The blessings of Jewish saints were earthly. The saints addressed in this epistle were once Jews, now Christians. The saints are regarded as the wilderness "companions" of Christ. He is bringing many sons to glory. But what had He when as a man He trod the earth? He said, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head."
All who have accepted His path as theirs are able to count on His sympathy as High Priest. "He ever liveth to make intercession for them."
Priesthood is only for our infirmities, not for our sins. The believer should not sin. "My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not." But a saint cannot avoid the infirmities incident to a heavenly man walking the earth. To know how Christ carries you on, you must accept as your own His path as a Man, and to enjoy it you must be walking in it.
The Lord's intercession as Priest goes on for all the saints alike, because of their infirmities. We only know the value of it in our souls as we seek His path. He sought nothing on earth. "I receive not honour from man."
The Hebrew Christians had declined from the truth of Christianity. They had once given up the attraction of earthly things, now they were again seeking them. "Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that in heaven ye have a better and an enduring substance." He says, "Call to remembrance the former days."
The present blessing of saints is not earthly but heavenly. The substance is there. It is an enduring substance, while all here is a shadow, as the former dispensation also was.
As Aaron entered into the holiest once a year, so Christ has gone in for us, regarding our infirmities while in the wilderness. The result is the consciousness (for all who take Christ's path on earth) of His sympathy and His support, and not of weak hands and "feeble knees." And as Melchizedek met the victorious man of faith with bread and wine, so Christ meets us by a supply of what is heavenly. This last is conditional, and depends on whether in faith as a saint I have overcome the world (Sodom) in its friendly character. (It made a great man of Lot.)
What we get then in Hebrew 11 is the exploits of faith. If faith thus wrought in saints of the past, leading them to give up the present for the future, if it thus wrought in a people whose blessings were earthly, what should it effect in us whose blessings are heavenly, and therefore all of another order? They got God and the future instead of the present. Therefore "God was not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city." The saints are solemnly warned. Esau once sought present blessing and lost the future. (Chapter 12:15 - 17.) We get Christ's present portion (as man) as we give up the present. "As He is so are we in this world." The soul is led into it.
The effect is seen in these Hebrews, who sought to return to what they had once given up, as it will also be seen in us. They had returned to "infancy," "and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."
They were not going on to perfection; that is, to the knowledge of those things connected with Christ in glory. (See chapter 6:1-12.)
The effect in them was, their hands were "hanging down," and they had "feeble knees."
The effect on others (saints as they) was, that "the lame was turned out of the way."
The Lord took the place of suffering here. "He was in all points tempted like as we are, apart from sin." As having trodden that path, he takes His place with those who are now treading it to lead them and to sing: "In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee." It is the opposite of hands "hanging down" and of "feeble knees." But if you refuse the sufferings of a godly man here you cannot join in the singing. He sings in His own individual joy, and you join Him if you are of His path. He is out of it, and his companions are in faith out of it with Him. I do not mean that they are out of the wilderness. They are out of all that depresses - out of all the pressure of the wilderness - with Him.
The Lord trod the earth as a perfect Son, and also as a perfect servant. Both places in measure are ours. The Father deals with us as with children. (Chap. 12) As a servant the Lord's language was, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God," and the epistle closes with the exhortation to us, NOT to seek our own will, but "make you perfect in every work to do His will." (Chap. 13:21.) We are going through the wilderness in this epistle supported in all our infirmities, but as Christ was here so we are here to do God's will in the scene, having from above daily heavenly sustainment as we refuse this world. The Lord guide us in this great favour which He has shown us for His name sake. H. C. Anstey.