What is your primary preoccupation right now? What’s going on in your heart, mind, and soul? Waking up in the morning, what’s the thing that overwhelms you?
Is it health-related? Finances? Your job?
In the human condition, we’re always preoccupied with something. It’s the way we’re wired. We’re prone to think, “if I get [fill in the blank], life will be okay!” And when we get that thing, there’s something else…
“At first glance, Hebrews appears to be one of the most difficult NT books to understand…” (1.)
Hebrews includes many Old Testament quotations and allusions with great detail around Israel’s priesthood and sacrificial system.
Hebrews also includes several “warning passages”:
Hebrews 2:1-4, Hebrews 3:7-4:11, Hebrews 10:26-31, Hebrews 12:14-17
This book is deep and complex, rich and rewarding, and requires a persistent reading—which is true of all Scripture.
Careful readers of Hebrews will find a miraculously, beautifully woven structure in the text. Hebrews integrates Old Testament theology and New Testament Christology in a way no other book does.
“Hebrews is called an epistle and so it is, but of a peculiar kind. In fact, … it begins like a treatise, proceeds like a sermon, and concludes like a letter.” (2.)
The result is an insight and clarity about the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the nature of our salvation. The full picture of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, is comprised both of what He said and what He did.
The Christian can never exhaust or overstate the person and work of Jesus Christ in salvation history or overlook the work of Jesus on our behalf, in our place, instead of us in His perfect obedience to His Father.
He has spoken to us
Notice: in these last days, He has spoken to *us* in His Son!
The author says: God has spoken again and again! In these last days, in His Son!
This is a beautifully fitting introduction to this letter: the supremacy of Jesus Christ.
Look at verse 3: He is the exact representation (gk. “caricature“) of His nature, He is the character of God.
If you want to know what God thinks, or what He would say, about anything at all: look at what Jesus Christ said and did.
Let your relationship with Christ define you. The only way to do that is to spend time with Him.
Our problems are not outside of Christ’s awareness. The problem is, we make our problem more important than anything else.
If you and I don’t understand that He is the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer—He is the exact representation of His Father’s glory—we’ve despised the Savior.
You have to pay attention to what you’ve heard. A friend told me a few years ago, “Michael, pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.”
The more time we spend with our own preoccupations, the more we will drift from Christ because we’re paying attention to that, rather than to Him.
We put our affection on the wrong things. We need to put our affection and our focus on Him and His authority.
A theo-logical flow: If we understand the time and manner in which God spoke and that Christ is the exact representation of His nature, then He is our High Priest. Christ is our intercessor.
Propitiation for Sin
He had to become human so that we could relate to Him, not so He could relate to us, and make propitiation for our sins.
Some translations will use the word “atonement,” which is not a bad rendering—but simply, Christ wipes out the sin of His people. He covers, pays for, your sin and mine.
Great High Priest
Christ is the High Priest, the perfect intermediary, and He came for us.
- Advocacy: hold fast to our confession.
A confession is what we believe. When we’re tempted, when we’re living in sin, when we’re struggling, we’ve got to remember what we believe.
We need benchmarks. Do you KNOW when you trusted Christ?
- Draw Near.
(An interesting study sometime: “draw near” appears 5 times in Hebrews)
How often, in our horizontal problems, do we lean on ourselves, or run to others, or seek professional counsel, rather than Him?
Do we know what we’ve believed? Draw near.
- Receive mercy and find grace.
Do you believe in the person and work of Christ?
Do you trust that He is your advocate?
Do you believe He knows about the thing that’s preoccupying your mind and breaking your heart?
Moving forward: I commend chapters 9-10 to any who may doubt the security of your salvation and the efficacy of Christ’s work.
A favorite verse: Hebrews 11:38
Run with Endurance
“Encumbrance” here is likely the word “doubt,” in this context.
Fix your eyes…
On what or on whom have you fixed your focus? What’s your magnificent preoccupation?
If we have the Great High Priest, why are we fixated on the here-and-now?
Because we’re human.
I just don’t understand why so many people are living in fear, when we’re people who can live by faith.
Finally, don’t grow weary and lose heart
- David G. Peterson, “Hebrews,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson, et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1321.
- Robertson, 5:328. See also Robert W. Ross, “The Epistle to the Hebrews,” in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 1406.