Audio Series: Holy Epistle to the Hebrews

Jesus did not cancel the Law, nor did he  replace the Temple, the priesthood, or the sacrifices.

Most readers of the book of Hebrews bring along biases based on later-Christian theology, and they mistakenly read the Epistle to the Hebrews as a warning against backsliding into Judaism. A careful, Messianic Jewish reading of the epistle reveals a completely different message, one that does not contradict the Torah, displace the Jewish people, or cancel the Levitical worship.

This exciting series of sermons takes listeners on a trip back in time to visit the early 60s of the first century. Discover the real issues that Jewish believers in Yeshua were facing, and find out how the book of Hebrews offers the cure for the exile.

Pastor Lancaster recorded these forty-six sermons on the book of Hebrews at Beth Immanuel in 2013-2014. His books Elementary Principles and What About the Sacrifices are both based on material from the Hebrews sermons.

1 Fire on the Mountain Recorded 12/29/2012

Is the God of the New Covenant a lot friendlier than the God of the Old Covenant? Conventional Christian teaching depicts the revelation of New Covenant in terms that contradict the image of a stern and fearsome God speaking from Mount Sinai. Was that the intention behind the comparison between Mount Sinai and Mount Zion in Hebrews 12?

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them ... but you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." (Hebrews 12:18-24)

2 A Word of Exhortation Recorded 01/05/2013

Who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews and who were those Hebrews to whom the epistle was sent? Why did the early church nearly exclude Hebrews from the canon. This teaching provides a quick introduction to the book of Hebrews addressing the questions of what, who, to whom, when, where, and why. We look for clues in introduction and subscription of the epistle and we speculate about the possible authorship of the epistle, the intended audience, the occasion that might have inspired its the composition, and the overall genre of the piece.

I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. (Hebrews 13:22) 

 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (1 Timothy 4:13)

3 Solomon's Porch Recorded 01/12/2013

Where did the first Christians go to church? Our third teaching on the book of Hebrews takes a look at the Jewish believers and their relationship to the Temple and Levitical worship system in the first century and looks for the possible occasion that inspired the writing of the epistle. Learn about the sacred place of assembly where the Jerusalem community of disciples used to gather daily for prayer.

And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. (Act 5:12)

4 Sundry Times and Divers Manners Recorded 01/19/2013

How does Yeshua and the message of Messiah stack up against the patriarchs and the prophets? Our fourth teaching on the book of Hebrews considers the first two verses of the epistle:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son. (Hebrews 1:1-2).

This teaching identifies the thesis statement behind the book of Hebrews with reference to Yalkut Shimoni and Midrash Tanchuma on Isaiah 52:13.

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalte (Isaiah 52:13)

5 Radiance of Glory Recorded 01/26/2013

What role in the creation of all things did the Son play? From where did the apostles derive their high view of Messiah in His divinity? This teaching explores early apsotolic mysticism. Take a quick immersion into the Christology of the apostles and the writer of the book of Hebrews based on the prologue to the book of Hebrews.

...His Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Hebrews 1:2-3).

6 Ten Testimonies Recorded 02/02/2013

In the first two chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the writer of the epistle employs ten proof texts drawn from the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings to make his case that Messiah is more exalted than angels. In this teaching, D. Thomas Lancaster connects the dots between the ten passages to reveal the larger message.

A fast-paced, crash course weaving all over the Bible as we follow an apostolic midrash. This is a fun exploration of New Testament Era methods of Bible interpretation.

Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. (Hebrews 2:5)

7 Spoken by Angels Recorded 02/09/2013

The writer of the book of Hebrews indicates that the Torah was spoken by angels. In this teaching, D. Thomas Lancaster takes a look at first-century angelology to understand the apostolic concept of the Torah being delivered by angels and what role that concept plays in the argument in Hebrews 2.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution,how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, (Hebrews 2:1-3)

8 The Partisans Recorded 02/16/2013

The kingdom of heaven prior to the final redemption can be likened to a partisan movement, such as Robin Hood and his men or the European freedom fighters that fought in Nazi occupied territory. The Partisans is a teaching on Hebrews 2 in light of Psalm 8 and the parable of the ten minas in Luke 19 concerning all things in subjection to the Son and the revelation of the kingdom.

