CHRIST IN THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
The New Testament book of Hebrews draws many striking contrasts between Moses and Christ, the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ, the old covenant/testament and the new covenant/testament, the Jewish tabernacle/temple (physical structures) and the church (a spiritual house), and Judaism and Christianity. Key words and phrases used throughout this book are: “better,” “greater,” “more than,” “more excellent,” “greater and more perfect,” and similar terms of comparison. In every instance, the purpose is to show the superiority of Christ and Christianity to Moses and Judaism. Continue reading
Irks me to no end to hear or read the phrase “preacher for ___ church.” You’ll note that we avoid it in places like Brotherhood News and Forthright Magazine. Sure, Paul can call himself a servant of the church, but the modern phrase comes from a far inferior concept — an employer-employee mentality, exactly part of the problem today in the American church. Continue reading
In order to encourage unwavering fidelity, Hebrews was written to highlight the supremacy of Jesus Christ.
He is higher than angels (1:2,4). He is the greatest of all high priests, since he serves continually and needs no reconciliation for Himself (2:17; 5:5-7; 7:23,24). He is greater than Moses, who faithfully delivered the Divine will, but didn’t Author it (3:2-6). His sacrificial offering (of Himself) was pristine (7:26,27; 10:14). Hence, His mediatorship is perpetual (7:25), his covenant is perfect, and His promises are greater than those previously received through Moses (8:6-8).
Since these things are so, God’s people should:
- encourage one another’s obedience, lest we fall short (3:12-13; 4:1,2),
- approach God’s throne of mercy with hope when we sin, (4:14- 16),
- exercise our faith regularly (5:12-14), and
- be diligent to the end (6:11,12).
Chapter 11 is a panorama of persons in the Divine narrative who define biblical faith. “By faith,” each of these committed themselves to acting upon God’s promises and commands without question—even in the face of great adversity. Each of their lives demonstrates the triumph of trust in God’s ultimate will, over the adversity of the present moment.
Chapter 12 is one of the saddest arbitrary divisions in Scripture, leading us to believe, perhaps, that it is disconnected from chapter 11. Not at all; rather, it is the pinnacle. There is no greater hero of faith, no demonstration of ultimate trust, “better” than that of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith. His faith overthrew death itself, and He rose victoriously to the right hand of the Father, where He sits and waits: on us, and for us (12:1-4).
—Rick Kelley, Prestonsburg (Ky) Informer
The extreme goodness of God towards us — he gives us “an unshakeable kingdom” — must not make us overlook his greatness and his holiness. To forget it would be to lose contact with him.
—Albert Vanhoy, A Different Priest: The Epistle to the Hebrews, 2011, 397
Many in the world struggle with the existence of evil, the abuse of the innocent and a lack of justice across multiple spectrums of life. The struggle can be so intense that it leads many to disregard any acknowledgement of the existence of a Higher Being. Even Christians can fail at times to keep our eyes focused upon the crown to be given after the race is over.
I believe the late brother Burton Coffman used some wise words concerning these issues. It’s a little lengthy for posts here, but I believe the read is worth the time:
“Great and terrible as the concept of eternal judgment admittedly is, the most profound necessity for it is evident. Most of the truly difficult problems connected with the life of faith, and with reference to the entire system of Christianity, are directly related to the doctrine of eternal judgment. Heaven, hell, eternal punishment, eternal joy, Satan, and the problem of evil – all these things pivot in the last analysis upon the scriptural teaching of the judgment. All of the problems, great and small, eventually fade into insignificance before the pressing question, “Is this universe just?” The underlying assumption of revealed religion as set forth in both the Old Testament and the New Testament is the concept of a just universe; and time and time again it is unequivocably declared to be just (Psalms 45:6,7). The father of the faithful, Abraham, idiomatically inferred it when he asked, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). The existence of laws in the natural realm, the moral law within people, and the sacred revelation all alike proclaim the justice of the universe; and if it is not so, life indeed becomes “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (Macbeth, Act V). Sanity in any true sense turns upon the question of justice in the cosmos. If the righteousness and justice of God do indeed establish his throne and undergird all things, then WE ARE SAFE; and every man shall receive the reward of the deeds done in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10); if not, then any true security of the soul is a fool’s dream, and man himself is but an infant crying in the night with no language but a cry!
But if the universe is just; if the righteous shall be rewarded and the wicked punished, AN ETERNAL JUDGMENT IS REQUIRED, a judgment in which all inequities and injustices shall be corrected, an eternal judgment presided over by infinite justice, wisdom, mercy, and love – in short, the judgment revealed upon every page of the sacred scriptures, or if not revealed, then certainly implied. The widespread neglect and apparent disbelief of this doctrine suggests that it is true of our generation, as it was of those to whom this epistle was first addressed, that we “have need again that someone teach us the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God” (Hebrews 5:12)” (James Burton Coffman Commentaries, Volume X, Hebrews 6:1-2; p.116; A.C.U. Press, 1971)
One part of scripture that I try to remember when my heart and mind ponders these issues is Psalm 73. While struggling over the existence of the wicked and their bounding prosperity over the righteous, the psalmist reminds himself and all of his readers about an extremely important point. He says in verses 16,17 – “When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me — Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end.”
Although at times it’s hard to see and comprehend in this life, God’s word assures His people there will be universal justice one day; and this day will not have anything to do with any man-made court (Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29).
Hebrews 4:12 is one of my favorite scriptures. It can be comforting or it can be chilling. It depends on us.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
I saw the other day where someone at an auction recently paid $94,600 for Elvis’ personal copy of the scriptures! It left me wondering whether that person was more interested in owning a Bible or in owning the Word of God. It left me wondering who was “king” in that person’s life. It left me wondering if they knew that one “king” is dead while the other King still lives and reigns. It left me wondering because I cannot see the thoughts and intents of that person’s heart…but I know what can whether they do or not.