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Holding On to the Word
Hebrews 2:1. Hebrews 2:1-Numbers : form a parenthesis. In this portion it is about the importance of holding on to what God has said. The words “for this reason” with which this section starts, refer to the entire chapter 1. There it is shown that the position of the Son is so much higher than that of the angels. Therefore the word He has spoken is also much higher than what the angels have spoken.
The expression “much closer” emphasizes that what the Son says is of a higher order than what is said by angels. What God spoke to the fathers came to the fathers through the mediation of angels. In those days it was of the utmost importance to hold on to that. Now the Son has come and has spoken, it is much more important to give heed to that, which means that they had to coordinate their life entirely with what He has said.
What He has said doesn’t contradict what God said in former days. Only, it is of a totally different order. The law demanded of man and man could not meet the demands. The Son fully met those demands, but He did much more than the law says. He has given His life for everyone who believes in Him, with the result that everyone who believes in Him has a new and eternal life. That new, eternal life is the Son Himself (1 John 5:12). He who has the Son as his life, lives under grace and not under law anymore.
He who forgets that, runs the risk to fall back into a life under the law, to a life in Judaism. That is what the writer means with “drift away”. I hope you recognize the danger for yourself. If you start to let go of the Word and neglect praying, that is the beginning of drifting away.
Hebrews 2:2. Now “the word spoken through angels” was not a matter for scorn. It was advisable to take heed to that (e.g. Genesis 19:17; Genesis 19:26). That becomes clearer if by that you think on the law (Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19). The law is God’s law. That you could not and cannot violate it without chastisement or ignore it by disobedience. God always maintains the authority of His Word. He will punish sin, in whatever way it is committed, righteously. In the Old Testament there is an example of a “just penalty” for violating the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-Zephaniah :) in the judgment of the violator of the Sabbath.
Hebrews 2:3. When already such serious consequences are related to violating the word spoken through angels, how serious then must be the consequences for someone who despises the word of grace that the Son Has spoken! The Lord Jesus has spoken to His people as a whole and also to the individual on earth about “so great a salvation”. The national salvation, which means the salvation of Israel as a nation, is still a matter of the future.
In Luke 4 there is a beautiful example of the speech of the Lord about the ‘great salvation’, for which He quotes Isaiah 61 (Luke 4:16-Song of Solomon :; Isaiah 61:1-Exodus :). When He announces there the ‘acceptable year of the Lord’, it is similar to ‘so great a salvation’, i.e. the millennial kingdom of peace. It is so great a salvation, not just a great one. The same emphasis you hear in the words: “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16). It indicates its immeasurable size.
The salvation is first of all great in size, for it does not only regard the Jews, but it is available to all people. The salvation is secondly also great in power, for it works justification and forgiveness. Then it cannot be otherwise than that he who neglects this word of grace of the Son, receives a justified penalty that is more severe than the penalty under the law. To sin under grace is worse than to sin under the law, because he who neglects this salvation, neglects Him Who offers this salvation and Who is greater than the angels.
It is not about a salvation that came to them in a hazy and dim way. The word on this has not been sounded so that it should quickly die away. No, there has been spoken to them about the enormously great salvation in a fully persuasive, clear way. It could not possibly be misunderstood. No angels were involved here as invisible mediators.
This word has come in the first place from the mouth of the Lord Himself in a brightly understandable language. Afterwards, when He ascended to heaven, those who heard it from the mouth of the Lord confirmed it to the readers of this letter. You may think of the disciples here.
Hebrews 2:4. Finally God underlined this word through the means of signs and miracles and all kinds of gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His will. Many of the readers could remember these things, because they have witnessed them by themselves (Acts 2:43; Acts 5:12Acts 5:15). Therefore, regarding them, there should have been no doubt about what they were told. When such an abundant testimony is being despised, it is not possible to escape penalty. This serious word had to dawn on them, who were still doubting between Judaism and Christendom and who adhered to Christendom only externally.
Actually it is remarkable that the words “also testifying with them” are written in the past tense in this verse. Could that mean that in the time of the writing of this letter the time of the signs of wonders had already passed?
Hebrews 2:5. After the parenthesis the writer moves on with describing the glory of the Lord Jesus, but now in connection to the world to come. Therefore he now describes His glory as Son of Man. Like in chapter 1 he compares the Lord Jesus with the angels. But the result is totally different here. The result of the comparison in chapter 1 is, that He exceeds far beyond the angels. But what is the result of the comparison in chapter 2? That the angels are not even considered; they are fully excluded.
