As we conclude our series on introducing books of the Bible that we may not be familiar with, we will look at one last book, Hebrews. Hebrews is a book you probably recognize and may hear it quoted in a sermon from time to time. However, how much do you really know about the book, and more importantly, can it teach us anything today?
The author of Hebrews does not reveal who he is, other than the fact that he is a man. For a long time it was thought that Paul was the author but that has since been disproved. Most Christian scholars believe that the author was either Barnabas (who was a close friend of Paul and missionary partner) or Apollos (a Jewish Christian who was associated with Paul in the early years of the church in Corinth). We don’t have a clear answer to who the author of Hebrews is but it’s the audience and message of the book that can teach us something today.
The book is addressed to Jewish converts who were very familiar with the Old Testament and who were being tempted to revert back to Judaism. They were practicing Jewish people who had been converted to Christianity by the life, death, resurrection, and ministry of Jesus. They were either a group of being who were going to merge back with a certain Jewish sect or perhaps a group of priests who had converted to Christianity.
In order to ease their temptations and renew their faith, the author’s theme of the book is the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus as the mediator of God’s grace. He is reminding them that it is only through Jesus that we are able to have a relationship with God. This was a new way of thinking for most Jews because before Jesus they had a direct relationship with God, there was no mediator. Hebrews presents Jesus as God’s full and final revelation. He is the fulfillment of God’s covenant with his people. Jesus is shown to be superior than the ancient prophets, to angels, to Moses, and to priests. The recipients of the letter are told that there can be no turning back to the old Jewish system. They must look to Jesus whose life, death, resurrection, and ascension opened the way into God’s true presence.
When looking at our current lives, we can probably relate to the audience of Hebrews. We had an ‘old’ way to our lives. Things were for the most part fine and we had our routines down. Now that we are living in the midst of a pandemic, everything has changed. There is a new order to the world. The audience of Hebrews perhaps had a more clearer ‘new’ reality than we do. They were coming to grips of what Jesus meant to their relationship with God. We are yet to come to grips of what this change looks like in our lives.
What can be taken from Hebrews though is that no matter what our lives look like, Jesus is God’s full and final revelation and it is only through him that we relate to God. There may be some ‘new’ routines in our lives. There may be some ‘new’ ways of thinking that we will have to come to terms with. But the fact remains that Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension are still our pathway into God’s true presence. Nothing is going to change that.
Questions for Discussion/Contemplation: