Brit Hadashah Reflections 5
Hebraic understanding Hebrews and Revelation
Hebrews 5: 1-14
A wonderful letter to Jews exalting the Name and Person of Yeshua. No-one knows the identity of the author or the time of its authorship. The most speculated names associated with this letter are Rabbi Sha’ul and Barnabas, but that matters little to the content. The author was one who had a fervent desire to see Jews come to faith in Yeshua, and just as importantly to continue in that faith in the face of opposition and discouragement. However, its content has often been portrayed by Christian teachers as abrogating the Torah. That was not its purpose, and there are great lessons for believers of every culture and background contained in its message. Again we remind ourselves that the chapter and verse convenience was not present in the original, even though we will take the chapter divisions for our study and ‘reflection’. Additionally, there is significant quotation of the Hebrew Scriptures in this letter. The source document for these quotations is the Septuagint, also known as the LXX, the earliest Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, and which was completed about 130 years before the birth of Yeshua. (so where those Scriptures are quoted the wording may not exactly accord with your own favourite translation!)
The writer had just introduced the position which Yeshua occupied in His great High Priestly role, interceding before the Father on their behalf. He made comparison between Yeshua, the great High Priest, and the Aaronic High Priest, whom he described as ‘appointed by men’ (even though Aaron was chosen by God for this role, as were his descendants after him). But the Aaronic High Priest was still ‘one of them’ so to speak, subject to all the frailties of humanity, giving him understanding and empathy for the people. Part of His duty included making an altar sacrifice for himself, which he did once a year on Yom Kippur, before making sacrifice for the whole people. So too Yeshua, was chosen by God, took on the flesh of humanity, understood the issues faced by humanity, and made willing sacrifice of Himself so as to make sacrifice for the people. Selah. Please take time to ponder that. It is an awesome, amazing, incomprehensible act of love and grace. Why is it so difficult to comprehend? Because God is ONE. The Son and the Father are ONE. The human mind cannot comprehend that. It is by faith alone that anyone can accept that, and in so doing be welcomed into the family of faith, joint heirs with Him who died. That, my friends, is AWESOME.
The writer then mentioned the mysterious Melchizedek. (Hb. melchi, meaning king and Hb. tzedek, meaning righteousness) Melchi Tzedek is described in Genesis 14 as “the Priest of God Most High”. Since there were no “Jews” then, he may well be described as a Priest for gentiles! In addition to that he is described as “king of Salem” (king of Peace). He also received ‘tithes’ from the spoils Abram had taken from the five kings who had captured Lot. Possibly the most important observation we can make, in relation to our study of the Hebrews text before us, is that this “Melchi Tzedek” is both Priest (to gentiles) of God Most High and king of righteousness and peace. (there are other observations made by many Bible scholars).
So, the writer to these Messianic Jews, having already established that Yeshua is superior to angels, superior to Moses, and great High Priest, higher in order than the Aaronic Priesthood, is here shown to be Priest ‘of the order of Melchi Tzedek’, King of Righteousness. Putting all that together, we see that Yeshua lived His life as a Prophet of God, and is described as Priest of both gentiles and Jews. Great High Priest no less. So He fulfils His God given role of Prophet, Priest and King. There is no other like Him. And that is the One commended by the writer as worthy of the allegiance and praise of all who turn to Him in faith. And especially to the recipients of this letter to Messianic Jewish believers.
And then the writer presents them with a challenge, an accusation even. A challenge which really should be taken to heart by every believer who has experienced the call of God on their lives and have taken the step of accepting Him by faith as their Redeemer. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Now I make the observation here that the Scripture, which we know as ‘the great commission’, in Matthew 28, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” was spoken by the risen Yeshua to His eleven remaining disciples, Jews. It is a commandment which has compounding implications. Clearly the command was to ‘make disciples of Yeshua’ not disciples of themselves. The ones who have become ‘second generation’ disciples are commanded to make ‘third generation’ disciples, and so on, but ALL with first generation commitment. Evidently, the recipients of this letter were not fulfilling that charge. We all need to reflect on this.
Perhaps that is enough for this ‘reflection’. There are many challenges in the walk of faith. This one may be the most important. Why? Because if we are true disciples of the Messiah who died for us, we will know that the ones we have the opportunity to tell (and we don’t) are destined to spend eternity in a horrible place, identified in the Scriptures as ‘the lake of fire’. Selah.