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A chapter by chapter examination of the Book of Hebrews; this book examines the ways in which God has moved towards a better covenant with man. The historical background of the Book of Hebrews as well as contextual discussions add insight and relevance to Hebrews.
Category - Bible Commentaries
The book of Hebrews begins by presenting Christ as the One through whom the Father has most recently spoken to mankind. In earlier history, God spoke through the prophets in many different ways, but now He has spoken more clearly to give us a more perfect understanding of His ways.
1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in his Son, whom He appointed Heir of all things through whom also He made the world [aionas, “ages”].
First, let us say that in each age God, His character, and His plan emerge more clearly from obscurity to light and finally to its clearest focus. The Old Testament really began with Moses, under whom the Passover Age began. Moses was the first to bring the knowledge of God out of obscurity by means of a set of literature called the books of the law. The prophets then followed later to give us a greater application of the law in terms of the nation of Israel and its relationship to the other nations.
Even with the light of the Old Testament, however, much remained in obscurity, for much was expressed in terms of types and shadows. The basic principles were laid down for the people, but for the most part the people did not really have a comprehension of the real meaning and prophetic purpose of those rituals and “carnal ordinances.” These things only came to light with the dawning of the Pentecostal Age, which began in the second chapter of Acts.
The Passover Age began when Moses led Israel out of Egypt at Passover. It ended with that final great Passover when Jesus died on the cross as the Passover Lamb. Then, after a seven-week transition from Jesus’ resurrection, the Age of Pentecost began, which brought these Old Testament types and shadows into the light of a greater revelation. With this greater revelation came another set of literature which we call the New Testament. The New Testament was not designed to replace the Old Testament, but rather to explain it and shed light upon the law and the prophets.
The Pentecostal Age, I believe, is a limited period of time as well. The pattern of King Saul (who was crowned on the day of “wheat harvest,” or Pentecost in 1 Sam. 12:17) shows that his reign was limited to 40 years and gave way to a greater Kingdom ruled by David. King Saul represents the Pentecostal Age, or the Church under the anointing of Pentecost. I believe that the Pentecostal Age lasted 40 Jubilees (40 x 49 years = 1,960 years) from 33 A.D. to 1993 A.D.
In 1993 we entered into the transitional period toward the Tabernacles Age, based upon the third great feast of Israel, the Feast of Tabernacles. It is possible that when this third great feast is fulfilled historically, God will set forth a third set of writings which will bring full clarity to the divine plan for creation in history. The feast of Pentecost, though good, was in fact a leavened feast (Lev. 23:17), and therefore imperfect. Under Pentecost, much light was shed upon the truth set forth during the Passover Age, but in the end Pentecost could only give mankind an earnest of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit was given to lead us into all truth (John 16:13), but in practice, history shows that the Church has continued to struggle with many differences of opinion. Though much truth has been given to us, much also remains to be resolved. This presents us with the need for a greater revelation of truth—and this is one of the purposes of the Age of Tabernacles and its anointing.
The question is this: Will this greater and complete Truth be written down to form a third testament, or will it be limited to an oral exposition of the Truth already revealed? Only time can answer that question.
The book of Hebrews was part of the literature written under the greater anointing of Pentecost and thus conveys to us a Pentecostal understanding of the Old Testament. While I believe it to be completely true, I also find that it is not always perfectly CLEAR. For that reason, we find it necessary to expound upon it and to study it, in order to gain maximum understanding that is possible under our present measure of the Spirit. Such a study is part of the Christian journey, for as I said in the introduction, we are immigrants like Abraham from Ur to Canaan, and again like Israel from Egypt to Canaan. Historically speaking, we have immigrated from an Old Testament understanding to a New Testament understanding, and this journey is completed only when we experience the feast of Tabernacles.
