Hebrews 2:1 Pay Attention
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1, ESV.
God has spoken His final word through His Son, the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer who rules over even the angels. While knowing this is crucial to your faith, knowing what to do with it is just as crucial.
We need to “pay much closer attention to” what God has spoken by His Son because we have an awful tendency to “drift away from it.” There is a simple yet profound truth playing out here: As professing believers in Jesus Christ we will either devote ourselves to God’s word about His Son or we will find ourselves drifting away from it. There is no middle ground. A vigorous effort is required to stay close to Jesus. It takes no effort at all to drift away.
If you have ever pursued physical fitness this should come as no surprise to you. You either devote yourself to it, eating right almost every meal and exercising almost every day, or you find your objective slipping further and further away. Life’s good things demand our attention.
There is a difference here. We do not earn salvation from Christ. The “we” in Hebrews 2:1 are Christians. They are not being called to work hard to keep Jesus. They are being called to practice obedient listening to the word of Jesus their Savior or find themselves unmoored, drifting away from the place of contentment in Christ.
This is the first of what are called the “warning passages” in Hebrews. The author is deeply concerned with helping the saints stay anchored to Christ. He does not want to see them drift away from Jesus and lose their peace, hope, and their joy in Him.
These are days in which it is dangerous to drift. In an upside-down, stay-at-home world, we need Jesus as the anchor for our souls more than ever. At the same time, with our routines disrupted, these may be some of the easiest days to drift. And drifting is always in the wrong direction. So, for the sake of your peace, hope, and joy in Jesus . . . pay attention to Him. Hold fast to His Word. Spend time with Him in prayer. Sing of His worth.
I am praying for you today that you will hold fast. When you do, you will find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and that you will find rest for your soul (Mt 11:29-30).
Hebrews 1:13-14 Angels
And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:13-14, ESV.
From the considerable number of Old Testament references used, it seems that the author of Hebrews was writing to a predominantly Jewish audience. Thus, his early focus is on explaining why, even though God had spoken through various spokesmen in the Old Testament, it was time to hear the message He has spoken by His Son. God is telling those who might be tempted to return to a religion of laws and rituals that Jesus is a better way. Though few of you are likely to be converts from Judaism, it is likely that you might share their struggle. We just cannot get away from the temptation to chase after the tangible—to give up on a life where we depend on the work of an unseen God and replace it with a life of self-righteousness and religious ritual.
In Hebrews 1:13-14, the author wraps up his first point: we need to listen to the message God has spoken by His Son because Jesus is the ruler of heaven. His ultimate point is simple. Quoting Psalm 110:1, he observes that we can search the Scriptures all we want, and we will never find that God the Father makes angels kings over their enemies. God only does that for His Son.
These angels are not only less-than-kings in heaven, but their role in the universe is that of a servant. They serve under Jesus the King and “for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.” Jesus is ruler over the angels and has assigned them tasks that are intended not for the benefit of the angelic community, but for the benefit of the saints, the adopted sons and daughters of God who will inherit the blessings of Christ’s kingdom.
In our Christian culture, it seems that most people are of one extreme or the other on angels. Either they see angels behind every corner and talk about people becoming angels when they die, or they don’t think much about angels at all until the annual Christmas play. These two verses give us a better perspective. Angels are spiritual. They are ruled by Jesus. They work for the good of the saints.
These are trying days. We are isolated. There is a new disease out there. There is a threat of economic calamity. Most of us are growing weary of the news. Some people are scared. Other people are angry.
For you, Christian, there is ample reason to take heart. Your Savior, Jesus Christ, is the king over heaven and He is not an indifferent or inactive king. He has employed the creatures of that realm, whose primary duty from the beginning has been the worship of God, to minister to your soul. I cannot pretend to know just how they do that. Do they avert your gaze from things that tempt and cast it on your Bible? Do they bring to mind that memory verse you learned in Sunday School? Do they motivate you to pick up the phone and call a Christian friend who is in deep distress? I cannot be sure. But His angels are at work and they are working for your sake.
My prayer for you today is that you will take courage in the fact that God has deployed His angel armies to bring about good in your life.
Hebrews 1:3-4 About that Son
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Hebrews 1:3-4, ESV.
God has spoken in these last days by His Son. That is the opening message in the book of Hebrews. Regardless of how you read the end-times prophecies of the Bible, it certainly feels like the last days. Thus, these are the days when we need to heed this word by God’s Son. His Son is the topic of verses 3-4.
First, He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. Jesus is the perfect reflection of God’s glory and the true image of God. Jesus is what Adam was created to be and more. Jesus the perfect man is also the unstained image of God. He radiates the glory of God and has the very nature of God. Jesus is a man who can identify with us while remaining perfectly divine.
Second, he upholds the universe by the word of his power. It may seem, in days like these, that everything is unraveling, but the fact remains that Jesus is holding everything together. He does so with His word, reminding us of how through the word the universe was created and formed (Genesis 1). Therefore, what God has spoken by His Son is a word with all the power of creation behind it as He sustains that same creation.
