Summary: Nothing compares to our relationship with God, yet many choose to neglect it. This text reminds us that there is no escape for those who make that choice.
The book of Hebrews is different from many of the other letters of the New Testament, in that there is really no salutation. In most letters the writer will be identified right up front, and in this letter the writer is never identified; but, what we know is that ultimately, the writer of this book of the Bible, and every book of the Bible, is God.
Chapter one sets up a foundation for the theme of the entire book of Hebrews, and that is that “Christ is better than anything else,” or we might say, “The Superiority of Christ.”
He’s better than angels, better than the Old Testament priesthood, better than the sacrifices, and better than anything you could ever judge to be high and holy. They all pale in comparison to Him.
So, in my simplistic way, I would say that the doctrinal idea of Hebrews is that “Christ is Superior,” but when we come to our text in chapter 2, there is a statement that sets up the practical basis for the book of Hebrews, which is “Do Not Neglect It.”
First, I want to call your attention to the term, “so great salvation.” Sometimes my wife will say to me: “I love you.” Actually, she says that quite often and I like it! But then there are times that she will say, “Donald, I love you so much.” Now that’s like putting jelly on a biscuit! Same thing in this text: the greatness of salvation is really indescribable, so the Bible just says, it’s “so great.”
Isn’t it great? Isn’t it great what God does in the salvation of a soul? He brings life where death has reigned. It is a new life that begins deep within us, and it is driven by the Holy Spirit. He changes us forever and gives us life forever. He goes with us through every circumstance of life. He guides us into abundant life here and now and assures us of life in heaven forever in the hereafter. What could possibly be better than that? It is a “so great” salvation.
This text is addressed to Christians, initially Jews who had been saved, but now to all Christians everywhere. Notice the first person plural pronoun, “we” is used, which is a dead give-away that the writer is including himself.
Verse 2 also speaks of “drifting away.” This is not drifting away from being saved, but it’s drifting away from the benefits and blessings of salvation. It’s drifting away from being the salt and light that God has called us to be.
The question is put to us, “how shall we escape?” It’s a rhetorical question of which the answer should be obvious, and that answer is that we can’t possibly escape. But what is it that we can’t escape? It’s the misery and the heartache of a backslidden life.
So the passage tells us to give the more earnest heed to what we’ve heard, v2. This is like saying, “Be a doer of the word and not a hearer only.” It’s not enough to just be a casual hearer of God’s word, it’s too important for that. Every time we approach God’s word, whether hearing a sermon, reading the Bible, or how ever it happens, we need to ask ourselves these questions: Is this a doctrine to learn? Is this a practice to apply? Is this a sin to avoid? God help us to be attuned to hear His voice and to do what He says. How the great heart of God must be grieved when we are willing to take lesser advice over what He has already told us.
There is a sense of urgency in this text. It doesn’t just say “give heed,” it says “give the more earnest heed.” This is not something for when you get around to it, this is God mercifully saying again what He consistently says through the Bible, “Do it now, because now is what you have for certain.” Are you a prodigal son or a prodigal daughter today? God uses preaching to call you to come on back home.
While this is written to Christians, a vital point can be made to unsaved people. If you neglect your soul, you will not escape, but if you will hear His voice and harden not your heart, there is a way of escape for you today, and His name is Jesus.