The book of Hebrews was written to encourage believers who were facing trouble. It seems the people of God often find themselves in difficulties.
Why is this? It is because we are different and always will be. We are pilgrims here and now. The world and its varied systems are things with which we will never be totally comfortable.
Our citizenship is of Heaven. God has made it so.
Being a follower of Christ in those early days after His Ascension was not easy, particularly for the Jewish believers. The Jesus movement was opposed by both the political leaders and the religious authorities.
Roman rule at that time remained oppressive and ruthless. The Empire sought to control all aspects of life in its realm. This included religious life. The emperor had been elevated to deity status and as such he expected worship from his subjects.
Jesus people had a higher King and they made no secret of this. As a result, they suffered much. Some grew weary in the well doing of living for Him. Many struggled in an atmosphere that branded them as outcasts.
Some, therefore, entertained and promoted notions of returning to the rituals and the traditions, the sacrifices and the offerings they had once practiced. By doing so, they sought to better fit into the flow of life in their communities.
The Lasting High Priest
The writer of Hebrews warned against such compromises. He argued first that this would be a dishonor to Jesus. And furthermore, such practices would do little to create the comfort zone that these people hoped to achieve.
Jesus, it is shown in Hebrews, was the final and lasting High Priest — He took an everlasting position as our Advocate and Intercessor. The Creator entered His Creation and by His perfectly lived life, made a new and living Way for fellowship with the one true and Holy God.
This Priest offered up Himself as the Lamb of God and “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own Blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (see Hebrews 9:12).
Christ’s redemption was and is complete. This is the principle of the Finished Work. Any attempt to turn back the clock and reintroduce old manners of worship would be futile, the Hebrews’ writer argued. To do so, he wrote, would be like crucifying Christ all over again.
Jesus is the Way. He is the Truth. He is the Life. He stated all of this Himself in John 14:6. To contrive any other way or truth or life would be fruitless and, what is more, a disgrace to Him, according to Hebrews 6:6.
Heroes of Faith
The writer goes on to reveal that living in the purpose of God has always put His people at odds with the cosmic system that surrounds us.
The advice presented in Hebrews is for believers to learn “to see Him who is invisible.” This phrase appears in the middle of Hebrews 11, a chapter that relates to us a series of people who saw God and His way throughout the ages.
Abel is listed first in Hebrews 11 for he lost his life at the hands of his brother Cain. And why did this happen? It was because Abel’s offering of a lamb from his flock, with its blood, was the acceptable sacrifice while Cain’s presentation of the work of his own sweat and toil was unacceptable. The pride and agitation in Cain moved him to murder.
Believers lay claim to righteousness on the basis of the Blood of the Lamb. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He has saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
Our gift of grace bothers some people and enrages others. See Cain. See the mob that stoned Stephen to death in Acts 7. Abel and Stephen were men with their eyes on the purpose of God. They walked in His Light even when darkness closed in on them.
Another faithful man listed in Hebrews 11 is Noah. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
Genesis describes the era that Noah lived as one full of sin and evil imaginations. He was told of the Flood to come and was instructed in how to build the Ark for his family and the animals. The project took years to complete. Imagine his work going on in the midst of mockery and spite and opposition. Many looked at Noah’s Ark and scoffed, until the days the skies opened and the waters rushed around them.This is what we are doing as the Body of Christ, as His Church, as His called out ones. We are demonstrating to the world that there’s more going on. This is what we believe. We see something that others refuse to see. Click To Tweet
Every board had to be fashioned and set in place. Every nail hammered by Noah spoke to the Lord of obedience and it testified to the people around him that something was coming.
Only this family held the Truth. Only this family clung to the Way of God. Only this family would be delivered unto Life and commissioned to bring forth more Life as they would be fruitful and multiply to fill the earth with their descendants.
This is what we are doing as the Body of Christ, as His Church, as His called out ones. We are demonstrating to the world that there’s more going on. This is what we believe. We see something that others refuse to see.
Our eyes behold the purpose of God. Our Hope is in Him and in His Word. We sing the song of the Redeemed:
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning” (Psalm 130:5-6).