We have this common goal, this common purpose. We have received the dispatch. The king is on the throne, and he is on the way here. If we will be loyal to him now, we are part of his kingdom. But he has not yet arrived. There is another king on the throne, who holds the power of death, and we are the resistance movement, loyal to the incoming king because we know that, even though this enemy and pretender, this contender for the throne still holds power, his rule is over, he has lost his authority, and his time is quickly coming to an end.

9 The Family of God Recorded 03/02/2013

Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, but the Messiah has the status of Son over the household. Hebrews 3:1-6 contrasts and compares the respective stations of Moses and Messiah in the household of God. This teaching considers the familial language the Yeshua and the apostles applied to the believers, and it discusses the concept of family loyalty and our obligations to one another within the body of Messiah.

How do we know that the Messiah will be more worthy of honor than Moses? The Holy One Blessed be He spoke of Moses saying, “My servant Moses is faithful in all my house,” but He spoke regarding the Son of David saying, “He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.” Now who is greater, the servant over the household, or the Son of the household? Surely the Son is more worthy of honor than the Servant. Now the builder of the household has more honor than the household, just as the Creator has more honor than the creation. So the Son has more honor than the servant.

10 Enter My Rest Recorded 03/09/2013

Three possible interpretations of Psalm 95:11 prepare us for understanding the discussion in Hebrews 3:7ff regarding the generation in the wilderness that did not enter into God's rest. An important preface to the Sabbath discussion of Hebrews 4.

Psalm 95:11 says, "Therefore I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'" The Book of Hebrews quotes this verse and interprets it in three possible directions:

  • Interpretation ONE of of Psalm 95:11: “They shall not enter my Sabbath Rest.
  • Interpretation TWO of Psalm 95:11: “They shall not enter the Promsied Land.”
  • Interpretation THREE of Psalm 95:11: “They shall not enter the kingdom or the world to come.”

 

11 A Sabbath Rest Remains Recorded 03/16/2013

The Sabbath represents the Messianic Era and the menuchah of the world to come. In Hebrews 3:7-4:11, the writer of the holy Epistle to the Hebrews compares this present world to the work week of preparation, and he warns us to prepare ourselves now for the Kingdom and the World to Come. This important message demonstrates that Hebrews 4 should not be used to justify a spiritual interpretation of the Sabbath that makes actual Sabbath observance obsolete. 

12 The Book and the Sword Recorded 04/06/2013

Does it ever seem like God is far away, distant, doesn’t hear your prayers; you don’t feel his presence; you can’t see him, and you don’t experience him? That's because we are on the wrong side of the sword that closes the way to Eden. Hebrews 4:11-16 speaks of a fearsome sword that divides soul and spirit, joint and marrow, and reveals the inner intentions of the heart. Discover the edenic background to the double-edged sword of the book of Hebrews and the Way to the tree of life.

13 The Messiah Psalm Recorded 04/13/2013

Psalm 110 is the most frequently quoted text in the New Testament. Why? And what did Yeshua mean when he quoted it to challenge the concept of a Davidic Messiah?

David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, 'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.' David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son? (Mar 12:36-37)

Listen to a study of Hebrews 4:14-5:6 which unwraps Psalm 110 and introduces the priesthood of Messiah. The Messiah Psalm offers discussion about the Messianic interpretation of Psalm 110 as it appears in the teaching of Yeshua (Mark 12) and the Epistle of Hebrews.

14 The Source of Eternal Salvation Recorded 04/20/2013

The rabbis believe that Psalm 2 is about the Messiah. The apostles believed that Psalm 110 is about Yeshua. Find out how the two psalms intersect, and follow the apostolic logic to discover how the writer of the book of Hebrews derived the priesthood of Messiah. This teaching comes with a stern call to discipleship. Covers Hebrews 5:5-10 and includes a downloadable pdf file of the two psalms.

15 Six Foundations Recorded 04/27/2013

What are the fundamentals? Discover the six basic teachings of Messianic faith from Hebrews 5:11-6:3. This sermon presents an introduction and overview of:

... repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2).

This is the sermon that sidetracked us into a series which eventually became the book Elementary Principles.

16 Things that Belong to Salvation Recorded 05/04/2013

Do we have eternal security or eternal insecurity? Do apostates lose their eligibility for the world to come? A few verses in Hebrews 6 have been a theological battleground for these questions since the earliest days of Christianity.

