Summary: Jesus is better than OT prophets/angels
Hebrews 1 - Jesus is Better! - 9/16/12
(Start with clip of “Ronnie)
This morning, we want to talk about NOT being like Ronnie. Because sadly, in every church, there are many Ronnies in the pew who have NEVER made the decision to grow spiritually. Instead, they come and want the pastor to “tickle” their ears, tell a few funny stories, and in 15 minutes give them the equivalent of a seminary education. But that will never happen. That’s the equivalent of taking a pill and expecting to lose 100 pounds in a week. Or drink a protein shake and expecting to build bulging biceps. Weight loss and muscle building and spiritual growth ALL require continual, steady plodding along until the desired results are brought forth.
Turn with me this morning to the book of Hebrews, chapter 1. It’s found in the end of the Bible, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James. The book of Hebrews is one that many long-time Christians love, but many newer Christians often avoid. But we don’t have to be afraid of the book of Hebrews. It is not a book to cause fear. Sometimes we get into chapter 6, where we worry about losing our salvation. Or we go on in chapters 9 & 10, and we get bogged down in symbols of the tabernacle. But really the book of Hebrews is a book written to encourage us!
Sadly, we get so caught up in side issues that we miss the encouragement! In Hebrews 6:1, the author tells us, Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity. This is a book that helps us grow to spiritual maturity - as it tells us in Hebrews 5, we want to go past the baby bottle “milk” that Christians often want to hear - like little babies they cry “feed me, feed me” - but in Hebrews we are encouraged to grow by studying the “meat” of the word - going deeper in our study so we grow stronger in our walk with Christ. Why does it give us this encouragement? Because people in the first century - and people in the 21st century - have a problem neglecting God’s word and drifting away from God’s blessing.
It is easy for us to get bogged down on rabbit trails - we worry about unimportant questions, like “who wrote the book of Hebrews?” - was it Paul, Peter, Apollos, James, someone else? Instead, we need to ask the bigger questions like “What lesson is there for me in this book?”
We are going to spend a couple weeks looking at this book together. The title - Hebrews - tells us who this book was written to: Hebrews. But what IS a Hebrew? A Hebrew is a descendant of Abraham, also called a Jew - their homeland is the land of Israel - Jerusalem is it’s capital city. The bible records the history of this people group, with their tragedies and triumphs. And all we have to do is turn on the news today, and we see that this people group is STILL the center of attention in the world.
But in the first century, there was a great displacement of Jews. Acts 8 tells us a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. So there were Jews scattered all over. This book is a book written to Christian Jews - Jews who had believed on Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah. In 3:1 the author says, Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. So whether in Jerusalem or scattered abroad, this is a book for Christians. But as we read through the book, we see there was a special group of Christians this was addressed to.
If you remember the religion of Judaism - the worship of the Jews BEFORE Jesus presented himself as Messiah - it was a sacrificial system. People brought sacrifices to the priests, and the priests offered the sacrifices on the altar to atone for the sins of the people. In the first century, many Jews had come to understand that they no longer needed to follow this sacrificial system - they placed their faith in Christ - but as time went on, they came to think that maybe they should go BACK to the sacrificial system and to trust in a system of WORKS to place them in right standing with God.
Christians today face the same problem - they say they trust God for salvation - but then they try to earn their salvation through a system of good works. The message of Hebrews is this: Christ is BETTER than the OT sacrificial system under the Mosaic law! The author seeks to encourage these Jewish Christians to move ahead in their spiritual lives by showing them that in Christ they have “better” blessings.