“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).- Hebrews 12:2
For the past year, we have been privileged to spend concentrated time in the epistle to the Hebrews. Our journey has been long, and we pray that God has used this study of His Word to strengthen our faith for the journey ahead. The magnificent themes and difficult issues grappled with will serve us well as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).
This study has attempted to emphasize the original context of Hebrews so that our modern application will be based on the author’s original intent. A broad look at the epistle informed us that while we may not be sure of the exact circumstances surrounding the original audience of this letter, we do know that this audience was well-versed in the Old Testament and was thinking of leaving Christ and returning to the old covenant system because of heavy persecution.
Seeking to avert this, the pastoral heart of the author shines throughout his letter. He began by arguing for the superiority of Jesus over the angels and Moses, who were key figures in the old covenant and its revelation (1:1–3:6). In light of the superiority and finality of Christ, were this audience to leave Him, they would never be able to find God’s rest. Rather, they would be like the faithless first generation of Israel who grumbled in the wilderness and were therefore cut off from the Promised Land (3:7–4:13). This is not to say that the author believed that God’s elect are not secure in their salvation. After all, Jesus is the perfect and eternal High Priest, appointed by God to save His people through the sacrifice of Himself and through making continual intercession for all covenant members with true faith (4:14–10:18). This Jesus, who saves all of God’s people both in the new covenant and in the old, is the one for whom the old covenant saints waited and to whom we must draw near in order to persevere in our faith (10:19–12:2). This Jesus ever moves to ensure our faithfulness by disciplining us and by working through our worship and sanctification to keep us pressing toward the goal (12:3–13:25).
Though we demonstrate our election through our obedience to Jesus, He alone has done all the work necessary to secure our eternal redemption. If we trust in Him truly, if we look to Him truly and to Him alone, we will persevere. So look to Jesus, and finish the race!
Take some time today to read through the book of Hebrews, and consider the many themes we have covered: the superiority of Christ, the call to persevere, the relationship between the old covenant and the new. Above all, let the exhortations in this book move you to draw ever closer to Jesus so that you will finish the race set before you.
Passages for Further Study
Heb. 2:18; 5:7–10; 10:39