Hebrews Chapter 2
●Heb 2:1-4 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (NIV)
I don't think the words *drift away* imply that people get saved and then later lose their salvation. No. It's like a curious crowd that gathers around a soap box to hear a speech, and little by little, man by man, boredom sets in: the audience begins dispersing and people move on to find something else to do. That would be akin to attending a Billy Graham crusade, and by a month later totally forgetting everything he talked about.
You can ask evangelistic associations like Jews For Jesus and they will tell you, it takes a lot of hard, dedicated, persistent effort to convert Jews to Christianity; hard effort with lots of prayer and follow-up because Jews have a very strong tendency to drift away from Jesus and cling to their Judaism.
Ignoring an angel is serious enough because they represent God and they speak for God straight from God's presidential palace.
●Ex 23:20-22 ...I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready. Pay heed to him and obey him. Do not defy him, for he will not pardon your offenses, since My Name is in him; but if you obey him and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
The identity of that particular angel is a mystery. Another like it appeared to Moses in the desert and commissioned him to lead Israel.
●Ex 3:1-2 ... Now Moses, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
Those angels are of such a high authority, and put in such immeasurable trust, that they often speak not as themselves, but in the first person just as if they were God Himself.
●Ex 3:3-6 ...Moses said, I must turn aside to look at this marvelous sight; why doesn't the bush burn up? When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him out of the bush: Moses! Moses! He answered, Here I am. And He said, Do not come closer. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. I am, He said, the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
Was God actually in that bush? No, He wasn't. The person Moses spoke with was an angel representing God. That is quite remarkable. It is as though the person speaking with Moses acted as a translator quoting his master's words verbatim just as he heard God speak them.
So no one, not even Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, nor Moses nor David, nor any of the prophets have ever actually spoken with God but have always spoken with him through an ambassador.
●John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (NAS)
●John 5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, (NIV)
Although it may appear so in the Old Testament; it wasn't really God Himself who personally gave Moses the Law. It was actually given through angels designated to act on His behalf.
●Gal 3:19b ...The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. (NIV)
●Acts 7:52-53...Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it. (NIV)
The Mosaic covenant, given during the forty years between Egypt and Palestine, was instituted through angels. That was a big surprise to us because when you read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, you could swear it was God himself who handed those laws to Moses. But it wasn't. Not even the time when Moses said God spoke with him face to face as two men speak to each other.
●Ex 33:7-11 ...Now Moses would take the Tent and pitch it outside the camp, at some distance from the camp. It was called the Tent of Meeting, and whoever sought the Lord would go out to the Tent of Meeting that was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the Tent, all the people would rise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he had entered the Tent. And when Moses entered the Tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the Tent, while He spoke with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud poised at the entrance of the Tent, all the people would rise and bow low, each at the entrance of his tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another. And he would then return to the camp; but his attendant, Joshua son of Nun, a youth, would not stir out of the Tent. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
But no man has actually dealt with God in person.
●Ex 33:20 ...But, He said, you cannot see My face, for man may not see Me and live. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
Point being, if angels, who are merely servants, speak with God's authority, how much more grave is it to ignore The Almighty's own kin who is higher in rank than they?
The people of Israel were warned to be wary of prophets. Even if a prophet's predictions came true, they were not to give in to that prophet if his teachings took them away from the God of their covenant.
●Deut 13:2-5 ...If there appears among you a prophet or a dream-diviner and he gives you a sign or a portent, saying, Let us follow and worship another godwhom you have not experiencedeven if the sign or portent that he named to you comes true, do not heed the words of that prophet or that dream-diviner. For the Lord your God is testing you to see whether you really love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. Follow none but the Lord your God, and revere none but Him; observe His commandments alone, and heed only His orders; worship none but Him, and hold fast to Him. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
If Jesus of Nazareth had been an outlaw prophet or diviner, I could allow for his countrymen to ignore him and desire his execution. But he honored their god, not another's; and the miracles were overwhelming. There is just no way a false prophet could do the things he did in that day.
Jesus walked on water and calmed storms. Many, many people had their health restored in Israel those days. In some passages we are told that among the crowds who thronged him were infirm folk, and he healed "every one of them."—blindness, leprosy, withered limbs, paralysis, and chronic bleeding were all in his repertoire of doctoring. If only he were here now to empty out the hospitals and mental wards.
He raised several people from the dead, and fed large crowds by multiplying small quantities of food stuffs more than enough to feed them all; and all for free. He never charged anybody a single penny for his services nor did he attempt to profit from any of his miraculous abilities save for the time he helped one of his disciples catch a fish with money in it so they could pay the Temple tax.
No other prophet in Israel's history has ever come close to matching his abilities. Even if Jesus of Nazareth proves out to be a false messiah, no one can deny that he sure was good for the country while he was here.
●Acts 10:34-38 ...Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. (NIV)
●Heb 2:5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. (NIV)
We're almost done with the angels except for this little blurb that drives the final nail in their coffin so to speak concerning their comparison with the Son.
Out in the distant future, there is coming another Genesis: a brand new earth and a brand new universe. In fact even the place where the old cosmos was parked will be removed and everything will start over.
●2Pet 3:9-13 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (NIV)
●Rev 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them." (NIV)
●Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (NIV)
According to Heb 2:5 the angels won't share in supervision and management of the new universe. It still belongs to Man to dominate the world. So if Christ were an arch angel, as some are saying, then he would not be permitted to rule in the future but would become man's servant right along with the other angels.
●1Cor 6:2-3 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (NIV)
●Heb 2:6-8 But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. (NIV)
God gave mankind control over every thing in this universe, even some things that we don't even know about yet, and even things in space that the Hubble telescope has yet to detect. You know what that tells me? If there are aliens out there then they owe us back taxes and rents because they are squatting on our land.
●Heb 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (NIV)
Although Jesus started out lower in rank than the angels, today that is certainly not true because now he holds the position of highest respect amongst all in creation.
●Phil 2:5-11 though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found in human appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed upon him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Catholic Bible)
We pointed out in chapter 1 that the Son is far and away superior to the angels because not only did he create the cosmos, and holds the rank of God's blood kin, and occupies a divine throne; but he is also YHWH, the god of the people of Israel. And besides; the angels are mandated to worship the Son as their master.
But was his superiority innate as a human being? No. As a human being he was, by nature, a little lower than they. But not any more. Today he has been elevated much, much higher. In reward for exceptional loyalty, and total obedience, even to the death, and for his incredible humanitarian effort on the cross, the Almighty elevated Messiah higher than any other Jewish person in existence. Isaiah, foreseeing his glory, spoke of him in this way.
●Isa 52:13-14 ...Indeed, My servant shall prosper, be exalted and raised to great heights. Just as the many were appalled at him so marred was his appearance, unlike that of man, his form, beyond human semblance (1985 JPS Tanakh)
●Isa 53:12 assuredly, I will give him the many as his portion, he shall receive the multitude as his spoil. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
So people in the netherworld, and people on the surface of the planet, and everybody in heaven, including the holy angels, must bend their knees in obeisance to a Jewish man who now holds the position of supreme lord over all of The Almighty's creation.
But the kicker is this. We haven't really seen yet all the things that God has in store for mankind's future in the next Genesis. However, we do have a picture of at least one elevated human being; Jesus of Nazareth. Since a Jewish human being is now elevated above the angels, and is actually seated on the throne of God, and at God's right hand, then it becomes apparent that his fellow Jews can look forward to a similar glory themselves.
It pays to be connected. Joseph was entrusted to rule Egypt in Pharaoh's name, and therefore his family basked under Pharaoh's protection. In like manner, Messiah, entrusted with God's power, is in a position to protect his Jewish countrymen, and to look out for their best interests just like Joseph looked out after them in Jacob's day. Unfortunately, the people of Israel, on the whole, have neglected to take advantage of Messiah's position; and so Eretz Israel today is operating on the edge of war and economic disaster. It is a very dry land too, short on water, and they are perilously close to overextending the limits of their available resources. If Messiah were in charge, they would not be having those problems.
●Heb 2:10 ...In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. (NIV)
Messiah's character was already perfect. He was in fact sinless. But it would have been a discredit to The Almighty's own character if He were to delegate someone to take charge and supervise Israel's redemption before the candidate himself was first willing to take full responsibility for his constituents and accept their guilt as his own for breaking the laws of God. Isaiah also foresaw this part of Messiah's résumé.
●Isa 53:5-6 But he was wounded because of our sins, crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, and by his bruises we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, each going his own way; and the Lord visited upon him the guilt of all of us. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
●Isa 53:8 By oppressive judgment he was taken away, who could describe his abode? For he was cut off from the land of the living through the sin of my people, who deserved the punishment. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
●Isa 53:11 My righteous servant makes the many righteous, it is their punishment that he bears; (1985 JPS Tanakh)
●Isa 53:12 For he exposed himself to death And was numbered among the sinners, whereas he bore the guilt of the many and made intercession for sinners. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
And Paul said pretty much the same thing.
●Rom 5:6-10 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (NIV)
It isn't unusual for Israel's spiritual leaders to display a willingness to die for their countrymen. Moses offered to trade his own life for the safety of his people on at least one occasion.
●Ex 32:30-35 ...The next day Moses said to the people, You have been guilty of a great sin. Yet I will now go up to the Lord; perhaps I may win forgiveness for your sin. Moses went back to the Lord and said, Alas, this people is guilty of a great sin in making for themselves a god of gold. Now, if You will forgive their sin [well and good]; but if not, erase me from the record which You have written! But the Lord said to Moses, He who has sinned against Me, him only will I erase from My record. Go now, lead the people where I told you. See, My angel shall go before you. But when I make an accounting, I will bring them to account for their sins. Then the Lord sent a plague upon the people, for what they did with the calf that Aaron made. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
●Heb 2:11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (NIV)
The word *brothers* doesn't always indicate siblings; but can indicate any kind of relative; of either gender; male and female. In this case, the *family* is pretty much Abraham's posterity. Gentiles can join the family too, that's true (Gal 3:26-29, Eph 2:11-22); but the primary beneficiaries of Jesus' atonement was his own countrymen.
●Heb 2:12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." (NIV)
That's a reference to Psalm 22. The author of Hebrews borrowed it to illustrate events that will occur upon Messiah's arrival. One day he will worship God side by side with his Jewish countrymen. That's to be a family affair. Gentile Christians need to always remember that the New Testament's Jesus is a Jew, with deep roots in Old Testament Jewish history (Luke 24:27).
●Heb 2:13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me. (NIV)
The *children* of course aren't his genetic offspring, but actually Abraham's. Jesus won't end up with all of Abraham's children, only a percentage— just the ones God gives him. He called his Jewish followers children on a number of occasions.
●John 13:33 ...My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. (NIV)
●John 21:5-6...Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No." And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. (NKJ)
Calling his countrymen children may seem demeaning; but when it's considered that God's son outranks every single one of Abraham's posterity, then it becomes quite appropriate.
●Heb 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death that is, the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (NIV)
The *children* in the Hebrews letter just about always means Messiah's Jewish countrymen, not Gentiles who have believed in Jesus too. Gentiles who follow Messiah share in the Jews' blessings but they never, ever, supplant the Jews nor usurp their covenants and promises.
Fear of death implies a fear of the unknown. People often fear death because they don't know where they're off to next. They've banked their future on the here and now, not the later on. To me— and to those like me who are confident Jesus' crucified body will protect them from the wrath of God —death is a passage to a better life. To the damned, death is the end of everything they hold dear.
●Ps 146:2-5 …I will praise The Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God even with my dying breath. Don't put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When their breathing stops, they return to the earth, and in a moment all their plans come to an end. But happy are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in The Lord their God. (NLT)
●Heb 2:16 ...For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. (NIV)
We Gentiles should never, ever forget that Jesus came into the world primarily for Messiah's countrymen not for us. We are very fortunate to be allowed to tag along and beg for handouts. Way back, God decreed that Messiah would benefit us too.
●Isa 49:6 ...For He has said: It is too little that you should be My servant in that I raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the survivors of Israel: I will also make you a light of nations, that My salvation may reach the ends of the earth. (1985 JPS Tanakh)
●Heb 2:17-18 ...For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (NIV)
A high priest who lives a sheltered life, wouldn't be inclined to be sympathetic towards the problems of everyday living encountered by his constituents. He might be a nice shoulder to cry on, but his experience would be so limited that he couldn't identify with your struggles and failures. Jesus wasn't like that. He lived on this planet in the land of Israel for 33 years, right in the grit of real life and worked for a living with his own hands in a blue collar trade. He wasn't sheltered and secluded and provided for in some monastery, nor hid away in the inner sanctum of a big fancy forbidden-city kind of a cathedral.
Additionally, Jesus was an ethnic Jew who lived under the jurisdiction of the Mitzvot, Halacha, and the Oral Law all his life. So he is very familiar with their mandates and requirements. His Jewish constituents need not be concerned that he doesn't understand the constraints and demands placed upon them by those kinds of ethno-centered customs.
We just can't go wrong with Jesus Christ. The captain of the Jews' salvation is a human being, sensitive to our weaknesses and sympathizes with our lot in life. Not only that but he has even accepted full responsibility not only for the sins of his Jewish countrymen, but also for Gentile sins as well.
●1John 2:2 ...He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (NIV)