Table of Contents
The theme of the book of Hebrews
The theme of the book of Hebrews is the ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary on behalf of the believers. Why was this subject necessary in the early church? This subject was necessary because the Jewish Christians were not ready to let go of the ceremonial law of Moses. In fact, the keeping of the ceremonial law was the subject that produced perhaps a deeper splitting in the apostolic church more than any other.
The Jerusalem Council
The council at Jerusalem had freed the Gentile Christians from keeping the ceremonial law of Moses (Acts 15). But the Jewish Christians didn’t understand that, for all people, the ceremonial rituals were fulfilled in Christ at the cross. To the Jews, it seemed that if they discontinue these ceremonies and rituals and to accept new ones this would be a renunciation of all past revelations and an end of their beloved religion.
The Holy Spirit led Paul to see that the Mosaic ceremonies were no longer needed in the plan of salvation. He knew that it was time to adopt freedom from these ceremonies which were fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. He wrote, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16, 17). And he added,”having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:15).
Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary
The Jewish Christian church in Jerusalem didn’t know of the destruction that will come upon its beloved city and temple. And they continued to keep the feasts and were still zealous for the ceremonial law (Acts 15). They did not realize that their sacrifices were useless in view of the great Sacrifice on Calvary. And they didn’t know that Christ started His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. These thousands of Jewish Christians, “all zealous of the law” (Acts 21:20), would be in great shock when the city and the Temple get destroyed by the Romans.
So, the Lord in mercy, through the book of Hebrews tried to point their eyes away from the earthly temple and to the heavenly temple where Christ is ministering on their behalf. The Lord desired that they would not get discouraged and their faith fail when they see the destruction of the earthy temple. It was necessary that the Jewish Christians should understand these things, not only for themselves, but also for the sake of the Gentile believers among whom they will be dispersed after the Romans war.
The book of Hebrews contrasted the symbols by which God presented the plan of salvation to His chosen people in Old Testament times with the reality of Christ’s ministry on behalf of believers after Calvary. And through a study of the Old Testament sanctuary, believes can now understand what Christ is officiating on their behalf as their High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary.
The book of Hebrews provided the knowledge the Jewish Christians needed. It presented: Christ as High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), the blood “that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24), the “rest” that remains for the children of God (Hebrews 4:9), and the blessed hope that is “as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil” (Hebrews 6:19).
In His service,