We’re going to start a new series this morning. I’m glad you’re here with us because this section of Scripture we’re going to be in is the Book of Hebrews. And for me, I think I shared with you last week if you were here, if you put me on some deserted island somewhere and you told me I could only pick one book of the Bible to take with me, it would be the Book of Hebrews.
Hebrews, it’s a great book I think, especially for us to study in the summer. A few of the reasons I should tell you that I like Hebrews is because Hebrews, each chapter, really for the first eight chapters especially takes a theme of Old Testament and shows us how everything culminates together in Christ. It’s kind of like taking the pieces of what the Bible is, and now it’s answering the question, “Now how does this even make sense?”
Like when I look at the tattaglia Scripture, what God shared is this all disjointed? Or does it come together in some way? Is there some soft of broad picture to how the Bible comes together. And I want you to know when we look at this book, we’re going to answer the question, “Why did God create a temple? What’s the purpose of that? Why is there a Sabbath? What’s the purpose of that? Why was there law? What’s the purpose of that? Prophet, priest, kings, sacrifice, everything in the Old Testament, every picture in the Old Testament; what in the world it means? How it culminates for us in our faith, and how we’re to respond to it?”
If you looked at those stories or as God has unfolded his Revelation in the Bible, you’ve seen how God has revealed himself in the practices, especially in the Old Testament. And then you get to this New Testament, you’re trying to figure out how this all ties together. Hebrews does that beautifully. I think this is an important book, not only for your faith, but I think here in Utah, if you’re a person that shares about what God has done in your life, which I think God calls all of us to do, the concepts and teachings of Hebrews are I think not only pertinent to our faith, but are especially helpful in communicating why we believe what we believe.
But you know, there’s also in just seeing those ideas taught in Scripture, there’s also another reason I think Hebrews is important for us and why were spending the summer just going through this book.
Summer time for many of us is a season of change. There’s lots of vacation, moving, life changing events that take kinda place in the summer and the focus of Hebrews is really about the sufficient of Christ in all things. And as you think about the summer and you know your family might have some plans and you might be in and out for meeting with the body of Christ, really my prayer for our church this summer is that we just back to the simplicity, back to the simplicity of just knowing Jesus and making him known in our lives.
For me, there’s no book that really ties the beauty of that together more then the book of Hebrews and seeing the sufficiency of Christ in all things and seeing how God, from the beginning, has orchestrated all of this together to point us to Jesus.
Everything I just named to you: prophet, priest, temple, law, Sabbath, king … You pick a theme in the Old Testament. The intentions were to be a foreshadowing ultimately of what Jesus would satisfy. For us this book, just points us to the simplicity of who Christ is. And I think the author of Hebrews, his intentions was to help the church focus on what is important.
If I just kinda lay a backdrop just for a minute on why this book exists, you know I talked about these minor things, but I think there’s a greater significance in Jesus, a greater significance happening historically in the first century when this was written as to why this book exists. I think it starts with the identity, a little bit of the identity of the author at least.
I’ll tell you that this book, out of all the New Testament’s books, this book is a debated book as to who wrote it. Scholars have varying ideas as to who wrote it. I think what’s most important to recognize regardless of who you think wrote the book of Hebrews is just to simply acknowledge that it’s Holy Spirit inspired.
Sp the Holy Spirit wrote it, but he wrote it I think specifically through an individual. Now if you guys know, I like to joke sometimes and to just rub things for fun. That’s why I like to say from the pulpit every once in a while, I’m a Patriots fan, and if you don’t like it, you’re wrong. I like to hear the groans that happen, but you had your chance, and there you lost it. The Patriots are the best. You know? It’s fun to do that sometimes. I like to do this with the book of Hebrews. I like to say, when it comes to the book of Hebrews, the Apostle Paul wrote it, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re wrong. Right? I only like to do that because I know if you got some kind of Bible nerd beside you, they’ll immediately turn and start to make some sort of snarky … “Paul didn’t write that.” They’ve got their opinion on it. I just get to irritate for fun, but I have reasons for thinking Paul wrote it. I think it historically relates to this book and where it sits in history.
