What a great Salvation Jesus has wrought for us!! Welcome back to our study of the book of Hebrews. In the last couple of weeks , we spent time in chapter 1. Its main emphasis was the presentation of Jesus as the only son of God, greater than the prophets and the angels. We also learned that Jesus’s death is the only acceptable atonement for our sins before God. We also mentioned that His resurrection proved and authenticated His identity as the only Son of God because God gave him the name that is above every name, the name Lord. In chapter 2, verses 1 through 4, the writer is going to talk about the implications of everything he mentioned in chapter 1. He begins with a strong warning for those in the family of God that neglect the great salvation God has wrought through Jesus.
Do Not Neglect This Great Salvation
The Passage: Hebrews 2:1-4
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
The writer is giving us a strong warning in the very first verse of chapter 2. We have to remember that when these words were being penned down, there was no chapter division. In other words, the author is continuing his thoughts. He is now saying that because of the reasons He has given his readers ( Jesus greater than the prophets, Jesus greater than the Angels, Jesus being the son Of God, Jesus atoning for our sins, Jesus sitting at the right hand of God and being given the authority over all things), because of these reasons, They (we )have to pay careful attention to what has been handed down to them (us )through the word of God by all the Lord’s emissaries. And the warning is , if we don’t do that we’ll drift away from it. The word “drift away” carries with it the meaning neglect, slip from our minds, escape us. The best way for me to explain the thought of this passage is a good look at 2 Peter 1. I believe this is the practical application of Hebrews 2:1. We cannot neglect spiritual discipline, those are the means of grace the Lord has given us to stay sharp and consistent in our walk. When we neglect those spiritual disciplines ( reading of the word, prayer, meditation, fellowship with other believers) our spiritual fervor grows dim and we begin to drift, having no sense of direction.
In verse 2, he is showing us the weightiness and the danger of neglecting what we have heard by comparing it to what happened to the people of old when they neglected the Mosaic law. As we saw in chapter 1, God used the angels for the giving of the law at Mount Sinai ( Galatians 3:19, Acts 7:53). God protected the authenticity of His word by upholding the Holiness of His character. We saw that with the account of Nadab and Abihu ( in which they died before the Lord when they offered unauthorized fire ). So God maintained and confirmed the validity of His Word which He put into effect through the Holy angels. And the author is saying that if this is how God treated His word given by angels, how much more will He uphold His Word given by His Son. We already saw in chapter 1 that the Son far exceeds the prophets and the angels in His glory because He is of the same essence as God. So the warning to his readers and us is, God will not overlook sins. When we disobey His Word and neglect what we’ve heard, We will be disciplined by the Lord. There is a false teaching now that circulates that promotes a cheap grace. What preachers tell their congregation is that now because we’re under grace , we are no longer under the judgement of God. And the way they define judgement is ( no discipline). Basically you can do whatever you want since you’re under grace. But that’s not what we’ve learned in chapter 1. God is the same yesterday ,today and tomorrow and the account of Ananias and Sapphire in Acts 5 remind us that God still disciplines those whom He loves.
The law was put into effect by angels as we read in Galatians 3:19 and acts 7:53. Based on Paul’s inspired words in Galatians 3:19, we learn the purpose of the law. It was put into effect because of transgressions, the law was supposed to point us to Jesus Christ. Because through the law, we are to understand our inability to please God for the law couldn’t impart life. Understanding the purpose of the law is crucial to understanding verse 3 of Hebrews 2. We already saw in chapter 1 that Jesus, the Son of God is greater than the angels. The law was put into effect by the angels and when the people of God disobeyed the law , they were chastened by Him. If this is how God protected the integrity of His message through the angels , how much more will He do it for His own Son. We need to understand the weightiness of this verse. We also learn from verse 3 that Jesus declared the the salvation that God wrought through Him, and later on his disciples, now apostles also confirmed what they heard, saw and were taught by Jesus, and that takes us to verse 4.
We read that God authenticated the Apostles’ witness and messages by granting that signs, wonders and various activities be done through them by the Holy Spirit. The emphasis is not on the apostles but on the Holy Spirit who enabled them to perform the work of God. We learn from verses 1 through 4 that need to heed the word and not neglect it less we receive chastising from the Lord.
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