May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (verses 20-21)
What a wonderful prayer to receive at the end of this lengthy epistle. I want to grab hold of it fully. Let’s take it piece by piece.
· May the God of peace … In a book that is titled “Hebrews,” drawing so heavily on Old Testament history and background, it goes without saying that the word “peace” is fully flavoured by the Hebrew concept of “shalom”– something more than simply the absence of conflict. “Shalom”implies health, wholeness, completeness, and well-being in every aspect of life – “life … to the full” as Jesus promised (John 10:10). The Sovereign Lord is the source. Yes!
· … who through the blood of the eternal covenant … The Old Testament is full of sacrifices of bulls and goats, their blood being offered endlessly to cover the sins of the people. But Jesus has offered himself as the final sacrifice – he has covered sins “once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). ‘It is finished,’ he cried from the cross. Yes!
· … brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus … He sacrificed himself. But death couldn’t hold him. The Father raised him to life! He is vindicated. The work is accomplished. He is the Lord of life. Yes!
· … that great Shepherd of the sheep … Often in this book Jesus is called our great High Priest, but this is the first time he is called our Shepherd. It’s one of Jesus’ own descriptions for himself, promising that he would lay down his life for us, his sheep. Now, alive again, he shepherds us still – watching over, guiding with rod and staff, leading us to life-giving pastures, caring for our souls. Yes!
These four phrases, layered one on the other, are the solid, immovable foundation for the requests that will now be made. Are you ready? The assurance of this prayer’s answer is already given!
· … equip you with everything good for doing his will … I’m called to serve him – but what hope could I possibly have of doing it adequately? None at all. Except … except if the Lord himself would equip me, train my hands, gift me with his own power, and fill me with his Spirit. That’s the focus of this prayer. Oh, may it be!
· … and may he work in us what is pleasing to him … I’ve often found a smile spreading across my face as I’ve watched my children (now grown!) doing something that warmed my heart. I know my own Mom and Dad smiled on me, too. What joy. Oh, to be and to do what makes my heavenly Father smile. That’s the focus of this prayer. May it be!
· … through Jesus Christ … It’s all about Jesus. I am in him. He is in me. Jesus, my hope of glory. May it be!
· … to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Yes – all glory be to him for all eternity. “In my life, Lord – be glorified” (as the old worship song put it). But beyond – in everything, in every way. All glory to Jesus. May it be!
I pray all these phrases to you, O Lord. May it be! To Jesus’ eternal glory. Amen.
Pray: Take these words with you all through the day. Pause now to pray them. Pause several times throughout the day. Revel in the praise – revel in the requests. All to his glory.