Hebrews — The Epistle of Better Things
If you were going to exhort someone not to give up on Christianity, how would you do it? That is exactly the task of the Hebrews writer, who uses the term “better” 13 times in the book. Knowing that people do not easily give up on things that are precious and valuable, the writer of Hebrews convincingly demonstrates that the way of Christ is inherently better than any other. Notice the cases where “better” is used in Hebrews:
(1:4) “Jesus is better than angels” — There is no angel in all of heaven who can begin to compare to Jesus Christ. When looking for guidance, support, and comfort, look higher than the angels — Jesus is far better!
(6:9) “We are confident of better things concerning you” — The Christians of Hebrews had not grown as they should. The great news of the Gospel is that things can be different. When we do God’s will, He enriches our lives with His power (Phil. 2:12-13).
(7:7) “The lesser is blessed by the better” — Abraham proved the superiority of Christ by bringing tithes to Melchizedek (Heb. 7:4-6). Jesus is a High Priest on behalf of all who truly believe and do His will, whether Jew or Gentile.
(7:19) “A better hope” — The hope provided by Jesus is saving hope (Rom. 8:24). Through the New Covenant we can draw near to God with assurance (Heb. 4:16).
(7:22) “A better covenant” — Other covenants could not truly wash away people’s sins, but the covenant that Jesus established washes and sanctifies us for God’s use. The New Covenant of Jesus Christ promises that sins will be, “remembered no more” (Heb. 8:12).
(8:6) “Better promises” — The Old Covenant was full of shadows and copies of things to come, but the New Covenant has been established on the reality — better promises. Through Jesus, God is just in pardoning people’s sin (cf. Rom. 3:25ff).
(9:23) “Better sacrifices” — High Priests offered sacrifices continually under the Old Law, but Jesus offered Himself, “once for all” (Heb. 9:26). It was not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to remove sin (Heb. 10:4). Only Jesus’ blood could do that!
(10:34) “A better possession in heaven” — We can deal with persecution and loss in this life because we know that, where God is concerned, the best is yet to be.
(11:16) “A better (heavenly) country” — Heroes of faith in times past did not live in vain. They gave up the things of this world and counted themselves as pilgrims to gain a home far better than any physical land! This world truly is not our home (Phil. 3:20).
(11:35) “A better resurrection” — Compromise is always a temptation, especially in suffering. Jesus says, “be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life.” We dare not compromise to save our present lives at the expense of the better resurrection (Jn. 5:28).
(11:40) “God provided something better for us” — Faithful individuals in the Old Testament lived and died without ever seeing God’s plan fully revealed in Jesus. Now that we see and understand God’s purpose in Christ, why would we leave Him?
(12:24) “Blood… speaks better things than that of Abel” — Abel did what was right and was murdered because of it (Gen. 4:1ff). Still, his blood assures others that in some way God will justify the faithful. The blood of Jesus fully explains how sinful men can be made right with a holy God. What a wonderful gift the Lord has bestowed! —JB