Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Authority of the Son

"For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:2–3a)

Hebrews 1 and 2 compare the Son to the angels of God and show His superiority to them. The purpose of this passage is not just to show that Christ is superior to angels in some general sense. The issue at hand is who is the better revealer of God? The old covenant had been revealed by angels and enforced by angelic cherubim. The new covenant has been revealed by the Son and will be enforced by Him. Who is greater?

Angels were never called God’s unique Son (Hebrews 1:5). Indeed, the Son is worshiped by angels (1:6). Angels are servants, while the Son is Lord (1:7–14). It is clear that the Son is superior to the angels, and therefore His word is superior to theirs.

The author of Hebrews makes an immediate application in 2:1–4. Because of the Son’s great authority, we need to pay careful attention to the message spoken by Him and not drift away from it. Jewish Christians were constantly tempted to fall back into Judaism or into the perversions of the Judaizers. Hebrews is full of warnings against this tendency.

The reader is warned that the words spoken by the angels at Mount Sinai were established by God, and that God enforced them by strictly punishing every violation and disobedience. Those who rebelled were swallowed alive by the earth, burned with fire, struck by fiery serpents, or worn out by wilderness wanderings. The law itself prescribed the death penalty for those who forced their way into God’s presence without permission.

But if God was strict with those who violated the words of His servants, how much more strict will He be with those who rebel against the words of His Son? If the old covenant was tough, the new covenant is tougher. There is no concept here of the new covenant as a time of sweetness and softness replacing the strict old covenant. Rather, it’s the reverse: In the old covenant, God was patient and exercised forbearance because the people were still ignorant, but now that the Son has come, God expects people to shape up.

This may sound fearful, but we notice that the word of the Son is a word of salvation, not a threat of judgment. The message is gracious; it only becomes a threat when people despise it.

One of the important themes of Hebrews is that if people do not hearken to the Word of God, they will be cast into eternal judgment. It is a fearful thing to despise the Bible, and it is a fearful thing to be given the precious Word of God and then do nothing with it. Honor your commitment to study His Word.