Last week (last year), we started a quarter-long study of the biblical book of Hebrews. That introductory Spectrum commentary includes helpful info on authorship, audience, literary type, central thesis, and structure.
This week’s Adult Bible Study Guide focuses on the Christology of Hebrews. It’s a reminder that “the promises of God will be fulfilled through Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of the Father, and who will soon take us home. In the meantime, Jesus mediates the Father’s blessings to us. So, we need to hold fast to our faith until the end.”
The lesson identifies several typological parallels to King David that seem aimed at breathing hope into an audience perhaps gasping for some fresh air as they try to square their grim reality with their understanding of what the promised salvific Messiah would do. Did Jesus save his followers from oppression by the Romans and their collaborationist religious leaders?
But look over here, the author of Hebrews seems to say. We know the Messiah would be like David. Well, Jesus is related to him by blood. Thus, Jesus is an ultimate authority figure, a King of kings.
Also, David was more than a military-minded king. He did some mediation between the people and God. Jesus is the Son of God and is thus a sacerdotal intermediary between his Father and us. A Priest of priests.
Finally, remember how David beat Goliath. He was a champ! One could call him a champion of the little people, the disenfranchised, like you and me. Well, Jesus beat death and Satan, and he stood up to the religiopolitical matrix of oppression. Now he is doing the same in heaven—he’s our divine priest-king-champion.
So hold fast to the confession. Keep the faith. The lesson concludes:
God designed the old covenant in order to point to the future, to the work of Jesus. It was beautiful in its design and purpose. Yet, some misunderstood its purpose. Unwilling to leave the symbols, the shadows, and embrace the truths that the symbols were pointing to, they missed the wonderful benefits that Jesus’ ministry offered them.
If you’re looking for more, I highly recommend this brilliant discourse on these themes in Hebrews chapters one and two featuring Yale Divinity School’s recently retired Harold W. Attridge, who is the author of the acclaimed Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, a part of the Hermeneia commentary series.
Alexander Carpenter is executive editor of Spectrum.
Image: Pieter de Grebber, God Inviting Christ to Sit on the Throne at His Right Hand, 1645 (public domain).
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