And so, God has spoken to us in times past by Moses and the prophets, and later by the revelation of the New Testament. But the Holy Spirit continues to speak to us daily in order to lead us ultimately into all truth in our personal journeys to the Promised Land. God spoke to us through Jesus in the New Testament, but at the end of His work on earth, He told His disciples that there yet remained much for them to learn, which the Holy Spirit would have to teach them later (John 16:12).
Hebrews 1:2 also reminds us that Jesus Christ was the Creator, “through whom also He made the ages.” This is a little different from John’s focus. In the first part of the Gospel of John we are told that all things were created by Him, but the focus seems to be upon the material creation. Paul later tells us in Col. 1:16 that He created all things, whether they are in heaven or in earth, visible or invisible, and even all authority.
But Hebrews goes further by telling us that He is also the Creator of TIME. This is an extension of Jesus’ statement in Matt. 12:8, where Jesus said, “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” He is Lord of the Sabbath, because He was its Creator. The Sabbaths are more than just means of regulating work-related activity. Sabbaths and feast days in their essence are all revelations of Time and therefore are prophetic of future events.
In connection with this, Jesus Christ created the Passover Age, the Pentecostal Age, and the Tabernacles Age. He thus regulates the revelation of each by the Holy Spirit.
3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation [charakter] of His nature [hupostasis], and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
This word charakter used in verse 3, speaks of Christ, who is “the express image of God,”the imprint, like the image on a coin or the wax on a document that has received the imprint of the royal seal, or ring.
He is the imprintof Hishupostasis. This word was used of title deeds, legal documents that proved ownership of property. The King James Version translates it “person.” Literally, Christ is the imprinted seal of heaven, certifying the validity of God’s title deed. The seal is like signing the document with a fingerprint or insignia which represents the One issuing the decree.
So if one has seen Jesus, one has seen the Father (John 14:9), because the Son is the imprinted seal on His title deed to the Kingdom. Jesus came to reveal the Father, because the Father is Spirit (John 4:24), and no man has seen the Father at any time (John 1:18). When we understand the purpose of His incarnation, we see that it involves a great deal more than the Jewish concept of Messiah, which was largely limited to His ability to set the people free from the bondage of the Babylonian succession of empires as prophesied in Daniel 2. They were looking for a military genius who could do miracles to destroy the opposition and put the non-Jews under submission to the Jews.
Jesus, however, came to reveal the Father, and the need for this is evident in the fact that the Jewish idea of the Messiah needed much correction. While they were too focused upon what the Messiah could do as King of the Jews, Jesus came to be King of the All Nations. He did not come to be the oppressor of all nations but their Deliverer from all oppression—both Jewish and non-Jewish oppression.
He is the Heir of all things, not merely the Heir of Judah and/or Israel. He is not merely a Jewish Messiah, but the Creator, Owner, and Heir of all that is. And when He finished His earthly ministry, “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” In other words, He was not only the Heir by right of being its Creator, but He also EARNED that right by redeeming it with His very life. He proved His worthiness by showing the expression of His Love for all mankind.
Many Jews did not like the fact that Jesus seemed to show greater love for non-Jews than for Jews, but they seemed to miss the fact that Love is often expressed as a correction. When Children are corrected and disciplined, they often think that their parents do not love them. It is a matter of spiritual immaturity, not of actual fact.
His throne in heaven is greater than David’s throne, which was limited to a single nation. The Jewish leaders and teachers never seemed to rise above narrow nationalism and self-interest to see the love that He has for His entire creation. This is one of the most important clarifications of the Pentecostal Age set forth in the New Testament and explained in the book of Hebrews.
A created being is a marvelous thing, but it sets up an impersonal relationship with the Creator. It establishes a Master-servant relationship. In terms of marriage, it establishes an Old Covenant relationship between Husband and wife that is seen in the Old Testament story of Abram and the bond woman, Hagar.
