Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (Hebrews 5:4): When did God make this oath to Jesus? The footnote said it was in Psalms, but what is the timeframe and the events surrounding it?
A. That’s a tricky question — keep in mind that trying to assign a “timeframe” to a “being outside of time” is not likely one to have a satisfactory answer. Ok, the writer is quoting from Psalm 2, which is accepted to be a Psalm about the Messiah — in it, God selects His King and adopts him. So, carrying the analogy forward, the writer is saying that in quoting from this Psalm, God was making this oath to Jesus as Messiah — it is not a literal oath that God the Father made to Jesus, but is more a metaphorical one describing the relationship between Father and Son.
Q. (5:8): The Bible, in general, is very serious. And, we shouldn’t take the seriousness of our salvation lightly. Here it talks about how much Jesus had to suffer, but we know he found joy and delight in people. He enjoyed those who showed compassion. But, the seriousness of following God — as it feels in this verse — can sometimes feel stern and cold.
A. It can. Do keep in mind that the writer is preaching this message to Jewish Christians, who would have treated following God as very serious business — and definitely NOT something to take lightly. I get the sense that the writer was, as all good writers do, considering his audience in crafting his message, and while it can sound cold to our ears, it was written to show reverence to God.
Q. (5:11-6:12): I like this passage because it basically gives us a swift kick to urge us to keep carrying on and go past the basic knowledge of Jesus is our salvation. We are to keep moving and telling folks about the Good News. We are to not waste our time on those who don’t listen?
A. Let’s keep reading the rest of this text, and I think that the meaning of what he is writing here will become clearer.
Q. (7:1-28): OK, Rob, this sounds like a big surprise. I searched “Melchizedek” on BibleGateway.com, and found several references to him in Abraham’s time. But, why was he downplayed when we learn in the NT how important he was. It sounds like he was almost like Jesus, but in the OT? I don’t remember hearing about him in the OT.
A. He was there, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, but he was frankly not a major character in the story. The most honest answer to your question would be for me to say that the OT is the story of the Jewish people, and a religious Jew would NOT agree with the argument that the writer is making. To pious Jews, there IS NO other order of priests then the Levitical priesthood. This is why the writer devotes an entire section of his writing to make this argument: he wants this Jewish audience to understand that there is another, older priesthood in their own story, and that even the great patriarch Abraham bowed down to him. It is another example of the “Christ is better than…” arguments that dominate this section of Hebrews. Essentially with this argument, the writer is making the case for how Jesus could be a priest of any sort without being a Levite since Jesus was a Judean. And his answer — which frankly many Jews would not accept — is that Jesus is part of a priesthood that long predates the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites.