“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,”
The book of Hebrews has long been called the “Better” book because the superior work of Christ is emphasized over the old system of Tora. The writer begins by stating a fact that can be used to contrast what happened under the Tora period versus the Messiah age. The writer is not introducing new material to his Jewish readers, but rather reminding them of the basic facts about God’s dealings with them. The Jewish readers would no doubt be shaking their heads in agreement satisfied that this letter was moving in the correct direction.
There are three things that stand out in this verse, and these three things are essential to the contrast that will be made of the Messiah age. First, there is the statement that God communicated with the people of Israel frequently. True, at this writing, there had been a long silence from the throne of God, yet the national memory would be one of God’s often spoken instructions. Secondly, there is the statement that God chose to do this communicating with his people in a variety of ways or by using various methods. God wrote on stones, he sent dreams, he sent angels, he spoke directly, and he showed multiple signs. Thirdly, there is the statement that God used prophets as his spokespersons. This is not just a reference to the books of the prophets that we read in the Old Testament, but to the hundreds of men and women whom God sent as messengers over hundreds of years.
So, it has been established at the very onset that God is a communicator and that he has communicated in the past. The question that might immediately come to mind if we read no further is will he continue to do so or have we heard the last from God. The second question that we might entertain is if he reverts back to his former methods will the message change? If it doesn’t change, then why more communication. We might think like the man who said he told his wife he loved her when they got married and if he changed his mind, he would tell her. So, perhaps we should get ready to entertain new directions from God.
Task for Today: It might be fun as well as educational to go back into the Old Testament text and find some of the examples where God communicated with mankind. From Genesis onward, God shows up in first one form and then another to share his word. If we listen, even the creation itself speaks for God. You could visit the Old Testament books and see how many of them express some means or methods. Once we are secure in our understanding of the past, we will be ready to move to the next step. After verse one, what will happen?