Letter to the Hebrews, Part 1 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

An Exposition

“God Has Spoken Through His Son”

Hebrews 1:1-4:

“GOD, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who, being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, and He has obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:1-4, NKJV).

The world, then as now, does everything within its power and influence to make people either doubt or abandon the Christian faith. The Lord Jesus Christ receives as much hatred and disdain as He does love and obedience today and when He walked the earth two thousand years ago in the land of Israel. He still has the power to transform lives and change the destinies of people, and He has the authority to do what is needed for the good of His creation and His Sovereign will.

Dictators, despots, critics, and every enemy of the Gospel who cried out that they would rid the world of Christianity with their words or weapons lie in obsolete tombs; their works are lost to time or are collecting dust in the back of an antique store or bargain table. The anvil of God’s Word and Majesty has withstood every blow from the hammer of doubt and hatred and has shattered them all.

Pressure, threats, and subtle persuasions draw people away from the offer of salvation, and the influence of family members and social status plays a key role in this mission of eradication and abandonment of Christ.

The original recipients of this letter, which resembles a sermon in its structure and presentation, were Jews who had left the rituals and ceremonies of the Law and the sacrifices in order to embrace the claim of Jesus Christ as the perfect Lamb and the perfect, final sacrifice for the atonement of His people and all who would seek His mercy and peace regardless of nationality or background.

Those Jews who did not or would not accept the mission of Jesus were trying to get their friends and family away from Him and back to the previous and traditional methods of worshipping God, set in the Law that God gave Moses on Sinai while in the wilderness generations ago. To walk away from this tradition and life was tantamount to abandoning God and everything they knew as faithful Jews, and many were wondering if following Jesus was worth the trouble. The increasing persecution from the hands of Rome was not helping either. Many Jewish Christians had been thrown to the animals in the arenas and had died horrific deaths by other means at the whims of the emperors, who would not tolerate the idea of another king greater than the benevolent Caesar.

Jewish antagonism towards the occupying Romans turned into rebellion in A.D. 66, and the Zealots were killing anyone who even thought of abandoning Jerusalem or the Temple. That included the Christian Jews who had heard of the warning given by the Lord Jesus years before about the coming destruction of the city and the Temple. They were obeying His call to flee, further intensifying the perception of disloyalty and an abandonment of all that was held dear. These times planted the seeds of conflict between Christian and Jew that still exist today, and only recently have there been signs of reconciliation and understanding.

Now, we can boast that we would have never thought once about walking away from Jesus, even in that perilous time. This is the same irritating mindset that we have about the apostles when they all fled after Jesus was arrested, put on trial, and crucified with only John and Mary looking upon Him as He was dying with unbelievable pain and agony physically and spiritually for the sake of those who both loved and hated Him. We read of these men running away and hiding, and we think that we would be courageous enough to stand at the foot of the cross and keep the LORD company. We sneer at Thomas’ doubts and skepticism and all but consign him to hell for his feelings and attitude, saying that we would never have doubted Jesus’ promise of resurrection.

Oh, give me a break and report to the real world! You would have been just as terrified, anxious, doubtful, and wary as they were during those three days where the LORD was in the tomb and they felt that all was lost. We tend to place haloes on these fallible, dull of mind, rough, coarse, and frightened men, forgetting that these were real people with real emotions. One had denied Him, and another had betrayed Him, his body hanging off a cliff, with his soul forever chained to the darkness and terror of hell.

It would not only be a miserable ending to the life of a notable teacher, but no one would have heard of Jesus if He were still in the tomb. If He were still dead, everything He said about Himself would have been a lie, a deception, and an associate of the devil himself to drag people to hell. We would still live and die as unrepentant reprobates who would always be in a perpetual state of hating, cursing, and denying the Sovereign God of all things. The death of Jesus would have been pointless at the least.

One does not die a horrid death for claiming to be God if you are not God in the first place. The entirety of the Bible would have been thrown away and discredited as an inaccurate portrayal of God and the Jewish nation. Prophecies would have been nothing more than fable and fantasy and not worth the time to read or contemplate, a waste of time and effort on anyone’s behalf.

Yet, as the Gospels record and as scholars, historians, archaeologists, and the work of skeptics who found out otherwise, the tomb is empty because Jesus Christ did what He said He would do. He rose from the dead, fulfilled what He promised, completed the work of redemption on our behalf, and proves the accuracy and truth of the prophets.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ proved the validity and authority of Scripture. It gives new life to anyone who would come to Him in faith for grace and mercy. It shows that our God is a great, benevolent, merciful, all-powerful Sovereign whose plan for our salvation was not only devised before the foundation of the world, but came to pass and proclaimed to His enemies and foes that He rules and reigns over all creation. It shows that His will is always going to come to pass, even when we do not understand all that is going on in the world.

We are finite and limited in our comprehension, but God is outside space, time, and matter and is in total control, seeing the beginning and end of history. The Lord Jesus Christ is the King who will rule and reign on the new earth and in the new heaven; for He is all victorious and has defeated the work of the world, the flesh, and the devil once and for all.

The author of Hebrews saw it as his duty to show through Scripture and the history of the Jews that Jesus Christ fulfills all the requirements of the perfect and final sacrifice for sins, and to return to the old ways would be to deny His power, authority, and Divinity. Hebrews is a call to see Jesus Christ for Who He is, the eternal One to whom we can approach and call upon; for His death tore the Temple curtain in two, allowing humanity and God to reconcile and re-establish the relationship that had been lost in Eden. Hebrews is a call to both his fellow Jews and us as well to not cave under the pressure and threats from the world with its wickedness and deceit.

God has spoken to His people through the teachings and work of the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, better than any sacrifice or ritual we could ever practice or follow.

You do not have to get cleaned up to take a bath, and you do not have to resort to rites, rules, and any other way of trying to “get right” with God. Anything you do outside of Christ is no better than offering God a filthy leper’s rag as far as your so-called “righteousness” goes.

The book of Hebrews, as well as the entirety of the Scriptures, points to Jesus Christ as the Author and Finisher of our faith and the only way to peace with God the Father and eternal life (John 3:16, 14:1-6; Acts 4:12; Romans 5:6-11, 6:23, 8:31-39, 10:9-10).

Come to Him today, as He waits for you with open arms; He is the reason for life that you have been seeking.