Third, after making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Jesus paid the price for sins in full, rose from the grave, and ascended to the Father. He went to work on our behalf and dealt with our sin problem. We can know that He completed the task of purifying what sin had made impure because He sat down once the work was finished—He rested.
Fourth, and finally, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Jesus is the ruler over heaven and the angels (see Hebrews 1:5-17). The One who upholds the universe, including our little part of it, is the mighty king of heaven. He who holds the world together is the ruler over both the natural and the supernatural because He is the Son.
This is not just an exercise in praise. This is also a reminder of God’s last-days word to you. While the coronavirus world seeks answers in vaccines, antidotes, economic stimuli, social distancing, stay-at-home and back-to-work guidelines . . . while men and women around the world seek answers in food, entertainment, sex, money, and power . . . God has already spoken the word we need. It is a better and more powerful word. Man’s answers will fail and fade away. Jesus will do neither.
My prayer for you today is that you will see Jesus rightly and experience your Creator, Savior, Sustainer, and King as your anchor amid today’s storm.
Hebrews 1:1-2 God has Spoken
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2, ESV.
The Bible does not say who authored the book of Hebrews. I suspect it is a compilation of sermons by the Apostle Paul, but better scholars than me have made other suggestions. Perhaps God intended that we remain in the dark about who the author is so we would focus on the subject, not wondering why “Paul” would say these things but simply responding in wonder at Jesus.
This majestic book begins with a description of revelation—how God has shown Himself to man. We are told that “long ago” God spoke in one way but now “in these last days” speaks in another way. God, who revealed Himself “many times and in many ways” in the Old Testament, has now “spoken to us by His Son.”
When the author uses the word “prophet” here, he is not limiting himself to the prophetic books but includes all through whom God spoke in the Old Testament. As you read the Old Testament, you see God speak to and through these fathers of our faith in diverse ways. And He spoke through many of them. God used different people, in various places, in diverse circumstances, and over many years to convey His Word of truth to His people and to the world.
With the coming of Jesus, God speaks in a new way. His Son is a singular messenger. The message that grew with each voice in the Old Testament reaches its climax with Jesus. Long ago, God revealed Himself progressively through creation, then in the garden, then to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets. These were all precursors to the final message delivered in word and deed by His Son. With the Son, the message is complete. God uses the New Testament writers, not to add to the message, but to explain and apply it. There is nothing to add because the message of Jesus the Son cannot be eclipsed: He is the beginning and the end of everything. He is the one through whom God created the world. He is the Son who will inherit the creation in the end.
In our information-saturated day, this is important to keep in mind. As you take in the day’s coronavirus news, the press conferences, and the social media posts, consider this: None of these messages hold a candle to what God spoke through His Son.
The rest of the book of Hebrews glories in the message that God spoke through His Son and about His Son. I will be commenting on some of its passages. I encourage you to read the entire book and to take courage from its pages during these troubling times, for this message from God will not change with tomorrow’s news. It will never be proven false or unreliable. It will never be irrelevant. God has spoken His final Word. What other word is there that is better for your weary soul?
I pray that God’s final Word brings you hope and joy today.
Galatians 1:3-5 Grace and Peace
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:3-5, ESV
The churches in Galatia in the first century were not under attack by a virus or suffering under governmental procedures put in place to control that virus. Their suffering was of a different kind. They were relatively new believers under attack by preachers who taught that a person had to obey old covenant law before entering the new covenant by faith in Christ. Paul condemns this false gospel as no gospel at all.
Though we are facing a different challenge than the Galatian churches faced, what we need is what they needed. It is expressed in the introduction to this letter. They needed grace and peace “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace is unmerited kindness from the Almighty God. Peace is when all things are restored to the way they should be. Can any of us say that we need anything more than that today? As I read news articles and Facebook posts, it seems to me that we desperately need God’s grace and peace.
Paul does not stop with kind wishes for the churches in Galatia, he also describes how we might obtain this grace and peace in two descriptive phrases. Grace and peace are ours because . . .
Jesus gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age. Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice to bring us forgiveness of and freedom from sin. The grace in this should be evident. Jesus died for sinners who deserved eternal death, not rescue. Peace is found in the restoration of our relationship with God as our sins are forgiven and in freedom from slavery to sin. Jesus delivers us from eternal judgment and the power of sin in this “present evil age.”
God our Father willed it to be so. Nobody twisted God’s arm to bring us this grace and freedom. It was an act of divine resolve. This defines grace—God acted for our good without any outside force compelling Him to do so. This makes for perfect peace—if we never were worth saving then our ultimate salvation does not depend on fickle us, but on God, our solid Rock.
Christian, you need not wait for God’s grace and peace to come! It is yours for the taking. The Father has willed it and the Son has purchased it. Just enjoy it! Your current external circumstances may not change, but you have been delivered from this present evil age by the kindness of God and the sacrifice of Jesus!
The final sentence of this verse tells us how we should express our experience of grace and peace. We should glorify God forever and ever. I wonder . . . could it be that we are not “feeling” God’s grace and peace because we too rarely express our possession of it by glorifying God in worship, faith, and obedience?
My prayer for you today? Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
From Pastor Don
Writing about the Bible and praying that it will be of some good for someone.