What More Do We Need?
Someone has defined an atheist as “a man who has no invisible means of support.” We Christians live by the invisible. “Whom having not seen, ye love…” (1 Peter 1:8). Moses “endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27); and Abraham “looked for a city…whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
The Book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who were tempted to go back to the visible—to a temple they could see, a city they could see, and priests and altars that were real to the senses. They were forgetting that all of those visible things were going to be destroyed. The City of Jerusalem and its beautiful temple would one day be rubble.
Why live for things that do not last? Live for things that can never be taken from you! God had to shake things on Earth to remind His people of the unshakable things that could never be taken from them. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved…” (Hebrews 12:28) is a reminder we Christians need today. Build on the eternal! Build on the invisible!
In the Book of Hebrews, God reminds us of four invisible, unshakable blessings that we have as believers.
1. We have a High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Of course, there was a High Priest in the nation of Israel; but our High Priest is Great! Those priests died and had to be replaced; but Jesus Christ lives forever and can never die. In the Old Testament economy, the work of the High Priest was never finished; but Jesus Christ finished His work and is seated at the right hand of God.
The priests of Israel were sinful men; but our High Priest is “holy, harmless, undefiled…” The priests of Israel were ignorant and sometimes weak and unconcerned; but our High Priest is wise and sympathetic and knows just what we need. Having experienced life on Earth, Jesus Christ understands our burdens and temptations. Best of all, He has the power to help us. Our High Priest is in heaven, the place of victory and glory. The Old Testament High Priest entered the holy of holies briefly but once a year. Jesus Christ lives in the holy of holies in heaven! He is always in the presence of God the Father, to make intercession for us.
Because He is interceding in heaven, and not on Earth, He is available to all of His people. We can come to Him at any time, from any situation, and He will hear us. We receive mercy. His throne is a throne of grace, not a throne of judgment. We may “come boldly” and not be afraid, because He loves us and wants to help us.
The Christian need not lean on his own human strength, or the strength of others. He has a Great High Priest in heaven to Whom he can go with his needs and burdens. Earthly help will fade and fail, but Jesus Christ is “The same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Rejoice in this—we have a High Priest!
2. We have an anchor (Hebrews 6:13-20)
Epictetus, the famous philosopher, advised, “One must not tie a ship to a single anchor, nor life to a single hope.” But we Christians have tied our lives to a single hope—the coming of Jesus Christ. This is the blessed hope that encourages us when the battle rages and the burdens are heavy.
Our anchor is a Person—not a program, a plan, or an empty promise. This world is in a storm, and the hope of the return of Christ is the anchor that keeps us from despairing and drifting. Our anchor lasts forever!
A ship’s anchor is cast downward, but we are anchored heavenward; for Christ has entered heaven for us. Why be anchored to this earth? We are strangers and pilgrims and “this world is not our home.”
Our anchor is “sure and steadfast…” It cannot slip; it cannot be broken. We are secure in Christ! A ship’s anchor keeps it from moving; but our anchor—Jesus Christ—enables us to make progress. “Let us go on!” is the theme of Hebrews (6:1ff). We must move ahead in faith or else we will go backward into defeat and discipline.
What a wonderful thing it is to have an invisible anchor that gives you stability in the storms of life.
3. We have an altar (Hebrews 13:9-10)
The Jewish Christians who received this letter did not go to the altar in the temple, because they had a better altar. What is this altar? It is not a literal altar, because the theme in Hebrews would prevent that. Nor is it the communion table or the cross. The altar is Christ Himself. “By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise…” (13:15).
This means that there are no altars on this earth. No sacrifices can be made for sin, because Christ has finished His work of redemption. As “believer priests,” we bring Him “spiritual sacrifices” to the glory of God (1 Peter 2:5).
What are these sacrifices? He mentions praise in verse 15, and verse 16 tells us that good works and sharing with others are also spiritual sacrifices. We should present our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Even the money that we bring is a sacrifice that He can bless (Philippians 4:18).
“We have an altar.” This means we must learn to sacrifice and bring to Him that which He desires. But whatever we bring to Him will be used for His glory—and it will last forever! The Old Testament sacrifices were dead sacrifices; but we present living sacrifices to Him. Jesus Christ is our altar. We present through Him all the spiritual sacrifices that God desires.
4. We have a city (Hebrews 13:14)
The great nations of Earth boast of their cities: London, New York, Rome, Athens, Tokyo. In ancient days, the great cities ruled the world. Jerusalem was God’s city, and Israel was God’s people; yet they rejected His Son, and this meant the end of their city. Jesus warned that their city and temple would be destroyed, and His warning was fulfilled.
The city that we seek is not on Earth but in heaven. It is designed and built by God. It is a permanent city, an eternal city, “incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). It will be populated by the saints and angels. God will be there! His glory will be the light of the city, and His love the joy of the city.
No matter what legislation men pass, I fear our cities will continue to decay and decline. Why? Because everything that man builds is destined for dust. But God’s city will last forever, and its glory will never fade!
“For your citizenship is in heaven…” (Philippians 3:20). “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). “I go to prepare a place for you…” (John 14:2).
As believers, we live by the invisible. We have a High Priest in heaven. We have an anchor. We have an altar. We have a city. And we have all of these eternal blessings because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.
What more do we need?