Just so you have a way of historical understanding, my basis for saying Paul wrote it is more than just rubbing you raw, but whoever wrote Hebrews is definitely well versed in Judaism. It has to be a Jew, and they know their stuff. They can explain to us the purpose for its existence.
Historically when you look at the book of Hebrews written, we have thousands of Papyrus have been discovered in the New Testament, this is one of them that dates back to as early as 175 A.D. This set of Papyrus is actually called P46, which stands for Papyrus 46. It was a series of letters that were discovered. All of the letters contained in P46 were written by the Apostle Paul.
So when you go back and you study this manuscript, you see 175 A.D., the intentions of this person, whoever collected these manuscripts in the second century, they were just intentionally trying to get Paul’s writings. And so you go back and you look at all these writings. And one of the writings that exist within this context is the book of Hebrews, so whoever this individual is collected these Papyrus of Paul’s writings, they got the 13 books of Paul. Then they add the book of Hebrews with it.
Early church history, some of the early father’s accredited Paul in writing this book. [inaudible 00:06:06] Alexander, origin as having written this. It’s most likely written in Rome as well. If you go to the end of this book, you’ll see in Hebrews chapter 13, I think verses 34, 35, the person sends their greetings. It says from Italy, but most scholars think that it’s actually from the city of Rome in Italy, and that it talks about Timothy sending his greetings as well. The one that we know that traveled with Timothy so often was Paul.
Paul already written most of, a good majority of our New Testament. He’s addressing this to the Hebrews, which there’s something interesting about saying that Paul wrote this because Paul’s called the Apostle to the Gentiles. He tells us in Philippians that “he is the Hebrew or all Hebrews.”So he was the up-and-coming star of his people. He was the Jew of Jews, but God calls him into the Gentile world.
Well, it’s something interesting when you read the New Testament. You see in Romans Chapter 10. As Paul writes in Romans, he’s talking about the Gospel there. He’s unfolding the Gospel. He gets to chapter 10. He kinda really opens up his heart a little bit. He goes, “Brother, my heart’s desire and prayer for Israel is for their salvation. Though they have a zeal for God, it’s not according to knowledge.”
Paul shows even from Romans 10, Verses 1 and 2, he recognizes his own people, even though he’s apostle to the Gentiles; his own people and his desire for them to know God. He sees such as zeal for a God, but they’re not following after the true God. And so his prayer for them is for them to know God. Now think, he’s writing this book of Hebrews as an appeal for us just understand how all of what God has written comes together.
Now historically, when you go through this book, there are some significant events that took place in early Christianity that if these events have had happened, you would have likely found ’em written in the Book of Hebrews. Meaning in 70 A.D., the temple is destroyed. This book takes time to talk about the temple and what takes place in the temple. If the temple had been destroyed, you think it would have been addressed in this book.
In the mid-60s A.D., Nero starts persecuting Christians. He sets them on fire in his gardens. He literally uses Christians as torches to light his fire. He blamed Christians for a fire that took place in Rome, which was a false accusation, but he used that as a means to persecute them.
You don’t find any of those statements found in this book historically as having happened. Most likely this book predates those events taking place in history. Most likely this book is written somewhere in the mid-60s A.D., which kinda leads into why the author is writing this book and the sufficiency of Jesus for us in Scripture.
When you study Christianity and the spread of Christianity, early after the crucifixion of Jesus, the church starts to proclaim around Jerusalem Judea, the Gospel. In Acts chapter 8, something interesting happens. Steven is martyred. He becomes the first martyr in Christian history. It actually ends at the end of chapter 7, and in the beginning of chapter 8, it tells us that Paul goes out to persecute the church. What happens is the church starts to spread. It then leaves Jerusalem Judea and goes out into the other most parts of the Earth. Christianity is on the move throughout the Roman Empire, starting in Acts Chapter 8.
But what happens when you get to about the 60s A.D. is that the Christianity has now spread all the way to Rome. Now Rome is starting to join in the persecution of the Jews and against Christianity. It’s like it goes out in waves from Jerusalem. Now it goes all the way to Rome. Now the persecution is now coming all the way back through to Jerusalem again. It’s like it goes out and comes back.
The author of Hebrews, he starts to write this letter and he says, “You guys have gone through persecution,” but really this isn’t anything compared to what’s about to take place. This author is a little bit privy to understand that he can see the tide turning in the tone of Rome against Christianity.
Now when I think about the author of Hebrews … This is a little bit of speculation here, but when it comes to Rome, running from Rome, and when it comes to understanding what’s taking place in Christianity, I can only really think of two figures in early church history that were somewhere around the power of Caesar to understand what was about to happen.
One is Peter, who was about to be crucified upside down during this time period. The other was Paul, who was about to have his head cut off during Nero’s persecution. I think Paul and Peter both know that their end is likely coming soon because of the tone of what’s taking place in Rome.
Paul visited there. Paul had opportunity to make influence in Caesar’s household. Paul knows the minute … Peter and Paul go down, who are leading the church in this first century, it’s going to smash the early church. How are they gonna respond? Paul’s helping them to anticipate what’s about to take place.
If I just gave you maybe a theme verse of Hebrews, I would point to this. This is a pinnacle place in the book. It says this, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful.” Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love in good deeds.
Hebrews Chapter 10 is a pinnacle point in the book. For the first 10 chapters, it’s theology in our lives. The last few chapters, the chapter 10-13 is the application for us. What does it all mean? And in the middle of this transition, this book, this is where this author, Paul, gives this theme of really what the book’s about.
I think they understand that the tone of the church is about to take a heavier blow now because Rome is intentionally gonna come against Christianity under the authority of Nero. Once you take the head off, you can go after the rest of the body.
Really when you study church history for the first 250 years of its existence, 125 of those years, if you claim to follow Jesus, could have cost you your life. The author of this book wants us to recognize that in the season of change and the adversity that we face and all that goes on in our lives, there is one truth that all of it culminates in, that if we can find ourselves resting in it, which is Christ, we find ourselves secure.
Hebrews Chapter 1 Verse 1, starts off with this very bold claim. It says, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days he has spoken to us in His Son.”
Really this morning, I really want to just set the backdrop to the intentions of this book. We’re going to unfold the rest of chapter 1 this week, but I just wanna look at the first three verses.
The author in bringing us all down to this focal point, spoke long ago, God did, “to the fathers in the prophets in many portions in many ways, in these last days he has spoken to us in His Son.” I’ll read the rest of it in just a moment, but what the author is doing in drawing everything down to Jesus, he’s making a truth claim. Right?
You know when you face hardships in your life, you get back to the place where you begin to ask the question, “Okay. What’s true? What matters? What’s the foundation of which I need to rest myself in so I can move forward in the midst of this mess? And stand for what’s right and understand the reason for which I exist because through it all, if I can just sustain on that truth is what holds me up in the midst of anything else that might crumble around me. So, where is my hope? Where is my foundation?”
The author of Hebrews starts of this pointed thought for us to get us to really eliminate everything else to just drive back to what the target it. They say for those who fail to plan a life and really fail to hit the target for which you’re created, but in this passage, he wants to just funnel our thinking down to this singular place of where truth is revealed and the foundation for us to find ourselves sustained in God; the singularity of truth.
The first 10 chapters of the book plays it out theologically. Hebrews Chapter 12, Verse 2, I think even says, “Jesus being the author and perfecter of faith.” In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father, but by me.” This singular thought of this truth play.
And to embrace this truth is to eliminate all other claims. The author wants us to hone in on this point. This singular thought is important for us just to reflect on right now. Just a broader picture, I want to get to the details of what he’s saying here and why it’s so powerful, but if you think about the broader statement of what is being said here.
In our culture today, we have all sorts of ways of how we address truth and I think most of which are unhealthy and some of which are self-defeating in their own statements. One of which, if I just picked on one, is one that I heard this week in talking about the Lord with some people. They kind of culminate all faiths down to this idea: as long as you’re good, that’s all that matters. Right?
