“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 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; 3 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, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (NKJV).
The book of Hebrews is a rich and potent book. It is full of doctrine and imagery that helps us to solidify our faith in Jesus our Lord. The author’s identity remains in question, and there is some debate as to who is writing this book. My observation, based on its language structure and the final greetings in chapter 13, is that Paul was the most likely author. If not Paul, then certainly one of his near companions whose association with Paul may have influenced the grammatical structure of one’s writing.
Nonetheless, the One who actually wrote the book of Hebrews is God, as we know. He oversees the writing of the scripture using some 40 writers over about 1,500 years to author a coherent and well laid out narrative that is fraught with science, historical facts, supernatural characters and offers us an insight into the world that we cannot see. Much like Daniel in the Old Testament, a book that is dedicated to the Gentile history in the future, the book of Hebrews ties all of the Jewish histories into the present moment and shows the culmination of God’s oversight from Abraham to Jesus.
The book of Hebrews is thirteen chapters, and it is a very detailed book about events that happened in the Old Testament. We will explore them as best we can and draw all we can out of the texts. I encourage you to read the book, maybe multiple times to get the gist of the context and an overview of the content. This is a book rich in doctrine, not for the faint of heart and not for the novice. I pray that you will enjoy this journey, but more so, that you and I will be challenged to trust God more, be anchored in our faith more, and become more aware of God’s grace, the power of His salvation, and the honest realization that God used and uses sinful men; He always has and always will.
When we get to chapter 11, called the Hall of Faith, we will meet some characters that many would not allow in our churches today, but these men and women changed the world. Let me give you an example. David is called a ‘man after God’s own heart in 1 Samuel 13:14), then again in Acts 13:22, yet David had eight wives; they are listed in 2 Chronicles 15:13. We have a hard time at times dealing with this, and we tend to avoid these kinds of discussions because they are uncomfortable and they do not fit our narratives of Christianity. Yet God used and is still using David to this day to move His kingdom ahead. We are not condoning sin, never, but it is a reality of the Christian walk, even in godly men and women.
- God, verse 1
The book just jumps right in. There is no salutation, no introduction of any kind, and not even the name of the author. It begins with God and what He did in the past and is doing now. The assumption here is that the author does not need to prove to the reader that there is a God. This book is for people of the faith, people who are saved and have moved or are moving from the ‘milk’ of the Bible to some meat. This is the solid food, the deep doctrinal stuff that is going to make us think and make us come to a greater appreciation of what Jesus has done.
If you are still looking to find out if God is real, then the book of Hebrews is not for you. It will cause more confusion and create more questions than provide answers. But if you are looking for a spiritual journey, stick with me and we will get you through this. Maybe you want to get into the meat of the Bible and were a bit timid; that we can work with. We will take small bites, chew them as best we can, and digest these truths so as to make us all stronger in the faith for the Lord and His Kingdom.
- God Spoke, verses 1-2
To understand the book of Hebrews, we will need to explore the Bible in great detail. The Old Testament is primarily about the Jews. It is about the plan of God to redeem man using a Savior who is born in the bloodline of Abraham. The journey through the Old Testament details a supernatural war that is played out before us – a war that began in Genesis 3 with the temptation and subsequent fall of man; a war that has been waging for 6,000 years or so between Light and Darkness; a war that has encompassed all of humanity; a war that required that God become a man and die to redeem His creation; a war that required the Creator to allow the creation to kill Him; a war that is as alive and explosive today as it was in the days of Job.
The Old Testament lays out for us a plan, created and sustained by God, that encompassed 1,500 years of God watching over the lineage of His Son – taking them from modern-day Iraq, a place called Ur of Chaldeans, and into the modern-day land of Israel. His oversight preserved the Levitical line and the tribe of Judah as well as a remnant that will emerge to be marked by God in the very last days (see Revelation 7). God showed us this plan using writers like Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy), Joshua, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Micah, Daniel, and many others. Many of these men never met; they wrote in different geographical locations, and yet the continuity of the account is astonishing. One can go from book to book and find a consistent and coherent theme, and that theme is Jesus.
In John 5:39-40, Jesus makes this statement; He is addressing the religious leaders there in Jerusalem, and they talk about the Old Testament. In it, they think that keeping the Law of Moses will bring them eternal life. Sadly, many peoples and religions still think that to this day. But Jesus makes an astonishing statement,
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (NKJV).
The entire story of the Old Testament is about Jesus. The Law is about Jesus, the prophets tell us about Jesus, the Psalms are about Jesus, the Proverbs, and on and on we can go. Jesus is the central theme, the central character, the Hero, and the main focus of the Old Testament. When we understand this, things that were confusing now become clear, and we can begin to digest and apply the spiritual truths that we are confronted with.
In the Old Testament, God speaks about Jesus. There are pictures and what are called Christophanies where Jesus shows up and talks to people. We will see one of these later in Hebrews when we meet a man called Melchizedek. But Jesus shows up in the book of the Judges to Gideon, He shows up to Samson’s mother and father, He shows up to talk to Daniel, and on and on we can go. Jesus is the central theme of the Bible. He is the Creator in John 1; He is the Savior, the Redeemer, the Sustainer; He will be the King of the Jews; He will rule the world; and He will right the political and ethical wrongs of the world when He returns. Take a look at Isaiah 9: 6-7:
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (NKJV).
This is a Jesus prophecy; the book of Isaiah is filled with them. Then there is the famous Isaiah 53, the very chapter the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading from in Acts 8. And from that text, Philip taught him about Jesus; and that man, according to Acts 8:37, came to understand that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.
“Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'”
- God’s Right Hand, verse 3
Jesus sat down once the events recorded in the Gospel were over. This is significant, and it is important for us to explore the furniture of the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple to understand the importance of this. Look at Hebrews 9:1-5, and we will see the seven (7) furniture pieces in the Tabernacle and later the Temple.
“Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things, we cannot now speak in detail” (NKJV).
You will notice that there were no chairs in the Temple or the Tabernacle. Why? Because the work of the Priests and High Priests was never finished. The sacrificing went on day in and day out for about 1,000 years until Jesus came and died on the cross. The priests were not allowed to sit in the Temple at all. They stood to perform their service, and once a year, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was and offered a blood sacrifice for the sins of the nation of Israel.
These sacrifices began each day with the morning sacrifice at about 9 am and then finished with the evening sacrifice at about 3 pm. If you take a look at the Gospels, you will see that Jesus was on the cross at about 9 am (the morning sacrifice), and He died at about 3 pm (the evening sacrifice). He was the first and the last. Mark 15:25-37 lays this out for us.
“Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS. With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.
“Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, ‘Look, He is calling for Elijah!’ Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, ‘Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.’ And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last” (NKJV).
Notice that the 3rd hour was 9 am (morning sacrifice), and the 9th hour was at 3 pm (evening sacrifice). Jesus was and is our complete sacrifice, so now He can sit down since the work is finished. Jesus paid the total and final price for all of our sins. The veil has been torn; and He, our High Priest in Heaven, has offered His own blood as the FULL PAYMENT for our sins, yours and mine. This is the confidence we need to have in regard to our salvation. Jesus paid the price once and for all. When we are saved, we are saved forever. Jesus died ONCE, for all, forever.
We will explore this even further as we travel through the book of Hebrews. I pray that you will enjoy the journey as we grow in our knowledge, appreciation, and admiration of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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