Summary: Jesus’s message is one we should listen to because history tells us that God does what he says he will and Jesus has gone to such a great extent to give us the message.
“A Word We Must Hear”
Some messages we intuitively know we don’t have to listen to. “No Standing” signs for instance. Is there anyone here who has not left his car at in a no standing zone – just for a minute? There are definitely some places where you know if you leave your car you will get a ticket, but there are others where you know you won’t.
How about the warnings on a bottle of Tylenol. “Take only as directed.” I had a buddy in college. “You got any Tylenol?” “Yeah, how many do you need?” “Six” “Six, what do you have somebody in your pocket.” Some messages we always obey. “Lather, rinse, repeat.” I always repeat. Always. It’s my hair. Some messages we have found out we better listen to. Baking instructions. “It only calls for a little bit of baking powder, I can leave it out.” No, you can’t.
Some messages we listen to more carefully than others. Why is that? It may be because of the consequences. Sometimes we know the consequences are sure. Other times we may think we can get by without paying the consequences.
Who the messenger is also makes a difference. If the messenger is someone I respect, I am not likely to disobey the message simply because I respect the messenger. The consequences in that case are secondary. I may not even be concerned about the consequences. Chapter 2 of Hebrews begins with these words, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard. . .” We find out in that chapter that we must listen to the message for two reasons. First the consequences of disobeying the message are sure. Second, the messenger is worthy of our respect. His argument is brilliant, and to understand it we will need to review what we learned in chapter one.
In chapter one our author says Jesus is God’s final answer. There is no more to be said after Jesus. In verses 2-4 he gave 7 qualifications Jesus has to be God’s final answer: 1. He is the heir of all things. 2. Jesus is the agent of creation. 3. The son is the radiance of God’s glory. 4. He’s the exact representation of God’s being. 5. He is the sustainor of the universe. 6. He provided purification for our sins. 7. He is in the seat of authority in heaven. All seven of those qualifications can be distilled to two seemingly contradictory principles. Jesus is completely of heaven. Jesus is completely of earth, or as the early church leaders put it, Jesus is completely God and completely man.
Chapter two begins with that “therefore” statement I just mentioned. We could restate that statement like this: “Because Jesus is God’s final answer, we must listen carefully to His message.” The rest of chapter two is a warning not to disobey this final word. It speaks to the credibility of the message and the credibility of the messenger. Not credibility based on characteristics like in chapter one, but credibility based on action. Let’s look at this.
To establish credibility of the message, our author appeals to historical precedence. We can assume that previous action/reaction to situations will clue us into future action/reaction. Since Jesus is a word from God, first we need to see if God has a history of being serious about what he commands of his people. To know if Jesus’s message is a messenge we need to listen to, we are going to look back at some of the messages God has given in the past. Some of them were disobeyed. What was the result? Let’s go to the beginning. The first time God was disobeyed was when Adam & Eve ate the forbidden fruit. What happened? Their Garden of Eden was over. They were kicked out. They had to work for a living. They experienced pain and sickness. They grew old and died. They were cut off from that intimate fellowship with God. Theses things were punishment for disobeying God.
Skip ahead. The Israelites had just escaped Egypt. They were standing on the brink of the Promised Land. Moses sent in spies to see how they would capture the Promised Land. Ten of the 12 spies said they were not strong enough to defeat the people there. The other two said the land was beautiful and fertile, God had given it to them, they should go and take what belongs to them. The Israelites listened to the ten instead of to the two. God punished them for not believing what he promised them. They spent another 40 years wandering in the desert. None of Moses’ generation made it into the promised land. None but Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who trusted God. The people disobeyed. God punished them.