Monday, May 10, 2021

Freedom from Fear (Hebrews 2:14-18)

"Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14).

God ultimately holds the power of death, and it is God’s wrath with which we have to deal. Since Adam turned humanity over to Satan’s rule, God uses Satan to punish humanity. God’s wrath comes through the devil and his agents, just as God used the Egyptians and Assyrians to hold sinful Israel in bondage under the old covenant. By taking God’s wrath, Jesus satisfies God’s justice and delivers us from bondage to the “Egyptian taskmaster”: Satan.

Hebrews 2:16–17 says that in order to take our place, He had to become one of us. He did not become an angel because He did not intend to save the fallen angels. The text does not say that He “lays hold of” Adam’s seed because not all of Adam’s race are to be saved. Rather, in bringing many sons to glory, Jesus “lays hold of” Abraham’s seed. This does not mean the Jews in a racial sense, but the people of God in a covenantal sense; all those who have Abraham as their father, Jew or Gentile. Jesus came into the world to represent His covenant people.

Verse 17 says that He became a high priest in order to make propitiation with respect to the sins of the people. Many modern versions mistranslate that last phrase, softening its meaning. Modern man is offended at the idea that God is angry and must be propitiated or appeased. Modern man does not like a God of wrath, but the God of the Bible is holy and hates sin. He is a consuming fire, as Hebrews 12 will say. For us to be saved, His wrath must be appeased, propitiated.

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest took the blood of the substitutionary sacrifice into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled it in front of God’s throne, the mercy seat. This showed God that the people admitted they deserved to die, and that they were trusting in the substitutionary death of the animal God had provided. One major theme of Hebrews is to apply this ritual to Jesus, who as High Priest took His own blood—the visible proof of His death—before God in order to satisfy God’s wrath against sin. By doing this, Jesus removed the threat of a wrathful death from us, and thus removed Satan’s dominion over us.

Read verse 15 again. Do you fear death? In a sense, all of us do because none of us loves God perfectly. But Christ is perfect love—and love drives out all fear. We don’t have to fear death when we have faith in Christ, our High Priest. Meditate on how today’s lesson should cause you to fear death less.