Sermon: The God of Peace (Hebrews 13:18-25)

The God of Peace

Hebrews 13:18-25 (ESV)

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.  [19] I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.

[20] Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  [21] equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

[22] I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.  [23] You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon.  [24] Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings.  [25] Grace be with all of you.

The writer of Hebrews has one last surprise for us.  As he’s done so many times in the epistle, he’s thrown in one more reason for us to love Christ.  His picture of Christ is one of multi-colors and multi-facets.  The glory of Christ, the writer pictures for us, is like a diamond with multi cuts that glimmer as it is examined.  As we look to Christ new dimensions are seen and as we study the Word we should step back in awe when a new truth is shown to us.

Truth taught- God is the God of Peace to those who know Christ and the God of wrath for those who don’t.

In this text of Scripture we’re not only called to stand in awe of Jesus Christ but stand in awe of God the Father, the One who sent Christ to us.

1. The God of Peace (Hebrews 13:20a)

[20] Now may the God of peace

If we’re not careful, we could shoot right past this phrase and not catch the weight of it.  Because of the New Covenant, God is a God of peace to all who are in Christ.  As believers we are in a peaceful relationship with Him.

Ephes. 2:14-19 (ESV)

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  [15] by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  [16] and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  [17] And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  [18] For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  [19] So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

The writer is contrasting what he said earlier in 12:29…God is a consuming fire.  The question then must be asked, how is it God can be a consuming fire and a God of peace?  Jesus is the difference.  If you know Christ as Lord and Savior you know God the Father as the God of Peace.  If, however, you do not know Christ as Lord and Savior then God is a God of wrath or as the verse says a consuming fire.  Jesus makes the difference.  God’s peace only comes to us through the gospel.

2. The Gospel of Peace (Hebrews 13:20b)

who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,

Here, the writer weaves together for us different aspects of the gospel.

He mentions the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the eternal covenant brought about through Christ.

We have peace with God through the blood of Christ.

Col. 1:20-23 (ESV)

and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,  [22] he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,  [23] if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

What’s amazing here is that Paul tells us that the created order has been reconciled to God.  First, God’s elect have been and second even other created things…things like planet earth…far as the curse is found…

Hebrews 10:14 (ESV)

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

-We have peace with God through the resurrection of Christ

Literally, the text reads, who led out Jesus Christ from the dead.

Many writers, including John Owen believe this to be a parallel to God leading out the children of Israel from Egypt.  The language is unusually similar.  The reason I believe they’re right is because when God led the Hebrews out of Egypt, He immediately gave then the Old Covenant (Ten Commandments) and when God led Christ out from the dead we immediately received a ratified New Covenant through His blood.  The resurrection is all the proof we need to see that everything Jesus told us is true.  His one-time sacrifice was accepted by God for the reconciliation of sinners and the proof that God accepted Christ’s work on our behalf is that God the Father led the Son out of death.

Romans 4:22-25 (ESV)

That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”  [23] But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone,  [24] but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,  [25] who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

God led His Son out of death and this is also proof that He will do the same for us, His people.  The resurrection is not only God’s stamp of approval on the work of Christ but it also gives us confidence that He will lead us out of death and, in fact, has already done so.  We have passed from death to life because of the work of Jesus Christ.

3. The Covenant of Peace (Hebrews 13:20c)

by the blood of the eternal covenant

The New Covenant is not new as far as God is concerned.  It has always been in God’s mind and plan.  Before time began the plan of redemption had already been sealed.  God would do all that He had intended to do.  Before Adam and Eve were created, God had already determined to send His Son to save a people from Adam’s fallen race.

2 Tim. 1:8-10 (ESV)

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,  [9] who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,  [10] and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

The writer brings out one last characteristic of Jesus Christ when he calls Him the Great Shepherd.

4. The Shepherd of Peace (Hebrews 13:20)

Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep,

In the Book of Hebrews we have seen Christ as the:

Apostle and High Priest of our faith 3:1

Author and finisher of our faith 5:9

Radiance of the glory of God 1:3

Captain of our salvation 2:10

Christ 3:6

First Born 1:6

Forerunner 6:20

God 1:8

Heir of all things 1:2

Our Helper 13:6

Image of the invisible God 1:3

Jesus 2:9

Lord 1:10

Mediator 8:6

Minister 8:2

High Priest 2:17

Son of God 4:14

Testator 9:16

The Truth 10:26

The Vail 10:20

Word of God 4:12

We see Christ today in this text as the Great Shepherd 13:20

Many of the names given to Christ in the Book of Hebrews attest to His divinity.  Just so we are very clear here I need to say it clearly…Jesus Christ is God.  He’s not God the Father or God the Holy Spirit but He is God the Son.  He is one third of the Trinity.  So, when the writer refers to Christ as the Great Shepherd he is laying upon Him the correct title of Deity.

The early church understood the implications of this title very well.  He is not just the Great Shepherd but He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep.  He is the New Covenant Great Shepherd.  He is the One who is the fulfillment of these words given by David…

Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV)

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

[2] He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

[3] He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

[4] Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

[5] You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

[6] Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.

I can imagine the writer of Hebrews wanted to write a whole other epistle expounding these last few sentences.  Jesus is the subject of the Book of Hebrews.  It’s Him we are to learn of and love deeply.

5. God’s Work in Us (Hebrews 13:21)

[21] equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight,

We often highlight the work of Christ in granting us salvation.  His work is vitally important and we should focus on it all the time.  God is also working in us through Christ to cause us to work.  Our good works never earn salvation for us, that was what Christ did when He died on the cross.  Our good works are the result of Christ’s work.  Once we are converted then we should be all about good works.

God’s will is to equip His people with the necessary endowments in order to carry out His will.

God gives every believer the Holy Spirit who is working all the time in our hearts and minds to write God’s laws upon our hearts.  He is in the process of conforming us to the image of Christ.

This verse shows us that good works are a fruit of salvation and they please God.

Is God working within you to produce a child of God who will do the works He desires?

Ephes. 2:10 (ESV)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The whole Book of Hebrews could be summed up this way,

We stay the course of the Christian faith as we look to Christ and do His will, owing everything to Him who is the author and finisher and everything in between of our faith.

May the God who brought the Great Shepherd from the grave keep us for all eternity by His power for His glory…Amen

We see at the end of this book the write perspective when we think of Christ.  He is the Great Shepherd and we are the sheep.  He guides and we follow.  He leads us to the green pasture of His grace and we are strengthened.  He cares for us.  We receive the benefit and He receives the glory.

My prayer for you is that you endure to the end looking to Christ our Great Shepherd who leads us to the God of Peace.

Truth taught- God is the God of Peace to those who know Christ and the God of wrath for those who don’t.

[20] Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  [21] equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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