Do you think the Bible has anything to say to people who suffer?
Does the Bible say anything to people dealing with the swirling tides of confusion?
Has Scripture a word to offer to those who feel alone, ostracized, and alienated?
What about to someone ready to give up and give up on Jesus?
When you read Hebrews, you’re reading the mail of people who dealt with all of the above.
Hebrews has rare notoriety in the New Testament in that the text does not provide an author. We simply do not know who wrote it. However, from what we see in the text, we know the kinds of folks addressed by this unknown author. They consisted of second-generation Christians who never heard Jesus preach or saw him with their own eyes. In fact, the author appears to be of such a category of person as well. They knew people who knew Jesus, but these kind of people never saw it with their own eyes. Jesus spoke of the blessedness of these kinds of people in John 20:29. The first readers of the Epistle to the Hebrews read the words of this unknown author having placed faith in Jesus due to the evangelistic efforts of others.
The community receiving Hebrews seems to have many wavering members. Would they continue on in the faith? This seems to be the purpose behind the several warnings and admonishments in the letter. They likely suffered persecution from Gentile sources, and social pressure from Jewish sources. They found themselves tempted to revert to old covenant forms of ritual worship to divert persecution and pressure.
The first few verses of Hebrews set the tone for the whole thing. If you want to know the message of Hebrews, it sits right there in the first four verses.
Notice several things: an abstract idea of God, God qua higher power, God the invisible force, God of my own understanding, graces no stage in Hebrews. Instead of such trite tripe, the author offers a theological feast. The suffering receive God Incarnate. Christ Jesus serves as the spread for the Christian. In Hebrews 1:1-4, the author provides these truths:
-Rather than the prophets of old, God has spoken in the person of his Son, Jesus.
-Jesus has inherited the world—it belongs to him by right.
-The Son of God made the world, and he continues to sustain it.
-Jesus, Son of God, does not occupy a lesser place than the Father.
-The revealer of God, creator, sustainer, and owner of the world, one with the Father, has
completed cleansing of sin.
-This mighty Jesus, equal to the Father, ranks above angels.
In essence, the author says this: Jesus + nothing = everything.
Christian, do you suffer? By whose name are you called? Christian, you claim you have been claimed by Christ and no other. The name of Christ Jesus, the Son of God. All stated by Hebrews’ author here remains the same—time soldiers on at the behest of Christ, but he himself remains the same. We belong to God himself. We descend to the supports under our public declaration of ourselves as Christians and find these unassailable supports holding us up.
What pressures do you feel to move away from Christ and his people? What reversions would ease your life? The original readers of Hebrews felt distresses like these and more. They faced imprisonments and alienation. Prior to recognizing Jesus as the Christ, they adhered to the old covenant forms of worship, namely the sacrifices prescribed in Leviticus. As Hebrews will expound, the offering of the life of Jesus on the cross makes these sacrifices obsolete—to continue them would be a rejection of the fullness of the work of the Messiah. Your own reversion to your old ways, your pre-Messiah ways, likewise represents a departure from the sufficiency of Jesus.
So to set the tone for the book, our author draws our eyes to the Savior for who he is—the almighty Son of God. While man, he is no mere man. He is true God of true God and the Son of Man.
Whatever our pressures within and without and whatever the whisperings of demons offer, we turn to Christ, we grip the hand gripping our own. We confess him and no other to hold us in the times of trial and tribulation.