‘Glimmers from Hebrews’ may be a strange-sounding title for an article, but it is appropriate to how I am thinking about this fascinating book. In its first paragraph, the author writes that
‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…”
‘Radiance’ is a translation of a word in the scriptures that occurs only here in the bible, and means something like ‘off-flash’, a beam of bright light emanating from a radiant light. Hebrews is an off-flash from the radiant light of the New Testament, and within its thirteen chapters, it contains many little rays of light
I am starting a weekly online bible study, mainly for my faithful Truth is The Word readers, but also for other interested people everywhere, which will be on this very book. So, this article might serve to help folks decide whether a study of Hebrews is for them at this time. In any event, I hope the article will encourage you to read this unique book. Actually, Hebrews is not a booklet or letter as much as it is a sermon, carefully crafted to bring doctrinal truth, practical application, and most of all, a glorious revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are five glimmers from Hebrews.
Glimmer Number One
The first three verses contain a description of Jesus equalled only by Paul’s description in Colossians 1:15, 19, 2:3, 9: ‘He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation in order that we may know the mystery of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.’ Now, following on from this revelation come the words from the author of Hebrews:
Glimmer Number Two
Everyone knows that angels play a role in the biblical revelation of God’s plans and purposes. Some people write them off as euphemisms, like regarding the angels of the seven churches of Revelation as either human messengers or church leaders. However, Jesus spoke of them as sentient spiritual beings who were very real to him. The Gospels contain over fifty references to angels, the book of Acts has 25 references, and Revelation nearly 80. In total, the word angel or angels occurs 186 times in the New Testament. We know that angels worship and serve God, but only Hebrews discloses their prime function on Earth:
‘Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14)
Glimmer Number Three
Theologians debate whether Christians can lose their salvation and anxious mothers agonise over whether their backsliding children could ever return to the faith. Only in Hebrews can we find clear answers to these questions. Hebrews contains five solemn warnings against ignoring God’s Word, disbelieving in Jesus, falling away, renouncing salvation, and refusing God. So, if you want a little peek into what apostasy looks like then just read Hebrews 6:45 and 10:26-31. However, don’t stop there because, in addition to five warnings, Hebrews has five exhortations… it is not all doom and gloom.
Glimmer Number Four
The three great principles of responsible biblical interpretation are Context, Christocentricity, and exhaustive reference. Hebrews is a concise case study in all three. The whole ‘sermon’ is Jesus-centred and its dominant theme is the superiority of Jesus, or in more colloquial terms, ‘Jesus is just the best!’. The first audience for Hebrews was a group of Jews who had become followers of Jesus but who were considering returning to Judaism. Without this context, it is very difficult to understand parts of the sermon. For instance, what is Hebrews 6:1-3 all about and what is its relevance to us today? The exhaustive reference principle is about reading any particular passage in the light of the greater biblical revelation, and the author of Hebrews constantly connects his readers to Old Testament texts.
Glimmer Number Five
The Old Testament contains many symbols and types, and Hebrews picks up on several of them. Here you will find references to the enigmatic Melchizedek as well as a description of the Old Testament Tabernacle/Temple that is subtly different to the Old Testament description. I am not going to spill the beans here, but it is something I definitely will include in the bible study. For the time being, read Hebrews 9:1-6 and compare it to Exodus 30:1-11. Spot what item of furniture has been moved and think on why this should be.
Hebrews is in two parts with the practical section starting at chapter 10 verse 19. From there on until the end it is all about such things as
- Drawing near to God in faith
- Holding fast in hope
- Encouraging one another in love.
The online bible study will start on the 15th February 2022 and I will send out the link to you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and WhatsApp to take you to the study on YouTube. Thereafter I’ll be sending reminders every week. I look forward to going on this journey with you!