Let’s end the week with the completion of yesterday’s scolding harangue: let’s get beyond the basics! But in case you’ve forgotten, review the opening verses today. What were we taught about Christ? Was it wrong? If so, how did we correct it, and ourselves and others?
The complaint focuses in on a particular sub-group of sins, close to home for anybody still reading this stuff online: those who once had a piece of ‘blessed assurance’, and now hold it all up to ridicule, not only themselves, but of the whole movement. How dare we? How do we call people back to the table?
The complaint is reframed in more familiar gospel terms of a farming metaphor of crops failing or worse, producing thorns. The text moves to a more sympathetic hopeful tone, acknowledging how long it took Abram to realize the promise. Perhaps the failures are as ephemeral and fleeting, and can be justified, or atoned, or made right yet.
Are you motivated to read on, or childishly repelled by being challenged? Let’s stop for the week – and see how the writer makes this case about Jesus’ job, and ours, in terms of ‘high priesthood’, and distinctions between the figures of Hebrew tradition and our living community.
Meanwhile, I’ll wish us all a bit of Sabbath rest!
1 Therefore let us go on towards perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith towards God,
2instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement.
3And we will do this, if God permits.
4For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt.
7Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
8But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over.
9 Even though we speak in this way, beloved, we are confident of better things in your case, things that belong to salvation.
10For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.
11And we want each one of you to show the same diligence, so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end,
12so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
13 When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
14saying, ‘I will surely bless you and multiply you.’
15And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise.
16Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute.
17In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath,
18so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us.
19We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain,
20where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.