Saturday, April 17, 2021

Neglecting Salvation (Hebrews 2:1-4)

"How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3).

When we look at the old covenant, which is centrally presented at Mount Sinai, we see that the words delivered through angels were maintained by divine sanctions. God promised blessings to those who obeyed and threatened curses if the people strayed away (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27–28). Moreover, God put the sword into the hands of magistrates to put to death those who violated His law in certain ways and to punish other crimes with floggings and with restitution.

This system of punishments was absolutely just because it came from God. Hebrews 2:2 says that “every violation and disobedience received its just punishment.” The system of punishments found in the Mosaic Law (which did not come from Moses but from God) is often regarded as too severe and even cruel by modern Christians. It was necessarily perfect and just. How dare we question God’s decrees? Although the new covenant does modify the revelation of law given at Sinai, it does not abolish it, and for most of Christian history the laws God gave to Israel have been seen as a model for Christian governments to study and emulate (with some important modifications, as we have noted).

The author of Hebrews goes farther, however, and says that we have been given an even greater revelation. If we despise what God has told US through His only begotten Son, how much greater must our punishment be?

We notice that he says that we are despising “such a great salvation” when we reject Christ. What God preached through angels at Mount Sinai was also salvation. The laws God gave them were gracious laws. They were badges of citizenship in His kingdom. The people had been saved from Egypt and had been given the best constitution any nation has ever been given. If they despised God’s laws, they were despising His salvation.

The same is true today. If we despise the laws given in the New Testament—the commands of Christ, of Paul, of Peter, of James, etc.—we are despising salvation. We are rejecting citizenship in the kingdom, and we shall pay for it.

If today’s lesson makes you tremble, good. The author of Hebrews wants you to tremble. He wants to drive you to study the whole Bible more carefully, and to be more careful to obey the law of God as proof of your salvation. Hear his message, and heed the warning.