Most religions focus upon making people better servants to God. The exceptions are such religions as Satanism, which strive to do the opposite by leading a revolt against God. But Christianity, when taught properly, is unique. It sets forth the idea of the Fatherhood of God. The New Covenant is rooted in this personal relationship between God and mankind. It carries with it the idea of Sonship, instead of mere servanthood. In the Scriptures, servanthood is a step toward Sonship, for Paul tells us in Gal. 4:1-7 that sons-in-training are treated as servants only until they come into spiritual maturity.
Such a concept is truly unique. Though it is portrayed in the Old Testament, it was not so clear in those days, and for this reason the Jewish concept of God remains much more impersonal than the Christian concept of God. Jews think of God more in terms of a stern Judge or a majestic King, whereas Christians think of God more in terms of a loving Father or a close Friend.
In essence, this is why Paul calls the old Jerusalem “Hagar,” and the New Jerusalem “Sarah.” The children of each are, respectively, Ishmael and Isaac. (See Gal. 4:22-31.) The true inheritor is Isaac, not Ishmael.
And so the first chapter of Hebrews establishes the idea up front that Christ did not come as a mere angel, but as the Son of God. He was not merely an obedient servant, but the Son of God. His relationship with the Father was not impersonal, but personal. This cut at the heart of Judaism and served to set the tone for the book of Hebrews, which takes Judaism to task for its Old Covenant theology and understanding of God.
5 For to which of the angels did He ever say, “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee”? And again, “I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me”? 6 And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” 7 And of the angels He says, “Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.”
God did not subject the world to mere angels, but to the Son of God. By extension, the body of Christ are also the Sons of God, and 1 John 3:1 says, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God.” So Hebrews continues in verse 8,
8 But of the Son, He says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever” [ton aiona, “for the age”], and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions.
In other words, because Jesus Christ “hated lawlessness,” (from the Greek word anomia) He was given a greater anointing and the highest scepter. The Jews claimed that Jesus violated the law, such as the law of the Sabbath. Some Christians today even claim that Jesus violated the law. But Hebrews 1:9 says that Jesus “hated lawlessness.” Certainly, He did not hate what He Himself supposedly practiced. In fact, the author of Hebrews implies that His hatred of lawlessness was a precondition of His elevation to the right hand of the Father with authority as King of all creation.
10 And, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands; 11 They will perish, but Thou remainest, and they all will become old as a garment, 12 and as a mantle Thou wilt roll them up; as a garment they will also be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end.”
In other words, both the heavens and the earth “will become old as a garment” and will need to be “changed” in the same way that we ourselves buy new clothing. This too helps set the tone for the theme of Hebrews, showing that the Old way of doing things is not the same as the New Covenant way that was given for the Age of Pentecost. In a still greater way, this clothing will be changed again for the Age of Tabernacles. Each age must give way to the new, not that God’s moral character changes, but that His character is revealed in greater ways with each passing age.
13 But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of [dia, “through”] those who will inherit salvation?
The first quotation in verse 13 is from Psalm 110:1,
1 The Lord [Yahweh] says to my Lord [Adonai]; “Sit at My right hand until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.”
When Jesus was debating the Pharisees in Matthew 22, He cited this particular verse, because it was known to be a messianic passage:
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, 44 “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet”? 45 If David then calls Him “Lord,” how is He his son?
The passage was considered to be a prophecy of Yahweh speaking to the Messiah, the Son of David (“Adonai”). But David calls the Messiah “My Adonai,” that is, “My Lord.” Why would David call his own son, “Lord”?? The reason is that the Messiah is more than just the son of David. He is the son of David by physical genealogy, but He is also the Son of God by “heavenly genealogy,” so to speak.
Scripture never speaks of angels in terms of Sonship. Angels are simply ministering spirits—that is, spirits that SERVE. More than that, they serve THROUGH (dia) the sons of God. Angels each carry a particular assignment and empowerment according to the word that has been spoken into them. These angels are assigned to people on earth, whose callings are determined by their angels and the word that is in them. In effect, the angels serve “THROUGH those who will inherit salvation.” The angels not only serve “on account of” the sons of God, but also through them.