Monday, June 14, 2021

The Call to Maturity (Hebrews 5:9-14)

"In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!" (Hebrews 5:12).

The Hebrew Christians were supposed to be moving through the wilderness and entering more and more into the rest of God. They were supposed to become more and more “Melchizedekian,” in the sense that they were to be mature leaders. Unhappily, they were being tempted to turn back to the Egypt of the old covenant.

The author of Hebrews has laid out the plan of maturity before them, but now he must exhort them to get back on track. They should have become teachers by now. Just as Christ, from His position of complete maturity, reaches back sympathetically to help us along the way, so mature Christians should be helping weaker Christians along the way. But this was not the case among these Hebrew Christians.

After all, these Jews had been brought up in the faith and knew the Old Testament well. They should have been far advanced in experiencing the rest of God and the maturity of the faith. Sadly, they had been wandering in the wilderness to a great degree, and so they needed an exhortation.

These Christians had become “slow to learn.” They had become lazy. They were not interested in learning the details of the righteous law of God. They were not interested in mastering God’s hymnal, the psalter, and making it their own. They were not interested in becoming thoroughly familiar with the proverbs so as to become wise. And they were not interested in seeing how Jesus in His work fulfilled all that the old covenant had laid out by way of prophecy and typology.

The author rebuked them. They should have grown some teeth as Christians and been ready for solid food. Instead they were like babies on milk. Possibly this imagery is designed to remind us of the land of milk and honey, the land promised under the old covenant. These Hebrew Christians were not making progress beyond the childhood of the old covenant into the maturity of the new covenant. They were still looking back to the land of milk, which had been appropriate for them when they were children, but which they should have outgrown.

Hebrews is one of the most theologically packed and complex books of the New Testament. The author says his book is mostly baby food. Measure yourself by whether Hebrews seems like baby food to you, or whether it seems like pretty tough meat. Hear and respond to the author’s call to repentance and maturity.