Thursday, November 5, 2009

Going Deeper Week 8

Going Deeper (Week 8 Day 2)
This passage is based on the writer’s understanding of Genesis 22. Can you do a study on the context of Gen. 22 (also in reference to Gen. 12 and 21) and discuss why you think the writer uses this as his illustration here?

FOR THOSE ORIENTED to the Jewish Scriptures the author could have chosen no greater example of faithful perseverance than father Abraham. Especially apropos, the moment at which Abraham offered his cherished son, Isaac, at Moriah (Gen. 22:1 – 18) forms the backdrop of the discussion at Hebrews 6:13 – 15. Abraham, caught in a crisis charged with yearnings for his son and even greater yearnings to obey God, believed that the promises of God would not fail (11:17 – 19). Consequently, he stayed the course of sacrifice through intense, prolonged testing and became a paradigmatic receptor of God’s covenant promise. Our preacher to the Hebrews uses the heroic figure of Abraham, therefore, as an especially apt illustration to encourage a community struggling with perseverance under trial.
In the Old Testament narrative (Gen. 22:15 – 18) God’s response to the faithfulness of Abraham goes as follows:

The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I
swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not
withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.
Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and
through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have
obeyed me.”

This passage has two components on which the author concentrates. (1) The Lord’s declaration “I swear by myself” constitutes the main concern in the immediate passage and leads nicely back to a discussion of Psalm 110:4 in chapter 7, that psalm also speaking of God’s oath. (2) God’s pledge to bless Abraham and give him numerous descendants forms the heart of the covenant promises and corresponds directly to Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the progenitor of that guaranteed host. That Abraham, “after waiting patiently … received what was promised” made him a fitting model for sluggish Christ-followers in need of refocusing attention on the promised rewards attending perseverance (Heb. 6:12).
[Guthrie, George H. “The Example of Abraham (6:13 – 15)” In The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews. By George H. Guthrie, 241. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 1998. ]

Going Deeper (Week 8 Day 3)
Verse 18 speaks of God’s character. The writer goes on to explain that the two immutable or unchangeable things spoken of here refer to 1) God's promise and 2) His oath. God has declared His promise and His oath to be unchangeable, even by Himself. His will cannot be switched, transposed, or altered.
Because of God’s character, the writer also states two things which He offers. Can you identify them and explain their significant?
He offers… [Significance]
1. strong encouragement [This is very important for those who have fled for refuge. Though we are not sure who are these people the author of Hebrews is referring to, but they have to flee, they need encouragement.]
2. hope [Similarly, hope is needed for those who are at such situation of life, fleeing away for refuge. No one wants to be in hideout forever, they need hope so that there is something they can look forward to.]

Going Deeper (Week 8 Day 4)
Jesus did not become a high priest under Aaronic order, but rather in the order of Melchizedek. And this phrase, ‘the order of Melchizedek’ can be traced to Psalm 110:4. Can you do a comparison between 6:13-20 with Psalm 110 and discuss what the writer was implying?

Hebrews 6:13-20 [Psalm 110]
(v20) in the order of Melchizedek [(v4) according to the order of Melchizedek]
(v18) God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie [(v4a) The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind]
(v20a) Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. [(v5) The Lord is at Thy right hand]
(v20) He has become a high priest forever [(v4) Thou art a priest forever]

The idea of Psalms 110 actually runs throughout chapter 5 through 6 of the book of Hebrews. I think that the author is to highlight that what Jesus has done on the Cross is equivalent to a priest. But the author also tries to emphasize that Jesus is not the same as ordinary priest according to the Aaronic order; He is of an higher order; the order of Melchizedek which the audience are familiar of according to Psalms 110.