Preached at Riverview January 4 2017
Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
Some of the most powerful Bible texts are very simple and to the point.
God can say a lot in a few words. When King Belshazzar’s Babylonian kingdom was about to be destroyed the Lord wrote four Aramaic words on a wall in the middle of his drunken feast. The words were:
Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin
The word MENE was repeated twice, and means “Numbered” or “Counted”. Daniel told Belshazzar (Daniel 5:25-28) “God has NUMBERED your Kingdom – you’re finished”. The fact that MENE was used TWICE emphasized the certainty that Babylon was going to be destroyed.
The word TEKEL means “Weighed”. Daniel told Belshazzar “You are weighed on the scales of God and are found wanting”.
The word UPHARSIN means “Divided”. God would tear the Kingdom of Babylon asunder, or as Daniel told Belshazzar “Your kingdom is given to the Medes and Persians”.
What caused the destruction of Babylon, one of the mightiest kingdoms of the ancient world? The kingdom fell under the weight of sin and selfishness.
There was no love of God nor love for your neighbor in Babylon. God illustrated this in just three words (for Mene was repeated twice): Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin. God numbered. God numbered again. God weighed. God tore apart.
As God closes the letter to the Hebrews He commands simply …
Let Brotherly Love Continue
If you break this down to the original language it is is but two words in the Greek:
Which means “Let Brotherly Love Abide (or Endure)”. The mark of Belshazzar’s kingdom was selfishness, sinfulness, and idolatry. The mark of Christ’s Kingdom is an abiding brotherly love among it’s citizens.
I do believe the whole Bible needs to be preached, that the full counsel of God needs to be presented. But there is nothing more important than Love to the Kingdom Faith of Christ. The Bible tells us that:
Romans 13:8-10 (ESV) Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Love Is The Fulfillment Of The Law
God would never have given the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai if Israel had loved God and loved one another. The Law was given because sin had hardened Israel’s heart. The Law was given to show what God thinks of the sinful and selfish heart. The Law cannot instill love, but the Law can point out the cancer of lovelessness.
It is the “Goodness Of God that leads to repentance” said Paul in Romans 2:4. Love is not just emotional claptrap, but a doing of good just as God does good.
Matthew 5:43-47 (KJV)43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
The love of Christ’s Kingdom is greater than the love of the world. We are to love – to do good – to everyone regardless as to what they do to us. God blesses those determined to be His enemies. God’s children are to bless those determined to be our enemies. Jesus said:
Luke 6:35-36 (KJV) But LOVE YE YOUR ENEMIES, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Show goodness and mercy even to those who sin against you, for God shows you and I goodness and mercy when we sin against Him.
Let Brotherly Love Continue Even For Those You Do Not Know
Hebrews 13:2 (KJV) Be not forgetful to ENTERTAIN STRANGERS: for thereby some have ENTERTAINED ANGELS unawares.
Abraham was sitting in the doorway of his tent one day waiting on a word from God. In Genesis 18 we read that Abraham looked up and saw three men coming his way through the desert heat. Abraham quickly invited these three strangers into the tent to wash their feet and to rest and eat. As you read through the text it becomes evident that Abraham perceived he was speaking to the Triune God. Though there were THREE he addressed them as MY LORD. While with Abraham the LORD revealed that He was to Sodom and Gomorrah to destroy it. Why? We are told in our text that:
Hebrews 13:4 (KJV) Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but WHOREMONGERS AND ADULTERERS God will judge.
People today think “God doesn’t care what you do with your sexuality as long as you’re happy”. The Bible doesn’t teach that. Our Lord Jesus declared that marriage was created by God in the Garden of Eden. He said:
Mark 10:6-8 (KJV) But from the beginning of the creation GOD MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
God judges sexual sin. He created mankind in His image and in His likeness. Male and female are designed to come together in the beauty of marriage – and the marriage bed is undefiled. God told Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. But because Abraham entertained strangers he was able to intercede for his nephew Lot and his family to protect them from destruction.
The words translated “Brotherly Love” is the compound (φιλαδελφία) PHILADELPHIA, the two words “PHILIA” (φιλία) which means “an expression of kindness & charity between equals” and “ADELPHOS” (αδελφός) which means “Brothers” combined.
Now what is interesting is that the words translated “To Entertain Strangers” is also a compound word, (φιλοξενία) Philoxenia. It uses “PHILIA” (φιλία) which means “an expression of kindness & charity between equals” but this time uses ξενία Xenos which means “STRANGERS”.
We are to love our Christian Brethren equally, doing good to those around us. But we are ALSO to love STRANGERS in the exact same way. Why? Because God loved us when we were strangers to Him. Jesus grants entrance into His Kingdom because He said:
Matthew 25:34-40 (NASB) “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I WAS A STRANGER, AND YOU INVITED ME IN; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And WHEN DID WE SEE YOU A STRANGER, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that YOU DID IT TO ONE OF THESE BROTHERS OF MINE, EVEN THE LEAST OF THEM, YOU DID IT TO ME.’
Israel was a stranger in Egypt and God blessed them.
We were strangers to God but He loved us and gave us Grace.
We are to love those who we don’t know that come in among us.
We are to get to know them and, if they are not saved, through the love we bestow we “extend hospitality to strangers” (Romans 12:13), perhaps leading them to Christ.
Hebrews 13:3 (KJV) Remember them that are in bonds, AS BOUND WITH THEM; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
In the early Church people were imprisoned and harmed for following Christ. We are to remember these in prayer. When Paul was imprisoned he wrote Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:9-13 (KJV) Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: 10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. 12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. 13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
Pray for and financially support our missionaries, as they do a dangerous job in sharing God’s Gospel in hostile lands. We work together in brotherly love.