At the end of the day, you talk about faith. You discuss things with one another. People like to just summarize it in this way: as long as you’re good, that’s all that matters. I would say that would be wonderful to believe as a follower of Christ, if the Bible said that at all. But, Hebrews Chapter 12, Verse 2: “Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.” He authored faith. He perfected faith. Right? If you want to find faith, I would say, the author would be a good place to start.
Or Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and life. No one comes to the Father, but by me.” That’s what Hebrews 1 is focusing on here in this passage is this idea of “it’s not as long as you’re good, that’s all that matters, but there is the singularity from which truth originates itself and which God proclaims that truth to us, and we find it culminating in Christ.”
Let me just talk about for minute phrases in our culture today like, “As long as you’re good, that’s all that matters.” I like some of the sentiments related to a statement like that because I think what it’s trying to communicate is, “Hey, we have some differences here, but let’s love one another.” Right? Let’s try to be cordial to each other, which is great. I think that’s a wonderful basis, but here’s what we don’t want to do.
We don’t want to stand on such a statement at the sacrifice of a truth because what the Bible says is “truth sets you free.” That’s where you find the purpose for your existence. The reason really I love Scripture, it’s what Paul says in Ephesians Chapter 4, Verse 15 that “We are to speak the truth in love.” That because the truth sets us free, that we are to serve people with it and love them in it and share that and to be humble and communicating to people and find people where they are and be able to love them in the truth in that, but we don’t use truth to bash people, but to find people free and to restore them and to encourage them.
It’s why Paul writes in 1 Timothy Chapter 1, Verse 5, he says this, “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” We talk about claims like this. I want us to know that this claim really does, it eliminates all other claims in this world because the singularity of Jesus.
The danger in taking a statement and saying, “As long as you’re good, that’s all that matters,” it really undermines what Jesus accomplished. Really, if there is another way, then why in the world would Jesus even do what Jesus did? That’s way too much of a sacrifice and a cost, right?
The author’s pointing us to this. Not to create division, but to point us to truth and freedom. When we talk about all of Hebrews, I want us to know this that we’re gonna talk about truth, but my attitude isn’t to drag people down. It’s not to divide; rather to help us find freedom.
When we think about our church, there are plenty of people in the world that take what they call truth, and they really just use it as a excuse to beat up on other people, but when I think about our church family, I want our church not to be a curse to our culture, but a gift of truth and love.
If people disagree with what you claim, it’s more reason to love them deeply, and they could see the love of Christ being made known in your life because of the truth that you believe. If you make a truth claim, I think it’s also important to just make sure you’re right.
Let me just say this about this passage. When God’s talking, Hebrews chapter 1, he says that he spoke to the prophets. If you take this thought of God speaking to the prophets, and you just go back into the Old Testament. You look at what God says to his prophets, Deuteronomy chapter 13, Deuteronomy chapter 18. He told Israel if a prophet says something, claims to be a prophet and they say something and it does not come true, stone ’em. God considered his truth sacred. He don’t want people just half haphazardly just representing him. When we make a truth claim, we wanna know it’s true, but at the same time, we wanna do it with humbleness because we know if not by the grace of God, we would never have such truth to proclaim.
As long as you’re good, that’s all that matters. How do you respond? If you talk about truth in this world, if you go out from these doors and you just start discussing about Jesus in the this world, I promise you, it’s probably gonna take just one conversation before someone makes that kind of statement. How do you respond to that?
You see the assertions at Hebrews chapter 1. How do you respond to that? Well, let me just say this. If all that matters is that you’re good, you have a contradiction when you read Scripture. Let me just look at this passage for a minute. In 2 Corinthians 11, Verse 14, it gives you this warning about Satan. It says, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”
When the Bible talks about light, is not the representation of light in Scripture typically good? Right? When you think about righteousness, you often think about righteousness in terms of being good. Now what this passage is getting us just to begin to recognize is just because you’re good doesn’t make it Godly. What God is definitely not saying to us is if you’re good, that’s all that matters because Satan has no problem with appearing good. He appears as an angel of light. Even his servants appear as messengers of righteousness. If being good is all that mattered, then we have not conflict with this. We’d be like, “Satan’s good.” He appears as an angel of light. I mean that’s pretty good. God is light, and Satan’s duplicating the appearance of God who is light. Therefore, Satan’s good because if you’re good, that’s all that matters.
Or just think about this for a minute. This statement, if good is all that matters, this is a mission statement from a religious group. This is not to just bash people or hate people in this group. I do not hate people in this group if people were from this group were in our church. I would love them as Jesus would want me to love them in church growth, but this is their mission statement. It says this: “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.”
I promise you, this group I’m about to tell you, if you get on their website right now and you read the purpose for their existence, the “About us,” this is the first phrase you’ll read. All that they’re after, in this phrase, we look at this, you just say, “These are good people,” and if being good is all that matters, then this is great because they’re just like what I would think is important and being good. Well, until you read who wrote this ’cause this is the mission statement of The Satanic Temple. Now wait a minute, right?
Christianity and satan, that’s like the archnemisis of what we’re about here. How in the world proclaiming to follow satan and yet here it is, the benevolence of all people. If being good was what God was after, if that’s all that mattered.
Think about this first a minute. Have you ever considered the difference between obedience and faith? What’s the difference? Let me ask you this. What is the difference between obedience and faith? Is there a difference between obedience and faith? They’re two different words. There has to be a difference between obedience and faith? What is the difference between obedience and faith?
If you’re just obedient without faith, what we’re saying is, “You can be good all day long and never know God.” Or you can really never love God. It’s possible just to do good and never be connected to God, but if you have genuine faith and you see the love of God for you, then the desire of faith would be to obey the one who loved you by showing your love to him.
Jesus wanted us to understand this. I think in the book of Matthew chapter 7, he says this, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” And look at this, Verse 22, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name cast out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” You see in verse 22, this people just listing all the good things that they did. Then Jesus says this, “Then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
What Jesus is driving at here is being good isn’t all that matters. God didn’t primarliy create you just to be good. The Bible isn’t written just so you can get through and read it and figure out how to be good. What the author is saying in Hebrews chapter 1 is how you know God. The primary reason God has created you is that you would know him. When you see this loving God, the way he’s communicated himself to you in order to set you free, your response in your life is the love him in return.
The driving force of us this morning in worship isn’t just to figure out how to be good and walk out and just try to be better people. The desire of our heart is to be Godly people, God’s people, to worship, to know him more, to draw near to him, let him conform us in his image.
When people say, “As long as you’re good, that’s all that matters,” that doctrine, that teaching, it doesn’t agree with God, but rather it agrees with satan because even he appears as a an angel of light. God created you for so much more then that. You’re not just a machine to perform. In fact, I wouldn’t say that’s not your primary purpose at all, but it is to know him.
This author of Hebrews drives us to this idea of knowing God and when he does it, he does it in this shocking statement. Look what he says. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” In the Jewish mind, first century, this is book of Hebrews written to the Jews. this statement would have been so shell shocking because historically what’s happened here is God has been silent for 400 years.
In fact, historically, you can go back through Israel’s history. Starting with the ending of the Book of Malachi, God go silent for 400 years. The Jews kept writing. They kept writing during this period, but they knew what they were writing wasn’t Scripture. In fact, in the Book of 1 Maccabees in chapter 4, chapter 9, chapter 14, they talk about this. In Chapter 14, verse 41, let me just read this. It says, “Simon was made priest over Israel, until a trustworthy prophet should arise.”
Then earlier in chapter 4, Verse 46, it says this, “There was sorrow in Israel, such as there has not been since the prophets ceased to appear.” In the … 2 Book of Barat, chapter 85, Verse 3, it says this, “The prophets have fallen asleep.”
Flavio Giuseppe, a first century Jewish historian wrote a book called “Against Apion,” chapter 1, verse 8 says the same thing. That the succession of the prophets have ceased. Historically in this time period, the Jews knew that God was not talking to them again. Or God had not been speaking to them. God had been silent.
Now all of a sudden, the author of text is saying to us that God is no longer silent. Now he’s speaking. This would immediately begin to perk the ears of God’s people. We’ve been waiting for this for hundreds of years. Where do I go to hear the voice of God? It’s saying in former times, in various God spoke to his people through the prophets.
No doubt when you study Old Testament, you see that picture. God speaks in various ways. I would say not just various. If I was right now, I would just say crazy ways. He spoke in crazy ways to people. He talked to one guy in a fish. He talk to another guy through an angel and donkey to this person. He told one dude to walk around naked for years. He told another person to cook over human feces. God talks in various ways. I see it as crazy ways. He spoke in a burning bush. Try to convince people of that.
God spoke. What’s important there is God spoke.
In special revelation, saying to us that God desires to connect with you, so God spoke. Now it tells us again, he’s speaking. The question for the Jews would be like, “Oh, really? Because we’ve been waiting for this. Now where is it going to happen?” Then he tells us. In these last days, he’s spoken to us in his son.
Here first, this is the last days in Scripture in the New Testament refers to even the day that we’re still in today is the last days until the return of Christ. This is the last days. If you wanna hear from God, the answer is Jesus. God became flesh. In John Chapter 1, Verse 18, actually John beginning in 1, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God. The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory is the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And it says this, that in verse 18, that the son has explained the father. It’s literally saying he’s the exposition of the father. He is the sermon on display.
If you want to know what God’s like, look at Jesus. This is why says, “He who has seen me, has seen the father.” That’s why Colossians 2:9 says, “In him the fullness of God dwells in bodily form. It’s why doubting Thomas in John chapter 20, Verse 28, “he bows down before Jesus and says, ‘My Lord and my God.'” The Bible tells us in Isaiah Chapter 42, Verse 8 that “God’s glory he will give to no other.” Yet at the end of the Book of John, you see Thomas bowing down before Jesus and calling him “Lord and God, glory belonging to him.”
What it’s saying in this passage is God is speaking. If you want to see in a tangible way, God speaking into your lives, just look to Jesus. God has make it known.
Just for us to I understand the idea of “prophet.” In the Old Testament, there were these pictures of prophet and priest. The priest was the represent of the people before God. He represented the people of God, before God. But the prophet represented God to the people. God knew greater in being on display then when God himself becomes flesh, dwells among us and demonstrates himself in this world.
That’s what it’s saying in this passage for us. If you just read further. He says, talking about Jesus … “He is the exact radiance of his glory, the exact representation of his nature and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sin, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” That God has spoken and revealed himself in Christ.
Prophetically, to know God is to know Jesus. Jesus even said in John chapter 14, Verse 26 … The diciples were freaking out about everything that Jesus had taught them, how they’re gonna remember all that and how they’re gonna walk with him, how they’re gonna know what to do. Jesus says this about the Holy Spirit. He says, “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” The goal of the Holy Spirit isn’t about just prophetically revealing new truths in our lives. The what this passage is communicating to us is everything culminates in Jesus. The whole point of it was about Jesus. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to remind us everything that Jesus had already taught and how the picture was created in Christ. It tells us in this passage.
That Jesus now sits on the throne, ruling and reigning. That Jesus is in this position of authority, as King of kings and Lord of lords. All of it now historically has culminated in Christ ’cause what this passage is saying to us is we’re not waiting for any more truth. The truth is Jesus. Your place is Jesus.
Jew chapter 3, the Bible tells us this. That the … faith, I should say, says this. It’s been once and for all handed down to the saints. The faith that we believe in has now once and for all been handed down to saints, God’s people. It all culminates in Christ.
The New Testament writers had this picture that God knew that he wanted us to know him. God created you to know him. He expositions that beautifully in Christ that you could see him in very flesh walking this Earth. Today Jesus isn’t walking this Earth so, for us, in order to know him, where do we go? Scripture. Go to the Scripture in order to know God. The New Testament author had this picture that it’s not about just you’re interpretation.
I hear this a lot with people. You share something about God and they’re like, “Well, that’s just your opinion or your interpretation.” No. New Testament writers had this crazy idea that you could actually look at Scripture and see what it says and walk away with the truth.
You could read Hebrews chapter 1 today and see what it plainly says about Christ. “The exact radiance of his glory and representation of his nature upholds all things in His power sitting on the throne, making purification’s of sin,” that’s the identity of Jesus. Don’t argue with it. That’s what it says.
Let me just give you another example. Just take minute and read these passages. Isaiah chapter 43, Verse 10, “Understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.” Isaiah 44, Verse 6, “Thus say the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts. “I am the first, I am the last; there is no God besides me.””
So I haven’t told you what to believe about this passage yet, but how many God’s are there? How many Gods will ever exist? How many Gods have ever existed? One! One, one, one, one, one. Right? I’m not telling you to believe that, you can read it and see it. Right?
So we talk about Jesus being very God. It’s the one God becoming flesh for us. How do we know truth? Jesus, what this passage is communicating to us? Really is Jesus is greater than the prophets. And I told you the theme of Hebrews, is take all these Old Testament pictures and point it back to one truth. The sufficiency of Christ in all things.
So it’s saying, in times past and in various crazy ways God spoke to the father’s through the prophets. So he spoke to them then, through this means. And today, to you he’s brought it all down to this one place. Because he’s become flesh. It’s Jesus. So what it’s saying to us that Jesus isn’t just a prophet. Jesus is greater than the prophet’s. You don’t say, people today will claim that Jesus was a great teacher. I want you to know that when he read scripture, Jesus doesn’t give you an opportunity to take that position. You don’t say the types of things Jesus said and just be a good moral teacher.
Jesus really gives you two choices when you study what Christ says in scripture. Either he’s insane or he’s God. Those are really the only two roads you have with Jesus. He’s crazy and off his rocker or he’s God. I mean Jesus says in John 8, verses 58, 59, you can look at this later if you want. He’s coming before the Jewish people and he says “I have seen Abraham’s day.” And they’re like “How have you seen Abraham when you lived hundreds and hundreds of years before you?” And Jesus then says, “Before Abraham was, I am. Not that I existed but he was self existent, I am.” Which is a name for God.
It’s tells you in John chapter 8 verse 59, “The Jews picked up stones to stone him.” In John 10:30 it did the same thing and he just said “I and the father are one.” And then it tells us “The Jews immediately picked up stones to stone him.” Because when declares a false prophecy claiming to be a prophet, that’s what you did. You killed them cause God’s truth was more important. And Jesus says to them, “for which of these are you going to kill me?” And he says “for none of the laws that you’ve broken, but you being a mere man, make yourself out to be God.” He was crazy or he was God.
One of my favorite stories of Christ, John chapter 7. Jesus is in Jerusalem, this is one of the last, I think it’s the last feast that the Jews celebrate on their calender. They had three feast on their calender a year, which the Jewish men were commanded to go to Jerusalem to celebrate. The last one is the feast of booth’s just a few days after the day of atonement. This feast started on a Sunday, ended on a Sunday.
The feast of booth’s was a time Israel would gather together and they would remember what God did for them the 40 years of wondering in the wilderness. How God provided for them all those years. And for those eight days they would create tents, they would live in those tents and it would remind them of how God provided for them in the midst of their nomadic lifestyle for those 40 years.
It was a way of remembering God’s hand. And on the eight day, there was a special thing that they would do at the closing ceremonies of this celebration of what God had done for them for those 40 years. They would pour a drink offering. And the drink offering was to remember the time that they were in the wilderness when God caused the water to flow from the rock and he kept them alive. God was living water.
Now you can imagine if God requires the Jewish men, and they would travel with their families, not always, but they would. How many people would be in Jerusalem right now? I mean this place would be packed and now this is the last night of the last celebration, so everyone’s there at this temple, at this final sacrifice of this water representing God as the living water. And Jesus stands in the middle of this moment with everyone around him and he says this statement, “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
What man would say that? That is crazy, right? The only way you could possibly satisfy every soul that turns to you in faith, is if you’re God. And Jesus, in the middle of the ceremony stands in front of everyone and just makes this declaration of the sufficiency of who he is.
