In Scripture there is always a time of learning and a time of doing. God is careful to teach us well. But once we have been taught, we are held accountable for obeying what we have learned. Then God gives us more light. This is the pattern for growth and maturity. This is a lifelong pattern – we never reach complete perfection this side of heaven. It is our privilege to submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit for His program of sanctification. Day by day we experience challenges in life and experiences with the sufficiency and molding of our Heavenly Father. Each day can bring us closer to maturity if we respond in the right way. However, there is always the danger of choosing the easy way out of our problems instead of the Godly way. In doing so, we miss the blessing of seeing God work in new ways. The Hebrew Christians were in grave danger of taking this route. Thus, the warnings in this book are highly relevant to them – and to us.
In Hebrews 1 we learned that Jesus is superior to the prophets and angels because he is the very SON OF GOD.
- As Deity he gave God’s final word about salvation, righteous living and things to come.
- As Deity he is superior to the created angels who are only servants.
Now that we know this truth, we come to the first warning.
DAYS ONE & TWO: FIRST WARNING IS GIVEN.
READ: Hebrews 2:1-4
A. BELIEVERS ARE WARNED AGAINST DRIFTING AWAY.
Do you remember a time when your teacher (or your mother) said – PAY ATTENTION! There are some things we should not miss or we will suffer grave consequences. When Scripture says pay attention, how much more should we perk up our ears and open our eyes and listen with all of our hearts!
As Hebrews 2 opens, the believers are instructed to pay attention and listen carefully. God is revealing a perennial problem regarding man. From the beginning of time man has always had a problem with backsliding or drifting away. God warned early on of this tendency (Read: Deuteronomy 8:11-20). This same warning now follows what we learned in Chapter One – Jesus, as the Son of God, is the final and complete word regarding our salvation from sin. He also gave warnings about the coming judgment on Jerusalem. If they don’t pay attention, they will suffer divine consequences.
- 2:2 — Since the giving of the Law of Moses by angels, God always required obedience. There was always a penalty for sin.
- 2:3 — Now that Jesus has introduced the New Covenant, believers must leave the old sacrificial system behind and move ahead to obey His new teaching and heed his new warnings.
- 2:3-4 — The gospel was first given by Jesus, and then his eyewitness followers. God carefully verified their words with signs and wonders and miracles and with the giving of supernatural spiritual gifts to believers. Jesus’ words are truth! God was careful to teach believers well.
B. PETER ADMONISHES BELIEVERS TO PAY ATTENTION.
- Peter confirms the basis of true knowledge in II Peter 1:16-21. Peter adds his testimony regarding the words of Jesus from an eyewitness perspective. The very voice of God confirmed that Jesus was the Son of God and should be heard.
C. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION
- How do the following passages describe the very words of Jesus?
- Luke 4:22
- John 6:63
- Luke 4:32
- John 6:68
- Luke 21:33
- John 7:46
- John 12:48
- II Peter 1:19
- In your opinion, how important are the words of Jesus?
- What is missed by ignoring his words?
- When you open your Bible, how do you remind yourself that this is God’s personal message to you?
- Is there some area where you are ignoring Jesus’ teaching regarding such issues as: forgiveness, gossip, slander, honoring of parents, worship, etc.?
The danger of drifting away is always present. However, it is very subtle and it is difficult for us to detect immediately. There are no “red flags” that give warning signs when it begins to happen. As a matter of fact, we don’t have to do anything to simply drift. It just happens – through neglect.
- We fail to read the Bible.
- We don’t take time to pray.
- We miss church, so we begin to believe the messages of the world.
- We become our own greatest authority in things of life, and Christ is a distant voice.
- Salvation and the gospel become less important than worldly success – my career, my house, my hobbies, my possessions, my pleasures.
There is an infallible antidote to drifting or backsliding, but it takes effort and diligent watchfulness on our part. The author begins Chapter Two with the admonition – “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard” or they slip away from us. Stay in the word! Carefully heed every word that Jesus spoke.
Revelation that comes from the Father through the Son is the most important information that we will ever receive in this life. We must listen, learn, and obey carefully.
DAY THREE: JESUS IS SUPERIOR IN HIS ROLE AS MAN.
READ: Hebrews 2:5-9
A. JESUS BECAME MAN TO REGAIN RULERSHIP.
The author of Hebrews now continues his argument in his case for Christ. It is easy to believe that Jesus is superior because he is the Son of God, but Jesus existed as a MAN. Don’t most people believe that angels are superior to human beings?
We learned in Hebrews 1 that there is definitely a hierarchy in God’s creation.
- There is God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – above all.
- There are angels – created beings in the spirit world – archangels, cherubim, seraphim and others.
All angels were created as God’s helpers to carry out his will in heaven and on earth. Today there are fallen angels (good angels who have rebelled and have become God’s enemies and Satan’s helpers). They are headed for eternal damnation. God is using them now to test man in order to strengthen him. God is using bad angels for good purposes.
- There is man – created to rule over all of the earth and its creatures (Genesis 1:26).
