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Lowell Brueckner

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The Author of Man’s Salvation


   An expository study of the book of Hebrews

Chapter 2

 1. Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

2. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,

3. how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,

4. God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?



God’s word and way to salvation

 The word therefore links us to chapter 1. Because God has spoken to us through his eternal Son, whose word is incomparably above that of the angelic hosts, for that reason we are dealing with something of higher importance. We are under a greater covenant, in which the rewards and the consequences have much more significance.

 The first piece of advice in the letter begins with the phrase, “We must give the more earnest heed”. It echoes down through the ages and holds for us today, regardless of the quantity of study we have given to it. If we have paid attention to the gospel, the Greek indicates that we are more superabundantly (more earnest) to make it the highest concern in our lives. It must be the reason for our existence and must be increasingly so, as time goes by. There is no neutral ground; we are rowing on the stormy sea of life, and neglecting to give ever more time and effort towards the goal, we will begin to drift from it (1).

 In verse two, for comparative purposes, the writer shows the seriousness of neglecting the law given by angels. Every infraction carried with it a sentence, which reached up to a level of life and death. He makes it very clear that the sentence is just and that is because the lawgiver is a perfectly just God

 The word is given to all those, who have taken interest and come under the hearing of the gospel. The parable of the sower shows that there are four major ways of responding (Mt.13:18-23). There are those, who turn away immediately and the seed of the gospel never is given opportunity to sprout. These are totally controlled by the enemy of their souls. The second category are those who joyfully receive the word, but only for the benefits, which they can get from it. They drift away because of opposition of any sort. The third group are those, who are overcome by pleasures and cares of this life. Only the fourth, “who hears the word and understands it, comes to salvation and new birth.

 In these times under the New Testament the danger is in neglecting salvation. Someone asked the question, “What do I have to do to go to hell?” The answer was, “Nothing.” Jesus said in John 3:18, “He who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” The unbeliever is under sentence of condemnation and all he must do is remain in that state, simply neglecting salvation. The danger is in carelessly taking his spiritual state lightly. 

 He is not giving proper attention to the word of highest authority… the Word made flesh. The apostles were personal witnesses of His word, which they then put into writing and handed down to the next generation. They were given special, inerrant help from the Holy Spirit and therefore perfectly conveyed a message, which could bring salvation or condemnation to the hearers. Jesus said, “I pray for… those who will believe in Me through their word.” He have that written word now and it carries the same authority (3). I mentioned in the introduction that Paul claimed a personal encounter with Christ, which included him among the apostles (1 Co.15:8). Peter included Paul’s writings among the authoritative Scriptures (2 P.3:15).

 Their word was confirmed by God Himself, who lent His supernatural power to the word by signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit. No one could have mistaken their ministry for anything less than heaven-sent confirmation, for which God alone received the glory.  It was all, from start to finish, His way of introducing the gospel to the world and He continues to give total support to His purposes.

 A forerunner was sent before the Christ, born of a woman, who had passed the age of being able to conceive. God’s purposes continued, when He chose a virgin from the town of Nazareth. She would give birth to the Son of God and place Him in a manger, where animals were kept in Bethlehem. He became the leader of twelve common Galileans, whom He entrusted with the future of His mission, which we have just mentioned in the last paragraph. He died on a Roman cross, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. And now, the Holy Spirit has come upon His humble followers to mightily impact the Roman Empire with their message and deeds. This was His will and way (4). 

 5. For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.

6. But one testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that you are mindful of Him, or the Son of Man that you take care of him?

7. You have made him a little lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of your hands.

8. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

Mankind’s dilemma

 Everyone needs to contemplate the great question, asked in verse 6… What is man? Every earthly theory and thought will come short of answering that question. It can only be answered from the Bible. The writer, as is his custom, does not give the name of the human writer, but simply says, “One testified in a certain place”. We know that it was David, who asked the question in Psalms 8:4-6, where he also showed that the Lord perfected praise from the mouth of babes. Jesus certainly had this Psalm in mind in Luke 10:21, when He rejoiced in the truth that the Father had “hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.” He added, “For so it seemed good in Your sight.” God revealed His secrets to the most unlikely of human beings, His disciples, who were like babes in understanding and also in their stature in society. 

 David, humbled by his failures, was one who clearly saw the frailness of mankind and man’s unworthiness to find a place of refuge under the wings of the everlasting Sovereign. Created for God’s service, angels were made superior in ability and intelligence to the human race. Man is small and defenseless, but God gave him authority in the beginning. He said to Adam and Eve: “Fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Ge.1:28). God gave him glory and honor over all the creation on earth, in order to subject and rule over it (7).

 We might consider the sentence in verse 8 an understatement. Far from seeing everything submissive to man, we see nature in turmoil, air, water, and earth. Fallen man cannot rule over himself; he is on a road to self-destruction. He lives his entire life in slavery to sin and Satan, morally in ruins and unable to deal with his own problems. He cannot control his own passions.

 9. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

10. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

11. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,

12. saying: “I will declare Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

13. And again: “I will put my trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

14. Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

15. and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

16. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.

17. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

18. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

 Jesus, the answer to man’s dilemma

 Never mind what has happened and what is taking place at this moment among the inhabitants of this planet, here is the focus of the believer… We see Jesus and we will continue to keep our eyes fixed on Him! He is the theme and the message of the writer of Hebrews.

 He first captures our attention by relating the immense mystery of His condescension. We will pause to consider the wonder of the incarnation. The One adored by angels becomes a little lower than the angels. He humbles Himself in taking on human flesh and blood. The eternal God, the Son, “did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant (Gr. doulos, a slave; in a qualified sense of subjection or subservience), and coming in the likeness of man… He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Php.2:6-8),

 The Father gives supreme authority to the Son; as we learned in chapter one, He is the First born, meaning that He rules over all. David was not the first born of his family, yet he was anointed king. His son, Solomon, was made king, although he was not David’s firstborn. God said: “I will make him My first born, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Ps.89:27).

 Jesus Christ, as the Son of Man, is presented now in His incarnation, made a little lower than the angels, yet rising above them to become the heir of the future world (5). Abraham thought that his only heir was a slave, but God miraculously gave him a son. From that son, God made a nation, which exists to this day. Abraham as the father and Isaac as the son foreshadowed and illustrated this point to us. The angels are servants, but they are not heirs. God brought His Son into the world, born of a virgin, and all the future world will be in subjection to Him. This is what we learn from this passage. 

 A little later, the writer will tell us (4:15) that He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin”. The One, Who “satiates the soul of the priests with abundance” (Jer.31:14), now knows hunger and the Giver of the water of life, becomes thirsty. For forty days in the wilderness, heaven’s supreme authority is tempted of the devil. The Lawgiver submits to false judgment and He, in whom is life, yields to death, “that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (9, KJV- every man). He was the Lamb of God, without spot or blemish, who became the substitute, suffering death for every man.

 Jesus, who stooped so low, rose from the dead, ascended up on high and was crowned with glory and honor. He came as the last Adam to finish that, which the first Adam was not able to attain. Warren Wiersbe comments: “When our Lord was here on earth, He exercised that lost dominion. He had dominion over the fish (see Mt.17:24-27, Lk.5:1-11, Jn.21:1-11), over the fowl (Lk.22:34), over the wild beasts (Mk.1:12-13) and the domesticated beasts (Mk.11:1-7).”  

  Peter on the day of Pentecost showed that Jesus was “delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Ac.2:23), the Father. In verse 10, the inspired writer shows that the Father, “by whom are all things” and Sovereign Lord over all, “for whom are all things”, saw that it was ‘fitting’, or harmonious with His purpose, justice and goodness, to make the Captain of salvation perfect through suffering. We are not to assume by this that there were any moral imperfections in Christ, which needed fixing. The term perfect can be used in various ways: We usually think of it in a moral sense, but it can also mean a state of maturity (to reach perfect manhood, for example) or to signify consummation. The latter is what is meant in this place. The Captain of salvation, by suffering, was made a consummated or completed sacrifice for sin. We might say that a lamb in the Old Testament became a perfect sacrifice, when he completed all that was required by the law. That is why Jesus said, just as He died on the cross, “It is finished!” (Jn.19:30)… i.e. it is perfect.