Brotherly Love Does Not Covet Another Person’s Blessing
Hebrews 13:5-6 (KJV) Let your CONVERSATION be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
This is one of the first Bible texts I memorized as a young Christian.
The word “Conversation” is an Old English word that doesn’t mean what it means today. This is the Greek τρόπος TROPOS which means “your manner or way of life, the way you present yourself”.
A lady came by our Church – she comes by periodically – looking for free stuff. I told her that she needs to sit through the preaching hour and afterward I’ll put food in her belly and gas in her car. While we’re at the gas pump later that day she begins to ask for money, a gas card, anything she can get. This is the sign of a lost person. I’m not saying this to downgrade her, but Beloved …
God Has Given Us His Greatest Gift In Jesus
The Apostle said “Be content with the things you have”. What do you have as a Child of God (if you ARE a Child of God?).
You have a Savior and Lord Who has promised “I will never leave nor forsake you”. I want you to notice the power of this promise. He doesn’t just say “I will never leave you”, but says “I will never LEAVE (ἀνίημι aniēmi) NOR FORSAKE (ἐγκαταλείπω egkataleipō) you”. God has promised that He has given the believer in Christ:
John 14:16 (KJV) … I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
God does not wander off from His people. He may draw back when we sin, but He is ever present. We are His people, the Sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3).
How many promised lands have we lost because we have not trusted His Presence?
How Many Blessings Have We Lost Because We Heard His PROMISE
But Doubted His PRESENCE? Those who DRAW BACK will not be blessed!
Has not God told us to Cross the Jordan, to fight Goliath, to move through the Red Sea? Has not God told us “Go, for I am with you, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20)? Hasn’t God said:
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT) … be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Christ the Good Shepherd will not wander from His Sheep, nor will be walk away from us when we fail. Salvation in His is eternal life because our Jesus is the Eternal Savior. Have you wandered into Great Sin? Repent, turn to Him, for He is a Great Savior.
- You have a Savior and Lord Who has promised to help you do the will of God. Jesus will not help you or bless you in sinning, but He will help you to do the will of God in the expansion of His Kingdom. When King David was in hiding, afflicted without a cause he cried out to God saying:Psalm 54 (ESV) O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might. 2 O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth. 3 For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves. Selah 4 Behold, GOD IS MY HELPER; the Lord is the upholder of my life. 5 He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them. 6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good. 7 For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.
In order for God to be your Helper, you have go to be in a right relationship with God. You need to love the Lord, to praise Him, to magnify Him in your life.
Your Hearts Are To Be Established By Grace
Hebrews 13:7-8 (KJV) Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation (TROPOS, Way of Life). 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
God charges His people to focus on godly leadership,
on those “who have spoken unto you the Word of God”.
Christians are deceived when they listen to false prophets who do not speak the Word of God, but are weird Philosophers. When I listen to a person speak (and I listen to sermons throughout the week) I ask myself TWO THINGS:
1 Are they preaching about the historic BIBLICAL Jesus?
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. When someone comes up on the Discover or History Channels and says “We’ve discovered something NEW about Jesus” the best thing you can do is TURN THE TELEVISION OFF. King Solomon – the wisest man who ever lived – declared:
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (ESV) What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
The sick perversions of sexual sin in America today is the same old sewage of yesterday
These things inflicted Sodom, Gomorrah, Greece, Tyre, Rome, Egypt, and every other world power that is now just a third world country. Sin has not changed, and neither has Jesus. Jesus is clearly represented in the Scripture, and He has never (unlike some so called Presidents) changed!
2 Are these so called “Preachers” preaching from the Word of God?
We are warned to not ….
Hebrews 13:9 (KJV) Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
Did that little boy who died and went to Heaven
talk about a Heaven that the BIBLE talks about?
Did that fellow who died and went to Heaven and said “I SAW A SEA” –
how does that match up to what John said when he declared …
Revelation 21:1 (KJV)1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Every time someone “dies” and “comes back” strange doctrines are broadcast over the air waves. Every time some “Pseudo Science Discovers” something it defames the Bible.
Suddenly Jesus has a wife or someone declares Jesus is the half brother of Lucifer.
Hogwash! Those people you listen to on radio and television…
do they start with THE BIBLE then expound THE BIBLE?
do they CHERISH God’s Word or the applause of the crowd and the money it brings?
does what they say match what God said?
Someone told me one time they thought that
God might be an alien, or some Cosmic Computer.
The Bible says “don’t be CARRIED ABOUT (Greek περιφέρω peripherō) with divers and strange doctrines”. Let God carry you in the arms of Grace. Don’t let the devil drag you around making merchandise of you. When Jesus fought the Devil in the wilderness His defense was:
It Is Written (Matthew 4:4-10)
This is the offensive and defensive weapon of the Christian, the Word of God.
Brotherly Love Continues To Focus On What Christ Did For Us
Hebrews 13:10-14 (KJV)10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. 11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
Jesus gave Himself to us, suffering without the gate. The GATE in ancient times represented the place where business was conducted and where money was made. People sat “in the Gate” so they could sell merchandise for profit. Jesus suffered without the Gate. The life He gave, He gave without expectation of profit. His was an act of pure love. When the Gate of the city was shut, those who were without were aliens to the city, no longer under its protection. Jesus suffered without the Gate. He died in a landfill called Calvary, giving His life so that we could enter Heaven’s Gate.
As He gave Himself we who are His brothers by faith are to “go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach”. Here on this earth we have no continuing city, but we look for Heaven, for the Mansion of glory that He has prepared for us.
Hebrews 13:15-16 (KJV) By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Let us live for Him, praising Him, doing good for Him. May God’s Spirit touch your hearts.