Hebrews

The book of Hebrews was written to those who were at risk of giving up. Times were hard; some of those reading had accepted adversity joyfully, others had shrunk back, all found themselves tested. The writer to the Hebrews knows that the best encouragement he can give is one of ‘keep going, hold fast’ but this urging is only effective because of the ultimate hope that he points them towards at every turn – Jesus. Hebrews takes us on a voyage through a world of ceremonial sacrifice, priestly observances and traditional religious customs but its relevance is not lost in that. Hebrews spells out for us the finished word of God, found in both the Old and New Testaments and brought to completion and finality, once and for all, in Jesus. In a time when we face great shaking, when we face adversity of many kinds and from all fronts, the urging of the Holy Spirit to us is to place our trust in the work of Christ alone and to allow Jesus to fill our horizons, to sharpen our priorities and to be front and centre in our experience. In times of shaking, when giving up could seem like an option, the call is the same to us, ‘keep going, hold fast’.

1. Eyes fixed on Jesus

 Hebrews 1

Naomi Black - 6 Sep 2020

The writer to the Hebrews starts as he means to go on; it’s all about Jesus. Who Jesus is and what he has done is so central to our faith. He goes on to make a comparison between Jesus and angels, which for us could seem like something that isn’t super relevant – but it is! Part of the point here for the first readers was that they were getting distracted by the old trappings and not remembering the new gift of life in Jesus. The same could be true of us, let’s start as we mean to go on, with our eyes fixed on Jesus.

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2. Press in - don't drift

 Hebrews 2

Andy Harding - 13 Sep 2020

Part of what we see across this book is that as the writer points us towards Jesus and challenges us to hold fast to our faith, he also brings warnings to us. These warnings aren’t meant to induce fear (there is no fear in love) but they also aren’t meant to be comfortable. Are we willing to become uncomfortable as we grow in our faith? In this passage, the writer tells us to pay attention to the message we’ve been given, to not neglect this great gift that has been won for us by Jesus through his death on our behalf.

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3. Keep Perspective on Jesus

 Hebrews 3

Zak Robb - 20 Sep 2020

Throughout this book, the writer takes us often to the Old Testament. It might not seem that significant for us to know that Jesus is greater than Moses – sure it meant something to the Jewish Christians reading it, but to us? What we’re reminded of here again is how easy it is to be preoccupied by old systems, by old ways, by old structures and in the midst of it, forgetting Jesus who is better than all our systems and structures. Our part in it is to keep our hearts soft towards him and be the greatest encouragers of one another to ‘hold fast to our confidence.’

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4. We have a Great High Priest

 Hebrews 4:14-16

Eddie Backler - 27 Sep 2020

Why is it important to us that Jesus is the Great High Priest? We don’t really work in those kind of priestly systems, so why does it matter to us? The significance here for us is once again that Jesus is better. The old system was one that was stop and start and it was never fully enough – we all have examples of that in our lives, of where our own attempts have not been enough. Jesus put an end to that once, and for all – salvation is total and complete, lasting and forever through him. Jesus is better.

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5. Keep Growing

 Hebrews 6:1-12

Hannah Montgomery - 4 Oct 2020

How easy it is to reach a plateau of complacency in our relationship with God. We, as was with the readers, can easily become listless in how we pursue Jesus. Have you ever just gone through the motions? The call and challenge here, to those reading and to us, is to keep going, to not turn back, to press on and hold on to the assurance we have, to keep moving in our faith and to grow to maturity towards our inheritance.

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6. God's Promises

 Hebrews 6:13-20

Mae Moore - 11 Oct 2020

We search for assurance in so many places, in jobs, in relationships, in the property ladder. We tick as many boxes as we can, often thinking that, in that gain, assurance will be found. But what about for our souls, what does assurance for our souls look like? It’s found in only one place, one person – Jesus. There is a sureness and a certainty which we as believers can live with. The writer calls it an anchor for the soul and it has been guaranteed for us by the work of Jesus. In the tumult of our world, in the ever-changing face of everything around us, holding fast to this anchor is needed more than ever. So, what are we holding on to?

