We have been looking at Hebrews for 3 weeks now. Earlier this year, at a BGST course, we browsed through NT books, including Hebrews. This brief account contains some of my thoughts on Hebrews.
The letter to the Hebrews is one of the most challenging writings in the New Testament. A general Epistle written mainly to the Hebrew believers in Christ, it has the key message of Christ’s absolute supremacy and sufficiency in both his person and his ministering work.
The distinctive message is to tell the Hebrews not to go back to the rites and rituals of Judaism as a means to escape persecution, but to stand firm on Christ’s atonement for sins. The Hebrews can do so and hold on firmly to their faith and not to ignore such a ‘great salvation’ (2:3) as they have the great high priest (4:14-16) after the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110), Jesus, who is ‘perfect through suffering’ and who is able to sympathize with them. The divine logos, human Jesus, is one who is tempted in every way, yet without sin. As such, they (and us) can approach the throne of grace with confidence.
The list of faith heroes such as Abraham stands to remind us that it is faith and obedience to Christ that is needed in our continual walk with Christ. Given the faith of Abraham and Sarah, which is celebrated in Hebrews 11, is faith that the creator God is also the covenant God.
In the light of the above, a takeaway from Hebrews would be that, with the humanity of Jesus emphasized, believers who are discouraged or suffering can be encouraged by Christ who himself suffered when he was tempted, and is able to sympathise with us.
Some of us may be disappointed, discouraged, suffering, burdened, and lost in a chaotic world. We can go to Christ who understands.
What God is saying to the church and to me as a Christian would be to have a faith that is not simply believing difficult things for its sake but the faith which hears and believes the promise of God, that He is the world’s creator and redeemer, and a faith that looks beyond death to the promise land (12:22) and the heavenly Jerusalem, the future city (11:13-14).
Following from the new order of priesthood and the completed work of the Messiah, we are to contemplate on Christ’ suffering, the joy of doing the father’s will, and to accept the exhortation that God disciplines those whom he loves (12:4-11).
Our response is to be patient with discipline, not to fume when things are tough, but to see suffering as the shovel that digs deeply in the soil of our lives to the planting of righteousness.
The exhortation is for the church, the body of Christ, to live as God’s covenant people, having deep roots in the love of God.
Deacon Dr Vivien Ler