STUDIES IN HEBREWS
© Rosemary Bardsley, 2002
STUDY THREE: A WARNING TO PAY ATTENTION
In 2:1-4 the writer gives the first of his many warnings against giving up on Jesus. Having just told us that Jesus is God's ultimate and final revelation, having presented him as the eternal Creator and the One to whom all authority is given, having told us that even the angels worship him, the writer says 'Therefore ... '
A. ' ... we must pay more careful attention to what we have heard ... '
We must not take it lightly; we must not hold it loosely; we must not assume that we have grasped all of its power and its meaning. Rather we must be constantly seeking and striving to understand it more fully. It is so deep, it is so powerful, it is so unexpected, it is so contrary to our human way of thinking, that it will be constantly surprising us with its power and its grace and its truth. Indeed, if we are on the brink of turning our backs on Christ and his salvation there is a high possibility, indeed probability, that we have never really understood or received either Christ or his salvation.
This final word of God, this word of the Gospel that fulfils all other words, cannot be improved upon; it is not just one more snippet of revelation in a continually on-going progressive revelation of God. It is the final revelation to which all other words from God pointed, and in which they find their fulfilment and their goal. Here, in the Son, in this final word, their meaning and purpose is complete. Beyond this Son, beyond this final word, there is nothing to be said.
B. ' ... so that we do not drift away ... '
If we have taken Jesus on board just as one option among many equally true religious leaders, if we have taken him on board as merely one on any number of gods we might choose to worship ... in other words, if we have not really comprehended that Jesus actually is the one and only way, truth, life, light, etc, that he is indeed, as the Bible says, the one true God ... then we stand in grave danger of letting go of him, and either reverting to our previous belief system, or moving on to whatever next catches our religious interest.
Jesus warned of this in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23. it is only the one who 'hears the word and understands it' who perseveres and continues in faith.
Our minds and our hearts must be firmly focused on Jesus Christ and his salvation, firmly convinced that he is precisely who he claimed to be, to avoid our drifting away, or falling off, from the truth.
For your study: For affirmation of the utter uniqueness of Jesus Christ consider the absolute claims that he made about himself, and that others made about him, in the following verses: John 1:1; 5:23,24; 6:35; 8:12, 58; 10:7,11,30; 11:25; 12:44-46; 14:6-9; Romans 9:5; 1John 5:20.
For further study: Read John's Gospel, making note of everything Jesus said about himself. Go to the Who is Jesus? studies on this website for a complete series of studies on the New Testament answer to this question.
C. 'For if the message ... '
This verse refers to the word of God given to Moses on Mount Sinai, which the New Testament writers state was mediated through angels (see Galatians 3:19; Acts 7:35). The point here is that if violation of that message, mediated by angels, incurred penalties and punishment, how much more terrible a thing it is to reject or abandon this message, a message which is not only spoken by the Son of God, but actually is the Son of God. That message was, as we have seen, merely a pointer to this message. That salvation, as we will see as we study this book, was prophetic of this salvation, indeed was effective only because of this salvation to which it pointed.
D. ' ... how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? ... '
This salvation is the ultimate. There is nothing more beyond it, nothing better than it. To scorn or ignore or drift away from this salvation is to let go of mankind's best and only hope and God's only and final provision. Beside it all other salvations are nothing. There is no escape if we reject this oneway of escape.
In the case of the Hebrews, to whom this letter is written, they stood on the brink of disserting this salvation to return to their former religion of Jewish ritual. To do so would indicate that they had never really understood this salvation in the first place.
The writer goes on to say that this salvation is validated in four ways:
- it was announced by the Lord himself,
- it was confirmed to us by those who heard him,
- God confirmed it by miracles, and
- God confirmed it by distributing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In this way he begins to show his readers both the foolishness and danger of their position. He will continue to do so right through the letter, as we will see.