By Don Ruhl
The second generation of Christians of Jewish descent started to fall back to Judaism. However, the writer of the Book of Hebrews wrote to show them the folly of doing such, showing them the superior nature of Jesus and His way, and that the Hebrew Scriptures spoke of these things.
Two Ways to Divide Hebrews
The writer showed that Jesus supersedes all the ways of Judaism.
He supersedes the prophets in delivering a message (1.1–3).
He supersedes the angels in power (1.4–2.18).
He supersedes Moses in his position in the house of God (Chapter 3).
He supersedes Joshua in providing a rest (chapter 4).
He supersedes Aaron in the high priesthood (chapters 5–10)
Jesus is the high priest of a better order (4.14–7.10).
Jesus is the high priest of a better covenant (7.11–8.13).
Jesus is the high priest of a better tabernacle (9.1–12).
Jesus is the high priest of a better sacrifice (9.13–10.18).
The writer also identified a progression in falling away and countered it each step of the way.
He countered drifting from the word (2.1) with heeding the word.
He countered doubting the word (3.7–4.13) with believing the word.
He countered dullness to the word (5.11–6.20) with loving the word.
He countered despising the word (10.26–31) with fearing the word.
He countered defying the word (12.14–29) with accepting the word.
The Source of Authority
The reader can spot easily the direction that the writer will go from the beginning, “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” (1.1, 2).
He acknowledged the old holy prophets, but immediately placed Jesus over them. To show further why Jesus supersedes the prophets, the writer showed Jesus over the angels, quoting seven times from the Hebrew Scriptures to make the point (1.5–13).
Although New Testament Scriptures had already been written by this time, the writer did not use those writings, but knowing his readers were turning from that and going to the Old Testament, he quoted from it abundantly to show that Jesus is the only way to the Father.
Do we know the Old Testament well to do what the Hebrew writer did? What is your view of the Old Testament for Christians?
The Noah Webster Dictionary
Not too long ago, if someone gave a definition of a word, he would simply say, “Webster’s says…” and everyone knew he was quoting the dictionary put together by Noah Webster. Interestingly, with many words Webster quoted a Bible verse. For example, when defining “faith,” he listed Hebrews 11.6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” He also quoted from Romans 5 and 10, and Second Corinthians 5 for “faith.”
How do you think that affected the thinking of early Americans?