The reason for that is that they will not reign in the world to come. In future God will reign through His Son as the Son of men. We shall reign together with Him and then even reign over the angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). The future world is “His kingdom”, it is the kingdom “of the Son of Man” (Matthew 13:41). When He comes to earth to reign, “the times of refreshing” and “[the] period of restoration of all things” will begin (Acts 3:19; Acts 3:21).
It was the expectation of every Jew that, on the ground of the promises God made to the fathers, this new order would be introduced with the coming of the Messiah. Now the Messiah had come, yet this time had not begun. What these believers and you too have to bear in mind, is that this doesn’t mean that the promises are not valid anymore, but that they are postponed.
Faith is being put to the test through this situation. That applied to them and that applies to you too. Do you believe that God will still fulfill all His promises? If you really believe that, that prospect will protect you on the way of faith. You then will not give in to the temptation of adhering to a religion on earth that is connected to a lot of glitter and glamour and of which also unbelievers can partake.
Hebrews 2:6. To prove that the government over the earth will be given to the Son of Man in future, the writer quotes a portion from Psalm 8. When you read that psalm you see that David (as he is that “one”) describes a wide view. He points at the earth and the heaven. He speaks about the majesty of God and about infants and babes. He calls the government of man over the created, what you see in paradise and what you will see in the millennial kingdom. In the verses that the writer quotes, both the poorness of man as well as his futility come forward and his greatness.
The quotation begins with the question: “What is man?“ In this psalm the question arises after David came under the impression of heaven. What is man in comparison to the awesome heaven, where you can see in the night the moon and the countless stars? What value should that weak and mortal man have before God Who has clothed with His fingers the whole immeasurable firmament with innumerable stars of which many exceed the earth many times in size?
What could be attractive in puny man that God is mindful of him? The answer to that question is: ‘Just look at the Lord Jesus, ‘the Son of Man’ Who now is in glory. In Him you see how God really thinks about man. He is the real Son of Adam, as it is literally written here (Luke 3:38).
Hebrews 2:7. That God has made man “for a little while [or: a short time] lower than the angels” points at the fact that man has less freedom of movement than angels, because of his body. An angel is a spirit and has not that limitation. An angel is also far beyond man when it comes down to power.
Yet God has appointed man as ruler over creation and not an angel. Therein lies the glory and honor of man. We shall learn from the next section, in the study of Hebrews 2:9, how impressively this quotation is being applied on the Lord Jesus.
Now read Hebrews 2:1-7 again.
Reflection: How can you know for sure that you will not drift away from the word that you have heard?
We See Jesus
Hebrews 2:8. We still have a small portion to deal with from the quotation of Psalm 8. Though this is a small portion, it still includes very much. It is written: “You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” This indicates the complete government of the Lord Jesus over creation, as it appears in the following. ‘All things’ is indeed everything and doesn’t allow any exception. It includes all things in heaven as well as on earth, each part of the created universe. Wherever you look in the universe, there will be nothing found that is not subjected to Him.
When you look around you, there is still nothing to be seen of that general government. You see much misery and sorrow. That’s because man has given up and has lost the government because of sin. That government lies now in the hands of satan (Luke 4:6), who since the fall of man has been ‘the god of this age’ and ‘the ruler of the world’ (2 Corinthians 4:4; John 12:31). The curse is over the creation. Peaceful animals have become predators and the soil of the earth started to produce thorns and thistles.
Hebrews 2:9. But that will not remain that way. To see how it will become you should look up. There you see “Jesus”. And how do you see Him there? “Crowned with glory and honor.” For the earth the day of His crowning is still to come, but in heaven He already wears His crown. God has given Him that place of honor as reward for His work on the cross. The suffering of the death that the Lord Jesus has endured, is so highly appreciated by God that He directly gave Him the place before Himself that is beyond all things and all men (John 13:31-Jonah :).
Because of this suffering of death the Lord Jesus “was made a little while [or: a short time] lower than the angels”, for angels cannot die, while the Lord Jesus did die. And still He is the Creator of the angels and therefore their Master! It was only for a short time, only three days, but He was still a little lower than the angels. His humiliation has no boundaries and therefore His exaltation neither has boundaries. You actually still see that not all things are subjected to Him, but in faith you see indeed Him to Whom all things will be subjected!
