22 April 2017

Stone 48 - Hebrews and James

In this post we will take a brief look at Hebrews and James in which there is quite a bit going on.

The book begins by placing Jesus on a pretty big pedestal. A well deserved one, however. Jesus rightfully belongs in a position superior to all else.

Interestingly, the text specifically states that he was higher in rank than the angels (Heb 1:4). My understanding here is that a comparison is being made with old and new methods of communication. Where communication once took place through angels, Jesus came to communicate and is better (Heb 1:1-2).

The takeaway is that the angels brought an extremely important message and therefore we ought to pay even more attention to the message that Jesus brought (Heb 2:1-3).

Hebrews then goes on to make a comparison with Moses and how he was faithful (Heb 3:2). As you recall, Moses helped to lead the Israelites out of Egypt into the promised land. Jesus has come to lead us into a new creation and how much better that is than the promised land! We ought to then take heed and remain faithful, not rebelling, and missing out as the rebellious Israelites did.

Next we have a comparison of Jesus to the priests of old. Jesus is our high priest. Just as the old priests made sacrifices on behalf of the people, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of all of us and is a superior priest (Heb 7:27).

Then we read about the old covenant and the new covenant as well as the superior sacrifice that was made - the new covenant established in blood (Heb 10:9-12). Jesus - the better messenger, guide, priest, and sacrifice - establishing a better covenant, we ought to listen and follow Jesus! The many warnings found in this book are valid and wise.

**As I watched the video (see below) and read through the text, it made me think about it all in a different light. So often, as I have read through the Bible, I miss that bigger picture. Each book points to Jesus or shows evidence of the "fingerprints" of God in some way. It was so good to see it this way.

How often as I reflect on my own life do I find parallels! How difficult it is to let go of the old and cling to the new! How challenging it is to break old habits. How powerful the lure of the flesh! I am a broken, tired, and selfish man in need of a savior!

This short book starts out by telling us to essentially be grateful for the trials that we endure (James 1:2, 12). We are then given counsel on not treating others differently based on their status or wealth (James 2:1). James then reminds us that faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 26).
**I think it is important to reiterate that it is not our works that save us. There is not a checklist of things that one must accomplish in order to be saved. We need only to have Jesus. The point here is that if we truly have Jesus in our lives that works should be a natural outpouring of that faith. Without the action - our belief is merely a set of empty words.

James then talks about controlling our mouths. We should not praise God and curse men with our mouths (James 3:9-10). Such a small part of out bodies but whoa, how it can guide us to trouble (James 3:6, 8)!
**Over the years, I have always thought of "taming the tongue" when I think of the book of James. Seems like this is always the topic when there is a sermon from James.

Oh, but James has much more to say! He really hits us hard with the comments in chapter four! We are called to submit to God and resist the Devil (James 4:7-8). By drawing near to God, He will draw near to us. We ought to operate based upon His will and not our own (James 4:15-16).

James reminds us that our wealth and material possessions are nothing and yet we cling to it (James 5:2-3). Instead, we ought to remain patient (5:7), truthful (5:12), and devoted to prayer and praise (5:13).

**If you are looking for a little conviction, James is the book to read.

In the meantime, please enjoy the videos about Hebrews and James from our friends over at the Bible Project!

Until next time,

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