Woah! No way. We’ve made it all the way to Hebrews! Sweetness. If you aren’t a Christian, this comment might seem strange to you. But all Christians have a favorite book of the Bible that they love to wear on their sleeves. For those that enjoy the more poetical and praise type lyrical prose, it’d be The Psalms. And you can surmise that they are all about meditation and internal processing of the goodness of God from that choice. Many choose John because in it, we see the one of the most intimate portrayals of Christ. They are more of the biographical types, stories of action and it’s meaning in the world.
But for me? Hebrews is my favorite book of the Bible. And I’ve been waiting for this day for literally YEARS. So, you’ll pardon me (or actually, maybe you shouldn’t! haha) when I say that I literally teared up when I realized that I’d be writing about Hebrews today. And if you are unsure what is the deal with this Bible stuff inserted into this movie review site? Well, my response to that, is that this wasn’t always a movie primer site. I actually did whatever the heck I wanted. I’d write about new technologies, and board games. I’d write about trips I’ve taken or maybe an occasional movie review. But before the movie thing sort of took off, I decided I’d do this Bible Experiment thing.
The Bible Experiment was basically a dare that I made myself after seeing an Atheist attempting to write about every single book of the Bible from start to finish from his/her perspective. He’d read it, and then write his objections to it, his observations about it, etc. And I figured, heck, if they can do it? So can I. And so here we are, something like five years later, and here we are at Hebrews.
The Writer of Hebrews?
I actually wrote a really extensive argument stating that I thought that the author of Hebrews was actually a woman. A woman named Priscilla actually. If you’d like to read more about that theory, you can check it out right here. I even got a couple authors reach out to me and talk to me about my theory in the comments and in email. It was a fascinating conversation. But for this write up, I’m going to just assume I’m correct… but if you disagree, no worries. Stick with the assumption that it was Paul or maybe Barnabas. No worries at all. With that said, what was the writer of Hebrews thinking when they wrote this book?
The General Idea of Hebrews
Hebrews, more than any other book of the New Testament, connects back to the Old Testament. There are 35 quotes from the OT that are intent on proving that the Old Testament was fulfilled in the life and work of Jesus Christ. In fact, Priscilla’s general presupposition is that Jesus is “greater”, “better”, “mo-bettah” (that’s literally there in the Greek, trust me on this one) and the fulfillment of all things Old Testament. And better yet? It is through our relationship with Christ that we bring heaven down to earth. That we cross the river Jordan now, here, in this life, as opposed to crossing it into the next life. (I’ll unpack that thought later.) But ultimately, the Bible is a single story, and this story is 100% all about Jesus. Genesis – Jesus. Romans – Jesus. The Psalms – Jesus. Revelation – Jesus. And it is only through this lens that we can really grasp and understand the point and purpose of the Bible.
So, let’s unpack this idea of Jesus as mo-bettah, a bit. All throughout Hebrews we see this verbiage playing out. Hebrews 1 we see that Jesus is better than angels. In chapter 3, that He is superior to Moses. Chapters 4, 7 and 8, that Jesus is superior to the High Priest. And chapters 9 and 10? Jesus is the best possible sacrifice. Ok? So all of it, the whole of the Bible, the whole of the message, the whole of the gospel, its all about how Jesus is the perfection of the message of God to man.
If God wants to communicate to man – to you, today, through Christ… what is it that He wants to say? And this is the core of why I love Hebrews so much. And that message is this. God, through Christ, has nuked the obstacle of sin and the fallenness of man for one purpose only. And that is so that God can be reconciled to you, right now. To you, today. Lots of the Bible talks about the future glory of heaven. About the glory that that will be like. But Hebrews isn’t talking about a future glory that will be ours once we die. Hebrews, in my opinion, talks about walking with, communing with, reveling in God, today.
Dallas Willard once said, “I suspect that it will take me a while before I realize that I’m in heaven, because I feel so close to Jesus right now.” This is the kind of life that I want today.