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7. Melchizedek

 Hebrews 7:11-28

Andy Harding - 18 Oct 2020

We read a lot in Hebrews about the High Priest ‘Melchizedek’ and that can seem confusing for us and maybe not all that relevant at times too. Again, we see another comparison here, and once more we are reminded Jesus is better. In the midst of all our uncertainty, we need to press into the fullness of this promise for us. Jesus has enacted, for all time, a better promise for us than even that of Melchizedek (who was a pretty big deal). We’re not coming to God by any other means other than Jesus, the Son, made perfect forever, who paid for our sins with his sacrifice, once and for all.

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8. Persevere in Faith

 Hebrews 10:32-39

Kay Cathcart - 1 Nov 2020

The call to endurance is the word of the moment in the book of Hebrews. An appeal is laid out to the Hebrews and should be heard by us too; don’t throw away your confidence! Everyone reacts differently in hardship, in this passage we read that many who endured awful things did so joyfully! For the believer (for us!) the call is to keep pressing into Jesus – don’t shrink back, don’t go to self-preservation, have faith and hold on.

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9. Citizens of Heaven

 Hebrews 11:1-16

Thomas Dean - 8 Nov 2020

When reading a book like Hebrews, we could easily heave a sigh of relief when we get to Chapter 11 – finally a bit we understand! And sure, it’s a passage of deep encouragement. But it can only be fully understood when we read it in the light of all that has gone before. This roll call of heroes of the faith is not isolated. These ‘by faith’ heralds only came from a deep assurance of hope in God. We stand on their shoulders, always in the light of the hope won by Jesus and looking towards the hope to come. What does it mean for us to be people who live ‘by faith’?

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10. Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

 Hebrews 12:1-11

Naomi Black - 15 Nov 2020

Endurance for the Christian is not produced through what we do, endurance for the believer can only be sustained by looking to Jesus. The writer urges us again here to keep going, to throw off all that hinders and to ‘consider Jesus’. We’re reminded that God wants to be involved in our lives, salvation is not a tick-box exercise, it’s ongoing. Sometimes it comes through discipline and that can be hard but we’re reminded that God’s discipline is good and is for our good. We don’t fear the discipline of God because we know that we receive it through the love of the Father revealed through Jesus, upon whom our eyes are fixed.

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11. Unshakeable Faith

 Hebrews 12:18-29

Andy Harding - 22 Nov 2020

As we make our descent, we get a list of instructions, the writer is packing as many things in as possible here – live at peace with each other, don’t let bitterness grow amongst you, keep yourself pure, don’t sell out. The writer reminds us again of the glory of God through Jesus, that his blood has spoken a better word to us. As we’ve become accustomed to, there’s another caution to us; given all that you know, what makes you think refusal is a good option? In the midst of great shaking, we are those receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, so we look to the one who is a Rock.

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12. Living as Jesus Followers

 Hebrews 13:1-15

Stuart Cathcart - 29 Nov 2020

Once more, our instructions continue – show hospitality, you never know who you’re entertaining, remember those in prison as if you were there with them, that’s how much you should be moved by oppression, honour marriage, be careful of money, remember your leaders, don’t be led astray. It could seem like a list of do’s and don’ts, but again the encouragement is to remember Jesus in it all, to look to him and to remember the lasting joy we can know and will know through him – that’s why we strive to live like this, out of the overflow of what Jesus has done for us.

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13. Equipped

 Hebrews 13:20-21

Odele Harding - 6 Dec 2020

The final instructions as we close this book remind us to seek the good, to be open handed with what we have and to let our leaders lead us joyfully, demonstrating to us again that it does matter how we live and act. But, these instructions, this whole journey of Hebrews is sealed by something incredibly powerful – a benediction. The benediction is not just a perfunctory end to a letter. Benediction means, ‘good word’ – it is the writer's way of bestowing the blessing of God on us, God’s ‘good word’ coming to fruit in our lives. The benediction, the blessing here is to know that our God is one of peace, who has resurrected us in his Son and that in him we have everything we need to live as we should regardless of changing times and shifting circumstances. We end as we began three months ago: it was, is and always will be – Jesus.

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