Summary: Hebrews is not a book to be feared, avoided, or selectively picked through; it is a book of great benefit to the people of God.
It Takes a Village:
An Introduction to the Book of Hebrews
Big Idea: Hebrews is not a book to be feared, avoided, or selectively picked through; it is a book of great benefit to the people of God.
Supporting Scripture: John 16:1-4a
All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.
1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
Hebrews is about a sodality … a “tribal village” if you please.
More accurately, it is about a “spiritual village’ that is in danger of splintering due to forces both outside the village and forces inside the village.
Why do I use the imagery of “village”?
Because a village is a collection of inhabitants, of people, who sense some sort of relation and are in vital relationship together. Villages are a society; a cooperation. They are tribal and clannish; not in the sense of exclusivity but in the sense of interdependency.
• Hunt together • Cook together
• Eat together • Play together
• Nurse / doctor together • Babysit together
• Clean together • Celebrate together
• Worship together • Laugh together
• Cry together • Die together
Their resources and their very lives are communal.
In short – they survive and thrive together.
“Together” is not optional in a village. There is no individual identity in village. It is all “we.” When one begins to be individualistic – troubles start.
A village member would never consider leaving the village and going to live alone in the jungle! That would be absurd! Villagers know they need each other.
The same dynamics apply in a church (a spiritual village) and when one or more members begin to operate in a dysfunctional way the whole village is affected. For one or more members to begin to operate in an independent manner also affects the whole village. For one to say they will go outside the “village” and be a Christian is … absurd! That is when troubles begin. When one villager steps back from the tribe it says something just as loud as when one villager steps up in the tribe. Both give permission and model something for the weaker / younger villagers … the issue is whether we will model something positive and life-giving or detrimental. I seriously doubt any villager knows what impact their participation in the village’s “body life” has or how much it is missed when it is absent. It is HUGE!
Hebrews is warning against the dangers and the causes of a splintering village. It is about the benefits of healthy “village life.” The book steadily unpacks this theme and by the time you get to the final third of the book it is front and center. It is an assumption that by drawing closer to Jesus you will draw closer to His “village.” According to Hebrews “splintering” is never about trivial things like “time management” or “needed rest” or “family.” Those are hollow excuses and indicators or deeper faith problems.
The particular village that Hebrews is written for is splintering because, as I said earlier, inside & outside forces are threatening and attacking it. The outside forces cannot be controlled (i.e., resistance, hostility, oppression and maybe overt persecution) and when the internal forces are properly addressed the outward threats can be endured and overcome.
As I suggested, there are other forces at work too –internal dynamics that have made leaving “the village” an easy option. There seem to be two big internal dynamics at play. One overshadows the other and reinforces the other.
The biggest one is that the villagers have forgotten the benefits of Jesus Christ. That is why words like “greater”, “superior”, “better”, “perfect”, and “excellent” are used so much in the book. In each case we discover that Jesus Christ far exceeds any other source of “betterment” one might be tempted to seek.
From this perspective:
 HEBREWS IS A BOOK OF EVALUATION