TODAY’S READING: HEBREWS 1-6
Comparing Christ to the Angels; comparing Christ to Moses; comparing Christ as our high priest to the priests of the Old Testament; comparing our rest in Christ to the rest of the Promised Land.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
The Book of Hebrews begins a section of the New Testament that often causes people problems. A mistake that is very easy to make, and is very often made when believers read the Word of God is viewing everything they read through “Christian” glasses. Christian glasses aren’t a bad thing when you’re reading a Book that is addressed to the local church (or a leader of a local church), but they can pose some pretty serious doctrinal problems if you leave them on when reading other Books of the New or Old Testament.
Like the Gospels, because the Book of Hebrews is found in the New Testament, most people leave their “local church”/ “Christian” glasses on while reading this Book. That is an invitation to doctrinal disaster. One of the things that will clear up about 90% of the difficulties found in the Book of Hebrews is simply asking yourself, “To whom was the Book of HEBREWS written?” Go ahead, take a wild stab at who you think it was! Uh, was it a local church? No. Uh, was it a leader of a local church? No. How about Gentiles? Good guess, but, no. Could it have been Hebrews? Yes! You got it! Wow! You must be a seminary graduate to understand something that deep!
The Book of Hebrews was written to Hebrews. Imagine that! And do you remember what we talked about concerning the Jews when we entered into our reading of the New Testament? In terms of “rightly dividing the word of truth,” the Jews/Nation of Israel is the “ancient landmark” that must be kept in place lest you enter into “the fields of the fatherless.” Not placing the “Hebrews” in the Book of Hebrews will make your study of the Book a “fatherless field.”
The theme of Hebrews is the superiority of Christ and the new covenant, compared to the old covenant. The key word you find in this Book is BETTER. We have a BETTER testament (7:22); a BETTER covenant (8:6); BETTER promises (8:6); a BETTER sacrifice (9:23); BETTER blood (12:24); BETTER substance (10:34); BETTER hope (7:19); a BETTER country (11:16); a BETTER resurrection (11:35). This also provides an easy breakdown of the book:
Chapters 1-2 Christ is better than the angels.
Chapter 3 Christ is better than Moses.
Chapter 4 Christ is better than Joshua.
Chapters 5-7 Christ is a better High Priest.
Chapters 8-13 Christ established a better covenant.
Historically, the Book of Hebrews was written to reveal the establishment of the new covenant by Jesus Christ. This Book is actually the written form of what the Apostle Paul did when entering cities for the first time to proclaim the gospel. Acts 17:2-3 reveals that Paul’s standard operating procedure when entering into a city, was to first go to the synagogue, and reason from the scriptures how that Christ was the Messiah. In those synagogues, to whom would Paul have been speaking? Predominantly Hebrews, right?
Doctrinally (or prophetically), the Book of Hebrews is written for the benefit of Jews during the Tribulation Period. We know from Romans 11 that God is not finished dealing with the Nation of Israel. As we’ve discussed previously, on God’s timetable we are presently living in a parenthesis called the Church Age. After the rapture of the church, God will once again deal directly with the Nation of Israel.
If you were a Jew in the Tribulation, and you realized that you and your people had missed the Messiah when Christ came the first time, as you look through the table of contents for the New Testament, what Book do you think you would be inclined to read? How about the one addressed specifically to you? The Book of HEBREWS!
We can, however, still learn a tremendous amount about the new covenant and Christ’s sacrifice for us even though the Book of Hebrews is not written directly to the church. It does clearly reveal how Christ is the reality of the pictures and types contained in the Old Testament. It also contains some of the clearest teaching on the effectiveness of Christ’s sacrifice, how that from God’s perspective, it was “one sacrifice for sins for ever”.
There are three clear warning passages contained in the first six chapters of Hebrews. They are as follows:
These warning passages are usually a place where many people lose their neck. Historically, these passages apply in two ways. First, to those Hebrews that had already placed their faith in Christ, these are an exhortation to hold fast to that faith. This would be similar to the teaching we see in Galatians where Paul actually calls believers “foolish” even though they had trusted Christ. Second, to those Hebrews who had not placed their faith in Christ alone, these warnings serve as a call to salvation. They need to realize Christ is the fulfillment of what they say is true (the Old Testament), and they need to embrace the new covenant Christ has established.
Doctrinally, these warning passages serve as an exhortation to Hebrews during the Tribulation to remain true to Christ and endure until the end. This corresponds to Christ’s teaching in Matthew 24:13 that those who endure until the end shall be saved. As we saw in Matthew 24, the context of that passage is not the Church Age, but rather, the time immediately preceding the Second Coming of Christ, the Tribulation.