When we last left the Israelites, they had just received the Law from the Lord and they were told to leave Mt. Sinai and journey towards the Promised Land. They had been brought out of Egypt to Mount Sinai to worship Him and in order to properly worship God, He gave them His Law. The Law was based on the Covenant that the Lord has established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The nation of Israel was a Theocracy with God as the supreme ruler and Moses His mediator. In His covenant with Israel, He provided the Law of Moses (as it came to be called). The Law had two important functions: 1) It provided for the right functioning of the new nation of Israel and 2) It provided the means by which sinful people can properly worship the Holy God. The Law revealed the holiness of God.
This brings us to our new sermon series on the book of Hebrews. It is helpful to understand the Law of Moses because the main theme of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of everything in the Law of Moses. Therefore, He alone is our Redeemer, Advocate, Savior, and Lord—worthy of all praise and glory and honor. In our introduction to this book, we will learn that while this book is too often neglected, it is a necessary and nourishing book.
A Neglected Book
What do I mean by neglected? While it is true that there are certain parts of Hebrews that are not neglected at all, much of it remains an enigma. For example, while many Christians love the “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11, how many Christians even know or understand Hebrews 7? It is common to see Hebrews 12:1-3 on a beautiful picture in Hobby Lobby, but when was the last time you saw one of Hebrews 6:7-8? There are parts of Hebrews that are very popular, but the book as a whole is often neglected. In this series we will not pick and choose passages but will take the book as a whole.
Why is Hebrews often neglected? One reason is because it seems unfamiliar. The title “To the Hebrews” can give the impression that it’s not for a Gentile audience in 2021. While it was originally intended for Jewish Christians who were tempted to return to Judaism, it is very important for all Christians. One characteristic of Hebrews is that it feels like an Old Testament book. It spends a great deal of time talking about the Israelites, Moses, Aaron, and priests. If Hebrews feels unfamiliar, it reveals that we are unfamiliar with the Old Testament. Here is another reminder to Christians: we are people of the Bible. We believe more than just the “red letters” and more than just the New Testament. We believe all of Scripture. If you are a Christian who just wants the Gospels or Romans or the red letters, Philip Hughes has a warning when he aptly said, “We neglect [Hebrews] to our own impoverishment.”
A Necessary Book
Hebrews is a difficult, but necessary book. Hebrews is a necessary bridge between the Old and New Covenants. It is a bridge for Christians to better understand and appreciate the Old Covenant so that they may better understand and appreciate the New Covenant. Hebrews is an important book that expounds the supremacy of Jesus and particularly highlights His important role as our faithful High Priest. John Calvin—in the foreword to his commentary on Hebrews—wrote:
There is, indeed, no book in Holy Scripture which speaks so clearly of the priesthood of Christ, so splendidly extols the power and worth of that unique sacrifice which He offered by His death, deals more adequately with the use and also the abrogation of the ceremonies, and, in short, explains more fully that Christ is the end of the Law.
We learn in Hebrews that Jesus Christ is superior to everything and everyone. Specifically, with the Law of Moses in view, Jesus is greater than the Prophets, greater than the angels, greater than Moses and Aaron. Jesus is the Son of God.
A Nourishing Book
An accurate understanding of Hebrews will build your faith. One important function of Hebrews is to help mature Christians in their faith during persecution. The writer of Hebrews sought to do this by helping Christians move past the “elementary teaching about the Christ” and “press on to maturity” (Heb 6:1). In fact, midway through Hebrews, the writer says, “Concerning [Christ] we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing” (Heb 5:11). Hebrews is a nourishing book that helps Christians grow so that they can better withstand persecution and temptation. Hebrews helps us by teaching us about Jesus’ greatness:
- Jesus is greater than the Prophets: He is the final Word from God.
- Jesus is greater than Angels: Angels are servants, Jesus is the Son.
- Jesus is greater than Moses: Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, Jesus of the New Covenant
- Jesus is greater than Aaron: Aaron was the High Priest of the Old Covenant; Jesus is the High Priest of the New Covenant.
After this exposition, there is the exhortation to trust Jesus and submit to Him. We must not be led astray by various and strange teachings. We are to have genuine, saving faith. We are to treat one another with love and grace.