Daily Thoughts from Hebrews: Needing a Prophet

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son… (Hebrews 1:1-2, ESV)

One of the most amazing and gratifying facts of God’s dealing with humans is that He has spoken to us.  He is not the Deity of Thomas Jefferson’s Deism who makes the world and then leaves it to itself.  He has not left us to figure out from what is created the truth of who He is or what He wants for us, though indeed His creation shouts that eloquently (Psalm 19, the first half).  Instead He has spoken to us at many times and in many ways.  It hasn’t been a once or twice kind of thing saying, “Here, get it now because I’m not going to say it again.”  And it hasn’t been through one format alone.

He came in the form of a human and talked to Adam and Eve in the garden.  He spoke directly to the ear of Abraham.  He met Moses in the tent of meeting and made Moses’ face glow with His glory.  He gave us laws, He gave us songs, He gave us history, He gave us wisdom, all through men and women whom He had gifted to be able to receive His message.  All these people could be termed “prophets” in that they were navi (Hebrew, ‘spokesmen, announcers’) or prophetes (Greek, ‘those who speak, interpret’) for Him.  They were sometimes called “seers” as those who could see or perceive what He wanted communicated.  He wanted to communicate to us so He equipped chosen humans to be His voice.

What these people said had God’s authority so He gave His people tests for determining who was truly His prophet with His authority.  Moses taught us in Deuteronomy 13 and 18 that a true prophet would always speak in line with the message of the 10 Commandments that there is only one God, the God who delivered Israel from Egypt, whose name is Yahweh.  The true prophet, if he or she made a prediction, would always be vindicated by that prediction coming true.  And so we would know.

But in these last days, the days that have seen the fulfillment of all those prophecies regarding God’s coming in His Messiah to establish His kingdom on earth and await only the return of the Messiah to finish all, God has chosen to speak through His Son.  The human prophets were authoritative and special, but none could be more authoritative or special than the Son.  If we were required to obey the message of human prophets, how much more the divine prophet or spokesman for God!

This is the beginning of the author of Hebrews’ message to a congregation of Jewish believers who have been toying with returning to the unbelieving Jewish system of sacrifices, Sabbaths, and stipulations that carried on as if the Messiah had not made his grand entrance into history and brought to completion what these practices only foreshadowed.  He is needing  to remind them of the truth and warn them against sliding back away from that truth, because such a step back would be disastrous in the way it defamed God’s Son and what He accomplished.

Do we toy with going back to the way things were before we met Jesus?  Do we need a reminder and warning?  How tempting is it to “hang it up” or just let our Christian life run on automatic, without any real feeling for or commitment to it?  What is it that tempts us to take such a backward step?  Is it the same thing that tempted these believers?  We will see.


A Biblical Theology of Work – Part 2

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40, ESV)

A Ten Commandments monument which includes the...
A Ten Commandments monument which includes the command to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus confirms that of all the commandments in God’s Law the two greatest are the ones which summarize all the others.  The commands like having no other gods besides God, no graven images, not testing Him and obeying Him can all be subsumed under “love God with all your being.”  And all the commands like not stealing or killing or lying can be subsumed under “love your neighbor as yourself.”

We have already discussed how the Cultural Mandate given us in Genesis 1:27,28 describes the nature of our work as stewards of God’s world for the sake of God’s glory and mankind’s benefit.  The Great Commandments highlight even more clearly what our motivation should be for working in this way.  We should work out of love for God and out of love for our fellow humans.  This means at least three things regarding our work:

  • In our work we love the people God loves

When I work, am I doing what I do because I love people? Do I work for someone the way I would want them to work for me?  Am I providing goods or services that meet important needs of the community I live in or the greater community of my world?  And in the place I work am I loving my co-workers, seeking to help them succeed and not just myself?  Am I a positive force at work or a destructive one?

  • In our work we love the world God loves

As I work, am I caring for the world God has put under my dominion, or am I exploiting it simply for my own good or the good of my community?  This becomes a hard question to answer at times when the survival of my community seems to necessitate such exploitation.  Asking the question should lead us to consider long-term survival in relationship to the survival of our environment.  Does God love the animals He created?  Of course.  Did He give them to us for food and other sustaining properties?  Of course.  But we must have long-term plans for caring for their survival as well as our own.  Humans are the most important creatures on God’s planet, but our lives and those of the other creatures are closely tied together.

  • In our work we love the God who loves

All the work I do I ultimately do as an homage to the God who made me and gave me the capacity to work.  I do the kind of work He loves (righteous work) and I acknowledge it is accomplished by His help.  When I work I am ultimately working for Him and out of love for Him, regardless of my most immediate human supervisor.  This gives my work dignity and moves me to work with excellence and even joy.  I am contributing in a way that honors Him.

Why I work is as important as how I work.  It many times is the difference between finding meaning in my work or not.  Many a mother or father has labored in difficult situations with joy knowing it was for their children’s sake, for their community’s sake, and for God’s sake.  Obeying the Great Commandments gives us our motivation for work.

For further reading:

Due Diligence or DO Diligence?

Sweating Outcomes (and other blog entries about work)