The Letter to the Hebrews is vitally important as the Lord helps people understand that trusting Him by faith does not change them from being who they are nationally. Being a Jew was the same as being an Israelite. How could one be one without the other? Many nationalities are identified by religion and do not understand how they can be faithful to their culture when they no longer follow the religion of their family. The family can put tremendous pressure on the believer, considering them a traitor to their heritage.
I. Establishment of authority. 1:1-3
The Jewish Christians needed to understand that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the prophecies given throughout their history by God. He is the prophesied Messiah.
Jesus stated that He was the one spoken of in the Law and the Prophets and that He had not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. All of the Law speaking of Him was fulfilled in Him. They needed to know that the Messiah came to them as promised by God, but the people rejected him. Paul stated this in –
Romans 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Through their rejection, the nation of Israel has been set aside –
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
The Law was in place for Israel, not for the church.
These believers were saved by the grace of God (all men) through faith and were to be faithful to His Word in the building of His church, not by becoming a Jew through birth and religious rites, living according to the Law.
Paul was able to establish credibility among the people through the Lord’s working in his life.
He was a Jew that was well versed in the Law and the Prophets as well as the traditions of the nation.
Philippians 3:3-4 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Ga 1:14-16 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen…
Paul understood what he believed. He learned the truth of the Gospel through debate and reasoning with believers –
Acts 6:9-10 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
Paul had argued with Stephen and the other Christians and was not able to prove them wrong. The Jews tried every argument and well understood what the doctrine of the Christians. They became angry and decided that the people must be destroyed. Paul became the leader of this war against believers, the first death being that of Stephen the deacon –
Acts 7:58-59 (KJV) And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Paul continued to carry out the persecution –
Acts 8:3 (KJV) As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
And through his own words of speaks of the hatred that drove him –
Acts 26:10-11 (KJV) Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
He learned everything he could about those that trusted in Jesus of Nazareth as the Saviour. It is interesting to see how that as he used this information to persecute them, the Lord was using the same information to convict Paul of his sin and need of the Saviour –
Acts 26:12-19 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
Many Jews were confused and they needed instruction in the commandments of God. Paul began to instruct them by first establishing the authority of Jesus of Nazareth.
At this time, Paul was a vessel in the hand of God to be used to share the Word of God to the Jews and to the Gentiles. God led him to write this letter to explain to the believing Jews about their position in the Lord.
A. The Father – Jehovah Hebrews 1:1,2a
Paul began this letter with facts believed by all Jews – that God revealed Himself to their forefathers by the prophets. This statement would not be contested by any Jew.
1. Acknowledged prophets that were in the lineage of Jesus.
a. Enoch. Jude 14
b. Noah. “…preacher of righteousness…”
2. Acknowledged prophets in the general history of Israel.
Prophets such as –
a. Isaiah. 700 bc Prophesied of the virgin birth, 7:14, and the rejected life –
Isaiah 53:5-12 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
b. Micah. Prophesied about the same time as Isaiah. He told of the place of the Saviour’s birth, 5:2
c. Daniel. 600 – 500 bc. Presented the time of the Saviour’s birth.
d. Jeremiah. 600 bc Prophesied of the one who would be King, The Righteous Branch. An everlasting King.
e. Zechariah. 500 bc The coming King
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
f. Malachi 400 bc. The messenger is coming and the Judge is following soon.
Malachi 3:1-2 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
Notice that the focus of the Lord is truth through His Word. They were to trust and grow in faith according to His revealed will. The same is true today!
We come to the Lord through faith. The question is presented “How do we have faith”? The question is answered in
Romans 10:9-14 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
The question to the Jews is the same as the question to you today. Have you believed in God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Millions of people are in church today but, sad to say, they will not be in Heaven. They have put their trust, their faith, in the wrong thing. They have not come to God by faith in His Son through the hearing of truth.
We have heard so many reasons from people as to why they go to church that have nothing to do with faith in Him.
The Lord has told us very clearly that
“No man cometh to the Father but by Him”. This is a truth of God in His Word, the Bible. This is why we are a Bible believing church. The Bible is the center of the service. We do not worship the Bible – we worship the God whose Word is given in the Bible. Do you believe Him today?