Setting the Stage: Key Concepts
Hebrews 1:1 (ESV)
1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
Thoughts on the Word
Key Concepts from Hebrews.
Hebrews is written to Jewish believers at a time when they were being persecuted by just about everyone. The Romans considered them Jews — and they were actively persecuting the Jewish people. The Jewish people persecuted them because they followed Jesus. They had no one who would help them and stand with them.
In addition, they knew that they truly had the fulfillment of the promises of God to His people — Jesus was the fulfillment of everything God promised to Israel. Yet when they said that, the unbelieving Jewish leaders prevented them from celebrating that in the temple, in the synagogues or at the feasts. So now they are faced with a terrible choice. Do they hold on to Jesus — and lose everything of their past that they held dear?
This book talks about holding on to Jesus no matter what you face.
Jesus is greater than:
...angels, the law, the sacrifices, the Levitical priests, Moses, Joshua who brought them into the land. The new covenant He brought is greater than the old covenant. It is a powerful description of the superiority of Jesus over everything they held dear to their hearts and were now forced to leave.
In addition, there are five warnings. Warnings about the cost of rejecting Jesus and going back.
#1: Warning against drifting (chapter 2).
#2: Warning against unbelief (chapter 3).
#3: Warning against falling away (chapter 6).
#4: Warning against sinning willfully (chapter 10).
#5: Warning against rebellion against Him (chapter 12).
Each warning is against a more serious form of rejecting Jesus and contains a more serious set of consequences.
In the midst of this, there is a powerful chapter on faith — joining with many who have taken up their faith in the midst of hardship. They are not alone in facing these challenges.
Finally, there is the understanding that Jesus faced the exact same rejection that they are facing. He died outside the camp [the city of Jerusalem] (13:12-13) — so let us join Him in that reproach.
Father, this book is relevant to Your people today. We must honestly face the cost of following Jesus. Increasingly, the cost of following Him is growing. Your people back then faced incredibly challenging situations. Your call to them? The cost of following Jesus was worth it no matter what. Today, many of Your people face the same crisis of faith. Your answer is still the same. Also, the cost of turning our back on Jesus is even higher than the cost of following Him. Help us to never forget that. Speak to us through this study and help us to follow Jesus closely. In Jesus name, Amen.
Hebrews 1:1–4 (ESV)
1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Jesus — Is It Worth It?
Thoughts on the Word
Hebrews is written to Jewish people who followed Jesus. They were persecuted for their faith, chased out of their homes and families, alienated from their cultures and they lost everything that was of value in this world. They asked the question, "Is it worth it?" Some decided to go back. Some tried to have Jesus and everything else. Some were undecided.
This is written to these people.
The answer in Hebrews is this — "Yes, it is worth following Jesus. He is greater than anything you left. He is worth following. He is worth the price you are paying for your faith."
Here we see that Jesus is greater than all of their prophets. No one else represented God perfectly — only Jesus did. None of the prophets were honored by God like Jesus — He sits at the right hand of God.
Father to understand Your heart perfectly I need to look at Jesus — not other men. All other people are flawed. Jesus reveals You to us perfectly. I am flawed, too. I do not show Jesus perfectly to others. Father, help me keep my eyes on Jesus. Help me to draw peoples' eyes to Jesus — not me. Father many of us have questions just like these people had. Show us here how Jesus answers all these questions. Help us to ask our questions boldly — and then You answer them for us. In Jesus name, Amen.
Hebrews 1:5–14 (ESV)
5For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? 6And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” 7Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” 8But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” 10And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” 13And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
Jesus vs. Angels
Thoughts on the Word
Jesus is greater than the angels. For many people, an angel represents God — because they are messengers from God and come with the authority of God. Unlike angels, who are messengers of God — Jesus is His Son. The Son carries much greater authority than a messenger.
In fact, all God's children have greater rank than the angels. We are God's adopted children and the angels' purpose is to help us. God sends them to help us, so do not be surprised if they help you and protect you, your family, your vehicle, your home — that is their job.
Father, many of us have great needs, and You provide angels to assist and protect us. So often we think we are alone when we have so much help. Forgive us for not being thankful. Forgive us for not asking You for specific help from angels — that is what You created them to do. They can protect us, strengthen us when we get tired, open doors too heavy for us and guide us when we cannot see. We just need to ask. So today Father I ask for Your angels to go ahead of us to open doors of opportunity to share Jesus. I ask for angels to protect us and defend us when we come under spiritual attack. In Jesus name, Amen.