That’s the issue of the writer of this letter: to guide the attention to Him Who is on high. And to see Him is to see His work too that He did on earth by God’s order. He took the place of humiliation to taste death for the entire system that was far away from God. (‘To taste’ has the meaning of ‘to get acquainted to by getting in contact with’.) Where the first man failed in such an extreme and irreparable way, the second Man came to obtain the full right on creation.
He obtained that right by glorifying God on the same territory where the first man failed. He glorified God on the territory where the enemy, who deceived man by his trick, ruled over man in power and wickedness. Therefore the Lord Jesus tasted death with the special purpose to redeem the children who would be brought to glory by God. Another reason that He tasted death is that the wonderful results of that would spread to all that is created, “for everyone” or “for every thing” (Darby Translation). So great is the grace of God.
To faith this all is an enormous encouragement. You see a Man in glory Who went through death and rose again. He is the assurance that it is not about the current world, but it is about the coming one. The way He went through suffering to glory, is also your way. By keeping yourself focused on Him, you get the power to endure all persecution and suffering.
Hebrews 2:10. From Hebrews 2:10 you see the Lord Jesus in the midst of His brethren, where He also takes the first place (Romans 8:29). That is the realm of intimacy. “It was fitting for Him” means that it was fitted with Whom God is, with His whole way of acting that is never in contrast with His Being. “For whom are all things” shows that in the coming world God and His glory will be in the center. “Through whom are all things” makes clear that God is the origin of everything new that is to come, and He has wanted this. But God does everything through the Son. He is the center of the world that is to come, the millennial kingdom.
Then you read something miraculous. You read about “sons”, indeed in plural. Of these ‘sons’ you read further that they are brought “to glory”. The whole purpose of the letter is to focus your eyes on the final goal of the journey. Here you hear that when the Lord Jesus will reign on earth in the glory of the millennial kingdom, He will be surrounded by many sons. And who are those sons? Those are the believing Hebrews to whom this letter is addressed and you are one of them too. You are seen here as one of the ‘sons’.
There are even “many”, so not just a few. You and countless other sons have already gone on the way to the glory. ‘Sons’ are all people who have accepted the Lord Jesus by faith and who are looking forward to His return to establish the millennial kingdom.
The road to glory, however, is a road of afflictions and goes through many difficulties. But there is an “author” (also in Hebrews 12:2; Acts 5:31; Acts 3:15), the commander who is in charge in the race. That is the Lord Jesus.
He has gone through the whole way and He is already in perfection. He has gone through all the hardships which many sons on earth have to go through. This now is what is fitting to God. It would not be fitting to God to expect things of the ‘many sons’ of which the Son had not been a partaker. It was fitting to God’s Being and nature to bring His Son as Author through the same way of many trials to the glory of the millennial kingdom. In this way the Son has been made perfectly fit to be an Author to all sons who on earth still have to go through a way of afflictions.
Hebrews 2:11. You see how much God connects His Son with the many sons. Nevertheless the Holy Spirit also guards for an identification of the sons with the Son. There must always be a distinction. That He does by speaking about “He Who sanctifies and those who are sanctified”. You also see this distinction in John 20 where it is not written ‘our Father’ and ‘our God’, but “My Father and your Father, and My God and your God (John 20:17; cf. Matthew 17:27).
Here it is also not written that the Son and the sons are ‘all one’, but that they are “all from one”. ‘He Who sanctifies’ is Christ the Son. That He sanctifies means that He separates you from the people of the world to Himself. ‘Those who are sanctified’ are the believers, the sons.
It means that He consecrates you to be His companion and to follow Him. It is about your sanctification as a believer. The Son is seen here as Man, for only in this way God could unite people as sons with the Son and make them one company, one people and of course with the Son as Author.
Therefore He, the Son, is not ashamed to call us, the sons, “brethren”. That doesn’t mean of course, that we call Him ‘Brother’. That would be inappropriate to speak amicably about Somebody Who surely is near to us, but for Whom we have the deepest respect.
Hebrews 2:12. On the basis of three new quotations from the Old Testament the writer makes clear how much the Lord Jesus and His own are ‘all of one’. In the three quotations the true Manhood of the Messiah and the close relations He has with His people on that basis, become apparent.
That relation could only be achieved after He had accomplished the work on the cross and by His death and resurrection. Only then He could speak to them about the Father as ‘your Father’ (John 20:17). He could only introduce them to the Father when He had fallen into the earth as a grain of wheat and had died, with the result of much fruit (John 12:24). That fruit He is presenting to you here: ‘brethren’, ‘sons’, ‘children’. You are included in there! In each of these three relations you see an exceptional relation between the Lord Jesus and His own.
The first quotation comes from Psalm 22. This psalm speaks in a vehement way about the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross as the Bearer of sins. The response of God on this work is also spoken of in that psalm (Psalms 22:22). God responded to Him by raising Him from the dead. Through His resurrection the results of that enormous work has become visible. One of the results is that He proclaims the Name of His Father to those who He calls ‘My brethren’.
But it doesn’t stop there. This proclamation produces a new result, namely that He, in the midst of His brethren (the church) and together with them, sings a song of praise. He Himself starts to sing this song of praise “in the midst of the congregation”. His song is the song of gratitude as a response to the fact that God has raised and glorified Him. And as a result of His work you and I may agree to that. In this way we stand with Him in the same position before God, a position that we only owe Him for. Isn’t that great?
Now read Hebrews 2:8-12 again.
Reflection: What do you learn here about the connection between the Lord Jesus and yourself?
Be Made Like the Brethren
Hebrews 2:13. This section starts with a quotation in which the Manhood of the Messiah appears in a wonderful way. True manhood never becomes more apparent than in putting confidence in God, no matter what the circumstances may be. It is a quotation from Isaiah (Isaiah 8:17) who is determined to wait on the Lord persistently and to look forward to Him, while he is in the midst of a nation for which the Lord has hidden His sight because of their sins. That confidence characterized the Lord Jesus when He was on earth. This is the confidence that the recipients of the letter – and you too – may have.
What people were saying, mocking Him, when He hung on the cross, “He trusted in God”, was the power of His life until death. This confidence in God is of fundamental importance in a situation wherein still nothing appears from the realization of God’s plans and wherein everything appears to be the opposite. Every adversary that Christ endured on His way on earth could not take away His confidence in God or even reduce it a little bit. In this He is your and my example.
However, He is not only an example. He also relates us to Himself in that confidence that He has in His God. He trusts that He and we, the children, will go through all the difficulties together and that we will arrive in the period of blessing and joy that we are looking for. This too is a quotation from Isaiah (Isaiah 8:18). What Isaiah has said about himself and about his children the writer applies also to Christ and the remnant. “I and the children” indicates that Christ has connected Himself as Man to the children that God has given to Him. Here it is about the spiritual children of God in this time. They are related to Christ.
Therefore it is not about children of Christ or children of the Lord Jesus. The Bible never uses such expressions for believers. Here it is about the children of God who by Him are given to the Lord Jesus. Like in the way the children of Isaiah who, also in the meaning of their names, were a testimony to God’s faithfulness in the midst of God’s people, the believers of nowadays are in the midst of the apostate Christianity on earth.
In this quotation lies a great encouragement. With a confidence that is so typical of Him, He gives aid to everyone who are given to Him by God. He points at them and says, as it were, to God: ‘These are the children You have entrusted to Me. I will lead them safely through all difficulties and I will bring them where I am.’
Hebrews 2:14. Before God could entrust them to the Lord Jesus, however, He had to become Man first. And not only that. If the Lord Jesus wanted us as children to be one with Him in His position before God, then it was necessary that He first made Himself one with us in our need. That’s why He partook of “blood and flesh”. The time before He became Man, He had no part in that, but He had to do that to be able to die. His death was necessary, because man was subjected to death.
Due to the fall of man satan confiscated man and got leverage over him, a power that he exerts through death. The Lord Jesus came to put an end to that. Only death can eliminate death. A beautiful illustration you find in David who killed Goliath with his own sword (1 Samuel 17:51). It also had to be the death of a man to destroy death for men. The Man Christ did that. In that way the resurrected Christ gained “the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:18), which means that He has full authority over them.
