So, in order to determine the way in which this God-breathed text should impact us today, we must first determine the author’s original intent. “Reader relevance” (considering context) is oftentimes overlooked or discarded by our quest for personal application.
Written a few years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. (Mt 24:2-3; Luke 21:20-22), this letter is closely aligned with Peter’s understanding that they were living the “last days“. (Heb 1:1-2; Acts 2:16-21) The temple/tabernacle was still standing (Heb 9:8) and even though 3 decades prior, Christ made the once and for all sacrifice for sin (Heb 9:26-28), the sacrificial system was still very much in force.
The Old Covenant was passing away, growing old and ready to vanish but it had not yet disappeared. (Heb 8:13) This 40 year transition period from 30-70 AD (Pentecost to Holocaust) is the Exodus anti-type. The Israelites had been freed from captivity (Exodus 13:33-51), but an arduous 40 year journey (filled with signs and wonders) stood between them and the Promised Land.
The New Covenant, established at the cross and inaugurated at Pentecost, was steadily transitioning into fullness. That’s why we see this “already but not yet” type language spread throughout the New Testament e.g. “Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed”. (Rom 13:11) Was Paul not already saved? Why was salvation merely nearer? Yes, Paul was clearly saved, but it wasn’t until the 2nd coming that salvation would be sealed.
Hebrews 9:28 (ESV) so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
There is an eager anticipation pervading the NT writings. As Paul notes in his letter to the Corinthians, “the time is short” and “the form of this world is passing away“. (1Cor 7:29-31) They were nearing the end of Judaism’s Old Covenant “last days”, Peter making emphatic reference when he wrote, “The end is near“. (1Pet 4:7). Paul, again assured the Corinthians “so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ…upon whom the ends of the ages had come.” (1 Cor 7:1; 10:11)
The present evil age was coming to a close and the new age was dawning. Eternal life would be found in the age that was about to come.
Mark 10:30 (NASB) but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
As you listen to Ryan so eloquently recite this amazing portion of Scripture, I caution you not to make the same mistake I made for far too long i.e. placing these inspired words in our future. So when you read Heb 10:24-25 and Heb 10:36-37, it might be helpful to remember that these exhortations and expectations were delivered 2,000 years ago! The Hebrews could SEE the DAY approaching because in a very little while He who is (was) coming will (did) come and will NOT DELAY.
Hebrews 10:36-37 (NASB) For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.
Yes, I realize this greatly disturbs your paradigm as it did mine, however, my prayer is that you will allow the Bible to reform your mind and allow it to lead you in all truth. Overriding long held presuppositions can be a very disturbing process. Press on toward the call, my friend!