The Letter to the Hebrews

It is my opinion that the main point of the letter to the Hebrews is that believers must actively pursue Christian maturity. We do this positively by living by faith and negatively by shunning sinful deeds and attitudes. The problem is that on our own, we behave in the opposite manner. God in his grace has given to the believer three means by which he or she may attain maturity and shun evil: 1) The word of God; 2) Jesus Christ the High Priest; and 3) correction or chastisement.

One of the best illustrations of the message in Hebrews is a painting. The work is by the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch and is titled, “The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things.” Bosch painted it on the top of a rectangular table. In each corner is one of the four last things. Starting in the upper left-hand corner and moving clockwise, they are: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.

The center section consists of three concentric circles. The outermost ring consists of scenes depicting the seven deadly sins. From the top and moving clockwise, they are: gluttony, sloth, lust, pride, anger, envy, and avarice.

The second section is simply a wide band of lines which draws the eye toward the center. The center is a picture of Jesus rising from the tomb and showing his wounds. Below the center are the words “Cave, Cave Diis Videt,” Beware! Beware! God is watching! Because of the shape of these circles, and this warning, many believe that the concentric circles represent the all-seeing eye of God.

How does this painting help us to understand the book of Hebrews and the Christian life? In the future, I hope to explain why I see both the life of faith and the shunning of evil taught in this work of art.