What does it say?
We don’t know who wrote Hebrews, though theories abound. More of a treatise than a letter, it’s clear that the author is a master of the Old Testament and probably writing primarily to other believers from a Jewish background before the temple is destroyed in 70 AD.
Hebrews opens with a majestic affirmation of Christ’s deity and his superiority to the angels (Heb 1). If the Law delivered by angels is true, the message of salvation delivered by Jesus Christ is more powerful still. The fact that Jesus is both human and divine does not detract from his message or mission to save us from sin (Heb 2). Jesus Christ is greater than Moses, so highly and rightfully revered by Jews. Just as Israel received the Law and then failed to enter the Promised Land, followers of Jesus are warned not to make the same mistake with the Gospel.
Jesus fulfills the role of High Priest and follows the model of Melchisedec (Gen 14), not Aaron (5:1-10). Believers are not to stagnate in their faith, but continue growing in relationship to our Great High Priest Jesus Christ (Heb 5:11 – 6:20).
What does it mean?
As we have seen, a great struggle in the first century is to understand that one can be a Christian without to become a Jew. Many waver between the freedom of true faith in Jesus and a return to living by the Law. Hebrews is written to understand and respect the purpose of the Law, but to demonstrate its fulfillment in the finished work of Christ.
Masterfully, the author of Hebrews cites many Old Testament passages and shows that Jesus Christ is superior to angels, Moses and the Law. He passionately urges believers in Jesus Christ not to repeat the mistake of Israel. Having received the Law from Moses, they wavered in their faith and refused to move forward to enter into the Promised Land, wasting a generation in the wilderness. The final rest that God offers us is rest from our works through faith in Christ. By pointing back to Melchisedec as a picture of Christ to come, we remember that God’s mission did not begin with the Law, but even before the beginning of Genesis 1. Hebrews 6 does not teach that one can lose salvation, but rather that the consequences of failure to grow in faith are irreversible, as it was with the generation of Israel in the wilderness.
How will I respond?
Looking back over the past year, what is one specific way in which I have grown in my spiritual walk? What is one specific growth goal for my life going forward?