Boring, boring, boring… – Hebrews 6-8 (NTiR)
The Hebrews need to be convinced that Jesus is their high priest and should be followed because he is of the covenant and is appointed by god and blah blah blah blah. My dear lord, this book is going to crush my soul!
The unknown author won’t leave the babies unfed, though. He lists the truths that will be revealed, including baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, etc. Resurrection is, of course, a touchy subject. There are two camps among the early churches: those that believe people’s bodies will be resurrected from the dead, like Jesus and Lazarus. Others see this as a spiritual resurrection, with the body left behind as dust and ashes. The author of this letter apparently believes that resurrection of the body should be a major tenet of the new church. I can foresee problems…
I brought that up because the end of the chapter is heavy on Jewish teachings. In the first, the author mentions God’s promise to bless Abraham with a multitude of descendants. God fulfilled this promise, but in his time frame, not in Abraham’s. Abraham was patient, however, knowing that God’s oath was unbreakable.
Whoever wrote this letter knew scripture and how to use it to influence believers. The author presents an argument for why Jesus should be considered the everlasting high priest, appointed by God. As is his wont, the author again brings up Melchizedek, a former high priest who lived at the time of Abraham. Melchizedek was also appointed by God, and was also an outsider. Abraham agreed to pay a tithe to Melchizedek, which the author of this letter says proves that Abraham accepted Melchizedek.
Jesus is the next Melchizedek. An outsider (wait… Jesus was Jewish, a member of the house of David….) appointed by God. Jesus should be elevated above Melchizedek, however, since Jesus is eternal. Jesus lives forever, so his priesthood is eternal.
I dunno. Are there any Jewish readers who can provide more context? Does this seem like an argument that might conceivably change someone’s mind?
Oh, this chapter also contains a line that made me giggle: Hebrews 7:23 “There have been many priests, since they have been prevented by death from continuing in office.” Very droll, but a very funny one-liner. 🙂
Ummm…. Okay. Something about a covenant. Best not to dwell…
Oh, wait, I just switched to a different translation of the New Testament, and it suddenly makes a lot more sense. That’s what I get for trying out the WEB translation. Back to the International Standard Version (ISV) for me! But that is pretty meta, and I digress.
Apparently the Hebrews of this period needed some convincing to accept Jesus. The author tries to win these arguments, declaring that Jesus is a high priest, but a heavenly high priest, not an earthly high priest. Just like a tabernacle is a shadow of the true tabernacle in heaven, so a high priest is a shadow of Jesus.
It is also apparent that many of the Hebrews didn’t believe that any change needed to be made, since they were covered by the first covenant. The author reminds everyone that their ancestors abandoned the original covenant and turned from God. As a punishment, God abandoned and forget about them. God then swore he would create a new covenant, one in which everyone would know God’s laws both in their minds and in their hearts. Sins will be forgiven, mercy will be shown.
Up next: By faith, this book was saved
New installments of The New Testament In Review will be posted each Monday and Thursday. The new posts will always be on my blog, http://biffster.org. The entire series is accessible via http://biffster.org/ntir. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you can get an advance preview on my Facebook page. You can also follow me (@biffster) on Twitter to be alerted to new posts.