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THE BOOK OF HEBREWS.
W. B. Howard & editor of Despatch Magazine
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JESUS?
"Whatever happened to Jesus?"
People might present this question to believers; the answer is given in the Book of Hebrews. What happened after Jesus rose
again? Scoffers might say,
"His body must be somewhere on earth, in a hidden tomb?" No, He is risen, right now in glory. His body has never lost its
glory. He is and always has been immortal, and He defeated death for us all. He died in our stead, but death could never hold
the Sinless One. He is now our Great High Priest in glory: Hebrews 4:14-16.
"Let us imagine a conversation between a Hindu and a Christian. The Hebrew listens intently as the Christian briefly summarizes the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.
At the conclusion of the message FOUR basic questions might quickly come to his mind:
1. Question: Why did Jesus have to be born?
Answer: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared
him" (John 1:18).
2. Question: Why did Jesus have to die?
Answer: "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and
our Father" (Galatians 1:4).
3. Question: Why did Jesus have to be resurrected?
Answer: "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1Corinthians 15:14).
4. Question: Why did Jesus have to ascend?
Answer: the Book of Hebrews!"
The Book of Hebrews has been called the fifth Gospel.
The first four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, describe what Jesus did whilst He was on earth. The fifth Gospel
shows what Jesus Christ is DOING NOW, in Heaven.
* Remember, the completed Canon of Scripture is ALL given by inspiration, that means the writers were shown what to write
by the Holy Spirit. The words we read about Jesus Christ in glory in the book of Hebrews come from HIMSELF, revealed to
the writer. These are actual "inside information" details. Exciting stuff!!!!!
LET'S GET THE BASICS TOGETHER!
1. Who wrote Hebrews?
2. Why was it written? And to whom was it written?
1. No one knows who wrote Hebrews,
there is no explicit indication given in the Epistle itself
about this. Some suggestions
are Paul, Apollos, Silas, Aquila (or Priscilla with Aquila), and Philip the evangelist. Tertullian asserted that Barnabas wrote it.
He based this on many things, including the fact that Barnabas' Christian name means "son of exhortion" (Acts
4:36). "Consolation" is also translated "exhortation." Hebrews is a "word of exhortation"
- see Hebrews 13:22. Barnabas was a Levite, and scholars believe that there are characteristics in the book of Hebrews that
indicate that the writer was a Levite. Tertullian was a Church Father, writer and scholar, who lived in AD 150-220. There is
possibly no hope of succeeding in finding out for sure who wrote this Book of Hebrews. The subject has been a discussion for
hundreds of years! It is wiser, perhaps, to be content not to know. GOD has Hebrews written in HIS Word, it is Scripture; it is part of the Canon.
The Traditional view is that Paul wrote the book of
Scofield in his Study Bible declares that Paul the Apostle was the true author of Hebrews, because of 11 Peter 3:15 and
Hebrews 13:23. However, this is certainly not conclusive. Timothy often traveled with Paul (Heb. 13:23).11 Peter contains
matters that could have been used to backup the Book of Hebrews - this is some of the reasoning.
* The Greek scholar Zodhiates comments that some Greek experts attribute the writing of Hebrews to Priscilla.
2. Why was it written? This
question brings before us important matters, for if we
understand why it was written we wouldn't
fall into the errors of those who think Hebrews teaches we can lose our salvation - see chapters 6 and 10. The epistle itself tells us what we want to know here. Why was it written? It was written to both confirm and steady Jews who had accepted Christ
as Saviour, to encourage and urge them on in Christianity. And it was written to exhort Jews who had come close to accepting
Christ as Saviour and Lord, but were in danger of slipping back into Judaism again, of pausing short of true faith in Jesus Christ.
We will examine Hebrews chapters 6 and 10 later on in future studies, and look into, in depth, why these passages do not
teach that Gentile believers, or any person truly redeemed, can be lost again because of sin. If this book was written for Jews
primarily, does this mean that the book of Hebrews has no real value for Gentile Christians, then? Of course not. Hebrews is a
vast, rich field of Christian revelation and doctrine, which can be harvested over a lifetime of study, valuable beyond measure
for all saved people.
A QUICK GLIMPSE AT THE BOOK OF HEBREWS.
If we get a bird's eye view of Hebrews it will help us
to grasp its teachings as we delve more fully. Like flying
over the top of
this vast field, to see what crops are growing and where they are exactly.
The writer contrasts THE CONDITION that his readers
are in, (either saved ex-Jews or undecided wavering Jews),
WHAT THEY OUGHT TO BE. He then goes on to contrast WHAT THEY ARE IN DANGER OF BECOMING.
The ex-Jew Christian
believers, actually saved persons are:
* Lazy and despondent (5:11 and 6:12).
* They have lost their initial enthusiasm for Christ to some degree. (3:6,14; 4:14; 10:23, 35).
* They are not growing, have lost their spiritual understanding and discernment. (5:12-14).
* Some have even stopped going to Christian meetings. (10:25).
* Some are no longer loyal to the Christian leaders, and won't obey them. (13:17).
