It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
originally posted by: DISRAELI
The epistle to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, perhaps to a specific Jewish church.
The message of the letter is that Christ has brought “completeness”.
That is, God is making available, through him, a much greater and more decisive revelation than anything they have received from him previously.
So in the first chapters the writer showed how the Son, who brought this final revelation, was greater than the angels who had brought (as was believed) the revelation of the Law of Moses.
By the same token, he must be greater than the human agents of the older revelation.
The writer addresses his expected readers as “holy brothers”, who share in [METOCHOI] the “heavenly calling” (ch3 v1)
For they have been set apart for God, called to be among the “many sons”... Jesus, who is the Apostle and High Priest of their faith-community, just as Moses and Aaron were the “Apostle” and High Priest of the original community.
He begins by comparing Jesus with Moses (the comparison with Aaron will come later).
Jesus and Moses are similar in one respect.
They’ve both been faithful in their appointed work, in relation to God’s house.
But their responsibilities come to them in different ways.
Jesus has more glory than Moses, in the same way that the builder of a house has more honour than the house which he builds.
That is, Moses came from within the system. He was part of the community which he was appointed to govern.
But Jesus stands above the system, as the builder himself.
This follows on from what we learned in the opening verses of this letter.
Putting it another way; Moses was managing God’s house with delegated authority, as one of the servants of the household.
His main function was to “testify to the things which were to be spoken later”.
That is, the revelation he brought was pointing forward to the more final revelation of Jesus.
Whereas Jesus came under his own authority as the son of the household and one of the owners of the house (vv2-6).
We are his house. That is, “we”
the followers of Jesus, displacing those who are only followers of Moses.
However, we remain part of his house only if we continue to be followers of Jesus, if we “hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope”.
Delivering that warning is the whole point of writing this letter.
The writer fears the possibility that these Jews who have accepted Christ will be falling back into pre-Christian Judaism.
The story of Moses suggests the parallel of the Israelites who rebelled against God’s plan announced through Moses, because they were too fearful to trust in his power.
He was angry with them as a result, and refused to allow them to enter the promised land.
So the writer proceeds to give a detailed exposition of a passage in the psalms which reflects on that episode;
“Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation… and swore in my wrath ‘They shall never enter my rest’”
He develops his thought first from the words “Today, when you hear his voice” (vv12-13).
The message in the warning voice is that they should not allow an evil, unbelieving heart to make them fall away from the living God (which is what they will be doing if they turn away from Christ).
They should also take care to exhort one another, echoing the same warning voice to each other.
For, as he repeats, we are all “sharing in Christ” [METOCHOI again], but only if we hold our original confidence in him firmly to the end.
That is, as long as the time may still be called “today”.
The end of “today”, when time runs out, would be the onset of death or judgement;
“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night comes, when no-one can work” (John ch9 v4).
Then he takes three keywords from the rest of the passage; “rebellion”, “provoked”, and “swore” (vv16-18).
Three times he asks the same question, and he gets three versions of the same answer.
The question is “Who were these people?”
Rebellion; Who were the people who rebelled even after hearing God’s voice?
The very same people who had been saved from Egypt in the events of the Exodus.
His readers should take note of this, because they too were saved and set on the path to the promised land when they originally put their faith in Christ.
Provoked; Who were the people who provoked God for forty years, even after seeing his work?
The same people who had just rebelled against him.
His readers should take note of this, because they too have seen the works of God (and this letter was probably written nearly forty years after the death of Jesus).
Swore; About whom did God swear that they should never enter into his rest?
The very same people, those who had been disobedient.
His readers should take note of this too. The implication is that if they imitate their forefathers in disobedience, they will share the same fate. They will not be allowed to enter into God’s rest.
Everything depends on their faith (ch4 vv1-3).
For they have received the “good news”, just as their forefathers did in the time of Moses.
To complete this argument, he needs to demonstrate that God’s rest is available for us to enter.
Of course he connects God’s rest, “my rest”, with the statement in the Creation account, that on
The words of the Psalmist show that the rebellious generation could have joined him in the same rest, if they had not been disobedient.
Thus we know that it must be possible, in principle, for men to enter into God’s rest.
We might be tempted to think that this means the physical promised land towards which Moses was leading them. The rebellious generation were not allowed to enter the land, because they died in the wilderness, and the next generation entered instead.
However, that cannot be right, because the Psalmist is writing long after Joshua brought the people into the land.
He proclaims “Today” as the time to hear God’s voice, avoiding the mistake of their forefathers in the desert.
This implies that the opportunity to enter into God’s rest, which was denied to the rebellious generation, is available “Today”.
And since the Psalmist was addressing people who were already living in the promised land, the entrance into God’s rest must be something different.
It must be a “sabbath rest” for God’s people in general, shared with God
So the warning of the Psalmist is applicable to the first readers of this letter, and in general all those who have accepted Christ.