The book of Hebrews in our Bibles is a remarkable letter, written in the first century by an unknown author to Jewish Christians. As such, they faced persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ. Knowing that the pressure was great to abandon Christ and return to their friends and family in Judaism, the author encourages them to stay true to Jesus. To walk away from Him, exchanging Him for the traditions of the Jewish faith, would be like viewing the city of New York from the sidewalk after seeing it from the top of the Empire State Building. Once you’ve tasted a cherry pie, your cravings will never be satisfied with just looking at photos of cherry pies.
The key verse for the entire letter is 2:1, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” We don’t wake up one day and decide that we are going to abandon Christ. It happens little by little, a compromise here, a compromise there. In most cases, the abandonment looks more like they just “drifted” away.
I encourage you to read chapters 9 and 10 of this letter. See if you can spot these 7 reasons that life in Jesus is so much better than anything these original readers had experienced before. I’ve provided some clues at the end of each of the seven.
ONE. Under Judaism, ONLY the High Priest could enter the presence of God ONCE a year, on the Day of Atonement. Through Jesus, ANYONE is welcome to come boldly before God’s throne, ANY TIME. (9:7, 12)
TWO. The forgiveness under Judaism was only TEMPORARY, lasting from the Day of Atonement one year to that Day of the following year. Jesus’ one sacrifice offers ETERNAL redemption, never to be repeated again. (9:12)
THREE. In the Old Testament ANIMAL BLOOD was used to purify people from sin. Jesus entered Heaven with HIS OWN BLOOD as His sacrifice for our sins. (9:12)
FOUR. The priests made their sacrifices in the TABERNACLE. Jesus entered HEAVEN, itself, with His blood. (9:24)
FIVE. The Old Testament sacrifices were a SHADOW, but Christ is the REALITY. (10:1)
SIX.The sacrifices of the Old Testament were REMINDERS of sin and only COVERED sin. Jesus’ sacrifice TOOK AWAY our sin, freeing us of its constant reminder. (10:3-4)
SEVEN. A priest’s work was never done. He was constantly STANDING to carry out his duties. Jesus finished His work of redemption on the cross and then He SAT DOWN. (10:11-12)
What do I hope we take away from these couple of chapters? Just as it was a real temptation for these first-century Christ-followers to revert back to the previous way of living, you might be tempted to tone down your commitment to Christ when life gets difficult or complicated or disappointing. The writer of Hebrews would say that whatever you are facing, it’s better to face it TOGETHER WITH CHRIST than on your own without Him. That’s the beauty of Christianity. It is not just a dry religion or philosophy, but a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with the living God.