If you were sent to the Isle of Patmos (heh) for the rest of your life and could only bring ONE BOOK of the Bible, which would it be? Why?
For me it would be the book of Hebrews. It's a fantastically rich book, and it's ALL ABOUT JESUS: who He is and why He did what He did. It's filled with awesome warnings for the believer (I like stuff like that--it keeps me on my toes, and Lord knows I need help). It's filled with exhortation. You can tell that the author, who remains a mystery, is consumed with the wonder of what Jesus did for us.
Check out some of these passages. If you aren't overwhelmed and excited, check your pulse. ;)
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
You could study and meditate on just that passage for a long time. And I love how the writer starts out with a bang and makes sure you know just what he's talking about.
And the warnings...talk about working out your salvation with fear and trembling. But that's a good thing. Don't let anyone ever tell you that there's something wrong with trembling before the Sovereign God of the universe! Think of the reactions men in the Bible had in even visionary encounters with God, or with His angels: they fainted, felt 'undone,' 'fell at his feet as though dead'! Mightn't you tremble? Yes, tremble, and know that this fearsome, awesome God is the same One who loves you and has numbered even the hairs on your head. Remember His kindness and His severity.
Heb 3:5-6, 12-14
Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope....Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
That last scripture makes some people angry. But why argue with the Bible? Why not appreciate the whole counsel God has given us? Everything He tells us is for our benefit, that we might dwell with Him forever.
I also love that Hebrews is DEEP. DEEEEEEEP. The writer (who, I am told, writes in beautiful, complex, scholarly Greek) delves into the Rest which Jesus allows us to enter, the Priestly role He fulfills for us, the faith of the saints of the Old Covenant (and faith's centrality to the message of grace), the necessity for the obedience and perseverance of the believer, and the need to look forward to our eternal destination (he was exhorting the Hebrew Christians to continue in the faith and not apostacize during the severe persecutions that were arising).
One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Hebrews 11, the "faith chapter," because that's what it is all about: faith in Jesus. And this passage shows how God does not change, and salvation has been about faith from the beginning, never through the Law. It's always been through trusting in God to bring about forgiveness of sins and cleansing forever...not through the blood of animals, but through Messiah.
Heb 11:1-2, 6-10, 13-16
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation....And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God....These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Wow...I am excited just reading that again.
So, on my island, I would be able to focus on Jesus, be reminded to keep following Him, and look eagerly to the Heavenly City--all from Hebrews!
Praise the Lord.
This wouldn't be complete, though, without one of the last verses. The writer of Hebrews considered his letter to them to be a short one. And we thought Molly's blog posts were long!
I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.