Friday, April 16, 2021

Paying Close Heed to God (Hebrews 2:1-4)

"We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away" (Hebrews 2:1).

Hebrews 2 gives us a “therefore” to what has been presented in Hebrews 1. There, the author has established that Jesus is the Son of God and is God Himself. His throne is eternal, His Word definitive. He is superior to the angels as a revealer of God.

Therefore, he says, we’d better be sure we don’t stray from the new covenant revelation. The old covenant was absolutely certain because angels revealed it from God. The new covenant is even more certain because the Son revealed it. Arguing from the lesser to the greater, if sins against the old covenant were punished with the death penalty, how much more severely will rebellion against the Son be punished. He warns the Hebrew Christians not to listen to the Jews and Judaizers.

He is also warning us. We can “drift away.” We won’t rebel against the Bible and walk out of the kingdom in a huff, but we might drift away by becoming lax. The only cure is to pay closer attention to the content of Scripture through diligent Bible study and participation in the life of the church (Hebrews 10:25).

But now we must address a question that has puzzled many of us since we began this series. The author of Hebrews assumes that angels mediated the Old Testament revelation, but when we read about Mount Sinai, we see God speaking to Moses, and nothing about angels. Where do the angels come in? If we look at Deuteronomy 33:1–2, we see that there were myriads of angels present at Mount Sinai. Paul says in Galatians 3:19 that the law was ordained by angels. Stephen says in Acts 7:53 that the law was delivered by angels. We must assume, then, that after God Himself thundered the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, the rest of the law was passed by God to angels, who then passed it on to Moses.

When we consider how often we encounter the “Angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament, we see how much angels were involved. The Angel of the Lord is usually, if not always, the pre-incarnate Christ, but we notice that He appears as an angel at this stage of history. Thus, the Old Testament is the angelic stage, while the new covenant is the stage of the Son.

Angels serve God. Unfallen angels don’t lie. The words spoken by the angels in the Old Testament are absolutely true and authoritative, even if they are incomplete and not the final word. The New Testament never despises or downgrades the angelic revelation of the Old Testament, and we must not do so either.