Summary: The Old Covenant could not offer the new and better hope that came with the arrival of Jesus.
HAVING HEALTHY HOPES HELPS
I. THE HAPPENINGS:
II. THE HEALINGS:
III. THE HORIZON:
The writer to the Hebrews picks up the theme of proving that Jesus is better than the Law by telling his readers that the Law did not make anyone or anything perfect. The only “perfect” thing it did was bringing in a “better” hope for mankind.
However, before he gets to his main point of proving that Jesus, the better One, is the fulfillment of the Law, it is necessary to examine the previous verses regarding the law, the Priesthood, and the ways of old Judaism. Couched in his writing of the former ways of living under the old system is the indirect references to all that the Jews endured in times past. As they stubbornly clung to the former ways, the Jewish people paid a heavy price as they endured their way of living and worshipping. While they looked forward to the Perfected Priest who would be a Priest forever as envisioned in the story of Melchisedec, the people endured hardships that were beyond endurances. All of their endurance of life was due to their hope that the Messiah would come and would deliver them from the oppression they endured for so long. Take away the Priesthood, its meanings, its symbolism and nothing was left. The very forms of worship as they were centered around the Priesthood made them observe an imperfect Law, yet that Law-with all of its flaws-was what held them together for millennia. Now, the writer says that that Law, as imbedded in the Priesthood was only pointing to something better and that which it pointed, has come and it has replaced all of that which went before it. The new day has dawned, the Old Law with its Priesthood, sacrifices, and ways of living are gone-a new and a Better Way has arrived. With its arrival, there is now a new hope for mankind and especially the Jewish people who have endured so much because they were Jews and because they had the Priesthood.
To begin my sermon, I first look at THE HAPPENINGS of the Jewish people from their history and even into the present time of this writing, as they waited for the fulfillment of the Priest that would come in the order of Melchisedec. The next thing I note is THE HEALINGS this better hope brought to the Jewish people and to the world of suffering humanity. Then, I look to THE HORIZON for all of mankind as this Better hope makes His appearing into the human race.
I. THE HAPPENINGS: The items which we could list under the word, “happenings” are those things that had taken place among the Jews as they waited for the “better” hope for a better tomorrow. These events marked the Jews as being among the most hated and reviled people of all times. Each occurrence of pain and degradation was just one more reason to hold out hope that their Messiah would someday come and rescue them.
The first item I list under the heading of THE HAPPENINGS has to be among the worst that can beset any group of people and that is to be constantly Humiliated. There has never been another religion, nationality or group of people that have suffered more humiliation than the Jewish people. They seem to have suffered every form of humiliation that is imaginable to mankind. Even when the writer was writing this letter to the Jewish people in the first century, they had already endured centuries of humiliation at the hands of the Egyptians, the Babylonians and the people of Nineveh in the time of Jonah. The Holocaust was centuries in the future and these Jewish people have suffered every form of degradation known to man.
What lay behind this terrible blight upon them? It was none other than their race and their Religion. Instead of accommodating the oppressors and discarding their form of worship and doing away with the Old law, they tenaciously clung to their way of life and living. They kept the Priesthood and constantly longed for their Deliverer. The Priesthood tied them together and they survived under the cloak of their religion, while waiting for the fulfillment of the Priest that would come in the order of Melchisedec.
Not only did the Jewish people suffer great Humiliation, but they also suffered abject Hatred by their neighbors, their captors and those who sought to extinguish them. So often they were misunderstood because they were different and standoffish. Their belief in the Law and the Priesthood of their religion branded them as traitors, spies, subversives and a host of other epithets, all because of their firm belief in the Old Law with its Priesthood and way of living. The Jews were merely disliked-they were hated. They were banned from towns, villages and countries. They were hunted, killed, slaughtered and maimed because of their beliefs in the God of the Old Testament and for strick adherence to the Law. Yet the Law was not perfect-it pointed towards a Perfect One, a Better One. This imperfect Law became a vital part of their lives and they endured so much due to their upholding an imperfect Law which could never make them perfect.