UNION GROVE CHURCH OF CHRIST, CLEVELAND TN.
THREE MAJOR THEMES IN THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
The Book of Hebrews was written to Christians that came from a Jewish background. They were followers of Judaism (the Old Testament) before they were converted to the Lord Jesus. Hebrews was written in order to exhort the saints to be faithful: "And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22). When we study this great epistle, there are some important themes that stand out. We want to notice three of them.
Jesus Is Our Great High Priest. Aaron was Israelís first high priest, and there were many others that served Israel in that capacity. None of those mere mortals, however, could compare with the great high priest that Christians have. Jesus is superior to all earthly priests. What kind of high priest is He over the house of God, the church? Here are some of the ways that He is described in the Book of Hebrews:
He is a merciful and faithful high priest (2:17).
He is the high priest of our profession or confession (3:1).
He is "a great high priest" (4:14).
He is a great high priest that has passed into the heavens (4:14).
He is the Son of God (4:14).
He is a sinless high priest (4:15).
He is a high priest according to the order of Melchisedec (5:10).
He is holy, harmless, and undefiled (7:26).
He is separate from sinners (7:26).
He offered Himself as a sacrifice one time (7:27).
He is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens (8:1).
He is high priest over the house of God (10:21). What a great high priest we serve!
The Way of Jesus Is the Better Way. What we have in the Christ, in the church, and through the gospel Ė all of this is better! The word "better" appears a number of times in the Book of Hebrews and is a key concept in it. What is described in this epistle as being better? [All emphasis below is mine, rdc].
Jesus is "so much better than the angels" (1:4).
In Jesus, we have a "better hope, by the which we draw night unto God" (7:19).
"By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament" (7:22).
"But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (8:6).
" . . . better sacrifices than these" (9:23).
" . . . ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance" (10:34).
"But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly . . ." (11:16).
". . . not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection" (11:35).
"God having provided some better thing for us . . ." (11:40).
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel" (12:24).
Thank God for the wonderful blessings, the better "new and living way" (10:20)," that He has provided for us
It Is Godís Will for Us to Follow Jesus and His Teaching, Not the Law of Moses. Have we not already seen that the way of Christianity is the better or superior way? Since that is true, how much sense does it make to try and please God by following a system that never could match the way of the Messiah?!
In the Book of Hebrews we learn that the Old Testament law, the Law of Moses, is no longer in effect. Jesus is high priest after the order of Melchisedec, not after the line of the Levitical priesthood (from the Israelite tribe of Levi). With that truth in mind, "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law" (7:12). It is quite a simple conclusion: new priesthood requires a new or different law, and that would be the law of the Christ or new covenant.
We further read, "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second" (8:7). In Godís plan, the second covenant replaced the first. Again, it is written about Jesus, "Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second" (10:9). Because the Christ took away the first covenant in order to establish the second/new one, that first or old one is no longer binding on any humans.
Looking at the same topic from another angle, in this great epistle we are also instructed that God now speaks to us through His Son, Jesus. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son . . ." (1:1,2). Since God speaks to mankind through Jesus, then we need to give heed to Jesusí words and seriously take to heart the message of 12:25: "See that refuse not him that speaketh."
In this connection, Hebrews 5:8,9 make it plain whom we should obey. Is it Moses, or someone else? "Though he [Jesus, rdc] were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." It is Godís will that we obey Jesus, not Moses, in order to be saved.
Let us all be committed to run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith (12:1,2). Let us all prepare our hearts to serve Him and live for Him every day!
-- Roger D. Campbell