Monday, March 28, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 10

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.


The Writer devoted the first section of his letter to establishing the superiority of the Son over the "angels," and, as the title of this blog series suggests, the superiority of the Son will continue to be the focus of this letter. Before moving on, it is worth reminding you that the Writer has not yet identified the Son by his earthly name of Jesus. This is deliberate, as will be apparent when the name, Jesus, suddenly appears. But we are not there yet.

Here is what the Writer writes next:
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. (Hebrews 1:14-2:4, NASB 95)

According the first chapter God's message in these last days has come through His Son, who sits at His right hand, and whom the angels should worship. They are created and the Son is the He through whom they were created. So the Son is king and the earlier messengers were "ministering spirits" in the service of "those who will inherit salvation." The Writer draws an important conclusion from this, "For this reason, we must pay closer attention to what we have heard." Indeed!

Of course, the angels have less significance than the Son, but look at the authority that backed up their message.

  • Their words "proved unalterable." These early messengers spoke for God and presented His unalterable truths. It is the overwhelming greatness of the Son that demands our closer attention, not a lack of greatness in the angels.
  • Disobeying the messages and commands of the angels "received a just penalty." This says again that the angels communicated the truth of God and had authority to carry out the consequences.

From this, the writer makes his first critical application, "How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" The Writer is using a rabbinic KAL V'CHOMER argument form. KAL V'CHOMER means "light and heavy." and such an argument says, "If this light or small thing, how much more this heavy or great thing." Only here, the argument goes, "If this great thing, how much more this greater and superior thing." Speaking as a Jew to fellow Jews, the Writer says, "We received the commandments of God and disobeyed them. Our disobedience brought the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. It led to the current scattering of our people among the nations. Now the Son has brought a message and has made 'purification for our sins.' What will be the result if we ignore this?" You need to feel the pain and desperation behind these remarks. The first century believing Jews watched as most of their brethren spurn the message, and it was hard for them. About this Paul wrote, "I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, (Romans 9:1-3)" So the writer is pleading to his fellow Jews that they stop and listen to this new and better message that has come from the Son.

This message of salvation was "first spoken through the Lord." Here is another reference to the Son speaking as God Himself. The Jews do not speak the name of God, YHWH. When the name appears in the Biblical and liturgical texts, the Jews say "ADONAI" instead. Here the Writer says the message was "first spoken through the Lord." When the Son spoke, God spoke. Furthermore, the message, "confirmed by those who heard." Multiple first hand witnesses have more than corroborated the words and works of the Son on earth. The teachings of these witnesses also had backup, "God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."

The introduction is almost complete. What remains is to connect the Son of God with mankind--and, in doing so, reveal His name. I will pick that up in the next lesson.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.


Anonymous Henry IX said...

It is good to see you back. I just found out this evening that you had resumed.

You make an interesting point that the name "Jesus" is not mentioned nor connected with the Son until later in chapter 2. It makes sense that the writer would do so to gain the ear of a Jew by stirring his curiosity first before identifying the Son with the man Jesus of Nazareth. It reminds me of the approach Paul the apostle took in the synagogue in Thessalonica - first showing from the Scriptures that the Christ must suffer and rise from the dead, and then showing that the man Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 17:2,3). Thanks for this insight.

10:16 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home