Where is the first tennis match mentioned in the Bible? When Joseph served in Pharaoh’s court. How does Moses start his morning? Hebrews a pot of coffee!

Ok, so that’s a terrible introduction to writing about what we will be hearing preached in our next sermon series as well as what we will be studying and applying in our growth groups. Still confused? It’s the letter to the Hebrews!

But what does the book of Hebrews have to do with these jokes? Apart from the punchline, they both mention the Old Testament (OT) characters of Joseph and Moses. In fact, Hebrews heavily relies on the OT. Chapter 11 is an ancestral roll call of examples of faith, and throughout the letter the author consistently quotes the OT making up a significant proportion of the epistle. But why such an emphasis on the OT?

Before we get to answering that question, you might be wondering who wrote the letter and who were its intended recipients? The answer is that we don’t really know but there’s enough information in the letter to piece something together. In chapter 2 verse 3 it says, “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.” From this we can determine that the author was around Jesus’ first disciples and so even if we don’t know who wrote this letter, we can be confident that it is anchored in the teaching of the apostles. And with regards to who the audience were, we don’t know where they lived, but because the author expects them to be familiar with the stories of Israel’s history it’s most likely that it was written to Jewish Christians.

And so why the emphasis on the OT? The author wants it to be clear that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Hebrew Scriptures. But more than that he wants them to see that Jesus is superior in every way. In sporting codes there generally are the ‘GOAT’ debates. That is, who is the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT)? Whether that be Michael Jordan vs Lebron James in basketball or Messi vs Ronaldo in football. In Hebrews, the author wants to settle the GOAT debate for Jewish Christians. Not the greatest footballer or basketballer but in comparison to the OT, Jesus is the greatest of all time. He is superior to any angel, he is better than Moses, he’s the great high priest, his sacrifice is vastly superior to that of the OT animal sacrifices and much much more. The author knows that his audience are under considerable pressure to give up on following Jesus and that some are abandoning the faith; and so he wants to elevate Jesus to show that he is worthy of total trust and devotion. Which leads me to leave you with one tip for getting the most out of this letter:

Take the warnings in this letter seriously despite how confident you are about your loyalty to Jesus.

By listening intently to the warnings of this letter it will encourage us with renewed vigour to follow Christ and help us not to grow complacent. That’s what I’ll be praying for us as we hear God speak to us in the letter of Hebrews.

In Him,

Liam Shannon
Senior Assistant Minister | 10am & 5pm

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