The God of the Universe…
Oh that photo? Oh, that’s nothing. Just a recent photo from the NASA Juno probe that recently went to Jupiter. But look at that brilliance. That’s a van Gogh on steroids. I’ve seen his Starry Night at the Museum of Modern Art and this photo of Jupiter is infinitely more enthralling. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve even seen many of van Gogh’s paintings at the van Gogh art museum in Amsterdam and adore his work. Just saying.) And seriously? You think this kind of majesty – yay even gloriousness – happened accidentally? Really? And yet this creator… this painter of planets, stars and galaxies, has moved heaven and earth to walk with you today.
The metaphor of the Jordan
Maybe everyone knows this already? But the Promise Land, was where God had indicated to Abram (Abraham) that he, and his entire, enormous, gargantuan family would settle, and would be provided for. A land full of milk and honey. When I lived in England, I noticed that a lot of the fruit that came to the area were from Israel. This is still true today, it is a land full of milk and honey. And for a people scratching a living out of the desert, this concept took on enormous hope and expectation for them. Even more so than the actual thing, the actual place. It took on a metaphor, a meaning, that became so much more to them as a people.
But crossing the Jordan, and entering into his promised land was complicated. It was rife with risks and potential disasters. And so, when Moses sent in 12 spies into the land, 2 came back with amazing reports of grape clusters the size of men, and honey unseen before, and 10 came back with stories of the giants of the land that protected it. And just like that? The Israelites (who aren’t Israelites yet because they can’t cross that dang river) head back out into the desert for 40 years. But it was what God had promised His people. It was their destiny and their birthright. And so, throughout the Bible, crossing the Jordan became almost synonymous with dying. With entering heaven. Finally receiving the promises that God has laid out for you.
The writer of Hebrews though, she is fixated on this idea of God’s promised rest. Entering His rest, and being blocked from entering it:
“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”
All the while, she is talking about, referring back to, the people that seemed destined to wander around the desert for 40 years, constantly wondering if they would ever actually get it right. Wondering if they’d ever cross the Jordan and come to the land that God had promised them. Which, I argue is an extended metaphor about your life. My life. A discussion about whether or not, while in this life, we will choose to accept by faith, God’s promises, and walk with Him daily. Here on earth. Not as a metaphor for arriving in heaven someday when we die. But rather a spiritual allegory that is a word picture for our entering into a relationship with God now.
I have always said that if Christianity can’t dynamically change me from within, and make me a better person to those around me, and to this world we live in, and is only a hope of arriving in heaven some day, then it isn’t worth it. Why bother? But what Christ offers us through his gospels and his story of redemption throughout the entirety of the Bible is a total transformation by walking with Him now… here on earth. Sure, I’d like very much to go to heaven. But without a transformational, revolutionary, eye-popping difference? Might as well take up a life of bank robberies and partying. Hahahah.
Where Hebrews Fits In The Bible
Since starting this effort 4 years ago, the one thing that keeps coming back to me over and over again is that the Bible is one cohesive, coherent, love letter from the God of the Universe, to you. He has made a way for you to be reconciled to Him… like the prodigal son, returning as the celebrated heir, not the denigrated work hand. When you take that step of faith, the whole of heaven erupts in triumphant rejoicing. The fatted calf is slaughtered, a robe is brought out. And it is all because God revels in you, and desires to walk closely with you on this side of that big metaphorical Jordan in the sky. He wants you to cross the Jordan in this life. Now.
Sure, life isn’t easy. And choosing to walk closely with God all but guarantees trials and tribulations in this life. Heck, I’m sure some of you reading this right now will laugh that I would go this direction with my life, when OBVIOUSLY we exploded into being ex nihilo! Duh! hahahah. Sorry, yes, that was me being passive aggressive. I’m not perfect, God is still working on me! But choosing to walk this life with God changes the measuring stick of what is important, and what in this life really matters.
Hebrews is my favorite book of the Bible simply because it so cogently ties the Old Testament and the New, seamlessly together. It tells the story of Creation and Redemption, and your reconciliation back to God. And ultimately, it tells the story of your entering His rest, His peace, as we cross the Jordan together. As we choose faith, as we choose to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God… as we choose a life that is radically transformed, that doesn’t comply with the patterns of this world, we have chosen a life of community with God because of His rapturous goodness.
Man I love this book…