A group of Christians were gathered in a home discussing the state of affairs of the world. They commented on the fears, the tensions, the sense of futility that prevails in so many circles these days. The question arose: What can we do about this? As Christians, they knew the answer to the world's problems, but the problem was: How to make the world believe the answer? Among them was a young Christian who was troubled by the discussion. With a concerned look on his face, he said, Why doesn't the world believe what we have to say? Then he added, I think it's because so many Christians don't act like they believe it themselves. Then he asked the logical, but thorny, question: How can we make Christians believe what they believe?
That is the very theme of the book of Hebrews: How to make Christians believe. This is what the world is waiting to see and what the epistle was written to effect. It is addressed to a group of Jewish Christians who had begun to drift, to lose their faith. They had lost all awareness of the relevancy of their faith to the daily affairs of life. They had begun to drift into outward formal religious performance, and to lose the inner reality. Doubts were creeping into their hearts from some of the humanistic philosophies that abounded in the world of their day, as they abound in the world of our day. Some of them were about to abandon their faith in Christ, not because they were attracted again by Jewish ritual and ceremony, but because of persecution and pressure. They felt it was not worthwhile; they were losing too much, and that it was possible that they had been deceived and the message of Christ was not true after all.
No one knows exactly where these Christians lived. Some feel this letter was written to Hebrew Christians living in the city of Rome. Others believe it was written to believers in Jerusalem. That is my own personal conviction. If anyone wished to influence the world of Jewish Christians, surely that would be the place to start.
"In the past, God spoke to our people through the prophets. He spoke at many times. He spoke in different ways. But in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son. He is the one whom God appointed to receive all things. God made everything through him." Hebrews 1:1-2
When you open the Old Testament you are reading the Word of God spoken to the fathers by the prophets. I hope you understand and value the Old Testament. What a marvelous book! How many different ways God spoke in that book — in dreams, in visions, in sudden appearances — in that wonderful act of inspiration that nobody fully understands where somebody speaking the words that come to his mind and heart is uttering the words of God.
And it comes to us in many different forms, as the writer of Hebrews says. You open Genesis and you have first, the very straightforward but majestic and moving tale of creation, of the fall, and of the flood. This is followed by the simple narrative of the lives of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then the story of Moses and the Exodus, and the thunderings of the Law, coming at last to the sweet singing of the Psalmist, the homespun wisdom of Proverbs, and the delicate tenderness of the Song of Solomon. Then the rest of the Old Testament is filled with the exalted visions of the prophets, these mighty men who spoke to times of crisis in the nation and yet lifted their eyes up and saw far beyond the horizons of time to great events that God was going to bring into being when the seasons rolled around.
Yet, when you finish the book, and you have heard all the matchless oratory of the prophets, you still realize that God's voice has not answered the deep questions of the human heart. It is only when you open the Gospels and begin to read of Jesus, who he was, what he did, where he went, what he said, how he acted, how he lived and the way he handled situations, that all the utterance of the prophets begins to merge into one great voice and we get God's final word to humankind.
All the various themes that God introduces to humankind in the Old Testament are brought together in the voice of Jesus. He is God's final word to man, greater than the prophets, fulfilling everything they have written.
Lord Jesus, you are God's final word. I thank you that I can see how all the entire story of the Old Testament finds its fulfillment in you.
Life Application: Are we missing the grandeur of the world's greatest epic through neglect of either the Old or New Testaments? Is the Person at the epicenter of it all central in our personal lives?