Facing Today with the Book of Hebrews
- Wednesday, March 31, 2010
When we read the book of Hebrews, we encounter a community of Christians living in a time of trial, a community not so different from yours or mine. They, like us, are struggling to understand God in the midst of suffering. The message of the book is our message—their story is our story.
Throughout the book, the author of Hebrews states that the community must learn to hold fast to their confession and all it entails. In this study, we will learn what type of confession the author had in mind and how it was to be personally and communally lived-out. By learning what the book states in its own right and in its own context, we will learn what God is saying to us in our circumstances.
Deeply rooted in the sermon delivered to the Hebrews is a sense of urgency. The same sense of urgency exists today. We too suffer from war, lack of community, and spiritual depravity. Our study of the book will help us understand the pressing needs of a previous generation and answer the cry of our own. Understanding how God equipped ancient believers, we will understand how God can outfit us. In this ancient text, we find modern answers.
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you"? Or again, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"? 6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." 7 Of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire." 8 But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions." 10 And, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end." 13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?"
Open the Book—Read It and Pray It
Take a moment to pray that the Holy Spirit will illuminate this book.
Read the Book of Hebrews aloud in one setting (all 13 chapters). In the Graeco-Roman and Jewish world, letters (like those in the New Testament) were read aloud in front of a group of people. Likewise, Hebrews, a sermon converted into a letter, would have been read aloud.
Reflect upon what stuck out to you as primary themes, ideas or messages. How would these things affect a community living after Jesus' resurrection in a time of political, military and social uprisings? Imagine that your place of worship, your home and your community is being destroyed simply because you look a certain way or practice a certain religion. How would this influence your interpretation of the book?
Read the book several more times throughout the week. Continue your reflection on its central themes and ideas by contemplatively praying throughout your study.
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