Showing posts with the label Hebrews

Once For All Sacrifice

The  Letter to the Hebrews  highlights several aspects of the Son of God, especially his priesthood and sacrificial death. 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 therefore, he now intercedes “ forevermore ” for his people as their faithful and sympathetic High Priest. Moreover, his unique sacrifice dealt with sin permanently, “ once-for-all .”

Hold Fast to the Word

The first literary section of the  Letter to the Hebrews  concludes with an exhortation and an ominous warning. Any would-be disciple of Jesus 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

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

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

Since this “ Word spoken in a son ” is complete and definitive, it is “ better than ” the partial revelations of the past “ spoken in the prophets .” Unlike his predecessors, the Son, “ having achieved the purification of sins ,” sat down at God’s right hand where he remains to this day mediating for his people as their faithful High Priest. Logically, this means that the previous “ words ” by the prophets and the ministries of the Levitical priests proved insufficient to remove the stain of sin from the covenant community.

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.

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 ,” thereby qualifying to “ sit down at the right hand of the Majesty on High .” As the appointed High Priest “ after the order of Melchizedek ,” he now intercedes for his people in the very presence of God. Moreover, he inherited a “ more distinguished name ” than even the angels, namely, “ Son .” In its first chapter, the Letter to the Hebrews demonstrates that this “ Son ” and High Priest is superior to even creatures as glorious as the angels of God.

Purification of Sins

A key point of the  Letter to Hebrews  is the victory of the Son on behalf of his people, and consequently, his exaltation to the “ right hand ” of God as their High Priest “ after the order of Melchizedek .” He secured what none of his predecessors could. Through his self-sacrificial death, he “ achieved the purification of sins ,” then he “ sat down ” in the “ true and greater Tabernacle ” in God’s very presence where he now intercedes for his saints.

"Then He Sat Down"

Foundational to the  Letter to the Hebrews  is the appointment of Jesus as our High Priest, and this was due especially to his obedience “ unto death ” whereby he achieved the “ purification of sins .” In his sufferings, he was “ perfected ,” and in his resurrection, God vindicated his sacrifice by seating him at the “ right hand of the Majesty on High ,” where he now sits enthroned interceding on our behalf. The stress is not on his position as the Royal Son, as true as that is, but on his priestly status and ministry for his people.

Incomparable New Covenant

The definitive “ Word ” that God now speaks “ in the Son ” surpasses all the past revelations made in “ the prophets ,” including Moses, the Great Lawgiver. Jesus of Nazareth went beyond all his predecessors. He alone “ achieved the purification of sins .” Consequently, he “ sat down ” at the right hand of God and inherited “ all things .” 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 and Faithful Priest

Having established his priestly qualifications,  Hebrews  presents 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 characterized by compassion for them. The “ Son ” experienced the same death that is common to all men, and in doing so, he qualified for the priesthood “ after the order of Melchizedek ” even though he was not a member of the Tribe of Levi. What set him apart from other men was his sinlessness.

These Last Days

God has spoken His decisive and superior “ word ” in His son, and 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 Jerusalem Temple. With the appointment of God’s Son as the High Priest “ after the order of Melchizedek ,” a new and final era of salvation commenced.

God has Spoken!

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