Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Hebrews: Now look who's talking!

The first chapter is a comprehensive statement about the identity of the speaker. I don't mean the author of the letter but the person he will constantly draw attention to throughout it. He has identified the risen and ascended Christ as Son, heir, firstborn, and King-Priest. The one who Himself purged our sins... Heb 1:3 and who now reigns as King-Priest on the throne of the universe. It has been by this 'Son' that God has spoken in these last days (Heb 1:2) How are we to respond to the Word that God has spoken?

It is recorded in the Romans epistle that originally the human race knew the truth but rejected it. ...they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom 1:20-21. The original revelation was rejected. The revelation that came through Moses was, in terms of personal obedience, mostly rejected. Now that God has spoken 'by a Son' surely they will listen to him, won't they? Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. Luke 20:13-15 KJV

The rejected heir has been crucified but has risen and taken his throne. Will God now move in retribution against those who rejected him? This was what the crowd feared on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:37) But 'no' he 'sits as a priest upon his throne' and still holds out the offer of salvation. (Acts 2:38-39)

Those to whom our epistle to the Hebrews was addressed stood on the threshold of the ultimate disaster. They had responded to the gospel, received the Holy Spirit and experienced the 'powers of the coming age' (Heb 6:4-5) and now stood in danger of 'turning back' to Judaism and the obsolete covenant of Moses. The ESV states the danger in the clearest terms; Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Heb 2:1 ESV. It is the metaphor of a small boat which has broken its moorings and is now drifting away on the currents. Perhaps 'slowly drifting' but fatally drifting.

The books of Proverbs gives us a little pen-sketch of the 'sluggard'; I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man. Prov 24:30-34. D L Moody, apparently used to say that he 'had more hope of a murdered than of a lazy man'.

This is the last word and the last chance to such men and women; See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, Heb 12:25.

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