Like a good detective, let's examine this book.
The Book of Hebrews is amazing... if you understand the Old Testament sacrificial system. If not, you will possibly be a little lost until you get to chapter 11. This is why I usually recommend people read the first five books of the Old Testament, then skip over to the book of Hebrews. Hebrews explains how the entire Old Testament law and sacrifices point to the coming of Christ and how Jesus paid the price for all sins for all time.
Jesus is the Great High Priest who made the way for us all to now "come boldly into the throneroom" of God.
Chapter 11 and 12 of Hebrews is amazing to read. The author talks about all the great heroes of our faith and then caps it off with the ultimate hero, Jesus Christ. I love the imagery of Hebrews 12 saying they are a great cloud of witnesses. It makes me think of a stadium full of fans cheering us on. Their race is complete. Now they are cheering for us to run our race well. Our job is to keep our eyes on Jesus and study how He lived so we can run our race well too.
🔍 Things to Notice
- Even though we do not know the author, the way the text is laid out suggests a master orator.
- Chapter 10 is where many Christians are reminded to not stop meeting together.
- Chapter 11 is considered the "hall of faith" chapter.
🙏 Jesus in this Book
(Every book reveals the glory of God, revealed in Christ Jesus)
Who wrote it: unknown.
There are many different ideas surrounding who possibly wrote the book of Hebrews but we simply do not know. The top possibilities to me:
- Paul, transcribed by Luke
Who is the original audience: The obvious primary audience is those in the Jewish nation. If Paul did author this letter, it is amazing because now have his sermon to the Jews. Romans would be his sermon to gentiles.
Where are we: unknown.
When was it written: During the time of the other letters, likely between 64-69 AD. Since the Temple is one of the primary subjects discussed, it is highly unlikely the author would not have mentioned its destruction in 70 AD.
What is the big idea: The main focus of Hebrews is to show Jesus as the fulfillment of the OT sacrificial system. The Messiah had been seen as a political leader and liberator of the Jewish Nation. The author of Hebrews shows Jesus as so much more. He frees us from the inside out by washing away our sins. Hebrews also shows us how that works and how Jesus' physical sacrifice satisfies a spiritual debt.
Why is this book important: There is a big question when explaining the Gospel concerning Jesus. The big question is, "How does a man dying on the cross forgive my sin with an all-powerful God? It sounds like a logical fallacy." The book of Hebrews grapples with this and helps the reader understand the plan of God from before time. The Book of Hebrews can be seen as an apologetic work aimed at the Jewish nation, now for the benefit of all.
How can I apply it?: The first half of the book of Hebrews can help you if you deal with the issue of how salvation works.
The second half is helpful to realize you are not in this "race" alone. Most people deal with recency bias. We feel like the only thing important has only happened within 20 years of our lifetime. The reality is that the Church and God's people are not new. There have been generations of people who have gone before us and now cheer us on. We are part of something so much bigger than ourselves. So take your place in this generation and run your part of this race. Realize this is not an individual race. It is a relay. We have our part to run and then we pass it off to the next generation.
Quick Thoughts on Each Chapter
This chapter is a beautiful teaching of the plan of God and our part in it. My favorite is v10, “for whom and by whom all things exist.” We must realize the story of God begins and ends with Him. We exist at His pleasure. This is the best news we can hear because we realize we are because He wills it to be. He love us more than we can imagine.
Fun fact- We actually do not know for certain who wrote the book of Hebrews. There have been many speculations. Not even the early church fathers were completely certain.
Hebrews is seeing Jesus through the Old Testament, specifically the temple and the way it worked. Jesus is the fulfillment of our need for a perfect High Priest. Verse 14-18 talks about why Jesus came.
Verse 3 would be wildly confrontational to a Jewish person reading this letter. They see Moses as the greatest figure in the Old Testament, outside of God. Saying Jesus has more glory than Moses is making sure the reader understands Jesus is not merely a great man, He is God.
Verse 12: When we understand God’s Word, it becomes alive and active in our lives. When we consistently read God’s Word, it is like having a conversation with God every day. As we begin to apply it, it begins to change and transform us into something wonderful and whole.
The writer is helping us understand the Cross as the example of how a high priest would offer sacrifices for the sins of the nation. Also, Melchizedek is a name that is found in Genesis. We will read more about him on Saturday.
This chapter is a transition from what the writer has been talking about to where he is going in talking more about Melchizedek. He is saying now that the foundations have been laid, let’s dig a little deeper and widen our understanding.
Today we see the answer to the question, “Was Jesus Melchizedek in the Old Testament?” The answer: It doesn’t really matter as far as the Good News of Salvation. The goal is to help us realize that just as Melchizedek was a priest even before the law was written, Jesus is the author or a better covenant than the law. (Verse 22). This does not mean us much to us today, but many Jewish minds of the day would finally have all the pieces to start falling together. The law, the sacrifices, and all the rituals were always pointing to one person… Jesus.
Chapter 8 and 9
Today is there is an extra chapter. Enjoy a little more time in God’s Word today. It’s so good to get to know God’s love and goodness for us.
Hebrews can be confusing because it uses many Old Testament ideas to explain why Jesus came and how His sacrifice on the Cross is sufficient to wash away the sins of the world. In this chapter, God’s Word helps us realize Jesus is our High Priest. He is our Hero!
This chapter is one of the most famous in the Bible! It is sometimes called the “Hall of Faith.” We are given the gift of seeing how our faithfully trusting in God is part of a legacy of God’s goodness throughout history.
Focus on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith!
Jesus is the beginning and the completion of all we need for faith. We focus on Him, what He did, and who He is when we feel ourselves loosing our grip on reality. He is the King. He loves you so much! His kingdom cannot be shaken. We use this confident hope to encourage one another and work together in this life as a celebration of the life that is to come.