The Hebrew epistle shows up for us the path of faith; it shows us how to tread that path, and pours its comfort and encouragement into our heart as we do it; and all this comfort and encouragement seems to be gathered up and concentrated in the glorious benediction at its close. Perplexed and troubled pilgrim to the eternal inheritance, consider it for a while. Let us go over it together. It is all for you.
"Now the God of peace."
The God of peace is invoked on your behalf. The road that faith travels is often rough; dangers and foes beset the pilgrim’s way; conflict abounds in it and often suffering. Truly it is no flower-strewn way. But the God of peace is your God, and He it is who has said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." That means, that the Friend is greater than the foe, that whatever they may do to me I will fear no evil, and however the storm may rage without me, I'll have peace in my heart; it means that the supplies are greater than the demand, for is it not written, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusted in Thee"? And again, if you do but carry your wants and woes to God, has He not pledged His word for it that "the peace of God shall keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus"? The God of peace is our God, and He is with us. Let us rejoice and be glad.
"Now the God of peace which brought again from the dead."
Our God is also a God of power and His power has been demonstrated by His triumph over death. Death is the strongest and the greatest enemy; the king of terrors, it has been justly called. It held men in continual bondage through the fear of it, but it has been conquered; its power has been annulled by our God. We can always rely more upon a friend who has great power than upon a friend who has none, for the willingness to help, however we may appreciate it, does not avail much when there is no ability. Our God is almighty, the greatest foe is now a defeated foe and we need fear no other.
"Our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep."
How wonderfully God has provided for His sheep, and you are one of them. Every sheep and lamb of His has been given by Him to His beloved Son, and you among the rest. That may seem very wonderful, and it is, but it is true, for it is stated in so many words in John 10:29. And that the sheep may be preserved from every danger and brought safely home to God, the great Shepherd of the sheep has been brought again from the dead. How great this Shepherd is! He is great in His love. He saw the wolf coming, but did not flee, for He is no hireling, but the Shepherd of the sheep; and to save the sheep, to deliver them from the power of death and lead them as one flock to God, He gave His life. Such was His love; He is great in His unwearying power and majesty. "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?" "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out the heavens with a span, and weighed the mountains in the scales, and the hills in a balance?" What is the answer? Who is this great and all-powerful Being? He is the great Shepherd of the sheep that "shall feed His flock like a shepherd: that shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom" (Isaiah 40). His power is immeasurable, but His tenderness is equal to His power; it is infinite. By His hand He created and controls His creation, that is His power; in His bosom carries His lambs, that is His love. How safe all His sheep must be; "they shall never perish." He will hold them in everlasting security, and none can pluck them from His hand. It is the hand that broke the power of death that shall preserve the sheep from every foe and in this a greater power is seen than that that created the worlds.
"Through the blood of the everlasting covenant."
Our Lord Jesus lives in the power of an endless life, but it is by virtue of the blood of the everlasting covenant. Whatever God has done for Him in raising Him from the dead, or will do for us through Him, is based upon the precious blood. Every claim of divine holiness and of the throne of God has been met by it. Propitiation has been made. Every attribute of God is in perfect harmony and His love flows out without restraint or limit, and it is all in virtue of the blood of the everlasting covenant. The consciences of His beloved saints are purged also; God will remember their sins and iniquities no more; they can be in the presence of God with boldness and in the full assurance of faith, for no one can lay anything to their charge.
"The everlasting covenant."
His blood is the blood of the everlasting covenant, a covenant that can never break down or be annulled, for it is not based upon our obedience as was that of Sinai, but upon the absolute expiation of all our disobedience that was made at Calvary. It is God’s immutable counsel which found its expression In His infallible promises, made certain by the blood that has established His glory and answered every challenge to His righteousness in fulfilling His counsels for our blessing. This covenant stands for ever as unchanging and sure as the Word and throne of God. It is what He is and not what we are, though we have our part in it. We are the legatees, the heirs of an eternal inheritance.
"Make you perfect in every good work to do His will."
While the everlasting covenant does not depend upon our works for its stability, it is a covenant that produces works in us, and indeed it can be satisfied with nothing less than our perfection and every good work. We are made perfect as to our inner motives, our aim in life, and the object that controls us, by the displacing of our wills for God’s. To do His will is the great thing. And His will is never against us, it is always on our behalf. In our ignorance and self will we have sometimes thought that God’s will was against us, that His intention was to thwart us and to take from us things that we prized, and to spoil our happiness. But that was the old lie of the old serpent, and the fact that the God of peace has brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, has exposed this lie. God’s will means our weal and not our woe; it is all for our blessing and is only against those things that would do us harm.
It is when we are adjusted to the will of God, when we are in articulation with that will, not in dislocation to it, that we are perfect, for this is the meaning of the word perfect here. Then how good the works will be that we do, works that will abide, the answer from us to all that God has done for us and all that Christ is to us.
Pleasurable to God
"Working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight."
Truly the favour in which we are set, and the blessings of the faith are unspeakable. I confess that words fail me to express the fullness of the dignity that is ours and the immensity of the grace that has blessed us and changed us. We were once children of disobedience, having our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature children of wrath, but now we may be well-pleasing in God’s sight. The life of Jesus is here brought to mind, and the words with which the Father saluted Him from the excellent glory: "Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And can it be that we are set in His place, to be to God in our measure what He was? Nothing less. Does not the thought of it move the soul, and fill us with desires that it may be so? I feel that we ought to take up the language of Mary, rightly called blessed in this respect: "Behold the servant of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word." But here human effort fails. If we are to be pleasurable to God, we can only be so as Christ’s life is reproduced in us, it can only be as God works in us.
Who can describe the joy which a sense of God’s approval gives the heart? This was the Lord’s own joy on earth. "Herein is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit," said He; then He added, "These things have I spoken unto you, that MY JOY MIGHT REMAIN IN YOU," and it will as we are well-pleasing in God’s sight. Let every word have its full value with us-it is IN HIS SIGHT. He is watching with deepest interest. His eyes are ever on us.
A holy Father’s constant care
Keeps watch with an unwearying eye,-
To see what fruits His children bear,
Fruits that may suit their calling high.
"Through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
God would have been without glory and we should have been without blessing but for Jesus Christ. I am not exaggerating when I say that we owes everything to Jesus Christ and that we should have been bankrupt and lost for ever without Him. He is the great Mediator through whom God’s blessing reaches us and by whom we reach God, and because this is so we must give Him praise. God has glorified Him, He has brought Him back from the dead and set Him at His right hand on high, and our hearts rejoice, for we know and feel that that is right, and that glory must be His for ever and ever.