There’s so much we don’t know about the Letter to the Hebrews. Most scholars today agree it wasn’t written by Saint Paul, as was previously thought, but they don’t know who did write it. We aren’t sure when it was written, but we think it was around the year 90. It may be a letter or it may be a sermon. It might have been written to Jewish Christians—but maybe not.
But for all that we don’t know there is one thing that brooks no argument: its message. Even a casual reading of Hebrews reveals a powerful word of encouragement.
The language is fresh and novel, echoing in every verse the promise of a new covenant in Christ. God has spoken to the world through his Son, and in doing so he has turned the traditional understanding of Judaism on its head. Hebrews stresses that this isn’t a different direction but a surprising fulfilment of God’s plan for his people.
Hebrews makes clear the divine parallels that exist between the covenant with Moses and the new covenant with Christ. Jesus himself has assumed the role of high priest, mediating between us and God. With one single sacrifice he refines the countless thousands made by human priests up to this point. He has “made perfect forever those who are being consecrated” (Hebrews 10:14). The author lists the great milestones and heroes of Scripture: Adam, Abraham, David and Samuel, and tells how they, though their faith was strong, didn’t yet receive what had been promised. But now is the time for the fulfilment of that assurance.
As we journey towards the climax of God’s plan, Hebrews tells us to take heart. A new kind of grace is available, allowing us to enter into God’s kingdom, which is his “rest” (Hebrews 4:11).
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that every passing dream of ours will come true. Rather it means that the deepest longing of our hearts—a hole that can be filled only by a relationship with God—is satisfied in him, at last.