Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 75: The Mysterious Letter

We don't know much about Hebrews.

We don't know who wrote it (very long ago it was ascribed to Paul, but his name is never mentioned in the greeting.  In fact, there isn't a greeting at the beginning, although there are some final greetings at the end.)

We don't know who it was written to, despite the fact that the title says it was written to "the Hebrews."  (Some people think perhaps it was written to Jewish Christians in Jerusalem; others disagree.)

We're not sure when it was written, either.

Some people even think it wasn't a letter, actually but a sermon, an idea which sort of intrigues me.  I am also intrigued by the idea that perhaps Apollos wrote it, or even Aquila or Priscilla.  But don't mind me, I'm also the one who thinks that Lazarus could have been the "Beloved Disciple."

Whatever else it is, Hebrews is a hymn of praise to Jesus.  The mysterious author makes the case for the uniqueness of Jesus as Savior and Son of God, and writes to encourage and exhort people under duress to hang on to him and to the faith that proclaims him.  So, the opening chapters are full of scripture citations and poetic praises of Jesus "The Son is the light of God's glory and the imprint of God's being."  He is more important than any of the other messengers God has sent.

Therefore, don't give up or drift away.  The author will say this, in many ways, again and again.  Don't give up.  Don't drift away.

Although the world and culture and people have change in many ways throughout the ages, in some ways we haven't.  We give up.  We drift away.

"Hold fast to your faith!" the letter to the Hebrews insists.  There's a new world coming, and God has made us to shine in it.

There's nothing wrong with this message (and a lot right with it), but one issue that can get uncomfortable is the fact that the writer again and again compares Jesus with the first covenant in a sort of denigrating way.  Now that we have Jesus, does that mean that there is no use for Judaism?  How can I talk about my faith in a way that doesn't put someone else's down?  It's not as easy as it might sound.

Keep reading to find out more about what the mysterious writer of Hebrews has to say about Jesus, and why we should not give up...

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