* The writer takes his readers back to the Old
Testament heroes of the faith; to show them
that these suffered bravely, imitation of their heroism is exhorted. (Chapter 11).
Then, they must copy the faith of the brave leaders of their own day as well. (13:7).
* There is a growing tendency amongst the Hebrews to follow strange and new teachings. (Hebrews 13:9).
* They are in danger of falling short of God's wonderful plan for their lives, and His promises will be made void (4:1) they are
drifting away into error and apostasy (2:1)
* The unsaved Jews of their number, who are still trembling on the brink of accepting
Christ, not willing to commit, are in danger of abandoning Christianity all together as a faith. (3:12; 10:26).
* The readers must seek to check any person they know who is in this predicament, those who are moving in that direction
away from the Christian faith - for only sure, eternal damnation lies that way. (3:13; 12:15).
* If any reader is still unsaved, and persists in moving away from the light they have already received in Christ Jesus, thus
rejecting the Gospel, they can expect nothing but judgement from God. (10:26-31). They have had their chance; they are
treading under foot the very Blood of Christ!
How can the readers
escape if any neglect so great salvation!
Hebrews 2:1-4 is really a commentary on the whole book. Don't slip away from the Truth Jewish people. If Israel in Old
Testament times was punished by God for not listening to angels, then how much more will they be punished for not listening to
His own Son? Genesis 19 tells of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the angels' warning. In Psalm 68: 17,18 we see the angels
accompanying the Lord God, as He leads in victory and truth. Then the passage leads us to His Son, His ministry, greater than
the angels. See Ephesians 4:7,8.
"Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him." (Psalm 68:1).
HEBREWS AND THE TEMPLE.
Hebrews tells us that there is NO NEED for the Jewish
Temple, why? Because Jesus has cleared the path for direct
communication and access to the Lord God's Throne. The blood of Christ now incessantly takes away sin (Hebrew 4:14-16;
10:19-22). Animal blood, sacrificed in the Jewish Temple, is no longer necessary. Christ Jesus' glorious system is vastly
superior to that which GOD has abolished - the Jewish system. The book of Hebrews must have been written before the
destruction of the Temple in AD 70, because the Temple was still standing. (Heb. 10:11; 13:10-11).
(There is no record of the actual date of the writing of Hebrews.)
WHY WOULD SOME JEWS BE DISAPPOINTED IN CHRISTIANITY?
The Jews had a HERITAGE of believing that the kingdom
would come on earth, with Israel being a mighty nation. The
were politically active, but they were in slavery to Rome. Christianity had given no hope of an immediate VISIBLE kingdom on
earth, or a "salvation" from the political pains of Israel. Only persecution and suffering for their faith had been the lot of
the fervent in Christ. Now, instead of political victory on earth, as Christians they were suffering an offensive reproach because
of a crucified Messiah! There were violent anti-Christian sufferings to be borne, and horrible persecution. The Jews who could
not make up their minds whether to accept Christ as Saviour or not were seriously tempted to disown Him utterly as the
promised Messiah. Maybe ALL of the Hebrews addressed in this epistle were in danger of wanting to re-embrace afresh the
more attractive, visible, and more acceptable (in the world's eyes) religion of Judaism. It was a bit like it is today. If we accept
the denominations and their apostasy and compromise, we look "good" and "sound" to those who do not understand. If we stand apart and meet in homes, stand up for Christ and God's Word, we are deemed to be fanatics, cult groups, dangerous and the idiot fringe.
NOTE IN PARTICULAR:
The Book of Hebrews stresses again and again the superiority of the New Covenant in Christ over the Old Covenant.
The writer is urging his readers to have sense, as he presents the: SUPERIORITY OF CHRIST JESUS.
He is the very Son of God, and the prophets and priests of the old economy, Judaism, are not to be compared with Him. 1:8.
CHRIST JESUS brings PERFECTION, 12:19. The old order of the Law under Moses was imperfect and provisional, 5:9;9:12,15, 13:20.
HOW DOES THIS
BOOK OF HEBREWS
ENLIGHTEN ALL PEOPLE, JEW OR GENTILE?
1. In a stupendous, unique manner
this book shows us all the amazing revelation and salvation
found only in God's glorious Son;
2. It tells us of the true and heavenly, not just worldly, blessings that are offered freely, and are available by FAITH;
3. It shows that we must have patience, and endurance in our present earthly path. Just as the Hebrews had to look ahead at
the blessing God had in store for them in eternity, and not dwell on the low place they had on earth in the present! As ex-Jews
who had no support from the priests, the Hebrew readers' lives could lack the privileges once enjoyed. However, there is even
a honourable place for our sufferings, as we head towards the goal of God's high calling In His Son. Look at Jesus Christ, Who suffered for us but is now raised and glorified. He is the Captain of our souls, God disciplines all His children, and will never
leave them alone to wallow in discouragement and backsliding. "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5).
4. The Book of Hebrews contains awesome warnings for those who have the head knowledge of all this, but still reject it and Christ as Saviour and Lord! Knowing, understanding, but willingly refusing to move into the reality of salvation. They must,
then, suffer terrifying judgement. For there is no other way to God than through Christ Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross-. They are
putting Christ to shame! (Hebrews 6:1-12).
SIX KEY WORDS IN HEBREWS.
"BETTER", used fourteen times. Christ Jesus is "better" than the Old Testament Judaism.
used fourteen times. Christ Jesus and the New Testament
revelation are "perfect" whilst the Old
Testament "old order" was imperfect.
"ETERNAL" and "FOREVER" used fifteen times. We have eternal life forever, and Christ's ministry to us is forever.
"PARTAKERS", used nine times. By faith we are partakers of God's Grace.
"HEAVEN", used seventeen times. Hebrews tells us of Heavenly realities.
"PRIEST" and "HIGH PRIEST", used thirty-two times!!! The contrast between the old priesthood and the NEW in Christ Jesus, our High Priest passed into the Heavenlies, is of major importance in the Book of Hebrews.
There are at least eighty-six direct references to the
O.T. in this book.
It seeks to bring the readers away from a destructive step - of going back into the Law of Moses again, back under bondage to Judaism! These references are taken from over one hundred O.T. passages. Yet, in our day, there are still many, in
Christendom, who want to take us all back under the Law of Moses, and who insist that Judaism is our ROOT which we must
return to. Avoid these dangers with diligence. Why do Christians listen to these "Hebrew Roots" teachers or "Messianic
Jews" ? They don't know their Bibles! I hope you will know the Bible Truths, which will save you from untold error and
foolishness, from wandering in the wilderness.
LET US LOOK AT THIS SUPERIOR PERSON - CHRIST (Hebrews 1:1- 5:10).
1. Better than the prophets - 1:1-3.
Only Jesus could speak out the FULL message of God, the prophets of the O.T. could never do this.
He has given us God's full declaration.
2. Jesus is superior to the O.T. prophets because of Who He is. And Hebrews shows God's declaration of WHO Christ is.
a. He is the One Who was appointed by God to be the HEIR OF ALL THINGS. Psalm 2:8; John 3:35.
b. Jesus Christ is the One Who God used to make the ages. John 1:3.
c. Jesus Christ is the "absolute expression of the collective attributes of deity." John 1:18; Romans 9:5.
d. Jesus Christ is "the brightness of his (God's) glory." Hebrews 1:3.
e. Jesus Christ actually is the upholder of all things. Colossians 1:17.
f. He and He alone can purify sins. (No aboriginal gum leaf fires can do this, as the National Council of Churches seems to think! The N.C.C. almost always have these pagan smoke-cleansing ceremonies at their conferences,
to do away with sin they believe!)
g. Jesus Christ, as the Book of Hebrews shows us, is now at God's right hand. (Heb. 1:3b).
HEBREWS CHAPTER ONE, VERSES TWO and THREE.
These verses show us the first of the wonderful names
of the Lord Jesus Christ that appear in the Book of Hebrews.
"Heir of all things",
"Brightness of His glory",
"Express image of His person."
Here is some more, all appearing in this majestic book, Hebrews:
THE APOSTLE (3:1).
CAPTAIN ( 2:10; 12:2).
HIGH PRIEST (2:17).
THE "BETTER NOTS" IN THE BOOK OF HEBREWS.
DON'T DISREGARD GOD'S WORD (2:1-4).
DON'T DOUBT GOD'S WORD (3:12, 13; 4:11).
DON'T DEPART FROM GOD'S WORD (6:4-6).
DON'T DESPISE HIS WORD (10:26-29).
DON'T DISAGREE WITH GOD'S WORD (12:25).
INSTEAD, HAVE FAITH.
"Those who have dealings with God must
have them by faith. He is the great unseen One, and His
greatest rewards lie in the future. Indeed,
the immediate outlook and one's present experience may
seem both to deny His presence and to contradict the hope
of His reward, Faith, therefore, is indispensable to right
awareness and to steadfast continuance."
(The New Bible Commentary). Hebrews 10:23; 13:14; 11:1. Read together.
FAITH IS UPLIFTED IN THE BOOK OF HEBREWS.
It is impossible to please God without faith. (Hebrews
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1). FAITH deals with
two things of two types:
"Hoped for" has to do with things that are yet future.
"Not seen" shows those things that we cannot see with our physical eyes.
Faith, then, is a confident assurance of the things we
hope for in God.
It is to be so strong in the Lord that it is the very proof of things we cannot see.
Let us finish our introduction to Hebrews with these quotes:
a. "Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present, and the invisible as seen."A bank will not lend money on property if one cannot hold the title deed. Beautiful mobile homes in parks might be lovely, with swimming pools and tennis courts, but no bank will lend money on them to individuals, because the park holds the title to all the land underneath the homes!
(J. Oswald Sanders).
b. "According to Hebrews 11:3, faith is vital if we are to go beyond the very first verse in
Genesis 1. (See also 11:6)." (Wilmington).
c. "Faith is trust in the unseen, but not the unknown." (Hebrews 11:27). (Willmington).
d. "Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for." (Moulton and Milligan).
return to ...T.O.C.
continue to ... Chapter 1...
Ph. 07 38882974 Mob. 0422359978 Centre
Editor of Despatch W. B. Howard