 “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Ro.5:10). What love is this! When man by his own rebellion and disobedience, brought ruin upon himself and all his descendants, he lost, not only paradise, the Garden of Eden, but the dominion and glory of his position, Worse yet, he lost the purity of his own soul and became, by nature, an enemy of God. He was delivered over to Satan, becoming his subject. God did not leave him in that fearful state: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn.3:16). The completed sacrifice of Christ brought, is bringing, and will bring many sons to glory.

 Because Jesus became one with us by His humanity, took our sin and guilt upon Himself, He became our sanctifier. Because we are sanctified by His blood, He is not ashamed of us. He calls us His brothers! (11). We are born again, are spiritually united to Him and of the same family. In this sense, He is our older brother. In verse 12 once again, the writer returns to the Old Testament Scriptures to confirm his Holy Spirit-inspiration. He goes to the Messianic Psalm 22, verse 22. Jesus said, while praying to the Father, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world” (Jn.17:6). That means that He showed His disciples the nature of God. That is exactly what the Psalmist foretold. Jesus also said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Mt.18:20). The singing Psalmist assures us, that the Son joins us in singing praise to the Father in the midst of the assembly!

 The next quote is from Isaiah 8:17-18, which holds prophecies of Christ and his followers, whom He came to save. Allow me to go to my comments on the book of Isaiah: “The prophecies of Christ are for those who wait for Him and trust in Him, while the rest of the world goes on with their own business and concerns. Why should they waste time with that, in which they do not trust? Therefore the things of God are hidden from them and it is so to this day.

 ‘Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world? Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him (Jn. 14:22-23). People should be asking, ‘What different kind of people are these?’ The only answer is that Christ lives in them” (13).

 Verse 14 shows more of His love and concern for those, who are under the power of death, held by the enemy. Think about His motivation in taking on a mortal human body: He did it so that He could die for them, so that they could live. Again, we are looking into an astounding love. Their powerful enemy could only be destroyed by His death and here is the spiritual principle, which went into effect: Death is only the fate of the sinner and since He was the sinless Lamb of God, He was not under the death sentence. In selfless compassion, He took their sentence upon Himself and died in their place. The devil’s death hold upon the guilty was destroyed. Jesus could promise, “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (Jn.11:26).

 Because the enemy is the fountain of sin and because the sentence for sin is death, when Jesus died in our place, He extracted the poisonous fangs of the serpent, the weapons with which he administers the fear of death. The sinners, who had been enslaved to sin, could put their trust in the work of Christ on the cross. Those, who entertained thoughts of a future death, lived a lifetime dreading its inevitable coming to take them to their grave. Now they were suddenly set free and death was no longer their future, but instead Christ had gained everlasting life for them (15). 

 Christ’s saving power was not directed towards the fallen angelic hosts. He did not become like them, but He did become a man. There was one condition, by which men could be saved and that was the condition of faith. Abraham is the father of all, who put their trust in God (16). “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham… So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham”(Gal.3:6, 7, 9).

 Jesus Christ, then, was 100% human and His office was that of a High Priest to His brethren in the most concerning issues, which he must face… the things pertaining to God.  This High Priest offered Himself in sacrifice as a propitiation. Christian friend, fix this word firmly in your vocabulary. Know the meaning and meditate upon it. In the tabernacle, the Mercy Seat, as it is translated in English, was literally the Propitiatory. It covered the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the law of God, the Ten Commandments. The publican, who went to pray in Luke 18:13, said, “Be propitious to me a sinner.” In order for God to be able to treat a sinner with mercy, an act had to be performed to placate His wrath against sin. This was the work of Christ on the cross. The wrath of God was fully spent on His Son and now, the sinner can come to Him for mercy. God will be propitious to him (17). Hebrews has much to say about His priesthood.

 One word that could be used to describe what we read in the final verse of the chapter is compassion. God’s true priesthood demanded that the High Priest of the order be compassionate. He would know by life experience the tests of humankind on this earth. The verb aid carries the sense of running to help a child. John commented on His love for them: “As he had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and to the highest degree” (Jn.13:1, Amp. Bible). In His final meal with them, He said, “I have earnestly and intensely desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer(Lk.22:15, Amp. Bible). Jesus pointed His entire life in this direction; as one author, L. E. Maxwell, titled a book, He was Born Crucified.








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