23
May
12

In These Last Days

About fifteen years ago, I wrote a book on The Epistle to the Hebrews entitled, In These Last Days. It is a biblical-theological study of the major themes in Hebrews. A good friend of mine recently suggested I republish it here in small segments. Thinking that was a good suggestion, I decided to make the book available in this forum.

It is my conviction that today’s church has greatly undervalued and is largely ignorant of the book of Hebrews. Additionally, it is my view that a person who understands this great treatise would never desire to return in any sense to the outworn covenant of Sinai. I hope it will provide fuel for healthy and edifying discussion on the important issues it addresses.

It is my intention to begin work on a commentary on Hebrews in the near future. I also want to make it available here as I complete it. I hope you will find them both instructive and edifying.

PREFACE

In These Last Days is an investigation of the theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Since this is the case, we have made no effort to harmonize its theology with the theology of the rest of the Bible. Our primary concern is to discover the human author’s distinctive approach to traditional theological issues.

I have made no effort to identify the author of this epistle. Such an undertaking would be an exercise in futility. I have my opinion, but it adds nothing to the exposition of this material.

Though we have dedicated a portion of this work to speculations about the identity of the addressees and the occasion for writing, we have drawn no dogmatic conclusions. These matters, too, are concealed from us.

Though the writer identifies this document as a “short letter” (13:22), its form looks more like a collection of expository sermons on OT texts. Could it be that one of Paul’s close associates has developed notes that he took when Paul was preaching in the synagogue (Acts 13:14ff; 17:2-3)? It is impossible to be sure concerning any of these questions.

One thing of which we can be sure is that this document embodies some of the most glorious teaching found anywhere in the Bible. It presents a more extensively developed Christology than any other epistle in the New Testament Scriptures. It is majestic in its presentation. Its logical argumentation is flawless. Its message is timeless.

There is always a tendency to allow our eyes to stray from Christ. Whenever we succumb to that temptation, we will inevitably suffer spiritually. Some to whom this document was addressed were turning their eyes from the resplendent beauty of Christ to the comparatively drab covenant of Sinai. Our author seeks, by logical argumentation coupled with stern warnings, to arrest them in their tracks. His central message forms the basis for all successful Christian living. It is this, ” . . .fix your thoughts on Jesus the apostle and high priest whom we confess” (Heb 3:1). He argues that the long expected age of the Messiah has dawned. He insists that Jesus, the messenger and mediator of the new covenant, is better than all the messengers and mediators of the old covenant. He exhorts his readers to abandon their attraction for the shadows of the old covenant, and rivet their attention on the substance of which the shadows were faint and fleeting emblems.

We have emphasized the necessity of gaining a clear understanding of biblical typology that we might understand the message of this epistle. On this point, S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. has written,

. . .the language of Hebrews is the language of “God’s kindergarten.” It explains the typology of the Pentateuch. The author felt that the weakness of his readers was related to their ignorance of “the elementary principles of the oracles of God” (cf. Heb. 5:12). While he included within the word the messianic promises and other fundamental Old Testament doctrines (cf. 6:1-2), he felt his readers needed also the typical and antitypical truth of the divine revelation, particularly that of Aaron and Melchizedek, and of the priesthood and the services.1

I urge you to read appendices A through F. These contain material concerning Messianic prophecy, the nature of biblical typology, and the uses of the Old Testament in the New, that you must understand if you expect to interpret the Epistle to the Hebrews correctly.

1 S. Lewis Johnson , The Old Testament in the New, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980), p.69.

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1 Response to “In These Last Days”


  1. May 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I’ll be watching for more…….:)


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