Hebrews is a book without an introduction. There is no indication that it is, in fact, a letter. Some people think it was originally a sermon. Others prefer to call it an essay. But in places it feels very much like a letter. The author even passes on greetings to friends in the final verses. He clearly knows and cares deeply for the people he is sending it to.
It is written to a group of people who were really up against it. They probably lived in Rome around AD 60-70 and because of their faith in Christ, are facing hostility and intimidation. The threat of outright persecution is never far away.
No one wants to live like this. Yet, as you can see on page 3, it is a situation which all too many people experience today. In many countries to be a Christian is to put yourself in harm’s way. The threat of communist persecution has largely disappeared from Europe. But there are many other countries where faith in Jesus is dangerous.
Fear is certainly exerting pressure on this community of Jews who have found a new hope in Jesus. Had they really made the right choice? They appear to have grown less attentive to Christian instruction (5:11-14) and some have ceased to attend meetings regularly. (10.25). Many are tempted to return to the safety of Judaism.
Neighbours are doing their best to get them to abandon their new enthusiasm for Christ and return to Moses, the tabernacle, the sacrificial system and the priesthood. And not always in the nicest of ways.
Despite their many trials and anxieties the author exhorts them to hold on. They have most definitely made the right choice. A very significant word in the book is the word “better”. It comes 25
times. Christ is so much better than all that has gone before. He is God’s final word.
Let’s see exactly how.