This word for ‘better’ does not appear often in the rest of the New Testament. But the author of Hebrews used it frequently. It expresses so well much of what he wanted to explain.
We think that the author originally wrote his book for the Christians in Judea. Elsewhere, the New Testament (the first Christian books) describes their troubles. They had to escape from Jerusalem in Acts 8:1, so they lost their homes there. And many of them had to go to prison (Acts 8:3). They became very poor.
Saul (afterwards called Paul) was responsible for many of their troubles. After he became a Christian, he used every opportunity to collect money for them (1 Corinthians 16:1-3; Galatians 2:10).
Here, the author tells us the attitude of those Christians when they lost their possessions. And their attitude astonishes us. We would expect them to be very sad. But in fact, their reaction was a feeling of joy.
That may seem difficult to understand. But wealth cannot really bring joy. And if something better is in our lives, the loss of our wealth will not take away our joy.
In fact, the joy of those Christians increased because, at last, they could trust God completely. Without their possessions, they had nothing else on which they could depend. Like Abraham, they could know that God was their reward (Genesis 15:1). Like Moses, they could declare that God himself was their only home (Psalm 90:1).
But God is a better reward than the possessions that they had lost. And God is a better home than the houses that they had left.
It is good to study the other places where the author uses this word ‘better’. They are Hebrews 1:4, 6:9, 7:7, 7:19, 7:22, 8:6, 9:23, 11:16, 11:35, 11:40 and 12:24.
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© 2013, Keith Simons.