O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
You have set Your glory above the heavens…
When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which You have set in place,
what is man that You are mindful of him,
the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet…
- Psalm 8:1, 4-6
The author of Hebrews assumes that his readers are thoroughly familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. In today’s readings alone, there are 18 direct quotes or references from the Hebrew Bible – what we call the Old Testament – and 14 of those are lifted from the Psalms. Understanding of the nature and function of the Jewish priesthood, of Jewish history, of the stories of Abraham, Moses, and Joshua, is a given.
This author also unflinchingly assumes that the Hebrew Scriptures are essential to the development of Christian thought. Biblical texts are not only cited but are used as foundations of arguments. This might seem trivial to us, but the question of “what’s relevant to Christians?” was of such importance that Paul found it necessary to remind Timothy that “All Scripture is breathed by God…”
A third assumption – and the consequential thrust of the letter – is that these Scriptures find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways,” he begins, “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son…” His assertion that Jesus is “superior to angels” is not simply a statement of belief but a final stanza to Psalm 8. The bold claim that Moses, while faithful, was only a servant in God’s house – “to testify to the things which were spoken later” – and that Christ is faithful over God’s house “as a son,” speaks for itself.
This thread culminates today in the acknowledgment that Jesus is the “Great High Priest,” who “in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sin,” was appointed “by Him who said to Him, “You are my son, today I have begotten you.”
Our verse for this week is Psalm 71:3: Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I continually come; You have given the command to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.
Hebrews 1 through 6. Now let’s read it!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.