Hebrews: Three Things to Know

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 I love symbolism. I will never admit this to my high school literature teacher, but I loved when she would have us trace symbols throughout a classic novel like The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird. The symbols served as Easter eggs and showed how intentional and purposeful the author was with their work. Naturally, Hebrews is my favorite book of the Bible, partly due to the symbolism found throughout the letter. Hebrews is full of references to the Old Testament explaining how the entire message of the Bible is really about Jesus. Every chapter reveals God's intentional and purposeful plan to redeem us through His Son. 

The book helps us understand the purpose and ministry of Jesus Christ and communicates the identity of our Lord and Savior. It is written to Jewish believers who are being persecuted for converting to Christianity. Some have fallen away and reverted to the old sacrificial system and practices. Hebrews was written to show Jesus has fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament and has  established a new covenant with humanity. Hebrews can be a challenging book to understand if you do not have knowledge of the Old Testament. Here is a little background that will help bring the bright truths of this amazing book to light. 

God calls Abraham to be a father to a Holy Nation

In Genesis 12, God calls Abram (renamed Abraham) to leave Ur, and journey to an unknown land. God makes a covenant with Abraham ensuring that Abraham will be the father of a great nation and his descendants will inherit the Promised Land. By the end of the Old Testament, the nation of Israel has lost control of the Promised Land and the people long for the promised Messiah to come and restore their kingdom. The author of Hebrews shows that Jesus is this Messiah. He has come to “help the offspring of Abraham” (Heb 2:16) by freeing them from the bondage of sin. This is to fulfill God’s promise that the world would be blessed by Abraham. Through Jesus, we are freed from the power of death (2:14) and able to enter the eternal Promised Land (4:1), where we will dwell with our Creator forever and ever.

God promises David that his throne will last forever

Hebrews also shows us that Jesus is the promised heir of King David. In 2 Samuel 7, God promises David that his house and kingdom will last forever (2 Sam 7:16). God will be a father to David’s offspring and he a son (2 Sam 7:14). This verse is cited in Heb 1:5 and communicates that Jesus is the promised offspring that will sit on the throne of David. This throne will last forever (1:8) and be a kingdom that “cannot be shaken (12:28).” Jesus is the king that Israel has longed for to reclaim God’s people and destroy their enemies. And our king is not ashamed to call us His brothers (2:11), making us heirs in a kingdom that will never end. 

Christ establishes a new priesthood with a better sacrifice

God made a covenant with Moses and the people of Israel in the book of Exodus. In addition to the 10 commandments and other covenantal laws, God establishes a priesthood that intercedes for the people when they sin.  The Levitical priests are human and can empathize with the rest of sinful humanity. However, they are also sinful and must perform sacrifices for themselves and others daily (5:2-3). Therefore, it is significant that Jesus became human and took on flesh so that he could sympathize with our weaknesses. Yet, He is superior to the Levites because in His flesh, Christ suffered through temptation and even death, yet knew no sin (4:15). As a priest he prepares a single sacrifice that is sufficient to pay for all sin (9:11-14, 25-28). This sacrifice is his own life, which is unblemished like the required sacrifice from Leviticus 22:19-20. And it is His blood which inaugurates His new covenant with humanity (9:18). A covenant that provides forgiveness of sins and the only path to reconciliation with God. A covenant that has been extended to you and me, if only we put our faith and trust in God’s Son, the radiance of the glory of God and exact imprint of His nature.

This book proclaims that Jesus came to save you from the bondage of sin and death. Jesus came so that you could be adopted into God's family and be an heir in His eternal kingdom. He came to intercede on your behalf and endure God's wrath in your place. He came for you. How will you respond?

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TJ Yates is the Vice President and Co-Founder of Inspire Experiences and a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. TJ is a graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Oklahoma. He serves as a Sunday school teacher at his local church. TJ is happily married to his best friend Casey, and they are proud parents to Lyla and Jack.

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