Summary: There are a lot of things that distract us in this life - but if we are not careful we may drift past the most important thing ever.
The Israelites had a problem almost throughout their history - they were easily distracted. It was hard for them to keep on the central and important things. In the wilderness they focused on what they were eating or not eating, rather than focusing on obeying and getting to know this God who had introduced Himself to them.
In the land they got distracted by all the sexual & fertility cult practices of the demon-idol religions around them instead of being a light of coming salvation and a beacon for the true character of God.
Later they got distracted by their differences instead of focusing on themselves as the people of God - and they fought each other and split apart in a civil war between the north and south.
Then in the later years they got distracted by their own supposed holiness and slavish adherence to traditions and rules that they missed the coming of the One that had been the whole reason for their being picked as God’s people.
In a sense, they weren’t paying attention. Jesus said:
Matthew 16:2-3 "When evening comes, you say, ’It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ’Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. NIV
Those that were paying attention - or who listened to those who listened - got the message, that God had sent Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world.
The question is, what distracts you? Our world provides plenty of them - even for spiritual people: philosophy, new age, pop psychology, community service, environmental worship, investments - all or any of those things can distract you so much that you miss out on the greatest gift ever given - but it’s a limited time offer. It’s also not something you just pay a little attention to - like the TV on in the background. You must focus and pay attention to it or you simply won’t get what God is trying to say.
The author of Hebrews is arguing that Jesus is better - better first than the created order of angels. He takes a small breath from that discussion in the first 4 verses of chapter 2.
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
(1) I was driving up to an area of Washington state the other day - going to help perform a wedding ceremony. I had been up there just a couple of days before for the rehearsal and had to follow a map and directions very carefully. I thought I was lost several times but ended up in the right place.
So then when I got off the freeway to return for the ceremony I felt pretty good about where I was going. I’ll admit - I wasn’t really paying attention to the road signs (which Washington State doesn’t seem to have many of - is it budget cuts or do they want people to be lost so they won’t leave the state?). Sure enough - I’m driving along, confident that I’ll get us to the church on time (or the vineyard in this case) - and suddenly I realized that I’d missed an important turn and were going headlong into who knows where.
The writer of Hebrews is saying - if Jesus is more important, more powerful, more central to the universe than the angels you are so enamored with - then you shouldn’t let them distract you from the road signs of eternal life - that the place you are trying to reach can only be reached by turning on the road that says "to Jesus."
I was distracted by the beautiful scenery of southern Washington - so I missed the turn. We can get so distracted that we are no longer paying attention to what is really really important - eternal life found only through Jesus Christ.
Interestingly - verse one should probably be translated as: "we should pay more attention to the gospel than if just angels had given it."
In other words - if angels delivered the Law - and God upheld it, and Jesus delivered the gospel, and Jesus is greater than angels - then the gospel is greater than the Law and we should not go back to the Old Covenant or we will drift past the New.