Hebrews 2:15. Through His triumph over death and by destroying (that is: extinguishing or paralyzing) the devil, the Lord Jesus worked an awesome redemption. With redemption there is mention of an enemy who had a total control over you, in such a way that you yourself had no possible way to liberate yourself. By sowing a fear of death, the devil made sure that men remained under his control. The devil always reigns by fear. Death is the “king of terrors” (Job 18:14). Concerning us, this fear has gone, for Christ has taken away the threat of that. Now death doesn’t scare us anymore.
Hebrews 2:16. The Lord Jesus has not come to earth to die for angels. His concern was “the seed of Abraham”. Literally it means the company to whom this letter is addressed. They are not only physically the seed of Abraham, but they are also and in particular in a spiritual way his children (John 8:33-Malachi :). The latter are of course also the believers from the Gentiles (Galatians 3:7-1 Samuel :; Romans 4:9-2 Kings :) and therefore God grabbed you and saved you. He accepted you and you are His.
Hebrews 2:17. To be able to accept you and other countless people, the Lord Jesus had to “be made like His brethren”. That meant that He changed heaven for earth and came to dwell as Man in the midst of men and partook of their life. That was a tremendous humiliation for Him. And if you imagine that He took the lowest place among men (Philippians 2:5-Ruth :), He really went through whatever a person could possibly go through. No matter how bad a situation may possibly be, it is not unfamiliar to the Lord Jesus.
In a perfect way He made Himself like the brethren. He has released everyone who He calls His brethren, from the power of the devil. You saw that in Hebrews 2:14. However, there were also sins that had to be reconciled. That is said at the end of Hebrews 2:17.
For both problems there was only one solution: death. To be able to die the Lord Jesus had to become Man. Through His death and resurrection He conquered death and him who had control over it, that is the devil, and He reconciled the sins of God’s people. Therefore He could justly be “a merciful and faithful High Priest”. He is merciful with a view to the misery, the temptations and the afflictions in which you may find yourself. He sympathizes with you. He is also ‘faithful’. He is that to Himself and to His promises. He is focused on the aim and He will lead you there, right through all the hardships and misery.
In all those things His concern is the “things pertaining to God. He never does something for you that is apart from God. He sees your life in connection to God. As High Priest He is busy on your behalf, to help you that you may satisfy God in everything.
First as High Priest on earth He had to make propitiation for the sins of His people. He did that and therefore God can deal with His people and can also be with them on earth. As long as His people are on earth, they need support and encouragement. Therefore the High Priest, when He accomplished the work of reconciliation, is now seated in heaven to continually be the High Priest. To God everything is in order; the sins are reconciled, but there is still a way to go. With a view to that way the Lord Jesus is making efforts, so that God’s people will glorify God on that way instead of becoming unfaithful and then waste the blessing.
Hebrews 2:18. Nobody else can help His people like He does. Before His death He lived a perfect life, wherein He got to know all the afflictions and temptations that can happen to an individual. Whatever suffering you may possibly go through, He has suffered it (Isaiah 63:9). Therefore He can sympathize with you and give you the help you need. That help pertains to all the difficulties that the faithful believer receives if he wants to do God’s will.
There is no believer who manages to achieve the final goal by his own strength. You need help, support, compassion, and the intercession of Somebody Who knows the dangers of the journey and Who has overcome. It had to be Somebody Who has persevered in the toughest afflictions and thus has suffered and therefore is able to sympathize with others. That Somebody is the Lord Jesus.
During His life on earth He experienced all weaknesses (not: sins, for that He only dealt with on the cross and only in the three hours of darkness, 1 Peter 2:24) of ‘being Man’. He knows what it is to be a helpless babe and to be a child growing up. He knows what it is to be an adolescent and to be an adult. He knows what it is to be hungry and thirsty and to be tired and sad. He knows what it is not to be understood, to be despised, to be rejected, to be neglected and to be blasphemed. He knows what it is to suffer hardships and to die. He has gone through everything to be able to be your High Priest in heaven now.
The temptations of the Lord Jesus in the desert are a beautiful example in this way. He was tempted in earthly matters, in worldly matters and in religious matters (Luke 4:1-2 Kings :). He responded to all the temptations, that the devil was trying on Him, with God’s Word. The Lord Jesus is engaged as a High Priest in heaven in making you mindful with God’s Word when you have to cope with temptations of the devil. If you quote God’s Word, the devil shall flee.
Now read Hebrews 2:13-18 again.
Reflection: What has the Lord Jesus ever done to be High Priest? In which things is He High Priest for you?
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Hebrews 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany