriah carrying the wood on which he was to be sacrificed. Jesus ascended Mount Calvary carrying the cross on which he was to be sacrificed.
The difference between the two sacrifices is that God asked for Isaac to test Abraham's faith. He asked for Jesus to triumph over sin.