Summary: The writer encourages us to give “earnest heed to the things we have heard.” Or as the NIV puts it, “Pay more careful attention therefore to what we have heard.” As I examine this passage, I find at least three reasons why we should pay careful attentio
“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”
Pay attention! Teachers, how many times have you had to say this to your students? You are teaching something they need to know but their minds are somewhere else.
How is your hearing? Now I know that some of us just can’t hear as well as we used too. Some of us hear a noises that we would rather not hear such as a ringing or buzzing in the ear. However, I‘m not talking about your ability to hear but are you paying attention to what you hear? We need to give heed that we hear, what we hear, and how we hear. Are you paying attention to the message of Jesus Christ?
The word “therefore” connects this passage to chapter one where we learned that Jesus Christ is God’s final revelation of himself. We learned that Jesus is better than the prophets and the angels. He is the divine Son of God. Moreover, by his own blood he purged our sins. Are you paying attention to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The writer encourages us to give “earnest heed to the things we have heard.” Or as the NIV puts it, “Pay more careful attention therefore to what we have heard.” As I examine this passage, I find at least three reasons why we should pay careful attention to what we have heard.
I. WE SHOULD PAY ATTENTION BECAUSE OF THE DANGER OF DRIFTING.
While we often use this passage to speak to the lost, the primary message is to believers. Because of persecution, the Jewish believers were in danger of drifting back into Judaism. Therefore the writer urges them to give “earnest heed to the things WE have heard, lest WE drift away.”
Note the phrase, “Lest we drift away.” This is translated as “slip” or “drift.” To slip means to flow past, to glide by, to slip past. It might be used of a ring slipping off a finger, or of a truth slipping out of memory.
To drift might be used of a ship drifting at sea. For example, on March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh’s Reef and spilled 11,000,000 gallons of oil, causing one of the greatest ecological disasters in American history. The disaster was caused by a third mate who was greatly fatigued and somewhat inebriated. I’m sure he did not mean to cause the disaster. He just carelessly drifted into it.
NOTE: It is not the gospel that slips away, it is the one who hears who drifts away from the gospel. It is not the Word of God that drifts away from us, it is we who drift away from the Word of God. The gospel has not changed. The Word of God has not changed.
Most people do not intend to go to hell. They just drift along in life and ultimately wind up there. They drift by their opportunities for salvation. They just drift along with the crowd. They sleep when they should be listening. What they hear just seems to go into one ear and out the other.
II. WE SHOULD PAY ATTENTION BECAUSE OF THE CERTAINTY OF GOD’S DISCIPLINE.
We know that in the past, God spoke in many different ways. Sometimes, God spoke through angels. When the Old Testament believers rebelled against that word, they invited the discipline and chastisement of God. “For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward…..” We will see several times in Hebrews that God disciplines His children.
The word “transgression” or “violation” means to step aside, to step over a line. It means to go against what the law says and do what it forbids. To violate God’s moral law is to receive God’s judgment. Transgression carries with it an intentional and willful act. Transgression is a sin of commission.
The word “Disobedience” means to neglect, refuse, and fail to obey the law. Disobedience involves imperfect hearing. Disobedience is a sin of neglect, a sin of omission.
Every transgression and disobedience had it appropriate punishment. One is an active sin while the other is a passive sin. Both incur the chastisement of God.
That brings me to my final reason why we should pay attention to what we have heard.
III. WE SHOULD PAY ATTENTION BECAUSE OF THE GREATNESS OF SALVATION.
If what the angels said in their part of the Old Testament revelation was true, and their words came to pass, then we must face a serious question. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation.” We often think that Christians can get by with certain things because we are under grace not law. As a result, too many Christians neglect the Word of God and take it for granted. However, neglect of the Word of God is the cause of spiritual drifting.