A Wilderness Situation

We’ve been using Hywel Jones’ Let’s Study Hebrews for our winter Bible study material.  So far we really appreciate it.  Here’s a section that brought some encouraging discussion.  In these comments, Jones comments on how Psalm 95 is used in Hebrews 3-4.

“As has been said, the writer wants those he is addressing to realize they are in a wilderness situation.  The Bible nowhere overlooks, let alone denies, the reality of the earthly existence of the people of God.  Although it emphasizes and exults in the fact that those who belong to the household of Jesus Christ possess a heavenly life and destiny, it makes clear that they are not yet in the full possession of all that is prepared for them.  They are already part of a great company that transcends time, space, and even death (see 12:22-4), but they are not yet in the ‘city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God’ (11:10).  They are therefore ‘strangers and pilgrims’ in this world.”

“The writer wants the Hebrews to visualize themselves as being in the wilderness with God’s rest before them.  He wants them to realize the danger that faces them, but to know the way to respond to it.  He therefore warns and encourages them.  This is his regular mode of address, warning and encouragement, usually in that order.  In particular, he wants his readers to avoid the repetition of their forefathers’ unbelief and to appropriate the reality of the rest of which the Psalm speaks” (p. 38-9).

Hywel Jones, Let’s Study Hebrews (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2002).

shane lems