Sunday, May 24th, 2015
Intro to Hebrews:
The theme of Hebrews is the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as revealer and as mediator of God’s grace. The prologue (1:1–4) presents Christ as God’s full and final revelation, far surpassing the revelation given in the OT. The prophecies and promises of the OT are fulfilled in the “new covenant” (or “new testament”), of which Christ is the mediator. From the OT itself, Christ is shown to be superior to the ancient prophets, to angels, to Moses (the mediator of the former covenant) and to Aaron and the priestly succession descended from him. Hebrews could be called “the book of better things” since the two Greek words for “better” and “superior” occur 15 times in the letter. (www.biblica.com)
Questions for this week:
- Under the old law, there were hundreds of ways a person could sin or become unclean. It was a constant process of being defiled and being cleaned off through atonement (Yom Kippur), only to be defiled again through regular life. Read Hebrews 9:25-28. How was Christ’s sacrifice different? Now read Titus 1:15. Is purity a result of rituals? How has religion sometimes misrepresented God’s grace with its rituals and customs?
The theme of our study of Hebrews is “Jesus is better.” Read Psalms 103:12. Why is Jesus’ sacrifice and sanctification ‘better’ than simple forgiveness? Why is forgiving and forgetting so much more profound? Discuss a time when someone truly forgave you. Why is true forgiveness and forgetting so empowering?
- Hebrews 9 in part discusses rituals that would have been central to any Jew’s identity and spiritual health. Have the group discuss rituals and practices they grew up with, be it as Catholics, Evangelicals, Lutheran, Pentecostal, etc. Don’t let the discussion become one of judgement or bitterness, but instead hear the wide variety of ways men have tried to capture symbolic workings of God and Heaven. Discuss how blindly following rituals and the law also blinded Jews to the message of Christ. Discuss how that can still happen today in regards to our identity as a specific denomination (Methodists vs Baptists vs Catholics vs Pentecostals, etc.). The point is Jesus.
- The first 5 verses of Chapter 9 gives us an overview that shows all of the barriers between worshipper and God in the old system: The Outer Court separated Gentiles from Jews, the Inner Court separated Levites from non-Levites, the first veil separated priests from non-priests, and the second veil separated the High Priest from common priests. What does it mean to you personally that these barriers no longer exist because of Jesus?
- The Levitical priest’s work was never finished. They had continual, daily, and weekly tasks. Twice a day they were to enter the Holy Place and burn incense and tend to the lampstand (adding oil, trimming the wick, etc). Weekly they were charged with changing out the showbread. This was all about repetition. Disconnected from the heart behind the purpose of the temple all of this work simply turned to religion. In what ways are performing repetitive tasks in following Christ yet the real purpose in all of this work is disconnected from Jesus?
- Unlimited access is very important today. Whether it involves a person, a good, or a service we all want access all the time and our technology helps us with that. What effect on you does it have to know that before Jesus came to the earth only one man (the high priest), on just one day (Yom Kippur) of the year would go into the Holy of Holies to offer blood for sins? How are you limiting your access to God when in reality it is unlimited for followers of Jesus?