Summary: This is a warning, not from a God who wants to find fault, but from a God who has forgiven fault and desires to encourage and purify.
“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
The letter to the Hebrews was probably written to the church in Jerusalem shortly before that city’s fall to Titus of Rome in A.D. 70. The estimated time of writing is about A.D. 65-66.
More important to remember than the date of writing though, is that it was written to Christians. There is much evidence for this, as I will point out as we move through. It was not written to pagans; it was not written to practitioners of Judaism; it was written for the believer, then and now.
I stress this point, because right here in the opening verses of the second chapter, very early in this letter, we find a warning.
There are five warnings to the church throughout the course of this epistle,
and these, as much as the doctrines of love and grace and forgiveness and mercy, must be studied and applied to the life...for they are life-saving.
So let’s move forward with an attitude of surrender to His truth and a willingness to be changed in mind and heart where He sees the need ~ remembering all the while that these are not warnings from a God who wants to find fault, but a God who has forgiven fault, and desires to purge and purify for holiness’ sake.
First of all, zoom in on the first three words of the chapter.
“For this reason...”
Reminding ourselves that the writer himself did not make chapter and verse divisions, we see that with these three words he is now beginning to build upon a foundation he has laid in the opening statements of his epistle.
God has spoken. In times past, He spoke through prophets, by word and miracles, by writings and historical events; “many portions and many ways”.
God has spoken. In His Son. He has sent His ambassadors and His special messengers ~ both human and angelic ~ but now, in what the writer calls the last days, He has sent His own Son, who is better than the prophets, better than the angels.
More, much more than that, He is creator of all things and upholds all things by the word of His power. He is God Himself, whose throne is forever and ever. His reign is in righteousness and will have no end.
The very heavens that His hands made will grow old like a much used garment, and He Himself will roll them up and change them. But He Himself will have no end, and by His atoning work, He has risen to a place of majesty and honor in the heavens, symbolically at the Father’s right hand. In other words, God equal with God.
“For this reason...”
...because Christ is better than the angels, and the message of the gospel is BY Him and FOR Him...
“...we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
There can be no better reason to pay earnest heed to what is being said, than that it is being said by the one Who has provided the salvation we will inherit.
The Holy Spirit, through the writer, is telling us here, that it was very important, even vital, that men listened to the voices of the prophets and the angelic messengers in past times.
He is making it clear to us that every transgression and every act of disobedience against these messengers of God, received a just recompense. They danced to the tune, and they paid the piper.
He tells us that the messages God gave through these agents were ‘unalterable’. ‘Steadfast’. Men who refused to believe; refused to obey, were in effect, kicking against the goad.
Now in case anyone here doesn’t know that that term means, it refers to a pointed stick the farmer would hold in his hand to train an oxen for the plow. When the beast rebelled against the harness and the commands of the farmer directing the plow, and kicked back, he would be kicking against the point of the stick ~ this goad ~ and it would hurt.
Every transgression and disobedience received it’s just recompense.
Now I would not put myself on a level plane with the prophets of old, and certainly not the angels. But since my message is not my own, since the truth I bring you is God’s truth and not my opinion, I would be bold and say that insofar as I am teaching you the unadulterated word of God, you should give heed to my message. If you hear truth from me or anyone else rightly dividing the word of God to you, as the Holy Spirit confirms the truth of His Word to you, you should obey. You should listen carefully, and let the word become flesh in you. Because it is true, listener, that when you hear the spoken word of God, or when you study the written word of God, to go out then and live in disobedience or disbelief of that word will only result in your paying the consequences of disbelief, as did those referred to here in verse 3.