I called a halt to blogging through Acts when I got to the end of the missionary journeys. But I really enjoyed the experience of blogging Bible reflections and applications, so have decided to have a go at Hebrews. I don't know Hebrews very well and have only ever preached from it several times, so I expect I will learn a lot as I go.
Here is my first stab at what Hebrews is about:
- Explaining, reasoning and proving from the Old Covenant that Jesus is superior to the Old Covenant
- Showing that the Old Covenant always demanded and prophecied that God would come to inaugurate a New Covenant to deal decisively with sin
- All for the benefit of people who grew up with Old Covenant religion and who found it difficult to square the freedom of Christ, with Old Covenant religious obligation. "Why do we need this Jesus when we have the revelation of God through Moses?" is the main question in view
You might think that doesn't sound all that relevant to Christians today, but I think it is. The writer is going to show:
- That Jesus is supremely amazing
- That external religion, sacrifice, good works and churchy performance aren't the things that please God or constitute real Christianity
- That the whole Old Covenant prophecied Jesus and resonates all the way through with his glory
I get tempted too often to think about being a Christian in purely New Testament categories. eg, Jesus came to save from sin. That's OK, its not wrong. But it isn't sufficient. Jesus came to fulfil the priesthood. Jesus came to be the King of Israel (NB, not the current nation state). Jesus came to be the sacrifice, the greater prophet promised by Moses. He is the New Covenant. He grafts us into the promise to Abraham. Christians are only Christians because we are grafted in to God's people, unnaturally, by Christ. We are not naturally in Abraham. Jesus binds us in. Mighty Old Covenant ideas and themes that are all wrapped up in Jesus being the amazing Son. If I don't get those themes, I don't get a lot of the weightiness of Jesus. That's what the writer to the Hebrews gives us - Jesus who is full of weighty glory.
And what a way to start. 1:1-4 has one theme: Jesus is superior to the prophets. The prophets were good, but Jesus is better, because Jesus is the fulfilment. He is what they were all about. Let's just list what it says about Jesus' supremacy and supreme revelation of God. I see 7 things:
- He is the heir of all things (allusion from Ps. 2 to mean he is the owner and ruler of the whole world)
- As if that wasn't enough, God made the universe through him. His rule embraces all things. All things are "under his feet" (2:8)
- He is the radiance of the glory of God
- He is the exact representation of the image of God
- He sustains all things through the power of his word
- He provided purification for sins
- He is seated at the right hand of the majesty in heaven, his saving work gloriously completed
Wow! Jesus is not only better than the prophets (and they weren't bad!), he is incomparable compared to them. Think of the awe and wonder of Isaiah or Ezekiel. You heard their oracles and you knew if was God. The words came with divine power and commission. But compared to Jesus their revelation and power was like holding a candle up in comparison to a supernova. he has burst into the world with unparalleled brilliance.
Two obvious applications:
- don't go back to the old revelation, putting your trust in its signs and shadows, when the reality is here. Much more about why the revelation of God in Jesus is superior to the revelation of God through Moses to come from the writer
- fall on your face in adoration and worship. Feel the sense of wonder, the overwhelming, overweaning, overpowering majesty that accompanies him as he comes to you and knows you. Delight yourself in the Lord - what a Lord!