Pay Attention

This, in essence, is the significance of the words when the Hebrew writer wrote: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we heard lest haply we drift away from them. For if the word spoken by angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received its just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Which having at the first been spoken by the Lord was confirmed unto us by them that heard” (Hebrews 2:1-3).

The word “therefore” tells that a conclusion has been reached which conclusion was that Jesus is superior to angels. Such was the thrust of the writer’s lengthy discussion in the previous chapter where he appealed to several citations from Deuteronomy, Second Samuel and the Psalms to “proof text” his statement that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high “having become by so much better than the angels …” (1:4).

Remember the apostle begins with this declaration: “God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets in divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son…” (`1:1-2a). With his ample proof that Christ is “better than angels” brings us to the opening words of chapter two. “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which were heard lest haply we drift away from them..”

A special group of people — Jewish Christians — were the ones for whom this letter was primarily intended. The many warnings inserted throughout the letter against “drifting away,” “losing faith” and “shrinking back” are clear evidence that if there had not already been many who had “turned and walked no more” in the teaching of the Son, there were disturbing signs which the writer perceived that caused him to know that the danger was on the threshold of becoming reality and the Holy Spirit revealed to him the warning against the danger signs which were present. Keep in mind that the writer’s showing the superior nature of the Son over angels must be remembered to perceive the significance of his warning, “for if the word spoken by angels proved steadfast, and every transgressions and disobedience received a just recompense of reward.” What is this “word spoken by angels” which the writer avers to have been steadfast? That word was the Old Testament scriptures so sacred to devout Jews. Those words were the “Holy Scriptures” to which Timothy from a child had been exposed to (2 Tim. 3:15). Both Stephen and Paul declared that angels had been God’s agents in revealing the law to Moses for Israel. Stephen threw these accusative words into the ears of those who were about to slay him: “Ye stiff-necked and un- circumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye … ye who received the law as it was ordained by angels and kept it not” (Acts 7:51, 53). Paul wrote the Galatians, “What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the seed should come … and was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator” (Gal. 3:19). God had spoken to the fathers in time past through the prophets in divers portions and manners, one of those manners being through angels who revealed the law to Moses. Angels were (are) inferior to the Son, yet their words (for their words were the words from God) proved to be steadfast. Every infraction of those words was duly and appropriately punished.

Now … God has spoken to us by his Son who is infinitely higher than angels. If the words given by angels were steadfast, how much more so will be the word of the Son?! If every disobedience against the words given by angels were appropriately punished, who can doubt that the Son’s words will be — even more so! So … pay attention to the words of the Son!

Jim McDonald

Bible Lectureship

(March 17-20, 2024)

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