Contributor: Peter Folikwe
Today’s study opens as a continuation from chapter 1 with the phrase “for this reason”.
• During last week’s review of the latter part of Hebrews Chapter 1, the writer stated clearly that Jesus is superior to the angels. The argument was reverent to the Hebrew audience who had always revered Angels.
• Unlike angels that were created by God, Jesus is the only begotten son of God.
• The writer also stated that Jesus was to be worshiped by angels. The Hebrew belief is that only God can and should be worshiped.
• In the concluding part of Chapter 1, the Angels were referred to as “ministering spirits” meaning they were created to be servants to those who will inherit salvation. As joint heirs with Jesus Christ, the angels were created to serve Jesus and us.
Having the above as a background on which Chapter 2:1 is premised, that Jesus is superior to angels, let us consider today’s verses.
“For this reason [that is, because of God’s final revelation in His Son Jesus and because of Jesus’ superiority to the angels] we must pay much closer attention than ever to the things that we have heard, so that we do not [in any way] drift away from truth.” (AMP)
• Chapter 2 began by warning us to pay closer attention to all of the above otherwise we drift may away from the truth. The writer was warning the Christians at the time who were drifting away, and by extension, to us today who profess Christianity.
• To pay particular attention means avoiding distractions .
• Furthermore, failure to pay attention will lead to drifting away from the gospel of Jesus and miss to target or objective of our calling as believers of the gospel. The writer is warning believers that there is a strong possibility of wandering away from the truth in God’s word.
• “Drifting away” could be in several respects for a Christian. It could be in form of irregular study of the Bible, dwindling fire power on the altar of prayer (weak prayer life), complacency of the Christian faith. Naturally as humans we get easily distracted.
• Apostle Paul cautioned in 1 Corinthians 10:12 AMP “Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation].” As Christians, we are the target of the devil - the accuser of the brethren in Rev 12:10.
• We are being warned to take our relationship with Jesus seriously and eternally valuable. Therefore, relaxation is equivalent starving the body of food.
• We need to cultivate our relationship with Jesus on a day to day basis, just as a farmer cultivates his farm, lest weeds outgrow his good crops and choke them to death. If we leave our relationship with Jesus fallow, without paying serious attention, we expose ourselves to the wiles (tricks) of the devil. The reason Apostle Paul again warned in Eph. 6:11 to “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil”
• Jesus our Saviour in Mark 14: 38 also warned the apostles (Peter, James & John) who were sleeping at garden of gethsemane to “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. The greatest challenge of man is his flesh. The flesh is often at war with the spirit. We therefore need to constantly weed our flesh of every semblance of sin/ weakness to stay connected to Christ. We all have our area of weaknesses. It is important that we constantly “watch and pray” to avoid drifting away from Christ.
“For if the message given through angels [the Law given to Moses] was authentic and unalterable, and every violation and disobedient act received an appropriate penalty,” (AMP)
• The writer here is saying that if the law of the Old Testament delivered by angels were considered authentic, unchangeable and must be obeyed, and violations came with consequences of severe punishment.
• Examples include angels appearing to Father Abraham declaring God’s covenant to make him “father of nations”; the angels of death visited the camp of the Egyptians and spared the children of Israel in Goshen who had the blood of the lamb on their lintel. The last straw before the children of Israel were liberated from their taskmasters for hundreds of years. Etc.
“how will we escape [the penalty] if we ignore such a great salvation [the gospel, the new covenant]? For it was spoken at first by the Lord, and it was confirmed to us and proved authentic by those who personally heard [Him speak],” (AMP)
Verse 3 is therefore emphasizing the earlier warning that if messages and decrees/lerse Vdelivered by angels come with severe consequences when violated, how will we escape the punishment, if we ignore the new covenant in Christ Jesus.
• The author here is saying it’s all about Jesus. Rather than focus on the law and the consequences associated with flouting them, focus and attention should rather be shifted to Jesus, who is superior to angels that delivered the law.
• Jesus, while responding to “doubting Thomas” in John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
• The question is what is your stand & my stand with Jesus? The verse went further to say that Jesus our saviour was first spoken about by the Lord, referring to Matt 17:5 “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Furthermore, there were witnesses who have account of Him as the only begotten son of God.
“[and besides this evidence] God also testifying with them [confirming the message of salvation], both by signs and wonders and by various miracles [carried out by Jesus and the apostles] and by [granting to believers the] gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” (AMP)
• Finally, in V4 it was stated that the efficacy of the message of salvation through Jesus was backed up by miracles, signs and wonders. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit before His departure to heaven in John 14: 26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
• Starting with the disciplines in the upper room and on Pentecost day this promise came to pass. Till date several gifts of the Holy Spirit