We all give up something, don’t we? to serve the Lord.
For the most part, the heroes we’re going to talk about in Hebrews chapter 11 gave up probably what was the most important thing, because they gave up their lives, after which, you’re not able to give up anything else.
The whole story of the Book of Hebrews is great. You must see Hebrews 11 in context.
The Book of Hebrews was written while the Temple still stood. It’s important to know that.
All the stuff you read (forgive me for getting a little too much in the woods) but, all that you read about the sacrificial system in the Book of Hebrews chapters 9, 10 and well, in chapter 7 – Jesus being the High Priest and all that stuff – is relevant because we must remember that those who read the Book of Hebrews could walk down the street, and go to the Temple where all of this was probably spectacular, living colour, three and four dimensional.
So that, the Book of Hebrews was probably written to Jewish believers, to encourage them to remain faithful to the Lord. I think that’s really what it was.
The argument of Hebrews is that Jesus is better. Remember, this is an internal thing. So, just from now on, all you here, you’re all Jewish, that’s it. It’s an internal argument, it’s not trying to prove that Christianity is better.
You must understand that there was no Christianity at the time this was written. The whole thing was just Jewish, Messianic Jewish.
The Gospel had barely gone to the gentiles. This was a this was a Jewish movement.
When I teach the Book of Acts, I entitle it ‘The Book of Acts: how did a Jewish movement get so big and so gentile?
I do know Genesis 12.3
Gentiles where never an ‘after thought’. The Jewish people were called by God, created by God to be a bridge of redemption, a light to the nations, amen?
So, we’re all in this together. I understand that.
But this one is an internal argument among a bunch of Jewish people who are still sacrificing at the Temple and thinking very thinking very, very ‘Jewishly’. And the argument here is as follows:
Yeshua is better.
Even in Judaism we understand that the Tanakh / the Torah, the Hebrew Bible is not static; it’s going somewhere. It’s not like the Messiah came and was a gentile Christian invention or that the church fathers invented the Messiah, or Paul even invented the Messiah.
Remember, the Messiah, the coming of the Messiah, was the great hope of the Jewish people forever ever since the creation of the Jewish people.
And so, when I say, ‘Jesus is better’, in other words, we’re all Jewish people, we’re all looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, and it would not be an argument that He is better.
Of course, He’s better. He is that is everything!
We’ve been headed towards ‘everything’, we’ve been looking towards Him.
It’s not that Christianity is better than Judaism. It’s not better. There was no real institutional Church or Christianity then. In fact, there was not one Baptist church in the New Testament, nor an Anglican Church!
Can you imagine pre-Anglican? Okay, the Anglicans think they’re old!
This was an internal argument.
Yeshua is better. He’s better than the High Priest, He’s better than Moses, He’s better. He’s a better sacrifice, right? It’s a better Covenant. Everything is better because He’s the Messiah, ‘everything’. We were headed towards this in the Messiah.
It’s better. It’s complete, it’s fulfilled.
The disagreement I have with some of my dear friends outside who are religious Jewish people is – you’d be surprised. I mean, I have these conversations all the time. I live in Brooklyn, and it’s the same environment.
We have lots of conversations and the real crux of the matter is. I once said to one of the Hasidic guys.
Every Hasidic group has its own unique flavor and focus. For example, the Hasidic groups influenced by the masters of Pshischa (notably Gur Hasidim today) value simplicity, austerity and a devotion to the stark, unvarnished truth. Breslov Hasidim place supreme value on maintaining a joyful disposition, “hitbodedut” (private conversation with G‑d), and a trusting faith in G‑d at all times. And yet other Hasidim place their focus on kindness to others as the overarching quality.
Many hasidic groups today have taken an insular approach to self-preservation—some more than others. Chabad Hasidim, on the other hand, take personal responsibility for every Jew, with total disregard for denomination or lifestyle.
I was talking to him, and I said, … well, we were dancing around the issue, we had a conversation that was going quite well, and I didn’t want to ruin it by telling him what I believed. But you know, eventually you get to the point where you’ve got to say it.
And he said, (Jewish question number one) “What do you do for a living?”
So, he says: “What do you do?”
He laughed; he got it.
He says, “So, am I!
And he says, “No, I’m a Messianic Jew, I’m waiting for the Messiah.”
And he says, “We’ll see!”
I mean, I’m in trouble right there, you know! What do I say?
And I say to myself “It’s okay”. I said, “I tell Jewish people about the Messiah. In fact, you know, if you let me tell you about the Messiah, I can clock some hours!”
And I said, “I’m a Messianic Jew.”
I said, “Yeah, you’re right! You are, technically, all Jews are Messianic.”
And I said, “Yeah,” I said, “I guess we have different Messiahs, but there can only be One. That means one of us is wrong and one of us is right.”
It was a great conversation.
But the argument here is that Yeshua is better. And the relationship with God that He provides is better than the relationship with God provided before.
And you know, one of the tricky parts is that Yeshua is even better than the Torah.
He’s better than keeping the Commandments, what we call the Mitzvah, He’s better.
Does that mean that keeping the Commandments is bad? No, no, no, no, no! It just means that the keeping of The Commandments and the Commandments themselves pointed to a greater righteousness that would be fulfilled and then provided by the Messiah Himself, a greater peace, a greater shalom.
So, there are all these wonderful ways in which knowing Yeshua is better. Sometimes, I hate the names that we have given to the Testaments: Old Testament, New Testament you know. It kills it. Last time I looked at it, it was one story.
Old Testament makes the New seem better and that has led to a lot of problems. Maybe the ‘older Covenant’ and the ‘newer Covenant’ would work better. But I don’t think Bible publishers are going to go with it. You understand.
When we’re talking about ‘better’, we’re not talking about whether one is worse, or one is less important. God gave the Torah; He gave the laws. So, it’s not as if God made a mistake, right?
Day after day a Levitical priest stood in the Temple and offered animal sacrifices for the atonement of sin, as set forth in the Mosaic Law. The Law, with its sacrificial system, only foreshadowed what Jesus would accomplish through His death on the cross. The book of Hebrews illustrates in two ways the Levitical sacrifices’ inability to remove sin. First, if a sacrifice for sin had perfected the worshiper who offered it, there would have been no need to repeat it (10:2).
Second, if the Israelites truly had been purged from sin through animal sacrifices, there would have been “no more consciousness [sense] of sins” (10:2). However, none of their sacrifices could make them perfect or free them from a sense of sin (9:9). Why? “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (10:4). Animal blood had no power to provide redemption; the ritual slaying could only purify the flesh, that is, provide ceremonial cleansing (9:13).
They were pointing to something greater.