Some Superiors from the Book of Hebrews
by Chance Hicks
The book of Hebrews was probably written by the apostle Paul to the Jewish Christians in the city of Jerusalem and in the area surrounding Jerusalem. The recipients of the book of Hebrews were struggling with a problem. The temple was still standing in the city of Jerusalem, and the grandeur of the temple, along with other things, was tempting these Christians to return to Judaism. Paul wrote to these Christians to show the superiority of Christ and the Christian system to the Law of Moses. Paul shows the Hebrew Christians that they have a superior spokesman, a superior sacrifice, and a superior system.
Paul shows the superiority of Christ as a spokesman. Christ is superior to prophets (Heb. 1:1-3), angels (Heb. 1:4-2:18), Moses (Heb. 3), and Joshua (Heb. 4). Christ is superior to the prophets because He is a prophet- “hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,” a priest – “when he had by himself purged our sins,” and a king – “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:1-3). The angels were to worship Christ (Heb. 1:6), and the one who is worshipped is superior to the worshipper. Moses was a servant in the house of God (Heb. 3:5; Num. 12:7), but Christ was a Son over His own house (Heb. 3:6). Christ is God, eternal (John
1:1-3), and active in creation (Heb. 1:2). Therefore, Christ created the system in which Moses was a servant.
The builder, or creator, is superior to the building, or the creation. Joshua led the people to an earthly rest in an earthly promised land, but Christ will lead those who obey Him to a heavenly rest in a heavenly promised land (Heb. 4:8-9).
Not only did Paul show the Christians in and around Jerusalem that they had a superior spokesman but they also had a superior sacrifice. The superior sacrifice was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. The sacrifice of Christ is superior because of His sinlessness and because of its singleness. Christ “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). The priests who offered sacrifices under the Law of Moses had to first offer for themselves and then for the sins of the people (Heb. 5:3), but this was not the case with Christ. He did not need to offer for Himself, but He simply offered Himself for all mankind (John 3:16). Christ was the perfect sacrifice to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The sacrifices offered under the Law of Moses were offered every year because they could not take away sins. The offerings had to be made year after year after year, but they still could not take away the sins of the people. Christ did not have to offer Himself year after year. His sacrifice was a one time sacrifice (Heb. 9:28; 10:14).
Paul showed the Hebrew Christians that they had a superior spokesman, a superior sacrifice, and even a superior system. In Hebrews chapter 8, Paul contrasts the two systems. The first covenant was not faultless because it could not take away sins (Heb. 8:7). However, the first covenant was perfect for the purpose for which it was intended. It was a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ (Gal. 3:19-25). The new covenant was superior because it would bring a more intimate knowledge of God. The new law would not be written on stone but in the minds of the people (Heb. 8:10). Under the old covenant, people were born into the covenant and then taught, but this would not be the case with the new covenant (Heb. 8:11). People must be taught before they can enter into the new covenant (John 6:44, 45). Under the old covenant the sins of the people were remembered every year, but under the new covenant when the sins were remitted they were done away never to be brought up again (Heb. 8:12). May we remember when we are tempted to return to the world that we have some superiors as Christians: a superior spokesman, a superior sacrifice, and a superior system.
–Chance Hicks, Visitor, March 22, 2009