Summary: Faith is an active process and something we must work at. When we become lazy we begin to drift and can end up in waters we dont want to be in.
Hebrews: Chapter 2
September 7, 2008
Dangers of Drifting
Heb 2:1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Heb 2:2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, Heb 2:3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. Heb 2:4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Last week we looked at Hebrews chapter 1 and the superiority of Christ to the angels. This week we move into chapter two and we get a better picture of why this is so important. So if you want to turn and hold your place in Hebrews 2 that is where we will be today. The law that was received by Moses on Mount Sinai was delivered by the angels. While these Angelic carriers may be missed if you look strictly at the OT in Exodus and Deuteronomy, Stephen in Acts 7:53 mentions them as does Paul in Galatians 3:19. So this message being the law of God given in the OT was spoken by angels and is a binding message. If you have ever taken the time to read through Deuteronomy and the other books of law in the Old Testament you might have developed a mild fear of God. As you read through the laws of God what you find is that the Old Testament is filled with punishments to go along with crimes that are committed. If a man works on the Sabbath he is to be taken out and stoned because he broke the Sabbath. In the Old Testament almost every crime has a just punishment. The OT law was clear in both its expectations and what should be done to those who did not live up to those expectations. We even see a warning similar to the warning in Hebrews 2:
Dt 4:9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
The OT law was not something to be taken lightly. It was severe and inescapable. Every violation had its due punishment and those who ignored or deliberately set out to defy it were to be punished with the death sentence. Anyone who broke this word spoken by angels would be punished according to their crime.
The Jewish people were all too familiar with the consequences for breaking the law of God. So this question would strike a particularly powerful note in the mind of a Jewish reader. When they rejected God’s law they were taken captive by enemy nations. They were robbed, killed, or sold as slaves driven from their homes and scattered among pagan lands. They had seen the consequences of their disobedience. At this time there was a powerful movement within the Jewish faith trying to correct this problem. The Pharisees were trying to lead the Jewish people to a new level of righteousness according to the law. They saw that the punishments for breaking the law were carried out and that the law was obeyed by the people of Israel. They had felt the pain of God’s discipline for their disobedience. Now they were going to follow the law. How many people do you think were punished? How many times do you think they saw the consequences of breaking God’s law? The Jews revered the law and were certainly very familiar with the consequences for breaking it.
So if there was severe and inescapable punishment for those who violated the message spoken by angels how much greater then would the punishment be for defying this greater message? This Jewish argument of lesser to greater reflects the point that our author here is trying to make. Angels are messengers, they are merely servants in the kingdom of God. If the message that they brought was binding then how much more would the message be that was brought by the Son of God Himself? If the punishment for defying God’s word spoken by His servants was great how much greater would the punishment be for breaking God’s Word spoken by His Son? If breaking the Old Covenant brought punishment how much more are we in danger of punishment if we break this new and greater covenant? So the author here tells us in verse 1:
Heb 2:1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.