by Abraham Cremeens
It has been a great year for us in God’s word together. We have journeyed through Genesis, Ecclesiastes, Colossians, as well as our Advent study in Isaiah. As he always does, God has used his word to grow and shape us in significant ways.
Now, as we close off 2021 and near the onramp to the New Year, we will continue as God’s people to look into God’s word together. Lord willing, we will step invest a good bit of 2022 in the deep waters of Hebrews. While we will cover a variety of topics and issues in this book, here are three themes that are at the forefront of my thinking as we prepare to begin this study.
The Old Testament Is Rich
The Old Testament can be difficult to understand in places. Some prefer to avoid it altogether. I mean, isn’t Leviticus where Bible reading plans go to die? Yet, all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). To avoid the Old Testament would hurt, not help. God's revelation from Genesis to Malachi contains the pointers, promises, and purpose of God that surge forward to the glory of God at the cross and empty tomb.
The Old Testament has considerable meaning. We meet God there. Therefore, we will take our time through Hebrews and allow space to appreciate the depths of the Old Testament and its connection to the New Covenant in Christ. In fact, at several points, we will stretch a passage over two or even three weeks in order to have adequate time to dig back into the Old Testament roots. This is going to be a rich and deep journey.
Community Is Key
The perseverance of the saints is a key theme at multiple points in Hebrews. The Jewish Christians addressed in the epistle were undergoing significant persecution for their faith in Christ. The author offers several loving challenges to stay committed to Christ. Such words are life-giving as the Spirit of God uses them to strengthen Christians to stand strong. Consider also the connection of that exhortation to Christian community. In God’s economy, strength comes in numbers.
Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV)
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
You will note a few one another commands in these two references affirming our need to remain together as the people (plural) of God. I fully affirm that a true Christian cannot lose his or her salvation. I also affirm that we need one another in the process of perseverance. Hebrews will remind you to never go it alone in the Christian faith. Let’s study and apply this truth together.
Jesus Is Greater
This is the main theme of Hebrews. Moses, the tabernacle, angels, Sabbath, and sacrifices all exist or existed to point to the greatness and glory of Jesus. He is the greater sacrifice. He is the greater Moses. He is the greater High Priest. As we slowly unpack the depths of these Old Testament backdrops, we will see over and over again that Jesus is greater and worthy of praise. All of life points to him, so let's see and celebrate his greatness. This is a journey intent on greater appreciation of and devotion to Christ. We will grow in a heart of worship.
So, I hope you will join us and begin praying even now. Lord willing, we will begin with the first four verses of Hebrews on January 2. We have Hebrews Scripture Journals availble at the Resource Center. Go ahead and begin digging into this wonderful book. Let’s not avoid the Old Testament. Let’s dive in headlong and drink deeply of its waters. A deeper love for Christ is on the other side.