Despite the voracity of a rapidly increasing reading public, this is a day of superficiality. Few readers think and form independent conclusions. Most have convictions; comparatively rare are those who form convictions. Men argue about the former; if necessary they die for the latter. Opinions tend to vary, while convictions, based on irresolvable fact, deepen as time passes and as others veer and change. Christians are, or, in the nature of the case, should be people with convictions founded upon the revelation that God has given.
The writer to the Hebrews was a man of assurances. He was convinced about the authenticity, accuracy and authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. His book is a series of quotations, skilfully used, but for which no apology is made. To him every word was from God. Christians need that conviction in a generation of hostile criticism which, under the pretence of honest, scholarly investigations, undermines faith because it destroys authority.
He was positive that the ritual of the Hebrew revelation of God, glorious and unique as it was, must yield place to that of which it was the precursor, a shadow of good things to come. The substance was Christ. Ritual appeals to outward senses, and consequently, unless the mind is centred on that of which it was but a symbol, easily degenerates into a meaningless form. That danger confronts men whenever the material supplants the spiritual. Because in the Christian revelation mans relationship with God is primarily a moral one, symbolism can be dispensed with as an aid to faith. The Lords Supper and Baptism are to be preserved in a stern simplicity, and the meaning of each taught with persistent vigour. May the Lord preserve the assemblies of Gods people from the inroads of rules and regulations, and from the additions of erroneous doctrines!
Moreover, the writer was convinced that the later revelation obtained its superiority because it had its summation in the person of Christ. God has nothing further to announce to man. That fact is a feature of the epistle. With unblushing reiteration we are reminded that "God has spoken". He whose voice was recognised in the fragmentary and non-final words of the prophets, spoke "in these last days" in His Son. He, the Son, is Gods last word. All He has to say centres on Him. Present truth and future announcements gather round His person. Mans attitude to that voice determines Gods attitude to them. Further, the salvation which it presents to mankind was first "spoken by the Lord" (2.3). Messengers of the gospel simply carry the evangel that Christ Himself announced. Modern philosophies play no part in the purpose of God in the reclamation of sinners to Himself. The cross is the central theme of that good news for, "From that Cross our hopes we draw".
The condemning sin of Christendom is that it has substituted the policies of men for the Word of God, which according to one writer is alive and active, "sharper than any two-edged sword" (4.12). Amelioration schemes, legislative improvements, educational facilities, pacification plans must ultimately fail, because they are the devices of men who hear not "the oracles of God" (5.12). A most terrifying announcement is made regarding those who, among other things, "have tasted the Word of God, that it is good" (6.5) and have turned away from the Son of God.
Two warnings close the epistle: "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh" (12.25); "Remember them who have spoken unto you the word of God" (13.7). May God grant us grace to captivate the spirit of obedience to His Word. We need it badly in an age that is in moral revolt against the law of God and when many Christians traffic lightly in eternal truths.
Light half-believers of our casual creeds.
Who never deeply felt, not clearly willed,
Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds,
Whose vague resolves never have been fulfilled,
For whom each year we see
Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new;
Who hesitate and falter life away,
And lose to-morrow the ground won today.