The things that belong to salvation include the gift of the Spirit, the goodness of the word of God, and the power of the age to come. This sermon deals with the difficult and controversial material in Hebrews 6:4-12.

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

One for the black bird, one for the crow, one for the cutworm, and one to grow.

17 The Evangelical Gospel Recorded 05/25/2013

The Evangelical Gospel can be reduced to "Jesus died to save you from your sins. Believe in him for the forgiveness of sins and you will go to heaven when you die." This sermon introduces the Six Elementary Teachings of Messiah with a look at Evangelicalism, our Evangelical roots, and the problems with the Evangelical Gospel, citing Scot McKnight's book The King Jesus Gospel.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. (Hebrews 6:1-3)

18 Repentance from Dead Works Recorded 06/01/2013

Are "dead works" the "works of the Law"? Does the book of Hebrews tell us to repent from Torah observance when it speaks of "repentance from dead works."

What are the basic teachings of Messiah mentioned in Hebrews 6:1-3? Discover the meaning of repentance from dead works in this eighteenth installment of sermons on the epistle to the Hebrews.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. (Hebrews 6:1-3)

19 Repentance from Dead Works II Recorded 06/08/2013

Does repentance mean to change your mind or to turn from sin? 

More thoughts on repentance from dead works as an essential part of the gospel and one of the elementary teachings of Yeshua. Evangelism is not like making toast. Discipleship and evangelism entail an ongoing process. This teaching includes excerpts from a blog in which an Evangelical pastor explains why he does not preach repentance.

20 Faith toward God Recorded 06/15/2013

The second elementary teaching of the Messiah in Hebrews 6:12 is called faith toward God, but how does “faith towards God” function as a distinctive, unique, hallmark of first century Messianic Judaism? All sects of Judaism believed in God. Even the Sadducees believed in God. Find out how Yeshua transformed the faith of his followers, and get a fresh handle on what it means to believe in Jesus and to be born again. This teaching includes a discussion on the relationship between Messianic Judaism and the rest of the Jewish people in the form of the parable of the man with two daughters.

21 Instructions About Washings Recorded 06/22/2013

Hebrews 6:1-3 identifies instructions about washings as one out of six fundamental, elementary teachings about the Messiah. Does this refer to baptism? Are these instructions about how to baptize? Learn about the Jewish practice of immersion in a mikvah and discover evidence of early, apostolic-era  catechism prior to immersion. This teaching includes a short introduction to the Didache.

22 Laying on of Hands Recorded 06/29/2013

Why do we "lay hands" on the sick? What does the ceremony of laying on of hands actually mean?

The writer of the book of Hebrews lists the laying on of hands as one of the elementary teachings of the Messiah. What is the laying on of hands and what did it signify to the early believers? Listen to a rapidly moving Bible study on the subject of semichah in the apostolic era.

23 The Initiation Recorded 07/06/2013

The elementary principles include the subject of baptism and instructions regarding immersions. In this teaching, we look at the evidence from early Christian documents. Find out how the second-century Christians welcomed new converts into the body of Messiah. This teaching contains quotations from Justin Martyr's First Apology, from the Didache, and from the Apostolic Constitutions. The quotations are available in the PDF document below titled Initiation Texts.

24 Our Hope is not in Heaven Recorded 07/27/2013

The Evangelical gospel asks, "Are you certain you are going to go to heaven when you die?" The Christian objective seems to be to secure a place in heaven, but the Bible says very little about heaven. Find out why most passages about heaven are actually not about heaven at all in this installment on the basic teachings of the Messiah from Hebrews 6. 

25 The Resurrection of the Dead Recorded 08/03/2013

What's the difference between the resurrection and going to heaven?

According to Hebrews 6:1-2, the resurrection of the dead is one of the six basic doctrines of Messianic faith. In this teaching, D. Thomas Lancaster takes a look at the apostolic hope in the resurrection, distinguishing between the resurrection of the righteous and the general resurrection. This is teaching number 25 in the Hebrews series and number 10 in special series on the elementary teachings of the Messiah.

26 The Final Judgment Recorded 08/10/2013

After the resurrection of the dead comes the final judgment. According to Hebrews 6, the eternal judgment is one of the elementary principles of the Messiah, yet it is poorly understood among believers today. This teaching provides a quick synopsis of the subject.

The Final Judgment is a re-recording of a talk originally delivered on Shabbat Shoftim, Elul 4, 5773 corresponding to August 10 in the year of our Master 2013. This is the 26th installment in our studies in the book of Hebrews and the final installment in our special study of elementary teachings of the Messiah in Hebrews 6.

27 Melchizedek

Was Melchizedek actually a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ in the Old Testament? Who is the mysterious priest and what is his relationship to Yeshua? This teaching retells the story of Abraham's encounter with Melchizedek and discusses the role of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7:1-17.

28 The Bypass Recorded 10/26/2013

What does it mean that "the former commandment has been set aside" (Hebrews 7:18)? Does the priesthood of Messiah cancel the priesthood of Aaron and the Levitical system? This teaching explores the relationship between two different priesthoods in Hebrews 7:18-28, the Aaronic priesthood and the Melchizedekian priesthood.

The Aaronic priesthood was never in business to conduct souls to heaven or to attain eternal forgiveness and justification for sinners. That was not their job. Their job was to facilitate the worship of Hashem in the holy Sanctuary, to conduct the sacrificial services, to carry the blood of sacrifices to the altar, and to bestow Hashem’s blessing upon the worshippers and upon the nation. Getting people into heaven and raising them from the dead was not in the job description.

29 Shadow and a Copy Recorded 11/02/2013

Is the Temple on earth irrelevant since it is merely a shadow of the true heavenly reality?
This teaching on Hebrews 8:1-5 explains the Temple as a Shadow and a Copy of the supernal Temple above with references to Colossians 2:16-17 which describes the festivals and holy days as shadows of things that are to come--the substance of Messiah.

30 The New Covenant Recorded 11/09/2013

Discussion on Hebrews 8 and Jeremiah 31 regarding the New Covenant and its meaning from a Messianic Jewish perspective. Discover why the New Covenant is not the New Testament, the Renewed Covenant, nor the Brit Chadashah. Find out what the New Covenant really is and how the Torah is part of the New Covenant. A foundational teaching for everyone interested in Messianic Judaism and the role of Torah in the lives of disciples of Yeshua.

This sermon became one of the primary lectures in the First Fruits of Zion audio-teaching What About the New Covenant?

31 The Inner Torah Recorded 11/16/2013

What is the differences between the Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law in Pauline terminology? This teaching discusses the promise in Jeremiah 31 regarding the Torah written on our hearts in the New Covenant, with reference to Paul's discourse in Romans 7-8 regarding the Spirit and the Law. A foundational teaching for everyone interested in Messianic Judaism and the role of Torah in the lives of disciples of Yeshua. This sermon became one of the primary lectures in the First Fruits of Zion audio-teaching What About the New Covenant?

32 Better Promises Recorded 11/23/2013

Does the New Covenant really have better promises than the old? What are the better promises? How well do you really know the new covenant?

The book of Hebrews says that the Messiah has obtained a more excellent priesthood than the Aaronic priesthood because he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises (Hebrews 8:6). This discourse takes a closer look at the better promises of the new covenant as described in the prophecies of Jeremiah.

This lecture later became part of the First Fruits of Zion audio-teaching What About the New Covenant?

33 Glory to Glory Recorded 12/07/2013

In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul teaches a short discourse contrasting the glory of the Old Covenant and the glory of the New Covenant, employing the metaphor of the veil that concealed the light of Moses' face. This passage is frequently understood to imply replacement theology the cancellation of the Torah, but a closer look reveals a the role of the Torah in both old and new covenants.

But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. (2 Corinthians 3:7-11)

This lecture was included in the First Fruits of Zion audio-teaching What About the New Covenant?

34 Protos and Deuteros Recorded 12/14/2013

Bible teachers often use Hebrews 9 as proof that the disciples of Yeshua abandoned the Old Testament rituals of Temple worship and sacrifices as vestiges of an old covenant that had been replaced by a new covenant. A closer look reveals an entirely different message. Hebrews 9 uses the layout of the Temple to present  a mystical illustration of the passage from this world to the World to Come.

For more on sacrifices and the New Testament, see the First Fruits of Zion audio-teaching What About the New Covenant?.

35 The Blood of Bulls and Goats Recorded 12/21/2013

What were the sacrifices supposed to accomplish? The writer of the book of Hebrews maintains that the animal sacrifices offered in the Temple cannot grant forgiveness for the world to come or the reward of eternal life. If so, why did God command the Israelites to offer sacrifices?

The contents of this discussion contributed to the First Fruits of Zion audio-teaching What About the Sacrifices?.

This sermon marks one year in Beth Immanuel's study of the epistle to the Hebrews, so it features a brief review of the first eight chapters of the book.

36 Mediator of the New Covenant Recorded 12/28/2013

Anyone can pray, and God knows the thoughts of every creature. The difference between this world and the world of the divine is artificial, and God pervades all things, and all things are in him, so why would anyone need a mediator?
In the New Covenant, Yeshua acts as priest, sacrifice, and mediator.
Installment 36 in the Beth Immanuel Hebrews series finishes Hebrews chapter 9 with a discussion on Hebrews 9:15-28 and the Messiah's role as a mediator between Israel and God.

37 A Body You Have Prepared Recorded 01/04/2014

Do the sacrifices take away sins or not? The Torah seems to indicate that they do, but the writer of the book of Hebrews says, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

Dive into Hebrews 10 with an entertaining, fast-paced discussion of an apostolic midrash on Psalm 40 and it's appearance in the argument regarding the suffering of the Messiah as an atoning sacrifice for sin.

38 Single Sacrifice for Sin Recorded 01/11/2014

Hebrews 10:10-18 presents the death of Yeshua of Nazareth as the single sacrifice for sin, but does that make Yeshua a sin offering like those once offered in the Temple? In what sense is Yeshua a sacrifice? How can he be a sacrifice when his death does not accord with the Levitical laws for the sacrificial services whatsoever? This teaching, based on the final chapter of Pastor Lancaster's booklet What about the Sacrifices? answers the difficult question of how the death of the Messiah provides atonement for sin.

39 Full Assurance of Faith Recorded 01/18/2014

I'm not perfect, just forgiven. I'm not holier than thou, I'm just a sinner saved by grace. Something has gone terribly wrong with our thinking if we believe that the only difference between a believer and a non-believer is that the believer is forgiven and assured of eternal life. That idea is not worthy of the name Christian or the name of Messiah, and it sullies the reputation of our holy Master. Hebrews 10:18-31 contains a stern warning and exhortation to the upward call of discipleship and the demands of new-covenant living.

40 Ani Ma'amin (I believe) Recorded 01/25/2014

What do Maimonides and the book of Hebrews have in common? Find out how the Talmud and the book of Hebrews intersect when it comes to the question of faith in Messiah.
The book of Hebrews continues with a call to hold fast to faith in the coming of the Messiah.

41 A Great Cloud of Witnesses Recorded 02/01/2014

The Bible says we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Are the biblical saints of old watching us live our lives like characters in a bad reality TV show?

The writer of the book of Hebrews refers to the biblical saints as a great cloud of witnesses. What does that term imply?

42 Mussar Recorded 02/15/2014

Nobody likes to be disciplined, and nobody enjoys discipline, but the believer can have confidence that all of life's difficulties and hardships are meant for good from the hand of a loving father. This discussion on Hebrews 12:5-12 introduces the biblical concept of mussar, godly discipline for the sake of spiritual correction and character refinement.

43 The Bitter Root Recorded 02/22/2014

The book of Hebrews warns us against allowing a bitter root to spring up in our lives, but the bitter root is probably not what you think it is. The Talmud says that one who says, "I will sin now and repent later, and sin again," is not forgiven. Take a look in the Torah to discover the real meaning of the bitter root. This teaching on Hebrews 12:11-29 challenges cheap grace while encouraging us to keep our eyes on the hope of the kingdom. 

45 Outside the Camp Recorded 03/08/2014

Our religion involves a lot of ritual foods, including the ceremony that the Church refers to as the Eucharist, but the writer of the book of Hebrews warns his readers to steer away from sacramental interpretations of ceremonial foods. This discussion of Hebrews 13:9-14 brings the central conflict behind the epistle into sharp focus.

46 Sacrifice of Praise Recorded 03/22/2014

How can we worship God without the sacrifices? The epistle of the Hebrews points us to the text of Hosea 14:2 to answer this question, employing the same proof text and arriving at nearly the same conclusion that the sages of Yavneh offered after the destruction of the Temple. That prescient message anticipated the coming exile and offered Israel a survival guide for the long years ahead without sacrifice, without priest, and without temple.

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