I have decided to do an in-depth study of the book of Hebrews - to read why, check out my first post in this series!
I think the main thing that I have learned so far is that if you don't understand the Hebrew culture and traditions, you are not going to understand Hebrews. Which totally makes sense since this is a letter to Hebrew Christians. I thought I knew a decent amount about Judaism, but there are so many subtleties in the Hebrew traditions, and knowing those subtleties goes a long way in understanding where the writer of Hebrews is coming from.
The main point of chapter one is that Jesus is better than Moses and the angels.
As a modern day Christian I was thinking "Well, of course He is! Why are we reading about this?"
I learned that this was not actually a given for the early Hebrew Christians.
The Hebrew Christians that are addressed in this letter came out of the Old Covenant of sacrifices to cover their sins. In the Old Covenant, the High Priest would sacrifice a bull to atone for the sins of the people, as well as his own sins, and he had to do this year after year. This was a system passed down through Moses, and it was given to Moses by God, through angels.
But then God became a man (Jesus) and brought about a New Covenant that changed everything. The Hebrews weren't sure how much of the Old Covenant they should keep. They didn't understand the sufficiency of the New Covenant that Jesus brought through sacrificing Himself for our sins.
The writer of Hebrews was trying to show them that this New Covenant was fully sufficient and superior to the Old Covenant. It replaced the Old Covenant, because it was better. In order to show them that the new was better than the old, he needed to show them that Jesus is better than Moses, and the angels who they believe passed the Old Covenant to Moses.
I think my favorite aspect of chapters one and two is that the writer shows with Old Testament scriptures why Jesus is better than Moses and Angels - it's such a smart way to do it since the Old Testament scriptures obviously carried a lot of weight for the Hebrews.
The author of Hebrews goes over so many ideas through the scriptures he quotes. Jesus has inherited a more excellent name than angels because He is called Son. He made the worlds. All things are made by Him and for Him. All things will be put in subjection under Jesus.
And then after all that, Hebrews reminds us that even though Jesus is so much better than everyone and everything, He is not ashamed to call us brethren. We are His children.
As His children, He holds us in His hand, and through his death and resurrection He releases His children from bondage to sin.
As His brethren, He was made like us in all things. He was tempted like we are. And He can aid us because He overcame those temptations and lived a sinless life.
He doesn't give aid to angels, but He does give aid to us. He became a perfect sacrifice for our sins, and we are His children when we believe in Him.
What a beautiful thing to belong to Jesus.
In addition to studying Hebrews, I have decided to try to memorize it as well.
I'm not sure why, but I recently picked up a book that has been sitting in my shelf for years, called His Word In My Heart by Janet Pope. It is all about memorizing Scripture.
I used to memorize chapters of the Bible as a girl, but I haven't memorized any new verses in years. This book really made me want to start memorizing Bible verses again - if you need some motivation, I definitely recommend it. The whole thing was very timely, because I started reading this book right as I started studying Hebrews - so it only seemed natural to start my memorization with Hebrews.
Ever since I decided to memorize Hebrews, I've been hearing about the importance of Scripture memorization everywhere, so I think it's just a confirmation that this is a good thing to focus on right now. I've also realized how much more I get out of Bible study when I memorize the verses that I'm studying! It makes a big difference to me in remembering the context, and I understand the subtleties of each verse so much better when I can remember all the verses around it. That is especially useful when studying book that is as complex as Hebrews.
So all that to say, my goal is to memorize a chapter a week. I've got the first two chapters of Hebrews down. I'm falling a little behind in my memorization schedule, but I'm working on chapters three and four now to try to catch up.
I recorded a vlog of me saying Hebrews 1-2 from memory, because knowing I have to record myself saying the verses is good motivation! Here it is - I'm reciting from the NKJV if you want to follow along, though I know I mixed up a couple of the words in this video.
If any of you want to join me in memorizing chapters of the Bible (whether it's from Hebrews or a different book), I'd love it if you'd post a video of yourself saying your verses - then come back here and let me know so I can check it out!