Message Supplement (15 November 2015)

What do you know about the book of Hebrews?  Uncertainty surrounds who wrote it, but the message is still valuable. The verses for today’s lesson point to the nature of the new covenant that God established through Jesus. What on earth are we talking about? First of all, it’s not about earth, but it is about God’s message written in the hearts and minds of faithful people.

It’s worth understanding how Hebrews emphasizes a new covenant. The Old Testament had the Law, the seemingly endless list of commands and commentary on commands. This is most dramatized by the stone tablets that God gave Moses on Mt. Sinai. Law was prevailed in the Old Testament, and an institutional bureaucracy arose where scribes and other types of specialists interpreted and profited off the confusing, overly-comprehensive rules system.

Hebrews reveals that Jesus came with a different emphasis. Instead of relying on holy writ for life guidance, Jesus taught that God’s presence could be within anyone willing to embrace the Spirit of God. No longer were countless animals needed as sacrifices. No longer were the costly priests and all the institutional trappings they controlled necessary for salvation. Jesus was the final sacrifice, the lamb of God sent to instill a new way for a new day. 

You might think that Jesus’ message would have been the more popular that the Law, and that people trapped within the sacrificial system would have flocked to the savior. Of course, many people did turn to Jesus, but even today there is the temptation to impose too much structure on faith, to try and police it and multiply rules and regulations, as in the Old Testament. Regrettably, overly-strict religion continues. Some faiths still propagate a prison-like structure within which followers needlessly sacrifice themselves. Thank God that we are set free by our faith in Christ.