Like all the letters, Hebrews is written to believers. Believers are people who have believed in the gospel and become saved. They are Christians, people now in Christ.
Hebrews has that name because it seems to be written to Hebrew or Jewish Christians. The backdrop may well have been the collapse of Judaism, with the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem around 70 A.D. Besides the Jewish flavor, the context of the letter is suffering and the subject is Christ.
The author is bridging the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, and pointing out the continuity between the two, while the New comes from the Old and the Old looks to the New; the Old no longer carries life and should not be fallen back to as a way of life. For, Jesus, whom we see now (2:9) has opened a new and living way to God.
Jesus is the climax of God’s story. Not just his death, but his person. Hebrews lays out the facts that Jesus is Messiah, the one who is the way.
Jesus came to save. This salvation is great because Jesus is one with Father, The Son, Son of Man and Son of God. The incarnation and the revelation of God in Jesus makes this salvation so great. God, Son of God, God’s only Son became a man and saves up.
The writer of Hebrews is reminding readers how great this salvation is. It is greater than everything that Judaism is all about. God is the author of the Mosaic Law and Jesus is the fulfillment of that law.
The author and finisher has now come and fulfilled and fully brought about salvation. We now find our righteousness wholly in him. He now comes into us and lives God’s life through us.
This is the great salvation and the message of the gospel.
The question that this verse asks, “How will we escape if we neglect such a great foundation?”, is a rhetorical one. We can’t escape. A famous poet said, “You either have faith or unbelief. There’s no neutral ground.”
If we neglect the message and revelation and the call of Christ, it is to our peril. In other words, it’s not ok. It is like being instructed or taught or commanded, as a general contractor, that you must build on rock or pour cement to certain specifications, when you build; and there is no escaping destruction, if you build on sand: the shifting under the load will collapse the house when the storms come.
In other words, you can not hear the message of Christ and not change your life. When the tax man, Zacchaeus, encountered Jesus (Luke 19), he immediately made changes in his lifestyle and Jesus exclaimed that salvation has come to this man. Others heard Jesus and made no changes or tried to co-opt him for their plans or rejected his message.
Let’s imagine that the readers of Hebrews were Jewish Christians who had come out of Judaism and to one degree or another, continued Jewish faith and practice, centered on the Temple in Jerusalem. Then, in 70 A.D., the temple was destroyed and they had to flee the Jerusalem area, and leave everything behind.
They had to process all this and they may have been told the words of Jesus that predicted the sacking of Jerusalem. At some point, the letter we have, to the Hebrews, comes to them. My point is that these folks who had a very rich heritage might have been confused, disappointed, suffering, and in grief.
This word, that I am discussing, comes to them, “Do not neglect this great salvation”. In other words, it can be neglected and rather than neglect it, cultivate it, celebrate it, draw life from it. For salvation is a person, Christ.
He came, telling us that he is the way. Those who experienced him told the next generation or folks who did not see and hear Jesus, the message of salvation through Jesus, who is God’s Messiah.
The last supper is where Jesus tied together his life with us, his death for us, and his resurrection life now in us; to his disciples. The Eucharist or Communion is not magical or mournful, but is Jesus call to us to live his life together, in love; which is Christianity or the great salvation that the author of Hebrews is referring to. The salvation is a person.
We must not neglect the person of Christ who works through us for the salvation of the world. We gather together in his name and love each other, sharing life, his life. This is the great salvation that saves the world because the door and the table is open.
Deliverance and life is through a person. His faithfulness. My little faith says “yes” to that and then I add obedience to that trust and cultivate his life in mine.
Christ is always on my mind, how I can please him, and how much I adore him. Worship is a life of continual thankfulness, cultivating his life in mine.
And suffering is part of the package, but he compensates me and comforts me and always has a plan and me his love never fails. Oh how He loves us. I will not neglect his saving life in me.
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