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Episode Info: Hebrews 4:11-5:10 Pastor Chris Tweitmann Today, we start a new section in the book of Hebrews, this letter written or possibly this sermon given, to a community of predominantly Jewish Christians who were wavering in their faith in the face of increasing persecution. The whole book of Hebrews could be divided into three sections. (SLIDE #2) The first section in the book of Hebrews describes who Jesus is – repeatedly declaring the utter superiority of Jesus. Jesus is greater than any human prophet for Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, embodying the message He brings. Jesus is greater than any heavenly angel for Jesus is no divine creature; He is the Son of God. Jesus is greater than Moses for Jesus doesn’t just lead us through the wilderness; Jesus is the One who builds the house of our salvation – our home away from home with God. And as we heard last week, Jesus is greater than Joshua. While Joshua once led the people of God into the Promised Land, Jesus leads us into the promise of our ultimate rest – a rest we enter into not based on our effort and striving but thanks to His work on our behalf. (SLIDE #3) Now, the writer of Hebrews begins to dig into what this work of Christ is. While the first part of Hebrews outlined who Jesus is, from our reading today all the way through the end of chapter 11, the topic, the theme that will occupy us all the way through the end of chapter 11 will be focusing on exactly what Jesus did, what Jesus continues to do for us all. (SLIDES #4 – #9) What Jesus has done for the world is framed through the work of the priesthood – a job first created and described in the OT book of Leviticus. Passing references to Jesus as our High Priest (SLIDE #10 have been dropped 2x s already in Hebrews, back in chapters 2 and 3, but now this concept is about to be fleshed out in marvelous detail. This concept was something that would have been very familiar to those who first received this letter as they were raised to understand the necessity of the role of the high priest in their life as a community. (SLIDE #11) Living in the first century A.D., these readers could still daily see for themselves these priests living out their job description at the Temple in Jerusalem. But what about us? Our cultural distance from the priesthood of ancient Israel, can make it difficult for us to relate to this framework for understanding the work Jesus has done for us. So, let begin by briefly considering the role of the priest and particularly, the high priest as both are outlined for us in the Bible. To the Jews living in the first century, (SLIDE #12) the priests were the spiritual leaders of Israel. All them coming from the tribe of Levi, the Levitical priests lived a life of consecrated service dedicated as the mediators between the people and God. The Levitical priests didn’t ordinarily bring the Lord’s message to the people – that was the role of the prophet. The priest’s role was to rightly, to ...
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