Hebrews (Heb)

Having 13 chapters, this is the 19th book of the NT. It is unclear who wrote this teaching book to the Hebrew (Jewish) believers about AD 70. Time to read: 45 mins.

Key people: the OT people of faith mentioned in chapter 11.

Outline. The superiority of the single sacrifice of Jesus as our substitute is compared with the often repeated OT sacrifices that only covered but could not forgive sin (Heb 9:25). Jesus Christ is presented as the final and complete sacrifice for sin, and the only way to eternal life.  As the great High Priest, representing the people to God, Jesus eclipsed those of the OT order. Christ was obedient even to suffering death for us, thus making our salvation complete (Heb 2:10, 5:8,9). Although He experienced temptations as we do, He never sinned (Heb 4:15). “With confidence we can enter...drawing near to God through the blood of Christ” (Heb 10:19,22). Many examples are given of people living by faith.

Main lesson. The total sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice – He suffered death for everyone (Heb 2:9,10). Although the OT sacrifices, to a limited degree, addressed the issue of sin – “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” they were not adequate, however they pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ who took away the sins of many people (Heb 9:22,28).

Key verses and thoughts: * “In the past God spoke...through the prophets...but in these last days He has spoken to us by His son...who is the exact representation of God” (Heb 1:1,2). In the OT God seemed remote to most people – they pleaded “speak to us through Moses” or the other prophets and leaders. Few individuals desired having a ‘direct line’ to heaven, and so God dealt with the nation through these intermediary people (Ex 20:19). The emphasis in the NT is on direct, individual, personal communication – face-to-face with Jesus “who lived among us...who our hands have touched” (Jn 1:14; 1 Jn 1:1). This intimate relationship begins at salvation and should continue throughout our lives. Do I only receive through an intermediary, such as the sermon on Sunday, or do I have close first-hand dealings with Jesus who fully represented the Father’s attributes.  Am I increasingly being transformed – being ‘conformed to the likeness of Christ’ in each aspect of my life?  Get in touch with Jesus and your life will change for the better.

* “We must pay more careful attention, to what we have heard, so we don’t drift away...or have hardened hearts” (Heb 2:1-4, 3:7-19). Learn from the experiences of others – try to follow what is worthwhile without repeating their failures. Unbelief prevents us from receiving. As land either “receives the blessing of God [for beneficial productivity] or is worthless and is in danger of being cursed” so it with us. The “Word of God judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart...Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:12,13, 6:7,8,11). By our receptivity and response to the message of God, we set ourselves up to receive either His favour or displeasure.  Don’t ignore the seriousness of the issue, be diligent to enter in to all God has for you. Is the Holy Spirit convicting me of some wrong? In what things do I get the warmth of His approval?

* “You are slow to learn. In fact, when you should be teaching others you still in need of being taught the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again” (Heb 5:11-6:2). Although we are not to ignore or forget the foundation of our faith, we should be reaching for maturity – a greater understanding and appreciation of His grace and mercy, which will better equip us to reach out in our ministry to others. Am I growing and able to teach others or do I continually need to be spoon-fed like a child? A teacher only has to be one lesson ahead of their pupils to be able to lead! Often as we step out in faith, and ‘have a go’, we find that we also learn much faster.

* “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us spur one another on towards love and good actions…Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised” (Heb 10:23,24,35,36). The writer encouraged his readers to continue walking in the Christian faith in spite of the persecution, showing their faith was real. He has helped in the past, and that inspires hope for the future, understanding payday and rewards come at the conclusion!

* “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1-40). Faith is confident trust in God, “without faith we can’t please Him, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb 11:6). Many of the heroes listed in Chapter 11 were called to do what had never been done before. They acted without knowing the details or what the outcome would be. Many were persecuted because they obediently followed the heavenly call – some survived while others died – but they all held tenaciously to the certainty of their faith in God. They all died before Christ came so none of them received, at that time, all that God has in store for them. Am I dedicated to diligently seeking God and His will for me, willing to pay the price to obtain? He will increasingly reveal Himself to us in an intimate friendship. This should cause us to want to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles...Let us fix our eyes on Jesus...who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb 12:1,2). Go all out for God; don’t have a foot in both camps. Jesus walked by faith too. It was by ‘seeing’, with a confident faith into the future eternity, a great multitude of redeemed sinners in heaven, that He was enabled to voluntarily submit to the cross. What is the present challenge I’m facing that I need to apply this long term faith view to?

See also: faith, give-up, priests, martyr, sacrifice and offering.