FROM MINISTRY INTERN, CONNOR BRADBURY
As we’ve concluded this first unit of Hebrews, it is important to frame our study in its proper context as we move ahead.
Understanding the value which the messages contained in Hebrews has for us in the 21st century cannot be under-estimated. However, it is vital to consider the audience (Jews/Jewish Christians), the message, and the impact certain discussion points would have had on their understanding of what was being presented.
A first point to consider is the familial dynamic of sons/brother; particularly sons of Abraham. While it is easy for us to presume this refers to us (Gentiles), having been grafted in, the recipients would not have read the letter with that context in mind.
Rather, they would have understood elements of “one source” (2:11) and offspring of Abraham (2:16) to be a direct address to the Jewish people, or God’s covenant people (Genesis 12:1-3). Keeping this in mind, we now see a passage like 2:16 where Jesus helps “the offspring of Abraham” to literally mean, “Jesus helps the Jews”.
Another point of clarification needs to be made about propitiation. In understanding propitiation as its own independent act, it is important to understand the twofold action in a vacuum before looking at the result.
The first part of propitiation is that it REMOVES or puts away sin. However, whereas Sunday’s message used the word “restore” to describe the second component, the restoration received is more of a byproduct of propitiation rather than an element of it.
It is better to understand the second act as being the SATISFACTION of God’s wrath. Seeing Jesus as the 2nd goat (the scapegoat) within the framework of the day of atonement (Leviticus 16) helps in capturing this idea of propitiation.
Jesus took on the sins of the people, was sent outside the city (Jerusalem) to die demonstrates the sending away of sins (REMOVAL) and the completion of the act of atoning for the sins (SATISFYING God’s wrath on the cross).
As we continue in Hebrews, seeing how the author continues to demonstrate how these things which were important to his audience pale in comparison to what Jesus accomplished.
“You think angels are great? Jesus is greater!” What are the things you value? What are the things we think our great? A job? A hobby? A person? Yourself?
Our next unit will bring into view the Mosaic Law, and while it certainly is great, that Jesus is still greater. Give Jesus his place as the greatest thing in your life this week!
Your Brother in Christ,