Summary: A message to encourage believers in difficult times.
"The Shadow, the Substance and the Savior"
Hebrews 12:18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Introduction: You cannot study the Book of Hebrews without seeing it in its context. The author was a Jew writing to Jewish believers in Asia Minor, most likely the Apostle Paul considering the writers familiarity with Jewish customs and traditions. So our understanding of this book needs to be sifted and filtered through its context to fully appreciate it.
Let's look at: The life of a Hebrew Christian in the first century would have been a difficult one. We are told that when they converted to Christianity that they were exposed to all kinds of indignities and insults. They would no longer be considered Jews but apostates from the true faith. They would be excommunicated from the synagogue and be unable to worship or offer sacrifices. Because they would be considered to have the same status as Gentiles, they would be considered unclean and contact with them would be avoided. Several years ago I heard a statement that in some cases involving orthodox Jews who converted the family would have a funeral service as though their family member had died all because they had converted to Christianity. Dr. F. B. Meyer writes, "To how great splendor had these Hebrew Christians been accustomed, marbled courts, throngs of white-robed Levites, splendid vestments, the state and pomp of symbol ceremonial and choral psalm! And to what contrast were they reduced, a meeting in some hall or school with the poor, afflicted, and persecuted members of a despised and hated sect!" Little wonder that the writer of Hebrews points to the glory that awaits those who have embraced the "meek and lowly One!" Some of these Jews may have been wondering was it worth it; was this new life that was centered around Yeshua (Jesus) worth it? I'm afraid that there are many believers today who are wondering if it is worth it. We have seen so much violence and corruption in the world in the 20th century and in the first part of the 21st. I read a story of persecution during the Boxer rebellion in China. The Boxers attacked a missions school with 98 students. They laid a cross in front of the door and said that anyone who walked on the cross would be spared. The first 7 students did so but the 8th, a young girls prayed about it, walked around the cross and was immediately murdered. All the rest of the children followed her example and were also murdered by the boxers, 91 Christian students died for their faith in Christ. In our day Christians are being beheaded, crucified, raped and tortured for their faith. Churches and homes are being desecrated and destroyed. In our country Bible believing Christians are