Wednesday, March 30, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 11

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

A Little Lower

Having established the Son's superiority over the angels and having given warning that we should not neglect his work and message, the Writer now takes a surprising turn:

For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying,
What is man, that You remember him? Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him? You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And have appointed him over the works of Your hands; You have put all things in subjection under his feet.
For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:5-9, NASB 95)

Note the movement here. The world is subject to the Son, but not to the angels. Then he quotes from Psalm 8 and extracts from it a hint that the coming "son of man" would be "made for a little while lower than the angels." The Writer understands that the psalm speaks of a promise to all mankind--as we can discern by his qualifying comments, "but we do not yet see all things subjected to him" i.e. common man. But then he puts forth the Son, who now sits at the right hand of God, and says, "But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus." How fitting it is that the Writer now tells us the name by which we know the Son--the name taken on by the Son of God when he became "the Son of Man" and joined the race of men.

And now the Writer tells us the reason for the change:

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying,
I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.
And again,
I will put My trust in Him.
And again,
Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:10-18)

It's all about kinship and family, "since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same." There is a Hebrew word, GOEL, that has these translations in our English Old Testament:

  • Kinsman: A blood relative
  • Redeemer: A blood relative responsible for buying his kinsman's freedom from slavery
  • Avenger: A blood relative responsible for avenging his kinsman's spilled blood

As you can see being a blood relative carried responsibility. When Jesus took on our flesh and blood, He became our Kinsman. When he rendered "powerless him who had the power of death," He became our Avenger. When he freed "those who through fear of death were subject to slavery," He became our Redeemer. Jesus: Kinsman, Redeemer, Avenger, Priest, Brother -- Truly our salvation is great and not to be neglected. Here He is, in flesh and blood, able to understand our weakness and come to our aid and intercede with God on our behalf.

If the Book of Hebrews ended here, it would be a great book. But the Writer has much more ground to cover. From his fellow Jews come the questions, "What about Moses?" "What about the priests and the temple service?" and more. Because he cares about his people, the Writer will now move to answer these questions. Remember that the backdrop of this book is the rejection of the Son by many Jews--and this book moves to correct that. Indeed, if today you have Jewish friends who are showing an interest in the gospel, I would recommend that this book in the New Testament be their starting point. Herein, they will find the gospel in their language.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.


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