Dr. Lawrence Butler
The Bridge Church, Pembroke
There is such a strong emphasis on the Levitical priesthood and on the temple sacrifices that almost assuredly the target audience was made up of Jews.
Add in the fact that there is no reference to Gentiles at any point and the only safe conclusion is that a community of Jewish believers were the recipients of this letter. Although many of these Jews had heard of the gospel of Christ, and numbers of them were converts, no doubt there were still among them others who were attracted, but not yet surrendered, to Christ.
This epistle is not only doctrinal but very practical in its application. The author calls this letter a “word of exhortation” in 13:22. Exhortation is a method of speaking or writing to stir others into action. Thus, we have six warnings in the book.
A warning against drifting from “the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (2:1-4).
Failing to remain steadfast in the faith is the problem.
A warning against disbelieving the “voice” of God (3:7-14). The lack of faith on the part of the Israelites led them to being disobedient and thus not gaining entrance to the Promised Land.
A warning against degenerating from the elementary “principles of the doctrine of Christ” (5:11-6:20). This causes a lack of growth and therefore spiritual immaturity. Instead of being strong witnesses, teachers or workers, they were “unskillful” in the Word of God.
A warning against despising “the knowledge of the truth” (10:26-29).
This act is shown by refusing to accept the truth of Christ and counting the “blood of the covenant” an “unholy thing.”
A warning against becoming a person who fails “of the grace of God” (12:15-17). Life often brings surprises and disappointments, sometimes even the “chastening” of the Lord, but we must never doubt the wondrous grace that brought the knowledge of our Savior. In that knowledge is Life.
A warning against refusing the Lord when He speaks to us. “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh” (12:25-29).
We shall not escape if we do not obey!