Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Book to the Hebrews

The NT book Hebrews accompanies our OT reading of Leviticus because of their overlap in details about the role of the high priest, the role of sacrifice, the means of atonement and salvation. The book of Hebrews can be a little hard to grasp mostly because it relies so much on the Torah. This book is written by a Hebrew to the Hebrew people, so the letter makes perfect sense to people with a Hebrew background, history, culture and religion. If you are not an ancient Hebrew, this book will take some work to understand. And yet there are glimpses of insight. Here are some famous verses from this book, all Scripture is quoted from the TNIV:

1:3 "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."

I hope that as you read this verse you had flashbacks of Exodus and Leviticus: God said to not make any idols that represent him, God used words to create the world, sin was purged by sacrifice of a perfect lamb, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies on behalf of the people - and then walk out.

Another famous verse: 2:14-15 "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."

Does this bring back memories of Genesis (flesh and blood) (curse of death) (power of the devil/serpent) (slavery to fear)?

Two more verses: 4:12 "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-eged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

It is the OT that is being talked about here, although it also applies to the NT. But this author is teaching us about the power of the Torah, the Psalms (& Poetry books), the Prophets and the History books of the OT. There not just nice stories, ancient poetry, obscure laws. This is the stuff God uses to make all things new...especially in you. Don't take the Scriptures lightly, especially the OT.

Last verse: 4:15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin."

Jesus was very, very, very, very, human. His temptations were very, very, very real, and his effort to overcome them was very, very, very difficult. Our greatest insight into how he overcome temptation (having fasted for over a month - and being tempted with bread...) was by reading, knowing and applying Scripture to his life. God's word as a sword helped him fend off the attacking temptation.

The less you know and apply God's word, the less hope you have for fighting off temptations that will wreck your life. Most shipwrecked lives (ie Haggard) don't happen in one night, but through long neglect of the soul and its Maker.

Be encouraged by the letter to the Hebrews.

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