Saturday, December 31, 2011
Hebrews: Final Trio
A few words now on chapter 11 (faith), chapter 12 (chastening) and chapter 13 (new sacrifices).
Many are familiar with the faith chapter and its glorious listing of the victories of heroes in the Old Testament. Remember that the writer is addressing a Jewish bunch. He must be respectful to their inspiring tradition; at the same time driving home the point that trust in the finished work of Jesus is now paramount. Things have been very much "done" for us. The compulsion to "do" the many Jewish feasts and rules and regs of Exodus and Leviticus has been over-ridden. One must also note that the faith list includes almost an equal number of happy victories and noble martyrdoms. The lineage of heroes knew that there was something more - a city, a community under Messiah. The writer proclaims that it has now come and is fulfilling the hopes of his people.
Admittedly, the taking of a stance for Jesus at that time drew fire from the unbelieving and from the traditionalists. This was part of the chastening, disciplining or training which the Heavenly Father was allowing for His children. It was necessary. It was loving. It was forming champions who would eventually realize the consequent "peaceable fruit of righteousness". (Watch how outstanding athletes struggle and strain on the field to acquire their mastery!) How we must recognize the difference today between the Father's chastening and His displeasure. Ride through the storm saints. There are treasures.
The final chapter is a compendium of wisdom, much like James' epistle. For me one thing stands out. There are new sacrifices. The old have been replaced. We are encouraged unto praise and thanksgiving, good deeds and generous fellowship. It is significant to note that the New Testament does not lay out for us detailed orders of worship, as did the Old. Rather we are to be led by the Spirit.
14For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
16But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.