Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh) . . . let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith
The past few weeks I have written about discipline and prayer. Both are an avenue to establish a closeness with God. This week The Pew is going back to the book so to speak. In the weeks to come we will draw from the Book of Hebrews one of my favorite books to read.
I look on prayer as a conversation between myself and God. I believe that we need more of a conversation between the church and the Bible. There are many things to talk about that we find in the Bible pertaining to the liturgy, purpose and the relationships that define the Christian faith. There are many voices that join the conversation, invited and uninvited. The language used, the conclusions reached and the level of participation depend on the community of people involved in the conversation. Not all people are equally engaged, some preferring to remain silent and regrettably some are silenced by the more influential in the conversation. So as we get into this study about people, church and the Bible, keep in mind there needs to be a willingness and ability of all involved to hear and carry on this conversation. There are some interesting facts about this book. One thing to note is that Hebrews has not always had a stronger or more influential voice, so to speak, in the conversation between the church and Bible. We do not want to give the impression that this letter has been silenced or put aside totally. Many a church uses Hebrews 13:20-21 as a benediction…
20 Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Now there are many other occasions in many congregations that Hebrews is invited to speak through the written word. We just happen to notice that the invitation to do so is not extended as often to Hebrews nor is it afforded the attentiveness such as is given to Romans or 1 Corinthians.
The Book of Hebrews opens with a statement of faith. In these first four verses we find what I call buzz-words that establish the very roots of this book. Read again the pillars of truth written here. God spoke, has spoken….in the past, in these last days…to our ancestors, to us….by the prophets… by a Son. There is a noticeable shift that takes place in verse 3. We read in verse 2 of God’s relation to the Son and in verse 3 we read of the Son’s relationship to God. To sum up these first four we must look closely at the time this book is written and of course later translations. We are to remember that the subject of our Christian faith is God. The Christian church at this point has some semblance of order of worship and faith precepts. This raises an interesting point. When taking the gospel to those who don’t acknowledge God, the teaching of Christian theology relating to the person, nature, and role of Christ is in a sense beginning a bit early. Here at the start of this book we are reminded that in the beginning, God…. Even if the discussion will eventually move to Christ, the Holy Spirit or the church. The writer states, not assumes, the centerpiece of the Christian faith is God… God does speak to his people and his revelation is the cornerstone of both Judaism and Christianity. Some would believe that there could be an issue of continuity between Judaism and Christianity, that being a whole other story. Over the years the issue if discontinuity was struggled with but here in this book of Hebrews we find in chapter 1 verse 1 how that issue will be addressed. There is another image of the early church as being poor, and unlettered people at the margins of society, that image is shattered in these first four verses. The writer makes it clear that this is written for what we might consider second-generation Christians.(2:3) Much of what we read here was passed on by those who had actually heard the Lord speak. Those to whom it was written were for the most part not new to the Christian faith. (5:12) They are encouraged to look back on former days. (10:32) Looking back they would see the many heroic figures who suffered for the word, this would be a great inspiration for their community of believers. (13:7)
To do an online study of Hebrews using a blog as the platform is not practicable. Instead we will look at a few of the chapters and hope that this will encourage you to read this book. This was always one of the most beloved books back in the day. There was quite a bit of pushback to keep it out of the new Testament. There is no definitive decision as to who actually wrote Hebrews, there are several names put forward by biblical scholars but to make a long story short…in order for the book to be included in the New Testament it was attached to the writings of Paul and thereby gained inclusion. So now with these small items out of the way, let’s look at the first chapter of this book.
First there is the wonderful revelation found in verses 1-4. In past times God had revealed Himself through the prophets, He now reveals himself through his Son Jesus Christ. The deity of Jesus Christ, God incarnate shines forth brighter than the sun in the sky. Jesus, the Creator, Sustainer and risen Savior, is better than the angels. In verse 5 we find Jesus the supernatural Son for he is both the Son of God and God the Son. We willingly worship the only God. Even the angels of heaven are told to worship Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, verses 6-7. In verses 8-9 a mystery is put forth that the human mind is unable to understand. Jesus has an eternal relationship within the Trinity with God the father. As said the human mind is unable to understand this without the teaching of God’s revelation found in the scriptures. Verses 10-12 present the fact that within the Trinity, Jesus created the world. We close this chapter with verses 13-14 revealing that it is the Father’s will that the Son shall reign from the right side of the throne. Leaving to be understood that the Angels are there to minister to those who will become saved.
I am grateful you joined us today and hope you will return. May God bless you and your loved ones, bring family together and in a larger sense…May the Family of God, the Community of Faith and all who follow the way, remain strong by His presence and grace.
Life is Good