Exhortations for the Hebrews

The sprinting words to the finish-line in the book of Hebrews (ch. 13) is about actions and activities of the Hebrew believers so they are adepts for the life ahead. This will be a life of high persecution in the Roman Empire against Jews and Christians. We will explore how this book prepares the Hebrew believers to what is ahead.

H’ Philadelphia meneto

The simple phrase translated “let brotherly love continue” stirring up the believers that they are to be committed in love and service to one another. This brotherly love (2nd love known as Philos from C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves) will welcome strangers – who may be angels, will visit prisoners, will identify with the mistreated. This serving love will carry forward Christians through all that is ahead of them.

The Daily Christian Life

As to their, daily lives, the author encourages them to keep the sanctity of marriage and live content lives in a very Epicurean society that seeks pleasure and self fulfillment. The honorable use of money are practical ways in which Hebrew believers will show their trust in God. The author quotes both Deut 31:6 and Ps 118:6 short passages as familiar words shared during a Passover meal – “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” and “The Lord is my helper, what can man do unto me?” It is believed that Jesus along with his disciples most likely sang Psalms 118 at his Last Supper which was a Passover meal (Mark 14:26). So this brings a stark reminder to the believers of their anointed one, who himself suffered outside the gate to redeem the world.

Sacrifice of Praise and Sacrifice of Good Works

The author uses sacrifice in a new testament way to mean two important things (1) Praise to God (like the aroma of an incense or the aroma of our lives 2Cor 2:15) and the related idea of serving God and other believers with your time, talents and abilities. “Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.” The author urges believers extend good works to the world as a result of heir new life and salvation

Doxology of the Hebrews

Hebrew’s Doxology has some very key ideas as the author tries to summarize the doctrine that brings peace to Hebrew believers. The God of peace and the great Shepherd of the sheep are both actively equipping believers in doing what is good, doing his will and working what is pleasing to him. The author recognizes the difficult words and exhortations that has been written down to prepare these believers for what is ahead. There is no way to know if our lives will face turmoil in the days ahead, but we will be wise to pay heed to be girded and ready for what may be times that are difficult along with a God who is all faithful and true.

Faith that Endures

The Hebrews author reaches this point of saying “What more can I say?” (Heb 11:32) as he/she ponders the faith of Old Testament believers who “did not receive what was promised” (v.39) yet endured. The Hebrews author has foresight to see persecution is coming and will require a commitment from the Jewish believers to endure, not always ending in glorious victories on this side of our lives on earth.

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Early Heroes of Faith

Hebrews 11:17-29 account of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph) shows how they learnt to let go of whatever is precious to them and lean more on God. This is the process of a journey in faith, growing more dependent on God and relying less on one’s self. This type of faith also led Moses to look for a different reward than the “pleasures of sin” and forego of success here and now, looking for the invisible reward.

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By Faith

Hebrews 11 has a concise and simple definition of what Faith is, as the author is talking about. The rest of the chapter 11 displays this faith being practiced in history by many heroes of faith. As one carefully observes the stories in this chapter, the layout contains both victory and loss experienced by these heroes of faith. Is there a trick to navigating life to avoid pain, failure and achieve success by faith?

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Reaching Full Assurance of Hope

The book of Hebrews has several passages urging believers to persevere so they can obtain the full assurance of their salvation. The passage is on Hebrews 10:19-31 can be seen like a crescendo leasing the believers into an understanding of the essential key to their perseverance in Christian life – Faith. This perseverance can be seen in the believer’s practical “assembling together” and in their deep commitment to “suffer along” with other believers.

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Death of a testator

Hebrews 9:1-10:18, our study passage, reflects on a very important event Jesus’ death and its meaning to be seen in the imagery of the Old Testament. The author spins from the description of the earthly tabernacle into the idea of shedding of blood as a requirement for sin and declares the Blood of Christ was sealed proof of our eternal salvation.

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A Better Priest and a New Covenant

Hebrews chapter 7 and 8, our bi-weekly study passages, deal with theme of Christ’s better work in two areas. Chapter 7 focuses on priesthood and Christ’s work as the new High Priest and Chapter 8 deals with a greater covenant that reorients the hearts of people instead of their external actions. There is a lot to learn of the author painting a portrayal of Jesus upon the background of the Old Testament

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Growth and Assurance of Salvation

Our study now has to deal with one of the tough admonition passage of the New Testament found in Heb 5:12-6:20. The author starts with a rebuke of “immaturity” of his audience and the need for them to move beyond elementary teaching of “repentance”, “faith”, “instruction”, “laying on of hands” and even “eternal judgement.” What does the author intend we learn in this “mature” phase, what could be more “mature” than these basic tenants of the Christian faith? How about the rest of the passage leading into Hebrews 6:4-8 in which the author alludes to the idea of loosing our salvation.

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Come Boldly to the Greater High Priest

The passages for our continuing study are from Hebrews 4:12-5:11. The author urges believers to understand how the word of God helps cut through many of our defenses to introspectively look at ourselves in full honesty. This type of brutal honesty comes not to cause fear and despair but comes to us with God’s assuring welcome to the “boldly come to the throne of grace and “receive grace and find mercy in our time of need.” The author continues the idea of Christ as the High Priest, subjected to weakness and able to help us.

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Warning from entering the Rest

The passages for our continuing study are from Hebrews 3:7-19 and 4:1-11. The author continues what seems to be stark warnings about drifting away. The author quotes Ps. 95 second part of the song which calls Israel to be diligent in pursuing the Rest that God has already prepared for them. Rest here is best understood as a life of faith and obedience in which a person softens his heart, steers away from the drifting currents to a life that embraces Jesus along with his sufferings. Pursues a Rest that is greater than one provided by Joshua, resembles the Rest that God entered on the seventh day – so .. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Heb 4:11

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