- There are creatures – fish, birds, and animals with their particular functions.
It is a beautiful picture – Earth was a perfect habitat for man originally — with everyone functioning in his own realm. God’s plan was for man to reproduce and build a kingdom of righteous people to enjoy fellowship with Him forever – in His eternal home. Man was created to rule over the earth.
But the picture was marred by sin. Adam lost the rulership over the earth and came under the curse of sin and death. Will God scrap the plan or make it work? He chose to continue on. He had a plan to redeem man. Jesus came to regain dominion (rulership) over all of the earth. He became lower than the angels for a little while in order to die for man and regain what was lost.
- According to Hebrews 2:8, what has not yet happened?
- Since the verse says “not yet,” do you think it will happen? (See Philippians 2:9-11)
- Describe the hierarchy given in Psalm 8.
- Jesus was willing to humble himself and become lower than the angels in his human role. What was the final result of his sacrifice according to Hebrews 2:9?
- How are you willing to humble yourself in order to serve your fellow man?
- What comforts are you willing to give up in order to serve God?
DAYS FOUR & FIVE: JESUS’ ROLE AS REDEEMER IS EXPLAINED.
READ: Hebrews 2:10-18
A. JESUS BECAME MAN TO REDEEM HUMANITY
Hebrew believers are asked to see Jesus’ death as “honor and glory.” How can this be – dying the death of a common criminal on a cross at the hands of Roman soldiers? Was all of that suffering and death necessary? How can we see this as glorious?
So the author now answers the questions of why Jesus had to become a man and why Jesus had to die. What was really accomplished by the human Jesus?
- “That he might taste death for every one.”
- Jesus suffered death in order to pay the price for sin. When mankind fell into sin he came under the curse of sin and death (Romans 8:2). The only way back to the original plan was for an infinite and perfect man to suffer death on our behalf. Angels could never do this. As spirit beings, they cannot die. Another sinful man cannot die for anyone else; he has to die for himself. Jesus had to take on a human body and live a perfect sinless life so that he could die our death.
- To be made perfect through suffering.
- Jesus was already perfect as Deity. He became perfect as a man who lived in perfect obedience even when he had to suffer to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. He is a forerunner or pioneer blazing the way for us to follow his pattern of being made perfect through suffering. Obedience in suffering is the ultimate test of faith.
- To make God and man “of the same family.”
- Jesus so loved us in our lost, doomed condition that He volunteered to take our penalty and suffer instead of us. With the penalty of spiritual death paid for us, we can now be united with Him in full brotherhood. What an incredible thing he has done for us that we should be fully accepted into the family of God as His beloved children. God has not abandoned his plan to have an eternal family.
- To destroy the prince of death
- Satan is the author of sin. (John 8:44)
- Sin brings death (by God’s decree). (Romans 6:23)
- Satan uses fear of death as a weapon. (Hebrews 2:15)
- Jesus died that death for us. We now move from death to life. (John 5:24)
- There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Satan can’t touch us. (Romans 8:1)
- The sting of death is gone. (I Corinthians 15:55)
- To become a sympathetic High Priest.
- Some priests weren’t faithful; some priests weren’t merciful, but Jesus is both.
- He experienced life just as we do. He knew what it was like to be a helpless baby or a maturing adolescent or a vulnerable adult.
- He knew weariness, hunger, thirst, rejection, poverty, unfair treatment, slander.
- He knew physical suffering and emotional suffering
- He knew temptation in the flesh — so he can help us to overcome sin. He gives warnings, instruction, shows us a way of escape. He gives us wisdom, power, comfort.
- When we fail, he acts as a mediator or an advocate before the Father – to obtain forgiveness.
Jesus had to be made like his brethren in every respect, (Hebrews 2:17) so that he could accomplish all of the things that mankind desperately needed. These purposes could only be accomplished by Jesus leaving heaven and becoming a perfect man. None of these things could have been done by angels. What a glorious future Jesus has earned for us.
B. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION
1. What are some of the things we now enjoy (or anticipate for the future) by being “in Christ”?
- John 1:12
- Ephesians 1:4,14
- Revelation 20:6
- Explain why Jesus had to become human to make atonement for sin?
- How does Satan use the fear of death as a weapon against people?
- What have you suffered this week from being a follower of Christ?
- How has suffering made you a more perfect person?
In the beginning of this chapter we were admonished to pay attention. When we fully grasp what the human Jesus has accomplished for us, we should rejoice and commit to faithful service. Jesus made a great sacrifice to win back the kingdom for us and to enable us to become a part of the eternal family of God. He gave warnings to protect us. He gave up the comforts of heaven. He asks us to make a great sacrifice (Romans 12:1) to help others to enter the kingdom.
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK:
Suffering is not easy but it is temporary and serves great purposes if we endure. (James 1:2-5)
When you feel weak or when you feel yourself “drifting away,” you can go back and review what you have learned about the superiority of Jesus and the truth He spoke. Then “take up your cross” and follow Him. It is a grand privilege to serve the living God.
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