So let me just give you a conclusion here. What you’re seeing in this passage guys is special revelation. There’s two types of revelations theologians will talk about, one’s general revelation, one’s special revelation. General revelations, you go outside and you look at the moments and you’re like, there has to be a divine hand to this. Look at the birth of my new child, don’t know how that happened but there’s, well I do know how that happened, but there’s a divine hand in this, right? And then there is special revelation. That says to you that God has defined and identified himself in a specific way for you to know him. That’s what Hebrews one is.
God has revealed himself to you. That you can know him. And for the first century Jew, this would have blown them out of the water. God’s speaking again. God’s speaking again so that I can know him. God is communicating again that I can know him, how is that happening? And then with this proclamation in the beginning it would just begin to tease the ears saying I need to know if this is true. I got to know, I’ve got to look at this, I’ve gotta at least take a shot in seeing if what is being communicated here is accurate and how God is speaking to his people again. How it’s culminated in Christ but then I think guys, even in our situation, like special revelation in Jesus and that’s beautiful.
God wants to know you. He’s spoken to us today in Christ but not only that way, the way that we know this Jesus is through his word. Now if you just think for a minute how sacred this, hold this word, how sacred it is for you. The printing press didn’t even exist until what the last 600 years. And when you have the bible, the old testament, new testament, there wasn’t books that you could go and find all put together. The new testament wasn’t formed this way, it was written all over the Roman Empire. I mean you were fortunate if you could have just a letter or two.
But here you are, special revelation. God has communicated himself that you can know him. And now, and just this time period and history all of it put together that you can see him. And when I just, I think about this for just a minute, how God is communicating, how all is accommodated in Christ and this point in history, just have the opportunity, the grace to hold this.
When I even think of what it took for us, even in english, to have an english bible for you to be able to read. My mind and gratitude just goes back historically to the 1300’s. There was a man the name of John Wycliffe. That’s his beautiful portrait there. Man can grow a beard right? Or couldn’t afford a pair of scissors or something. But John Wycliffe he believed that Christian’s should be able to hold the bible in their language. So he started this movement of writing the bible in english in a time when it was illegal. One of his followers, Jan Hus when Wycliffe died, picked up the torch and ran with it.
He wanted you to have the bible in english and Jan Hus because it was illegal eventually it caught up to him. And they took Jan Hus, put him at a stake and burned him alive and to start the fire that killed Jan Hus, they used the bible that John Wycliffe had translated into english. They took copies of it, lit the fire beneath Jan Hus and burned him alive.
But then a few decades later, a man by the name of William Tyndale does the same thing. He continues the translation work in english, that you can have a copy of the bible. They take him out to a stake, burn him alive. Persecution begins under Queen Mary, you know here as bloody Mary. Christians being persecuted, they flee to this place called Geneva, Switzerland. They finally write a bible called “The Geneva Bible.” And it’s the first bible to have study notes in it. It predates to King James.
And these people, they write under persecution, fear of what can happen to them. They start to record scripture in english. Those people from Geneva, Switzerland end up getting on a boat, we call them the Pilgrims. They come to America, they land in Plymouth Rock. Geneva Bible in hand. A 102 of them set sail across the ocean. By the time the first winter ended, over 40 of them had died. So you have over a 40 plus percent chance of dying, why? Because they believed in the power of God’s word.
Special revelation. They wanted a place where people could know, God. Giving their lives, why? Because if you’re good that’s all that matters? No. Because of the purity of what’s spoken, here. That as God has made himself known, you may know him. God has been working throughout history so that can know him. God has given you special revelations so that you can know him.
These people risking their lives, not so that you could just be good. But so that you could know God. Lay the foundation for us for Hebrews but here’s my desire guys. That the truth of his word, as we go through this book together, we just watch our [inaudible 00:47:53]. I can tell you just personally in studying this book there has been no book that has done greater delight in my life to know God personally, than the book of Hebrews.