“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.” (Hebrews 5:12–13, KJV 1900)
Imagine you have been invited to a friend’s house for dinner. You arrive and have some nice small talk while one of the hosts is in the kitchen preparing the meal. The host comes out and says, “Dinner is ready.” You move into the dining room and sit down at the table and the only thing at each place setting is a glass of milk. You look very strangely at the host. Then the host says, “Is something the matter?” You reply, “Where’s the beef?” The host states, “There is no beef.” Then you ask, “Well, what is the main course?” The host replies, “That’s it, milk.”
I imagine that at this scenario, you would feel a bit weird. You could not imagine just having milk for dinner. You might even have blurted out, “Milk? That’s for babies.” That is exactly what the author of Hebrews is trying to convey to his readers. Milk is for infants who cannot yet eat and digest solid food. Mature adults eat solid food, babies do not.
To preface this concern, the author mentioned that God had designated Jesus as a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (I’ll get into Melchizedek in a later post.) This seems to be something that the author thought to be over the recipients of the letter’s heads. Yet, they had been professing Christ for some length of time, and by now the author feels that they should have progressed enough in their understanding to be teachers. However, they were still understanding like infants. So, they needed someone to again teach them the basics of the oracles of God.
The oracles to which the author speaks must be the Scriptures of the Old Testament. They needed to understand how they foreshadowed that which was to come, Jesus and His completed work. They likely were enduring much pressure from others to return to Judaism, which was stirring up inner turmoil. Thus, they needed to understand how these basic principles of Judaism applied to the deeper things in Christ.
Many in churches today, have been believers for years and have not progressed beyond the milk. They have not moved past the basic message of gospel regarding sin, righteousness, judgement, and repentance. In fact, many continue to hear it but do not respond.
Moreover, many professing Christians have never read the Bible through from cover to cover, much less studied it completely. Some take the attitude that they already know all that stuff. Really? I don’t! I’m still studying as I’m still in the growing process. Those that do not have a hunger for the solid food of God’s Word are acting as infants in Christ. Yet, perhaps they have never gone past intellectual assent to true faith in Jesus Christ alone.
How should we respond to this? We should pray and earnestly seek the Lord in His Word. If we have heard the gospel message and understood it but have never truly made a faith commitment to Jesus, do not delay for the moment may pass you up.