Hebrews 2:1–3 (ESV)
1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard,
Warning #1: Be Careful Not To Drift
Thoughts on the Word
There are five warnings in this book. This is the first one — be careful not to drift away from what we have heard. Each warning gets more and more serious. Each time the warning talks about a more serious rejection of Jesus.
This first one is drifting. If we no longer are pushing to know more about Jesus — we drift. This is like being in a boat and just allowing the flow of water to take us.
The consequences? Anyone who disobeyed God's law given to Moses because of carelessness, paid the price (whatever the law demanded). We will face greater consequences, because Jesus words are greater that the law of Moses. Yes, it is a tough warning. They get much more serious later in the book of Hebrews.
Father, it is so easy to drift in our faith. We lose focus, we get tired of the struggle to be obedient, we become afraid, or we just stop. Yes, we drift. Help us today to be diligent and keep working at our obedience. Some days it is hard. Some days it is very hard. Some days we just get tired. So strengthen us by Your Spirit so we can diligently follow You. In Jesus name, Amen.
Hebrews 2:1–4 (ESV)
1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Jesus — Endorsed by God
Thoughts on the Word
The teaching of Jesus has greater endorsement from God than the teachings given to Moses through the angels. The Jewish people gave reverent honor to Moses because he was the man God used to release His covenant blessings to the nation of Israel.
God gave miracles and gifts from God's Spirit to endorse the gospel given by Jesus — nothing like that was given to Moses and his teaching. This special endorsement by God reveals the special value God placed on Jesus and His message.
When God endorses something, it is very important. The gospel given by Jesus is very important. What is our response to the good news Jesus gave? How willing are we to share it? God will hold everyone accountable about how they receive it - God is very serious about this.
God, You honor Your word. You honored the word You released to Moses and You gave greater honor to Your word released through Jesus. Father, help me today to honor Your word. Help me honor Your word by learning it, obeying it, sharing it and teaching it. Father, help me honor it more than any other word — because it is greater than any other word. Today, I elevate the words of Jesus especially. The words of Salvation that were released by Jesus have special power and authority. May I take them especially seriously. In Jesus name, Amen.
Hebrews 2:5–10 (ESV)
5For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
Jesus — Perfected Through Suffering
Thoughts on the Word
Jesus became the perfect Savior through suffering. Without going through suffering, He could not have saved us from our sin. But because He suffered, God has opened the door to all people to come to salvation.
There are times that we need to suffer — not for our sake but so that others can come to Jesus. They see us respond with faith, with joy, with a thankful heart and with hope for a bright future and some will want what we have. Yes, our suffering can bring others to God — if we respond as Jesus did.
Suffering made Jesus perfect. Suffering can make us bitter and angry, or it can make us more like Jesus. What do your difficulties and troubles make you look like?
Lord, suffering is the result of sin coming into this world and I avoid it. I do not usually see it as a gift from Your hand — a gift that can make me more like Jesus; a gift that will bring some others to salvation. Yet these two things are exactly what I want in my life. Father, help me to walk whatever path you give me, because You will release these two things into my life — becoming like Jesus and helping others come to Jesus. Give me joy and peace and hope along this path. In Jesus name, Amen.
Hebrews 2:11–18 (ESV)
11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” 13And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” 14Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Jesus — He Calls Me Brother/Sister
Thoughts on the Word
Jesus became like us. Stop and think about that. He went through the hardship and pain we deal with, the temptations we face, and He faced death and the fear death brings — because He loves us. It also says that Jesus is not ashamed to be associated with us. He does not consider it a step down to have people recognize that He looks like us. How embarrassed do we get associating with God’s people? Remember Jesus is not ashamed to stand beside every child of God — and declare each of them as His brother or sister. We must not forget this as we walk with Jesus — and other children of God.
Jesus destroyed death's power over us. He understands the temptations we face. He encourages us as a Priest as we come to the Father - with all our failures and limitations. What an amazing Friend. What a powerful Savior. What an awesome Father who provides so much for us.
Father, it is so easy to get caught up in our struggles and problems and forget. We can forget that Jesus has walked the path we must go — and won! We can forget that Jesus calls us His brothers and sisters. We can forget that every temptation we face — He faced. All because He loved us.
Father, forgive me for acting like Your love is not important — like Your sacrifice really does not understand my pain and problems. Jesus took the full measure of my pain and hurt and made it possible for all of us to win (not just the strong among us — but even the very weakest). Father help me to hold tight to Jesus and His love. Help me today to live in His love as I walk through the challenges that today will bring. In Jesus name, Amen.