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Once For All Sacrifice

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The Letter to the Hebrews highlights several aspects of the Son of God, especially his priesthood and one-time sacrifice. In doing so, the stress falls on the permanence of his priestly office, and the non-repeatable nature of his sacrifice. In his death, he “ achieved the purification of sins ,” and consequently, he now intercedes “ forevermore ” for his people as their High Priest. And his unique sacrifice dealt with sin “ ONCE-FOR-ALL .”

Hold Fast to the Word

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The first literary section of the Letter to the Hebrews concludes with an exhortation and an ominous warning. Any believer who fails to heed the far “ better word ” that God is now speaking in His Son will suffer an even “ sorer punishment ” than the rebellious Israelites received when they disobeyed the Mosaic Law. At Mount Sinai, the Torah was mediated to Moses by angels. Nevertheless, it was God’s word – He was its source – and therefore lawbreakers were punished severely.

Do Not Drift Away

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The first chapter of  Hebrews  emphasizes the supremacy of the High Priest who sits at the “ right hand of the Majesty on high .” First, the eternal sovereignty of God is described (“ Your throne, O God, is to times everlasting ”). Next, the qualifications of the Son for the priesthood are stated (“ You loved righteousness and hated lawlessness ”). This leads to the Letter’s first exhortation at the beginning of Chapter 2. Considering the excellency of the Son’s name and status, any failure to heed the “ word spoken ” in him will result in horrific consequences.

Well-Qualified High Priest

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The priesthood of Jesus is a key subject in the  Letter to the Hebrews . He became the “ merciful and faithful High Priest ” who now intercedes for “ his brethren ” from the presence of God. This subject was anticipated in the Letter’s opening paragraph, including the uniqueness of his priesthood, when the Author declared that he “ achieved the purification of sins ,” and then afterward, he “ sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High .”

Change of Law

The  Letter to the Hebrews  is structured around a series of comparisons that demonstrate the superiority of the “ word spoken in the Son ” over all past revelations “ spoken in the prophets ,” including Moses. Jesus surpasses even the Great Lawgiver. The previous prophetic words provided by the Hebrew prophets were true but partial, promissory, and preparatory. But now, “ upon the last of these days ,” God has “ spoken ” with great finality in one who is a “ Son .”

Enter His Rest

The Letter continues with its analogy to  Israel’s rebellion  in the wilderness, thereby summoning believers not to make the same error of unbelief and fail to enter God’s “ rest .” In the desert, Yahweh decreed that the generation of Israelites that fled from Egypt would not enter the Promised Land. And so, disciples of Jesus who fail to “ hold fast the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end ” will face a similar fate. They will not inherit the promises of God.

Tent Pitched by God

In John’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as the true Tabernacle where God dwells and His glory is seen. Unlike the ancient structure with its inner sanctuary that only the high priest could enter, His glory is manifested for all men to see. No longer is His presence limited by physical walls and geographic boundaries. And in Jesus of Nazareth, the Father and the Creator of all things is worshipped anywhere and anytime “ in spirit and truth .”

Harden not your Hearts

After expounding on the “ household of God ” and demonstrating the superiority of the Son  over Moses ,  Hebrews  continues with a lesson drawn from the history of Israel. During its sojourn in the wilderness, the Israelites complained bitterly against the “ servant of God ,” for leading them to a place with insufficient water supplies. Consequently, God decreed that the generation of Israelites freed from Egyptian bondage would not enter the Promised Land.

His Distinguished Name

The Son achieved the “ purification of sins ,” and therefore, he qualified to “ sit down at the right hand of the majesty on high .” In this exalted position as the High Priest “ after the order of Melchizedek ,” he intercedes for his people. And he inherited a “ more distinguished name ,” namely, that of “ Son .” And in Chapter 1, the  Letter to the Hebrews  demonstrates that this “ Son ” and High Priest is vastly superior to even creatures as mighty and glorious as angels.

Purification of Sins

A key point in the opening paragraph of the  Letter to Hebrews  is the accomplishment of the Son on behalf of his people, and his exalted position at the “ right hand ” of God as their High Priest “ forever after the order of Melchizedek .” He alone secured what none of his predecessors did or could do. Through his sacrificial death, he “ achieved the purification of sins ,” and afterward, he “ sat down ” in the “ true and greater Tabernacle ” in God’s very presence where now he intercedes for his church.

Exaltation of the Son

A key theme in  Hebrews  is the elevation of the “ Son ” to minister in God’s presence as the result of his sacrificial death. In his sufferings, he was “ perfected ,” and in his resurrection, God vindicated him by “ seating ” him at the “ right hand of the Majesty on high ” where he intercedes continuously on behalf of his “ brethren .” But the stress is not on his status as the king who reigns over the Cosmos, but on his present position as the merciful High Priest who ministers for his people from the “ throne of grace .”

Incomparable New Covenant

The definitive “ word ” that God now speaks “ in the Son ” surpasses all the past revelations made in “ the prophets ,” including Moses. Jesus went beyond them, “ having achieved the purification of sins .” Consequently, he “ sat down ” at the right hand of God and inherited “ all things .” And among other things, his exaltation signaled the commencement of the promised “ New Covenant .”

Son Surpasses Moses

The  Letter to the Hebrews  next demonstrates the superiority of the  sonly word  by comparing it to Moses, Israel’s Great Lawgiver. Implicit in its argument is the priority of the “ word spoken in the Son ” over even the Mosaic legislation, and at this point in the Letter, the comparison is most appropriate. Moses certainly did mediate God’s law to Israel and was the greatest of the prophets. Nevertheless, the “ Son ” surpasses even him in status and glory.

Merciful High Priest

Having established his priestly qualifications, the  Letter to the Hebrews  proceeds to present Jesus as the High Priest who intercedes faithfully and sympathetically for his people. He participated fully in the nature and sufferings common to all men, therefore, his priestly intercession for his “ brethren ” is marked by his compassion for them. The “ Son ” experienced the same death that is common to all men and women, and in doing so, he qualified for the priesthood “ after the order of Melchizedek .” But what set him apart from other men was his sinlessness.

Upon These Last Days

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According to  Hebrews , God has spoken His decisive and superior “ word ” in His son. Moreover, He did so “ upon the last of these days .” This clause refers to the end of the period epitomized by the Levitical code with its priesthood and repeated animal sacrifices, a system of worship that was centered in the Tabernacle, and later, in the Temple in Jerusalem. With the exaltation of the Son to the “ right hand of the Majesty on High ,” a new and final era of salvation has commenced.

God has Spoken!

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The  Letter to the Hebrews  exhorts believers not to abandon Jesus when difficult times come by emphasizing the superiority and finality of what God has accomplished in His “ Son .” The word “ spoken ” in Jesus is superior to the earlier and preparatory revelations provided “ in the prophets .” The Letter does this by comparing the Levitical system with its incomplete provisions and repeated sacrifices to the “ better ” priesthood and “ once for all ” sacrifice of the “ Son .”