Summary: This is the introduction and overview to the sermon series on Hebrews.
"Never Settle For Less Than The Best!"
An Overview of The Book of Hebrews
Something kept telling him that there had to be something more, a better way, a lasting solution, a quiet assurance. He knew in his heart that it was out there, but he had never found it. Jacob was a young man who had been born into a Jewish family. His family read the Hebrew Bible every night. They prayed that God would forgive them of their sins. They asked God to bless them so that they could be a blessing to those around them. Jacob’s family loved God. His father and mother lived a life of quiet humility with servant’s hearts overflowing with gratitude for everything that God had given them.
Jacob saw how his father’s faith influenced everything that he did in life. He was a craftsman who sold his wares in the marketplace alongside of others trying to make ends meet. Jacob’s father was fair while he saw how others cheated the common folks in the market on a daily basis. Jacob’s father and mother gave to their neighbors who were going through a hard time even when there wasn’t an abundance of food for their own family because they knew that God would provide for them if they provided for the poor. Jacob’s family worshipped in the Temple every time they were given the opportunity, not out of duty, but because they were people of gratitude.
As a boy, Jacob had seen the priests make sacrifices day-after-day so as to provide offerings for the sins of the people. It was an endless, tireless, relentless practice that the boy watched day-in and day-out. The sins of the people were always before them as the sacrifices and blood spilled forth to remind the people that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sins." (Hebrews 9:22 NIV)
Jacob was grateful for the priests and the sacrifices they made on behalf of the people, but the sacrifices and blood were a constant reminder that sin had separated the young man, and all others, from God. Even after the sacrifices were made and the sins of the people were covered, Jacob knew that another sacrifice would have to be made soon for sin was just around the corner.
Like workers changing shifts at a modern-day factory, the priests would come and go around the clock because provision had to be made for the sins of the people. As Jacob watched the priests wear themselves out making sacrifices by shedding the blood of animals he would often think to himself, "There has to be a better way, a lasting solution, a quiet assurance that my sin can be forgiven and I can know God."
Jacob knew that the priests were shedding the blood to cover his sin, and yet it only seemed to uncover the hardness and darkness of his own heart. He felt as if he would never escape his sin and be able to fellowship with God with the assurance of his sin being forever forgiven.
One day while Jacob was on his way to the market to take lunch to his father he saw some men looking on as another read to them. The man who was reading was smiling and enthusiasm echoed from every word as he read,
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 NIV)
Jacob’s heart raced as he heard the final sentence, "After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." The words struck Jacob as strange since he knew that there was not one seat in the Temple for the priests to sit upon since they had to continually make sacrifice and offerings. The priests worked round the clock to provide for the sins of the people — there was no time to sit and relax. Jacob asked himself, "Who is this priest who has provided for the purification of my sins? Who is this priest who finished His work and sat down to enjoy His finished work?" Jacob’s heart raced within him as his mind wandered, "Could it be true? Could this be the better way, the lasting solution, the quiet assurance that my sins are forgiven and the door has been opened for me to really, truly know God? Could it be?" Jacob’s heart jumped with joy at the thought. He peered in to take a look at the man reading from the letter. The man read,