14. The Letter to the Hebrews
This letter is actually a sermon written to be read in Jewish-Christian communities sometime near or after the Jewish revolt and the destruction of the Temple. After being expelled from the synagogue, Jewish-Christians found themselves “excommunicated” from their spiritual home and they felt pressured to abandon Christianity and to return to Judaism. The Letter to the Hebrews acknowledges Judaism's great teachings, such as on angels, Moses, the Sabbath, and the priesthood, and then shows how Christian teachings build and improve upon these Jewish teachings. The writer encourages these Jewish-Christians without offending their Jewish sensitivities by showing how the Christian message builds on Judaism rather than claiming that Christianity replaces Judaism (as did Paul). Speaking of Jewish law, Jesus said, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).
Preconceived ideas and prescribed forms. According to Turner (:162), the metaphysical lesson in Hebrews is about the inner process of letting go of preconceived ideas and prescribed forms of religious. Ideas and forms are metaphysical terms; and the message is that we hold in consciousness many ideas which no longer serve our best interest and that these ideas are often expressed in outdated forms for religion. When the letter was written, the idea of the law and the sacrificial system to achieve oneness with God had became no longer useful because of the destruction of the Temple. In our time, many of our ideas about sin, judgment and redemption have become no longer useful because of a similar destruction of an outdated world-view by modern thinking. Are we, like the writer of Hebrews, able to acknowledge the wisdom of our Christian heritage and go forward to embrace the richer divinity that God is revealing to us today?
A Consciousness of Faith. If so, the letter to the Hebrews shows that the way forward is by faith, not by following a church and its prophets, nor a Bible and its teachings, but by following something far more intimate. The letter opens, “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he as spoken to us by a Son.” This “Son” is the Christ within, which is superior to angels (chapters 1-2) and to Moses and the priests (chapters 3-4). The letter takes the reader back to a form of faith practiced by Abraham that predates Moses (representative of the law and the sacrificial system), and which was practiced, not in the Jewish temple but rather in the heavenly sanctuary of consciousness. Pay attention to two key passages, which open chapters ten and eleven:
The perfection of faith. “Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach” (Hebrews 10:1). The writer is saying that the sacrificial law is an imperfect expression of the perfect Divine idea of Oneness with God through faith and that, regardless of how many times it may be repeated, it can never approach the perfection of faith.
The realization and demonstration of faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Note the terms assurance and conviction. In Greek, assurance means “[gives] substance [to].” This is the process of shaping and forming things in consciousness before they are expressed in our physical world. Metaphysically, this is known as realization, and it forms the basis for Unity's third principle, “we create our experiences by the activity of our thinking.” Realization is an understanding that what we are assured of is in process of expression, even though we do not yet see its manifestation. The other term, conviction, means in Greek “a proving [of].” This is the process in consciousness that occurs after realization, known metaphysically as demonstration, which, metaphysically, is “the proving of a Truth principle in one's body or affairs.” In summary, faith bridges the heavenly realm of consciousness and the material realm of physicality.