Building for the Future
Building for the Future

People who wear bifocal glasses have two ranges of sight, near and far. The lower half of each lens brings close objects into focus; the upper half enables good distance vision. That way of looking at the world – near and far, both at once – is typical of the Letter to the Hebrews.

Writing just a generation or so after the time of Jesus, the author often looks far back to the ‘many and various ways’ that God spoke in centuries past, in the Old Testament era.
That’s distance vision. Whereas other passages in the letter use, as it were, the lower half of the lens. They look at more up-to-date events. They talk of the readers’ experience,
and tell of the way God has spoken in recent times through his Son Jesus.
The original readers had come to faith in Jesus from a background in Judaism. They knew the Jewish scriptures – our Old Testament – and valued the patterns of worship they had learned there. So the letter takes care to explain Jesus against that Hebrew background.
Images from the two halves of the lens, the distant and the recent, are constantly held alongside each other. Ancient texts and customs help to make sense of Jesus. Jesus gives fresh and fuller meaning to the Hebrew scriptures.
So what can we get from this letter? Certainly a reminder that the Old Testament helps us to understand the New; the church needs both. A reminder too to preachers: help people to grasp the gospel in the context of their own culture and experience, fulfilling the deepest hopes of their past and present. Hebrews is also, we shall discover, a word for a church under pressure. Here are explanation, challenge and encouragement, with a deliberate focus on Jesus as centre of the whole message.



We are located at:





Get social with us.

<< New text box >>