The Epistle To The Hebrews And Worship -- By: Tom Wells
RAR 9:2 (Spring 2000) p. 115
The Epistle To The Hebrews And Worship
Every Christian knows what the book of Hebrews is, but what precisely is worship? In brief, worship is a response to greatness. Not just any response, of course! One man may meet greatness with defiance, another with craven fear. Neither of these qualifies as worship. We will not be far from the mark, however, if we call worship an appreciative response to greatness. A worshiper is a person who thinks he finds greatness in another and responds with admiration. A Christian worshiper finds that greatness in God and Christ. Thomas Watson, the Puritan, said that God calls us to be God-admirers.1 And so he does.
Is there admiration of God in Hebrews? If the question means, “Does the writer admire his Maker?” the answer is clearly Yes, as it would be for any Bible author. But in asking the question I mean two additional things. First, does he2 supply us materials that will prompt our own admiration and worship? Second, does Hebrews speak directly about worship? In both cases we will see that answer is Yes.
The word worship is not common in Hebrews (1:6; 11:21 only; both in Old Testament quotations; but cf. 10:2). This should not surprise us. It is uncommon in all the letters of the New Testament. In part this is due to worship words in Greek often referring to posture, to bowing and kneeling, words that interest narrators such as Matthew and John more than others. (The New Testament is not necessarily indifferent to posture in worship. But its
RAR 9:2 (Spring 2000) p. 116
emphasis on inward attitudes naturally suggests different vocabulary.)
Materials For Worship In Hebrews
If worship is an appreciative response to greatness, the worship of God and Christ demands the display of their glory. We must see them to worship them. The Bible, of course, is full of this, not least the book of Hebrews. A major theme of Hebrews is to call his readers back to faith in Christ if they are wavering. To do this he lays out the case for the superiority of Christ to all other persons in the universe except God the Father and God the Spirit. More than that, he identifies the Son as God himself. The call to faith in such a person is immediately a call to worship as well. We will trace this case through the book.
Hebrews opens with three contrasts connected with revelation: “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last...
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