Hebrews 1-7: The Call to Hold Fast
Clockwise from top right: The temple in Jerusalem; The Israelites in the wilderness were led by a pillar of fire by night; “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house...” (Hebrews 3:5); The high priest prefigured Jesus as “a great high priest who has gone through the heavens” (Hebrews 4:14); Burnt offerings were part of the sacrificial system.
By Neil Earle
The Letter to the Hebrews is a strong admonition to Hebrew Christians, perhaps the Jerusalem church, to avoid the temptation to return to the synagogue in a time when a threat of bloodshed seems evident (Hebrews 12:4). History records that James the brother of Jesus was martyred in Jerusalem in 62 AD, a most prominent Christian killed whom even Jewish people respected.
“Let us hold fast.” “Let us not forsake,” “how shall we escape?” “do not become lazy” and other cautions pepper the manuscript. The writer is determined to establish the supremacy of Jesus over the complete Old Testament system. Here is a brief review:
Hebrews 1 – begins with “God” and seven tributes to Jesus in three verses. Then seven texts showing Jesus is superior to the angels: “You are my son, today I have begotten you.”
Hebrews 2 – God’s overall purpose in creation: bringing many sons to glory (v. 10) through the Son’s becoming flesh and blood thus “making atonement for the sins of the people” (v. 17).
Hebrews 3 – Tactful reference to Jesus over Moses, “Moses was faithful as a servant, Jesus as a Son” (vv. 5-6). Forget bragging over Jewish national history, the time to respond to God is “Today” (v. 15).
Hebrews 4 – The true Sabbath rest is a heavenly rest (Hebrews 12:22) therefore neither Joshua nor David could give it to the people. Jesus praised as “a great high priest who has goe through the heavens” (v. 14).
Hebrews 5 – Jesus appointed by the Father to his high priestly role and how he qualified on our behalf as “the source of eternal salvation” (v. 9).
Hebrews 6 – The danger of falling away IF we publically disgrace the Son of God (v. 6). But…even the readers who had to be admonished constantly were not yet in that danger. Look to Jesus the Forerunner and we will then enter through the veil along with him (v. 20).
Hebrews 7 – We are shown how Abraham, one of the two greatest names in Judaism, was submissive to Melchisedec, a priest of the Most High God. “The law made nothing perfect” (v. 19) and therefore could be altered so Jesus of Judah could serve as high priest. Jesus’ qualifications mentioned again (v. 26).
Thus Paul’s long journey from strict Judaism to new life in Christ. His arguments still guide us today.