Since the early part of 2014, I have been preaching through the Book of Hebrews in the morning services at Sheffield Presbyterian Church. My, what fine spiritual riches are to be found in this important book. I think that if you were to ask many Christians, "which book of the Bible has profoundly impacted the church?", they would rightly answer the book of Romans. However, the Book of Hebrews is a suitable counterbalance to the flawless logic of Romans. Let me sum up this short devotional blog post around answering three questions.
What are some of the important themes in Hebrews?
1. An appreciation for the Person of the Son, who in time in his incarnation took upon himself the name Jesus.
2. The fulfilment of the OT ceremonial worship by Jesus Christ.
3. A rich understanding for the atonement.
4. To avoid going backwards to OT ceremonies which are commonly sought to be reintroduced to the church, such as candles, vestments, altars, stained glass, priestly robes and so forth.
5. The simplicity of NT worship which should be conducted with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).
What are some commentaries that I have found helpful on this book?
Here are the commentaries that I have found most helpful in order.
1. A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Philip Edgcumbe Hughes.
2. The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Geerhardus Vos.
3. I Wish Someone Would Explain Hebrews to Me! Stuart Olyott.
4. A Commentary on Hebrews by John Owen (this is thick with six volumes and though Owen is very helpful, he is not always right, though he is very persuasive).
5. Hebrews, Simon J. Kistemaker.
Peter Naylor gave an excellent talk on preaching through Hebrews at the EPCEW presbytery conference in January 2014. The link is: http://www.epcew.org.uk/audio/2014-elders-conf-6.mp3
In what way can Hebrews help the church in 2015 and onwards?
I think a rich appreciation of the teaching of Hebrews, could equip the church better to handle two dangers in particular; dispensationalism and new patterns of worship dominated by protracted periods of singing at the expense of preaching and the reading of Scripture or the administration of the sacraments.
The dispensational agenda seeks a third Jewish temple and the rebuilding of political Zion. Hebrews explains that the OT ceremonies are simply a shadow and copy of the real thing which is the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews chapter 8 and especially verse 5). In addition Hebrews emphasises the ingredients for biblical worship are to focus on Jesus the mediator of the new covenant and his atoning blood, there is no other approach. Music bands cannot substitute the mediator and also Hebrews 12:28 has to be a crucial verse to be implemented in our day. Hebrews 12:28-29 "Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire".