Dr. Couch, I understand your views on the book of Hebrews are the same as the great scholar of the last century, Kenneth Wuest. Correct?
Yes. Wuest holds to the fact that the book is aimed at the unbelieving Jew who had the full testimony about the Messiah. However, he did not fully understand the deity of Christ, that is why the book hits the ground running dealing with that issue. And too, the author continues by showing that Christ was better than angels, Moses, the Law, etc.
The book was then turned over to the Christian community in order to use it as a witnessing tool in dealing with the Jewish community.
Many miss also the fact that the author of Hebrews speaks a lot about the promised land of Israel, and the fact that the Jews, beginning with Abraham, were looking for the new city that would be established by the Lord (which would be named Jerusalem). These verses can be overlooked if the reader does not observe carefully.
The book of Hebrews clearly establishes the idea of the first and second comings of the Messiah. The first coming is about His provision for salvation but His second coming is not about that. The author says: "So Christ also, having been offered once to beat the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him" (Heb. 9:28). The "eagerly awaiting Him" has to do with the establishment of the holy city of Jerusalem and His reigning in the land under the Davidic Covenant!
What is the author talking about when he speaks of the Jews waiting to "receive what was promised" in the OT? It is the kingdom, though the author doesn't have to say that because it's understood by the readers. The author proves this point when he speaks of the persecution of the Jews who lose their property, "knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one. Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. … You need endurance that, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay" (10:34-37). The "possession" and the "promise," and the "great reward," has to do with "His coming," Christ's millennial reign and the establishment of the kingdom with Jerusalem as the center of the earth.
Notice what chapter 11 says about what Abraham was looking for:
He left one place, Ur, to go to a place "which he was to receive for an inheritance" (v. 8). What was the place? The promised land!Why did Jacob (Israel) tell Joseph when he was about to die that God would "bring you back to the land of your fathers"? (Gen. 48:21). Why did he want to be buried back in the land where Abraham was buried? (Gen.49:29). Why did Joseph want his bones to be taken back to the promised land and not left in Egypt? (Heb. 11:22; Gen. 50:22-26). He made the sons of Israel swear that "you shall carry my bones up from here, from this land (of Egypt) to the land which God promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob."
He lives as a stranger "in the land of promise, as in a foreign land (because at that time) he was dwelling in tents, as did his son Isaac and later his grandson, Jacob, who also were "fellow heirs of the same promise," of the same promise land! (v. 9).
He "was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (v. 10). A MOST IMPORTANT PASSAGE! This would later be Jerusalem!
Abraham "died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance …" (v. 13).
He, along with those who came after him, "made it clear that they are seeking a country of their own" (v. 14).
Abraham and those who came after, were not looking for the country they left, Ur (v. 15), "But they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one (which has heavenly and spiritual origins)" (v. 16). That is, "the kingdom of (from) heaven," or "the kingdom of (from) God." "God prepared a city for them" (v. 16).
God told Joshua that he was to cross the Jordan and take the people "to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel" (Josh. 1:2). Rahab the harlot said she knew that "the Lord has given you the land" (2:9) and that the enemies, those then dwelling in the land at that time, would melt away before the children of Israel when they came to possess it (v. 23).
Hebrews continues on with speaking about the promised land. All those in the OT "gained approval through their faith, (though) they did not receive (the land) which was promised" (11:39). Presently, "God has provided something better for us, so that apart from us they (the believing OT saints) should not be made perfect" (v. 40). The provision of personal salvation comes first before the enactment and establishment of the 1,000 year millennial kingdom.
Much more can be said on this subject but above are some of the tidbits that prove the point.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch